Mark Levinson 383 or ML 334?

Merry Christmas and Happy new year!!

I want to get some words of advise from you on my situation. I always strive to have a system that allows me to visualize and feel the music, for example, being neutral, open, transparent, musical, neutral, life-like, and one that gives me a feeling of "I am there." I listen to classical music (80%) and light jazz (20%). Currently, I have Sony SCD-777ES -> Transparent Super IC -> Krell KAV-300i integrated amp -> MIT T2 Biwire -> B&W N805 on DIY speaker stand made of MDF filled with sand.

I recently auditioned Mark Levinson (ML) 383 integrated amp with a Krell cd-player (KAV-280cd) and B&W N805. I really liked it. It seemed to have more clarity and cleaner sound with a feeling of deeper and wider soundstage than my Krell 300i. One striking difference that I noticed was its transparency, almost see-through kind of feeling. Certainly, it does not have any harsh and aggressive high that I have grown accustomed to with the Krell 300i. However, I felt a lack of power that excites me. It was in some way, very polite and reticent. The dealer did not have pre-amp (380) and power amp (334) combo. I couldn't audition the combo. They want to see whether Levinson will come out with a new or updated model at CES 2002 in January. But, they told me that the combo would be almost same sound with more power.

My question is which of the following options would be better or wiser in the long run when I have around $5,000 to spend:

1) get ML 383 (with trade-in of my Krell and discount of ML 383, the cost of this option will be well under $5000), or
2) get ML 334 power amp, pre-amps like Adcom GFP-750 or other tubed-preamp, and HT Pro-Silway (Costwise, I figure that it will be about $5500-$5700), thinking that I will upgrade the pre-amp to 380S in a couple of years.

I read a Stereophile review of ML 383 by L. Greenhill that quoted "Sonically, it's as close as we could make it to the performance of a No.334 driven by a No.380 preamplifier," "And if you fail to use the best interconnect, a No.383 will be better."

Sometime next week, I will be able to audition ML pre-amp (380) and power amp (334) combo. I will be in a better position to make a decision. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for a long post. Thanks in advance!!
I have a 383 and agree with your comments. It is a nice match for the B&W 805 speaker. The 383 is an outstanding value for the price, since it really is the pre380 matched with a small version of the 334. The advantage of the integrated is the elimination of the interconnects between pre and amp which can only add to the sound quality.
B&W is an excellent speaker for classical music, and if you are considering a larger B&W such as 802 or 801, then the seperates would be a better choice.
I have listened to the ML38,ML38S,ML380 and ML380S with a ML332 and the ML38 and ML380S with a ML335. My first thoughts are better to buy a used ML380S and a used ML332/331 than a ML380 and a ML334. The difference in detail and soundstage of the ML380S compared to the 380 is so great that the 380 sounds flat alongside. The difference between the 332/331 and the 335/334 is slight increased warmth and roundness to the edges with very slightly improved power.

Granted that you are asking with regard to new. If you are open to selling your current gear here on Audiogon and buying replacement gear here on Audiogon, you should keep within your desired $5000 upgrade.

BTW, sure you can louse up a pre-amp/amp combo with the wrong interconnect, so ask for advice in advance here in the Forum as to other's experience.

Bill E.
Let me give another view. I have a 334/380/39 combo and I would say that if you are willing to move your amp away from the pre-amp you will have a great improvement over the 383. My amp is 4M away and I am using Harmonic Tech Magic one interconnects, I have also used Audioquest Diamonds X3, always use balanced interconnects . This may allow shorter speaker cables. While I agree the 380S is better than the 380 (only slightly with a PS audio powerplant/multiwave), the 334 is significantly better than the 331, which was not as good in my opinion as the 27.5. If you are not willing to move the amp away from the pre-amp,or spend the extra money on the 380s, then the 383 may be a better choice. I am driving Audio Physic Avanti Centuries that are very easy to drive. You may also want to consider a new CD player, unless you listen only to SACDs.
Good Luck,
Thank all of your for reply. It is very helpful. I have a couple of questions for you, though!

Bill, E. (Lakefrontroad) and Mike (Cablues) - which interconnects do you use or recommend for ML separates? I heard that for the best sound, XLR is preferred over single-ended.

Mike (Cablues) - could you explain more about moving away amps from pre-amp? What does it happen if we don't? I can speculate it, but I'd appreciate if you could elaborate a bit on it. As for a CD player (redbook), is SCD-777es a weak link for ML gears? Have you tried other sources or cd players than 39?

It has been only three years since I have gotten into this expensive hobby. I enjoy it and yet I have a lot to explore!! Thanks for your time and help again!
I use Stealth PGS Gold XLR's 1.5 meter between the amp and pre-amp and 1 meter between the cd and pre-amp. I have two stands and the amp/ps audio 600 are on one and the cd/ML 380 S are on the other.

Bill E.
Hi, Moving your amp from the pre-amp helps move the large power supplies and equipment from the pre-amp where distortion can be picked up. This is one of the reasons for sep components and why some pre-amp power supplies are external.

I use 4M Harmoinc Tech Pro Silway II XLR interconnects between the 334 and 380. I have also used Audioquest Diamond X3, but the Harmonic Tech interconnects are more detail. Between the 380 and 39 I use 1M Harmonic Tech Magic One XLR. I also vaious power cords, such as, an Electraglide Fatman K2 on the 334 with a PS audio ultimate outlet.

The Sony is a good plyer for SACD, but on normal CD's is not as good as many other plyers. It may be limiting when you upgrade.