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Leema Acoustics Element DAC & Preamp Review

Rate this DAC & Pre-amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 17 11.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 51 33.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 78 51.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 4.6%

  • Total voters
    153

Ken Tajalli

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the OLED was just an example for a graphic display. The same could have been said for fluorescent displays that have been used for years in hifi gears but still working. Also, there are plenty of other options (e.g. LCD) that could have offered a much nicer UI and navigation.

cheers, Ale.
The display is LCD.
I didn't like the blue light, so years ago I asked Lee Taylor if it was possible to disconnect the blue backlight and possibly put an orange one, to go with my (then) tube power amps. He said No! the blue light is incorporated within the display.
It would have been nice to go orange.
But even with my failing eyes, I could still tell what input it was on, and see the volume bar across the room.
BTW, that switched resistor ladder volume control was not steppy at all, volume changed very smoothly, up or down, with no clicks, ticks or abrupt steps.
You would think it was a 1db digital volume control.
 

Ken Tajalli

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More Input from Lee Taylor:
- I asked him to confirm that the DAC was not upsampling, and also, if the -0.5dB test level being so close to full signal could have caused the elevated 3rd harmonic distortion artefact:

- Correct, no upsampling.....though I have found interpolated upsampling....where a computer takes a best guess at where the additional samples would have been and generates a new file from the original low res, works well. This allows the DAC filter to be set very high, avoiding any artifacts in the audio band.
Also the upsample should be an even multiple of the original frequency...........so 176.4kHz for CD.
jRiver is very good for this.
The original audio file can only be as loud as "all bits on" so there should not be distortion caused by the DAC, however, "all bits on" is usually caused by a recording or mastering error where an over peak event has happened.
We actually developed a program that searched the original file and corrected any such events...it worked well, but sadly never came to any commercial use.
This is why I recommend 24 or 32 bit for original acquisition. 16 bit is sufficient for replay...........more samples fine.......more bits, nonsense.
Back in the day there was a DAC chip that everyone was raving about because of its architecture, spec, de-jitter performance...........we got one in and found one channel completely collapsed at max FF.........yet it was used in many designs that audiophiles cherished for years!
Best to test at Max FF or close.
Odd harmonic artefacts are common in such DAC designs but are so low as to be negligible...............though less is better I understand, but there isn't a human on the planet that can hear these kinds of differences.
The human ear is far more sensitive to phase errors.......after all, we evolved to hear tiny phase and level differences between our two ears to locate possible threats and pin point direction incredibly accurately.....we concentrated much of our effort on filter design to optimise these aspects.
We tested a few products that were praised for their expansive sound stage performance..........the reality was that the phase performance was poor resulting in significant phase distortion and artificial image width enhancement.
You can do the same yourself bit maintain correct phase by converting A/B audio to M&S, boost the S part then convert back to A/B...maybe there's a product in there :)
Lee
 
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amirm

amirm

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You can do the same yourself bit maintain correct phase by converting A/B audio to M&S, boost the S part then convert back to A/B...maybe there's a product in there
That is exactly what Carver did in their FM tuners and with Sonic Holography 40 years ago!
 

Mnyb

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It's a recording technique: M/S technique
And also how fm radio is broadcasted the M signal is sent frequency modulated and the S signal amplitude modulated on top of that :) .

Electricaly for this purpose you sum both channels and get the Mono part M and the difference between channels is the S part and you recreate at playback as M+S and M-S and you get L and R back or was it the other way around :)

So that’s how the carver magic work in this case :)
 

Ken Tajalli

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And also how fm radio is broadcasted the M signal is sent frequency modulated and the S signal amplitude modulated on top of that :) .

Electricaly for this purpose you sum both channels and get the Mono part M and the difference between channels is the S part and you recreate at playback as M+S and M-S and you get L and R back or was it the other way around :)

So that’s how the carver magic work in this case :)
Thanx.
I connected the dots too, once @LTig explained what M&S was.
In UK, M&S traditionally means Marks & Spencer, a department store! Lee being from UK too, got me confused :facepalm:.
I am not good with abbreviations anyways.
 

pseudoid

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Watching burned ones after a year or two in used gear is like an epidemic!
OT:
A real "epidemic" (possibly a pandemic) about LCDs/OLEDs display' longevity has been similarly mentioned with technologies that are currently being incorporated into the new vehicles.
Although automotive displays maybe designed for harsh(er) environments (re: consumer/home products), failures may begin to really crop up after about 5-6 years.
 

Ken Tajalli

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OT:
A real "epidemic" (possibly a pandemic) about LCDs/OLEDs display' longevity has been similarly mentioned with technologies that are currently being incorporated into the new vehicles.
Although automotive displays maybe designed for harsh(er) environments (re: consumer/home products), failures may begin to really crop up after about 5-6 years.
Don't say that, I just ordered an EV last month! :facepalm:
 

Doodski

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Well, what display do you need on a DAC? The less, the better imho.
I run a JDS Labs Atom DAC+ because it has no display and is basically just a black box. I put it behind the monitor to be forgotten there for years. It just works and that's all I want.
 

Sal1950

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Well, what display do you need on a DAC? The less, the better imho.
I enjoy the readout on my Emotiva DC-1. It has Input, Sample Rate, Volume, more on the front panel.
A shame it was discontinued, a very versatile DAC
Also my Denon AVR will report DAC usage, etc on request from the "Info" remote button.
Handy stuff to know quite often.
1672596837803.jpeg

This Leema unit is very similar in features to my Emo but it was 1/5 of the cost at $449!
It's still in use today but mainly as a headphone amp, my Denon AVR handles majority of my DAC needs.
 
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Ken Tajalli

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For as long as I can see which input and volume setting.
Bitrate or depth don't concern me.
The Leema had big font for input, and as you pressed volume control, up or down, the entire face would become a large bar graph.
Bottom line. across the room, with my not perfect eye sight, I could easily see the input and volume control.
On bitrate change, it would momentarily display that in large font.
I only objected to the blue backlight!
I asked Leema at the time, if it was possible to change the LED to different colour.
I was told, no, it was a one piece unit.
 

Sal1950

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I asked Leema at the time, if it was possible to change the LED to different colour.
I was told, no, it was a one piece unit.
Could you shut it off?
On my Emo I can set it to a couple different brightness levels or off if I wished.
 

Ken Tajalli

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Could you shut it off?
On my Emo I can set it to a couple different brightness levels or off if I wished.
Can't remember!
But I would say no. but I think it did have brightness levels.
Blue light is hard on eyes.
Orange is much better.
Regarding longevity, the Leema display after 10 years was as good as day one.
I have a Trio UD-501 which is less than 9 year old, and the display is going wonky! half the segments are dying, even though it has not seen as much use, and the display was set to auto shut off.
 

AudioSceptic

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Can't remember!
But I would say no. but I think it did have brightness levels.
Blue light is hard on eyes.
Orange is much better.
Regarding longevity, the Leema display after 10 years was as good as day one.
I have a Trio UD-501 which is less than 9 year old, and the display is going wonky! half the segments are dying, even though it has not seen as much use, and the display was set to auto shut off.
Did you mean TEAC UD-501?
 

Sal1950

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Blue light is hard on eyes.
Orange is much better.
Personal preference I guess.
I hate orange or yellow colored sun glasses and much prefer a blue tint. LOL
 
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