♫ Leben & Harbeth System


My Leben & Harbeth music lover’s system now resides in my master bedroom, which I have been wanting to do for a while now, in order to add a little musical spice to early mornings & late evenings.

Leben CS600 integrated amplifier with Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers.

I consider the Leben CS600 and Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers to be one of my favorites for a ‘real world’ system and room.

Most people in the world have to deal with space constraints of one form or another, and this system reflects one of my favorite approaches to get a really nicely balanced musical performance in a small space.

I’ve had my Leben CS-600 vacuum tube integrated amplifier and Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers for ten years now, which is something of a record for me, and they’ve stood the test of time well. I still like them every bit as much as when I first wrote about them for Six Moons way back in 2007.

I’ve written more about these comfortable audio treasures that you can read here:

  • Winning Combinations – May 2010
  • A Simple Guide to Creating a Musically Satisfying Hi-Fi System – June 2010

At the moment this system consists of the Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers sitting upon Skylan 18-inch stands, Duelund DCA16GA speaker cables, the Leben CS-600 integrated amplifier with a Sablon Audio Gran Corona power cord sitting on an Acoustic Revive RST-38 Quartz Under-Board, Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects, Locus Design Group Polestar USB cable, an Mhdt Labs Paradisea+ USB DAC with a Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cord sitting on an Acoustic Revive TB-38 Quartz Under-Board, and my Apple iMac providing the digits.

The system looks a little spare having just moved to its new home, but I have plans for it!

 Posted by at 11:21 am

  17 Responses to “♫ Leben & Harbeth System”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    First a big thanks for your website.
    It achieved convincing me to buy a Leben CS600 which I paired with my one year old ProAc D18 and a Hegel 25HD Dac.
    I’m really amazed by how good the overall system match (the Leben really push the boundaries way ahead of my old Sugden A21SE, which I also loved).

    I also bought – thanks to you – a quad of 6n3cE Tubes to feed the Leben (actually two quads in order to have a spare one), and eventhough I can’t compare with the Sovtek because I switched the tubes right away after receiving the Leben, they really are amazing.

    I just have a quick question : do you let the Leben “heat” for 10/15 mn when you switch it on,before playing music ?
    I’ve read here and there that it could spare both the Tubes and the electronic components to do so, hence it was important.

    Thanks for your help,

    • Hi Julien,

      The Leben CS600 is a great amplifier – congrats! You only need to let the Leben warm up until the blue light appears on the front panel, then it is ready to operate. The Leben has a soft start built into it so it is very easy on components and tubes.




  2. Hi Jeff.

    I have been reading your reviews for a while and l am especially grateful for the wonderful write-ups on the Leben gear which ultimately prompted me to build a system around them. And l have not regretted a single moment since.

    My present set-up consists of;
    1. Rega P9
    2. Nagaoka MP-500
    2. Sony XA7ES (functioning as a CD transport)
    3. Leben RS-30EQ
    4. Resonessence Labs Invicta
    5. Leben RS-100
    6. Leben CS-1000P
    7. Unity Audio Signature One
    8. Cables and tuning accessories from Audio Note Kondo, Audio Note UK, Audioquest, Acoustic Revive, Avid HiFi, Crystal Cable, Nordost, Ortofon, Shunyata Research, Totem Acoustic and Yamamoto Sound Craft

    As you may have noted, my gear consist of vintage classic oldies and relatively new blood. A fusion of the past and present. However, they converge to serve only a single purpose. That is to enable music making (and listening) a heightened and pleasurable experience. A leisure and not a chore. The Leben gear have greatly exemplified and exhilarated those joyous moments.

    Thank you (again) for sharing the great find, Jeff. Keep writing and keep ’em coming! In the meantime, I am eagerly anticipating more Hyodo San’s artistries and goodies to come.

    Cheers and good day.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Nice system that you’ve put together! Thanks for stopping by and the kind words – appreciated! 🙂

      Kind regards,


  3. Hi Jeff, I own the latest version Harbeth Super HL5 Plus speakers along with a Leben RS28cx Pre (and P/S) and the CS660p power amplifier which I am extremely happy with. Have you or any of your readers had the opportunity to try the Leben CS660p switched to its mono configuration – in combination with another matching CS660p ? and if so what was the improvement if any?
    Kind regards, Stuart

    • Hi Stewart,

      I haven’t had a chance to try a CS660P, so I’m afraid I’m not of much help in answering your question. Sorry about that.

      Can anyone else out fill in Stewart on what it is like running the CS660P as monaural amplifiers?



  4. Hi Jeff,

    I have Harbeth 30.1’s in a small 10×13 listening room. I’m considering Leben amplification. For these speakers in my small room would a CS660P or new CS1000P be overkill (with 28x pre)? Money aside, would the CS600 offer just as much musically? At well over twice the price for the separates would I simply be getting an unnecessary power reserve or would it offer something more?

    Best, Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      I’d go for the CS600 integrated, it’s still my favorite of the Leben lineup, and it works great with Harbeths in a smaller room. I still use my CS600 to power my Harbeth Super HL5s, its just a nice combination in a smaller room



  5. Hi Jeff, nice set up; I’ve established a similar system…motivated by your 6moons article way back when.
    leben 300xs (replaced sovteks with NOS Phillips EL84s)
    leben RS-30eq
    TD-160 Super restored by Dave at Vinyl Nirvana. Jelco arm.
    A23 SUT for DL-103
    Harbeth P3ESR
    I’m in a rather large living room, I bring out the speakers away from the wall when the kids are gone, and I’ve been really happy with them. Every so often I consider the idea of going to the 30.1 or a more sensitive Devore.

  6. you must really like the acoustic revive cables, b/c i see you are still using them after reviewing them at positive feedback a while back.. How do they compare in sound to the sablon cables? i had at one time all sablon wiring.

    • Hi Rorie,

      I do like the Acoustic Revive cables. I really like Mark Cole’s Sablon Audio cables too – they’re a fantastic cable, and Mark is a terrific guy! The vintage Western Electric WE16GA speaker cables and Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects are wonderful too, especially for those on a budget.

      If you go back and read the Acoustic Revive & Sablon Audio reviews that will help you a lot, as I go into great detail about them, much more than I can here. The key is finding cables that are complementary to your system, and the overall voicing you’re trying for. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the 3 that I mentioned, and I use all 3 in my hi-fi systems, every day.



  7. Hi Jeff,
    I saw that your room is small and you use the shl5. I’m using the p3esr in a 10×11 feet room but would like to have more bass. I’m considering the 30.1 but could consider going for the shl5+ if these behave well in a small room like mine. I use LFD amplification to moderate volume levels. I don’t want to mess around with a subwoofer. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Hi Wigbert,

      Harbeths are all designed to work really well in small rooms. I used my Monitor 40.1 in the same room I use the Super HL5s in, and they were fantastic. I think you can pick any one of the Harbeth models and expect it to work great in your room.



  8. HI Wigbert I currently have harbeth 30.1 with all lfd audio ncse mk 2, lfd phono stage le se, with lfd cabling and power cord , I would recommend trying the 30.1 wonderful speaker in my opinion ,I would not be concerned about bass ,it is ample in my opinion , keep in mind both in England and also the far east room sizes tend to be smaller than here in the USA ,I originally owned the c7s but I feel the 30.1 has greater depth, and clarity ,and as you already know is a perfect musical match with the lfd , good luck in your search hope this was some help Ed G

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