I have to kick off with a huge apology in the delay of this review getting done, it simply slipped under the radar over here at Inearspace but here we are, here it is, so let’s get under way.
Leckerton are a USA based company owned by Nick Kettman. Before starting Leckerton he previously worked as an Engineer at Cirrus Logic in Texas, a company which I’m sure most of you are aware of, a pretty big company in the audio world and they supply the DAC chips to A&K on their latest generation products among many other audio brands. Before Cirrus, he worked for Shure where Nick worked as a product development engineer on a range of products including digital wireless microphones, USB microphones, and USB audio interface devices.
It’s fair to say this guy knows his way around the industry and hopefully around a quality audio product!
The UHA760 is a $399 USB DAC/Amp with some nifty features. The DAC is designed for CD quality and lower and will convert up to 16/48khz but upsample to 192khz for everything you feed it. The Cirrus Logic 4398 chip is present for conversion and a digital volume control is also within the device. It is compatible with Android, 5th Gen Apple products, Windows and Mac all in the usual fashion. Three gain settings are available to suit your specific needs and a crossfeed switch with two setting along with a true bypass is another switch on the front panel. We have an analogue input but no DAC level line out unfortunately.
Specs and Features:
A few numbers for you then…
Here is the Output in Watts per channel –
16 ohms: 30 mW 32 ohms: 55 mW
62 ohms: 100 mW 100 ohms: 125 mW
300 ohms: 55 mW
Dimensions: 70 x 97 x 20 mm
Output impedance: <0.5 Ohm
Further specs and figures can obviously be found on their website but these ones specifically I felt were the most relevant.
Something you will notice on the Leckerton website when ordering the UHA760 is that there is a choice of 6 Op-Amp chips! This gives you a little bit of flexibility to customize the sound somewhat when ordering yours. We have the ‘stock’ recommended chip, the AD8610. One thing is though, in the previous model these chips were socketed, which meant you could have multiple Op-Amps yourself and switch them to decide your preferred one. This model has them soldered in though so this flexibility has been removed. Unfortunate really, it was a cool idea and I would have liked to have a go at op-amp rolling with this amp to see how the performance changes, now you have to lock yourself in from the start.
Build Quality and Ergonomics:
Now looking at pictures and videos of this product doesn’t give you a fair interpretation of the quality of this product. The aluminium chassis is thick and impeccably finished in a lovely matte black in my case (silver optional). I actually can’t flex the chassis however it has acquired a couple of small scratches just in day-to-day usage. Overall though, really great build quality and I don’t mind the scratching at all, that makes it mine, unique.
Switches (there are 4) feel very solid and durable so no worries here about flicking them up and down too often! Something I really must mention though is the knob feel, it’s great. Sturdy but really continuous and never staggered, this is really important in a portable amp so that you can’t easily adjust volume while it is in your pocket. If you have never experienced this you are a lucky person, it’s horrible.
The shape and size of the unit is given in measurements above but it’s a great size for me to have it on the back of my AK240 and is almost the same size as a Vorzuge Pure. I really can’t fault it here, I love it.
“The UHA760 includes an adjustable crossfeed feature which allows you to blend some of the low-frequency sound from each channel into the opposite ear, creating a more natural soundstage.”
I’m not a fan, I don’t like it, it’s strange. I felt it sounded somewhat artificial.
As I have said, this uses a Cirrus flagship 4398 chip which I know can sound fantastic if implemented properly. That is the key here guys, it’s the implementation. I hear all the time people saying, “oh that uses the same chip as …… so they will sound the same” or “that’s a good chip that product will be great”. This really isn’t the case. It is the implementation that allows you to get the best from a chip, not just having that chip present.
The reason I have said this is because I don’t believe the DAC section in this product is as good as it could be, or as good as the amp section anyway. I only use this product as an amp and I genuinely believe that is the best way to use it. I do however think if you are someone that uses your phone as a source or your PC/Mac, that this DAC will offer a considerable improvement. If you are using it with a DAP however that already has a pretty solid DAC section, the DAC section of teh 760 may easily becomes overlooked, as was the case with me using it with either AK240 or Sonny’s PWAK120-B. When I did use with my HTC One (M8) phone though the DAC section was certainly superior to what the HTC had built in.
This DAC is detailed, spacious and images fairly well but it has a tendency to sound a little too cold and lean. Not musical or engaging at all to me. Tracks can become a little dead and brittle sounding, a typical digital sound. Now I don’t know if this is because everything is upsampled, it might not be anything to do with this, but these are the typical characteristics of the majority of upsampling devices I have tested, an there have been a few…
As A Portable Amp: Just The Way I Like It!
Let me emphasise something. This is an IEM/CIEM aimed amp, it’s fantastic with these for reasons I will explain in a second, but seriously IEM’s love this, big cans hate it. Less demanding headphones will get on ok but power really isn’t a strong point of the UHA760.
Hiding Behind the Hidition Viento-R
I used different DAP’s, my laptop, my HTC One (M8), you name it to understand this amp and it’s fair to say I’m suitably impressed.
My biggest test of a portable amp is the noise floor, if the background is quiet and there is no channel imbalance from the 0 mark I will give the sound a serious test but if it’s hissy and unbalanced I will struggle to justify giving sound a good go with IEM’s. The Alo MK3-B is an example of an unusable amp with IEM’s, as far as I am concerned anyway as the noise floor distracts too much from the music. Fortunately the Leckerton has one of the very best, if not THE best noise floors I have ever heard. It’s silent. Even with VE6XC, the most sensitive things we have ever tried its freaking silent, black, dead, invisible whatever you want to call it.
Overall I would describe the sound as neutral, not natural, neutral. It’s pretty flat from top to bottom with a little roll off in the depths, nicely extended up top though. This is a clean and airy sounding amp, which is never muddy, boomy, confused or muffled. These characteristics can occasionally cause it to sound quite lean, bordering on cold but honestly, you come to realise this has more to do with the source and recordings you are using. Its seriously transparent if you feed it junk it highlights it, almost as if its telling you, you aren’t doing it justice. You feed it a well recorded track and a good DAC though; you will be rewarded with a really great amp stage to your system allowing you to see what your IEMs are really capable of. I said it’s not what I would consider to be absolutely natural, it’s not gorgeously smooth and velvety in the mids so vocals could feel more fluid, and bass does decay on the quicker side of natural. This isn’t an issue by the way it’s simply something worth noting if your preference swings the other way.
As I said, bass decay is slightly quick but it is really fast, agile and impressively impactful. It’s also worth mentioning that it is extremely coherent with the rest of the frequency response. There isn’t any detachment between bass and mids for example it’s a well-knit transition that really is seamless. A touch more real low end would round off this amp for me but this really is me being picky.
Mid-range is detailed as hell and I stick with my comment about how it’s not lusciously smooth but it’s far from empty, it’s just very detailed and really transparent, and again its so coherent, never is there a “oohh what happened there, what was that” moment.
Treble is airy, extended and detailed. Not splashy or harsh, just very real. I must stress that this amp has so much ability, but only if you feed it properly. If you give it a source with muddy bass or splashy treble it is NOT going to hide this and give you the best of what is there. It is going to sound below par.
Pin point precision imagery is extremely impressing me. The dark background and airiness creates a real sense of space and distinction between each point of sound. This also means that despite the fact that it isn’t the widest the deepest or the highest soundstage, it gets away with it because what it does, it does very well, especially if you have an earphone with a capable soundstage already.
I said that the Leckerton was primarily an IEM amp and it really is, when testing with the VE6 which are a very fussy earphone, they sounded wonderful. Airy, spacious and really the amp was allowing them to sing arguably the best I have heard them on a portable setup. It’s the transparency that continues to become apparent with the Beyerdynamic T5P. Some of you will know that these are a headphone that have a tendency so sound thin, brittle and even harsh if they aren’t amped well and given a good source. As it turns out its actually a nice pairing for portable use and none of these features were a problem. Don’t misunderstand though, I have heard them better on desktop gear and I actually prefer the Vorzuge pairing in this instance. Examples of headphones that this amp failed with were the ZMF Master Models, it doesn’t have the guts to drive them and the result is a weak sloppy presentation that doesn’t do the ZMF’s justice. Smething to bear in mind…
With the Dunu Titan 1
This is a really great little amp, from the digital volume control, silent background and airiness, all the way through to the speed, detail and coherency this amp impresses, especially from a technical standpoint. Feed it well and your earphones will shine.
The DAC isn’t as good as it could be but it does give you the option to quickly and conveniently plug into a laptop if you are at work or studying. It’s not the finest DAC and I wish the amp was released on its own at a cheaper price because it really is good. Its neutrality and transparency makes it a great tool for your rig.
$400 dollars is quite a lot, but competitors such as Vorzuge are priced more expensively, so in this scenario, you do actually get what you pay for. I believe the outlay is worth it if the rest of your rig is up to scratch.
As an amp for IEMs it’s brilliant. Unless you like a fuller bodied bassier presentation, in which case it won’t be for you, but for me, it fits right in to my system.