Music Reference RM200 or David Berning ZH270?

I am interested in both of these amps. Has anyone out there heard both of them before? The associated equipment that I would be using is Gallo Nuclius Reference speakers (88db efficiency), Supratek Syrah preamp, Granite Audio 650 CD player, MIT 330 and TG Audio IC's and MIT 750 plus speaker cable. Can anyone tell me the differences in these two amps, or your expriences with them?
Check archives April 2002 for a excellent review.Easy on tubes and reliable/problem free as all MR products.Fast Neutral sound.I own 4 Music Reference products and highy reccomend them all.Great buy used on this site.Any specific ?'s ?Haven't heard the D Bering..JD
All, I can say is that there is NOTHING even close to the Berning in its price range. Just heard the Berning running Merlin speakers at the Montreal show, and it was awesome. The Berning is an absolutely neutral amp, that shows what ever else is in the chain, whether it be good or bad. If you would like more info you can contact Allan at he knows more about the berning than anybody(besides David himself). I cannot say enough good things about the 270, I totally changed the way I listen to music. Good luck.
I agree with JD about the Music Reference products but the Berning ZH270 would be my first choice. You may never feel the need for another amp for many moons. Mr. Berning's amps are among the best in sound and reliability. No need to say more. Kriskosiba said it all so well.
I apologize, I supplied an incorrect e-mail address. For all those interested in contacting Allan, his E-mail address is
I can't comment on the Music Reference but it has gotten high marks by most listeners and appears to be a very good value at its price point.

Now the Berning is something quite different from most tube designs in that is sounds more like a ss amp in the bass because into an 8 ohm load at full power it goes down to almost DC which no other tube amp to my knowledge does. What you get is clean, articulate bass much like a ss amp. So in many respects, especially at the price point, the Berning is really alone. The midrange is an area where there are many fine performers and this would be a matter of taste but the Berning again has an advantage in the respect that you have three feedback settings to adjust for the impedance characteristics of the speaker as well as the amount of resonance preferable to you.

The thing that is so notable about the Berning that I haven't heard from any but much more expensive tube amps is in clarity. It resolves space across the board better than just about any amp in my experience. Transients are clearly resolved along with low level information from top to bottom. This you get along with the warmth and presence of tubes.

So Slowhand, I'm not going to say that you will like one better than the other because I don't know what is the most important aspect of sound reproduction to you and I haven't heard the Music Reference. What I will say is that in this price and power range the Berning is a "must hear" product for ANYONE considering any amp, ss or tube. It is quite special and a radical approach in amplifier design.
I haven't heard the Berning.But own the Music Reference RM9 MK2 and simply put it does one thing Amplify the signal.If you don't like the sound than it's upstream.This amp seems to have no signature at all.I talked to Mr.Modjeski about it and the only reason this amp isn't made anymore is because of cost.If made today this amp would retail some where around $5000.00(more expansive to build than the RM 200).It has three settings for feedback adjustments.And has the bass that will rival ss amps without question.I guess both amps are great.Hard choice I wouldn't want to be in your shoes!Good luck
As an owner of the Berning ZH270, I would second all the above positive comments on this amp. While I haven't heard the MR amps, I have compared the Berning to several other tube amps including VAC, VTL, vintage Marantz, ARC and Quicksilver -- none of these come close to the combined strength of the Bernings -- incredible bass and fabulous midrange and highs! IMO, the only way you could better the Bernings would be to purchase the Joule Electra OTL's. You might be able to "equal" the Berning by bi-amping your speakers with Krell on the bass and a vintage EL-34 tube amp on the midrange/tweeter (to capture the complete magic of the Bernings). Like Tubegroover said, the Berning should be a "must" audition for your system.
There is an intresting thread of the nOrh LE2 amp that will be coming to market at AC.The page below references a Berning amp and if the new amp is anywhere close in performance to a Berning it is a steal.

Read the bottom article for the amp reference.
Thanks for all of your responses and input. I am in the process of buying a Berning ZH270. I know from my research on these 2 amps that they are both excellent choices, but I have grown to value and respect the opinions of the great people on Audiogon. I will let you know how the amp sounds in a week or so. Thanks to everyone.
Please do let us know Slowhand. In addition to the stock amp there are other improvements that will greatly enhance its performance including upgrading the tubes among other things. Allan Bghan can help you with the "other things" and I would strongly recommend him as he is not only a dealer but a true believer in this great product.
I have owned a Berning 270 and now own a Berning Siegfried amp. Since you have already committed to Berning, I would recommend several "tweaks" to enhance the listening experience.
1) Address microphonics. All Berning amps appear to be susceptable. I have used Halo's on the tubes and would recommend Symposium or Stillpoints underneath the amp.
2) A good power cord is a must. Try TG Audio or Shunyata.
3) Definitely tube roll. The Svetlana tubes are pretty good but you can sweeten the sound with some NOS tubes. Unfortunately you can't roll the output tubes.
I have found the combination of the above factors to have significantly improved the sound. Overall improvement in bass,less sibilance,sweeter midrange,increased clarity.
Enjoy listening.
Thanks guys, I have the TG Audio cord now and will check with Allan on the tweaks.
Be aware of 7-8 year old amps passing as new, there has been several changes since then.

The output tubes are very important as well, that is why I offer hand selected cryogenically treat outputs on mine.
Well guys, my deal on the ZH270 fell through. The seller misrepresented himself and the age of the amp he had for sale. The amp may be just fine for all I know, but I choose not to deal with someone who rates a product a 10/10 and I find out from Berning that it is 7 years old.
Slowhand, yea, wait for a good buyer - most berning owners are, but there are also some "proto-types" out there that guys seek to sell as better than the current version (and maybe but how do you know and resale is a killer...). People don't sell them much so you have to jump on them with a good seller immediately. Also, make sure you stick a good IC in their between the Supra and Berning. Put a Purist in there and some NOS tubes on the Berning and you'll be set for quite a while. let us know how it goes. Good luck.
I would contact Allan Bhagan as Kriskosiba mentioned above (Hey Kris, how are you? great meeting you in Montreal!), because (1) he is the one who knows Berning best, and (2) there is quite a good chance that current ZH270 owners actually re-sell back to him for better value. I understand completely that you want it as inexpensive as possible. But the truth is there are still so few (relatively) ZH270 out there and this is unusually/ highly complicated and sensitive product, thus you want to be really sure that the condition is nothing less than perfect. Ken
I think that since the Berning amps generally retain about 80% of retail value on the used market, it is worth it to just buy new. I agree that tube rolling is beneficial with these amps, just as it would be with just about any tube amp. Mfrs cannot use NOS tubes because of flucuating prices and availability.
Well boys, maybe the audio gods are shining on me. Allan hooked me up with a great guy that is selling me a 1 year old ZH270 with NOS tubes that have been cryogeniclly treated. Thanks again Allan. I should have it next week and will let you know how it sounds. Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread.
Great score, slowhand! I would be very interested in you reactions to the Supra/Berning combo. Let us know, please.
I should have the ZH270 next week sometime. Keep an eye on this thread and I will post my impressions.
And Slowhand I should have a Sarah within the next few weeks, we shall compare notes!
Well guys, I have had my ZH270 for 3 days now and I can't stop listening to it. It is everything you said it was. I am getting off the crazy merry go round of buying equipment and am going to sit back and start enjoying music. I am where I have been trying to get to for the past 25 years!
Slowhand, welcome to the world of Berning. It's the best of the tube sound, with none of the weaknesses, and all of the good parts of solid state sound, rolled into one package. Speed, power, bass, detail, tone, delicacy, openness, transparency, plug 'n play ease of use with auto-bias, 20 year bulletproof reliability, and no heat. I just don't think it gets any better than that. Except maybe the Single-Ended Triode ZOTL versions.:^) I assure you that they are outstanding also. Many sleepless nights of listening ahead for you. Enjoy!
OK guys. Here's a question. As you know, I think the Berning is a great piece. But, how does it stack up against my AirTight ATM300 8W SE amp, which, used, would be about the same in price? Just curious. Don't be shy, I don't think the AirTight is "me"...

BTW, just heard from Slow and he's still in la-la land, which is nice to see. Off the merry-go-round for awhile. I did mention to him, though, that the Berning/Supra with a killer table - maybe a Teres - might be something that is the next itch.

How about that, twl, for spending someone else's $ by voyueristic proxy, taking advantage of their progressive psycho-pathology of audio?!!

Yea...a Teres....
Very good, Asa!

Regarding your comparison of the Berning to the AirTight SET, it is not really a fair comparison. SET vs Push Pull, and all that. If you want a fair comparison, try the Berning Siegfried 8w SET ZOTL against the AirTight SET. Only $6k, still in the price category. Now that would be an interesting evening!

As for the Teres, well, you know.