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My Leckerton UHA-6S Is Here...

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am listening now!

My early impressions?

Build Quality: Very nice. Very nice! Mine is silver (I thought I'd be different - ahem), and the color and finish (it's a Hammond case) is very Mac-like. Quality switches, solid and smooth action. The volume pot is smooth and quiet, and the knob has a good feel to my (little) fingers. The analog I/O jacks are fastened to the faceplate, and the USB (mini) connector and Toslink connector are high quality. The front and rear panel etching is crisp and clean and very legible.

Sound Quality: These are my EARLY impressions. I am listening through the optical input, source is my Rockbox iRiver H140 playing Redbook wav files, the IEMs are my Shure SE530's.

Image: Deep. And wide. Very spacious. Instruments are firmly placed in the soundstage, palpable.

Timbre: a tad dark. This amp is not forward like my Mini3. It is more in the vein of the MiniBox E+ with the ER-4S. More later.

Noise level: what noise level?

Overall sound: highs are clean, a bit recessed, not the least artificial. There is no brashness to the top at all. Lows are clean, controlled, and powerful, but not overwhelming. This is NOT a bass head amp! The mids are not forward, at all. They reside right along side the bass and highs - back just a bit, adding to the dark character of the sound. This is not an objectionable sound at all, it is an audiophile sound. Accurate, a little clinical, but very pleasing. Not what I would term seductive, but truthful.

I had a problem early on getting the iRiver to send data to the UHA-6S. I initially thought the problem was the amp, because the iRiver's optical out was enabled and lit up. Some trouble shooting and then research told me the trouble was with the iRiver. Solutions led me to a firmware upgrade (1.66US) and Rockbox, and there we have it! It works quite merrily now!

I did a quick listen to my iPod into the line in, and what I heard is what I'm hearing through the DAC. So, I'm thinking the DAC doesn't color anything, nor does the analog input. Good stuff!

This amp has rollable opamps and buffers. (I do doubt I'll fiddle with the opamps or buffers). The battery is user replaceable, and recharges through the USB port. Nice touches, all!

I'll have more impressions and some photos in a bit (just added!).

Okay - which of you bona-fide reviewers wants to borrow this thing for an eval and write-up?

~~~~Sara
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post #2 of 27
Thread Starter 
Unfiltered observations:

I'm listening to my 160G iPod Classic though the (cheapie) LOD I have connected to the UHA-6S's line in. I have my ER-4S in my ears. The gain switch on the amp is up - high gain.

I am liking - liking! - what I am hearing.

Lyle Lovett - Joshua Judges Ruth - "All My Love is Gone"...

Solid, clean bass...solid, firm, warm...BIG.

Brushes on snare and cymbals...sizzle, long tails, lots of color....

Lyle's breathy voice...I hear him smack his lips, take his breaths, emote...sing. Natural, moving.

Sax - bite...oh, does it bite! I hear the reed....

Piano...oooo, percusive...

I'm liking this!

"Am I Not Merciful" - Hans Zimmer - On the Wings of a Film.

Kettle drums, crescendo - woooow!!! Lots of power, there. Still clearly hear that chorus, and then the bell tolling through it all....nice!!! Lot's of air and nuance...

I've got the level waaaaay up (there's room for hearing damage left)...the Etymotics are loud, not unbearable, but they are up there. The UHA-6S has them under control, with power to spare. Great dynamics.

There's that imaqe. Wow, is that impressive. Really, really wide. Almost goes around behind me. This amp throws a very solid, stable image.

The amp's overall voice is what I heard with the SE530's. It's audiophile, that's best way I can describe it. Lower mids have a tad of suckout, and sound just a little thin, but....I am NOT complaining. This amp is CLEAN. It's not lush, not euphonic, it's not the MiniBox E +. It's a UHA-6S!

After a few hours of listening, and my Mini3

I said the UHA-6S was "audiophile" in it's character? I'll define that further. It's light on it's feet. It's almost sterile, cold. It is soft on top, and polite on the bottom. It's thin through the midrange. It's all there, it's accurate, but I've yet to make an emotional connection with the music.

After I listened to my Mini3 I was able to put my finger on it. The Mini3 is not as refined a sound as the UHA-6S, but it is more involving. It has a solid, powerful bottom end, very punchy. The mids are in your face. It's much brighter on top and not as accurate as the UHA-6S, tending to produce almost spitty highs. But, I can connect to the music with it - something UHA-6S has yet to do.

The UHA-6S was voiced using Shure SE500's, according to Nick at Leckerton. I get the feeling the goal was to "control" the bass bloom of the SE500's and thin out the euphonic midrange those IEMs have. Well, they succeeded. I'm not so sure I agree with that.

I intend to ask Leckerton Audio which opamps they could recommend to give the UHA-6S the punch I feel it needs.

I hope my impromptu, unofficial "review" has shed some light on this very nice Amp/DAC.

~~~~Sara
post #3 of 27
Sara nice review and I am very happy you are enjoying your new amp. I went to Leckerton's website and found the manual ( http://www.leckertonaudio.com/user_g...User_Guide.pdf ) I wish a list of possible op-amps were listed to replace the AD8610 specially if Leckerton also listed the power outputs and battery life.

The UHA-6 looks like a very nice unit, if I still had an iRiver it would be a possible consideration specially to compare with a D10. Ummm...
post #4 of 27
I will never be without my iRivers. A portable hard drive with optical out? I have 4 140's and 4 120's. I am stocked and have even upgraded the drives to 120gb and 80gb on the H120. I will take a hard drive to CD as you don't have the jitter problems and mobile to boot.

Nice unit. I would like to hear more about it. Any internal shots?
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
I too love my H140! It still has the 40 gig drive in it, but I've had it less than a week. Oh, yes, a drive upgrade is going to happen!

John, I'd love to post some shots of the internals. They're in the next post.

Miguel, thank you for the kind words, very much. I'm surprised you don't currently have an iRiver!

Thanks, guys!

~~~~Sara
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 

Internal Shots UHA-6S

This unit is easy to open. Remove the front panel screws, and the PC boards slide out. They're held together with a connector, and once popped apart, the opamps and DAC filters are easily accessible.

Here's the photos!
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post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
I made an emotional connection with the music last night. I changed the tips on my SE530's (darn, those things are heard to get positioned in my ear canals), and - poof! Magic! Bass, bloom, and weight. Still, the AMB Mini3 is, ummm, "bassier" - it has more punch and authority, but this UHA-6S has it all over the Mini3 in control and accuracy. This is a high-end piece, and it's very impressive!

~~~~Sara
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Now Hear This!

I FINALLY got the right tips on my SE530's, and let me tell you all something:

This UHA-6S is one FINE amplifier. It is an extraordinarily detailed, articulate, transparent, and accurate piece of equipment. From the top to bottom, this piece gets it right. It accentuates nothing, putting the entire spectrum into balance. It throws an image that is just short of spectacular. It has excellent dynamics, it is dead quiet, and it controls the SE530's perfectly. They now sound neutral, natural, and completely involving. There is NO veil on the music, I hear everything I should. I am inclined to think that, as the MiniBox E+ was voiced to complement the ER-4S, Nick voiced the UHA-6S to take advantage of the strengths of the SE530 (and SE500). I am duly impressed, and I am very, very pleased with this amplifier! I am speaking about me - others are invited to form their own impressions. I'm just going to sit back and listen to music. I have a very nice portable rig, now.

This sums up my impressions.

Thank you, folks!

~~~~Sara
post #9 of 27
portable amp with digital input....interesting...
i need something more airy/colder than ibasso D10 too
post #10 of 27
Guess what Sara, I have an UHA-6S on the way! Look forward to burning it in and see how it performs but based on your comments it should be a blast.

I had an H120 but all my music is Apple Lossless via iTunes and I did not feel like learning a new system. If you have a link to an H140 please shoot me a PM. Thanks.

John, if you are interested I could send the UHA-6S your way to try.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
How did I miss this reply, Miguel? Did your UHA-6S arrive yet?

PM coming....
post #12 of 27
No, it should arrive here on Tuesday/Wednesday. Now I am once again looking for an iRiver (sold the one I had).
post #13 of 27
This is temping. Wondering how does it stack up to D10...
post #14 of 27
I have been using the Leckerton UHA-6S for about a week, both as an amp using an iPod w/ a line out dock and as a DAC/AMP via USB from my computer and optical from an iRiver H120. For headphones I have used an Etymotic ER4P, Yuin OK1, and HiFiMAN RE252.

I have also done a side by side comparison with its closest competitor the iBasso D10 using an optical input w/ the H120. Personally I could not detect any difference in sound between the two units and each offers a set of attributes which may steer some buyers toward one or the other. For example:

1. The Leckerton is a tad smaller.
2. The iBasso is cheaper (But if you ever have to send it back the savings are wiped out. This could happen to any product regardless of country of origin, I mention it as a matter of fact.)
3. The iBasso offers coaxial input in addition to USB and Optical.
4. The Leckerton offers socketed op-amps in both the amp and dac section. The iBasso offers socketed op-amps in the amp section only.
5. The iBasso comes with extra op-amps for the amp section as part of the package.
6. The iBasso offers a second case as part of the package.
7. The Leckerton is available in two colors but the second case is not included in the package.

As you can see there are differences and although they are not significant the price advantage favors iBasso. Personally I believe either unit will make the end user very happy and based on the service from both companies it should provide re-assurances to the buyer that both seem to be here for the long haul.

I certainly plan on logging many more hours and continue the side by side evaluation w/ various other amps. Currently I am trying to get an iRiver to better test the performance and will keep updating this thread.

BTW, the Leckerton has an affinity w/ the Etymotic ER4P. Not only the sound is full and detailed but it has MOAR bass, this was surprising and enlightening since I am still a fan of the Etymotic house sound.
post #15 of 27
Hey Miguel, just a small correction. D10 doesn't get shipped with an extra case. It's D4.
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