Leben cs300 vs Luxman sq38

Hello all,

Happy to be joining the group. Following 2 months of intense reading & listening to a variety of systems, I have started narrowing down my choices for a new amplifier (I consider this a first step before start looking for the speakers), between a used Octave V80 (which i liked but scared me with it's size and high valve replacement cost) and the cuter Leben cs300.

I was mesmerized by the virtues of Leben cs300: for me it combines good analysis and sheer musicality, I really like it's sound. My only problem with the Leben being it's low power, I was ready to buy it and then look for something like a Zu or a small monitor to partner it with (not ideal, but I felt ok).

Still I was just given the chance to buy a Luxman sq38u at a very good price, new, unfortunately without the option at this point to hear it. I'm thinking about the Luxman's bigger power and phono stage and I'm wondering:

How would you compare the two? Are they close in terms of sound? What should i expect as differences between them? Would i find in the Luxman the things i like on the Leben?Would you go for it? Leben somehow has a more "boutique" kind of feel while Luxman seems a bit more "mass" is it like that? Is the Luxman able to drive many more speakers and if yes what kind of speakers would you partner it with?

Many thx in advance, sorry for the long post,

Both were reviewed within the past year by TAS or Stereophile. A Google search should find it.
Don't worry about the Leban's power output unless you have a very large room, very inefficient speakers or listen at very loud levels. I have a 300SX paired with Harbeth C7's. It is a wonderful combination.
These are both great amps. I have had more listening time with the Luxman SQ-38u, which is a great amp but expensive IMO. I have only heard a couple of demos with the Leben CS-300, and it was also a very nice amp but it's hard to compare amps heard at different times and in different settings. If I was pressed to pick one for myself, it would probably be... either one.

If you are looking for integrated amps in this genre you have other great choices:
1- the Audio Note Oto is an excellent integrated SET tube amp (it's my personal favorite), and it's quite reasonably priced on the used market. 12 Wpc; it's available w/ or w/o an integrated MM phono stage.
2- the Conrad Johnson CAV-50 is wonderful 50 Wpc PP amp. Very sweet sounding and is also quite reasonable on the used market.
3- Shindo Cortese and Apetite 6V6. IMO, probably the ultimate line of amps in terms of build quality and musical tonality. But you have gotta love green!

Finally, since you are also looking for speakers don't be worried about the relative power ratings for these units. In a moderate sized room, 10 Wpc is plenty if paired to the right speakers. As a general guideline, I suggest that you look at speakers that are 92db or more efficient, but I have paired SET amps w/ less efficient speakers in a small room and it has sounded fine. But not all speaker/amp combos will work - if possible, try before you buy. This is where a good dealer will be very handy.
I think you should back up and reverse the order of your decisions. I strongly recommend deciding on speakers first. Then match the amp to your speakers. You will get much better synergy that way, IME. Speakers are the most important component in your system. And an amp should be chosen that best complements your speakers in accordance with your listening habits and preferences.

Some speakers really need power. Some are best matched with solid state, others work better with tubes. Some speakers like current.
Thanks everyone for baring with me and sharing their thoughts. I have read most of the reviews of the Leben and the Luxman and the Leben seems to be getting more favor vs the Luxman.

I think it all boils down to whether the extra flexibility of the Luxman due to more power will really make a difference on speaker partnering. I have heard the Leben with bigger speakers and it didn't work for me: it wasn't that it couldn't play loud, but I felt the sound was seriously degraded.

Im not sure that the Leben can be partnered with anything but horns (which I don't like), Zu or small standmounts (like the Harbeths that drdennis mentioned above) and in that respect I feel that the Luxman can play much better with a variety of other speakers esp flpprstanders to double the power, thus allow me to get a better overall result.

Is this a fair assumption? Will the Luxman allow a bigger variety of speakers?

Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts,

The Luxman sq38 should be compared to Leben CS600, they are closer in terms of price, power and tube selection
(around 25-30W from EL34/6l6 tubes)
The CS300 is based on EL84 which have less power, but great musicality and charming tone.
If you do like the kind of sound of the EL84, and need more power, consider the Manley Stingray II as well.
Thanks for your answer. Indeed I have now excluded the Luxman (I've auditioned it and was not persuaded) and I'm now between the Leben cs600 and cs300. In full honesty I've liked the 300 more, probably the el84 but not fully happy with the limited power thus speaker choices. I will look into the Stingray as well, thanks!

I am in total agreement with Roscoeiii. I would first choose speakers that sound great, work well in your room's size, and meet your budget. Then you can look for an amplifier that will make them *sing* and meet your aesthetic requirements.

I actually have owned a Leben CS600 for over three years now -- paired with DeVore Super 8's. Good synergy with the DeVores, and I actually preferred it over the Leben CS300, which I found to be too bright for my taste. One advantage with the CS600, if you're so inclined, is the ability to do some tube rolling for tailoring its sound. After one of the stock Sovtek 5881 tubes failed, I switched to Winged C 6L6GC's and have been very happy with the sound. Of course, it is best to let your own ears determine what is right for you.

Also, remember that if you plan on playing LPs, you will need a separate phono stage. One advantage of the Luxman is the built-in phono stage and remote control (if that's important to you). And you can also roll tubes in the Luxman to tailor its sound. Just a thought.

Good luck to you in your quest.