May 112010

For all of you Leben fans out there (count me as one), I thought I’d let you know that John Marks did a very nice review of the Leben CS600 integrated amplifier in his The Fifth Element column for the June 2010 issue of Stereophile.

It’s really nice to see Leben get some visibility in what is probably the world’s most influential audio print magazine. Stereophile remains my favorite print magazine for its balanced coverage of the audio and music enthusiast scene, and is the only audio print magazine that I have continued to subscribe to for the long haul. How can you possibly go wrong with a talented lineup like John Atkinson, Art Dudley, Michael Fremer, John Marks, and Sam Tellig writing about music and Hi-Fi? Good stuff.

 Posted by at 9:51 am

  79 Responses to “June 2010 Stereophile Review of Leben CS600”

  1. hello jeff !!,i write from france
    i don’t think Stereophile magazine is more influential than others(in europe at least) where to find Hifi News for example is much easier…
    I have owned the Leben CS 600,before falling in love with the voice reproduction of this italian beauty,
    my current set-up:SME 20/2 ,the cartridgeMan classic,Unison Research Phono one +PSU,Unison Research S9/ProAc D28,Cardas Golden Cross
    best ,

  2. Hi Jeff
    I’ve been following your writing for some time…have to say you are my favorite scribe along with Art Dudley and Jack Roberts! Have a chance to get a new amp to use with my 12 inch single drivers 99db. I was leaning towards a nice SET like a Yamamoto, Master Sound, Fi etc though your writing has swayed me to consider a Leben CS-300. I always assumed a SET with high eff speakers would be much better. How does the Leben gear play at low level late nite stuff and in the first few watts (given my high eff speakers)? Love to know your thoughts as you have heard all the above gear, and I have not…and I can’t audition any here in OZ. Love the blog and the pics, keep em coming!
    Cheers, Andy

    • Hi Andy,

      Thanks for the kind words amigo, very much appreciated. Any of the amps you mention are really good amps, and it would be hard to go wrong with any of them.

      I could easily live with any of the amplifiers you mentioned, and actually have, but I did buy the Leben CS300X Limited Edition integrated amplifier while it was still available (same as the 300XS currently available, except it used a premium NOS tube set with Mullard EL84s instead of the Sovtek tubes of the XS), so when it came to voting with my own money that’s what I went for.

      The Yamamoto is very nice, but it is an amplifier only, so you’ll need a preamp to go with it, and I recommend you stick with their own preamp as it gives extra synergy. That brings the price in at over double what the Leben runs. The Master Sound is also very nice and it is an integrated, but it’s also quite expensive, and quite a lot more than the Leben. It’s hard to go wrong with the Fi gear, as the integrated amps are very fairly priced, and they sound great.

      SETs are nice for sure, and when the SET revival first started they handily outpaced the push-pull gear of the time. Time and savvy design have allowed the best of PP to be at equal standing, in my opinion, and compared with the Leben gear, for example, most SETs really don’t have any clear advantage in sonics and musicality anymore.

      Your speakers have the same sensitivity rating as my Tannoy Westminsters, and I have found that even with their high sensitivity a little more power – like the Leben CS300X (15 watts), CS600 (30 watts), or CS660P (40watts) – gives them a sense of ease and dynamic response that is hard to beat.

      For late night listening at low volume the two ‘best’ for me would be the Master Sound 300B integrated, and the Leben CS300X. The Master sound doesn’t have the usual tubey 300B presentation, its voicing is more like the Leben, being clean, clear, and musical, although it bests the Leben somewhat in detail retrieval and a sense of space.

      If I had to get rid of all my electronics except two pieces due to some sort of horrendous situation, I’d go with my Leben CS300X and the Leben RS30EQ phono stage. That combined with my Tannoys and VPI Classic turntable would keep me in musical nirvana for many years to come.

      I hope that is of some help.

      Kind regards,


      • Thanks Jeff

        A great response and very much where I was thinking of going…nice to get a confirmation from someone who has experience with this gear. I have recently sold my existing gear and am also keen to get a new turntable and the choices interestingly enough come down to rebuilding a Garrard 301 or the VPI classic. As you have owned both these fine decks (and I know how keen you are on Garrards) if I could aks one more question what do you think of the VPI compared to the 301?
        Thanks again for your advice and I look forward to more of your writing.
        Cheers, Andy

  3. Hi Jeff,

    What kind of tubes do you perfer for your Leben CS 600 amp ?
    6L6 or EL 34 ? or do you like anoter tube option, such as KT 77 KT 88 for the Cs 600 ?

    Best Regards ket

    • Hi Ket,

      Actually, neither the KT66 or EL34 get my vote for the best tubes for the CS600, rather the NOS Russian 6n3Ce is my favorite by a long ways. You can see more about it in this post:

      I’ve been using them for quite a few years now, and so far I haven’t run across anything that betters them in the CS600. You can also get them through Watford Valves in the UK, and probably other places as well.

      Kind regards,


  4. Hello Jeff
    Thank you for this nice web site.
    I am the proud owner of a Leben CS-600.
    But I have a question for you other cs-600 owners, how hot is your amp after it has been turned on for an hour?
    I ask because mine become extremely hot, it may be that it is intended.

    Kind regards

    Rasmus (Denmark)

    • Hi Rasmus,

      Greetings from the Pacific Northwest in the US!

      Congratulations on getting a Leben CS600 amplifier, they really are very nice. My CS600 does get quite hot as well, and it’s best used where it gets plenty of air. I don’t think the heat is anything to worry about, that’s just the way they are designed.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Gretting from north bay ont canada, yes my cs600 runs very hot, you can leave the top off this will help. cheers.

  5. Hi Jeff, I read your review of the Lavardin Model IT in Positive Feedback where you compared it with your Leben CS600. You mentioned that the Leben did the imaging and soundstaging better perhaps because the Leben has a clearer/brighter top end. How much better was it and do you think changing the cabling on the Lavardin would have made any difference? Also, although you did not compared the IT with the 300X (the 300X costs less anyway), would the IT have performed better in these areas? Since you have both the 300X and CS600, may I also ask if it is true that the 300X has a clearer midrange?

    John (Malaysia)

  6. Hi John,

    Greetings from the Pacific Northwest in the US!

    Here’s a snippet from the review mentioned below about the CS600 vs. CS300X comparison:

    “By analogy, if the CS-300X is a bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne with all its bubble, sparkle, and excitement, then the CS-600 is a bottle of fine Pinot Noir, being darker, richer, and with a relaxed clarity. Fireworks versus candlelight I suppose, but both equally enchanting musically. The RS-30EQ with the CS-600 emphasized the woody resonance of the body of Nick’s guitar more than the CS-300X, with the CS-300X emphasizing the textures of the strings more. The RS-30EQ demonstrates the CS-300X’s prowess of revealing the musicianship of the performers and the timbral textures of the different instruments in the music of Clair de Lune, while the CS-600 brings out more tone and mood at the symphonic level—both different, beautiful, expressive, and musically convincing in their own way.”

    For more depth of insights into the Leben CS600 to CS300X comparison I refer you to the article I wrote about the Leben RS30EQ phono stage where I compared its performance on the those to integrated amplifiers:

    The Lavardin is a very nice solid-state amplifier, one of the best two solid-state amplifiers that I have had in my system. I do think that the Pass INT-30A integrated amplifier (but only when used with the Acoustic Revive power cord) bested it by quite a bit.

    It is my opinion that neither the Lavardin or the Pass quite match the overall performance of vacuum tube equipment like the Leben, but the Pass with an Acoustic Revive power cord comes very close, and the Lavardin less so. Here’s more info on the Pass + AR combo:

    Hard to say about any differences the Larvardin would display with different cables. Given that they make dedicated cables for it to optimize its performance, I think I would stick with those.

    I hope that is of some help.



  7. i am considering cs-600 amp…i have this sehring speakers i love and was wondering this amp could drive them,
    8ohms,86db. stable and forgiving impedance i am told… looking to simply my system with an integrated amp… currently have a VTL 150 which seems to work well for me. i am no expert however.

    any thoughts would be appreciated



    • Hi Jeffrey,

      I am not familiar with your loudspeakers, but their sensitivity is on the low side for being a good match with the Leben CS600 with its relatively low power output. However, having said that, my own Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers are also low on the sensitivity side at 86 dB/1watt/1meter and 6 Ohms, yet in spite of that they work beautifully with the Leben CS600.

      So it could work, but you should really take a CS600 for a test drive with your speakers before deciding, just to make sure. If the CS600 drives your speakers ok I can’t imagine a better integrated amplifier to use in simplifying your system.

      If you decide to go for the CS600 let me know the results.

      Kind regards,


  8. Jeff,

    I love your approach and find myself wanting to duplicate it. I’ve told many friends over the years that I’m less concerned about soundstaging, imaging, etc., if achieving such things comes at a sacrifice to timbre, tonal quality, rhythm, etc., and that I’d gladly listen to everything mono if it got the latter “right.” Your “Music Lovers” approach nails it, IMHO. Having said all that, how does the Leben fare with bottom end? I’ve been considering Art Audio amps (especially the Carissa) because of their un-tube-like ability to handle bass (which comports with the music I listen to), but I’m interested in how the two compare (assuming you’ve heard Art Audio products). Thanks!

  9. thanks Jeff,

    i will indeed take the Leben for test drive. The is a good review of the Sehring speakers on 6moons if you are interested. By the way they are 8 Ohms if that helps.

    the reviewer loved a 26-watt Canary 300b push pull amp with these speakers.

    The Sehring also have a very non forgiving treble, so it seems an amp with a refined and sweet treble would be a good fit. How would describe the Leben’s in the regard ?

    Any thoughts on alternative integrated. I am very into mid century design. So for me the retro look and feel of the Leben is visual heaven for me.

    thank you so much for you time and expertise. Very much appreciated!


    • Hi Jeffrey,

      The Leben does have a natural sounding treble, but it is also quite clear and extended, so if the loudspeaker has trouble in the treble the Leben will not hide that fact.

      If you find that the Leben does not match the Sehring well, then I think I’d be keeping the Leben and replacing the speaker, at least that’s the route I have gone in the past when I first heard the Leben CS600 integrated amp while reviewing it for 6Moons.

      As for other integrated amps, I don’t recommend any solid-state units. The only exception to this is the Pass integrated with an Acoustic Revive Power Reference power cord, which can sound quite impressive, but I still think the Leben CS300X beats it, and at quite a bit less money.

      At the moment the only two integrates that I can recommend in good conscience are the Leben CS600 & CS300X integrated amplifiers, because I know you can set up a great system around them.



  10. Dear Jeff,
    I read your beautiful reviews of Leben amplifiers and I am almost 100% convinced that they would be a perfect matching for my Harbeth SHL5 speakers. Unfortunately I haven’t any possibilities to hear these amplifiers in my country, to have some comparisons (at present I own a Luxman L505U integrated to drive my loudspeakers)
    I would ask you to help me with a big dilemma: it’s Leben CS300 XS enough for my Habeth SHL5 speakers or the bigger CS 600 is an indispensable choice? For the money I would prefer CS 300 XS, but I’ll be very thankful for any advice from you.

    • Hi Tudor,

      I like the CS600 best with SHL5 loudspeakers. In a really small room you would be fine with the CS300XS, I think, as long as you didn’t want to play at really loud volumes.

      Kind regards,


      • Hi Jeff,

        Thanks for your kindly reply! Then I’ll go for CS 600 but I have to wait a little (money talk!).

        Best regards,

  11. Does anyone have a good source for 6CS7s?

  12. Jeff,

    Mahalo for the link.

    Other than tube rolling, have you had to replace any of the tubes in your CS600?



    • Hey Dan,

      The CS600 is really easy on tubes, the only thing you really need to keep an eye on is the soft-start rectifier. I recommend you replace it once every couple of years. You’ll know when it needs to be replaced, because the amp will start to sound ‘weak’ like it’s not developing full power. The CS660P amp uses a similar circuit, and I had the rectifier fail and it took out a power tube, so it’s best just to be safe and replace the rectifier periodically.



  13. Hi Jeff,
    First thank you for sharing all your impressions. Your love of Leben equipment seems to have rubbed off on many people, even to the point of affecting the market price! Your love of music and the journey through all the equipment that allows you to enjoy every nuance of a song has been an enjoyable read. Please keep writing, you have many interested readers.

    I write you because I am considering buying a Leben CS600. I’m slowly piecing my system together and based on the rave reviews of the Leben CS600 I think that would be my best choice. My speaker which I have yet to acquire will be the Reference 3A Grand Veena, not sure if you are familiar with it. They are a full range tower rated at 90dB/watt. I fear, probably like most other people, that when buying tube equipment with low wattage that it may not have enough power. I think the pairing may turn out alright, only one way to know for sure. I demoed the Grand Veenas hooked up to a McIntosh MC2301 tube monoblocks which I believe are rated at 300watts, so it had a lot of gusto.

    When I do searches to see which speakers are commonly recommended/paired with the CS600, it often seems to be a Harbeth, bookshelf, or two way. I’ve read almost nothing of full range multiple driver speakers paired with the Leben, hence my concern. Just wondering if you had any insight.

    Thanks again Jeff, please keep writing! Have a great weekend.

    • Hi Carlos,

      Thank you for your kind words, I truly appreciate it. 🙂

      I am familiar with the Reference 3A loudspeakers, and they are fine speakers that have impressed me quite a lot over the years. The Grand Veena is not one of the models that I have heard, however, so I’ll ask others reading this to share their experiences as well.

      Given the Grand Veena’s 90dB sensitivity, I believe the Leben CS600 would easily drive them to quite loud levels. My Harbeth Super HL5s, for example, are quite a lot less sensitive than the Ref 3A’s and my CS600 drives them easily.

      Hopefully others will be able to share something more definitive for you.

      Be sure to let me know how it all works out!

      Kind regards,


  14. For what it’s worth, I just hooked up my CS600 to a pair of Devore 3XLs. Now, I know they aren’t 3 or 4 way floorstanders but they are rated at 90dB, and the volume set at anything over 10 o’clock would blow me out of my albeit small (9.5 x 11) room. I also looked at Ref 3A speakers and they are supposedly very easy to drive, so I have no doubt that they’d pair very well with the CS600.

    • Thanks for the reply Sterling. Curious, which Ref 3A speakers did you hear and what did you think of them?


      • Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to audition any of the Ref 3As. I was drawn to them because of their crossoverless design (efficiency and simplicity) and recommendations of others. Some of their models also include a super tweeter, which I find appealing. I recognize that many of these super tweeters reproduce frequencies inaudible to human hearing; however, if instruments produce high, but inaudible frequencies, and those frequencies are then recorded and reproduced, they will disturb the air and, therefore, have an effect on the frequencies that we humans do in fact hear. Under that theory, they should have an effect on our perception of many of the things Jeff writes about such as timbre (depending upon the instrument). The Leben CS600 capitalizes upon this because it is capable of reproducing extremely high frequencies provided that the speakers can do the same. As it turned out, the DeVore 3XLs worked for me for a variety of reasons, and are capable of reproducing high frequencies up to 40kHz, so I went with them.

        Now, my theory about high-end frequencies also applies to low-end, so I’m considering whether to add a subwoofer. If anyone has experience with subs and the 3XLs, I’d love to hear about it. Thank’s and I hope this was helpful.

  15. Hi Jeff,

    I found your web page last winter and I have been a regular reader ever since. I really appreciate your web page and the vision of good sound. Thanks for the tip to buy NOS Russian 6n3Ce tubes, really good tubes!

    After owning various solid-state amps I bought 3 years ago my first tube amp which was a Leben CS300XS. Now I have a Leben CS28RS pre amp and as a power amp I use a Leben CS600 which is driving Duntech Princess speakers. I have been thinking to buy a second hand Leben CS660 power amp to have some extra punch. What do you think about this, is it worth of the extra euros?

    I have a Linn LP12 record player with Dynavector Karat 17B cartridge + a Ortofon T20 step up transformer. As a RIAA I use the internal RIAA of Leben RS28XS. For some reason there has been a lot of hum which I have not been able to get rid of. Most probably the reason is a ground problem. Finally I ask from the local hifi shop for a test an EAR MC4 step up and the problem was solved at once, the quality seem to have a price. Do you have any tips how to solve the hum problem with the Ortofon transformer?

    Best regards,


    • Hi Juhani,

      Thanks for the kind words – appreciated. The CS660P will give you additional power, but it is also a little brighter sounding that the CS600 with the 6n3cE tubes, so you’ll have to decide if that’s something that will work ok for you. However, you can really warm up the CS660P by using KT90 tubes, and it seems to give it a little extra power, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

      I had a similar problem with hum when using my Auditorium 23 step-up transformer when using unshielded cables on both sides of it. I switched to using an unshielded IC on one side, and a shielded IC on the other side and the hum went away. If Ortofon designed their SUT to be be used with parallel symmetrical, grounded, interconnect cables, then you’ll probably need to stick with at least one shielded IC to get rid of the hum.

      Let me know if you get it all sorted out and what the culprit was.

      Kind regards,


      I’ve always like the EAR gear

      • Hi Jeff,

        thanks for your reply. The problem is now sorted out the easy way. I bought the EAR MC4 step-up and no more hum problem. The local shop made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I also upgraded my Akito arm from early 90s to a new Akito II arm. Pretty good improvement. So now I am enjoying my “new” system for awhile before next step. It is amazing how good the old Neil Young LP:s still sound!



        PS. Love your nice cafe racer. I am driving a BMW R90/6 from 70s, a great bike for traveling.

  16. Hi there

    I currently own a Manley Stingray integrated amplifier, it should be similar to a Leben in some way according to a review (6moons). Unfortunately I have never heard a Leben before. The Manley is a really cool sounding / looking amplifier with loads of detail and a good soundstage as well. Any comments on Manley?

    Greetings, Karsten, Denmark

    • Hi Karsten,

      If I remember correctly, Paul Candy over at 6Moons has experience with both the Manley Stingray and the Leben CS300X Limited Edition. You should e-mail Paul and ask him about his thoughts on the two amps. Paul’s a great guy and will give you the straight scoop on the differences between the two.

      Kind regards,


  17. Jeff-Enjoyed the CS600 review. Like others, I am considering moving to an integrated amp to simplify. The Leben is very appealing to me, especially after reading your review. My current system consists of a PS Audio Perfectwave Dac MK II, Manley Jumbo Shrimp pre-amp, Manley Lab Series 100 Watt Mono Blocks (EL34 tubes) with Harbeth C7-ES3’s (Rosewood). I’m “almost” sold on the Leben, but don’t have any place nearby that I could get a listen. I’ve been doing my research which brought me to your review. I’ve also read through the others mentioned. My ONLY reservation at this point is volume. I listen to all sorts of music: country, grunge, rock, blues, etc. One of my favorites is Eric Clapton’s MTV Unplugged. I’m wondering how some Metallica might sound. I’m not looking to have my ears bleed or the neighbors call the cops, but I do like to crank it up a little sometimes (Not all the time). You think the Leben would be able to hang?

    Thanks man!


    • Hey Jeff,

      If you have a small room I think you’d be fine with the Leben CS-600. In a big room you might come up a little short. With my CS-600 system using my Oppo BluRay player I never want for volume (System #2), but if it were in my big listening room it might.

      I hope that helps.



      • It does! Much appreciated Jeff.



        • Hi Jeff Johnson,
          I just had the pleasure of listening to Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album on a Leben CS300XS and Harbeth SHL5. Definitely, the Leben CS300XS had all the power needed to play that album, and it was the best I’ve ever heard it. This was at Wellington Audio in Florida. We had played some songs using a Shindo Vosnee/Montille combination and it simply didn’t mesh as well as the Leben did. I was not able to hear the CS600, but power wise I can’t imagine that the CS600 will lack in any respect. Goodluck!

  18. Hi Jeff,
    another ‘strange’ question for ya!
    i’ve had my cs-600 for about a month running with the guarneri evolution.
    what i’ve noticed is the sound being more detailed, having better transparency and definitely a much better decay on the 6 ohm tap instead of the 4 ohm. The flip side is the sound is less bassy, but not in a bad way. The speaker is rated at 4Ohms, so it makes me somewhat uncomfortable(?) that i’m not using the right tap. i was reassured by my dealer that its ok and not unusual to do this. He’s a great dealer and extremely helpful, but wondered if i could get another view from you?
    From the overall perspective, the sound has indeed opened up significantly since purchase, and continues to sweeten. i’m pretty sure its not my ears becoming acclimatised to the different presentation having moved from solid state. Its begun to develop a nature which makes it harder to turn off the system whereas that kind of feeling never really was present before.
    i’ve also ordered the new AMR DP-777 tube DAC and will certainly share the synergy of the system with it.
    i’m also wondering when would be a good time to substitute the stock tubes on the cs600 with Jim Mcshane’s match quad of 6P3SE’s!!

    Loving the tube journey!


    Electrocompaniet EMC1up, CS-600, Guarneri Evolution, kondo KSV-II IC, Kubala Sosna Emotion Spkr, Shunyata Vray with Black mambas.

    • Hi Dave,

      That’s a really nice system you’ve put together. 🙂

      Your dealer is exactly right, you can pick whatever tap on the amp that sounds the best with your speakers. Truth is, it’s only on occasion that the tap that’s rated the same as the speaker is the best one. You did exactly the right thing: you listened and picked the one that sounded best to you – that’s what it’s all about!

      I had the same thing happen with my CS-600, it just keeps getting better and better over time. The CS-600 is really something special, it’s one of those lifetime amps for sure. I will never ever part with mine! Go ahead and try the new tubes. Then put the old ones back in. Then switch them back again – it is all good fun!

      Let me know how that AMR works out, I’ll bet it turns out to be a honey of a DAC.

      Kind regards,


  19. Hi Jeff,

    I m thinking to get the cs600 driving pro ac d28, personally I have not audited the cs 600, but most reviewer give good rating, hence I would like to seek your opinion whether it is a good match, my source is AMR cd 777. Interconnect is audioquest sky and speaker cable is audioquest mont blanc. Thank. Yk

    • Hi Yk,

      I would think it would be a nice match, particularly for a smaller room of 3-4 meters in length & width. If you get a lot larger than that you may not have enough power for very loud volume settings.

      Kind regards,


      • Hi Jeff, my friend loaned me the cs600, and it’s seem driving the speaker perfectly as i don’t really set the volume setting after 10 clock. I was told to set the amp impedance at 6 ohm so as to give more control of bass on D28 (speaker impedance is 8 ohm), i personally did not feel any differences, may be i don’t really play it for very loud volume setting. Few days more, i need to return the unit to my friend, and my existing amp, sim audio I5 LE just can’t perform to the same level as Leben, i m poison by Leben, OMG.

  20. Hi Jeff (from the San Fran Bay Area),

    I’m seriously considering purchasing a CS-600 and even though I have read your comments over at the Harbeth User Group site regarding driving the 40.1’s with the Leben, I’m still a little gun shy. As you know, Alan recommends using an amp rated at 50 watts minimum. I’m pretty sure you no longer own the big Harbeths but from your audio memory, what is your opinion of the bass response you heard in your room pairing the two. I don’t listen at high volume levels anymore but I’m still concerned whether 28/32 watts of power can capably drive the full size woofers of the 40.1’s.

    On another note, you have a lot of credibility with me. I applaud the effort you went to with AS regarding the bass issues that you experienced with the BBC monitors.

    Thanking you in advance for any and all pearls of wisdom.

    Best Regards,


    • Hi Mark,

      What I finally decided was that Harbeths (all of them) were designed to work well in a BBC sized rooms of around 3-4 meters on length & width axises (or more exactly, the room in AS’s home that he designed them in). When used in such a room the 40.1s (or my SHL5s) are in their element as a monitor-style loudspeaker and are remarkably good. This is the size of my listening room # 2 that I have my Harbeths & Leben CS600 combination in. The 40.1s are really a very easy speaker to drive, in spite of their size. For a world class full range loudspeaker for use in a small room it would be hard to do better than a 40.1.

      I found that with Harbeths as the room gets bigger (like my listening room # 1) the bass gets boomier, and I’ve yet to find any sensible approach to a cure, but when used in an AS-sized room they are great. Whether AS did it on purpose, or is even aware of it, his design needs the confines of a fairly small room size to control the bass. It is a big factor in making Harbeths work at their considerable best.

      So with that preamble in mind, if you are using a BBC/AS size of room you will be fine with Leben CS600. I find that with my SHL5/CS600 combination, particularly with digital, I rarely go past 12 o’clock on the volume setting. In a larger room you may run out of power, particularly with a vinyl front end.

      I hope that is of some help.

      Kind regards,


  21. Dear Jeff,
    I bought a Leben CS600 after reading your fine review on 6moons magazine. My listening room is larger (8 meters lenght and 4.5 meters wide) than a tipical BBC/AS size of room. While I’m satisfied about the timber and the tonal quality of the sound of CS600 and SHL5 combo, on the other hand, whenI play music loud, sometimes I would like more punch. Do you think that pairing my Leben with loudspeaker more sensitive would be a good solution? For example, in my country are recently released on the market JBL 4312e control monitor speakers (93db). The sensitivity of 4312e is higher than that of SHL5. Have you experience about this match?
    Thank you very much in advance.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Vincenzo,

      You would benefit from a more sensitive loudspeaker with that size of listening room. While I’m not familiar with those particular JBL loudspeakers, I think if you listened to loudspeakers with sensitivity in the 91-96 dB range you would find it a better match for your room size.

      Thank you for writing, and be sure to let me know if you are able to try the JBL’s and how they work in your room.

      Kind regards,


  22. Hi Jeff,
    I know your systems have evolved over time, but what is you desert island system now? Will you be leaving the Leben behind?


    • Hi Carlos,

      I have two desert island systems in mind based on my existing systems.

      The first being a high-sensitivity, single-ended-triode amplifier, vinyl based system based on my Westminster Royals with 300B amplification. I really like what is going on with that system, and if I were granted a big wish one day I suppose it would be to add a Shindo-Garrard 301 or EMT 930 player system to it, but other than that only a few refinements here and there are what’s in store.

      My second desert island system is based on my Leben CS-600 and Harbeth Super HL5 loudspeakers. I love that combination. That system would be my do-it-all music lovers system for use in a smaller room. Should I get the afore mentioned Shindo-Garrard or EMT player system for the high-sensitivity system, I would move my VPI Classic + EMT TSD-15 combination to this system along with the Leben RS-30EQ. I’d use a full complement of Sablon Audio cables and power cords and the various Acoustic Revive products that I already use. I would also add in a new Mac + USB combo that is right at the cutting edge of musicality, and a nice large flat panel screen for watching concert DVDs and movies.

      That’s pretty much my desert island setups except for one thing: to build a desert island music and film library!

      Happy listening and thanks for stopping by.

      Kind regards,


  23. Hi Jeff,

    I am currently using the Auditorium 23 with the CS600 and considering the Audience 24e speaker wires with it? If you have compared them perhaps you could share your views on the sonic differences between the 2. I need another pair of speaker wires for a second system. The AU24e came on the radar screen and thinking of using them with the CS600.

    I have problems using spade connectors with the CS600 and am wondering whether the AU24e spades will fit. Have you tried them with the CS600 before?

    thanks and regards,


    • Hi Derek,

      Sorry, I haven’t tried the Audience 24e with the Leben CS-600, so I’m afraid I’m not much help on that one.

      Kind regards,


  24. Hi Jeff,

    I got my Leben cs600 a week ago and I am happier than ever in my audiophile life. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and introduction to Leben gears. Loving the Leben so much, I decided to replace Sutherland PhD phone amp to Rs-30eq. Since simplifying my system was my original goal, I am thinking about getting Clearaudio Maestro MM cartridge instead of getting SUT (and new cables…). My TT is VPI Scoutmaster and speakers are Harbeth 7es3. Do you have any experience with Clearaudio MM cartridge, VPI, Rs-30eq combo?


    • Hi BH!

      That’s great about the Leben CS-600! The CS-600 is such a pleasure to use for music listening, it just always get’s the music right. You’re going to love the RS-30EQ. I have used my RS-30EQ with my Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood MM and VPI Classic turntable and thought it was a very musical combination. I don’t see how you could go wrong.

      Kind regards,


  25. Hello,

    I am interested in the Leben CS600. I am hoping you can answer a quick question for me:

    Can one use a jumper between the Record Outputs and Pre Amp inputs RCA ports on the rear and still maintain all functions of the amp?
    The reason I ask is, my current speaker set-up uses dual Servo sub woofers. I would like to split the signal coming off the Leben pre amp to the sub woofer amps and to the power amp section of the Leben with an in-line RCA high-pass filter.


    • Hi Steve,

      I’ve never tried that so I’m not sure how that would work. I recommend you contact either Jonathan Halpern ( at Tone Imports or Yoshi Hontani ( the Leben exporter and ask them, they should be able to tell you.

      Let me know what you find out!

      Kind regards,


  26. thanks Jeff, your blog and hifi look great.

    I’ve reached out to the Leben contacts you suggested.

  27. HI Jeff, greetings from Santiago, Chile.
    Im about to buy a pair of Harbeth SHL5, and would like to get the Leben CS300xs to go with them, digital front end+DAC.
    With your experience, is the cs300xs good for the SHL5?
    Thanks and enjoy,

    • Hi Dan,

      Unless you plan to use your CS300xs & SHL5 combination in a very small room, at moderate listening levels, I don’t think you’ll have enough power.

      Even with the more powerful CS600 and my SHL5’s there is not an abundance of power in a larger room, but it works well in the smaller listening room I have it in now. The CS300xs *might* work as well in a smaller room, as long as volume demands are not too high.

      I hope that is of some help.



      • Thanks Jeff.
        Chile is pretty far away, so I feel I have to get the equipment right.

        Can you reccomend other amps for the SHL5?

        And if not the Harbs, waht other speakers in the $3500/4000 area (used or new) should I be looking for?
        Thanks so much for your help. Nice blog and musical taste!!!
        Best regards,

        • Hi Dan,

          Tell me a little bit about the room you’ll be placing your stereo in, that will help me give you better recommendations.



  28. Hi Jeff, I have two or three good photos of the room., I think they will help more than my description. Could I send them to you to an email address?
    Best regards,

    • I’d be glad to take a look at the photos, Dan, but they key is the size.

      Do you know what the height, width, and depth of the room are?



  29. Jeff, I just sent the photos.
    Ceiling height is 7feet 94inches.
    Depth 15 feet rear to front wall)
    Width 19 feet, after that, on one side, it continues with the open dining room. It on the pics.
    Thanks Jeff!

    • Hi Dan,

      I think the SHL5’s would be fine in your medium sized listening space. I wouldn’t use anything less powerful than the CS600 with them, or you could run out of power when you want to play music loud. I really like the SPEC RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier with the SHL5’s too, so you might want to look into that as a possibility.

      I hope that helps.



  30. Thanks Jeff, the search begins!


  31. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for a wonderful write up. I’ve just purchased the CS600 integrated amp. I’m wondering if it will be a good match with my current speakers – Tannoy Revolution DC6t which I have been listening to for the past 4 years.

    Do you think the CS600 will be a good match? I listen mostly to female vocals, opera and orchestra.


    PS: very new to the audiophile world but enjoying the ride very much.

    • Hi Ivy,

      My apologies, but I’m not familiar with the Tannoy Revolution DC6t, so I can’t say too much.

      However, I’ve had good luck with the CS600 with everything I’ve tried it with, so I think it is pretty likely it’ll work very nicely with your Tannoy Revolution DC6t.

      Let me know how it works out!

      Kind regards,


  32. Hi Jeff

    I am thinking of getting the 600s to use on my Focal Sopra 2.
    I am just worried that the Focal may sound slightly bright due to the Beryllium twitter.

    What do you think Jeff?

    • Hi Lawrence,

      I’m not familiar with the Focal Sopra 2 loudspeakers, so I’m afraid I’m not of much help on any specifics of a match.

      Generally speaking, the CS600 is fairly neutral, so if your speakers are sounding bright now they probably would be bright with the CS600 as well.

      Kind regards,


  33. Hello Jeff
    Thank you very much for your experience sharing
    I contact you from France, because I would argue to have your opinion on my choice of amplifier with leben 300 or 600 to replace an Ars Sonum Filarmonia.
    I have a pair of Merlin music Vsm MME, in a big room, but my listening point remains in a 3m yard, and with corrector Lingdorf
    I listen mostly at low volume
    Very good day
    Thank you

    • Hello Jean-Marie,

      I am not really familiar with your loudspeakers, other than having briefly heard them at an audio show years ago, and your amplifier not at all, so it is a little hard to make a recommendation. Sorry about that.

      Both the Leben CS300 and CS600 are very nice integrated amplifiers, but both low-powered designs. I don’t think the CS300 would have enough power for your loudspeakers in a big room, other than for very low volumes. The CS600 has more power and would likely be the better choice of the two for you.

      Kind regards,


      • Hey Jeff, I have some Audio Note Spe/he speakers and am considering the cs600 to drive them. Do you think they will be compatible? Appreciate any advice.

        • Hi Don,

          At this point in time, my Leben CS600 integrated amplifier has been in my amplifier stable longer than any other I currently own (12 years), and I can’t ever see parting with it.

          I like the CS600 a lot, I bought it after I reviewed it, now almost 12 years ago, and it has stood the test of time for my satisfaction with its musical & sonic performance, reliability, flexibility in using different output tubes, and its beautiful quality of construction and appearance.

          In fact, as I was thinking about an appropriate reply to your comment, I decided that at some point in the future I should write a “long term report” on the Leben CS600, because it is one of the most satisfying audio products I have ever owned.

          A lot of the reason for my long term satisfaction with the Leben CS600 has to do with its excellent performance with each of the loudspeakers I have used it with over the years. My Harbeth Super HL5’s, my Harbeth Monitor 40.1’s, and now my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre’s.

          I’m not sure I have ever heard the Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE loudspeakers specifically, although maybe I have at one of the audio shows I have attended. I do know I have heard a number of variations of the Audio Note AN/E speakers over time and have always been impressed with their musicality.

          I would think that Leben CS600 would be particularly well suited for the Audio Note AN-E line of loudspeakers given their sensitivity and overall musical balance, as long as the CS600’s 32W (6L6GC) / 28W (EL34) power output is enough to drive your speakers to the SPL levels you enjoy.

          Anyways, I hope that is of some help, and if you decide to get a CS600 for your Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE loudspeakers let me know how you like the pairing.

          Kind regards,


          • Jeff, thanks for your kind and thoughtful response. Traditionally, it is suggested to use the AN amps with their speakers, but I don’t see why the Leben wouldn’t work just as well. Anyway, I’ll let you know if I end up with the Leben.

    • Hello Jean-Marie,
      Not sure if my response is too late. I have driven the Merlin TSM MMe with the CS 600 (using 6L6GC/6N3CE) in a 14×12 room and had no problem of power. i would assume the 300 would also be ok but have not tested it

  34. Hi Jeff
    I greet you from Chile, I love reading your site and I hope to one day have some Westminster in my house ..
    for now I have a Tannoy Turnberry amplified with Pass Labs XA30.8 and Cary Audio SLP05, but I am looking to change to an integrated and within my priorities is Leben. My tannoy are from 93db to 8 ohms, what model of Leben could you suggest to me to drive my speakers?
    my sources are a DAC Lampizator Amber II and an Acoustic Solid Metal 111 turntable with DL103r denon capsule and Passlabs xp15 phono pre.
    Thank you very much for your kind help.

    • Hi Christian,

      Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it. 🙂

      The most powerful Leben integrated amplifier is the CS-600 (28 watts with EL34 output tubes), which works great with my highly sensitive Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, but I don’t know that I would recommend it for driving your Turnberry speakers unless they are in a very small room, otherwise you might have difficulty achieving live-like levels.

      I’m a big fan of quality integrated amplifiers, but honestly, your Pass electronics and Cary preamp are really nice amplification choices, and they are not what I would recommend changing.

      Rather, if I were going to change something in your system, I would suggest changing out your Denon DL103R for a Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge, which I would expect to give you the most improvement in performance for your investment.

      If you are really keen on getting an integrated it would be worth investigating the Pass integrated amps, the ASR Emitter integrated amps, or the SPEC integrated amplifiers, all of which are great products.

      I hope that is of some help!

      Kind regards,


  35. thank you very much for your kind response, everything clear.
    However, I have friends who have some models of harbeth, less sensitive than my tannoy, with the Leben CS600 and are happy. I have not heard that configuration with harbeth but I will take your comments for a decision.
    About the cartridge, I agree, I need something better. I was thinking of a benz micro glider, but zephyr is on another level.
    Thanks greetings

    • Hi Christian,

      In an interesting conundrum, Harbeth’s are much easier to drive than their sensitivity would suggest, and Tannoy’s are much more difficult to drive than their sensitivity would suggest, so you’ll need to be a little bit cautious comparing between the two.

      I would recommend that you try one of your friends’ Leben CS-600 in your system to see how good of a match it is before buying one.

      Kind regards,


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