Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › The Leben CS300XS Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Leben CS300XS Thread - Page 2

post #16 of 2107
Hey Gu Sensei -

My interest in this amp has been piqued again. How have you liked yours?
post #17 of 2107
Thread Starter 
Hi Skylab,

Yeah, this amp is great. It is wonderful with my speakers and fantastic with most headphones I have tried, Grados being a less than perfect match. Everything sounds incredibly clear with great extension in both directions and just a touch of color that really sounds nice through very neutral cans. The gain is an issue as I have to stay below 9 o'clock for both headphones and speakers. I really only have three or four usable ticks on the dial for my Denons. The functionality is nice also with five inputs and a line out. Above all, it is simply the one of coolest looking amps I have seen. It is hard to say how much of my appreciation for its sonics is influenced by its looks. :-)

I really want to get this one refurbished but just have not yet had a chance to investigate how to do it and how much it will cost. Based on the address I have encountered, I may very well be able to drop it off in person.

I adore mine and despite encountering many interesting amps in my many trips into Osaka's electronics town, I have yet to feel an urge to try anything else out. It pretty much has achieved permanent membership in my rig.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you get a chance to audition one!
post #18 of 2107
Thanks very much for that! Unfortunately for me, there is no Chicago area dealer than carries them. The bummer is I was just in Tokyo 2 weeks ago, but didn't have time to get to Akihabara, which I usually do on my business trips to Japan. I know I could have picked on up there. In the US the CS300XS is $3,495. So I have to consider it very carefully, especially since I would be using it just for headphones.

But I like the circuit topology and tube complement - and yes, the wonderful cosmetics!

We shall see...still considering it...
post #19 of 2107
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
I know I could have picked on up there.
From my wanderings in Akihabara and Nipponbashi in Osaka, I have only seen them carried in one place (Osaka) and that was just for about a month. I think they are usually special orders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
In the US the CS300XS is $3,495.
Ouch. That is crazy-talk. I just searched and see the retail price is 180,000 yen here but in fact, if you go through Price Japan, they will ship one to the US for about $2000. I guess maybe buying in the US gets 110V rather than Japan's 100V.

They have seriously come down in price since I checked last. I am a little shocked at how inexpensive they are now. Instead of refurbishing this one, I might just grab a new one and swap in my Mullards. Hmm...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
But I like the circuit topology and tube complement -
I am definitely not knowledgeable about amps. If you get a chance, I would love to hear what appeals to you about them in terms of design and tubes and maybe what other dedicated headphones amps have a similar topology.
post #20 of 2107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gu Sensei View Post


I am definitely not knowledgeable about amps. If you get a chance, I would love to hear what appeals to you about them in terms of design and tubes and maybe what other dedicated headphones amps have a similar topology.
I don't claim to be an expert on circuit design, but the CS300XS uses tubes I consider to be excellent sounding (12AX7 gain, EL84/6BQ5 power), and is transformer coupled, so should be able to drive low impedance headphones as well as high, although I note that several people, including you I believe, did not think they were very good with the low impedance Grados. The amp is very nicely point-to-point wired, and the circuit appears to be, and is touted to be, quite simple. Given the rated output power, I assume the Leben is using the EL84 in their native pentode mode, which IME will give is a robust, "meaty" sound, without being overly tubey, all other things being equal.

Here is an interesting post (and thread) from Audio Asylum about tube-rolling and the CS300: http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?...ht=leben+cs300

There have been a LOT of amps that use 2 x EL84 and 2 x 12AX7 - including my $400 Ming Da MC84C-07, which sounds quite good. But I'm sure there is a much higher level of performance that can be had from an amp of this design.

Now if only I could get one at a reasonable price. Oh well. The US Distributor, while polite, doesn't seem to see my point that I shouldn't have to pay a dealer in Cleveland 35% margin on a $3,500 when he won't be giving me any support at all - just taking my payment and passing my order to the distributor. So unless I find one used, I will have to admire this amp from afar, I'm afraid.
post #21 of 2107
Well, I am not sure that anyone cares but me and Gu-Sensei, but through a twist of good-fortune for me, I was able to acquire his CS300X, as he bought a new one. It arrived yesterday.

I had not really thought through the fact that the Leben is transformer-coupled - and after getting over the surprise, I realized what a good thing that is for me, as all my other top tube amps are OTL. The Leben gave me the chance to use a tube amp with the low-impedance Denon D7000 and Ultrasone Ed 8. And based on just one day's listening, this is going to be a VERY good thing The CS300X sounds fantastic - it is really incredibly good sounding as a headphone amp. I need to do some comparisons, but it may well be the best sounding headphone amp I have. It is certainly among the best.

Someday I may try it as an integrated amp - but as a headphone amp - it's terrific.
post #22 of 2107
Great buy, great amp, pity you dont own K1000, would be interesting read your opinion, cos at 15w p.ch. can be a good match to. Gongrats!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Well, I am not sure that anyone cares but me and Gu-Sensei, but through a twist of good-fortune for me, I was able to acquire his CS300X, as he bought a new one. It arrived yesterday.

I had not really thought through the fact that the Leben is transformer-coupled - and after getting over the surprise, I realized what a good thing that is for me, as all my other top tube amps are OTL. The Leben gave me the chance to use a tube amp with the low-impedance Denon D7000 and Ultrasone Ed 8. And based on just one day's listening, this is going to be a VERY good thing The CS300X sounds fantastic - it is really incredibly good sounding as a headphone amp. I need to do some comparisons, but it may well be the best sounding headphone amp I have. It is certainly among the best.

Someday I may try it as an integrated amp - but as a headphone amp - it's terrific.
post #23 of 2107
Skylab how it fares with your T1?
post #24 of 2107
Haven't tried that combination yet - but will soon.
post #25 of 2107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
And based on just one day's listening, this is going to be a VERY good thing The CS300X sounds fantastic - it is really incredibly good sounding as a headphone amp. I need to do some comparisons, but it may well be the best sounding headphone amp I have. It is certainly among the best.

Someday I may try it as an integrated amp - but as a headphone amp - it's terrific.
Agreed, I like it very much. I bought it for K1000 but later found that it works very well also with HD800. Actually I can have both connected and switch between them with the headphone/speaker switch. The problem with HD800 is that there are few usable steps on the volume control, but is is a continuous potentiometer and you can set it between the preset steps. I have no problem with the slightly emphasized treble of HD800 with the Leben amp - at least not with the right tubes. The treble can sometimes be a little tiring and unnatural with other amps.

There have been some demo and used CS300 floating around in Sweden for about 1500 Euro and I found a demo and it is a very good value at this price. It feels like a keeper and I have bought rather many tubes - most moderately priced. I am cautious with NOS output tube that are expensive (e.g. Mullard), hard to find and will worn out. I assume the rarity is the reason that the CS300X model (with Mullards) has been discontinued.

The stock GE Jan 5751 is not my favorite, although it has a very pleasant and elegant sound with the Sovtek EL84 that are stock tubes in the standard model. As I understand it the same GE 5751 is used also in the more expensive models and giving at a beautiful, smooth coloration in my taste, IME and IMO. Just now I have a Telefunken smooth plate that I prefer and it was not especially expensive as used. I am so satisfied with this and the new stock Gold Lion EL84 that I not yet have fully tried all the tubes I have bought. But tube rolling will go on and is in a preliminary stage. The Leben amp is sensitive to tubes and that makes it difficult to say exactly how it sounds but there are many tube combination that make it shine.

I also happen to like that the tubes are not visible and the amp is simple to place. Of course it needs some ventilation but it never runs especially hot.
post #26 of 2107
I'm using all Sylvania tubes - 5751's and 6BQ5's - grey plate in both cases. The sound is very smooth, but not overly tubey. Very, very nice. It's a very robust, organic, involving, and detailed sound. I'm highly impressed.

Obligatory pics :


post #27 of 2107
Very nice, Rob. Sweet amp - congrats.

Thanks for sharing with pics!
post #28 of 2107
Thanks man! I'm really digging it. I've gone a little nuts with the head-fi purchases this year...my ears are thanking me, but my wallet sure hates me
post #29 of 2107
never realized how big it is. know what the weight is roughly.
post #30 of 2107
Thread Starter 
Looking good Skylab! That is a nice little set-up.

Again, I am really glad you bumped this thread. I truly believed the CS300Xs were out of production and never would have thought to seek out a new one if you hadn't. As far as amps go, this is 'the one' for me and I am super pleased to have a brand spanking new model in my possession. I will try to snap a photo soon. The green bars on yours are a little darker and mine has 'CS300XS' as opposed to just 'CS300X' as on yours.

It is great to be reading some positive impressions from you and Anders. I have or had the Apache, HA5000, HA-02, and Zana and none have made me want to move on from the Leben- certainly not for my D7000s. With other headphones, I am usually just as happy with the Leben as with any of those other amps, usually just a matter of a different flavor or a clear preference for the Leben. The connectivity, sonics, looks, and dual function as integrated and headphone amp all combine to make a perfect centerpiece for my main rig.

It is too bad the mark-up is so excessive when selling from dealers overseas. They could be quite popular among Head-Fi members.

@vcoheda, it is 10.5kgs.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › The Leben CS300XS Thread