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This review first appeared in the April 2012 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read it in its original Polish version here. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own articles, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or M2Tech. - Ed

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacula
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition
Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory Shilabe, Miyajima Laboratory Kansui
Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III Signature Version with Regenerator power
Power amplifier: Soulution 710
Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version
Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600Ω version
Interconnects: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, preamp-power amp Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
Power cables (on all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate
Stand: Base under all components
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD player, Acoustic Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD player and preamplifier. Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300
Review component retail in Poland: zł34.900

Perhaps like no other audio manufacturer the Leben Stereo Hi-Fi Company is very close to my heart. Maybe I should add Ancient Audio to that group? The Leben CS-300 amplifier simply amazed me with how much music could be squeezed from such a tiny box. But it turned out there was room for improvement. The XS [custom version] upgraded with V-Cap capacitors custom-made for me by Mr. Taku, Leben's owner and designer, demonstrated how the CS-300 was just a starting point. Since then I’ve reviewed most of their products. Each one was at least very good. I did not like all of them as much as the CS-300 but really, they were all fine. Until that is I heard the CS-660P power amplifier and fell in love with it. Its sound was simply captivating. It charmed the listener in a way I had never heard before even from very expensive designs. When I learned that Mr. Taku was working on a new more powerful version of this amplifier, it really piqued my curiosity.

The CS-1000P we’re talking about was designed for one simple reason. The Russian Tung-Sol company had launched a stronger version of their KT88 beam tetrode called KT120. Leben is not the first company to use it. Octave and Ayon Audio already did.

The new power amp from Leben is special though in that apart from the KT120 it can use such tubes as KT88 and KT66, 6550A/C, 350B, EL34 and KT77. For review I received a version with the KT120 and do not know how the amplifier might behave with other types.

Regardless of how it sounds with them, I must say right away that the new amplifier looks absolutely brilliant. No matter how much I liked the CS-660P, the CS-1000P beat it hands down in this respect.

Sound. Selection of recordings used during my auditions. Blade Runner, soundtrack, Vangelis, Universal, UICY-1401/3, Special Edition 3 x CD (1982/1991/2007);  For Ever Fortune. Scottish Music In The 18th Century, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Robert Getchell, Alpha, 531, CD (2012); Paganini for two, Gil Shaham, Göran Söllscher, Deutsche Grammophon/JVC, 480 246-5, XRCD24 (1993/2009); Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90028, HQCD (1958/2008);  Chopin, 4 Scherzi, Ivo Pogorelich, Deutsche Grammophon, 439 947-2, CD (1998); Diorama, The art of creating confusing Spirits, Accession Records, EFA 23450-2, CD (2004); e.s.t. Esbjörn Svenson Trio, 301, ACT Music + Vision, ACT 9029-2, CD (2012); Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, UltraHD CD (2010); Exodus, Supernova, Polskie Nagrania/Metal Mind Productions, MMP CD DG 0405, CD (1992/2006); ...

... Glen Gould, Bach: The Art Of The Fugue, Sony Music/Sony Classical, SMK 52 595, The Glen Gould Edition, SBM CD (1997); Händel, Arias for Cuzzoni, Simone Kermes, Lautten Compagney Berlin, Wolfgang Katschner, Berlin Classic, 0016422BC, CD (2009); Jean Michel Jarré, Magnetic Fields, Epic/Sony Music, 488138 2, CD (1981/1997); Jean Michel Jarré, Téo & Téa, Aero Production/Warner Music France, 699766, CD+DVD (2007); Lisa Gerrard, The Silver Tree, 4AD/Sonic Records, SON212, CD (2006); Nosowska, 8, Supersam Music, SM 01, CD (2011); Novika, Tricks of life, Kayax 013, CD (2006); Stereo Sound Reference Records, A Day at Jazz Spot ‘Basie’. Selected by Shoi „Swifty” Sugawara, Sony Music Direct (Japan)/Stereo Sound, SSRR6-7, 2 x SACD/CD (2011); Vangelis, Spiral, RCA Records/BMG Japan, BVCM-34430, K2, SHM-CD (2011).

The CS-1000P is amplifier from Leben so far. Not somewhat, not slightly, it’s simply the best, period. It belongs to a group of devices that enforce different types of activities in the listener, from searching through his or her record collection just to hear this or that album often long forgotten to generating new album purchases etc. In my case I took the eBay road straight after hearing the new reference album from Stereo Sound magazine entitled A Day at Jazz Spot ‘Basie’. Selected by Shoi 'Swifty' Sugawara featuring—obviously—Count Basie but also Armstrong, Monk, Buddy Rich, Harry James etc.