CAT versus Berning

I have a CAT JL2 amplifier driving Merlin VSM-MX speakers. I'm considering changing to a Berning ZH270. Anyone have experience of these two amps either in the context of a Merlin or other speakers. I am using a Placette Passive (after a few years of the CAT SL1). I have no good reason for changing, as the JL2s are exceptionally good, but as we all know, part of the hobby is change, I just don't want to go backwards.
I thought I would try to revive this question. Only chnage isthat I now have the Joule LA-150MKII preamp, I found the need for a tube pre because of the BAM unit that comes with my Merlin Speakers. So CAT verus Berning, any opinions.
The only advice I can offer is that when I owned my LA-100 MkIII I considered matching it with either the Berning or a Joule amp. This was based on much of the research I did here and other members comments. I have seen where a few people use the Berning with Merlin speakers and of course Joule and Merlin are a pretty classic combination. Of course all this is irrelevant to me now as I did an about face and went in a totally different direction with both preamp and amp. I hope this helps.
Were you ever able to audition the Berning?
You might just ask Bobby Palkovic for his opinion. I'm sure he could articulate the differences between the two since he is intimately familiar with both with his speakers.
Where does the Ars fit in this equation? You could keep all three for a personnal "Flavor-of-the-Month" club? I heard the Berning with the Caliburn TT in the Signal-Fi room last year in L.A.(I forget the name of the speakers)and it sounded great.
I was only able to audition the Joule amps (with the LAP-150) and Merlin speakers at RMAF last year and chatted with Bobby P. quite a bit in the process. Overall, while I enjoyed the sound, it was a bit too warm for my tastes. My thought in using a Berning with the Joule preamp was the comments I read about the Berning being a very neutral amp. I thought this would compliment the LA-100 MkIII which tends to be a tad more neutral than most tube preamps, but still has a lush and warm sonic signature.
The ARS will be used in summer, when the CAT runs to hot for my comfort. I'm thinking along the lines of Clio09, that the slightly warm Joule pre would work real well with the Berning (cool running), and that I could possibly sell the CAT -- if, I did not find the Berning to be a step down in any significant way. Owning three amps goes against my grain, I a little excessive, but I do have limits.
As a JL-3 owner driving an older pair of SoundLab A1s, I had a chance to hear the Berning in a direct comparison to the CATs into these speakers. The SL speakers are not the easiest load out there, but they are not the most difficult either. The Berning did fairly well but as expected, it lacked the ultimate control on the bottom end. The top end was a bit soft too vs. the CATs extension here. The CAT had a bigger and more open sound, a little more fullness but otherwise the two amps had a similar tonality. All was fine with the Berning until the volume was turned up to the mid 80s db and more.....then of course the Berning crumbled.

Tubegroover's advice is good: contact Merlin to get a feeling if the Berning is suitable for these speakers. The amp->speaker interface is critical; these should always be purchased as if they are one.

if, I did not find the Berning to be a step down in any significant way.
If you are running the JL-2 with stock small-signal tubes, get those horrible things out of there! With some time and effort, a number of tubes in the 12ax7, 12au7 and 6922 sockets can take the CAT amps to a whole new level, particularly in dynamics, resolution and portrayal of space. When I did the CAT vs. Berning test, I had stock tubes in the CATs. I am now even more aware of the CATs being in a totally different league with premium small-signal tubes.

Jafox, you have pretty much done ii for me, I won't be giving up the CAT. I'm very interested in any tube recommendations you could make (I'm using stock), and what supplier you trust for them.

I personally feel that the Berning is compatable with the Merlin speakers. For that matter I find the Berning compatable with every speaker I've heard it paired due to its unique impedance converter design. The issue is one more of taste than compatibility. I have owned the Berning with the Merlins for 5 years. What will throw things off is system synergy due to the fact that the Berning is quite neutral and seemingly leaner than other tube amps. This might lead to the impression that it is characteristically "lean", not so. Many but not all tube amps appear characteristically "warm" to my ears.

Wiring can make a significant difference as can the pre-amp used. I have heard the Berning sound utterly spellbinding with the right compliment of components, capable of reproduction of music to the highest level I've heard. I have not heard it spellbinding in my set-up but I know what it is capable of. My set-up is lagging in several key areas most importantly the room itself which would lend ANY system delivering less than its potential.

Pubul57, I would think the CAT would give up very little to any amp when used with the Merlins but this would go back to an issue of taste and what you are looking for. Bobby certainly has his favorites and his own tastes which would be tough to argue as he is always getting accolades at the shows. I've heard his Joule/Merlin set-up at the 2002 Stereophile show and was more than a little impressed. I've also listened to the Joule extensively in my own system and like it very much although it is richer than the Berning.

I am always reminded when I listen to a live performance, of an orchestra in particular, is how far off reproduced is to the real thing. I've about given up trying to get "there". Kind of like the greyhound chasing the rabbit upon catching it finally realizing it isn't what it appeared to be. Such dogs can never chase the "rabbit" again. Sorry for the ramble but this is how I currently feel about the situation as I'm not willing to keep on spending to keep discovering that there is often no correlation between the cost of a system and the enjoyment it offers. It is about synergy and taste and how much disposable income one has and is willing to spend to keep up the pursuit of the illusion.

Tubegroover, you are right abou the CAT, but boy is it hot in summer, one reason I got the ARS, which in terms of synergy, is really ideally matched with the Merlins - I can't see changing my speakers any time soon, or until Bobby figures out some wat to improve them. You also state a deeper truth, when I come back from a live jazz concert, I realize how far off equipment is from live, at first I feel a little disappointed, but then I realize that reproduced music, on its own terms, has its own beauty and certainly pleasure, but like you say - it is not live, and never will be.
Pubul57 - I sent you an email with some details on the various tubes in the 6922, 12au7 and 12ax7 sockets. Hope this gives you some ideas to try a few things vs. the stock Sovtek and Ei tubes.
John, got your e-mail, thanks for all the interesting ideas.