My happy relationship with the Telemann precursor [€4'400] eventually got challenged by its limited socketry. The sole analog input of this 'variable DAC' which is how I'd also call the Satie could be changed to an analog output by internal jumper. The new Telemann does it different. Björn Kraayvanger, boss of German LinnenberG dealership LEN-Hifi, calls it a Pre-DAC/DAC-Pre (hey, symmetry rules): "The Georg Philipp Telemann includes two high-quality independently developed optimally matched machines in a shared enclosure. It's decidedly not a preamp with tacked-on DAC module but is as much bona fide converter as it is specialized preamp." Around back which is nicely etched with a rural landscape, one finds 1 x RCA and 2 x XLR inputs, 2 x XLR outputs plus four digital inputs of Toslink, coax, AES/EBU and USB-B. For vinyl fans, J.S. Bach awaits in standby.

As befits a proper preamp, Ivo Linnenberg paid special attention to its attenuation. It's fully symmetrical and transparent to the enormous 3.5MHz bandwidth. "It's an array of parallel and series resistors in eight segments which switch in different combinations. These segments have constant i/o impedance of ~150Ω which equals their wave resistance. No matter how fast or extended the signal, there's no room for any signal reflections due to variable transmission impedance." The converter engine borrows broadly from Satie. That means four balanced 32-bit ES9038Pro chips per side. 384kHz PCM and DSD512 should make resolution freaks happy. Three high-performance clocks of 0.82fs split responsibilities for 44.1/48kHz-based sample rates and the reclocker's data buffer. Going beyond Satie are more voltage regulators and an overhauled S/PDIF array for true symmetry. Six selectable digital filters allow for some tweaking.

Talking sonics, I could stick to a hifi post card: "J.S. Bach is one of two phono stages I consider the best I've heard. Georg Philipp Telemann is one of two best preamps and, with distance to spare, the very best converter I've hosted until now." Add a postage stamp. Off it goes. But let's break it down. In my system, the two visitors shook hands with two elder LinnenberG siblings, the €4'500 Liszt stereo amp and smaller €5'999 Bizet phono. The latter replaced a Neucomm MCA112S and has generated plenty of satisfaction over its transparency, cleanliness and fine resolution. It's a truly brilliant design and superior in each discipline to anything I've reviewed. Yet in none of these disciplines did it keep up with big brother J.S. So, one thing at a time.

Wherever a cartridge cooperates, Bizet already offers excellent channel separation. During a long evening session, it caused a visiting highly trained sound engineer to compliment it in wonderment. But Bach piled on big atop that and elsewhere. One often seems to intuit leaked counter-channel cues. Not here. Panned hard left, the drum samples of Portishead's "Undenied" remained hermetically sealed in the left speaker. This added unexpectedly 3D, sharply sketched and rarely presented focus. Be it fore or aft, left, right or even outside the speakers, LinnenberG's big phono placed vocals, instruments and effects with a sniper's precision regardless of playback SPL or recorded level. Better than any I know, it also managed to connect discrete events across an extremely wide and—where appropriate—unbelievably deep stage without ever turning them into isolated things. This seriously improved the inner structure and cohesion of performances and upped the playful dialogue between Jazz soloists on swing and verve.