Levinson 352H, or Bryston 4BSST, or...

I know this type of question comes up often, but I could use some insight for future upgrades.

I'm thinking about a new amp. I'm currently on a Spectron Musician III Mk2 with all the upgrades; it's a Class D switching amp. Very tight, very fast, very powerful. However, with the Magnepan 3.7s and my lousy room, it can come across a bit brash at times. Other times... perfect, with a fantastic soundstage and response.

(Also: Magnepan MG 3.7 speakers, Mac Mini, PS Audio PerfectWave DAC II, Emperical Audio Off Ramp, 2 Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers, all fed by a Shunyata Triton, Anacondas all around for power, SilNote speaker cables.)

My local dealer is absolutely no fan of Class D amps, and has recommended a Mark Levinson 352H as a replacement. (Haven't heard it.) But first, he's having me demo an Audio Research Reference 5se tube preamp. It's in the rack now.

So far in my limited listening, it's not shaping up to be the sound I'm looking for, although it is quite good. It's almost as though it has taken away some of the clarity and detail that I'm accustomed to. And for $13K without ICs and power cords, I'm so far finding it hard to justify.

I'm now wondering if perhaps changing the amp would be worth a try... get off the Class D.


If so, would I be better looking at the Levinson, or go towards a Bryston, which I've always heard pair very well with Maggies.

I'm looking years off into the future, when we may upgrade speakers, so "future-proofing" or buying up is not out of the question. I'm just looking for the right piece to smooth out the sound without throwing a blanket over everything.

I had a Peachtree 220 Class D amp and I agree with your description of "bit brash at times." I changed to a Parasound A21 and now my speakers sound more controlled and natural. Although I haven't heard every class D amplifier, I have heard similar complaints no matter how much the Class D amplifier cost.
I have Bryston 4B-SST²
Magnepan 3.6 speakers

I had wanted a used Ref 3 ARC preamp but it did not work out so I bought a bryston BP-26
Fine.. But my cheap old digital still had a little problem in the treble.
So I found a nice tube preamp to use as a digital buffer.
A VAC Standard. For $1,400 and I love it.
It is perfect for what i wanted to clean out the digital glare, yet not be blurring the sound.

I am another one saying buy the Bryston amps. If you can afford a new 14B-SST² go for that for your Maggies.
Regarding the ARC Ref-5 SE:

"it has taken away some of the clarity and detail that I'm accustomed to."

Pray tell, What preamp are you using now?
Dweller --

The PS Audio Perfectwave DAC II has a pre in it.

Yes, I'm aware that this might be impacting things.
I have a Bryston 4BSST2 (latest version) for sale on Audigon in excellent condition. It's the recommended match for Maggies at local dealer AudioSystems. It's five years old and has 15 years left on the warranty. If you don't like it--possible--then you can sell it for what you paid for it. Bryston told me that the 300 watts into 8 ohms was conservative--more like 350. But, if you decide you need more power, then slide a switch on the back and you have a mono amp and you can add another amp.
Austinbob -- Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.