Legendary British hi-fi brand Leak, returning in 2020 after a 40-year hiatus, has unveiled its latest 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 versus 2 x 45W), improved circuitry for digital and analog sources, plus a enhanced DAC stage suitable for smartphones, PCs, Macs and network streamers.
Despite all the advanced internals, the Leak Stereo 230 rocks the same vintage aesthetic as the Stereo 130, itself a descendant of the classic Stereo 30 amp of the 1960s. (Fun fact: rock genius Jimi Hendrix kept a Stereo 30 in his London pad and regularly turned it up to full volume when listening to his record collection).
Both the 130 and 230 have Leak’s signature bass and treble tone controls, but the newer 230 is 5.5 inches deeper due to its beefier circuitry and extra power. The new kid on the block also benefits from a top quality 32-bit DAC chipset from ESS Sabre, along with proprietary circuitry that aims to reduce noise and increase dynamic range.
Bluetooth 5 with support for aptX and AAC codecs should satisfy streamers. There’s also hi-res audio support up to 32-bit/768 kHz (PCM) and 22.58 MHz (DSD), not to mention support for MQA, the hi-res format used by Tidal’s HiFi Plus -low.
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 the 230 plays well with everything from CD players to TVs .
We’ve yet to hear the Stereo 230 in action, but Leak thinks it delivers a “virtuoso performance”. The first batch of Leak Stereo 230 amps will be available from January 2023, priced at £1249 / $1699 / $2699 with the walnut case (£1099 / $1499 / $2399 without).
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