Leema Libra – the premium upgradeable DAC from ex-BBC engineers
When you are looking to invest a substantial amount of money in to purchasing any item, whether it be computer hardware or digital Hi-Fi componant, you need to be able to reassure yourself that it is as future-proof as possible.
Leema Acoustics feel your pain and so have constructed their handmade Libra DAC (digital analogue convertor) to not only be a cutting-edge, HD audio loving, Bluetooth-connected high-end performer – but also fully future-proof and ready to rock.
Leema Acoustics is a well respected hi-fi manufacturer amongst audiophiles and is run by two ex-BBC sound engineers – Lee Taylor and Mallory Nicholls.
Their Libra DAC’s exterior may not be as ostentatious as some but behind that simple-yet-elegant facade lurks a staggering array of class-leading technologies which, at this end of the market, should really be expected but I will go in to some of those features in a sec.
What really piqued my interest in the Leema Libra is it’s upgrade-ability.
This new high-resolution DAC/preamp has been thoughtfully future-proofed. It contains Leema Acoustics’ new fully balanced Quattro Infinity dual-mono DAC modules which are field-replaceable should they need to be upgraded in the event that conversion technology improves in the future. This should give the Libra long-lasting flexibility throughout its lifespan.
Studio-master-tape sound quality
That brings me nicely on to the audio quality you should expect from the Libra. The high-resolution Libra DAC has been designed for the HD audio world and, in addition to standard audio playback, the Libra also offers extreme high-resolution playback for audio connoisseurs, giving studio-master-tape sound quality when used with the increasing number of high-res music downloads available today.
The Libra boasts a class-leading range of connectivity options for the digital age, bringing the latest digital audio engineering to a wide range of connected devices. The Libra offers three coaxial and three optical inputs for hi-fi buffs, capable of accepting high-resolution 24- bit/192kHz audio.
For super-high-end partnering equipment, the Libra also offers some more esoteric options, including two I2S inputs via RJ45 connectors. With fully programmable pin-allocation on one of these inputs in software, any high-end source with an I2S interface can easily be accommodated. Source components with professional standard AES/EBU outputs can also be connected: the Libra offers two input connections available via industry standard XLR connectors.
The Libra, as well as being a high-resolution DSD DAC, can also play the role of preamp – simply connect it to a power amp or active loudspeaker and your all set to play music. Libra offers three separate analogue inputs, each of which can be individually configured as unbalanced, via RCA Cinch connectors, or fully balanced via XLR connectors. The entire signal path, both digital and analogue, is fully balanced from the digital data stream, to the balanced analogue outputs.
The asking price might make some people’s eyes water but, if like me, you’re running a separate DAC, headphone amp and Bluetooth receiver – depending how much you spent on each and the fact that they’re probably not upgradable beyond part-exchanging them for a newer model – the Leema Libra’s cost might not be so silly.
Price and availability
Now. Deep breath…
The Libra DAC/preamp is priced at £5,995 and is available now. I hope to get some ear-time with it at Sound and Vision 2015 in Bristol next week.