Calling Dave Berning ZH-270 owners


Just a few very quick questions... if you own a Dave Berning ZH-270 amp are you using a preamp as well and if so which preamp and why?

Many thanks,

I had one for several years, started w/o a preamp and later added 2 different preamps. If I owned one today, I would indeed have a preamp in front of it.

I would put a Lamm preamp in front of it, but that is my biased. I first started with a Lamm L1 and the rest fell into place. Eventually the Berning left and was replaced by the Lamm ML2s.

Not that the Berning is in the same league as the M2 as an amplifier, it is not. But it is a very good amplifier that has much more potential than its design would reveal. If you consider this amplifier, then consider a proper dampening devices, I was very happy with the Berning atop a Symposium Ultra shelf and Rollerblocks. A very different amp on these devices - noise floor is improved significantly giving you more up and down the spectrum.

But the Lamm preamp sure was a huge improvement in sound - much more smoother and organized and linear sound. Dynamic contrasts were now revealed, small passages that would unravel into large dynamic swings causing me to respect the volume attenuator on the L1.

This was a good combination in my experience. What you put into this amp, you will get out, so just understand that the sound can be improved quite a bit with the right accessories/ancillaries.

Very flexible piece allowing you up continue upgrading your system.
From my experiences with the ZH270, it does sound best with an active preamp. I think solid state or tubes comes down to personal preference, as long as its high quality and musical it should sound great. Without a preamp the ZH270 sounds very open and detailed but lacks some of the weight and musicality that only a good preamp can add.

Some preamps that I have personally used with great results are: Berning P-1 (tube), Berning MicroZotl (tube, modified for use as a linestage), Blue Circle BC 21 (tube), Adcom GFP 750 (solid state) and Threshold FET 10 (solid state). My favorites would be the Micro Zotl and the BC 21.
Both of those preamps added all the weight, dimension, and musicality that was missing. I do love the characteristics of the 6SN7 tubes and they mated very well with the ZH270.
I own a ZH270 and I love it! I agree with Chris74. It does sound best with a preamp. I ran it straight into a cd player and the sound was missing dynamics and weight to the music. I use a Supratek Cortese preamp, and it is a fantastic match. The sound is lightning fast with great dynamic contrast. Low mid range has nice weight and body to the music. By the way, the Cortese uses 6sn7 tubes in the line stage.
I don't have the 270s anymore, but when I did have them I used the Tron Comet preamp.
Agree w/comments that preamp adds weight, fullness to the sound, and improves dynamics. I used a Joule Electra LA150, LA100mkIII, CAT SL1mk3, and tried a friends' Supratek Chenin. They all sounded far better than the Berning alone. Cheers,

Another preamp convert here also.Used it with a Counterpoint[modded] pre and it was superb,cheers,Bob
Guys - thanks for all the replies! Certainly looks like a preamp is the way to go.

I also had the ZH-270. I agree that a preamp does improve the system. I found that the First Sound pre was an excellent match, better than Supratek.
Thank you for all those who took the time respond.

After lookingf at a number of other threads on here, I have decided to reconsider my amps and I'm starting a search for a valve pre and mono blocks that will give me a similar sound signature to the ZH but build upon it.

All the best,

As a ZH-270 owner i can recommend a Goldmund MIMESIS 2 if you can get one s/h. Mine has died now so i will switch to an EAR 868 or EAR 912. Both give superb results with the 270.

just my 2cents

bernie from vienna