REVIEW: LINDEMANN AUDIO LIMETREE PHONO STAGE IS NO LEMON
Lindemann Audio is the brainchild of Norbert Lindemann. The German-based company has been offering high-end hi-fi solutions to their customers for the past 25 years. However, it seems that they are yet to make a huge splash here in the UK. This may well change with the Limetree phono stage.
The Limetree phono stage was created to mark the company's quarter-century. Now, most anniversary models have added flair such as mirrored chrome, extra lights, a large commemorative badge; not so the Limetree. The compact metal case is so restrained it could well be British. Additionally, the 4 x 12 x 12cm (HxWxD) pre-amp also comes priced well below the expected Lindemann levels.
Furthermore, despite the affordable pricing, Lindemann has obviously not skimped on construction quality. Everything is bolted together and finished exceptionally well. I will avoid using any further stereotypes here, but it is very well engineered.
It may be paired-down, but everything that you need is covered. The unit can be switched to accommodate either moving magnet or moving coil cartridges, and there are DIP switches to adjust impedance for cartridge matching. Gain values for the MM circuit are set at 40dB and, for the MC, at 60dB. Again, these should cover most bases, especially for anyone shopping at this price bracket.
Setup is as swift as you would hope. Aside from tweaking your impedance, the only other task is hooking the phono stage to your amp and turntable. Connections comprise of separate inputs for MM and MC, a single stereo RCA output, a ground post and power.
Once that's sorted, you are up and running. The Lindemann Limetree has been designed to be left switched on, so one less thing to remember.
Lindemann Limetree sound quality
The Limetree was tested using a Cartridge Man Music Maker III fitted to a Pro-Ject 1 Xpression and then a VPI Prime turntable. Also in the test chain was a Leema Acoustics Pulse IV and a Musical Fidelity M6si.
We start off with Florence and the Machine's album Lungs. The track 'Dog Days are Over' is an excellent first test of the Lindemann's handling of dynamics. The Limetree remains composed without trying to stifle the flow, or Flo, for that matter. It also strikes me, especially when plugged into the VPI, just how much detail the little box reveals when compared to either of the integrated stages in the Leema and Musical Fidelity amps - and neither of those are shoddy.
'Homeless' from Paul Simon's Graceland LP was taken to a whole new level for me. The warmth and honesty brought by the amp's tone were perfect for this track. However, this made me apprehensive in regards to how it would handle the heavier end of my collection.
That apprehension was soon washed away within the first few bars of Borknagar's Winter Thrice. This 2016 outing for the Norwegian metallers has it all - huge slabs of guitar, blistering drums and epic vocals. Yes, the Limetree does smooth some of the edges, but the attack remains, as does the pre-amp's transparency.
There are still those that roll their eyes when they hear that I test hi-fi using metal; however, Borknagar is a case in point where the dynamic shifts are comparable with any opera. Furthermore, to my mind, this gave the Limetree a better rhymical workout than anything by Orff or Wagner.
Finally, we have Radiohead's OK Computer reissue. Often manic, always cleverly put together, Radiohead is another excellent test for hi-fi. The little Lindemann again held everything together. There is a precision to the overall presentation, and this helps keep the instrumentation and vocals in their place. Additionally, this creates a beautifully wide soundstage.
There was a word that I scribbled circles around as well as underlining (and overlining) it many times during my test session, and that was “Cohesive”. That, for me, was the Lindemann Limetree's overall skill. Moreover, because of that skill, I actually stopped listening to the new box in the chain more than once, and instead just enjoyed the music - and that's what it should always be about.
Lindemann Limetree review conclusion
From quickly researching Lindemann I was expecting a much larger price tag than £595 - that did not really change once I plugged it in either. It might have an odd name, but there is nothing funny about its performance. The fact that it sits well below the £1,000 mark makes it a bargain.
There would be no reason to be embarrassed by having a Limetree as your phono stage even if you owned a £10,000 turntable. However, for the rest of us, it will undoubtedly improve our more modest decks too.
For more information, head on over to Lindemann Audio.
StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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