Berning ZH270 Synergy

You often see the Berning ZH270 amp paired with Merlin speakers. What other speakers pair well with the Berning amp? In other words, is it more flexible in this regard than we're led to believe? Thanks.
Prior to getting my Merlins, I used the Berning with Quad ESL63USA monitors. I've never heard that speaker sound better than with the Berning.
IMHO, the Berning isn't made to mate with anything in particular, it's just that if you bother to get such an amp, you want to pair it with a speaker transparent enough to let the Berning's strengths shine through. The Merlins are one of the few that pull this off.
The Berning has enough power to drive many speakers, and with variable feedback, the sound can be tailored to personal taste.
I think I'd have to spend quite a bit more to find anything that would satisfy me as much as the Berning does...

I've listened to a pair of ZH270's powering Salon's and Merlins for extended, multiple listening sessions. To say I'm impressed is a serious understatement. While I have not listened as extensively to other highly regarded amps I will say without hesitation that if I owned one it would be my last amp. I can't imagine many speakers not responding favorably to it. It's that good.
As a Berning owner, I can say that few amps can match Berning amps.

However, an amp is only a part of the package, and must be paired to speakers that will match it electrically, as well as sonically.

The ZH270 has an output impedance of 1.8 ohms with normal feedback, and higher with less feedback(switchable). Therefore, choosing speakers with a "tube friendly" impedance curve, staying above 4 ohms at all frequencies would be preferred. If you desire to select less feedback, then a speaker with even higher impedance at all frequencies would be desired. For best damping factor and less strain on the amp, I'd suggest using a speaker with a nominal 8 ohm impedance, that doesn't "swing" into low impedance dips, especially at lower frequencies. Even though this ZOTL has remarkable properties for an OTL, you have to observe proper system matching to get the best from it.
I believe that Sonus Faber also voices some of their speakers with the Berning ZH270. Saw it in the factory tour article in a past Sterophile.
I have the ZH270 matched with Piega P10's-the older grand piano black, not the newer aluminum models. The Piegas are rated at 89 db sensitivity and are a 4 ohm load, and I use them in a 17x14 room. I had some trepidation when I ordered it about it not having enough power,etc, but with the 30 day money back trial period I figured it was worth a try.
It was the best decision i ever made. It is a beautiful matchup. I get the best out of the Piega's ribbons, and the Berning is so good at both frequnecy extremes, it has no problem with the Piega's two 8 1/2 inch Vifa cones, and it provides exceptional dynamics. Plus, you get the flexibility of three feedback settings to tailor the degree of control the amp has over the drivers and the resulting sound.
I loved the sound running my sources direct into the Berning so much, but i am a lazy guy and needed a remote volume control. I ended up with a Placette Passive Linestage, also available on a 30 day trial, to go with the Berning. It preserved the Berning sound, improved the detail and soundstage with no loss of dynamics, and allows me to control source and volume via remote.
I am in sonic bliss. i heartily recommend the Berning under the parameters described above. It is a remarkable product, as is the Placette. I hope this is useful to you.
I have the Berning ZH270 and Coincident Total Eclipse speakers. The Totals are 94db and the Berning sounds amazing with them.
I am running the Berning with Gallo Nucleus Reference 2 speakers and the sound is magic. The sound is lightning fast with fantastic resolution and dynamics. As soon as I get home everyday the first thing I do is fire up the system. I tried running my Sony SCD-1 directly into the Berning, but quickly went back to my Supratek Syrah preamp. As great as the Berning is I consider the Supratek the heart of my system and that is saying a lot.
this is an older post, but thought i'd add to it. My Berning makes my Sonud Faber Guarneri Homage's scream for more! it's really a lovely combination!
Art, the Berning is really a universal amp that works with a wide variety of speakers. I recently heard a zh270 side by side with a Krell KSA 250 amp driving a pair of Legacy Focus in a medium size room with 10' ceilings, the Berning wasn't lacking in any area. What was particularly noteworthy was the bass control in comparison with the Krell. This speaker is rated at 95 db at one meter is a 4 ohm load dropping to 2 ohms at 300 hz. While the Berning didn't have the power of the Krell in the low bass, 70 watts vs 250 Class A watts, it was more open and livelier. It is a typical result with many ss amps I have compared it to, fast, phase coherent, powerful and extended at both ends. Providing the speaker's impedance doesn't dip too far below 2 ohms or doesn't have some very difficult rising impedance that might effect its tonal balance with a specific speaker, it will work well. A very nice fit in most situations for one looking for tubes without the typical caveats.

It isn't just suited for Merlins.
I agree, it's an amp with range. In fact, Sonus Faber uses it in their test room while developing their new speakers, which is quite a statement all by itself.... I know other have used the Berning (strapped, i think) to drive very, very high end speakers from Kharma.

On an unrelated note - I'm 4-5 days away from the return of my Berning from the wiring upgrade, and the anticipation is driving me nuts. I understand there is some real 'break-in' time to really get it to sing, but i've been without music for over a week: what an addict I've become....
Yes, there is a break in period, about 2-3 weeks in my case but you will hear the difference immediately. I'm sure you'll be happy you did it.
I've just ordered a new ZH270 with the wire it will be a while before I can chime in. I'll be using the Berning on Quad ESL 57s and USA monitors.
I used my Berning with Quad ESL63USAs prior to getting my Merlins. IMHO, the Quads have never sounded so good. They will probably be a nice match with the 57s too.
Now go clean some records, while you're waiting ;-)

After 6mos of waiting for the Berning..It arrived today.

Wow, I think I've been waisting my time until now .This is some little amp. Tremedous bass control and detail right out of the box. Runining it through an Io Sig. w/vc ,Oracle MkV, Benz Ruby and the Quad USA monitors. Will try on the Piquet ESL57's in the next while. I've heard the Atmashphere 60's and the Berning is tighter ... I've got a Helikon cartridge that should rock with th Berning. I'm very pleased thus far. No heat and light too!

Congratulations Nkj,

I've had my Berning with all the upgrades for several months. Just wait till it breaks in. You ain't heard nothing yet.

Also, I recently rolled NOS Telefunken 12AT7's in and more recently, NOS RCA 12AV7's. They made a huge difference, both of them. The detail and focus is amazing. With the four TF 12AT7's in place my Berning is a little cool sounding, but I love the detail. However, I may try a pair of Mullards in place of one pair of the TF for a little more warmth.

Good luck. The Berning is simply an amazing amp with very few peers. And Allan is a fountain of knowledge and a great guy ta boot!
Fiddler - i had a vintage pair of Mullard 12AT7's and found it LOVELY. still very detiled and thansparent, but in my system it was far more pleasing than the tele's....

I just received my ECC801S's NIB from europe, Allan suggests using these in the 1st position. I am gonna roll tomorrow, and will let you know. I bought Artg's, and yes the mullards are nice too, but I am gonna roll some pinch waist E180CC's form the 5stars in the 12av7 position. BTW, If you want a set of the Telefunken NIB, I got 2 pair for 300, so 150. Allan claims this is the way to go. Enjoy, I know I am.

Steve and Artg,

Thanks for the replies.

I am definitely going to try the Mullards. But I am not sure which ones. I have read mixed reviews on the Mullard 12AT7, the Sylvania Gold Brand 12AT7, the 6204 and the CV4024. I would appreciate any detailed feedback anyone can offer on any of these tubes in the Berning.

I also read that several Berning owners were using the GE 5 Star 12AV7, but when I asked Andy at Vintage Tube Service about the GE 5 Stars, he said GE 12AV7s were "crap in a glass".

He told me that RCA was the best 12AV7 ever made so I went with his advice. I will say the focus really snapped into place with the RCAs over the stock 12AV7.

I will be anxious to hear any reports on the 12AV7 position. I will stick with at least one pair of the TF 12AT7s in my ZH270, but four of them may be too much of a good thing. Time and experimentation will tell.
With all due respect to Andy, the 5965 GE 5 Stars I use do a wonderful job for me. In the never ending search for perpetual motion, the Holy Grail and the perfect sound, I will have to try these RCA's of which you speak.

As far as 12AT7's, a pair of Tele's in the front position will give you the best detail and dynamics I have yet heard. However using four Tele's will bring a clinical, dry sound that proves a little boring. Insert a pair of sweet sounding tubes like a GEC, RCA or even some GE 5 Star 12AT7's to the rear of the Tele's and I think you will have what you want. The Mullards I tried lost much of the dynamics and leading edge impact that I enjoy from this amp. Granted, there are many different Mullard 12AT7 varities out there that I have not tried. With my current tube mix, I feel no urge to experiment. It sounds amazing!

Hey, its only four months to New Years Eve!!! Where does the time go?
I have NEVER like the sound of the most all 12AV7's(5965), but have found 7062's, E180CC's, and that 5869 5 star to be much better IMHO. I actually have a NOS pair of Telefunken 12AV7's which are the best in that class. I will report findings after I start rolling.

Hey, guys, what power cord are you using on the Berning?
Right now I am using the VD Master.
ive got brimars (cryod) from 1950's.. sounds great but havent tried anything else yet.
using ESP power cord. but will try a electraglide FAT MAN soon.
Hi Gang. What a great sounding amplifier. Had the pleasure of auditioning a friends amp [stock tubes] in my rig. We didn't mess with any tube rolling, never even opened the hood .... just sat there intoxicated by the reproduction. I would have loved to do a little voicing with nos tubes but never got the chance. I must say that I am a little perplexed as to why Andy would state that the 12av7 is "crap in a glass" tube! I beg to differ here as my experience with subbing a 12av7 for most any brand 12at7 has always been a huge benefit in virtually every circuit application. Regardless of whether it's applied as an input tube, phase splitter,driver, cathode follower etc,the 12at7 gets stomped on every time. Furthermore, even in low resolution circuits like guitar amps, juke boxes, pa amps and the like. Although the 12av7 has marginally less gain than a 12at7, it's simply a far more musically engaging tube in my experience. Excluding the wonderful sounding triple mica genelex A2900 and perhaps the Osram B309, any brand of the 12at7's are mediocre at best. The pricey telefunken ecc801 as well as any of the nos mullards[including the m-8162]must be considered the most over rated tubes out there today. I can certainly understand the accollades and hype awarded to the famous telie ecc 803[12ax7]or ecc802[12au7]as well as the early long plate mullard versions of those same tubes types as they are in a whole nother leaugue altogether and certainly deserve their stellar reputation. If there is one particular example of an audio tube that could be described as "crap in a bottle" the 12at7 would surely fit that description. Try a nos black plate version 12av7 [d getter] and compare, it'll surely make you giggle. The Canadian made Marconi branded 12av7 [d getter] is a fabulous example and relatively inexpensive to boot.... a very smooth and relaxed presentation, yet vivid and dynamic with a deeply layered midband and an extended treble range thats always sweet and airey. Worth a try gang. cheers david

Andy said, - "GE" - 12AV7s were "crap in a glass", not 12AV7s.

Just wanted to clear that up.
Fiddler. My apology here,thanks for pointing that out. cheers... david
I put a pair of E180CC Amperex PW in and WOW, I am loving it, tomorrow I will try my 1950's 6829 GE 5 Star, those are also suppose to be the bomb. I will also try the TF's ECC803S's. I will let you guys know. With the PW in, the weight around the instruments is amazing, very musical, and natural sounding. Much smoother, the voices also seem more natural.

Aint this a hoot

So Steve (711Smilin) - please do comment on how you like the Berning vis-a-vis the MANY amps you have owned over the years....
So you guys are going to get me tube rolling already?

I know I have some MullardCV4024/12AT7 with the shield logo and some RCA black plate 12AT7's, JAN 6201 GE and probably a couple of NOS Tungsol 12AV7... I may bite the bullet for some more flavours of the 12av7 as they are relatively inexpensive ...I'll try and find a source for some TeleECC801 for more fun too...

I'm enjoying the amp so much stock to even imagine greater performance.(My cyroded outputs should be here soon) The last time I was so enamoured with a set up was probably the late 70's with and ARC D79 and a pair of Bevridge electrostatics.

I usually don't keep the USA monitors in the system for long as I tend to prefer the ESL57's..I think the Berning has taken a grip on the ESL63's that I was unable to accomplish before..I've kept them in for days and don't yet have any desire to pull them out.
Artg, I have been working on bringing an SET quality to the Berning, and tonight(at least for now)I think I have accomplished it. Ist position 6829 5 star GE, 2nd position Telefunken ECC801S, and 3rd position 1950's d getter 6201 pinch waist gold pins.

Treble no longer is fatigueing at all(no glare)MIdrange is liquid magic, and bass tight, fast, accurate. I am trying to get the sound of my favorite amp, the Wavelength Cardinal X1 with WE 300B;s, but with BALLS.

I am smilin tonight, tomorrow, who knows
kind of off topic, but my Berning EA-230 drives the Quad ESL-63's great...i am waiting on my second amp so i can mono.
I think I found it, E180cc PW Amperex, Tele Ecc801s, and 12AV7 Tele. Trips myu trigger big time.
I have a 60's vintage Mullard 12AT7 to try in place of one pair of my TF ecc801s. I will put them in the second position and keep the other pair of TF ecc801s in the first position. The RCA 12AV7 will stay in front for the time being.

I will report on the Mullard 12AT7 combo when I get it in.