Lehmann Audio Traveller - Portable Amplifier - first impressions

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by kt66, Nov 29, 2014.
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  1. KT66
    WP_20141128_16_42_00_Pro.jpg WP_20141128_16_42_07_Pro.jpg
     
    Lehmann Traveller – Portable Integrated Amplifier
    Bought from Thomann in Germany about £310.00 – available in UK only from Audio Affair
    for £399.00
     
    Hardware Used for Review – DX50, HM-901+mini box,Studio 3rd Anniversary, T70P, DT1350,
    D2000, V-moda XS
     
    I needed a new toy, you all know that feeling.
     
    My main travelling DAPs are DX50 and Studio 3rd Anniversary, the Studio doesn't really need an amp it's incredibly powerful, and doesn't have a proper line out anyway,
    but the Ibasso does like an amp even though I still argue the LO on the DX50 is not really a proper line out,( Flame suit on) but it does sound better than the headphone out.
     
    My 901 with minibox rarely leaves the house, yes it's that special, and doesn't need an amp, plus the 901's form makes it unsuitable to attach an amp
     
    I have had my Graham Slee Voyager for 3 years now, it still works perfectly well and sounds superb..........until you compare it to the O2 (Epiphany in my case) which makes
    the Voyager sound a bit rolled off, but the trouble is the O2 is incredibly un-portable. The power switch is too easy to accidently turn on, battery life on mine is rubbish
    and the shape is neither pocket or bag friendly.
     
    If someone can make an O2 in the form of an E12, I am first in the queue.
     
    Having had an absolute arse of a year (recovering from skin cancer) I bloody deserve a present and it's xmas and nearly bonus time so..........
    I looked at the regular contenders, and nothing grabbed me.
     
    a) Nothing new from Graham Slee......still
    b) The E12 looks perfect, reviews are hit and miss, and don't think its a step up, more sideways at best
    c) Ibasso don't seem to make a regular amp anymore. Shame. I don't need, and won't use balanced so no point paying for that.
    d) The higher end US amps are really expensive to import to the UK. I wanted EC distribution
    e) JDS seemed tempting but again more of a sideways move.
     
    So being the fool that I am, and this is a terrible, terrible way to shop, I was determined to spend
    at least £200, so I really could find much available in the UK or EU. The Lehmann caught my eye,
    ordered from Germany, arrived 2 days later in London. Nearly a £100 cheaper than ordering from my local dealer Audio Affair.
    I wish manufacturers would control their prices better. I do feel a little guilty, but only a little.
     
    I got this because it has balance adjustment, and after years of playing in bands my ears aren't perfect and 47 years old.
    It looked neat, is made in Germany and could be a step up from what I have,
     
    Its a big box for a little amp. The photos I had already seen belied it's size. Its size,shape and form really REALLY reminds me of an Audioengine D1,
    I would put money on a link somewhere.
    The build is superb, but not £300 superb, £200 would seem fairer.
     
    WP_20141128_16_12_25_Pro.jpg
     
     
    So what's in the box? not a lot for £300+ - no bag, a bog standard micro USB cable for charging, and a 3.5 to 3.5 cable that it meant to be great quality,
    HOWEVER the cable is extremely stiff and would stress the jacks on both amp and DAP – I broke my 801 this way , I ain't doing it again.
     
     
     
    The size, shape and form make it a pretty impractical amp for combining with any DAP I own.
    WP_20141128_16_40_18_Pro.jpg WP_20141128_16_41_52_Pro.jpg WP_20141128_16_42_38_Pro.jpg
     
     
    The instruction manual is pretty comprehensive, you shouldn't really need an instruction manual for an amp, but I promise you do need to read this one as
    every move is just covered by 2 buttons, “+” and “-”
     
    To turn it on, hold both for 5 secs
    To turn it up or down is obviously + or - however the volume adjustment is incredibly subtle.
    Stab at it up or down and it changes so slightly it's hard to notice, so keep your finger on the button (which is too small for my large hands) and it changes more rapidly.
    After 24 hours I am still not used to it and would really prefer a wheel or dial, but lets see if it grows on me.
     
    WP_20141128_16_40_25_Pro.jpg WP_20141128_16_40_34_Pro.jpg
     
     
     
    Press both buttons for about a second, and you can then adjust the balance. After 1 (one!) second it reverts back to normal.
    So you need to be pretty nifty with your fingers. Actually the manual says 1 sec, I just tried it again and it's nearer to 0.5sec
     
    The balance only has three settings, slightly left, centre, slightly right – this is a MAJOR disappointment in a £300+ amp. Yes it works, yes it helps, but it should have a bigger range.
    Putting balance in is a great idea but please do it properly
    Functionality wise its the total opposite of the volume control – odd
     
    One very cool feature is that there are input and outputs on the front and rear of the amp, something I am sure O2 owners will appreciate!
     
    WP_20141128_16_41_03_Pro.jpg WP_20141128_16_47_46_Pro.jpg
     
     
     
    So with my wonderful, Kimber http://www.russandrews.com/product.asp?lookup=1&region=UK&currency=GBP&pf_id=2208&customer_id=PAA2813112714561FPXQWRRNTRYGLMJS
    plugged into line out, max volume on the DX50 (fw 1.60) let the fun commence.......
     
    I start with Sgt Pepper 24/44 flac, I know this LP better than my own kids, and WOW
    Big soundstage, tonally it's all there, Macca's bass is both tuneful and deep, but not shaking my head. Ringo's snare sounds like a Ludwig should do, a little nasty and aggressive,
    but it's the vocals that grab me, VERY clear, you can easily hear the room, or the type of reverb applied.
     
    On “She's Leaving Home” after the first line and the word “begins” you can hear a deep inhalation of breath by Paul, you can't just hear it, it stands out, that's how clear the vocals are.
    The backing vocals and harmonies on “It's Getting Better” are crystal clear, I hadn't really paid them much attention before, but I am being drawn in.
     
    And “drawn in” is a great phrase, the Traveller invites you to get deeper and deeper into the mix, as a musician who craves detail it's a fabulous sounding little amp.
    Once you are there, it's actually quite hard to stop listening! I guess some of the credit must go to the new 1.60 firmware for the DX50, it's superb, if not slightly buggy.
     
    Moving on to Wings - Let 'em In (DCC, 16/44 mastered by Steve Hoffman) I notice how much PRAT this little combo has, a simple song played beautifully,
    the bass hooks the song from the start and it's there, you notice it through out the whole song, but it's not overpowering or smudging any other frequencies.
    I love the bass on this amp, it's flat and true to the mastering, but as there is no eq on this amp, (I NEVER use Eq.) I can't see bass heads really liking it,
    you could always boost the bass on the DAP if you needed to.
     
    Wilco – Wilco The Song 16/44 - terrible mastering on this wonderful song, too loud, and compressed, ruins the dynamics, but as this is like 98% of other modern day masterings
    it needs to be listened to. I can't fault it. Treble is sweet, cymbals are clear but not harsh, feedbacking guitars are very nice to listen to. Vocals are upfront and clear.
    So despite the mastering, this amp lets the recording breathe as much as possible.
     
    So within 24 hours I am seriously impressed by the sound, I tried it briefly with the Hisoundaudio DAP and yes it did make it sound better, it shouldn't, but it does.
    Should I try it with my 901? I probably won't because if I love it as much as I do with the DX50 I will be carrying around a very awkward (and expensive) brick.
     
    I need to spend some serious commuting time next week with this, to test out battery life, 20 hours claimed, poor compared to the 70 I get from the Voyager,
    but still perfectly use-able, and not even South Eastern Trains take 20 hrs to get to Charing Cross
     
    So to summarise
     
    Sound – 9/10 – addictive
    Build – 7/10 – built well but not good value
    Balance Adjustment - 5/10
    Power – 8/10 – hasn't run out of steam yet. But I will only use this with portable on ears.
    Look/Style – 8/10 – small,neat, smart,very....er....German
    Volume Function – 5/10 – it just takes too long, it's too subtle.
    Connections - 9/10 - very practical and high quality, can be daisy chained if you would ever want to.
     
    Overall – 8/10
     
     
    Yes it's crazy using a £300+ amp with a £200 DAP, breaks all my “Source First” Rules, but damn
    the DX50 and Lehmann Traveller is a sweet combo, especially with the T70P.
     
  2. KT66
    Ok, so no one has any interest in this? This IS the best portable amp I have ever heard, matches beautifully with DX50 and Studio V

    You're missing out, believe me.
     
    warrior1975 likes this.
  3. warrior1975
    I've been digging to find info about this amp, your review is only the second one I've found. I'm interested in stacking this with my AK240.
     
  4. KT66
    Its really growing on me. I tried it with 901 & minibox and it was very good, but I feel a sideways move.
    Surely the 240 already has an amazing amp in it??

    Its a weird shape, doesn't have the same footprint as any dap I've ever seen, but the sound is sublime with DX50, and gives the Studio a much "classier" sound.

    I need to try it with a DX90 and X5.

    Oh and thanks for the reply.
     
    warrior1975 likes this.
  5. warrior1975
    Thanks for sharing your impressions. I don't believe many know of this amp either, hard to find information out about it.
     
  6. KT66
    If anyone in London /Kent wants to play with it please pm me.

    We need a head fi Xmas booze up!
     
  7. Alje
    KT66
    I think in future you need to put a little more thought into the wording of :wink:your posts before hitting submit. Do you really want to replies to your last one.
    Have you had much response to the offer of a Xmas drinky and a fumble :p
     
  8. KT66
    My hopes are high
     
  9. cheznous
    Just got one of these amps to accompany my Cowon P1.
    Likewise I bought from Germany as 300 pounds plays 400 pounds in the UK. I like to buy local but at a
    third more I do not think so.
     
    So far am impressed and surprised this has not had more interest. Possibly the unit is not available
    so easily in the States or the East where most forum members reside?
     
    It is far smaller than I envisaged but chunky and quite a substantial stubby little thing. It is not pretty
    more functional.(I think I just described myself).
    The input and output being available on both ends is useful, I am always turning DAPS or amps over to get best fit.
    Controls, so so. You have to hold the volume down before you see any movement and it remembers
    the last place once shut down. Bit of a bummer when you finished with Nick Drake and start up with
    Motorhead.
     
    I like it though, gives the extra body to the DAP and works very well with the Cowon P1, Kimber cable and my Shure 846 and Westone W60.
    Very clean sound and just the right amount of bass.
     
    KT66 likes this.
  10. KT66
    I love the sound of it, with dx50&90 it takes them to new league.
    The volume control takes a while to get used to but can remain slightly irritating , but what a sound!!!!
    If there is a better sounding portable amp I haven't heard it.
     
  11. mhoque

    Hi,
     
    I have cowon 1 which only takes supports optical out. i am planning to use it with my audeze el-8. does this amp support optical input. thanks
     
  12. KT66
    No, its an amplifier, you need a dac. What's the budget? What don't you like about the P1s sound?
     
  13. mhoque

    Oh I love p1 sound. i want to get the best out of my headphone. For the amp I don't wan to spend more then $500 since I already spent $950 for the cowon p1and 699 for the el8 :).I am new to this, can I not use Lehman only as an amp since cowon p1 is pretty famous for it's DAC.
     
  14. audionewbi
    I heard this last night at a not so suitable condition, however the sound was nice enough to have me spend my time search the interweb for some reviews. Why this has not much love?
     
  15. KT66
    No idea, using mine now with DX90 & DT1350, simply a brilliant amp, still the best I have heard
     
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