I have a Mark Levinson 27, a 100wpc Levinson amp design just before the 300-series, which I love. I bought a Mark Levinson 333 (which is the same circuit design as the 331, but 300wpc), thinking newer and more powerful would be better. I didn't like it at all -- cold, clinical, sterile. I went back to the 27, a real sweet sounding, musical, tube-like amp, and sold the 333.
I still have the 27, but I've gone over to tubes and am thinking about selling the 27, though it's hard to part with because it is such a terrific sounding solid state amp.
I had the 383 2 years ago and sold it 3 months later. Mine was suck for my ears. (sorry ML owner,maybe just mine)
My Mark Levinson 331 is musical and live like. Do you mind providing your system configuration so fellow Audiogoners can better help you? Plainly concluding that a Marsh A400S "smokes it every way" may solicit unfriendly comments from fellow Audiogoners rather than genuine efforts to assist. Please also list you sound preference as compared to live music and the kind of music you listen to. The Marsh A400S is an amp that received great reviews, but it is one that I do NOT have any experience with. I would not compare the 331 and the Marsh, but I can try to help look at any potential issues with the 331 as related to your system config.
What do you dislike about the sound of the ML 331? The 331 is neutral and on the subtractive side of the reproduction. If you are looking for more warmth and sweetness than live music, you may consider pairing the ML with a tube preamp.
Do you keep the ML 331 in standby mode when not in use or do you disconnect power to it after each use? The 331 needs to have power run through it to maintain its standby mode.
For your reference, the ML 331 works well in my system that consists of:
Arcam CD23T CD player
Transparent MusicLink Super XL interconnect (CD to preamp)
Krell KRC-3 preamp
Transparent Balanced MusicLink Super interconnect (preamp to 331)
Mark Levinson 331 power amp (1998 vintage)
Transparent MusicWave Super XL speaker cable (331 to speakers)
Wilson Watt 3 Puppy 2 speakers
Virtual Dynamics Power 3 power cable on 331
Transparent PowerLink Plus power cable on preamp
Cardas Quadlink 5C power cable on CD player
Tip toes under all electronics
All components in my system lean on the neutral, non additive side of the sound.
Let's keep chatting. Maybe we can help you like your 331!
Levinson amps are nuetral. They reflect the source and wiring. Another factor amps like the Levinson, Krell, Halcro and many others, with large crurrent capacity, don't start sounding their best unless provided with a seperate 20 to 30 amp circuit just for themselves. I've not had experience with the Marsh so can't comment. Auaarons is correct: without knowing your system configuration none of us can really help you get better sound or figure out what's going on.
I had one and really liked it in the beginning. I then started listening to other amps and found mine bright, hard and the fatigue factor was bad. I switched to Mcintosh in SS and tube and have never looked back.
By the way, I installed a dedicated 30 amp line specifically for the 333 when I bought it.
Obviously you need a tube amp. Ah warm , musical, distorted and with flabby ass bass. I love the "27 sounded better than the 331", sounded like a tube head. Keep your crossover distortion if it makes you happy. Come on people at least admit that warm and musical (the way talked about here) are distortions not there at the input. I guess real just does not sound alive anymore. There is not much about ML that sucks in my opnion and Richard Marsh very fine designer that he is is just hoping to get a copy of Mark Levinson's design books. THe 331 is a true voltage and current source unconditionally stable into 1 ohm. The Marsh is power supply limited into 4 ohms at the rails. The 331 is on the order of about 100 times more linear and quite than the Marsh. Something else is worng.
The only part of my system that has remained constant over the last 2 yrs are my ProAc Response 2.5s. I have used Copland CTA-402 integrated (tubes), Plinius SA-100 mkII, Pass X250 and Sonic Frontiers P2. Now owning a 1996 vintage ML 331 I can state that this is the best match yet. The 331 is neutral but has so much better bass control and micro detail that in some case, I am hearing old music for the first time. The soundstage is so much wider and deeper. More air and placement between instruments. I will be keeping this system together for a while.
ProAc Response 2.5s
CJ PV-12 w/phono
Metronome CD2v Sig
Personally I don't think ANY highend gear SUCKS on its own ... just may not fit your idea of how music should be reproduced. That does not mean it sucks for everyone (or everyone's system). With the right ancillaries and cables you can probably tailor the sound of anything to your taste or, conversely, make it sound bad to your ears.
One of the problems in highend audio is the attitude that if I don't own it, don't sell it (in the case of retailors) or don't like it, it SUCKS. Even Bose sounds great to some people and if they are enjoying and buying music for that system, who cares what you think.
I'm glad Kevin came right out and said what was on his mind. I considered buying a 331 but was put off by bad reviews like this one. These folks are right about matching an amp to your system. The most important component, I think, to consider when choosing complementary equipment are the speakers.
I've owned a Parasound A21 for about 6 months now and I really like it. I've owned one tube amp in the past and while I do like tube sound, ideally, I believe the goal of high end amplification should be to achieve a tube-like sound without adding so many impurities into your system. Isn't that the highest compliment reviewer pay to a good solid state amp, to say it's tube like? Tubes, it seems to me, take a short cut to this, the ultimate goal.
Hi,it's again Kevin. My system is a Vpi Scout turntable with an Ortofon Jubilee cartridge, a Rotel 1070 CD player, an Adcom 750 pre-amp,Revel F30 speakers and signal cable cables (good inexpensive stuff). I hate to be so hard on Levinson it's just that when you this much spend you expect to be taken to the moon and it's not happening. I should add that I have the suckiest sounding room you could possibly imagine and it's killing my bass and mid-bass.
Kevin,Auaaron is right on the money,the 331 likes
tube preamp like the audio research LS22,it is
a good amp, they like dark sounding speaker,and
silver wire audioquest,But it is a good amp.Be
patient,you are experiencing component mismatch.I
audition that amp its a good one.
Hi Kevin. I've owned a 331 and other Levinson amps after that and none of them sucked. The 331 is not the very best available, but it beats most of what's out there. I see several problems with your system: the biggest is probably your room--remember, a bad room will quickly ruin even the best of systems. Secondly, your "generic" "signal cable cables" more than likely suck! Cheap cables are like cheap tires on a Porsche--you just don't get the same performance as with good ones. Bite the bullet and get good cables! Transparent Audio cables sound very nice with Levinson. Try some! Your CD player is OK, but out of it's league with a Levinson anything. The Adcom is out of it's league too and can sound bright and irritating with the wrong combination of components. In sum, your VPI and Levinson are the strongest links--the room and other stuff the weakest. I'd try a different room first, then upgrade the rest! I'm not trying to be harsh, but in a system, you must strive for a good BALANCE. You've got some very good components mixed in with some average ones. Then there's that bad room.... consult with an acoustician who deals with home audio/video systems all the time. Not all do. He or she may have some solutions that may help improve your room if not cure it of it's problems. Unfortunately, a "magical" sounding amp will not cure what ails your system or room. Good luck.
Walkingman you are right on I agree with you 100%
kevin, i use a proceed hpa2, of the same lineage as the levinson 331. stupid question, but are you sure the levison is completely run in? my experience of the proceed is that is has taken many hours (100? 200?) to completely break in and produce a musically satisfying sound. also, i use a tubed preamp. the proceed is amazing in its slam factor; it is not "harmonically rich" (i.e., as stated above, pleasantly distorted). good luck and happy listening ....
I recently compared the Marsh a400 and the Levinson 331 and can not understand where you are coming from when you say the Marsh a400 "smokes" the Levinson 331 in every way. I found just the opposite to true. The 331 was more authoritive and refined and did a better job in resolving detail. The Levinson also provided better extension on both frequency extremes and portrayed a much more real soundstage.
Your Adcom preamp is a poor match with the Levinson amp. The Levinson amp will highlight the noise and grainy sound from the Adcom. Ditch the Adcom.
I need to jump in here and state that I don't agree that it's his cables(Signal) necessarily. I'm using some of them right now in my system and they work just fine! Remember just because you spend excessive amounts of money on cabling that's basically using the same wire from the same source suppliers and slap a well know name on them doesn't mean they are the greatest.We've all been mislead with the cabling lies that we are told all the time.
I've been using my Audio Research/Levinson 335 combo for a couple of years now and have tried different cables with all different results.I believe it's his pre amp interacting with the amp. I wasn't satisfied until I went with a tube front to give me the sound I craved for my tastes.I agree with you about his room and CD player and preamp being the major problem and probably the major cause of his dislike of the 331, it probably brought out something he wasn't hearing before with the Marsh and since it sounds different than what he's used to hearing it's not to his liking?