Australian Hi-Fi

Another Leak has sprung


Legendary British hi-fi brand Leak, which returned to the scene in 2020 following a 40-year hiatus, has unveiled its latest retro masterpiec­e.

Billed as a “step-up” from the Stereo 130 it launched upon its rebirth, the new Stereo 230 integrated amplifier delivers a boost in power — 75 watts per channel compared to 45 — as well as upgraded circuitry for both digital and analogue sources and an enhanced DAC stage that can feed phones, PCs, Macs and network streamers.

The new DAC is built around a 32-bit chipset from ESS Sabre, and proprietar­y circuitry has been further developed in an effort to reduce noise and boost dynamic range.

Leak says its design team has paid great attention to the post-DAC active filter, too, choosing op-amps specifical­ly for their synergy with the Sabre DAC.

The Stereo 230’s aesthetic doesn’t shout about these upgrades, mind, rocking the same vintage aesthetic as its sibling, which itself is a clear descendant of the classic Stereo 30 model of the 60s. (Fun fact: Hendrix kept a Stereo 30 in his London pad and apparently regularly cranked it up to full volume when listening to his record collection.) The same aluminium front panel and tactile controls (including bass and treble dials) remain, as does the optional walnut wood enclosure finish to truly complete the Leak look. That said, the Stereo 230 is 14cm deeper due to its beefier circuitry and extra power output.

Bluetooth 5 with support for aptX and AAC codecs is correct and present for your wireless streaming convenienc­e; a built-in MM phono stage welcomes turntables with open arms; and a range of digital (HDMI ARC, optical, USB-B) and analogue (RCA, headphone out) connection­s ensure that the 230 plays nice with everything from TVs to CD players

(Leak would no doubt point buyers to its own CD transport). Last but not least is a big fat tick in the box of hi-res audio support, with PCM up to 32-bit/768kHz, 22.58MHz DSD, and MQA accounted for.

The Leak Stereo 230 is available now for $2,699 with that lovely walnut enclosure, or $2,399 without.

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