REVIEW: LINDEMANN LIMETREE NETWORK - DSD ROON READY STREAMER
We recently reviewed the Lindemann Audio Limetree Phono pre-amplifier. Now we're investigating their digital chops; namely the Limetree Network streaming DAC.
Networked Streaming DAC
The Lindemann Limetree Network is the second of the German company's diminutive devices we have had the pleasure of hosting. We enjoyed the Phono very much and sharing space with that has certainly whet our appetite for the rest of the range.
We can instantly tell that the Network and Phono are related. They are pretty much non-identical twins. The Network features the same casework and measures approximately 12 x 4 x 12cm (W x H x D) and weighs just 300g.
On the fascia, there is an on/off toggle that, when held in the up position, can also engage the unit's DSD mode. Aside from the tasteful branding, all that remains of note here are the brace of LEDs indicating Sample Rate and DSD, as well as a 3.5mm headphone port.
Around the rear, you have a USB 2.0 port for attaching storage, a WiFi aerial (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, dual band), a 100Mbps Ethernet port and a pair of RCA for your analogue output.
It may look low-key, but all the smarts are inside this clever little box of tricks.
The unassuming Limetree Network is a hi-res DLNA/UPnP streamer that will playback up to 384 kHz and DSD 256. Furthermore, the Network will slurp up your invisible audio libraries over Wi-Fi, Ethernet or Bluetooth and send them either to powered speakers or your amplifier.
Under the Network's hood, you will find all the makings of a high-definition, DSD-capable network player. Firstly, there is no need for an external DAC as you already get great mono-mode D/A converter stages in the form of two AK4452 DACs in dual differential mono mode buddied with an AK4137 re-sampler.
Files are post-synchronised by an ultra-precise FemtoClock. The data processed accordingly are free from jitter, which is the most frequent cause of digital sound being unsatisfactory. The option to convert any data into a 1-bit signal (DSD) is an extra gain in sound quality.
Then Lindemann also adds variable volume control and a high-quality headphone output for good measure.
Finally, the power supply boasts being a high-quality “medical grade” wall plug transformer, ensuring particularly good isolation from line disturbances by all accounts.
As well as being able to be controlled by the Lindemann app (iOS/Android) on your mobile devices, the Limetree Network is ROON Ready. Additionally, you can stream from a variety of music services such as TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, Spotify, podcast or web radio directly through the Lindemann app.
Whenever I chat to people about streaming hi-fi devices, the first question asked is “is it difficult to set up?” I can honestly say that the Lindemann Limetree Network has been one of the easiest I've had to test. From unboxing to playing music took around 5 minutes and that's including downloading the app.
Making the process even less complicated is the Network's Wi-Fi connection has WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). If you have a router with a WPS button, give that a shove and do the same with the button at the back of the Network (use a paperclip or ballpoint pen). Within seconds the Limetree will be chatting away with your router. I'm a bit 'belt and braces' when it comes to these things, so I also opted to hardwire the Ethernet too.
The Lindemann app is user-friendly, and everything appears self-evident. On the home screen, you have access to your local playlist (music on your mobile device) as well as any server you have on your network or storage you have plugged into the Limetree via its USB port. Finally, you can link up a wireless device via Bluetooth.
In-app options include airable radio and podcasts, Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, HighResAudio and Spotify. Naturally, these will require your login credentials before you get going.
The real boon for me, however, is that you can also control the Limetree Network through Roon. As well as the software's beautiful user interface this also enables the Network's multi-room skills.
If you have networked storage, then the Limetree will sniff it out. If you have a USB hard-drive, plug it directly into the Lindemann device. Attach some RCA cables to some active speakers or your amplifier, and you're ready to rock.
For such an unfussy device, aesthetically as well as set-up, the Limetree Network's performance is effortlessly brilliant.
The Network has a natural, full-bodied presentation and possesses class-leading insight. However, none of this is at the expense of expression or dynamics.
The little Lindemann streamer presented Francis Dunnery's 'American Life in the Summertime' with remarkable punch, coherence and depth. Also, that depth is matched by a sparkling bite up top.
Moving over to 'The National Anthem' by Radiohead and the Network proved to be sure-footed and punctual. When the brass section turns up with what appears to be the wrong score, the streamer's ability to display effortless decisiveness when dealing with complex rhythms and layers without missing a beat is noteworthy.
Ninch Inch Nails is a regular feature on my playlists and 'Right Where it Belongs' is sparse, intimate and slightly claustrophobic. The Network draws me into Reznor's voice, unveiling every breath and inflexion. Even with the chorus/phase effects, the words remain personal.
Rounding off this little session with some Pink Floyd and 'Money' (sorry, even I visit the standard review fare of DSOTM) the Lindemann Network shows its Olympian balance. As well as producing an all-you-can-eat buffet of stability the streamer presents a clear and articulate midrange.
Lindemann Limetree Network conclusion
Lindemann has yet another hit on its hands with the Limetree Network. Easy to install and operate - these are reasons enough to attract those wanting to get into the 21st century but are afraid their tech skills will be found wanting. The little Lindemann is perfectly plug-and-play.
The flexibility of connectivity is yet another bonus with the Network offering wired and wireless networking as well as Bluetooth. Furthermore, the options of controlling the system from your mobile using Lindemann's easy app or the wonderful Roon is a distinct plus point in my book. Add in the ability to directly attach a USB hard-drive and Robert's your mother's brother.
That simplicity should not deter music fans looking for detail, depth and timing from their audio components. The little Lindemann has all that and a side of fries.
Performance, ease and options all wrapped up in a well-made, compact case see the Lindemann Limetree Network claiming a StereoNET Applause Award.
Limetree Network Tech Spec
- Resolution: 384 kHz/32 bit and DSD 256
- Dynamic range: > 120 dB
- THD & Noise: < 0.001 % (@ 0 dB FS)
- Clock: ultra-low jitter MEMS FemtoClock
- Re-sampling: bit-perfect or DSD
- Converter architecture: two AK4452 DACs in dual differential mono mode, AK4137 re-sampler
- Output voltage: 2.0 V @ 0 dB FS
- Output impedance line output: 100 ohms
- Headphone connector: 3.5 mm mini-jack socket
- Recommended headphone impedance: 32 -200 ohms
- Ethernet: 100 Mbit/s
- WLAN: dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP
- USB 2.0 high-speed host interface, max. output current 1.5 A
- Supported codecs: WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, DSD
- UPnP and DLNA support
- PCM resolution: 44.1 kHz up to 384 kHz, 24 bit.
- DSD resolution: DSD 64 up to DSD 256.
- Gapless playback
- Streaming services: TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, HighResAudio, Spotify, Internet radio and Podcast
- Roon Ready
For more information, go to Lindemann Audio.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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