Lehmannaudio Decade Jubilee MM/MC Phono Preamp Page 2

Typically, there's no sense of artifice from the Decade Jubilee, which sounds dynamic without subjectively augmenting bass, mid or treble. This doesn't make it sound boring. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, as it lets your chosen cartridge do the work while faithfully revealing the essential character of both pick-up and music. Few cartridges are without some 'colour' of their own, after all...

Using the Clearaudio MC Essence, and with the Decade Jubilee set for MC gain and 100ohm loading, the result was a performance with alluring insight. Lehmannaudio's phono stage brought the main performers to the fore, ensuring their contribution was maximised, but did this without projecting into the room unduly. Rather than attempting to place the action right in your lap, it spread it out slightly further back and between the loudspeakers themselves, giving the music a fine depth perspective and scale.

The Decade Jubilee put Danielle Haim's close-mic'd, delicate vocals at the heart of the action in 'Summer Girl' from HAIM's Women In Music Pt.III [Polydor 0250813817], while the tuneful, backing bassline was accompanied by tight, rhythmical drumming. On the subject of bass, however, I would steer clear of Lehmannaudio's 'soft bass roll-off', as it does affect low-end output noticeably; conventional rumble filters are far more subtle in their action. Really, if you need the Decade Jubilee's filter to assuage any bass issues, then you have more serious arm/cartridge matching problems to investigate.

And besides, with filter switch firmly off, the Decade Jubilee crafts an enjoyable bass performance. It doesn't dig quite as deeply in pure 'welly' terms as some of its competitors; for example, I have heard Christine and the Queens' 'Tilted' from the album Chaleur Humaine [Because Music BEC5610119] rattle my ornaments more effectively on occasion. However, the unit's sound doesn't ever approach 'lightweight', and more than compensates for a slight lack of ultimate impact with its subtle, revealing bass handling.

Playing Jah Wobble's 'The Sun Does Rise' 12in single [Island Records 12IS 587], the Decade Jubilee captured the reggae-influenced bassline with a lightness of touch that allowed the track to bound along joyously. The bass on this track is deep and lesser components can get a little bogged down by it, but the Decade Jubilee danced through it with ease.


The PWX II LC power supply [bottom], connects to the Jubilee phono stage [top] via an umbilical and 4-pin XLR plugs. A second power outlet is also provided

From MC To MM
Switching cartridge for the Ortofon 2M Black and dialling up the Decade Jubilee's MM settings proved to be something of a revelation. Using a £3000+ phono stage for around £600-worth of MM cartridge might seem overkill, but it's not often I've heard any unit close the gap between MM and MC quite so effectively. The 2M Black is, of course, a highly worthy design, but through Lehmannaudio's phono stage it seemed to gain an extra sense of scale and clarity. The result was an enthralling treble performance, with a purity and openness that made everything a compelling listen. Yukimi Nagano's singing on 'Come To Me' from Koop's Koop Islands LP [Compost Records 234-1] was breathy and vivid, and locked solidly in the centre of the soundstage, flanked by insistent percussion and lush keyboard and brass.

Grand Design
Equally, on Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik', performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Herbert von Karajan [Deutsche Grammophon 139 004], the Decade Jubilee threw a spotlight on the rich mass of violin strings while offering a formidable sense of scale and grandeur to the whole performance. So, just as a good CD player can bring out the best of every silver disc, Lehmannaudio's diminutive Decade Jubilee phono stage does exactly the same for vinyl.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Given the size of Lehmannaudio's Decade Jubilee, it might be tempting to dismiss it as a cute gadget rather than the formidable phono stage that it is. This flexible two-box solution not only makes the best of MC cartridges, but turns in one of the best MM performances I have heard at any price. If your budget extends this far, then it surely ranks as a 'must hear'. As a bonus, it's bound to fit on your shelf...

Lehmannaudio Vertriebs GmbH
Supplied by: Henley Designs Ltd, UK
01235 511166