These are strange times for the digital to analogue converter. Having come back from the edge of extinction, it is no longer sufficient for a DAC to be simply a means of turning your ones and zeroes into an analogue signal. First came USB; initially as a convenience feature, but now as an all-singing, all-dancing high resolution connection. Then came volume controls; first doing unpleasant things like bit reduction to get the levels up and down, but later morphing into sophisticated noise shaping devices that can challenge analogue designs.
Now, Leema Acoustics has decided that even acting as a digital preamp is not enough. The Libra is either an extremely ambitious DAC or the start of a new evolution in product categories. Quite whether this is in response to a clearly stated demand for such a thing or a gamble to try and find some clear air in a congested category is unclear, but it is fair to say that the Libra doesn’t sit entirely in either the DAC or preamp category. This is a DAC that also happens to have most of the trimmings of an analogue preamp at the same time.
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