Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Phono Stage Review

Posted on 28th September, 2023

Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Phono Stage Review

James Michael Hughes gets into the groove with this quirky but capable DJ-inspired phono stage…


Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Phono Stage


Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Review

It was way back in 1995 that Lehmannaudio introduced the original Black Cube MM/MC phono stage, and since then, it's been through several updates. The latest version is the SE II, which has been further refined by the introduction of the SE II Sven Väth edition. It's a tribute to the famous German DJ and electronic music producer, who is said to be highly committed to vinyl. A 7-inch 45rpm single of his music is included with this special edition, plus a 12x8-inch black and white picture of the man himself.

The standard Black Cube SE II costs £925 and offers several updates and improvements over the regular Black Cube II at £699, including an adjustable bass filter. The £1,099 Sven Väth version offers additional electronic and cosmetic enhancements. For instance, according to Lehmann, Mundorf capacitors replace normal MKPs in the output stage for better transient reproduction.

Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Review

The Black Cube SE II Sven Väth has a matt-black front panel with orange lettering, an orange power LED, and an orange ring on the Neutrik XLR power connector. An adjustable bass response curve is common to both SE versions – something the regular Black Cube II does not offer. The Sven Väth edition has adjustable gain between a maximum of 46dB (MM cartridges) and 66dB (MC cartridges). The bass filter has sixteen settings over a series of frequencies between 7Hz and 90Hz. The signal-to-noise ratio is claimed to be 71dB (MM) and 63dN (MC).

Adjustments for gain and impedance are made using a series of DIP switches. Unfortunately, there's no writing on the base to tell you which switch does what, so you need to consult the instruction book to find out how to set them. To adjust the bass filter, you need to open up the unit to gain access. Jumper connectors change the various settings, but the instructions are coy about telling you how to make changes. Indeed, the booklet says these should be left to experts.

Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Review

Used with a Pick It DS2 MC cartridge (around 0.5mV output), the Black Cube SE II Sven Väth proved to be hum-free and super-quiet with plenty of gain in my system. I own quite a number of phono stages – including an original Black Cube – but an excellent LFD design has been my choice of late. The Sven Väth has about the same gain as my LFD, which made it simple to switch between the two…


My first impressions were of a crisp, focused sound that was very clean and immediate, with fine transient speed and clarity. I find there's a holographic richness to the LFD that I don't get with most of my other phono stages, so I was pleased to discover that the Black Cube SE II Sven Väth also has this desirable trait. At the same time, however, the Lehmann comfortably outpaces the LFD in terms of focus and immediacy.

Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Review

For example, when playing Rikki Lee Jones' Flying Cowboys, the Black Cube SE II Sven Väth really enhanced the crisp top end of this well-recorded LP, bringing out lots of percussive detail. Treble had a brilliant silvery quality, making the LFD sound slightly tarnished and grey in comparison.

Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes is not the easiest of recordings to reproduce well, but the Lehmann excelled with The Remembering. It really clarified Jon Anderson's double-tracked vocals over the instrumental backing. Guitar arpeggios mixed with mellotron created a shimmering backdrop, and this phono stage let me follow the individual strands of vocals and instrumentals as they interweaved with one another.

Lehmannaudio Black Cube SE II Sven Väth Review

Again, my reference LFD didn't make such a good job of keeping the various sections separate and independent. Indeed, the Sven Väth sounded much clearer, letting me hear every intricate turn of the music. Bass went very deep, too. Although not dry or antiseptic, this little box of tricks majors on clarity and separation rather than richness or warmth. While it's not especially euphonic, neither is it desiccated or threadbare. Overall, then, it sounds lucid, detailed and exceptionally clean with it.


My feeling is that Lehmann's Black Cube SE II Sven Väth, with its fancy DJ provenance and trick Mundorf capacitors, is highly worthwhile. This is definitely an exceptional phono stage at the price, making it excellent value for money. Hear one if you can.

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    James Michael Hughes's avatar

    James Michael Hughes

    An avid audiophile for many decades, Jimmy has been writing about hi-fi since 1980 in a host of British magazines, from What Hi-Fi to Hi-Fi Choice. Based in London, England, he’s one of the UK’s most prolific record and CD collectors – no streaming service can yet match his amazing music collection!

    Posted in:Hi-Fi Amplifiers Phono Preamplifiers
    Tags: lehmannaudio  henley audio 


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