Thanks Ryder -
Your insights and experience is extremely helpful. I really like the prospect of a Levinson DAC but did have some of the concerns that you addressed in your post. I purchased a Levinson 380 pre because I used to own a 380s and really like that piece. I still have concerns with it due to the repair issues you spoke of and those concerns cause me to hesitate before purchasing any additional ML gear. I sold a Krell FPB600 due to the same concerns with that company. I had a much smaller item (not the 600) repaired by Krell and the cost was almost as much as the item in question was worth. The repair was VERY minor, I would cringe at the thought of making any repairs that could be more involved. The ML pre I have will hopefully be trouble free for a few years. It’s a shame the high end industry is taking such a turn, it’s not a way to stay health in this economy – or any other for that manner.
It seems you have a very nice system, I’ll bet you get a great deal of enjoyment from it. Mine is very much down scaled from what it used to be. I believe I can still piece together something that I enjoy anyway. I just need to be a lot more careful these days. (grin)
I’ve almost decided I need to steer away from the ML dacs, as much as I love them. Huge repair bill just don’t fit my budget these days. Expensive items that have become, in the case of repair, ‘throw away equipment’ can just ruin ones day. I have previously owned a 30.5. In my opinion it was the best to be had in its day and would probably still be competitive with almost anything out there today. Well those days are gone for me so I am in search of more reasonably priced items that still sound good.
All my best –
Sorry to hear about your 37, I know that had to be very annoying. I had a 23.5 as well, and bought a 333 when they were released. I didn’t have the opportunity to compare tem side by side but I suspect overall the 23.5b may have been a better amplifier.
I still am struggling with a Levinson DAC, who knows, I may give into the temptation anyway. They have no moving parts like a player/transport and may be easier to get service on than the amplifiers. Who knows? Maybe I’m just attempting to justify it to myself? I’m beginning to feel like the classic stuff, aside from digital possibly, may be the last of the true audiophile equipment. Manufacturing costs and potential market size is making it very difficult for such things anymore.
I would like to hear what you think of the AR stuff if you go that route, I had considered that as well but I have no experience with the line.
Right now my system is ‘more basic’ than yours.
I have an Aragon 8008bb amp, a ML 380 pre, and a Logitech Touch to steam with. My most pressing need right now is a better DAC. The Logitech is listenable and sounds okay but just isn’t the same quality as some of the better more expensive options. The Logitech errors on the side of ‘ missing’ rather than adding grunge or artificial detail. If something must be compromised then I would rather it be done in that manner.
It’s really great you were given the opportunity to speak with a person so knowledgeable. I like the FLAC files as well but I do listen to hi-res files on occasion. Hi-res (the ones that were actually recorded that way and not just up-sampled) sound amazing to me. From what I have heard 96/24 is fine, I really didn’t hear any improvement when going from 96 to 192 that I could reliably say made any real difference to me. I agree with you in regards to CD’s data rates. They are what they are. I don’t do analog any more I’m sorry to say, streaming is just so convenient and trouble free. I guess I’m one of those contributing to the demise of ‘real audio’ - analog sources.
The ML 360 does 96/24 so I want one! It makes no sense given repair costs and availability. What to do?
I’m in conflict!!! LOL
I actually liked the Benchmark – I may end up with that it makes the most sense but then again, the love of audio and fine equipment has little to do with what makes sense. I’’’ be making a decision soon ….
Thanks for the input Thedautch.
It's great to hear about what could be expected. There are many out there that spend a lot more than $500 for what some would consider small gains. It's the nature of the hobby (dare I say obsession). Chasing those small changes and improvements is part of what can make this stuff so fun.
I' shopping right now. I hop to find a used DAC at a fair price. I've pretty much narrowed it down to the Benchmark or a Levinson. I would need to get the Levinson at a very good price so the odds are against me in that regard. With repairs on Levinson gear being what they are I need to consider the possibility that it is a throw away item in the case of a breakdown.
There aren't any Benchmarks out there right now that are priced right so I'm playing the waiting game. All I really need is a plain ol' DAC1 but I'll probably try for a USB, there seems to be a consensus that the analog section sound better for some reason.
I did consider a Wyred DAC but there’s not any third party lab test yet that I could find and it is rather new to the market. I may ultimately wish had had gone with the Wyred; time will tell.
The Benchmark measures so well It’s hard to imagine anything coming along that blows it out of the water in the near future, at least that’s my reasoning to justify my current mindset.
I’m still more than happy to hear from others about any recommendations or opinions that they wish to share and why my thought process is defective. (grin)
I'm on your side with the mod's I would like to actually hear one as well. I find such claims interesting but then I've been surprised by weeks on occasion I'll admit.
I truly liked the Benchmarks (a USB and a Pre) that I’ve owned and will likely end up there again in the end. The Levinson’s were very nice sounding DAC’s but I’ve never compared them side by side to a Benchmark. Levinson of that vintage had some very nice sounding analog stages and that may account for the following they have. I personally also like the style and the almost ’industrial’ build of the Levinson’s of that vintage. That has nothing to do with SQ I know. I suspect the Benchmark may actually measure a little better than the Levinson of that vintage as all things digital have much improved. The Levinson’s were excellent in their time and probably would still not be all that embarrassed measurement wise.
Overall I suspect the Benchmark probably has a slight edge from a purely technical and measurement standpoint. The only question I may have, for whatever it may be worth, is the analog output section. Even then the Benchmark measures at least as well.