In this months blog we are taking a look at Leema's High-Resolution 'Essential' phono stage. We have been mightily impressed with the clarity and definition it brings to a huge variety of vinyl setups. Let's take a closer look..
The Essential's technology has been trickled down from Welsh company Leema's top of the range and award winning Agena phono stage and it shows. The Phono stage is switchable between moving magnet and moving coil making it suitable for any cartridge which is a lovely feature at it's price point. The Essentials also provides a switchable low frequency filter which can help cut out noise under 20Hz that can come from warped records or noisy bearings.
Some really impressive figures are thrown up by the Essentials. The moving magnet gain of 36db and moving coil gain of 62db gives you plenty of headroom and a distortion of less than 0.02% (at 1Kh) really helps with the clarity you want from your vinyl.
We've been able to try a huge range of turntables in the shop and have not found a single one that does not shine when paired with the Leema, from Regas entry level Planar 1 with it's moving magnet Carbon cartridge right up to Project's Signature 10 with it's Ortofon Cadenza Red, which is a moving coil.
The setup we used for this review was a Project Classic with an Ortofon 2m black MM cartridge through the Leema into the Nytech CP202 and CPA402 pre and power combo and we used Spendor A6r loudspeakers. Our review vinyl of choice these days is the superb 'If You Wait' by London Grammar, a record we are all very familiar with, yet the Leema managed to reveal things we hadn't noticed before. Small things maybe, the reverb tail after vocalist Hannah Reid's line or the slight modulation in a bass line in album opener 'Hey Now' that before seemed to be one note. It's these small things that add up and only to serve to envelop you in the music and improve your experience.
'Revealing', can be seen as a negative word sometimes and yes if a poor recording is put through the system it can show up its faults, but in this case the Essentials brings the music to life, showing all the intricacies and details that the artist and recording engineers included but maybe aren't always that easy to hear. It's not all about detail, the Leema has plenty of warmth as revealed by the opening verse of 'Strong' which instantly and totally involves you in the music experience. The phono stage brings plenty of excitement too, the big hooks of the choruses standing even larger than life than they usually do.