Leema Pulse III - How Good is the DAC?

Crocodile

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There doesn't appear to be many (any?) Pulse III owners here so I guess this is one for the staff. What would be a comparable standalone DAC to that built into the Pulse III? Or put another way, how much would need to be spent on a standalone to better it? I'm talking purely coax/optical as I know the USB is limited.
 

Inter_Voice

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I don't have any idea as to how good the build in DAC of Pulse III is but from money point of view I would rather buying the old Leema Pulse II without a DAC and buy a separate DAC. The sound performance of Pulse II and III are almost identical while the cost is only 50% of Pulse III.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Inter_Voice said:
I don't have any idea as to how good the build in DAC of Pulse III is but from money point of view I would rather buying the old Leema Pulse II without a DAC and buy a separate DAC. The sound performance of Pulse II and III are almost identical while the cost is only 50% of Pulse III.

Err, no actually. There's been a few MKIII on the 'Bay recently that've sold for around £600

I would like to know the answer to the OPs question, too. All the review says it has a "decent DAC".
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
Err, no actually. There's been a few MKIII on the 'Bay recently that've sold for around £600

Ouch!

That's an awful lot of depreciation in a very short time (first reviewed in Jan 2011) for a £1500 amp.

What's wrong with it?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
chebby said:
plastic penguin said:
Err, no actually. There's been a few MKIII on the 'Bay recently that've sold for around £600

Ouch!

That's an awful lot of depreciation in a very short time (first reviewed in Jan 2011) for a £1500 amp.

What's wrong with it?

Don't know - probably a combination of a flimsey look and feel and the economy. At the mo there's a couple of the MKIII CDP going for £549.00.

From a personal point of view, I don't think Leema have done themselves any favours: The look and feel of the new MKIII isn't a patch on my earlier one.

You decide:

6184461571_c2567942a8_m.jpg


6184992168_4090774e74_m.jpg
 

chebby

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plastic penguin said:
From a personal point of view, I don't think Leema have done themselves any favours: The look and feel of the new MKIII isn't a patch on my earlier one.

You decide:

6184461571_c2567942a8_m.jpg

Don't like that either.

Standard issue tin box and ally fascia.

But then I consider 99 percent of hifi ugly so it's no good asking me.
 

Inter_Voice

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Frankly speaking, irrespective of performance and new features in MK II I love the OLD Pulse look than the new Pulse III design :silenced:
 

Ketan Bharadia

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It's been a while since we tested the Pulse III, but from memory I'd say the on-board DAC would be comfortably bettered by the likes of Arcam's rDAC.
 

chebby

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Ketan Bharadia said:
It's been a while since we tested the Pulse III, but from memory I'd say the on-board DAC would be comfortably bettered by the likes of Arcam's rDAC.

So - assuming box count is not an issue - would a Rega Brio-R + Rega DAC (£1000) or a Nait 5i + Rega DAC (£1350) be better sounding combinations than the £1495 Pulse III?

(Either combination would certainly depreciate less than £900 in under a year like the Pulse III seems to.)
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
chebby said:
Ketan Bharadia said:
It's been a while since we tested the Pulse III, but from memory I'd say the on-board DAC would be comfortably bettered by the likes of Arcam's rDAC.

So - assuming box count is not an issue - would a Rega Brio-R + Rega DAC (£1000) or a Nait 5i + Rega DAC (£1350) be better sounding combinations than the £1495 Pulse III?

(Either combination would certainly depreciate less than £900 in under a year like the Pulse III seems to.)

Must say Ketan's response doesn't totally surprise me. Then one has to wonder about other built-in DACs (Audiolab 8200 in particular), can they be bettered by a separate budget stand alone DAC?
 
A

Anonymous

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Ketan Bharadia said:
It's been a while since we tested the Pulse III, but from memory I'd say the on-board DAC would be comfortably bettered by the likes of Arcam's rDAC.

Did you test Arcam rDAC connected to Pulse III to conclude this?
 

Crocodile

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Strikes me as a bit odd to proclaim the Leema's Dac as "fine" if the £300 price premium over the previous model would buy you something "comfortably better"?

I don't have the luxury of lots of kit to AB test but having now heard the Squeezebox Touch through the Pulse III's coax I'll say this:

With a Rotel RA-1062 I could hear little difference between the Touch's own DAC & a Beresford Caiman. Doing the same comparison with the Pulse III, the coax sounds significantly better.
 

Crocodile

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chebby said:
What's wrong with it?
I don't think anything's wrong with it's performance but Leema went out on a bit of a limb with it's wacky design. I suspect it's a bit too radical for many. As PP alluded to, one went minus it's remote for around £470 a couple of weeks ago.

That display based on seven segment LEDs is pretty poor given the retail price. If there are sound design reasons for not using a VFD then fair enough but IMO, the design would have been better off without a display altogether than implementing what they did. From the minute you turn it on you get a distinctly low-budget impression when you're greeted with "PULSE 3 intE9rAtEd And dAC uEr 104".

Their web site doesn't do them any favours either. Many of their "support" pages are blank & you can't download manuals to see exactly how kit works. If you could, I'd have realised that the remote only has six buttons on it so may have bid for that one I mentioned. So far the've also failed to respond to a message sent through their site & an e-mail sent directly. If other potential purchasers get the same shoddy treatment then I would imagine interest in the brand can wane pretty quickly. Although some have said here that their aftercare is good, if they go giving the impression that they can't be bothered to talk to you BEFORE they've got your money...
 

BluePotato

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Interesting thread this for me. PP has all but convinced me that a new Pulse I (is there a II?) for £675 trumps the Roksan Kandy and any other amps in that price range. I'm ready to take the plunge and buy without a sound test here to go with hopefully B&W CM8's (not bought yet either).

Then I look on e-bay and see a pulse iii 2nd hand going for £599. Which do you go for?! Agree looks are better on the original but quite prepared to overlook that if it's better kit (it has to be surely?). I bought a DacMagic from Richer Sounds for £180 which is also unused as yet (although ex-display) so debate is now. Sell the DacMagic and buy the Leema Pulse iii (£599 - whatever I get for the Dac) or plump for a new original at £675.

Are the warranties transferrable?
 

Crocodile

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Yes, warranty is transferrable.

I've not heard the original Pulse but have no complaints with the sound of the MK III (I don't believe there ever was a MK II). I'm still not sure about the DAC & may have over-stated the case for it sounding significantly better than the Caiman previously. But it's certainlynot bad. If you can live with the awful LED display then picking up the MK III & selling the DAC would seem like a sensible option.

A couple of oddities in the software of the Mk III to bear in mind:

Like the original (& a few other amps) input selection is sequential. So you can't go directly to the input you want without stepping through all the others in between. Although it does use the same codes as Sony AV receivers so you can set up a Harmony remote to get round that.

Something that really grates is that whenever you change input, the volume resets to a low level. So in combination with the input selection issue, A/B comparison of inputs is nigh impossible. This can be defeated but requires the unit to be shipped back to Leema for a software tweak.

It's a real shame that reviewers won't engage in the forum to answer questions...
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
BluePotato said:
Interesting thread this for me. PP has all but convinced me that a new Pulse I (is there a II?) for £675 trumps the Roksan Kandy and any other amps in that price range. I'm ready to take the plunge and buy without a sound test here to go with hopefully B&W CM8's (not bought yet either).

Then I look on e-bay and see a pulse iii 2nd hand going for £599. Which do you go for?! Agree looks are better on the original but quite prepared to overlook that if it's better kit (it has to be surely?). I bought a DacMagic from Richer Sounds for £180 which is also unused as yet (although ex-display) so debate is now. Sell the DacMagic and buy the Leema Pulse iii (£599 - whatever I get for the Dac) or plump for a new original at £675.

Are the warranties transferrable?

If I had a choice between a slightly cheaper 'privately sold' Leema or a slightly more expensive brand new one from a recognised dealer, with a full warranty... it's a 'no brainer'. My one hadn't even been used as a dem model.

Also, this may not apply to you but...

I had a DacMagic for a while and was connected to my CDP. Have to say, wasn't impressed. In comparison to the CDP alone the DacMagic seemed to sound rather mechanical: Had beautiful detail but lacked so much 'feel' or 'soul' it was almost sterile. I'm sure in right system the DacMagic is a wonderful component but didn't sound right to me.
 

Crocodile

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plastic penguin said:
If I had a choice between a slightly cheaper 'privately sold' Leema or a slightly more expensive brand new one from a recognised dealer, with a full warranty... it's a 'no brainer'.
On a like-for-like basis maybe, but that's not the choice here though. It's the choice between two different products & if he sells the DAC for say £150, would essentially net the Mk III for around £450.

Also, given the transferrable three year warranty, a used Mk III should really hold no fears as it will still be covered for more than a year. In fact thinking about it, didn't they upgrade the warranty to five years?

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/leema
 

BluePotato

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Sorry PP, I've not been clear. The choice is effectively a new 'original' Pulse (as per link you provided) or a second hand Pulse iii which is second hand and a little cheaper.

Thanks for the heads up re the DacMagic, once I'm all set up will try with and without the DacMagic. Im planning on streaming wirelessly from my Mac so thought DAC required?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
BluePotato said:
Sorry PP, I've not been clear. The choice is effectively a new 'original' Pulse (as per link you provided) or a second hand Pulse iii which is second hand and a little cheaper.

Thanks for the heads up re the DacMagic, once I'm all set up will try with and without the DacMagic. Im planning on streaming wirelessly from my Mac so thought DAC required?

I'd still go for the dealer Pulse. I'm biased old so-and-so but the new MKIII looks more like a TV tuner than amp. Couldn't tell you about SQ differences as I've not heard the MKIII.

When I get time (and money) I'll try mine with a Rega Dac and see how it stacks up.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Agree with PP - the new Pulse range (the MkIII) looks dire. Very Marmite! The DM DAC was the same for me; great build, great connectivity, sterile sound.

If it was my money too, I'd also go for the dealer option. The amp's good, nice sound, looks okay and partner it with something like Firestone Audio's Spitfire II (far better than the Cambridge DM IMO) at £250 and you're off.
 

BluePotato

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:) Thanks for the pointers guys.

Crocodile - cheers for heads up on the usability issues. Seems they really got it wrong in the looks and usability of the new model. Shame. I'm only planning on using as stereo just now though, not anticipating needing to change often but silly none the less. Does volume reset when you turn the machine off?

Thought I could be past the looks but more I look worse it gets. If it was £500 rather thanks £599 think I'd go for it. Minis £150 for the DAC and I would struggle to say no. Looking at the forums their is just a different vibe attached IMO from the original. Lot of people seem to have sold new one on eBay, refer to it as not bad but the original seems to have a real passion attached (led by PP - heck man you are all over this site! :))
 

Crocodile

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BluePotato said:
Does volume reset when you turn the machine off?
Yes it does.Which is also a bit of a PITA because it means you have to power it up & wait for the software to initialize before you can set the volume you want.

Their justification is that a customer once had their kids blow a pair of speakers by turning an amp on with the volume set to max. Seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut to me. Best check with PP if the original does the same thing.

BluePotato said:
Thought I could be past the looks but more I look worse it gets.
Mine is black & lives on a rack behind smoked glass, so not really an issue.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
BluePotato said:
:) Thanks for the pointers guys.

Crocodile - cheers for heads up on the usability issues. Seems they really got it wrong in the looks and usability of the new model. Shame. I'm only planning on using as stereo just now though, not anticipating needing to change often but silly none the less. Does volume reset when you turn the machine off?

Thought I could be past the looks but more I look worse it gets. If it was £500 rather thanks £599 think I'd go for it. Minis £150 for the DAC and I would struggle to say no. Looking at the forums their is just a different vibe attached IMO from the original. Lot of people seem to have sold new one on eBay, refer to it as not bad but the original seems to have a real passion attached (led by PP - heck man you are all over this site! :))

Sorry! well I've contributed a lot elsewhere, hence my post count over a 4 year period. But guilty as charged :) And to be fair I only really push the amp when it's on promotion and budgets of individual posts are sub-£1,000.

When I spoke to Leema a long time ago they said the SQ between the two isn't so very different. However, the looks are. To me, the new MKIII looks as if it was designed after a few pints. The aesthetics go against the Leema grain.

By no means is the Leema perfect: It has trmendous dynamics, stereo imaging and realism to the sound. Otherwise, the likes of Roksan Caspian, Naim XS, Audio Analogue, Creek, Moon, Arcam will match (and better in some cases) but this based on my £600 speakers. Things greatly improve with Totem and PMC speakers but not heard the other makes with these speakers (apart from the entry-level Naim).

The overall package, and the input count with a fabulous phono stage for the turntable, became too irresistable.
 

BluePotato

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PP - no need to apologise :). Good to see some passion and enthusiasm for a product. I drive my OH mad when I get the bit between my teeth on something. She's already sick of listening to talk of Hi-Fi.
 

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