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Lindemann 825 HD Disc Player Review

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Lindemann 825 HD Disc Player Rear Face

Let’s Get Technical

After getting the 825 set up and familiarizing myself with its features I emailed a few technical questions. I received a response directly from Norbert Lindemann. English is not Norbert’s native language, but his command of English is excellent, and I include his responses to some of my questions below.

First, I was very impressed with the Lindemann 825’s reproduction of music on CD. I have found that in most cases a well-implemented computer-based music system sounds better than a music system with a disc transport. However, I had a hard time distinguishing between the 825’s very excellent rendition of discs from its rendering of computer files. Here was Norbert’s comment:

“We are using a DVD pickup with a digital servo system which is based on memory buffering of the CD data. First advantage compared to a “red book” player is the pickup which is much more precise in terms of S/N ratio of the PIN photo diodes array. The actual improvement of the eye-pattern is about 12 dB, which is a lot. This means the CD is read much more accurate [sic]. Second feature: the data is buffered for about 3-4 seconds in a memory before being output with the 44.1kHz clock. This is also contributing to the sound improvement of this drive by lowering the jitter amplitude. Excellent tracking accuracy is a side effect of the memory buffering.”

I also asked about the digital data input process, the jitter reduction stage at the initial input, and the subsequent upsampling stage. The Lindemann website says that digital data arriving at the inputs are processed before they are passed to the actual D/A converter; when the 825 is set to “auto mode” the jitter performance of data is standardized (

“We are using the latest generation of SPDIF interface receiver made by Wolfson. This chip has a “elastic buffer” jitter reduction process (see AES publication!) which is effectively reducing overall jitter to less then [sic]50 ps. Even 10000 ps (10ns) of jitter at the input produce this output performance. In a second stage we are using the best sample rate converter currently available (SRC4392) to resample low sample rates to medium sample rates. 44.1k will become 88.2k and 48k will become 96k. This is not asynchronous SRC but synchronous resampling because it is synchronous to the system clock used. Data sample rates of 88.2k and higher are handled without resampling in “native” pass-through.”

Finally, I asked about the use of an apodizing filter to correct the negative effects of the linear phase filters used by most recording studios:

“The 88.2k or 96k signal is passed to a Blackfin DSP using a modified Sonic² firmware from Switzerland. We made several listening tests and decided for a special minimum phase filter with “Apodizing” behaviour. In simple words: Every digital recording is made with low-pass filters called “half-band-filter” to avoid aliasing. If you buy a CD you have this filter behaviour on any track. Since most recording studios use equipment with filters called “linear phase filter” most recordings have the bad pre-ringing and long post-ringing of those filters super-imposed to the music. The deal with “apodizing” now is simple to explain: in order to get rid of the filter you have to suppress it. This can be done by sacrificing some bandwidth. For example: You put a minimum phase filter with nice time domain response in the signal chain at 19 kHz. This filter is -100 dB down at 22.05kHz, the point of the “half-Band-Filter”. The result is much better time domain behaviour for all recordings.

We do in addition this resampling to 2-times the native sample rate. So we have a bandwidth of 38 kHz for CD which is more then sufficient. You listen to minimum phase behaviour (which sounds natural) instead of linear phase behaviour (which sounds digital).”

OK – so how does it all sound? Read on.


The 825 standing on its own. You don’t need to compare the 825 to any other DACs or CD players to tell that it is an absolutely superb front end component. It scored high in every audiophile category, including pace, rhythm and timing, soundstage depth and width, tonality, performer placement, bass response, an effortless and relaxed presentation and very good overall extension. A $12,500 CD player/ DAC is certainly not cheap, but the Lindemann 825 is easily competitive with front ends that sell at well over $20,000. I thought that of all of its excellent qualities, the most notable were a) a great balance of extension, weight and articulation in the bass, b) a really natural-sounding midrange, and c) superb pace, rhythm and timing (PRAT).

The majority of my listening with the 825 was done with it being fed by my modded Qsonix 105/Empirical Audio Pacecar player. The digital cable used was the Aural Symphonics Echelon and at the outputs I used both Silent Source Music Reference interconnects or the new Lessloss Tunnelbridge system. I alternated between using my MBL 6011 as a preamp or using the top-of-the-line Pass Labs XP-30 (review to come). The results in every case were very good, and at times breathtaking. For example, Aimee Mann’s Lost In Space (Mobile Fidelity) is a very palpable recording, but with a top-level DAC its soundstage envelopes the listener in a dreamlike presentation. Only a few DACs have done that in my system, and the Lindemann 825 was one of them. Eleanor McEvoy’s Yola is another palpable recording that has gorgeous vocals, potent bass and drums, and lifelike piano when played through a true audiophile DAC. Some of the songs are smooth and languid (The Rain Falls), while others are percussion-driven (Isn’t It A Little Late?). The latter require a DAC that can impart the attack and force of live drums, while the former require a DAC that can reproduce the emotive power of the human voice. The Lindemann 825 handled both with great aplomb. Earth, Wind and Fire’s That’s The Way Of The World contains several challenges for any audio system. First, many of the group’s high falsettos can sound like painful darts attacking your eardrums if the upper registers are reproduced with even a bit of stridency. Second, several of the songs seem to burst with get-up-and-dance energy, driven not only by percussion, but also by deep and weighty bass. That’s a tough order for any front end. Too much weight and the music drags. Too little, and you’re no longer listening to realistic deep bass. The Lindemann shined on all of those passages.

I should note at this point that even though I did the majority of my listening via my dedicated Qsonix/Empirical Audio server, the Lindemann 825 was very, very good playing Rebook CDs, and it was often very difficult to distinguish between the CDs and computer audio files. This is good news for music listeners who have not or do not want to go through the effort of ripping their discs to a hard drive. The 825 will let you play your Redbook CDs with excellent results that won’t leave you wondering whether they’d sound better if ripped to a hard drive, while at the same time allow you to download hi res files and begin building a server-based music library.

I will also note that I liked the Lindemann via the direct USB output, but could not make direct comparisons because the home-brew computer I used was hooked up to a midfi system in my bedroom. I was primarily concerned with how easy it was to load the drivers and operate via USB, which turned out to be simple. However, my bedroom computer is not a dedicated audio server and is not tricked out the way my Qsonix/Empirical combination is, and the receiver and speakers in my bedroom are nothing like the Pass Labs XP-30 feeding Electrocompaniet Nemo and Nada amps driving B&W 800Ds. Consequently, I really can’t tell you how the USB input sounds compared to discs played in the CD drawer or music files accessed via the SPDIF inputs. All I can say is the music files through the 825 sounded obviously better than CDs through my bedroom’s Pioneer Elite DVD player.

Next, to give you a better idea of the 825’s sound, let’s do some comparisons, both direct and from memory.

Compared by memory to the Lindemann 820S. Comparing things from memory is very dangerous, but for those who own or have the heard the 820S, I propose to do it here. To facilitate, I played most of the music I used when I evaluated the Lindemann 820S in 2009, including Best of Mambo, Perez Prado (XRCD) and LA Woman, Doors (HDCD). Based on my recollection, I am positive that the 825’s PRaT is better than that of the 820S, and creates a more nimble presentation of the music. When playing Best Of Mambo, I thought that this manifested itself most particularly in the bass, which has a very nice blend of weight, power and articulation. I also thought that the 825 sounds more realistic, both in terms of proper tonality and in soundstage. This was made evident while playing LA Woman, where it sounded like the Doors were right in the room with me and Jim Morrison’s voice had a very live emotive feel. There was no noticeable loss in any of the other strengths of the 820S, with both CDs and 16/44.1 computer files sounding very extended, detailed and dynamic.

My memory of SACDs on the old 820S supports Lindemann’s claim that the 825 playing CDs sounds as good or better than the 820S playing SACDs. As a crude reality check, I played the SACD layer of a few hybrid SACDs on my Marantz universal player and then played the Redbook layer on the Lindemann 825 and it was no contest. The Lindemann’s reproduction of the music was superior in every single respect. After repeating this on a half dozen hybrid SACDs I had no doubt that they sounded as good playing their Redbook layer as they sounded playing the SACD layer on most SACD players I’ve heard.

Compared directly to the Lessloss DAC 2004. The battery-driven DAC 2004 has always demonstrated the virtues of combining battery power and the very musical PCM 1704 chip. It has bested more expensive DACs by its sheer musicality and realism. From a soundstage perspective, the 825 was just a tad more forward than the DAC 2004. The PRaT was very similar, but I thought the 825’s bass was a bit more extended, thus making its excellent PRaT especially impressive. From the standpoint of musicality of the midrange it was a tough call. Both DACs have a wonderful midrange presentation which, combined with the excellent soundstaging, makes vocal groups and combos sound like you hear them live. Of course, the DAC 2004 is not a CD player and has only a single input, so it cannot match the overall functionality of the Lindemann 825, which can act as a complete digital control center managing CDs, traditional SPDIF inputs and Computer USB audio.

Compared directly to the MBL 1611. The MBL has been one of the most highly-regarded DACs in the world for some time. It takes what you feed it and upsamples to two times DSD. Even those who are not fans of upsampling have grudgingly admitted that the 1611 sounds pretty damn good. The MBL produces a significantly closer listening experience than either the Lindemann 825 or the DAC 2004, which some may find too close when listening in a medium or smaller room. By way of comparison, the DAC 2004 puts you in row 12, the Lindemann puts you in row 10 and the 1611 puts you in row 5. For my personal taste, the Lindemann 825’s listening perspective is pretty much ideal for small and medium rooms, while the 1611 can feel too close unless the room is quite large.

When focusing on the lower registers, the 825’s bass was a tad more defined but also a bit less deep and weighty. Both DACs can serve as digital control centers. You would be hard pressed to call one or the other more detailed, though the closeness of the 1611’s presentation can create the impression of greater nuance. The 1611 is a standalone DAC with no disc playing capabilities, and does not come with any external digital processing loop, while the 1611 has more digital inputs (who would ever need 10?) and can also be configured to accept direct DSD inputs and act as an integrated DAC/analog preamp. Of course, the 1611 is basically twice as expensive as the Lindemann 825 and the aforementioned options are extra.

Compared by memory to the Linn Akurate DS. This is another tough comparison from memory, though I had the Akurate DS much more recently and had it for a much longer time than the old Lindemann 820S. The Linn is the most transparent of the digital front ends that I have reviewed, with the possible exception of the Empirical Audio Overdrive with Pace Car reclocker and Monolith battery supply. Nonetheless, “transparent” in this case does not mean overly light or airy at the expense of realistic body. Rather, you can “see” all the performers and envision all the nooks and crannies of the performance venue. The Lindemann 825 doesn’t have that type of extreme transparency, but is nonetheless very good in creating the impression that you can “see through” to the entire back of the stage. The Linn’s soundstage perspective is also about 2-4 rows further back than the perspective of the Lindemann 825.

Use with Different Preamps. I wish I could have heard the 825 coupled with either the Lindemann 830S or 832 preamps, but that was not an option at the time. However, I had the Pass Labs XP-30 and XP-20 preamps, and the special MBL 6011F was also configured to operate as a preamp whose sound is close to the MBL 6010D. I like the 825 with both the 6011 and the XP-30, but I ultimately gave the nod to the Lindemann 825/Pass Labs XP-30 setup with either the Tara Labs Zero Gold or the Lessloss Anchorwave interconnects, with the Tara making the sound a bit more rounded and nuanced and the Lessloss making it a bit more lively. The new Pass Labs XP-30 preamp really brought out all of the 825’s positive characteristics, providing huge amounts of unforced detail, stellar bass definition and extension, and PRAT that matches or exceeds the best I’ve heard anywhere. (For those of you curious about the Pass XP-30, it is the real deal, and in my estimation significantly better than the XP-20. I hope to have a decade [???] review completed in the next few weeks.)

Lindemann 825 HD Disc Player LCD Display

Let’s Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I want to take this opportunity to highlight one of my earlier comments. High end audio has not seen too many advances in sound quality that were accompanied by a reduction in the price of the successor component. I’m not going to take the embarrassingly untenable position that a $12,500 CD player in inexpensive. It is decidedly not. There are very few people who can spend that kind of money for an entire audio system, much less a single component. Nonetheless, when manufacturers successfully innovate and also drop the price of a product we need to recognize and support their efforts. Norbert Lindemann has done that here and produced a digital front end that can hold its own against units that are two and three times more expensive. If you are considering spending five figures for a DAC/transport, by all means, go listen to the $30,000 and up units. But after you’ve done that be sure to compare the Lindemann 825. You just might find yourself with some significant money you can give to charity or pay for another semester or two of your children’s college education.

Highly recommended without any reservations.

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