Mark Levinson 5805 underpowered?


Hi. I have a 5805 but have 3 issues. In simple terms:
the amplifier feels like it lacks power by comparison to other amplifiers. For instance the naim supernait 3 rated at 80w is noticeably more potent than the 5805 rated at 120w into 8 ohms. So I’m pushing it harder. The naim is at 9 on the clock to achieve 80db whereas the 5805 is in excess 50 on the 80 limit, say 2 on the clock. This was measured as an A/B comparison in the same room. The analogue moving magnet amplification is woefully low as is the headphone output although acknowledged that is class a. Does anyone know what is going on? Is there a setting that can be adjusted or is this just a poorly performing amp in terms of power, it sounds wonderful by the way.
johnb1964
I wonder if the preamp stage in the Naim has way more gain than the preamp stage in the Mark Levinson. That might account for the need to boost the volume to 2 o'clock to get the same volume that you had been getting at 9 o'clock on the Naim.
I think that’s entirely plausible but wonder if there is a solution. 
"....it sounds wonderful by the way..."

The position of the volume knob is meaningless. Differences in gain between amps and input selections is normal and nothing to worry about. 
Agreed until you’re reaching the limit and the perception is the amplifier is underachieving. Certainly the case on phono and headphone. An amplifier that is sold as having a superb headphone stage. 
You may have to adjust your volume and taper settings in the set up menu.
Repeat the following endlessly until it comes true: all watts are the same, all watts are the same, all watts are the same.....    

Some cases may call for more extreme measures. In this case repeat after me: "These go to 11.... These go to 11....."   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xgx4k83zzc   

Keep watching until it sinks in. 
Millercarbon, perhaps you can explain in non sarcastic layman terms then how the naim simply plays louder? Irrespective of the not so funny repeat after me. 
All an amplifier does is amplify the input signal by a fixed amount. We call this fixed amount gain, and since sound is logarithmic in nature and so are decibels we tend to measure gain in dB. Different amplifiers have different amounts of gain.

Another related but slightly different factor is input sensitivity. One amp might require 3v to reach full power, while another might need only 1v.

The term "amplifier" by the way, everything about it applies equally to power amps as preamps. A preamp is nothing more than a power amp with an attenuator.

The attenuator is what most people call the volume control. This can be a potentiometer (trim pot) which is nothing more than a variable resistor. Or it can be a stepped attenuator, nothing more than a whole bunch of different resistors. If your volume control clicks it could be a stepped attenuator. Unless it is a trim pot they thought would sell better if it clicked. We got those too. Point is this: all amps are nothing more than fixed linear multipliers of power, including even preamps.

*** What most people call turning the volume up is in reality turning the attenuation down. ***   

Then there is the issue of power output itself. This is the maximum power the amp can put out and is the one thing we have rigorously standardized. This standardization however takes the form of measuring sine waves at specified temperature and duration. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how the amp actually sounds.

Okay so now we have all the basic information to understand. The amp has only so much power. The number the attenuator points at is meaningless. One amp does not "work harder" than another simply because you turn the attenuation down less.

Got it?


I do like that you have a sense of humour and completely miss the questions in my initial thread but hey if you feel it necessary to give me a lesson in amplification then fine. Thanks millercarbon.