Apr 022010
 

I hadn’t tried my reference Leben RS28CX Premium preamplifier in the system yet with my VPI Classic turntable and the Westminster Royal Special Edition loudspeakers, so this morning I removed the Leben RS100U/RS30EQ combination that I’ve been using (excellent), and replaced it with the RS28CX Premium.

Wow! The RS28CX Premium is a match made in heaven with the way the system is set up right now: ClearAudio Virtuoso Wood MM cartridge on the VPI Classic, Acoustic Revive Single Core interconnects on the VPI to the RS28CX (in for review at PFO along with the matching speaker cables).

The Leben RS28CX is a two-chassis, full-function (with valve phone stage) active preamplifier. The first chassis, the RS28CX, includes all the vacuum tube audio circuitry, inputs, outputs and controls. A dedicated vacuum tube power supply is housed in a second chassis. That RS28PX powers the RS28CX via an umbilical cord that is long enough to place the power supply well away from the control unit and maintain maximum separation to minimize power supply noise contamination of the sensitive vacuum tube line and phono circuitry.

The phono stage of the RS28CX Premium is remarkably quiet even through the highly sensitive Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, and there’s absolutely no hum evident even without a ground from the VPI Classic to the RS28CX Premium. I’ve been listening to the MoFi release of Allison Krauss + Union Station Live LP set this morning and it’s sounding extraordinarily good. Strings are full of life-like detail, tone color is through the roof, and there’s a positively addictive sparkle throughout the high frequencies. Did I mention tight and tuneful bass? Yep.

Just a quick update for you, now it’s time for me to get back to drinking a little coffee while listening to music on this rainy Spring Friday morning.

 Posted by at 10:11 am

  69 Responses to “Leben RS28CX Premium Preamplifier with VPI Classic TT”

  1. Hello,
    I would like to share with you some of my experience with Tannoys and Leben : i’ve been using Tannoy (Kensington SE) and Leben (CS660p) for some years now, i’ve always tried different pre-amps with them : first a french pre-amp, then the Leben RS28CX, and finally the EAR 912. Wow !
    I can tell you the EAR is significantly better than the Leben, it is more detailed, more focused and finally more musical ! I listen to classical music, jazz and some pop/rock (mainly brazilian music).

    keep the great job and blog, regards,
    C Moraes

    • Thanks for the kind words – appreciated. I’ve been impressed with the EAR electronics that I’ve heard at the CES shows, but alas, I’ve never had the opportunity to give any of it a listen in my own system. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get a chance to do that.

      Best,

      Jeff

      • Hi jeff and moraes

        I have listened over some EAR productline and find out that actually EAR 868 is offering exactly similar performance than EAR 912 for cheaper price, it also could be obtained easier for review i believe…

        I have myself rs28cx and i love it but i will at some point inquire from ear distributor in my country a loan of 868.

  2. Hello Jarkko,
    I strongly recommend you compare both products before buying any of them, I am not sure their performance is the same (and also built quality).

    I’ve recently listened to another magic matching in a friend’s house here in Tokyo (where I currently live) : Mactone 300B gear associated with EAR 912 and Tannoy Westminster Royal. Simply wonderful !!

    best regards,
    C Moraes

    • Hi

      I just talked to someone who has both, 868PL and 912. How 868PL and 912 are similar and different is next: 868PL and 912 are similar when it comes to preamplifier section, the sound virtually the same. If you listen vinyl, 912 phono section is clearly better than 868PL phono section, which is same as 834P but with bigger power supply.

      So it comes down to do you listen vinyl or not it seems. (and want everything in one box)

  3. Im sorry to clutter the forum but one thing did came to my mind:

    Moraes, have you compared the musical performance of cs660p to ear yoshino’s own poweramplifier? (like 861?) This would be for me interesting thing to hear, i will be soon back to finland and start looking for completely new system that has been build from musical lovers perspective… any info appreciated!

    ( i will soon go and make comparision between rs28cx and ear 868 with ear 861)

  4. Hello Jarkko,
    Yes, I compared both Leben CS660p and EAR 890 => I found the Leben more refined, but less energetic.
    It depends a lot on the speakers, for Tannoys I find both Leben and Mactone better than EAR (as power amplifiers). Shindo is another marvellous alternative, but the most powerful amplifiers are better for Kensingtons (despite 93 dB sensitivity), so the price…can go really high !!
    hope it helps.
    take care and good luck finding the best amplifier,
    C Moraes

  5. Hello Jarkko,
    Yes, I compared both Leben CS660p and EAR 890 => I found the Leben more refined, but less energetic.
    It depends a lot on the speakers, for Tannoys I find both Leben and Mactone better than EAR (as power amplifiers). Shindo is another marvellous alternative, but the most powerful amplifiers are required for Kensingtons (despite 93 dB sensitivity), so the price…can go really high !!
    hope it helps.
    take care and good luck finding the best amplifier,
    C Moraes

  6. Hey Jeff
    I have been very interested in the Leben RS-30EQ phono stage, but because of the japanese yen has gone very high.
    My distributor says that it is almost the same price as a used RS-28CX he got for sale at the moment. What are your thoughts about using the pre amp before my cs-600 instead of buying the riia????

    • Howdy Rasmus,

      As you know, I really like the Leben RS-28CX, and it served as my reference preamp longer than any other preamp. I have now replaced it with the RS-30EQ phono + RS-100U line combination, which has a more laid back overall balance that matches the rest of system better.

      There’s no question in my mind that the best choice is to use a RS-30EQ with your CS600, as they are quite literally made for each other.

      I hope that helps.

      Best,

      Jeff

      I hope that helps.

  7. Jeff,

    I have a question for you, i’m looking at both the RS28 & RS30 for use in my system. My principal need is for a phono stage, as I am currently using the Wyred4Sound STP SE for my pre-amp and a Pass Labs XA30.5 for my amp. In reading through your reviews on both products, it appears to me that you may be suggesting that the RS28 is the better of the two in the phono stage department. Since I already have a pre, I did not really consider the RS28, particularly given the additional $2,300 in costs. That said, I wanted to ask what your thoughts on the 2 devices was and whether the RS28 was “better” or more musical. Incidentally, I use the W4S for a HT bypass set-up with a separate pre-pro for all of my digital sources in our home theater.

    • Hey Jonathan,

      I ended up replacing my RS-28CX with the RS-100U line stage and RS-30EQ phono, and that’s the combination I would recommend for you. The RS-28CX is of course extremely good, and if you had one now I’d say stay put, but since that’s not the case I’d say go for the RS-30EQ. The RS-28cx has a separate power supply so the phono section is isolated better, but essentially it and the RS-30EQ are the same design.

      Best,

      Jeff

  8. Thanks Jeff. I appreciate that input. The RS-100U was another product I was toying with for down the road. In fact, I may end up putting my STP up for sale sooner to go with the 100U. I actually prefer the idea of the two leben units.

  9. Hi Jeff (and all),

    I’ve got an oppertunity to pickup a Leben RS28CX secondhand in great condition and am thinking of going for it in the next few days. I realise Jeff, that you now prefer the RS30EQ and RS100U combo and that’s fine, but I just find the looks of the RS28cx so much nicer than the RS100U. It reminds me of my old CS300XS with the gold knobs. I think they look much better than the RS100U controls.

    Some may consider this a laughable irrelevance, but Leben gear is obviously designed to have an aesthetic appeal and personally I think it’s an important part in my purchase decision. I had tried to restrain myself to just the Leben integrateds to save money, but the photos of the RS28CX are what sealed the deal – plus all the praise it’s received, of course. So hopefully I will pick this beauty up in the next few days, and then decide what to do about a poweramp.

    The CS660P is the obvious option, but expensive and I still have a soft spot for the McIntosh MC275 although I’d rather not mix ‘n match. That’s a risky strategy. I may hang on until there is news of a new Leben poweramp. I wonder how the EL84 and 300B monos are coming on? I’m sure you’ll tell us as soon as you know. I’d really love a pair of exquisite small monoblocks with EL84 or a mono version of the CS660P that still allows expansive tube rolling.

    I’ll let you know when I receive the RS28CX Jeff. Happy listening!

    • An update…

      Lost out on the second-hand RS28CX, so bit the bullet and bought a brand new one. It could be a while before I get my hands on it though, industry and airports are understandably having difficulties in Japan. On another note, I’ve agreed to exchange my Nagra MSA poweramp for a Leben CS660P! Should pick up within the week…can’t wait! I’ll use it with my Nagra PLP preamp for now.

      So Jeff, the system’s finally taking shape. To come soon is the VPI Classic/Virtuoso Wood combo and some Harbeths too (SHL5 if they fit, more likely P3ESR). After that I may have to delve into the mysterious realms of Acoustic Revive…

      It’s all very exciting right now Jeff!

      best wishes

      GregD, UK.

      • I’ve now taken delivery of the Leben CS660P (still waiting for the RS28CX). I’ve been playing recently some Frank Sinatra Capitol Records albums and Living Stereo/Living Presence SACDs. The Leben seems to be right at home with these well-recorded vintage recordings. The welcoming sense of space and silky midrange textures are a real ear-opener!

        At the moment I’m using Cambridge Audio BD650 universal player, Nagra PLP preamp and then the CS660P. The RS28CX is coming from Japan in about 3-4 weeks and I’m really looking forward to hearing the Leben pre/power in concert. The Cambridge is fine for now, no rush to replace it with anything new just yet. Digital seems a bit risky right now. I don’t quite know whether I want another universal player, a computer audio solution, or just a good plain CD or SACD player. Jeff, have you tried the Yamamoto YDA-01B D/A convertor? They make a SS and tube version. It’s rather limited connections wise – one coax in, one pair RCAs out and no USB. Maybe worth a look though?

        One last thing, I’m using LS3/5a speakers and surprisingly getting very audible hum, like a mains-sound type of hum, through the speakers. My Leben is basically ex/dem with very few hours so I don’t know what could be the explanation. Anyone else had hum with the CS660P and managed to solve it? If I turn down the attenuator on the Leben, the hum is greatly reduced but I’m surprised there is hum at all. I have such bad luck with audio equipment, I don’t know why…

        Still, apart from the hum it’s sounding superb right now playing Dvorak Cello Concerto – Starker!

        • Awesome on the CS660P! It’s a great amplifier! Glad to hear you sorted out the hum, that can be tricky to figure out sometimes. I had a similar problem a while back and the issue turned out to be an interconnect that wasn’t making good contact.

        • Greg, I have just read you comments on a hum problem, I would suggest get a pair of RCA shorting plugs, turn every thing off in your audio system then remove the interconnects from the Leben CS 660P and put the shorting plugs into the RCA sockets. Have the Leben CS 660P connected to your loudspeakers and now turn the amplifier back on, this will give you the true hum level of the Leben CS 660 P amplifier.
          I suspect you will now have no or very little audible hum at the speaker, I think you will find the hum is induce upstream of the power amplifier.
          You will have to work backwards by then connecting the preamplifier in to the chain with shorting input on the line input selected in the preamplifier, now turn the preamplifier on until it stabilizes then turn on the power amplifier and listen to the hum level.
          Keep working back through your system until you find when the hum is induced, I also recommend using shielded audio cables.
          Thanks Jason.
          http://www.parmentersound.com
          http://www.partsconnexion.com/CARDAS-72143.HTML

      • Congratulations, Greg! I think you’ll love it!

  10. I don`t have any hum in my Leben 660.
    Try to turn
    everything off,except the Leben 660. and hear if you still have hum.

    Regarding the Leben RS28 , have anyone tried another tube than the standard EH 6CG7 tube ?

    Best regards Ketil

    • Thanks Ket, I’ll try that and report back soon. Whether my preamp is muted or not the hum is identical, but it’s worth a try.

  11. Reporting back on my Leben hum problem…

    I’ve now solved the hum and it was nothing to do with the Leben! Through a process of elimination, I found that it was my Cambridge Audio BD650 universal player connected through RCAs to my Nagra preamp that caused the hum. Using the Cambridge as a transport connected via an optical cable into a Cambridge DAC eliminated the hum entirely.

    Thanks for the suggestion Ket – I’d have never solved the problem without your tip, Cheers!

    • Strangely I have friend who had a similar issue with his Cambridge BD650… it seemed to act like an aerial and resulted in FM radio coming through the system with no tuner attached!

      • Before the Leben arrived, there was very feint hum with my previous amplifier, a Nagra MSA, and also an electric shock everytime I touched the system! When the Nagra left and was replaced by the Leben, the hum got worse but the electric shocks stopped. All of these problems are somehow related to the BD650’s presence. It surprises me that no reviews have mentioned this and also that it happens at all with a generally well-engineered product like the Cambridge. I tried connecting the BD650 chassis to a grounding-post on my Russ Andrews mains block, no change. Then to the Nagra preamp’s grounding-post, again no change. I think this underlines the “listen in your own system before buying” rule. I’ll keep it for separate BD duties, but a new player is on the agenda now.

        Does anyone have any tips for an SACD player that fits in with a Leben system?

  12. Jeff, my new Leben RS28CX has arrived in the UK from Japan and I’ll pick it up on Friday – can’t wait! Also I demoed the Harbeth P3ESR on Saturday and was blown away. I ordered a pair immediately. I strongly suggest you buy/get hold of a pair to try in your Review system # 3 with the Leben CS300X. You may remember John Marks in Stereophile used the P3 with the Leben CS600 and was delighted with the marriage!

    So my system is really shaping up now. Leben RS28CX and CS660P with Harbeth P3ESR. I’ll probably get the VPI Classic/V.Wood combo you’ve been so pleased with too. It’s the digital side that’s trickier to solve. I might buy an iPhone with Onkyo digital dock and use a good musical DAC (47 Labs?). Then get a decent universal player for SACD/DVD-A and general back-up duties. Then again there are a few SACD players with digital inputs that could be used with an iPod…as you can probably guess, I’m a bit muddled on the digital front!

    Cheers for now,

    Greg D, UK

    • Very nice Greg! I’d like to hear the new P3ESR, I keep hearing how good they are. I’m tempted to buy a pair even without hearing them. The digital front ends are always the hardest, that’s for sure. I like my Oppo BDP-83 on the DVD front, but that’s just for video, I don’t really use it for music listening, although it sounds pretty good for that too. For digital I like using my Mac feeding a Mhdt Labs Havana DAC, but it only does Redbook digital, and no high-rez formats.

      Keep me posted on the Harbeths, I’m really curious about that.

      Best,

      Jeff

  13. Hi Greg – did you demo the Harbeth P3s with the CS660 or with a CS300 / CS600 ? I intend to try a pair with my CS300 – Cheers

  14. Hi Jeff

    Do you know the difference in sound between Leben RS 100 and Leben RS 28CX ?

    best regards Ketil

    • Hi Ketil,

      There are two versions of the Leben RS100 and they sound different from each other. Here’s a link comparing them: http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue46/leben.htm . The RS100 sounds similar to the RS28CX, but the RS28CX is a bit brighter and more detailed if I remember correctly (it’s been a while since I’ve had an RS28CX in my system). The RS100U is warmer and more natural sounding than the RS100 or RS28CX, and depending on your overall system balance, one of them will sound better than the others, although they are all extremely good preamplifiers. Currently I’m using the combination of RS100U with the RS30EQ phono stage in my main system, with excellent results.

      I hope that helps.

      Best,

      Jeff

  15. Thanks very much Greg – very helpful. enjoy the pre-power combo, sure it will be truly excellent

  16. Hi Jeff and other contributors to this thread.
    I recently bought used RS28CX. Lovely amp 🙂 I got several NOS tubes for the line section. Using some RCAs now. The phono section has some EH12AT7s not bad sounding, but what do you use/recommend? Im using a Denon dl103 in isokinetic al housing on a Classic and loner stepup trafo while i find what I like.
    Regards
    Kjartan

  17. Hi Kjartan,

    Probably the best thing to do is to run the type of stock NOS tubes that Leben voiced the RS28CX around. I’d go to their web site and look up the tubes, then order some NOS tubes just like them.

    Best,

    Jeff

    • hello Jeff,
      i think you have a gift: when you review an hi-fi gear , you convey your passion to the reader !
      Thanks.
      Now, i own an EAR Yoshino preamplifier 868. I listen to CD / SACD, and in a few days also via USB 2.0. with my new Resolution Audio Cantata MC.
      I don’t listen to vinil. Next week i will go to the shop to listen to the Leben RS 28 CX . I ask you: in your opinion what kind of difference in the sound reproduction between the EAR 868 and the Leben RS 28 CX ?
      I’m interesting in RS 28 CX, but i want to be sure that it sounds better als EAR , or that i like the Leben more.
      i don’t want thin sound, edgy or harsh hights. But, on the other and , i don’t want a “sirupy”, bloomy, slow sound. I think the EAR 868 is good, but not so good as i will . I’m looking for more harmonics presence, more finesse ! And, with my ( just arrived ) new USHER BE 10 Diamond, i ‘ve noticed that EAR has not enough finesse and harmonics ! The hights are a bit harsh.

      P.S i looking ,also, for a SS amp that match very good with the USHER. I will listen to: Symphonic Line RG 7 MK 4 ( or Vitus RS 100 or MBL new Corona Line ).
      Thanks
      kind regards
      and Happy new year !

      Ciao
      Martin.

  18. Hi Kjartan ,Hi Jeff
    On the phono stage ,I have tried quite a lot of tubes , mullard , sylvania gold pins, GEC 2900, philips miniwatt,
    IMO the best by far is the telefunken 801 S , it is rare and very expensive ,but it is said to last 10000 hours !
    Cheers
    Serge

    • Hi Serge,

      Thanks for the tip on the Telefunken 801 S – appreciated!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi, I’m now using RFT ECC81 that where made in East Germany (relatively inexpensive for NOS tubes) , and I am quite happy with them (saw a reference to RFT tubes on the Leben site).

        One question to Jeff an other Leben owners, do you know what capacitive load the cartridge sees in the RS28CX ?

        I’m now testing a Shure V 15 VxMR in my Classic. The Shures rather dark tonal balance fits my Altec 604-8G´s well.
        The Shure V15 should be loaded with approx 250pfd.

        Best regards
        Kjartan

  19. Jeff, do you have any comments of the similaritys and differences between the rs 28cx and rs100 as linestages coupled to the cs660p

    • Hi Peter,

      I think the RS-28CX is more transparent when spinning vinyl than the RS100 plus RS30EQ, but I think the latter betters it musically with more sophisticated color and timbral reproduction. While I loved my RS-28CX, I came to appreciate the RS100 + RS30EQ even more, so that’s what I use now.

      So if you’re looking for more transparency in your system you’ll probably like the RS-28CX best, but if you want more timbral/color content, you should look to the RS100/RS30EQ combination.

      Truly though, both are wonderful, I don’t see how you could go wrong with either.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Thank´s Jeff. I´m not playing vinyl, just digital sources. Are they more alike in that area or does the differences apply with digital sources too?

        • Hi Peter,

          If you’re playing digital exclusively definitely the RS100 or RS100U is the better choice over the RS28CX. When Mr. Taku Hyodo designed the RS28CX it was intended to be focused on vinyl playback, but when Mr. Taku Hyodo designed the RS100/RS100U they were designed to get the best out of digital. In fact, Mr. Taku Hyodo sent me a nice note saying that he felt the RS100 was his masterpiece, which impressed me quite a lot. The more I listen to the RS100 I continue to be impressed with how well it portrays textures, tone colors, timbres and the like. It truly is a masterpiece.

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

          • That sounds good Jeff:-) I will soon have mine back from a little modification.
            The alps vol.pot are going to bee replaced with a motorized optical device.
            The capacitors on the outputs are changed to Russian PIO caps.

          • Hi Peter,

            Be sure to let us all know how the mods work out for you, it should be an interesting experiment.

            Kind regards,

            Jeff

  20. Hi folks!

    Finally got my preamp back and I think it´s fully broken in now. First of all, a remote volume is a blessing!
    Besides being remote it´s been changed to an optical variant which means that no mechanics is involved when regulating the volume.

    Finally, the output capacitors is changed to Russian PIO(paper in oil) 2 uF.
    The sound that from the beginning was very pleasant has become more powerful and refined. Firmer bass and more details! Recomended. One word of caution though; after removal of the alps pot. the input impedance made a dip from 100kohm to below 10kohm! Most high quality cdp´s will not have problems with that but you never know..

    Here´s som pic´s!

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v492/plind/HiFi/IMGP2785liten.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v492/plind/HiFi/IMGP2794liten.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v492/plind/HiFi/IMGP2795liten.jpg[/IMG]

    The new caps.

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v492/plind/HiFi/IMGP2798liten.jpg[/IMG]

    The original cheap caps beside the PIO´s

    [IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v492/plind/HiFi/IMGP2799liten.jpg[/IMG]

    The removed alps vol.pot.

  21. Hello Jeff, I thought you and your readers might be interested in my hi fi “upgrading” experiences during 2012.
    I live here in New Zealand and like many other people find it is not always possible to audition equipment before handing over the ‘dollars’.
    This means we sometimes have to rely on other peoples opinions, website information such as this one, and of course hi fi reviews etc.

    Vinyl LPs are my number one source with around 90% of my listening via a 7 year old Linn Sondek LP12 modified with the Green-street sub-chassis, Origin Live DC200 motor & p/s etc, Origin Live Conqueror mk3c arm and Lyra Skala mc cartridge.

    I have owned Harbeth HL5 Super speakers for a number of years and some time ago became aware (through 6 Moons and then this website) of the synergy of using both Harbeth speakers and Leben amplifiers together.
    Early last year I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my aging Naim mono block power amps, with Naim pre/power supply and purchased the integrated Leben CS600 amplifier.
    I also placed an advance order for the Leben RS-30EQ mm phono stage which was out of stock at the time.

    However!

    It was genuinely a “blood draining from the face” moment when the VERY next day (AFTER I had confirmed and paid for it) my technician rang me and said “I hope you didn’t buy that Leben amp and phono stage as I’ve just been looking at the specifications on their website and even in combination with a (yet to be chosen) Step Up Transformer (SUT) they will almost certainly not have sufficient gain to be a suitable match with your Lyra Skala mc cartridge. GULP!!!!!!
    He explained that the Leben CS600 integrated amplifier did not have the common pre amp ‘active stage’, being more or less a power amplifier with volume and function controls and if used with the Leben phono stage – at least if one went by Leben’s own website specifications – there would not be enough gain without the use of an unusually high gain Step Up Transformer.

    AAGHHH!
    So I cancelled the phono stage and I guess you could say “retreated for a week or two to lick my wounds” and decide what to do.

    I continued to find conflicting information/opinions on just how much gain the Leben phono stage actually has and it was only later (by which time I had already committed to selling off the CS-600 integrated) that Stereophile published their review complete with test measurements. Puzzlingly they found that the Leben RS-30EQ phono stage actually produces 37.1dB worth of gain – much much more than Leben’s own published figure of 23.5dB.

    But by then it was too late as I had already reached for a 2nd (and much deeper) time into my wallet and had ordered the separate Leben RS-28CX pre/amp – which does have an active pre amp stage – enabling me to consider a more suitably gained SUT. It also has a similar (to the RS-30EQ) built in mm phono stage so I just needed a good quality ‘normal gain’ SUT and after trialing the top model Bob’s Devices SUT (which was extremely good incidentally) I decided to ‘cast caution to the wind’ and jump up to the next level and purchase the even more highly rated Coincident Statement SUT.
    The Coincident Statement SUT is in my opinion quite extraordinary in its power and dynamic range plus the reproduction of tonal colors and textures is superb. Way way better than any active mc stage I’ve ever heard and it seems to match my particular setup really well. This along with its 2 different gain settings and adjustable cartridge loading means it should be suitable for any changes I might make in the future.

    Of course this meant I still needed a separate power amplifier to complete the system – the matching Leben CS-660P being the obvious choice – and this combination (with the recommended NOS 6n3cE valves) along with my Harbeth HL5 Super speakers and the above turntable set up is proving to be utterly glorious.

    I have since upgraded the preamp’s 2 valves with some NOS Amperexs and the built in phono section with some excellent quality NOS Telefunkens.
    I have also been very impressed with the noticeable improvements gained when I fitted a Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme gold/silver fuse into both the pre and the power amplifier.

    In fact a friend who has been a mid to high end audio retailer for many years, has spent a couple of listening sessions at my place and kept uttering the word “astonishing!” going on to say that he has had the opportunity to audition many systems over the years – some more than 2-3 times the price of mine and in his opinion this is the best sounding system he has ever heard!
    and of course, I couldn’t agree more.

    It turned out to be quite an up and down journey, but in the end I guess if things hadn’t gone the way they did I would not have pushed myself up to the next level – significantly above the one I had initially planned on!
    And doing it in two steps also somehow seemed to make the financial outlay a little bit easier to both manage and justify.

    So although my journey was somewhat bumpy I now consider myself very fortunate to own a system that brings me such enormous pleasure and insight into the world of music – and as the saying goes “all’s well that end’s well”.

    Good listening everybody, and thanks Jeff for this great website which I have found to be most informative and helpful.

    Regards, Stuart
    Christchurch New Zealand

    • Hi Stuart
      I know what you mean by buying gear . As I live in Christchurch and bought the Tannoy canterbury se’s and Bakoon amps on reviews and hear say . Also I was lucky and the system sounds fantastic.

      cheers Lance

    • Hi Stuart,

      That’s awesome on how your Hi-Fi rig is shaping up! Leben and Harbeth makes for a really nice combination, that’s for sure.

      I’m not familiar with the Lyra Skala, but I would have been surprised had the Leben RS30EQ not had enough gain when used with an appropriate SUT. The Skala’s output of 0.5mV is low though, half of my EMT TSD-15, so maybe so.

      It sounds like everything worked out perfectly with the Leben CS-660P and RW-28CX, so that’s awesome (and a combination I’ve greatly enjoyed listening to with my Super HL-5s as well!).

      Thanks for checking in, and keep those tips coming in about anything you try with tubes or tweaks!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Thanks Jeff, yes almost certainly the RS30EQ would have had enough gain for my Skala mc – but not being able to try it in my system before buying and with Leben’s own website listing an incorrect gain figure of 23.5db (when it actually produces 37.1db) meant that my technician through no fault of his own calculated an incorrect figure and I wouldn’t take the risk. It all turned out ok in the end though as I outlined above, and that’s the main thing . Good listening! best regards Stuart

  22. Hi Lance, amazing we live in the same city!
    I’d be very keen to have an ‘reciprocal’ listening session sometime.
    Txt me on my cell phone _ _ 76 621 311 if you want to arrange something. Cheers, Stuart

  23. Hi, I m proud owner of CS 600 for many months driving pro ac d28, and also trying tube rolling, and finally kt120 is my choice.

    Ever since I own leben, I have been constantly checking on Jeff place for news update, and enjoy the exchange of idea and thought toward music reproduction.

    Initially, I was thinking to add rs-100u to my cs600 as yoshi of leben say they is certainly some improvement, but after reading this forum again, I decide to go with rs-100u and cs660, and my dealer told me it will take 2-3 weeks for it. Now I am anxiously waiting for my new toy while still enjoying my cs600.

    • Hi Yk,

      Congratulations on the new RS-100U and CS-660P!

      Happy listening!

      KInd regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi Jeff

        Thanks you. I m very excited now, hope everything will work out as planned.

        Another on my buying list will be Tannoy Kensington SE speaker, this will be my project next year when fund allow.

        Regard, YK

  24. Hi YK,

    I read with interest that you’re running D28s with the Leben CS600, you’re the first person I come across with this combination. I have the same speakers and Ayre QB9 USB Dac. I’m interested in returning to tubes to get a richer less electronic sound especially as I listen to non-audiophile music (I now use solid state integrated).

    What can you say about the synergy – if any. Also, is the Leben able to drive the D28s fully in medium sized rooms (here it’s 7m x 5m).

    If uninteresting for others we could PM – my timezone is Europe.

    Cheers
    Chris

    • Hi chris,

      I have read many reviews and forums that leben cs 300 is pairing well with pro ac D1, cs 600 with pro ac D2. Hence it struck me to think whether cs 600 could drive D28 (previously i used sim audio integrate to drive D28), and my friend was kind enough to loan me his cs600. I was amazed by it synergy and immediately ordered one.

      My room size is 6m long x 4.5m width x 3m height, cs 600 can drive D28 to considerable loudness, but it lack a bit of the control on bass if pushing too hard (10 o’clock and above), that is y i m going to add cs660.

      Normal listening volumn (9-10 o’clock volumn) which i always do could easily command D28 with smooth high and low. Leben is a killer in bring out the emotion of the music, it caught u attention to enjoy music reproduction without paying too much attention to each particular instrument, note or vocal etc where one would like to say this is good amp compare to other.

      My musical taste is mostly folk song, Chinese vocal and piano solo. If you r into rock music, orchestral, heavy metal, pls look for other amp like audio research, cary audio. Leben wont give you the excitement through its reproduction of the aforesaid music, it lack the attack momentum. Also if one is particularly wan an analytical amp (be able to identify the fine detail from the recording), leben will not give you that.

      I have a tube rolling, 6n3ce, kt90, 5881 and kt 120, and i like the overall presentation of KT120.

      Chris, consider your room size, it would be best to go for leben pre rx100-u and cs660p, of course it come with much higher price tag.

      I emailed yoshi of leben seeking his advise on bi-amp d28 with cs600 driving tweeter (cs600 has pre in input to use as power amp) and cs660p driving mid/bass, and he perfectly agree to my combination. hence i am anxiously waiting for my new toy to arrive.

      Thanks.

      YK

  25. Is anybody still alive in here in order to help me with some thoughts I have over the last days??

    I have a nice System with Harneth M 30, 3 Turntables (Transrotor Fat Bob S with MM Nagaoka MP30; Technics SL 120 with Jelco Arm and a Ortofon SPU naked Classic GM E; Thorens 124 MK II with a Thomas Schick 9.6 Tonearm with a SPU GM Classic E) The SPU go into a Silvercore one-to-twenty SUT.

    Now here is my question: I run a Musical Fidelity M6 integrated Amp and a Unison Resesearch Unico SE Hybrid Integrated Amp.

    “Somehow” it came to my mind to Change the Amps in favour for some Leben Equipment. Should I go for

    A. the Budget friendly Leben Cs 300 F
    B. the more powerful CS 600 and (later when the Budget is recovered) a RS 30 eq
    C. the “big” solution with the RS 28 cx. I would rund this device with a pair of Musical Fidelity M1 Power Mono Amps. Sometime a further improvement could go with the aquirement of a Leben Power Amp.

    My main Music is Jazz on Vinyl. I have a average sized dedicated listening room.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m not really familiar with most of your gear, the Thorens/Schick/Ortofon combo being the exception. My favorite Leben combination is the CS600 integrated amp combined with the RS30EQ phono equalizer.

      The challenge will be whether or not that will be enough power for your Harbeth’s in your medium sized room. The Leben combo works great with my Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers in the small room I have them in now, but the Leben CS600 didn’t have quite enough power when used in my large listening room. In your medium sized room you might be fine.

      Anyways, let me know what you decide to do and how it works out.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Thanks a lot Jeff! I appreciate when you take your time for advice.

        Best regards from Duesseldorf, Germany

        Michael

  26. Hi Jeff,
    I am in little bit of dilemma in regard to which preamp I should use for my setup. I have just recently revived my Fi audio 2A3 monos that have been sitting in storage for the last few years since I moved overseas for awhile and went on the solid state route But now I am back, and would like to return back the single ended and driver sound. I am slowly gathering my equipment, and have just recently acquired a used pair of Tonian 8″ PHY-HPdriver speakers. so I tried on the monos by themselves with just a passive volume control. They sounded ok and felt kind of thin in comparisons to my Harbeth Compact 7s I used to have, but more open. I thought a tube preamp may help to fill up the body more and flesh it out. I was a bit disappointed about the Tonian PHY-HP sound with my monos when I first played them. Perhaps my ears have accustomed to the Harbeth sound for the last few years driven by a solid state amp. So, I am thinking either Leben 28cx or Shindo Augiere MM or the matching Fi Audio Revolution preamp with phono may fit the bill. I am a fan of Fi audio and have used his other entry level gears. but have not listen to neither Leben nor Shindo. I also want to get a preamp with phono combo to minimize my gear. My primary listening habit is vinyl based with mostly jazz and classical. My question to you Jeff or anyone out there is what would your recommendation be. I know that Jeff may have experiences with all of the above equipment that I mentioned above except perhaps the Tonian speakers.

    I would appreciate if are able to provide some feedback in this.

    thanks so much
    Dick

    • Hi Dick,

      First of all, welcome home!

      I still have my Harbeth speakers and enjoy them with my Leben CS600 amp, it’s a great system.

      Everybody should have a couple of systems to make life merry, so I like the SET system idea, it’ll give you a nice counterpoint to your other system.

      With the Fi mono amps I’d recommend going with the Fi preamplifier. Try the Duelund DCA16GA cable with them for speaker cables and interconnects, if you haven’t already.

      Let me know how it works out!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Hi Jeff,
        Since you recommended the Fi preamp, any particular reason why you recommended the Fi preamp other than that it is a Fi gear to match my Fi monos. do you think the Shindo and Leben will just work as well ?

        Thanks.
        Dick

        • Hi Dick,

          You could certainly use any preamp you want with the Fi 2A3 mono amps, and both the Shindo and Leben should work well.

          I’ve just found that most amps to be at their best when used with their intended preamplifiers.

          Best,

          Jeff

  27. Ok, I suppose I will email Don shortly for his preamp options and will also check out the Duelund cables since I am in need of cables as well and they seem to be very cost effective based on the reviews published here. However, I am quite surprised that you are able to do well with your Harbeth with only 35 watts on the Leben cs600 amp. As for me on the Harbeth compacts with medium size room I used a Naim Uniti integrated with about 60 watts for about two years and found them wanting. Then I decided to give them more power with a Luxman integrated (100 watts) to see if it will make any difference and sure it did and I was much happier with the boost in power. Your comments above made me rethink about my plans for the Harbeth and the Luxman. They sure work very well together and I will very much miss them I think to see them go.

    Very best,
    Dick

    • Hi Dick,

      My friend Ron Barbee helped me adopt a new paradigm for my audio adventures.

      I had been in this mode where I was focusing on one system, centered around my Westminster Royal SE’s, but Ron had a system in every room, and he had a blast with every one of them. Each one is different and unique, and has its own special charms.

      That was when I decided I wanted to be more like Ron, and I’ve been following his good example since then, and my goal is a system in every room!

      I think you are making a wise move keeping the Harbeth & Luxman system, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll also have a blast with the Fi system when you get it up and running. I enjoy all three of my current systems, and I’m planning system number four (my last room) right now!

      Let me know how things work out.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  28. I just communicated with Don on the preamp and he told me it will be 2 to 2.5 years on the waiting list for the preamp. So, I am not sure if it is practical for me to wait that long because I need one now at least for the next two year interim. So, I am really not sure how things will work out with respect to my Fi 2a3 and Tonian Acoustic system.

    • Yikes! That’s a long time to wait.

      On the new side I think I’d take a look at the Shindo, as they’re very nice.

      A favorite preamp of mine is the vintage McIntosh MX110Z, which I’ve preferred to every new production preamp I’ve had in the system, and now use as my ‘reference’ in my main system. They’re getting harder to find but their performance is remarkable, plus you get a great vacuum tube tuner in the deal.

      Good luck, Dick!

  29. Hi Jeff

    Have you ever tried matching the RS28 with a solid state power amp (A or AB class)? Reason I ask is that when I use RS28+CS660 play full and powerful orchestral music (e.g. Mahler / 1812 etc), the system sounded a bit lack of power and depth. Hence I was wondering if adding a ss power amp to form a second system with RS28 would help at all.

    Thanks
    Ron

    • Hi Ron,

      I haven’t tried that combination. I don’t actually have the RS28 anymore. I ending up liking the combination of the RS100U preamp and the RS30EQ phono pre better, so went in that direction instead.

      I may get a chance to report on the combination of the RS100U & RS30EQ with a solid state amplifier in the near future, so stay tuned.

      Best,

      Jeff

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