Dimensionality came next, particularly the fanning out of the horizontal stage, something the fluctuating stereo tremolo of the Fender Rhodes does to great effect. With my eyes closed, I could see the deliberately panned-hard-right splash cymbal localize well outside that speaker. Meanwhile the vocals and bass hung cleanly placed in the middle. Here I mean a true sensed centre, not being simply equally loud from both speakers whereby less precise gear fakes up a so-so phantom image. In toto, the Lindemann's staging tended to extend a bit beyond each speaker but remained believable, not artificially ballooned. As to stage depth, I discovered an interesting effect. In DSD-converted mode, it seemed to get shallower. True, Jamiroquai's dancy number wasn't ideal to track that but J.S. Bach's Christmas Mass with the aria "Großer Herr, o starker König" was. Here a felt myself inside a cozier chapel rather than large church. The broad and specific staging was still present to distinguish different instrumental groups; yet the orchestra now felt wider than deep. A quick grab for the remote had me shift to pure PCM. Voilà. Stage depth expanded again and even its illumination improved although the tonal balance now gravitated more towards the midband. This was true for the sub bass (church organ) and the brightness region of the high female voices. The frequency extremes were less explicit, the chorus more matte and less 'open'. In general my nod went to resampled DSD. It felt fresher and more 'active'. Only if you fancy particularly impressive stage depth should you compare both scenarios. Lovely that Lindemann give us the option with a few clicks on their remote.


Incidentally, the 'worse' off PCM got—be it vintage recordings or technically inferior productions—the more it profited from DSD. This was especially overt with those gnarly MP3 we all love to pretend we don't own. For example, I had floating about an old 256kbps of US indie band The War on Drugs' Suffering. It's a chilled mid-tempo number held together by a somewhat sloppy but unbelievably mellow percussion. Already in native mode I heard far fewer typical MP3 artefacts (strident hissy warbling treble) but then DSD conversion completely changed the picture. Now everything sounded far cleaner and more homogenous. The strong snare reverb suddenly behaved like real acoustics, not some cheap effects tricks. Tonally the Wurlitzer piano was far better distinguished from the tremolo guitar. It truly was astonishing how resampling/reclocking the same signal improved the sound despite me knowing full well that DSD couldn't really create something from nothing, i.e. 'add' data which PCM lacked. You simply have to hear this for yourself!


Less surprising was how the musicbook:25 treated hi-rez material in a particularly special manner. The piano/guitar duo of Rainer Böhm and Norbert Scholly demonstrate with their Juvenile album just how interesting sparse instrumentation can get. Be it the elegiac "Warp Dream" or the animated "Dance in Seven", their perfect Flac96 caption renders the concert grand and acoustic guitar tangibly intimate and blessed by a real live-atmosphere charge. One 'sees' realistic proportions and the precise positions of the instruments, hears their full dynamic and tonal bandwidth plus a peculiar third quality that's hard to describe and unique to hi-rez productions: the illusion that one listens to real performers and not canned replay.


Worth stressing here is that this came off quietly too because the analog (!) volume control proved superb. By using a studio-ready precision chip, there was no channel imbalance, resolution or tonality loss as I dimmed the output. This was particularly meaningful in that inclusion of such an excellent preamp stage means a welcome savings elsewhere. Just so, should you own a reference-class preamp you'd rather hear, the Lindemann's menu can set it to fixed output and bypass its attenuator altogether. It's further proof for how fastidiously the Germans take their concept of comprehensiveness. Each of their features is quasi modular in that you determine which one to use and how to use it.