Mark Levinson No. 36 DAC & High Resolution Files


Still have a Mark Levinson No. 36 DAC which is sounding very good in spite of its age - it actually sounds more analogue and warmer than the DACs of today.

I have been outputting FLAC's from a Squeezebox Duet to it via the BNC input on the 36 and it has been playing fine. Recently, I have been thinking of buying higher resolution files. The 36 only goes up to 24/48. Would higher resolution files work on it and how would they sound? I presume they would be downsampled to or only play at 24/48.

I own the No. 36 too as my old standy dac. I am 99.9% sure it will not resolve anything over 20 bit, 48kHz. Any higher resolution files will be truncated abrubtly and I would expect to not sound very good.

From the manual:
All digital filtering and processing maintains a true 24-bit throughput capability,
providing greater digital resolution than any existing source component. Even the
most stringent requirements of professionals can easily be met with this design.

In addition to true 20-bit capability (24 bits in the digital domain, filtered to the
20-bit resolution of the digital to analog conversion stages)...
Anything above 24/48 won't play... the DAC wont lock onto the signal, and you get nothing. I've been using my Levenson 360s feed from a Mac Mini, using one of the various "software players" out there to upsample to 24/96 (the dac's limit). Anything beyond that fails.

You should be able to use one of the sofeware palyers to to perform the downsampling... and still get to keep the 36. Not sure if the Sqeezebox software will do the same however.

Hello Mikey ... I don't want to side track your thread but I wanted to agree with and comment on your observation about the older Levinson DAC's being warmer and more analog like . I own the #360 and feel the same , I rarely use my Ayre C5MP direct into my preamp , the #360 adds some needed body and warmth to an all solid state system , and puts some meat on the bones .
I've tried some newer DAC's and find them some what sterile in comparison .

Regards Tim
Hi Tim

I was thinking of getting the Wyred 4 Sound DAC 2 otherwise. Was that one of the DAC's you tried?
Danger Will Robenson!

From what I've read the W44 dac2, while being a great player is going to be far more digital sounding than the Levinson. If you like the analog sound of the 36 keep it and spend your money elsewhere.

Tim, you should hear the 360 with tube amps... Pure bliss.

Is there any DAC capable of higher bit rates so I can play files of 24/96 and higher resolution you would recommend that has a similar analogue sound of the Mark Levinson?
You might look into PS Audios Perfect Wave DAC it will decode any high rez files, and I replaced my Levinson 30.6 DAC with it and never looked back.
Mikey .. I did not try the Wyred 4 sound . My #360 displays 24/96 when HDCD's are being played .
OK thanks. The 36 only goes up to 20/48. I guess the 360 is quite future proof given its vintage considering most Hi Res files are 24/96.

Which ones did you try?

I will try to audition the PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC.

I also read about the new Musical Fidelity M1 DAC. That is a lower end DAC but reviewers compare it favourably to the Weiss 202 DAC.
The three midfi DAC's i've tried in my home thanks to some club members were , Esoteric D-03 , Boulder 1012 and ARC DAC8 . All three were excellent in one way or another , After much listening , and wine we felt the ARC suited my system and me a bit better than the others but none had the natural warm and uncompressed ease of the older Levinson , I was surprised and entertained . I didn't say " like analog " did I ?
You may want to disregard my post , I'm fairly biased .
This is timely for me and any thoughts appreciated.

I have a 360 DAC . I was feeding it with a genesis digital lens fed by a crap sylvania cd/dvd and just bought a close-out integra 500$ cd/dvd for 200$ BUT --although the integra provides better detail and sound stage it is still a bit harsh sounding.

I'm going to try switching to computers with the halide bridge, because I don't feel like buying an expensive transport.

My question -- just to be clear because this is new to me -- if I input 24/96 files (where do I get them? from the internet I guess), then will the 360 dac automatically handle them or do I have to "do" something or set some setting.

All the DACs you mention are not mid fi to me - they sound pretty high end.

I'm quite surprised they didn't perform as warm as the ML 360 after all they are not DAC's people use for computer audio alone and would fit into any respectable full on hi fi rig.
05-20-11: Sgr
You might look into PS Audios Perfect Wave DAC it will decode any high rez files, and I replaced my Levinson 30.6 DAC with it and never looked back.

I replaced my No. 36 with The PS Audio Perfect wav dac and trans. I feel the same way as Sgr...
You also need to factor in the high cost of Levinson repair. Probably around $1200.00 will be charged to your card just for them to look at it and everything needs repaired at some point. You can put that repair $s into a newer piece of equipment. I did like the smooth analog sound of the Levinson and of course the build quality was second to none. But that has changed new Levinson digital is reportedly Oppo in disguise.
i wouldn't be to worried about spending large amounts of money to repair ML gear . I've had a half dozen of there components over the last ten or so years and only had one break down that was do to my own dofessness , my local ML dealer fixed the amp for $120. ML did out source repairs for a few years but went back to doing repairs them selves some time ago .
As far as new Levinson digital gear being Oppo in disguise , thats just more BS from people that believe anything they hear . Take the top off a ML #512 or any ML digital product and see if there is anything at all that resembles an Oppo . Many folks confuse Levinson with Lexicon junk because it is owned by the same corporation , if you look closely at the internals and study the spec's of the two you will see there is no resemblance .
Mark Levinson isn't what it used to be...Bring back Madrigal Labs !
Yes, Rockitman that's true. i've heard of the reputation for expensive repairs. The local agents out here charge rip off pricing.
Hello, I see this is an old thread, but before starting a new thread, I thought I'd try this... 

I just bought a Levinson 36 DAC and, being new to DAC, did't realize the ramifications of the advance in sampling. 

So my question is, how do I make thus DAC work with the files that are currently available like at hdtracks? 

I 'm thinking I'm good to go with my current cd library, but what about newer files I can download? Can they be down sampled without being trashed? 

Thanks in advance,