June
2024

Country of Origin

Germany

Woodnote Combo & Move Mini

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, 40GB RAM, Sonoma 14), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Studio, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 & SW-6 switch, Laiv Audio Harmony and Sonnet Pasithea; Active filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos & Gold Note monoa on subwoofer; Headamp: Kinki Studio THR-1; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Kinki Studio Earth, Furutech; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat; Room treatment: 2 x PSI Audio AVAA C214 active bass traps
2nd system: Source: FiiO R7 into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Lifesaver Audio Gradient Box 2; Amplifier: Kinki Studio EX-M7; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: Acelec Model One
Headphones: Final D-8000 & Sonorous X, Audeze LCD-XC, Raal-Requisite SR1a on Schiit Jotunheim R
Upstairs headfi system: FiiO R7; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro, Fiio FT3

2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €1'800/pr Move Mini, €1'980 Woodnote Combo

Teased at Munich HighEnd 2024, the above Move, Move Mini and Woodnote were new from Bavaria's Nobert Lindemann. With Move already a deep notch on my belt with and without its optional Groove bass bin which activates the stack and includes a 100Hz 1st-order high pass for the docked monitor, I wanted to know what the even smaller 4-inch 1½-way Mini could bring to the party. Intended as a nearfield speaker for office, studio or snug, I'd park it on my desktop's floor stands to perch high on either side of my large 34" curved computer monitor. To power these filterless Mark Audio Alpair widebanders with their 15kHz auxiliary AMT on a 1st-order high pass, I'd also get the Combo version of the new electronics sat between the existing music:book and Limetree ranges.

Its drive comes from a 50wpc Hypex nCore class D module its maker described to Norbert as the smallest but best-sounding of their new lot. Norbert's class A op-amp input stage tunes its sonics. Back to Move Mini, it's a small widebander which puts all our sub 10kHz signal on a single voice coil. Hello point source. Its driver then omits the power-robbing spider as that inner suspension so ubiquitous with dynamic drivers. Good-bye energy storage.

With 60Hz to 36kHz of promised ported bandwidth, free-space placement in anything but a small room should on much modern music get too lean without a sub. Integrating one that's sufficiently quick, damped and non-resonant to not lag will take some doing. It's why Lindemann primarily call this a desktop destination. About Woodnote the name, Norbert thought of hearing an unexpected musical sound deep in the woods rising against pristine silence unfettered by any artificiality. "Bring it on" thus was the only appropriate response.

As befits its name, the Combo's HDMI eARC input looks at streaming services and TVs with a DSD-resampling¹ converter, its ¼" output at headphones. Add RJ45, USB host, coax and Toslink i/o, RCA outputs and dual WiFi antennae. In Darko lingo it's a simplified FutureFi integrated. Solo above is the matching standalone network player for those who already own amp/s. Its socketry copies the Combo then swaps the latter's banana speaker outputs for XLR outputs. Its analog circuity runs off an R-core transformer based linear power supply. Lindemann work with a specialist Munich subcontractor to the medical industry for their circuit boards to maintain German manufacture. The streaming modules are from Austria's Stream Unlimited for more EU origins.
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¹ Norbert's preference of DSD is about negative interactions between PCM filters and tweeter circuits. Resampling PCM to DSD256 then low-passing its 11'2896MHz output on a shallow slope avoids them.

As we learnt in the Move review about Norbert's Czech-made speaker cabinets, "their highly compressed Swiss CDF material short for compact density fibreboard is stiffer even than aluminium yet with deliberately thin 12mm panels exhibits far lower energy storage than ubiquitous MDF or HDF." Energetically these thin-wall cabs are meant to let go quickly rather than hold on. "Internal foam liner is active between 300-600Hz to cancel remaining box resonance." Without an electrical filter, response shaping focuses on mechanical and acoustical solutions. "After having experimented with an SB Acoustics aluminium mid/woofer, Norbert fell in love with the Mark Audio Alpair's time domain response and lack of stored energy as tracked with pink noise. He then spent a few years perfecting his enclosures. Whilst looking basic, they're unexpectedly finessed to even out certain amplitude response variations. Even the 3mm aluminium sub baffle serves a special purpose. With his love for early Braun electronics, he avoided modern 'boat hull' builds. And though detractors will point at the Alpairs' lack of spider as a sure-fire longevity issue, Norbert's prototype not run at demure SPL still goes strong after four years. The driver's voice coil too is special and implements certain tricks from the white cone of Yamaha's famous studio monitor."

My loaners' office destination. Lindemann Move/Groove combo at far right a few days before their palletized pickup.