I've not used the Lehmann black cube, so I cannot comment on it. I own a kandk using the 6n1p tube and I really enjoy it. I feel it is a great value and Kevin is very helpful. I used to own a modified EAR834P and the KandK phono stage is much, much better in my setup. I feel it is at least comparable to my friend's rhea in quality - of course it is a different flavor. Highly recommended.
Thanks for that...sounds like it was up against pretty good competition :)
Any thoughts on what its strengths are?
I have owned one for several years. It is phenomenal.
Get one and never look back.
I have to imagine you would have to spend many multiples of its asking price for any real improvement.
The best attribute of the K&K is that it is extremely quiet. The SE version which I had exhibited exceptional bass and was very clear on the top end. Not lush IMO, but leaning more towards the neutral side. If you get the version that allows you to roll tubes you have the benefit of tailoring the sound somewhat, although I believe the 6N1P is the best tube to use in it.
The most recent iteration of the K&K uses the 6h23p-eb/6922/E88CC. I have the Maxxed-out version (Cardas caps, Lundahl LL1931 SUTs) of this phono stage, and enjoy it considerably. It is extremely revealing of what is fed into it, very quiet and transparent. If you are looking for euphonic replay of vinyl, I would look elsewhere.
I, too, built the K&K phono kit. I found it to be challenging but achievable. Kevin gave good support. The Lundahl step up transformers take a couple of hundred hours to break in fully, so be patient. Ultimately, the Lundahl sounds very good.
Strenghts IMHO: prat, transparency, timbre, quiet, instrument harmonics, detail and recording room ambience. I feel it is neutral to my ears and setup. I agree with other posters who say if you want something warm, like conrad johnson, you probably want to look elsewhere.
In my version, it requires more work to change the gain (not impedance). I've thought about upgrading mine to the current version to have that flexibility, which I think is a nice improvement to the layout of the current version (not a sonic change). Jeff
Nothing much to add, I agree it is quiet, transparent, excellent dynamics, good stage depth. In a word it sounds like music, in comparison with similarly priced SS units I have heard against it, such as the Whest P20, Clearaudio reference. An unequivical recommendation, you will need to spend a lot more to better it. My only confession is Kevin built mine for me, I chickened out of a self build. Under the hood it is neat and well laid out, with quality components.I have the SE version too by the way
Id like to hear a comparison of the new K&K with the Bottle Head Seduction with the c4s upgrade. I am considering the K&K also but built a Seduction as a temporary fix, however it sounds so good I wonder if the K&K will be much of an upgrade. Im using a peerless 4722 step up which I would also use with the K&K. I replaced an 834p with the seduction which sounds much better in my system.
I had a C4s upgraded Seduction. It is good, with fabulous price/performance. However, it isn't in the same league as the K&K.
It's interesting to me that poeple keep mentioning the fact that they have the "single ended" version. I've been in contact with Kevin and as far as I am aware, the fully differential version is still in the prototype phase. It should be awesome when it's available, if you can afford the $4k-$5k price for the kit.
Is it as good as Art Audio Ref ? Both were designed by Kevin.
Vleena2, my take is that the major diference between the two is that the AA Ref has a separate power supply (which one CAN also have done with the K&K). Sonically, I find that there is little difference, especially given the past two upgrades to the K&K.
I was a very early user of the K&K stage and was referred to Kevin by John up at Bent Audio several years ago. I had Kevin build mine, too, but I have done a few subsequent tasks myself (i.e. changing out resistors to alter load selections). Mine is the latest 6n1p-based version and it continues to sound as good or better than any other phono stage I've heard upwards to about $4-5K. The only stage I've heard in recent days that has given me the itch to try something else has been a Klyne. But that is quite a bit more dough.
Oh yeah, Mantisory. The Black Cube was my first "real" phono stage after getting back into separates about 6 years or so ago. Though a VERY sound component for the dough, the K&K will perform so as to make you forget all about the Black Cube. The soundstage size, depth, and clarity alone is just so much better that the comparison, in this and almost all other performance areas, is really an exercise in fruitlessness. Buy the K&K with confidence. There was a time when a used K&K would be hard to sell. Now that the word is out, they sell QUICKLY. Thus, any previous concerns with respect to resale seem to have vanished.