Legendary British hi-fi brand Leak, which returned in 2020 after a 40-year hiatus, has unveiled its newest retro masterpiece.
Billed as a "step-up" from 2020's Stereo 130, the new Stereo 230 integrated amplifier delivers a boost in power (2 x 75W per channel vs 2 x 45W), upgraded circuitry for digital and analogue sources, plus an enhanced DAC stage that caters to smartphones, PCs, Macs and network streamers.
Despite all the cutting-edge internals, the Leak Stereo 230 rocks the same vintage aesthetic as the Stereo 130, which itself is a descendant of the classic Stereo 30 amplifier of the 1960s. (Fun fact: rock genius Jimi Hendrix kept a Stereo 30 in his London pad and regularly cranked it up to full volume when listening to his record collection).
Both the 130 and 230 sport Leak's signature bass and treble tone controls, but the newer 230 is 14cm deeper due to its beefier circuitry and extra power output. The new kid on the block also benefits from a top-spec, 32-bit DAC chipset from ESS Sabre, along with proprietary circuitry that aims to reduce noise and boost dynamic range.
Bluetooth 5 with support for aptX and AAC codecs should please streamers. There's also hi-res audio support up to 32-bit/768kHz (PCM) and 22.58MHz (DSD), not to mention support for MQA, the hi-res format used by Tidal's HiFi Plus tier.
A built-in MM phono stage welcomes turntables with open arms, while a range of digital (HDMI ARC, optical, USB-B) and analogue (RCA, headphone out) connections ensure that the 230 plays nice with everything from CD players to TVs.
We've yet to hear the Stereo 230 in action but Leak reckons it delivers "virtuosic performance". The first batch of Leak Stereo 230 amps will be available from January 2023 priced at £1249 / $1699 / $2699 with the walnut enclosure (£1099 / $1499 / $2399 without).
The brand has a new DAC too, and it's not too expensive
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