German manufacturer Lehmann Audio has expanded the appeal of its upmarket Black Cube headphone amplifier, which is neither cube-shaped nor always black (it also comes in silver), with the addition of a USB input.
The new USB Headphone Pre Amplifier can be connected directly to a computer with a USB 1.0 or above socket, and will then play music up to a maximum sampling rate of 48kHz through headphones. In addition there are analogue inputs on 3.5mm stereo and phono jacks, with loop-through outputs, and the automatic input switching prioritises the USB connection.
Distributed by Henley Designs, the unit has adjustable gain up to 20dB and a zero global feedback Class A output stage. The circuit design is said to give an 'ultra-transparent sound and the explosive dynamics formerly the province of electrostatic headphones.'
The unit has its own power supply, the USB connection being used purely for signal, and it's housed in a non-magnetic aluminium case wih an anodised finish. It will retail in the UK for about £750.