Tame teen Harry Smith and somewhat more elderly Stuart take a listen to the Lehmann Audio Traveller Headphone Amplifier as part of Hifi PIg’s « Headphone Month »

Let’s say you have bought yourself a new music player and a nice pair of headphones for on the go taveller2but you feel there is something… missing. Most people overlook the need for an amp on the go as most are impractical and oversized. With the Lehmann Audio Traveller, the size and practicality are a huge improvement from other “portable” amps. The Traveller can also be used as a preamp for speakers but I just tried it with a media player and a range of earphones and headphones.

The build quality is great and there are only 2 screws showing on the back. It feels solid and I love the brushed metal chassis that obviously helps with cooling. The front is made out of black soft touch plastic. It’s a nice contrast from the cold metal (the metal did get warm after a few hours of use but it never got hot) The amp has 2 inputs and 2 outputs though 3,5mm headphone jack.
In the box, you also get a very nice cable to connect to your media player.

Battery life is not a problem with the Traveller and it will last around 20 hours of audio playback.
The Traveller uses lithium ion batteries (the same that you would find in your smart-phone) and it will probably outlive your phone on battery life. If you do run out of battery you can use the micro USB port to charge it.

When you use it for the first time you can hear an instant difference with all headphones.
It performed very well even with power hungry headphones. I think it performed best with my own pair of NAD Viso hp 50s. The bass was deep and responsive. The mids had a great richness and the highs where bright and crisp. The whole sound stage was improved thanks to the Traveller.

This amp can also help you hide the fact that you are using a cheap music player. I put a £100+ Traveller2music player against a HTC Desire phone, playing the same audio file and playing though the amp. I couldn’t hear any noticeable difference … However when I removed the Traveller from the equation the smart-phone fell far behind the sound quality of the music player.

The stand out track using the Traveller was “Can’t stop” by the Red hot chilly peppers. The iconic guitar rhythm of this song sounded much less monotone than without Traveller. The bass line was not overpowered either. I could hear every instrument. Just as the artist intended.
It performed best with rock songs but that is not to say that it did not perform admirably with most other genres of music.
With very bass heavy tracks it can fall behind what I am used to but I do love a lot of bass and I don’t think this will bother most audiophiles.

So is the Lehmann Audio Traveller worth the £400 price tag? If you are looking to upgrade your headphone set up and also want an amp so versatile it is a good price. A bit on the expensive side for a teen though. Despite this the Lehmann Traveller amplifier is a must buy for your portable Hi-Fi as it brings the expensive sound of a full size Hi-Fi to you on the go.RECOMMENDED LOGO NEW

Harry Smith

Sound quality-8/10

Build quality-9/10

Value for money-7/10

Overall-8/10

Price when tested-£400

And now the decidedly not a teen Stuart will take a listen….

As the name suggests the Lehmann Audio Traveller is a headphone amplifier intended for use traveller4whilst out and about. I first came across this amp in its prototype version at the 2013 Munich High-End show where details were scant, but interest from the public and competitors to Lehmann High. Now available the Traveller costs £400 and available widely.

I like the idea of great quality audio on the go and always have my little player with me when away on business, but despite the decent output of the player I often feel I’m missing out a little – enter the portable headphone amplifier.

In the box you’ve got the diminutive (80mm x 90mm x 25mm and 196g) but very nicely finished Traveller itself, a very well written operating manual, a USB cable for connecting to the computer and charging the Traveller and a short, well made minijack to minijack cable to connect your player to the box. The Traveller feels sturdy and decidedly solid and purposeful.

Around the back you’ve got an input for the USB cable, a mini jack input and a mini jack output. Up front you’ve got another minijack input and output, a trio of LEDs which indicate the status of the amp/battery and a pair of little buttons to turn the volume up and down and control other functions such as balance which I thought was a nice and thoughtful touch.
The inclusion of inputs and outputs on both the front and back is a nifty little touch and one that shows that there’s a good deal of thought gone into the Traveller. This feature means you can use whichever is the most convenient or use the amp to power two pairs of headphones from one portable player which is another useful touch . For those using active speakers you can put the Traveller between your source and the speakers and it will work as a preamplifier.

Using the Traveller is pretty intuitive and the controls are responsive.The Traveller has a battery run time of a claimed 20 hours (volume dependent) and charges from empty in six hours. Another clever little feature is that the volume will return to its last setting when tuned off and on again, with the caveat that there must be charge in the battery.

The Sound

I listened to the Traveller using a wide range of headphones we have in for review, both in-ears and conventional headphones, and it drove every pair I threw at it to volumes suitable for those with a deaf wish. Most of the review process was done using the Audeze LCD XC cans.

Immediately on plugging the little headphone amp in there is a perceived improvement in the sound than with the standalone player; Bass has a more authoratitive punch with basslines seeming much easier to follow. There is a clearer definition between individual instruments in the mix, with an apparent increase in the amount of detail present. Clearly the amplifier can only amplify the signal with which it is fed, but you do get the feeling that there is more going on in the mix with the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATraveller inline.

This is a very good start and I found myself flicking through loads of tracks and many different genres. Hawkwind’s Astounding Sounds has the mix split into its component pieces with everything being easy to pick out and identify. This is a complex record in parts that can sound very busy and sometimes comes across as a blurred jumble, but the Traveller seems to improve separation of instruments. This effect is apparent most in the interplay between bass guitar and drums giving the music drive and rhythm.

Comeme’s compilation album Gasoline is a hard hitting, electronic album which needs to be driven to get the very best from it and with the Traveller inline you certainly get that feeling that you are listening as it should be heard. Again, there’s that driving percussiveness, but listen more closely and the Traveller seems to be allowing you to delve deeper into the mix with little details you didn’t notice before coming to the fore.

Reading what I’ve just written back to myself you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Traveller just emphasises the bass frequencies, but that’s certainly not the case with all the little nuances on the hats on Nebel Dance from the same compilation coming through really well. On female vocals the Traveller just seems to give you more of an insight into the singers particular inflections and tone.

At this point I thought I’d try out the Traveller using the headphone out on the laptop and again I was rewarded with a big improvement in perceived drive and quality of the sound and I think this will be of interest to many business travellers who don’t particularly want to invest in a potentially expensive media player but always have their laptop to hand. I’d be quite happy with this arrangement and would be happy to leave the DAP at home.

Conclusion

The Traveller is impressively well built and solid feeling with a good set of features that should appeal to both headphone aficionados on the go and for less dedicated listeners who none the less want a great sound whilst away from their main source of music. One of the features I particularly loved was the ability to attach two pairs of cans at once and also the unit returning to the last volume you had it set at after turning it off and on again. Its compact size and flexible inputs/outputs make it a perfectly portable and usable product.

Sound-wise the Traveller performs very well and is a clear step up from some of the less expensive portable headphone amps I’ve tried, with an ability to give the perception of there being much more going on in the music. The Traveller’s strong points are the drive it gives to music and the detail of a recording it manages to bring out.

Stuart SmithRECOMMENDED LOGO NEW

Sound Quality – 8.8/10

Value for Money – 8/10

Build Quality – 9/10

Overall – 8.6/10

You can win this great little headphone amp and other goodies…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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