Yup! The levinson is worth it.
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They are both worth it. How's about letting your ears decide! Having owned both Classe and Levinson over the years and different models each with their own traits, good and bad. On one system I have Aerial 10t's. I was using Classe M-1000 monoblocks. Exciting sound, powerful but lacking microdynamics. I demo'd a 336. Big microdynamics, but bass was ill defined and overall sound was just too "polite" for my tastes. Demo'd 33H BINGO! Not as "exciting" as the M-1000's, Better microdynamics, less bass however the best mids and high-frequency I've ever heard.
Some folks like chocalate chip cookies, some want oreos. Same with amps. Demo the Classe and the Lev!
I too have B&W 802N speakers, my amplifier is a Levinson 335 and the combination is superb! I also have a Classe amp in a second system and while good, it is not in the same league as the Levinson. You may want to consider a 335 (250 watts) as this offers more than enough power for your speakers and sounds identical to the 336. Before the 335, I briefly had a 334 (125 watts), and for 95% of the time, even this was sufficient. Good luck.
Well I own a 335 and I to agree that the 335 sound the same as the 336. The 336 just has more power. but you can run a 334, but I would buy either a 335 or a 333 both awesome.The 335 is more liquid sounding. Better bass control. As far as classe goes it great sounding gear but not in the big leages. As Levinson. As far as I am conscerned neither is krell Mark Levinson is much more musical than krell. Krell is very forceful sounding. The krell gear is very good though who Iam I fooling.. I just love the Levinson.
Mark Levinson 335
Mark Levinson 38
Martin Logan SL3
Harmonic Technologies Through out
I can't compare the Classe to the Levinson, but I am responding to Paul's M-1000 statement...
The CA line is a vast improvement over the M-1000's.
I had the M-1000's and demo-ed a CA-400 to compare.
The CA is much more musical.
I found the M-1000's to have what I'd call a British sound;
flat and neutral.
The CA is more American; full sounding midrange, terrific bass, involving.
Anthony Cordesman of The Absolute Sound wrote a great review of the CA-400 when he wrote for Audio. He replaced his M-1000's with it, as I did.
I am now running two bridged driving Shahinian Diapasons.
As for the CA-401, I haven't heard them but everyone (except for Robert Adams from Classe) says the difference between the 400 and 401 is minor.
I've owned both the Levinson 336, the new Classe CAM350 monoblocks and the Krell FPB300c. Neither of those amps are very musical sounding. The Levinson is much too dull and the bass is decent but not realistic or fun to listen to. The class was the most musical sounding but lacked the last word in detail. The Krell was by far the most detailed sounding and I think some people call it machine like because it emphasizes the treble, which is why you hear all the air around a recording. Using them I demoed their respective preamps (380s, KCT etc..) and I didnt' really like any of them. It wasn't until I tried a Audio Research Preamp that I found bliss. The point of a preamp is to add harmonics to the sound aka musicality. The point of an amp is to be able to drive a speakers and as far as that went, the Krell was by far the fastest and more powerful of the amps. I would go with a Krell FPB300 with an Audio Research or Conrad Johnson amp, somewith with somewhat euphonic sound. It'll make the combo sound very neutral. You never want to much of any one sound or it'll get boring or tiring. The Audio Research and Krell combo are hard to beat. I've also tried Goldmund and Spectral which I think are the most detailed and musical products out there. I am going to sell my setup to get Goldmund, because it has the musicality of tubes with the speed and precision of solid state. I hope this helps.
Thank you all for your input. Although I thought my question was straight forward, simple and to the point, someone apparently must have thought not. So they gave me a double -2 . Would this person please advise me of the appropriate method I should now use to commit suicide in an honorable audiophile fashion? Would replacing the rectifier tubes in my amp with my index fingers while standing in water do the trick for you?
With any amp in this price range there are tradeoffs. I love the warmth and musicality of the Classe CA 400. It comes down to your preferences and system matching. Classe matches very well with a number of tube preamps, and there is no reason to stay with the same manufacturer throughout your system, at least not if you want to be happy with the sound, that is. I have not extensively listened to Levinson gear, so I can't comment, but I do believe it comes down to just taste and preferences.