Levinson 3XX Amplifier Repairs

Thought i would post this as it is hard to find any solid information online about the Mark Levinson 33x capacitor repair problem.

I purchased a 332 here on audiogon about 6 months ago. A few weeks ago it developed a loud hum in the right channel. i contacted Levinson (or what is left of them) and was informed that there are only 2 authorized repair shops in the US. Pyramid Audio in Texas and The Service Bench in Mass.

I called the service bench first and was informed that they charged a FLAT LABOR RATE OF $900 + parts! This was a crazy number so i called Pyramid Audio. They said it was a $100 diagonstic fee that would be applied to parts and labor. this seemed reasonable so i shipped the amp to them ($150 shipping).

About 1 week later i received a call from Pyramid Audio stating that my reapir was going to be $1600!!! They also gave me the option of abandoning the amp or having it shipped back!

I feel that i am getting gouged here but really have no choice so i went ahead and got the amp repaired. i'll keep everyone posted on how the repairs ended up.
Considering the stellar, and often over-the-top efforts that companies like McIntosh, Pass Labs etc. make to please their customers- in and out of warranty, it is an absolute disgrace that a company with the Levinson name would leave their customers hanging in this way. Shame! Are they still owned by Harman International? If they are, why is there not a department for servicing their products at a reasonable price. The other top companies manage to do it.
The crazy thing is, Levinson actually extended the warranty to 10 years on the 3XX series of amps because they KNEW ABOUT THE DEFECTIVE CAPS! this amp was 12 years old and they would not honor the warranty even though they acknowledge it was a manufacture defect on a $8000 amplifier! very, very, disappointing.
That is the price of playing in the high end. Similar to owning a Rolls-Royce....repair cost are very expensive. I've been there, done that. I've owned 9 BAT pieces, 2 of which failed, costing me over $2200 for factory repairs combined.

If you want to play with the big boys....expect to have big repair cost, especially for older gear. As for powerful SS amps, I would expect that the caps would need to be replaced with age. I personally would not buy a big SS amp that is around 10 years old or older w/o knowing the caps have been replaced.....but that's just me. I would buy it if the selling price assumed I'd replace the caps. Similar to buying a used car that is due to have the timing belt replaced. It's all in the negotiations. Live n' learn.

My disgust with Levinson attitudes under both Madrigal and HK has already been expressed. Yes, you're getting gouged for what you're getting. The repair parts and labor are nothing special, except for their pricing, where they become truly "exceptional".

$8000 DAC's orphaned, repairs refused, promised upgrades never delivered, etc. etc. After my first deal with them on a 35 DAC and then a 332 amp, I got rid of all 3 pieces of Levinson then in my system because of the hatred I have for them.

Even when they ran through Madrigal, their own service tech agreed with me that, next time I had some fun money, I should just buy a nice new shotgun instead of spending money on more Levinson (maybe he knew what was coming)

I have to say this to JMC, above: he's right in some ways, but you'd never catch Nelson Pass or Gordon Rankin pulling stunts like this.
Levinson as a company has deteriorated. What if your product needed a $50
part to fix. $900 plus parts to fix? I don't care how good their stuff sounds,
this kind of policy and poor support sucks. Only a fool would buy their
gear. Also they seem to have high failure rate. With this in mind I think they
just might go under.

PS...don't mean to insult Levinson owners, but I would really be pissed
at their lack of reasonable support.
Jmcgrogan2: To say that's the price of playing in the high end is ridiculous. You'll never see that kind of treatment from companies like Audio Research, McIntosh and Pass Labs -- and many others. This makes Levinson products even more worthless than they were before.

Gmoneyreece: You should report Pyramid Audio to the Better Business Bureau. Its owners need to justify charging you that much.
No choice is about it,bummer no doubt.Pity you didnt research as those series have been known for years to have major design flaws.So whats the next step,keep and play or sell ASAP?Your call or start another thread and you know what we'll say.Bastards.Good luck,Bob
So the lesson here is do not buy anything you are not willing to abandon at a total loss?
No lesson other than the timeless buyer beware.I forget the Latin version,much more elegant.
Gmoney, did you know about the "design flaw" prior to purchasing? Repair issues with older Levinson amps would come up with even a cursory internet search on the subject. I'm not unsympathetic, but I'm surprised that you're surprised about the repair costs.

Once fixed the amps will sound very, very nice and should run trouble free for many years.
Entrope: No, the lesson is to buy equipment made by reputable companies or be prepared to take a financial beating.
Cannot argue with that logic today.
Just think of the Murphy's Law.

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

Mine went wrong a couple of weeks ago. Ugh.
I completely agree with Roxy 54. I also recently with through this nonsense, and as noted there are only two “authorized” service centers that aside form very costly shipping will only lead to extremely inflated repair charges as well.

Fortunately in my case Madrigal treated its former employees just as badly as the service customers get treated today. I was able to get hold of the technical data I needed for my particular amplifier and obviously can now get the amplifier repaired at a reasonable fee by my local service tech.

I would never have purchased a Madrigal product had I know about this poor service and lack of support. I think I will be headed to Pass Labs next…..
i of course knew about the cap problems but took a chance assuming that if mine needed the repair it would be around $800-$1000...i would have never thought it could be so much. $1600 is getting really close to what it costs levinson to manufacure a complete amp

looking st the bill it was $625 for parts and $975 for labor. they did not provide an itemized list of the parts replaced, i will br requesting this monday...

i also want to mention that prior to repairs i called both places and spoke with a tech trying to get a feel for what it would costprior to shipping it in, both places techs were relativly rude and provided no useful info over the phone.

i purchased the amp and paid for the repair because i love the preformance of it, period. i just wish levinson could control the price of this necessary repair a little better.

sounds like Pass is the way i should have gone
Thanks for the info. I almost bought a 383 with "a hum in the right channel" a few weeks ago. Called Pyramid and they told me $1000 plus "it could be more." Frankly after reading this thread and others about the Levinson "cap problem," Levinson is permanently off my list.
That's the problem, huge flat rates for any Harman specialty group products. It's sad that a company like Levinson can't stand behind their products. For what it's worth The Service Bench in Norwood MA sucks, they gave me the run around on a CD repair keeping it for almost six weeks and charging me twice the "estimate". They probably would have said $1800 for your amp when all was said and done. Real Douchebags.
Sorry to hear that this is happening to you. This happened to my 333 twice within the 8 years I had it. I had purchased it as a dealer demo. But found out afterwards from Madrigal that the dealer had sent it in once already for that same repair. The second time it was covered under the warranty. But the third time, I had to shell out like $1400 to get it repaired. They did the same thing to my #37 transport at around the same time when all I needed was a recalibration (a push of several buttons according to a tech manual they had published internally), and they charged me $1600 to replace the entire transport mechanism and updated software.

Needless to say, when I got the amp back, I traded it in for a Pass X350.5 right away. The 333 did sound better afterwards, but I was not prepared to be spedning $1400 every 5 years to keep it running. For that matter, the Pass X350.5 was another league ahead of the 333 in terms of sound. And well, I will never purchase another product with Levinson badge or anything put out by Madrigal or Harmon International for that matter.

Not sure what the best advice would be. But if you get it fixed, trade it in for something else right away!!!! My 333 had a trade-in value of $2800 about 2 years ago, and that was generous. So I'm not sure it's even worth fixing the 332. Maybe just take the loss??

My sympathies,
I have a new Levinson 432 from an authorized dealer that has a bias problem and a thermal shutoff problem. It is covered by a 3 year warranty. I am sending to the Service Center and will keep you posted as to the results.

I am told these amps were all shipped with the bias set improperly so this is the reason the amps shut off thermally.

Otherwise the amp sounds VERY good.

As the economy goes in the tank look for fewer service departments and more corner cutting. Pass and MacIntosh are two of the few that truly back up their equipment.
I'm thinking of purchasing a Levinson 334 amp. Does anyone know if this amp has the same cap issues as the older 300 series amps? I did read a post on the internet that said Levinson had corrected the cap problem with the newer 334, 335 and 336 amps. I don't know whether to believe that.
When I spoke to the tech, he told me the problem affects ALL 3xx series, except the 33 and 33H. But it seems that we hear more about it happening to the 331, 332, and 333 amps. But I would avoid any 3xx series just to be on the safe side.

Honestly,Iam impressed with the 333,the way they drive
the Andra 1 is effortless,Iam glad I did not buy one.

Sorry to use this thread as a method of contacting you, but they've removed the "contact member" feature. I see you've left AudiogoN feedback for member "Kermit" back in April. Can you please send me an email at sylkesw@gmail.com regarding your dealings with this member. I just need some reassurance as the transaction is not very conventional and I wanted to make sure I'm dealing with the same person as you left feedback for. I'd really appreciate this. Thanks! Scott