Leak Stereo 230: phono stage, Bluetooth and HDMI in vintage style

The British brand Leak has expanded its line of amplifiers and introduced the Stereo 230 integrated amplifier. The previous model, the Leak Stereo 130, together with the Leak CDT CD transport, was released in 2020. The novelty has retained the vintage aesthetics of its predecessors almost “one-to-one”, but has received a number of improvements.

Leak Stereo 230, according to the manufacturers, features an upgraded circuit, more power and an improved DAC stage.

ES9018K2M DAC and HyperStream II architecture

Leak Stereo 230 Amplifier
Leak Stereo 230 Amplifier

In more detail, instead of the ES9018K2M DAC, the Stereo 230 is now equipped with the ES9038Q2M, and according to Leak, with patented circuitry that maximizes the use of ESS Technology’s HyperStream II architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator. The active filter behind the DAC is assembled on specially selected opamps, designed, according to the developers, to “provide synergy” with the Saber DAC.

Inputs and inputs

The Leak Stereo 230 digital inputs, apart from the two S/PDIF inputs, coaxial and optical, are complemented by asynchronous USB B. The system handles PCM up to 32bit/768kHz and DSD up to 22.58MHz (DSD512). MQA is also supported. In addition, LEAK Stereo 230 officially supports Roon. Bluetooth is also not forgotten – in version 5.0 and with support for aptX and AAC codecs.

Synergy with home TV will provide HDMI with ARC audio return channel. Analog switching – two linear RCA stereo inputs, supplemented by an MM phono stage input, assembled on low-noise JFETs.

MOSFET TDA7293 in double parallel connection

The Leak Stereo 230 final amplifiers operate MOSFET TDA7293 assemblies in double parallel connection. They provide a class AB output of 2x 115W with 4 ohm speakers, well within their specifications, as well as a 115dB signal-to-noise ratio. Power is supplied by a 270 VA toroidal transformer with two sets of 15,000 microfarad capacitances. For headphones, a separate amplifier is provided – with current feedback and a high slew rate.

The same silver aluminum front panel amplifier as the previous model can be upgraded with an optional walnut cabinet.

Leak Stereo 230 Amplifier

Availability and price

Leak Stereo 230 will be available in the UK from early 2023 for £1,250 with optional walnut trims and £1,100 without them.

Leak Stereo 230 Specifications

Design Philosophy and Core Technology:
· 2 x 75W (8ohm) / 2 x 115W (4ohm) Class AB
· ST MOSFET TDA7293 Dual Parallel Amplifier
· ES9038Q2M 32-bit DAC
· Built-in Certified Hardware MQA Full Decoder (PC USB, Coax, Optical)
· Support Bluetooth 5.0 (aptX / aptX LL) streaming
· Low Noise Moving Magnet Phono stage
· Dedicated Current-Feedback Headphone AMP
· Support USB Upgrade

Inputs 2 x Analogue, 1 x Phono (MM), 1 x SPDIF (Coax), 1 x SPDIF (Optical), 1 x HDMI ARC,
1 x PC USB (USB B), 1 x Bluetooth (aptX/aptX LL), 1 x 12V Trigger

Outputs 1 x PRE Amplifier, 1 x Stereo Speaker, 1 x Headphone, 1 x 12V Trigger

Sampling Frequency Optical/Coaxial: 44.1kHz —192kHz
PC USB: 44.1kHz-768kHz (PCM) / DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512