The art of black
It has been 30 years since the digital compact disc revolutionised the world of audio, promising perfect sound forever. Yet many enthusiasts still prefer the warmth and immediacy of vinyl replay.
The surprising thing, is that despite the demise of vinyl as a format produced on a commercial scale, our technical understanding of the complexities of vinyl replay has increased enormously during the silver-disc years.
Modern materials and manufacturing methods now provide the means to produce turntables, cartridges and phonostages which are far more accomplished than the majority of those available during those years when a large shiny black disk was the only option when purchasing music.
Just such a product is Leema’s new Elements Ultra Phonostage.
No matter how good the turntable or cartridge, it is simply not possible to get the very best from them without the ability to precisely match the electrical characteristics of the cartridge prior to the amplification and equalisation stages.
Based upon our own class-leading Agena and multi-award winning Essentials (formerly Elements) phonostage, the new Elements Ultra Phonostage features comprehensive electrical matching for both moving coil and moving magnet cartridge types. This includes the unusual, but much requested, option of 100k loading for MM cartridges.
Moving coil and moving magnet input sensitivity, resistive loading, capacitance loading, and subsonic rumble filtering are all individually selectable via a matrix of switches on the base of the unit. The range of matching options is so comprehensive that no fewer than 30 switches – 15 per channel – select the parameters. A full guide to switch settings is silk-screened onto the base of the unit thereby avoiding confusion if the user manual is not to hand.
The unit features cartridge shunt protection at power-up, to avoid magnetisation issues or cartridge damage. In addition, the Elements Ultra Phonostage employs an electrically silent, transformerless power supply, which ensures that there is no source of unwanted 50Hz hum close to the incredibly sensitive input circuitry. Any residual noise components reside way below the limits of human hearing in normal use.
Cartridge input is via industry standard Gold plated RCA/Cinch connectors, while the output can be unbalanced, again via RCA/Cinch connectors, or balanced via professional XLR connectors.
HiFi Wigwam, Feb 2015 [Full Article].
"The Leema really came into it’s own here, dynamics to die for, tonally revealing, controlled bass with depth and at times the sound was quite breathtakingly good." - James Palmer
Hi-Fi World, November 2013, gave the Elements Ultra Phonostage 5 Globes.
"It is built to Leema's usual bomproof (and Tony-proof) standards, looks good and sounds lovely, and as such is unequivocally recommended." - Tony Bolton.
"Input noise was very low too, just 0.07 µV (equivalent input noise, IEC A weighted) which is as quiet as an MC stage gets, even with input transformers." - Noel Keywood.
"It will also give a lot of the competition at this price a serious headache." - Tony Bolton.
Sensitivity MM: 2mV / 4mV RMS (42/36dB)
Sensitivity MC: 75 / 125 / 150 / 175 / 250 / 350 / 500uV / 1mV (28/24/21/18 dB + MM gain setting)
Resistive Loads MM: 47k/100k Note: all MC loads may also be applied to MM input.
Resistive Loads MC: 47/49/54/57/64/68/77/83/97/107/132/152/209/264/497/1k
Capacitive Loads MM/MC: 47/94/147/194/267/314/367/414/517/564/617/664/737/784/837/884 pF
Nominal Output Level Unbalanced RCA/Cinch: 250mV RMS
Nominal Output Level Balanced XLR: 500mV RMS