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LEAK

Leak hi-fi, founded by H. J. LEAK & CO Ltd in 1934, returns in 2020 after 40 years. With attention to styling, performance and value, Leak finally returns with the STEREO 130 and their first-ever digital CD playback device bringing diverse media compatibility to modern-day audio enthusiasts. See also our LEAK packages

Harold Joseph Leak, Sound Engineer and Technician, founded H. J. LEAK & CO Ltd in 1934. Originally based in London, England, LEAK specialised in designing and manufacturing high quality audio components. Chief Engineer Ted Ashley joined in the late 1930s and LEAK became a market leader of affordable but high-performance home audio equipment for decades upon decades. LEAK developed amplifier technology, loudspeakers, pickups and turntables amongst many seminal products spanning through the golden years of British audio innovation. Like many revolutionary, British audio brands of the 30’s and 40’s, LEAK was displaced by war but inspired by the consequential research to develop improved audio technology for purpose.

Initially orientated towards public address systems, their expertise combined with a desire to improve audio performance through the 1940s, low-noise, high performance and unparalleled fidelity systems became the focus as LEAK conquered the world.

In the late 1940s, after the original factory in Shepherds bush was destroyed by wartime bombing, the seminal LEAK factory was founded on the newly built Westway factory estate, Brunel Road, London. After years of contract-based amplifier production, the LEAK Type 15 amplifier came in 1945. Utilising a four-stage circuit and a groundbreaking ‘negative feedback’ design with ‘push-pull triode-connected’ KT66 valves achieved a remarkable 15 watts output. The type 15 would be known as the original ‘Point One Amplifier’, a classic series of stereo amplifiers that evolved right through the 1950s.

In 1948, the future classic, LEAK TL/12 marked the first bold step towards high-fidelity sound reproduction. Soon a tone-arm, moving coil cartridge and a higher-powered TL/25 followed. This high-fidelity concept required a unique approach. H. J. Leak, therefore, embarked on a nationwide ‘live vs reproduced’ tour to directly compare live music with high-fidelity, LEAK powered reproduction or recorded material.

TL/12 became a global success and a BBC standard in 1951, with many units sold into the legendary BBC facilities. It was evolved to incorporate input attenuation and a new balancing transformer. 8 years later, LEAK unveiled the TL/12 Plus, TL/25 Plus and TL/50 plus mono amps, to much acclaim in 1956. Building on this success, 1958 brought the introduction of the Stereo 20 and Stereo 50 amplifiers. Both featuring all-new stereo pre-amps, embracing the mainstream adoption of high fidelity stereo home audio equipment and a second version of the Troughline FM Tuner.

The Point One amplifier came to market at the end of the 1950s – Point One Stereo, Point One Plus (mono only) and Varisoloe Stereo models all came to market from late 1950s through to the early 1960s. Notably, the Varislope Stereo and later introduced Varislope Mono offered the Silver and Black livery that is instantly recognized as ‘LEAK’, even to this day. Although offering loudspeakers from way earlier in the 1950s, it was in 1959 that H.J. Leak introduced Dr Don A. Barlow to the loudspeaker development projects of LEAK. Plans for a ‘piston action’ loudspeaker. Through a due process of continuous innovation, the incredibly successful and internationally revered LEAK SANDWICH was introduced, in 1961.

The Leak Sandwich is a revolutionary loudspeaker originally designed and manufactured in the UK by H.J Leak, 1961. The idea behind the Sandwich was to engineer a loudspeaker design that gave true piston action of the loudspeaker cone. The LEAK Stereo 30 was introduced in 1963. This transistor amplifier featured quasi-complementary germanium transistor output stage. Embracing a succession path from the illustrious valve amplification series, the STEREO 30 maintained the high-fidelity stereo performance synonymous with LEAK.

With transistors being significantly cheaper to manufacture than vacuum tubes, the price points of LEAK became more appealing and matched the demands of the burgeoning home hi-fi market. H.J LEAK & Co continued valve amplifier production well into the mid ’60s, and higher power models such as the TL/50Plus were still available in the late 1960s.

Sadly, with the globalisation of an audio market, LEAK succumbed to the pressures of international competition, with lower costs and mass-consumer products. After 20 years of retirement and a lifetime of audio innovation and performance defining products, Harold Joseph Leak sadly passed away in August 1989. In 1996, the LEAK Downham Market manufacturing plant was demolished to pave way for local development. Pushed into obscurity, LEAK became a "cherished" classic brand fondly remembered but no longer an option on the home audio market.

After many years of dormancy, LEAK was rescued by the IAG Group – one of the world premiere manufacturers of audio products and owner of a plethora of classic British brands. In 2020, the year of H.J. Leak & Co’s 84th birthday, IAG Group proudly revived LEAK maintaining the art-deco inspired, classic-styled high-quality home audio format for the modern-day hi-fi enthusiast. With close attention to detail in styling, performance and value, LEAK finally returns for the masses with the LEAK STEREO 130 and the first-ever digital CD playback device for LEAK, the LEAK CDT. Offering diverse media compatibility, for the modern-day audio enthusiast, without compromising on style and values of audio performance.

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