Lindemann Musicbook Source II Networked DAC/Preamp Page 2

In addition to the volume control for its variable-level output, the Source II also offers ±6dB balance adjustment (like the volume in ±1dB steps). And the headphone output has switchable gain, allowing +12dB of signal boost.

sqnote Polite And Refined
Although the main abilities of the Source II were used as, well, a source – playing music from my network stores into my main amplifier set-up – I did also sample its analogue talents, both with external line sources and my trusty Rega turntable. Here it revealed itself to be an extremely open and informative analogue preamp, if not quite as punchy and explicit as my usual long-serving Naim model. It's just a shade polite and refined, which I am sure will suit many users extremely well, but I'd just want it to be a little more 'red in tooth and claw' when the music demands. However, I can clearly see the appeal of what Lindemann calls its 'Combo' – the Source II and one of the Power II amplifiers – for those wanting a compact, stylish and mature-sounding set-up to drive their favourite speakers.

Bearing in mind PM's caution about the DSD upsampling, I mainly stuck with the LPCM setting in the app, even though I was principally streaming music from my NAS libraries, either directly or via Roon, rather than using the 'traditional' digital inputs. And the Source II lived up to its 'analogue sound' with a presentation as smooth as a very smooth thing, concentrating on the detail of recordings rather than pinning me to my seat with their sheer drama.


USB-A, optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus a network port and WLAN/Bluetooth antennae, join three line inputs and balanced/single-ended preamp outs

That made live concert recordings on Radio 3, via Internet radio, suitably warm and rich, with more than a modicum of concert-hall presence to contribute to the ambience. However, there's always the risk of Lindemann's Musicbook Source II sounding just a little bland with a truly atmospheric set, such as the Strauss programme by the Oslo Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko [Lawo LWC 1184; DSD256]. There was plenty of scale and weight to the massed forces, and good timbral detail, but some of the sense of space and dynamics was lost along the way, especially in the exuberant opening of 'Don Juan'.

Wash Of Sound
The Source II was much more at home with the ultra-clean electro-pop of The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman, the first 'radio musical' by Sparks [Lil' Beethoven Records LBRV4], where the combination of warmth and precision was well suited to the somewhat ponderous writing and declamatory voiceovers. On this occasion the 'wash of sound' effect – and indeed the wash of sound effects! – was rendered with a good deal of insight and realism. This is no mean feat when dealing with a piece that's arguably a little odd and more than a little confusing.

The same was true in the way the Source II handled the kind of material one hears far too often at hi-fi shows. When streaming Patricia Barber's take on 'This Town', from her Clique album [Impex Records; DSD128], the oh-so-precise recording was laid out in almost scientific clarity. From the instruments to Barber's dark, expressive voice, it all sounded very lovely, even if the startling impact of the album's sound, which can create shivers through a truly great system, appeared slightly glossed over.


Lindemann's little IR remote covers off input select, volume, display brightness and rudimentary menu navigation

Similarly, the Source II was persuasively twangy with the title track from Wilco's Cruel Country album [dBpm Records; 96kHz/24-bit], with vocals and instruments again rendered well in the usual smooth, rich manner – even if things get a bit odd and phasey if one kicks the player into DSD upsampling mode. This player is one of those supremely easy listens, as perhaps suits this album, but there's still the feeling of some spark missing, of a desire for just a little more life.

Smooth Mover
Those who like their music to be offensive at times, or want a presentation that's raw, grating or abrasive, might want to look – and listen – elsewhere. Even when I tried to provoke the Musicbook Source II with some vintage Red Hot Chili Peppers, from the 2014 remaster of Californication [Warner Bros; 96kHz/24-bit], it responded with a rather sanitised version of the snarling opener 'Around The World', a track that really doesn't need the 'Lindemann lovely' treatment.

Stumbling, perhaps, at the final hurdle, this slimline network player/DAC does so many things right in a technical sense, but somewhere along the way some soul is depleted from the music. That makes the Source II an excellent choice if you like your sound inoffensive and smooth, you have a pair of wayward loudspeakers in need of taming, or you want everything to sound like a hi-fi demonstration.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
There's no denying the quality of design, build and engineering here, but the sound might possibly divide opinion. Those wanting plenty of snap and snarl from their favourite tracks may find the Source II's politeness less appealing. However, if you prefer your music rich, refined and smooth, there's much to like in the Source II's precise presentation, whether from digital sources or analogue.

Lindemann Audiotechnik GmbH
Wörthsee, Germany
Supplied by: Signature Audio Systems
07738 007776