Integrated Amplifiers

Lindemann 882 Stereo Integrated Amplifier


Design and Set Up

Let's face it. When you spend the big bucks for high-end electronics, a significant chunk of what you pay for covers the cost of the enclosure, super high quality fit and finish and top flight parts. But, unlike some ultra high-end components I've seen, the Lindemann 882 gives you the highest quality over very square millimeter, both inside and out. For me, the first place to go to see a component's quality is inside the case. The 882 uses a similar architecture to many integrated amps, with the power supply hidden below the main amplifier circuit board. The power supplies for the right and left channels are completely independent, with their own 400VA transformers and 76,000 µF of power supply capacitance. This transformer size gives a 50% margin on the 882's 300W per channel into 4 ohms specification.

The amp board is mostly covered by extruded aluminum heat sinks for the right and left amp channels. A nice touch is felt blocks clamped between the case lid and the heat sinks that damp vibrations in the heat sink fins and circuit board. The circuit boards themselves show obsessive attention to detail. Along with the expected audiophile parts (Black Gate capacitors etc.), are very carefully engineered PC boards. Anyone can use expensive parts. That only requires opening up a catalog and filling out an order form. Properly engineering a circuit and realizing that on a PC board takes some more skill.

The Lindemann boards are made of military spec board material, with thick, gold plated traces. Boards are rimmed by plated-through vias to ensure proper ground plane conduction at high frequencies. All connectors and internal wiring are of the highest quality, and not in merely an audiophile sense. The shielded signal cables inside the 882 are made by Huber-Suhner in Switerland. This is the cable and connector manufacturer that makes cables and connectors used to carry microwave signals in some of the radio astronomy receivers I build for my "day job." Kapton flex circuits are used to connect the front panel boards to the main board for less critical connections. The 882 is entirely balanced inside, meaning there are 4 complete amplifiers in the box. The right and left channels are made up from two amps, one amplifying the positive leg of the balanced XLR input and one amplifying the negative. This method completely cancels out any common mode noise (i.e. noise that's the same in both balanced legs) generated in the amp. Single ended inputs are copied and have one copy inverted to generate a pseudo-balanced input.

Of course, the outside is where a good chunk of the money is. In pretty much every piece of electronics, the case is the single most expensive part (not including the cost of the engineering to design and develop the component, of course!). Some uber high-end components, like the 882, really are machinist's works of art. The surface finish, part-to-part fit and precision of the 882's case are second to none. The matte-finish aluminum of the front panel and knobs were a pleasure to touch, like the metallic equivalent of suede. The front panel offered elegant simplicity, with two dials attached to optical encoders operating the volume control and the source selector, plus an array of buttons for other functions. The buttons operated with the precision feel of a camera shutter button.

The rear panel gets back to engineering, with high quality panel mount connectors all securely bolted to the back panel rather than relying on the PC board to hold them. 2 pairs of XLR inputs and 3 pairs RCA inputs are offered, along with 1 pair XLR line level outputs to drive a subwoofer or additional amplifier, and two pairs of binding posts with very nice thumbscrew type nuts. A grounding post is provided to help eliminate ground loop hum if present, but the 882 does not have a phono-preamp. Unlike many high-end components, the remote control is not machined aluminum. It is plastic, but not your normal plastic. The remote weighs the better part of a pound, and is made of a very dense, soft touch plastic you might find in the interior of a fine motor car (the kind of car someone who can afford the 882 might own). I personally found this remote to be more pleasant to hold and use than the majority of metal remotes I have handled.

Why am I spending all this time talking about the fit and finish? Because the prospective owners of the 882 are looking for that level of quality. People who buy Ferraris don't want ill-fitting body panels, orange peel paint and cheap, plastic interiors. Part of the experience is the visual and tactile feel of quality to go along with the suspension, brakes, transmission and engine. Some would argue you could get all the performance for 1/3 the money buying a Corvette ZR-1. In some sense that's true, but those people that buy Ferraris aren't going to put up with the low rent interior and pedestrian exterior (at least in a relative sense) of the Corvette. The extra money is worth it for them. Same goes with the 882, although I would love to find an integrated that sounds as good as the 882 for less money. I don't know of one.