33 responses Add your response
Try listening to the older Levinson Amps like the 23.5 and 27.5. They are much more liquid and warmer than the Krell's. I have no use for the Levinson models made after the 23.5 and 27.5. The newer models sound dry, analytical and not very musical.
A great, great amp for the money is a used 23.5 that you should be able to find on Audiogon for around $ 2,500.00 - 2,700.00 if you wait. If you are not happy with a 23.5, you can easily re-sell it. I think that it is one of the best values in hi-end audio.
I agree w/ Larry. There is a stable of Madrigal/Levinson "Golden Age" components. I've had my 23.5 amp for 14 years and more recently nailed a 26s preamp and a 25s phono preamp. They are all in a class by themselves, which I would say is best described by the word "invisible." And if you're used to describing quality audio components, that's not a description you hear very often.
Oh, and a word about service. If a Levinson, Krell, ARC, Rowland, McIntosh, CJ, Crown or any quality component from a manufacturer of similar longstanding reputation fails (other than from user torture) it is going to be in the first 100 hours +/- and will most likely be due to a small circuit board device like a resistor, capacitor, or diode, which was just too costly to use the military grade version, and over which the manufacturer had no direct control. After that first 100 hours though, these manufacturers products can last a lifetime with little more than retubing in the case of valve gear. They are over-engineered and built like tanks, which is why they are so hard to find used, and carry high resale values. It's also a good reason not to bitch when one does occaisionally require repair. At least what comes back is a Levinson, not an Aiwa!
I respectfully disagree with Cello on the newer Levinson
products. I've owned a #23 and 27.5 amp, 26 preamp, 25
phono amp and ML-1 preamp. The #25 phono preamp was dry,
analytical and not very musical. The remaining items were
excellent, but not to the same level as my current 380S
preamp and 335 power amp. The earlier 3XX series was not
among their best but the later 334-336 amps were (are)
jvogt -- you are half right/wrong about your mid-nineties Levinson experience. The 27.5 is a pretty great amp, but the 23, 25, and 26 were all merely adequate, nothing special. However their successors, the 23.5, 25S, and 26S were (and still are) sonically lightyears ahead of almost everything (in amps and preamps anyway) that came after. I have not actually heard a 32 preamp, some say it finally exceeds the 26S. Frankly, at that price, it should grind it into the dust!!
I can't speak to the integrated amps, but I have owned both the Krell FBP 350MCX and the Levinson 436 Monoblocks. Even though I kept the Levinsons and sold the Krells, I did not come to the conclusion that the Levinsons were superior. Actually, they are very similar and both fabulous amps. Final decision between these, IMO, would be system synergy, not sound quality. Finally, I don't want to be rude, but the idea that late Levinson amps like the 436 are not musical is just plain ridiculous.
My comment about the later Levinson amps being not very musical is a relative pont. I am comparing them to the Levinson 23.5 specifically (and some tubed amps).
What is your frame of reference ? Have you listened to a 436 and a 23.5 in the same system with the same recordings on the same day ? Have you ever listened to a good-tubed Amp vs. the 436 in the same system on the same day and A/B compared them ?
When you have done any of the above (if you have), you are entitled to make your comment of "ridiculous". If you have not done any of the comparisons on the same system, you are not rude, just ignorant and your opinion is merely limited to you experiences.
>>When you have done any of the above (if you have), you are entitled to make your comment of "ridiculous".<<
I have done the above so I guess I am entitled. You know what? It feels good to be so darn...entitled.
>>If you have not done any of the comparisons on the same system, you are not rude, just ignorant and your opinion is merely limited to you experiences.<<
Whew, I just barley escaped ignorant and landed on the Park Place of entitlement. This hardly ever happens to me!
But seriously, folks...
I'm not out to slag anyone else's gear, so I am not trying to be rude. I have done a fair amount of listening to lots and lots of gear, so when I defend the honor of my dear old Levinson 436, I think I have earned the right to sit at the big people's table and talk. Please note, though I have owned both the Levinson and the competing Krell and sold the Krells, I did not dump on the Krells, either -- and I was sincere in my comments.
I agree with Cello and with his comments about ML and I
would like try to explain some differences between older
and the latest ML models.From the tehnical view newer
models take the advantages from the latest tehnology.For
example,No.32 famous preamp has excellent measuring
performance with numerous advantages, like superior
revolutionary dc power supply,and only from that segment
is better in every details than older series (better
diode,elco caps,trafo,small filtering caps,etc.),but
something is missing.I did not listen No.32,but some of
my friends did,because there was one model available in
my place.The comments were - sounding very impressive,no
doubt,but it is more clinical and a little beat cold in
compare with better Krell's.
I heard integrated 383 and was very dissapointed.
Too bright and clinical.The only Krell that was under
their reputation was integrated 250,but many people think
that was not real Krell.Model 300&400 are fairly better.
Older ML's are made in discrete technology and that is the
reason why it seems that they are more friendly to human
ears.Latest series use more operational amps technology
and despite the fact that todays op. amps are better and
better,they still exhibit too many compromise in compare
with fully discrete topology.If you look under the cover
of the No.32 you will find so many op.amps.
And at last,Krell is still leader on the solid state market
stronger than ever ( unfortunately i am not the owner some
of their gears )and ML lost the position on the market,
cause their prices are not in order with sonic performance.
I guess that is only logical reason why Harman decided to
close that story.Personally,I am not happy with this
desicion,but ML will stay in history of the hifi, beetwen
the best's ever.
Are you aware that the 23.5 is a power amp?
Your original post stated you were looking for a integrated amp. Getting one of these amplifiers will mean you will have to buy a preamp.
This will double your cost, at least.
Seperates are the way to go for best sound, (I have seperates myself), but only if you can afford it.
Both are good companies, and have had amps from both of them. Sorry to say it depends of what models and generations one focuses on, but generally speaking I should say that:
1.- Levinson amps are a tad more real sounding, transparent midrange presentation andmore holeographic recreating soundstage.
2.- Krell amps are more dynamic, bass-slamming and thrilling.
3.- I spent more time in front of a Levinson amp than a Krell one listening to music.
My two cents
I am the new VP of Sales and Marketing at Mark Levinson/Harman Specialty Group, and I can assure you that we take the sound quality of our newer components VERY seriously.
I sold Mark Levinson at retail locations for many years, and worked with other manufacturers that would be well known to all of you. While there were certainly some ML components that I liked better than others, none were "non-musical" when in the company of decent ancillary components.
We prefer to think of our components as being true to the source, adding or taking away nothing from what was intended.
The components that we are building now, by dealer concensus, are some of the best sounding ever. Please listen for yourself.
By the way, Krell, as well as many other companies make great sounding gear as well...it just depends on what you prefer.
If there was one bit of advice that I can offer to all of you it's this; don't rely on reviews from anywhere in place of your own listening. Expert reviewers disagree as to what sounds better, so why should you rely on reviews in any forum to determine what is a very personal decision/opinion.
It's all about the emotion in music and movies my friends, and we'll never forget that what you hear, makes you feel.
My point was that there has been a ton of Levinsons sold over the years and it is quite logical that there should be a good number up for sale on a regular basis.
I think quite highly of the older Levinson Amps. I own a 23.5 and 27.5 and I love them both. I prefer the 23.5 over the 27.5.
I did not enjoy the 300 series and have not listened to the 400 series nor their latest iterations.
I have never enjoyed any Krell amp that I have heard. For my taste, they are too bright. They have great dynamics and slam, but they chase me out of the room after a while.
wschofield, Thanks for your post....well said and good to hear your enthusiasm for what is going on currently at Levinson. Best of luck with the future of the company.
A service question for you: Do you still service older Levinsons (like my 27.5) and if so how does one go about sending a unit in for repair. Do you still have technicians that are experienced with the older Amps ?
The best ML amp I have ever heard was and are my current
25 watt Class A monoblocks. The ML2 from 1977 to I believe
1986. John Curl and Tom Colangelo designed the amp that made
Mark Levinson famous.
I do agree 100 % with the ML CEO that we all have different listening tastes and that there are many good manufactures out there who are producing good sounding products.
Listen to your own ears because there are
so many bogus reviews out there, written simply because of
I contacted Harman/Mark Levinson about a tune up on my 23. I was quoted a flat rate regardless of the extent of tune up or repair necessary. I was told the flat rate would cover what ever it would take to restore the unit to as new performance. I don't think this covered cosmetics, but not positive on that aspect.
So, the answer, it seems is yes, they do service them. I just sent an email to the tech support e-mail on the website and recieved the info in a day or two.
my 2 pennies worth-
had a denon amp- upgraded to a hafler- huge improvement.
replaced the hafler with a m.levinson 23.5- huge improvement.
replaced the 23.5 with a KRELL fpb-300-much better soundstage
replaced the krell with rowland m12 monoblocks-more refined, with a more realistic presentation of vocal recordings.
replaced the rowlands with levinson 33h monoblocks- another significant improvement- dynamic, musical, very quiet background ("black"). don't ask me how/why i did all this switching around; let it suffice to say that the krell amp was a worthy successor to the ml-23.5, but not the last word as compared to pass aleph 1.2's or the rowlands. i'm quite sure there's something better than the 33h's, but for now they sound astonishingly good-they really suprise me every time i sit down to listen to music. heard halcro's, and was impressed but not inspired. there are of course boulder, mbl, and goldmund amps in the $50k range that are probably "adequate"(!)-who knows. what i don't like is that krell seems to re-design its equipment with every new moon or so. sticking with a classic design with changes INSIDE the box make more sense to me. i thought the fpb amp looked great just the way it was. and this insane upping of the power ratings (600wpc, 650, 700, etc) when all you really need is 100w of clean, musical power, always there when you need it is almost always adequate, unless you throw alot of parties...the main object imho is combining musicality with very low noise. and as for the newest m.levinson amps, they may look wimpy compared to a 336, but stereophile reviews fwiw give them high marks in both areas.
I've owned both of these woderful amps and can only say that it has to come down to your own personal taste. I found the 432 easier to listen to for long periods. I never grow tired and want to listen to more. I did find the krell to be more bam brighter a little more slam than the 432, but I don't like too bright and can find it tiring. So The smooth silky sound of Brendel or Horowitz playing piano on the 432 is heaven. The Krell was great but the Levinson is smoother. At low dbs the detail is more evident with the ML