Stereocheck Reviews:

Leema Elements Pre-Amplifer: A simple and classic amplifier

To the four Leema Elements components already familiar to us in half cases, two more have been added. Their study leads to the conclusion that the developers (who are also the founders of the...

Leema Elements Pre-Amplifer
Leema Elements Pre-Amplifer

To the four Leema Elements components already familiar to us in half cases, two more have been added. Their study leads to the conclusion that the developers (who are also the founders of the company) are trying to fill the line with devices that can satisfy the most demanding needs of music lovers: whatever system they plan to build, the building blocks for it will be found in the Elements series.

For example, it is noteworthy that there are two very similar devices in terms of front panels and functionality: Precision DAC and Pre-amplifier. The first is a DAC that can act as a preamplifier, the second is a preamplifier, optionally equipped with a digital-to-analog conversion circuit. How to place these accents is up to the user to decide. Let us only note that under the lattice top cover of the Pre-amplifier case you can see a transformer, the size of which would be the envy of a power amplifier. And it has four linear inputs on the rear panel – as opposed to the only one on the Precision DAC, although in terms of digital inputs there is complete parity.

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One 24-bit/192kHz coaxial SPDIF, three 24-bit/192kHz SPDIF optical inputs, and a 24-bit/192kHz asynchronous USB input make the Elements preamplifier the ideal single-device solution, allowing all digital sources to deliver amazing results. Full LIPS® implementation allows the system to easily integrate with other Leema products and home automation systems. In addition, the Elements preamplifier features a built-in headphone amplifier, a mute button, and an infrared remote control.

The Leema Elements Pre-Amplifer does not have a balanced XLR output, so the power jack’s XLR connector is useful for use with other components, such as the Leema Elements Precision DAC. The preamp output can be used to feed a subwoofer or send it to an amplifier in another zone. The Multi 1 input is used in multi-channel systems with appropriate LIPS settings.

When connecting a source via a balanced input, the Leema Elements Pre-amplifier/Power amp kit demonstrates the best sound. It is lively and fluid, dynamic and varied; the timbres of all instruments in B. Britten’s Guide to the Orchestra are rich and recognizable; the drum beats are textured and weighty, the percussion airy and nuanced; focusing is very clear.

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The DAC, built on Crystal CS434x chips, is also quite good. When connected via a coaxial input, the sound is a little less tonally accurate and coherent, but it is very energetic, detailed and exciting – in a word, spectacular. The bass is deep, rich and controlled – the double bass in the jazz works of J. Loussier appears very natural.

The USB port almost disappointed us with its lack of low frequencies and constrained sound. But after experimenting with the settings of the software player in the Macbook, we easily achieved a very good result, comparable to what is obtained from the SPDIF input, and high-resolution files, for example, “Symphonic Dances” by S. Rachmaninov (24/96), give quite the expected and a convincing increase in sound quality and listening pleasure.

Characteristics of  Leema Elements Pre-Amplifer

Frequency range, Hz-kHz 5 – 100
Harmonic distortion, % 0.04
Audio DAC 24 bit / 192 kHz
Remote control Yes

Connectors input

Coaxial 1 x S/PDIF (RCA)
Optical 3 x Toslink
USB 1 x USB type B
Analog audio 3 x RCA, 1 x XLR, 1 x 3.5 mm
Others 1 x LIPS

Connectors output

Analog audio 1 x RCA, 1 x XLR
Others 1 x LIPS

Dimensions, mm 220 x 340 x 88
Weight, kg 7