Let's pause for a quick breather. With all of these mods under its hood, one really should regard the musicbook:25 DSD as a completely new beast. The only things apparently unchanged are the Teac CD slot-drive, remote wand and gorgeous casing. Now… I don't know about you but this writer routinely associates compact kit or streaming receivers with a bit of compromise. Combine small form factors with exploded functionality and, somehow, my head predicts that it must sacrifice sound quality and can't possibly keep up with quality separates. Lindemann have worked hard to eradicate such preconceptions. On paper at least, it does look like success for them. Point me at another compact deck whose DAC and preamp run <0.001% THD at 0dB; whose dual-mono converter clocks dynamic range of <130dB. In the end of course, we want to know whether such studio-ready figures also net us desirable sound in the home.

Sound. To kick off, a core strength is the equal-opportunity policy by which different signal paths are treated. Be it the internal CD transport, streaming rips of the same discs off the local area network or via a Notebook's USB port to use the Lindemann as external sound card… I heard exactly the same sonics. Admittedly I viewed Bluetooth as the one quick'n'dirty option to skip it. Most my auditions upsampled PCM to DSD. With just a few exceptions which I'll cover, this netted the very best sound. Again, you decide whether to hear your signal, a/ native (as is, i.e. PCM or DSD), b/ as PCM but upsampled to its highest supported sample rate, c/ or subsequently converted to DSD. Most of the time, I went for option 'c'.

My first impression of this configuration as well as the overriding flavour in general was of a sound that was fresh, dynamic, revealing and very detailed. Let's tease out these attributes in sequence by using the danceable slightly dopey "Space Cowboy" by Jamiroquai, here in its full 6½-min. album version glory. Tonally the Lindemann acted like a professional machine, meaning perfectly balanced/linear from the very top to the very bottom. As it should, the exceptionally acrobatic bass which all throughout the song drives its own melodic line to never let up had growl, bounce, juice and depth in equal measure. In the other frequency extreme, these hi-hats and cymbals are consistently processed through a flanger effect. This bestows up them some oscillatory dirt like audible rust to rustle up their funkiness. Exactly this fine scintillation of wavelength-shifted overtones manipulated by the flanger came across to perfection. With "Space Cowboy", a Fender Rhodes Piano becomes the harmonious sonic carpet. As is typical, it's sauced up with a rich stereo tremolo. The musicbook:25 nailed both its bell-like attacks and sonorous standing chords. Jay Kay's lead vocal, slightly compressed but still energetic, showed without doubt how mastering shenanigans had been intent on bleeding out some of his natural treble bite to instead emphasize the lower midband and avoid conflict with the percussion's higher harmonics. Regardless of which tonal band I considered, I only heard perfect balance, astonishing clarity and expressive vitality.

Dynamically too the Lindemann had it going on; and again across the full board. As the (former) bassist Stuart Zender exploits his upper registers during extended melodic workouts, he gets a little more aggressive just shy of slapping. This particular 'ripping' of the attack translated in full. Ditto Derrick McKenzie whose intense groove can cause the occasional involuntary body twitch when his open/closed hi-hat punctuations go under the skin. This exercise spans the textural bandwidth from barely-there tizz to bitingly sharp metallic explosions which the musicbook rendered without any filters.