Skip to main content

Leema Stream III review

The minimalist design of the Leema Stream III looks distinctive, but this CD player can't compete with the best on performance terms Tested at £1495.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Stream III looks distinctive and has digital inputs, but doesn’t come close to the class leaders for performance


  • +

    Digital inputs

  • +

    punchy and exciting sound

  • +

    midrange transparency

  • +

    brave cosmetic design


  • -

    Lacks dynamic finesse and rhythmic precision

  • -

    build doesn’t have luxurious feel

Leema deserves a round of applause for its bravery. Like or loathe the Stream's new look, there's no denying this CD player stands apart from the crowd, particularly in the all-white finish of our review sample.

The company is well-known for keeping things simple, which we usually like, but in this case it has probably gone a little too far down the path of minimalism: the uncluttered front panel has just five buttons which control everything, from powering the unit up to ejecting a disc and toggling through the Stream's USB, optical and coax digital inputs.

And the play, rewind, forward and track skip functions. It gets a little confusing at times, particularly as the buttons feel annoyingly vague and the player itself is a little slow to respond.

Lacks that sense of luxury
While general build quality is decent, the player doesn't have the luxurious touch we'd expect at this price level: the casework isn't well damped and the remote handset, though simple to use, feels cheap.

Something like Audiolab's 8200CD feels like a classier machine, even though it weighs in at less than half the Stream III's price.

Normally, Leema would pull things out of the fire with a class-leading sonic performance. And it does, almost. The Stream III is a decent player, with plenty of detail and an open, lively presentation.

Authority and drive over subtlety

Those who crave plenty of punch won't be disappointed, as the Leema turns in a performance rammed with authority and power.

However, the Stream III lacks the kind of dynamic subtlety and precision we'd hope for at this price. The result is that large-scale pieces lack the dynamic shifts and emotional impact we expect.

The Stream III is a decent proposition. It has a good on-board DAC and delivers an entertaining performance.

Its problem is that the competition – the Cyrus CD 8SE, Naim CD 5XS and even the £700 Audiolab 8200CD – are nothing less than exceptional. Sonically, the Stream III can't live with that.

See all our CD player Best Buys

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

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 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