Levinson separates vs. Audio Aero Capitole

I have heared very fine 360S and #37 transport from Levinson. How does Audio Aero Capitole player stack up to those?
I had a 37 trransport`DCS Delius and 972 upsampler.Sold it all in favor of the Audio Aero Captiole and never looked back.Great(if not one of the best)for less money and once broken in performs like no other.Unfortunately they are also very hard to find.
Makes the Lvinson sound Like Aiwa in comparison.Nothing sounds even close to the Audio Aero
In what part of the country (U.S.A.?) do you live?
I'd like to hear your AA.
Regards, Ken
Levinson blows it away
I own a Levinson 390S CD player (upgraded from No. 39). I have auditioned the Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 player in my system (before I upgraded to the 390S). I think the 390S is sonically reasonably close to the Capitole, although I would give the nod to the Capitole on sonics alone. However, the 390S has a much better user interface and (I think) better build quality too. These are the reasons I ultimately decided to upgrade my 39 rather than purchase the Capitole. Another player worth your evaluation is the Electrocompaniet EMC-1 with 24/192 upgrade. Solidly built, cheaper than the others, sonically competitive, but no built in volume control (if that matters to you).
Good luck.
Craigza, that was a VERY fair and impartial assesment on your part. It is information like this that makes these forums worthwhile. Sean
I agree sean, Craigza comments are worth reading, however I always vlaue the "Blows away or kills" comments too...they are very informative
Craigza; you said it well, and Sean did too. Yours was an excellent and informative comparison. I have used the Levinson M37 transport and 360S DAC for over a year now and consider them to be sonically excellent. I have not heard the Capitole. If you check this thread again, what is your impression of the ML 39 to 390S up-grade. Thanks. Craig.
If you own a 39, this one is a no-brainer. The sonic improvement afforded by the upgrade is quite significant. No A/B comparison is required to be convinced that the 390S sounds a lot smoother, more organic (more "continuous" seems to be the hot word these days).
I have had my 39 for more than 4 years, and it is been a fixture in my system while everything else has changed around it (more than once!).
But when I was recently comparing the 39 to the latest upsampling CD players (Audio Aero Capitole, AudioMeca "Mephisto II", Electrocompaniet EMC-1 24/192), it was sadly clear that digital technology has moved past the old 39.
I say "sadly" because none of these hot new players offer nearly the convenience features, user interface, build quality, or (IMHO) good looks of the 39.
I mentioned this in my previous reply but didn't elaborate. Here are the significant features of the 39 lacking on one or all of these other players:
1. absolute polarity reversal
the 39 has this ON THE REMOTE. None of the others
has this feature at all!
2. L/R balance adjustment
again, on the 39's remote. Missing from all the
3. volume control
39: analog domain volume control on the remote
with 0.1 dB steps.
of the others, only the Capitole has volume control
(also analog, also accessible from the remote).
But the volume "steps" with the Capitole are much
larger (even though the remote triggers a motor that
turns the volume knob)--too large, IMO.
4. display
39: big, easy to read red display.
3 intensity levels plus "off", all remote
accessible, naturally.
Can be adusted (from the remote)
to count up or down, total time
or current track. Retains setting even when
placed in "standby".
others: display cannot be dimmed or turned off.
smaller display--hard to read from across
the room (at least for these old eyes).
some cannot count down total time remaining
(my favorite mode). Others (EMC1) revert
to default between CDs (how annoying!).
5. Behavioral "quirks"
39: none. everything works like it should every
time. You have to be a bit careful loading CDs
into the thin tray to avoid jamming them.
EMC1: none (except the reversion to default display
mode when CD is changed).
tracking problems with the Mephisto II on
several CDs.
Capitole's top loading door frequently gets
"confused" and thinks the door is open when
it is closed and vice versa.
6. remote:
39: solid, heavy, machined out of an aluminum block.
controls everything.
others: EMC-1: cheesy, cheap plastic remote
Capitole: overly complex LCD touch screen
remote--totally non-intuitive. I
understand that the importer may have
replaced this recently with a simpler
Mephisto: I honestly don't remember. I think
it was the plastic, light-weight
type too.
7. repeat feature.
39: can repeat entire disk, single track,
or between any two arbitrary points in time,
all from the remote (I find the latter
particularly useful with pure tone test
CDs--I can set the 39 to simply repeat a
10 second single sin wave tone indefinitely).
others: none can repeat an arbitrary interval.

That covers the features of the 39 that are most useful to me that the others don't have. The 39 has other nifty stuff, though, that others may value. For example, for any CD, you can program the 39 to play any subset of the tracks in any order (skipping any tracks you don't like). The 39 *remembers* this programming whenever this CD is played (!) (the programming can be over-ridden, of course). You can even program the *absolute polarity* on a track-by track basis!!

Anyway, about the sound. The 390S upgrade moves the Levinson into the 21st century sonically. A big improvement vs. the 39. I place the sound of the 390S in the same league with the 24/192 oversampling players mentioned above. Is it every bit as good or better than these other players? I'm not sure, as I listened to the others before I had the 39 upgraded. Maybe (just maybe) the Capitole or the EMC1 beat it by a hair. But the 390S is certainly close enough sonically that, for me, that long list of features easily makes it the one box player of choice.
Craig Zastera
Yeah that's all great and so on but can you get your beloved 390s in purple? LOL Very impressive explanation Craig, I am curious have you compared it to the accuphase gear?
sorry. They are a good deal more expensive though. Haven't compared directly vs. Linn CD12 either (although I have heard the Linn in other systems), but that's also another price category.
BTW, I forgot to mention two other points, one a plus for the 390S, one a minus:
plus: 390S decodes HDCD (others don't)
minus: although the 390S has digital inputs, it cannot
accept a 24/96 digital input. The Audio Aero
Capitole can (Electrocompaniet has no digital inputs at all).
Craig Zastera