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Lehmann Audio Black Cube

It was an opportunity I cannot pass. The Home Theater's Sonny Tuazon let me borrow the Black Cube from Lehmann Audio of Germany.

The Black Cube came in two pieces - the phono stage itself, and a standard power supply. The fixed, long umbilical cord connects the two units together. The power module is equipped with standard IEC and will allow aftermarket power cords.

The physical examination revealed only one pair of input, like the Dynavector P-75 that I previously reviewed. A sigh of relief for the technically challenged is in order as the settings are accessible without opening up the case. The MM/MC selection and loading options are available via DIP switches (instead of jumpers) at the bottom of the main unit.

Since my last phono stage audition, I have made positive improvements in my listening room, hence, I will not make sonic comparison with those phono stages. These include the EAR834P, the Dynavector P-75, and Wright WPL11. A fair comparison can be made against my current phono stage which is a Musical Fidelity X-LP that has been serving MM and MC duties for my two turntables.

Turntable set #1 was used to test the MC compatibility of the Black Cube to my system. Upon playing Maureen McGovern's Morning After, I immediately noticed the violin accompaniment to be in the music mix more so than with the X-LP which I believe is greater detail compared to the X-LP. As my el-cheapo "treatments" killed nearly all but the nastiest sibilance in my room, I still want to confirm it was so with this phono stage. And it was... Charlene's I've Never Been To Me is sounding better than ever, none of the previous sibilance were present and this time with the Black Cube, more refinement, finesse and smoothness. If there is one characteristic of the cube that is growing on me, it is the overall refinement, or shall I say, grace of delivering the music - suave. The Black Cube has excellent presentation too, very good sound staging and imaging capabilities. The layering of instruments in Cal Tjader's Hurracan album is very convincing. Dynamics were mouthful as well, it is very enjoyable listening to the drums on Nica's Dream of String Band featuring Isao Suzuki , where the cube bested the X-LP once more.

I was concerned about the cube's MC capability when it comes to rock, because of how graceful it delivered the presentation of the previous materials. I like rock, so The Cult's Wildflower was up next. The PRAT was not as fast and furious as the Dynavector P-75 in comparison, but it does not make the music lame and boring, and still a bit better than the X-LP.

I fiddled around with the MC settings (100 and 470 ohm loading) and found it to be very close, and could not make a significant difference between the two.

My setup #2 is configured for MM and high-output MC, which allowed me to test the MM function of the Black Cube. Now, i'm a bit stunned. The MM section of the cube offers a very significant improvement compared to that of the X-LP. The tone is different for a start, where it is on the warmer side. There was no hint of it being solid state as the music is more full bodied than the X-LP.

I have tried the latest Musical Fidelity phono stage but was not quite impressed as it sounded just like my X-LP and it added a bit of sibilance.

Pros

  • grace, finesse in music presentation
  • detail without adding sibilance
  • very good soundstaging and imaging
  • DIP switches for configuration and ease of access
  • custom loading for MC input

Cons

  • only one pair of inputs

I would like to thank Sonny Tuazon of The Home Theater for lending me the unit and making me think about it.

Sonny G. Tuazon
The Home Theater
Unit G8 Prince Tower
Tordesillas cor Bautista
Makati City
812-5325

Equipment

Turntable Set #1

  • Oracle Delphi turntable, Eminent Technology 2.5 air-bearing tonearm
  • Clearaudio Sigma cartrigde

Turntable Set #2

  • JVC QLF-66 direct-drive, fully automatic turntable, JVC S arm option (straight arm not used), Clearaudio Aurum Alpha cartridge

Amplification and Speakers

  • My own 245 amplifier with 5842 drivers
  • DIY Foreplay preamp
  • Infinity Kappa 200

Cables

  • Silver Audio Silver Bullet 4 interconnects
  • Sonic Art interconnect
  • John Risch recipe DIY speaker cables