Leben integrated amps and Merlin VSM

Has anyone tried either the Leben CS-300 or CS-600 integrated amps (or even the CS-660P amp) with the Merlin VSMs?

How do they compare with the Ars-Sonum Filarmonia integrated amp or the Berning ZH-270 (that is the ZH-270 connected to a preamp; not standalone). I have both the Ars and the Berning and before I sent my Merlins to Bobby for an upgrade, I found myself still partial to the Berning/Joule combination. I'm anxious to get my Merlins back so I can spend more time listening to the Filarmonia. Nevertheless I would be curious what others thought of the Leben integrated amps.

I just want to buy them because of how colorful they look. Who cares what they sound like right? Actually, they really are a sight to see in person. As far as sound goes, I have no clue. I heard the integrated, but not in my system. I refuse to pass judgement on any piece unless it gets into my listening environment.
An extremely enlightening post R.,one that is sure to cause the kids around the campfire to smile and carry on far into the blackest of nights.No Lebens here yet Dpe.Will be in touch,Bob
I owned a Leben CS600 and used it with Castle Howard II loudspeakers. That particular combo was outstanding. Three dimensional. Juicy. Lots of fun.

The CS600 on Sonata III loudspeakers didn't work nearly as well. I cannot recommend that pairing.

How would the Leben CS600 work with the Merlin speakers? Unknown, but the odds are in favor of a good result, IMO.
i bought the berning from enjoythemusic, who at the time used the leben, which was the reason he sold the berning, which shows:

at the time he preferred the leben.

at a later time he tried to buy back the berning.

fwiw ;-)
I love these Merlin posts.I'm getting a little,not much tired of my Mcintosh stuff with them.They are timeless those speakers..........Berning and Leben,where's the justice?Where's the cash?Who killed Cock Robin........MC,Bob
i use the Leben CS600 with Merlin TSMs. They work pretty well together.
Seriously, the guy sold you his ZH-270 and then wanted to buy it back?! I wonder what flipped him. I would never sell my ZH-270 unless I was absolutely sure I preferred the new amp. I'm the one who generated this thread and I've since bought a sold two more amps, but I still have the ZH-270. I'm afraid my next move is to compare the ZH-270 to the new Berning ZH-230. And with regards to Leben CS-600, skip the integrated Lebens and listen to the CS-660P. I haven't heard the ZH-230 yet, but at this time I've narrowed my upgrade path to one of these two.

As for Usblues's comment, ones tastes can become more refine over time. I think it sort of depends on what you listen to and what you listen for. My musical tastes go in cycles depending on the season, but my love is mainly for acoustic guitar and jazz piano, and the piano is a difficult sound to reproduce very accurately IMO.
I recommend listening to a Leben before you buy -- I would guess that they will sound quite different. I used to own a Leben CS-300x and have had OTL amps in my system at the same time. The Leben sound is quite a bit different than the OTL sound (I know arguments that the ZH is not a true OTL amp). The Leben is warm and I believe a little wooly, while OTLs generally have a clean and open sound.
Bobby from Merlin is always show his speakers with Joule-Electra amplifier (usually VZN-100 or 160) and last two seasons with LA-300ME line stage.... FWIW, that is match made in heaven

All The Best
01-12-10: Dob
Bobby from Merlin is always show his speakers with Joule-Electra amplifier...FWIW, that is match made in heaven.
I agree. The Merlin room always sounds exceptional, and if one wants the sound produced in the room from those speakers, then IMO one is best served by buying into the Merlin/Joule/Cardas system concept. Bobby has the sound so refined, why mess with the formula?
Well partly because the VZN-100 and 160 are monoblock which don't always fit in everyone's decor. I love the VZN-100s, but I think my wife would leave me. They, as well as the VZN-80, also generate a lot of heat. That's probably great in Maine, but not so good in California.

Also Bobby's other formula is the Merlin/Ars-Sonum Filarmonia/Cardas...would you mess with this formula?
Also Bobby's other formula is the Merlin/Ars-Sonum Filarmonia/Cardas...would you mess with this formula?
Dpe (Answers)
No, I wouldn't, and after I posted my previous comment I wished that I had remembered to include the Ars Sonum option.
To replicate B's latest sound, you need the "Clear Beyond" speaker cable($8k)w/the VZN-100's. Unfortunately, this cable isn't perfectly suited to the Ars which would be at home with the regular "Clear".

I tried Merlin/Ars-Sonum Filarmonia/Cardas (both bi-wire and single wire Cardas Golden Ref., but not the Clear or Clear Beyond) and I wasn't as happy with it as I was with the Merlin/Berning/Joule/Cardas solution.

So here's the quandary: one can be content as Usblues is with his McIntosh amp and be done with it or one could continue to be obsessed with the perfect sound. I think any of the Bobby's "formulas" or the Berning alternative are outstanding. My taste in bass never goes lower than a double bass, and I think the reproduction of that sound is superb; same goes for jazz or acoustical guitar. When I sold the Filarmonia I played a Sylvain Luc CD that brought tears to my eyes. The buyer threw his money at me before I could change my mind. Having said that, whenever I put on a Brad Mehldau recording I can barely get through it without becoming irritable. Same goes with many of my jazz pianist recordings. Listen carefully to the mids, are they distinctive, continuous and hanging notes or are they surprising curtailed and marred in the pace of the playing? The tempo doesn't really matter. Listen to the first two tracks of Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Inner Voyage. It's not subtle if you've ever played the piano. The highs and lows are great, but the mids suck. Of course one could contest that it's the recording, and I absolutely agree, but I take these piano recordings with me whenever I listen to a new system and I've heard those mids better shaped. The VZN-100 is an improvement; the Berning is OK, but I seek more articulation without having to step up to 15K monoblocks. I would hate to part with my Merlins because they do play a lot of music exceptionally well, thus I'm curious if a 10K solution like a Berning ZH 230, Leben CS660P, or replacing both the preamp and amp with Shindo equipment would put a smile on my face. This is really my endeavor since I've sat with people who cannot hear what I'm talking about (just another obsession of mine).
Good luck on your quest, Dpe!
hello, sorry for not getting back, i am sort of a slow poster..

i would be interested to hear about the zh230, even though i do not feel i want to replace the zh270. i had wondered about nagra vpa's, or einstein otls, but those are massively big for me. one significant reason for using the berning is its absolute understatement combined with real sound...