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Enter the €1'800 power amp. You can drive it either via XLR or RCA. And that choice is fool-proof. Should you accidentally wire up both paths, nothing bad happens. The amp auto-defaults to XLR. The output stage dishes out 80 watts per side in fully discrete class D. Immediately after power up, it enters stand-by and mute for 2.5 watts of power consumption. This reliably kicks into action once music signal comes knocking at the door. After sensing no signal for 20 minutes, the circuitry powers back down to stand-by. After another 20 minutes, it enter standby sleep mode to drive down power draw to a piddling 0.45 watts. This multi-stage solution is a very clever compromise between ‘pre-heated’ and environmental concerns.

Before we kick off the first session, we must go networking. No fear, it’s a doozy. With the musicbook:25, setup is child’s play. Whether via GooglePlay or the iTunes store, download the free app (I opted for the iPhone version). Now leash up the included Ethernet link to a free jack on your Internet router. Run the app which instantly recognizes the musicbook to get configured for network use. Within a few seconds WLAN appears and activates. Now the wired connection can be removed if desired. Presto, henceforth all music on your local area network is accessible from the app. I really liked that this very mature GUI didn’t just navigate my library but doubled as full remote control for the deck – including volume control, source switching and disc-player functions.

To show my hand early, for Redbook I indeed most favoured the Teac drive which offered a bit more substance and liveliness than streaming data in the same format. A lovely surprise was that streaming Redbook exhibited no difference between cabled and wireless. With hi-rez, wireless eventually trailed the hardwired connection particularly in the treble but also on microdynamics. Things got a bit less cohesive and more partitioned. Whether this was due to my ancillary context or the Lindemann combo I couldn’t say. To be safe, I mostly stuck to CDs and wired streaming for the duration.

Challenging for a reviewer is kit which lacks extraordinary traits to instead perform equally strong across essentially all disciplines. Whilst worthy of kudos, from that it’s tougher on an author to format a signature sonic profile. Here the Lindemänner stepped out by playing it very lively. Take the "Polarity" instrumental by the Kraan formation, one of my all-time favourite test tracks. It’s a 25-year old recording which still sounds real good from today’s perspective.

A melodic lead guitar and accentuated drum set mixed quite dominant into the foreground meet well-saturated DX-7 sonic sheets and a gnarly bass which gets its own 32th-notes solo to feel quasi conservatory trained. Special attractions are the lower reach of the lead guitar whilst the bass pursues very clean high registers. This becomes telling for how cleanly components differentiate in each band. It implies that the bass must keep sounding like one even very close to its bridge; and that the e-guitar has to retain its signature character deep into the low registers. The Lindemänner aced that. My very first impression was quicksilvery, lively and involving. Bass was surprisingly pressurized yet precise. The top end was very open, clear and direct. The crash cymbals had proper energy, the ride cymbal fresh sheen as did the hi-hat. The midband was well illuminated and teased out. Bass remained bass, guitar guitar regardless of pitch. I took note.

The same involving freshness of the German duo impressed with Eels’ new The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. "Lockdown Hurricane" kicks off with plain Wurlitzer E piano and Everett’s scratchy pipes enhanced by fat reverb. In the refrain, other instruments enter like organ, guitar and bass, later very massive percussion with strong hall sound. The musicbooks exhibited very good dynamics and speed to translate as powerful immediacy.

With their presentation, I really felt front-row center. Voices, instruments and all other virtual sources were very close and present. This got further emphasized by a quite generous stage. Whether that would be broad or deep depended. With the Eels and later Modern English’s "Heart", I stumbled upon an exemplary and very interesting effect. The fewer actors there were on stage, the more space surrounded them particularly in the depth domain. "Heart" begins like chamber music. Cello and oboe trade lines and 16 bars later a string quartet adds augmentation. Even later the usual drums, guitar and vocals fade in. At first the cello and oboe seem to manifest very realistically in deep space. Once the strings enter, the stage is ‘reshuffled’ and the actors assemble a harmonic chorus line across the stage rather than back.