I've had a Levinson #532H for several years now, I love it as well.
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The Montis are a very heavy load, with low impedances and very high - phase angles, you need an amp that can deliver good current when asked without strain.
This means an amp that can keep near doubling it's wattage from 8ohms to 4ohms to 2ohms
One amp/s that I can think of that's not on your list is the mono block Parasound JC1's and they have the added benefit of a high bias class A switch on the back when your seriously listening. And you can switch it off when just using it for background music.
Interesting to read you heard a difference between the Levinson 500H series and the ATI 6000 series. I looked at their amplifier modules (both manufacutred by ATI) and they look 99% identical (different colour of circuit board and some tiny wiring differences) with the ATI ones having slightly more capacitance (18 vs 14 capacitors).
It is a shocking similarity:
ATI 6000 platine excluding heatsink
Mark LEvinson 531H module:
The 6000 series is also much newer then the 500H series which is a bit older now. I would not be surprised if ATI pretty much based their design on the Levinson 500H design.
That said the manufactures must "voice" their amplifieres differently if you hear a difference.
I HAVE OWNED BOTH. i don't care what the specs say. The mark levinson is voice VERY differently. They sound waaaaay better regardless of the volume level. i speak from my own personal experience and not from some lame magazine review that gets paid to say something good about a certai product. Most people here go by what others say, but i have owned both so i am speaking from first hand experience. The ati signature is VERY BRIGHT sounding and the guy who i sold it to also decided to sell it after owning it for only one month. He went to parasound because he couldn't tame the high frequencies in the ati. I don't care how you present it, the ati isn't the same. Mark levinson simply ROCKS with these new H series and they are extremely reliable.
Whitecam, when I was looking for an amp for my paradigm Signature S6 v2 speakers, I tried Emotiva which was way too bright. Talking to a co-worker, he recommended Mark Levinson with Martin logans. As I already had the $6000 speakers from Paradigm, I kept researching and ended up with Parasound. Your findings mirror mine with the Halo gear, a little warmer but without every last detail. This works perfect with Paradigm Sigs and I've been able to tune the system one way or the other with cables.
I own the martin logan montis and the mark levinson sounds BEAUTIFUL with the electrostatics. I don't even have a real processor yet the amplifiers sound amazing regardless of the volume level. I also think parasound halo is excellent with detail without being too forward. The ATI is forward sounding and will demand a warm sounding processor like the classe SSP. Marantz and ati DON'T GO well together. I prefer to have amplifiers that give me detail without causing fatigue after hours of listening. i love my levinsons and i had heard the entire bad rap sheet that levinson gets due to their high repair costs etc, but the H series is THE MOST RELIABLE amplifiers from mark levinson.
Don't listen to your local dealer trying to tell you the ATI is just a mark levinson, etc. IT IS NOT!. The design might be similar, but the levinsons have more detail and are smoother. i feel they are between pass labs and krell as far as detail. Not too bright and not too laid back.
Well I will demo myself. I can demo quite a couple of the amps you mentioned without needing to buy any of them so I can do an unbiased demo (owning one creates usually bias due to sunk cost). (other then being biased against expensive amps that provide no audible upside).
I arranged a demo of the ATI in the 7 channel config vs. Mark Levinson 532H vs the new Krell Duo (vs potentially Classe-CA2300).
For ultimate comparison I will compare all of those to my current Gryphon Antileon Signature (pure class A) stereo amp which cost 3x as much as any of these so there will be a proper comparison opportunity (i actually want one of those amps to sound better or equal to the gryphon...) ;-)
Demo will be with my Classe SSP800 as processor/dac and wilson benesch (Chimera) speakers which use a silk dome tweeter so both front and speakers are not on the bright/edgy side such as Marantz or beryllium tweeters.
yes, ATI builds for levinson because they had to go to a reliable manufacturer and not keep making the same mistakes of building unreliable units since that was clearly hurting them. I can tell you that these amps sound VERY DIFFERENT. I do find it funny how the vast majority think that because ati makes it, then both amps must sound the same. However, what people DON'T realize is that they are voiced VERY VERY differently. The ati is more forward as I stated above so maybe it would benefit from a laid back preamplifier. I would take the classe 5200 or 5300 ANY DAY over the ati. Why? I am not a fan of bright or forward sounding amps. The most I can handle are the high frequencies from Krell. That is as far as I want to go. The BEST multichannel amp I have heard is the classe HANDS DOWN. However, a 3ch levinson along with a 2 channel would beat a classe 5200 or 5300. I have done this comparison.
kaifupdaddy, did you ever get a chance to do the demo of all the amps you wanted to do? Cant wait to read your review!!! So far I have owned ATI At6003 amp and find whitecamaross review of that amp spot on, thank you whitecamaross!!! Sold ATI now thinking whether pass labs 250.8 or mark levinson 532h....any input whitecamaross?
i sold my 532h last month and owned the 350.5 soon after that. I loved the 350.5 so much that I went for a 250.8 which is what I currently own as of 3 weeks ago.
Spectacular sounding amplifier. Far superior to any amp I’ve owned. I can give you more of my opinion if you want. Message me directly.
i have been away from this thread for over a year. During this time, i have been through quite a few amps and speakers (Salon 2s,GoldenEar Triton 1s, Dynaudio C4s, B&W 803 D2s, B&W 800 Nautilus) i now own the Martin Logan Renaissance speakers which totally destroy my former Dynaudio C4s and totally squash the Salon 2s. So far, these are the amps that i can remember off the top of my head:
That said, my future purchase (when i can find a steal of a deal) will be the Pass labs 350.8. I am tempted to make a preliminary statement which is that i feel this amp could be THE BEST stereo amp under 30k dollars. Again, i will be able to say more and confirm once i own it. I hope this update can help you all in your buying decisions!
I've started a new thread for those of you who want to follow me and my experience with amplifiers.