Mark Levinson 27.5 versus modern day amps

I had started a thread on the 334 but looks like the caps if not replaced is a crap shoot. However, how does the 27.5 compare to some modern day or newish amps? Do you think it would be worth it to purchase a 27.5 as they seem to be going for $1800 to $2700.  Upwards of $2200 is ridiculous in my opinion as they used to sell for $1700-$2000 a few years ago. Also what preamps mate well with ML amps? 
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Someone here I would think has an opinion on the 27.5 I would hope.  I know its one of their best amps ever but worth it overall? They didn't have the cap issues like the 300 series. 
Pyramid Audio in Austin Texas serveres ML, you might try and contact them and ask, 512-458-8292
Mark Levinson 27.5 is by far the best amp I have ever owned.
I have owned (not just tried)......

 - BAT VK-55 all tube
- Levinson 331
- Audio Research VT-100 II
- Pass Labs X250 (worst)
- Bel Canto EVO 4 gen II
- Gamut D200
- Many others

The 27.5, although an older design (Circa 1992), beats them all by a large margin.  It allows the listener to view into the performance better than any other with no grain or hardness to the sound.  All other amps seem to contribute some type of coloration to the sound of the music.  The 27.5 seems to remove all barriers that may restrict the pleasure of listening.

This one is a keeper and I will have it until I die.

Thanks for the reply Ernie.  You and I obviously have great tastes in amps lol.  I bought your VK-55 and purchased a gently used 27.5 couple of weeks ago and totally agree. There is no grain or edginess to the sound. Just pure music.  I have had a smile on my face every time I listen to it. I have had several amps over the years and the 27.5 has been my favorite. Funny you think the Pass X250 is the worst because again I agree. Had one on loan and couldn't stand the midrange.  The bass was great but maybe my speakers which I consider neutral were NOT a good match. The Pass needs a very warmish speaker IMO. 
Hey Sam.  I did not realize this was your thread.  Congratulations on your purchase of the 27.5!   A very smart move!   Isn't it strange that such an old amp like the 27.5 beats out most of the current high end stuff?  Are you keeping the VK-55?  The VK-55 is better than all amps that I've listed but I believe the 27.5 is better than the VK-55 overall.  However, I think the VK-55 has more bloom in the lower midrange...great for female voices.  Yes, you are right about the Pass.  It is initially impressive but does not hold up in the long run due to it's brightness and hardness.
Hopefully you will keep both amps, they are both great amps.
I'm glad I finally saw a thread where someone mentions the Pass Labs amp in the way you two have.

A long-time and consistent sacred cow.  Had one once.  Tried to juggle things around it.  Ultimately could not for the life of me understand where all the adoration comes from.  A solid state amplifier for people who think they know what a tube amplifier sounds like, except they don't.  One of the easiest pieces to unload, and I couldn't have felt happier about that.  Not the worst amplifier I've tried, but a COMPLETELY overrated product
Ernie I am keeping the VK-55. It’s like the best of both worlds. Tube magic which the 55 is very romantic and the 27.5 "just sounds right". Sorry Conrad Johnson haha :) Everything about it puts a smile on my face. I feel very fortunate to have both and plan on keeping them around for quite awhile. If anything were to change it would be upgrading the VK31SE. BAT preamps seem to be a fantastic match for ML amps so I would think further up the chain could only get better but for the near future I am content. Power cords at the moment are what I am working on to achieve the tone and overall sound I am looking for. The Synergistic Black 10 gauge on both amps for not a lot of money is a great match. Thank Joe at the Cable Company for his recommendation.

As far as Pass amps the only two I have heard are the 150 and 250 and not impressed at all. So trelja I do understand the frustration. Well built and beautiful to look at but ear bleed for me also. The older Threshold Class A amps I have not had the pleasure of listening to one in my system.

It seems the new wave of amps are going digital along with built in dacs and room correction. Personally I think technology is great but there is nothing like looking at a nice beefy ass amp whether it is tube or solid state driving your speakers with authority. I’ll take a 85lb solid state or 60 lb tube amp any day of the year :) No disrespect trust me however, I am old school evidently :)

@inna, yes, I had the Pass Class A amplifier.  And, supposedly, the best sounding of the lineup
That's very sad. I think, American solid state amplification can no longer compete with European and maybe even Australian. Some might say it never could. I don't know this but even if they are right the gap appears to be widening. 
That's very sad. I think, American solid state amplification can no longer compete with European and maybe even Australian. Some might say it never could. I don't know this but even if they are right the gap appears to be widening.
If you go to Europe or Australia they are all lusting for American muscle SS amps.  You always think your neighour's grass is greener.
Had the 27.5 and yes it was a very good amp.   Not the world's best or hidden treasure of high end but still very respectable.  AB against a Soulution poweramp and while it lost out it was not too far behind.  Moved on since long time ago and not look back.
That is a very respectful comment for the 27.5. Which Soulution amp did you compare it against? 

Testpilot I think the US market has gravitated to smaller one box solutions in recent years as real estate has skyrocketed resulting in audiophiles in crowded or expensive locations to downsize. They do not want to have larger and heavy components taking up space.  Class D has come a long way but I still don't think it has reached transistor based SS sound quality.  Just my opinion :)
The US still has the largest average living space compared to the rest of the world (perhaps Australia is larger, but the point is the same)
That may be true but I am referring to crowded high priced areas such as San Francisco, New York, etc...Smaller living spaces that people don't want bigger gear stuffed in tight spaces. My main point of reference is someone who lives in the Bay area and has been an audiophile for years with tons of friends who have downsized.  Hey more muscle amps on the market for us haha :)
I know this is a very old thread, but wanted to add my comments. I recently purchased a pristine 27.5.  On consignment at a guitar store in a small town.  To be honest, bought it because it was a ML and the price was so low. Boy am I impressed.  The amp hits way above it pay grade. The current is amazing. Driving Aerial Acoustics 8B's, which should have 200 a channel. The 27.5 handles them in spades.  Watts vs current really do seem to be like torque vs HP. 

Have used it both with a recapped/updated SF Line 2 PRE and with a Levinson 38.  Very different sound. Both very refined and enjoyable. 
There is something to be said for a beefy or brawny amp that exhibits eye candy, power and finesse.  The older Levinson amps are hard to beat in this regard IMO. 
I’ve just purchased this 27.5 second hand (traded some Mission 782, 782 SE towers, 78C center and 78ds surrounds plus $500) and couldn’t be happier.  This Levinson replaced a Rotel RM1080 which I swore was one of the best amps I’d heard.  I’m hearing things in music I hadn’t heard previously. This amp is paired with my B&W 804 Matrix speakers and does it make them sing.  I think it’ll stay with me for quite some time. 
Just purchased a 23.5 last week. Whoah!!!! 30 yrs old!? No way. This amp is STILL WORLD CLASS!!!! Vocals float grainless in space. The bass is beyond comprehension. You find yourself following the backup instruments and their melody line that you have never heard before. 23.5 and 27.5 were the best amplifiers of ALL TIME. A MADRIGAL tech noted in Audiogon that they built those amps to last a lifetime. To clarify he went on to say 100 years!!! LEVINSON IS GOD!!!! HAIL TO THE 23.5 AND 27.5!!!



Nice setup. I still have the 27.5, but my son has the B&Ws. If you know how to solder, bypassing any electrolytic capacitors in series with the drivers with say ODAM caps won't kill the house sound of the 801Ms, but it will open them up, and the house sound will be diminished. Granted, the house sound is seductive as heck, but it's not gone, and you'll almost certainly love the improvements. If you really want to nail it, get a DS2 preamp before Don Sachs stops making them, he's semi retired now, and the best Lampizator DAC. Don't buy the DS2 used as he has made important upgrades lately, the Lampizator due to supply and other issues I would buy used, but only ones made after 2020. If you get a Lampizator, I intend to bypass the splendid o/p caps with ODAM and V-Caps, so let me know and I'll tell you if it's worth it. I won't go into what I replaced, but 2 very well reviewed, and actually impressive DACs were slaughtered by an inexpensive, relatively speaking, Amber 3, unmodified but with a very expensive Maxda cap in the output.

This is an old thread, but I would like to add to this since I contributed earlier to this thread and recently purchased a new integrated amp.  This was not to replace current electronics but just to add to it.  Current system consists of all vintage electronics.

My vintage system has an extremely euphoric, holographic sound with beautiful overtones and depth. It includes

 - Audio research LS5 II all tube and all balanced preamp with all NOS Amperex 7308 NOS tubes. 

 -  Levinson 27.5 power amp.

- PS Audit Digital Link DAC with Cullen Mod.

- Audio Research PH3 Phono preamp.

- Oracle Delphi III with Oracle SME 335 tonearm.

I recently picked up a near new Levinson 5805 Integrated amp for a good price.

I hooked up my PS Audio DAC since the Levinson internal DAC was not at all comparable to the sound of the PS Audio.

I was immediately blown away after firing it up.  The sound was completely transparent and very high quality and detailed.  The sound was completely different than my vintage setup.  It revealed that my vintage setup had distortions in the sound reproduction making the sound euphoric and very inviting.   I'm almost preferring the new levinson sound since the sound is absolutely pure and linear with no detectable distortions...good or bad. 

So if anyone is in the market for a great integrated amp, look no further than the Mark Levinson 5805!

By the way, my PS Audit Digital Link with Cullen Mod is by far the finest sounding DAC that I've ever owned. It easily beats the current PS Audio Direct Steam DAC.  It seems the old PS Audio has at least double the resolution compared to the Direct Stream.  I quickly sold the Direct Stream after purchase.





Can you run the DAC direct through the 27.5 and bypass the preamp to compare? I’m going to guess that the AR pre is coloring the sound more than the Levinson amp.