Leema Elements DAC review

The Elements doesn't quite live up to the sum of its parts Tested at £1295

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Elements has strengths but falls short elsewhere, making the price seem steep


  • +

    Expressive, open midrange

  • +

    loads of detail in the highs


  • -

    Lows don’t have weight or poise of the best

  • -

    menu system

  • -

    struggles with timing

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The Elements DAC is Leema’s first standalone DAC and on paper, it looks more than capable. There’s a trio of optical and coaxial digital inputs for external sources such as a CD transport, set-top box or television.

There’s also an asynchronous USB Type B socket for a computer. Leema claims this provides low-jitter data transfer for optimum sound quality.

Outputs include both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA stereo sockets. The Elements DAC also features both fixed and variable volume outputs so you can use it as a pre-amplifier.

Leema Acoustics Elements DAC: Build quality
In action, the DAC is hit and miss. The machined front fascia feels solid and nicely finished, although the rest of the chassis seems a little flimsy.

The volume control works smoothly and is quick to respond, although the tiny buttons for power, mute and accessing the menus also feel flimsy and look out of place. Settings are fiddly to access and decipher, and the process seems to be overcomplicated.

And, although buttons on the supplied remote control are well laid out and it’s easy to use, the wand doesn’t look like the sidekick for a £1000 machine.

Leema Elements DAC

Leema Acoustics Elements DAC: Sound quality
Fire up the DAC and initial impressions are positive. The Leema does a great job of projecting music, vocals especially. A quick blast of Ella Fitzgerald’s Bewitched leaves you marveling at her emotive vocals. There’s a good level of detail, especially in the sweet highs. Piano strikes display great finesse.

But there’s a lack of cohesion to the music. Spin more complex tracks such as Timbaland’s Carry Out and music seems disjointed. Low frequencies lack solidity and rival DACs, such as the Audiolab M-DAC, offer greater cohesiveness and superior timing for significantly less money.

Follow whathifi.com on Twitter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test