What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 16 Dec 2010, 10:00am

Leema Antilla IIS

Tested at £2995
100100
5

This latest version of the Antila remains an excellent buy. It’s one of the best integrated CD players we’ve heard

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For

  • A fluid sound that balances refinement and attack beautifully
  • extremely solid build

Against

  • Low-rent remote handset
  • new transport lacks a little slickness

The Antila has been upgraded again, the 2011 version is called the Antila IIS Eco

We've always been big fans of Leema's Antila. It's solid, beautifully finished and sounds wonderful. As far as one-box CD players go, we can't think of anything else we prefer for this kind of money. That was before this update.

Subtle though the ‘S' is in the name , this player is the most tweaked in the model's lifetime. The changes centre on the drive and servo – the bits that spin the disc and get the information off it – and amount to much reduced jitter (digital timing errors), which should lead to better performance.

Externally, all you'll find is a chunkier disc tray. Leema has worked on the firmware, too (original players can be upgraded for around a grand, and Mark II units for about £600).

While we're admirers of this latest upgrade, we're not sure we'd pay the extra if we had one of the older versions. The earlier edition remain fine performers, even by today's standards.

Other than the revised transport arrangement the player remains as before, which is no bad thing. It still uses clever digital-to-analogue circuitry made up of 20 24bit/192kHz converters. This setup improves linearity and reduces noise levels and jitter.

Well connected, but no digital inputs

There are optical and coaxial outputs and, as is usual in high-end products, balanced XLR outputs alongside the more RCA connections. It's a shame Leema didn't take the chance to climb on the digital-input bandwagon; we're sure most digital sources would benefit from the Antila's excellent DAC.

In use, it isn't the slickest machine around. The transport is a little noisy when skipping tracks or loading discs, and it feels a little slow-witted. But that's where our criticisms end.

Start listening and it's obvious that this is a special player. Like earlier versions, the Antila IIS sounds wonderfully organic: dynamics swell subtly rather than in gross steps, transitions are as fluid as they come and the soundstage is wide, deep and focused.

A smooth-sounding performer
The player digs up a lot of information, but this is never thrust at the listener, which makes it easy to listen for long sessions.

The Antila is a smooth-sounding performer with the kind of full-bodied tonality that's rare in the digital world. Importantly, none of these ‘nice' qualities are at the expense of drama or excitement.

The company has walked that difficult line between maximising resolution and retaining listenability better than just about any alternative we've heard at this level.

This is a good upgrade on an already fine product. The IIS is one of the finest one-box players around. It's the kind of product that satisfies in the long term, and that makes it great value too.

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