Review: Lehmann Audio Drachenfels – Champion

Disclaimer: The Lehmann Audio Drachenfels amplifier was handed to me free of charge during the Canjam Berlin Headphone show. The unit doesn’t need to be returned.

 

Lehmann Audio

I don’t really think Lehmann Audios till needs an introduction. The German company was founded in 1988 and Mr. Lehmann up to today has released several award winning top quality units. I can’t imagine someone has never heard of the Linear headphone amplifier series. Maybe the name doesn’t ring a bell right away, but I’m sure the typical amplifier look does.

https://www.lehmannaudio.com

Lehmannaudio Vertriebs GmbH was founded in 1988 by the young student of audio engineering, Norbert Lehmann, in Cologne, Germany. Mr. Lehmann has a passion for detail and quality and that has resulted in the Lehmannaudio product line. Made in Germany.

More Lehmann history, including an overview of all their successful models can be found here: https://www.lehmannaudio.com/about.html

Drachenfels

Mr. Lehmann calls the Drachenfels amplifier a versatile champion with high ambitions. While some would say that’s just the marketeer or proud owner talking, there’s actually a lot of truth in it. I’ve been using the Drachenfels amplifier for months now on a daily basis and it hasn’t let me down a single time.

The Drachenfels is the first amplifier I try all of the new incoming gear with and even when I’m just listening to music for fun during the day (yes that still does happen), the Drachenfels is the amplifier I end up using on my work desk. You can find out all about the Drachenfels amplifier on its dedicated web page right here: https://www.lehmannaudio.com/headphone-amplifiers/home/drachenfels.html

According to Lehmann Audio, the Drachenfels represents a new generation of headphone amps. Entry level price tag, leading edge technology and modularity. The Drachenfels not only is a headphone amp but you can also use it as a preamp. Next to that it in the future will be possible to add in a digital module to the existing design. Think streaming, Bluetooth, USB input, Coaxial input and SPDIF. The BT and LAN-connectivity will be only available at a later, unspecified date but the rest will be available soon.

The Drachenfels offers 12dB of practice-oriented gain which, due to the smooth running ALPS Blue Velvet potentiometer with excellent synchronism and the ultra low-noise circuit, dispenses with the need for a gain switch.

Amplifier Power

The Drachenfels isn’t the most powerful amplifier but it is small in size and I haven’t really found it to make any of the headphones and earphones I tried it with, sound underpowered.

Power output: 330 ohms/110 mW & 33 ohms/180 mW

Inputs & Outputs

 In this regards the Drachenfels is pretty simple if I may say so. There is one set of RCA inputs and one set of RCA outputs for the pre amp function. You also get a pair of 6.3mm headphone outputs, using Neutrik headphone sockets with gold-plated contacts (1 x switching line out, 1 x non-switching line out).

An extra RCA input would have been nice in my opinion but at the same time this isn’t really a problem either. You just need to take it into account and you might have to use a switchbox if you’re planning on using different sources simultaneously.

Build Quality & Looks

As expected the German build quality is top notch. The unit has a beautiful design and at the same time it looks and feels robust. As said, it’s a rather small amplifier and it measures only 60 mm x 120 mm x 43 mm (audio section). Its weight comes in at only 0,5 kg (1.1 lbs. audio section) but it is heavy enough to stay completely in place when inserting or disconnecting RCA cables and headphones.

The Lehmann Audio Drachenfels is available and black and silver but I did read something about a chrome version being available as well for an extra charge of 120€. The chrome versions are something very typical for Lehmann Audio and they make the design stand out even more. Once you’ve seen a chrome version of one of their amps, you’ll remember it forever.

The design is simple but beautiful, the case is robust, the components top notch and the build quality couldn’t be better. I love German engineering.

Layout & Price

Like the design, the lay-out is simple yet nice. On the front panel you’ll find the power button at the left, the double 6.3mm headphone output in the middle and right next to it the sweet ALPS volume dial.

On the back you can see that the panel is removable and that of course is related to the fact the Drachenfels is/will be upgradeable with digital modules. The standard version of the Drachenfels goes for €499. The Coax or USB-version is estimated at €899 while the Chrome version of the upgraded model will retail for €1.019. In that last case we’re talking about a fully pimped AMP/DAC unit however. The regular Drachenfels itself costs under half, placing it somewhere in the mid-fi segment.

The Drachenfels comes delivered well protected in a very nice box with its serial number and a multi-language manual. Everything you need.

Sound

Lehmann Audio describes the Drachenfels’ sound as follows:

With regard to sound it’s particularly the tremendous wealth of detail that strikes the ear, together with a perfect control of what’s going on. Even in the thickest musical hurly-burly the structure remains discernible at any time and every detail clear-cut.

We often don’t agree with the marketing talk but in this case I’ll have to make an exception. I have put many hours on the Drachenfels and have used a lot of different ear- an headphones with it, and the first thing you notice is how effortless the Drachenfels tackles the different technologies and loads. It doesn’t matter what phone you want to listen to, the Drachenfels will make it all look “easy”.

The sound signature isn’t fully neutral as it’s a bit more to the warmer side but not too much. Like every other Lehmann headphone the linearity and balance are of the highest level. Other strong characteristics are the richness and extension, especially for the price point.

The part on Sound continues on Page Two of this article, after the click HERE or below

Review: Lehmann Audio Drachenfels – Champion
4.1 (82.67%) 30 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

24 Comments

  • Reply February 20, 2018

    Kenneth Louw

    So basically….another good review, Lieven?

    • Reply February 20, 2018

      Lieven

      Really really nice, if not it wouldn’t have gone on the recommended amp list.
      Why would I choose crappy gear to review? Just so I can say it sucks and write something bad about it? I’d rather invest my valuable time in good sounding gear. Within that group there are enough levels already

  • Reply February 20, 2018

    dale thorn

    With a DC input, I wonder if it would perform better in the deep bass if you switched the power supply, like maybe a car battery with a voltage splitter.

  • Reply February 21, 2018

    Mark

    Am i missing something, I can’t find the HD660s review? I could have sworn that Lieven posted a review but i can’t find it anywhere now.

    • Reply February 21, 2018

      Lieven

      It was a Sunday preview to the review which will be up I think next week or the week after.

  • Reply February 21, 2018

    James Ng

    How does it compare to Lehmann audio BCL? What are your thoughts on it?

  • Reply February 21, 2018

    dale thorn

    I have the Lehmann Traveler amp, which despite its small size (slightly smaller than this one) is a good performer. I think it outperforms most of the amp sections of the small DAC/amp combos today. The Portaphile Micro that was reviewed here that I purchased was another good small amp (no DAC, just amp).

    I haven’t heard other Lehmann amps, but I’ve heard a lot about the Black Cube and how well it drives the big Sennheisers.

  • Reply February 22, 2018

    Marius S

    Great, great review Lieven. Nice to discover new gear with “high ambitions”.
    Now, the obvious question: How does it compares to Bottlehead Crack (BH) with HD650 ?
    Is this Champion reaching the hights of BH ? Or, still the BH has the sweet spot with the HD650?

    • Reply March 1, 2018

      Lieven

      It’s different. I still place the BHC very high. But ss amps like the Violectric, Lakepeople, A20 and Drachenfels are also really good. If you can, go OT with BHC, 339 or even the HA2-SE though

      • Reply March 1, 2018

        Carcara

        are these indications in descending order?

  • Reply February 28, 2018

    Caruryn

    Great review,Lieven and it might convince me to buy this amp for the HD 660S which i enjoy a lot.Thinking of using mojo as a dac and Drachenfels as amp but can you connect them in stock form or do you have to order the coax or usb version of the amp?

    • Reply February 28, 2018

      Lieven

      thanks!
      All you need is a 3.5mm to RCA cable, and then set mojo to line out. That’s it. Great combo

  • Reply March 9, 2018

    Tim

    I like your reciew!
    How do you compare it to the Graham Slee Solo?

    • Reply March 12, 2018

      Lieven

      I don’t have that one I’m afraid

  • Reply March 28, 2018

    chorilias

    Hello Lieven! Congrats for your great and accurate reviews! I’d like to ask what you would choose for use with Sennheiser HD660: the Lehmann Audio Drachenfelt or the Lake People HPA RS 02 which is also on your recommendation list? I live in Greece and the end price (including shipping costs) is quite similar for both amps. The problem is we have no chance to demo them!

    • Reply March 28, 2018

      Lieven

      Well, they’re both excellent, can’t go wrong with either. The Lakepeople has the advantage of the gain setting on the back.

      • Reply April 2, 2018

        CHORILIAS

        Lieven one last question: I found yesterday a deal for a used Violectric V200 amp for the same price. Would this amp be more future proove and a step up soundwise compared to the previously mentioned Lehmann Audio Drachenfels & Lake People HPA RS 02? I would appreciate your subjective opinion. Thanks.

        • Reply April 2, 2018

          Lieven

          I would say so yes, it’s one hell of an amp!

  • Reply April 2, 2018

    vignelli

    hey lieven

    please review HeadAmp Gilmore Lite Mk2 please

    i tend to buy it for my afo

    • Reply April 2, 2018

      Lieven

      hi! If you send me one I’ll think about it 😉

  • Reply May 13, 2018

    Thomas Köhler

    Hi,
    is the Aune X7S as good as the Drachenfels?

    Best regards
    Thomas

  • Reply May 13, 2018

    Lieven

    I have not had the opportunity to compare them. Sorry

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