But as far as I can tell
(1) there are no active Leben sellers ATM and
(2) this forum is supposedly about sharing advice, experience & opinions.
The upshot being that I have now owned a Leben CS300-XS for some 18 months, from new and, in a nutshell, am very disappointed with it. Unimpressed, even.
Total usage, in the time I have owned it, might be somewhere in the range 100 - 200 hours. I have several amps.
This across a wide range of speakers, including vintage models such as the Spendor SP1, Tannoy 12" HPDs and Rogers JR149.
Don't get me wrong; I think it is a very decent amp - just nothing special.
At various times I have tube rolled, mainly in the driver stage, including trying Military Mullard 12AT7s and 12AU7, but with little discernible difference.
Whilst it has a decent bottom end (much better than the sloppy old Leak Stereo 20 for instance), there is simply no 'magic'; nothing to lift it above the common herd.
In fact, I consider I have a number of amps here, most costing a fraction of the $3.5k I paid for the Leben, which match or exceed its performance.
Recently I sent the Leben to a friend (fiend?) of mine in Melbourne whose ears I trust implicitly. He is an ex-professional musician with a depth of hifi experience most of us can just wonder at.
My thinking was maybe it was a 'synergy' thing; perhaps in his set-up, the Leben would perform differently.
After running the 300xs for three days, he called me today to offer his opinions. And whilst they were much more educated, detailed and specific than my amorphous gut-instincts, the upshot is that he feels exactly the same as I do.
ie, 'Nice' rather than the freak it is usually made out to be in the reviews and marketing.
We are considering experimenting with coupling caps to see if that helps. I like many aspects of the unit (its size, quality of construction, 'feel', simplicity, headphone socket, bass attenuator, etc, etc) and would like to get it to 'sing' if we can.
I am also aware some overseas owners have used V-Caps, Mundorf, in this area. Which also begs the question - why did they feel the need to do this?
I am also interested to note that these amps appear moderately regularly in the For Sale section of this forum - which makes me wonder if I am alone in my conclusions?
(BTW: this is not the first time I have been let down by very highly reviewed equipment and which I have had to return whilst scratching my head.)
Surely my Melbourne buddy and I can't be alone in this dissenting viewpoint.
So, in the interests of frank, open discussion, I would appreciate other users' thoughts on this topic.
Edited by robin-hobart, 23 December 2012 - 08:42 PM.