Opinions On Mark Levinson No. 36 DAC Repair


I have a Mark Levinson No. 36 DAC that has served me well for quite a number of years. It has recently given up the ghost and the local Mark Levinson dealer wants to charge about $700 to have it repaired which I thought exorbitant considering it doesn't have much of a resale value. I run it with a Micromega Solo CD Player which I use as a transport. Am I better junking the DAC and using the $700 towards a new DAC? With current digital, is the sound of the Mark Levinson No. 36 pretty much obsolete now and can less $ buy better sound?

Thanks for your views.


Levinson left me "orphaned" with am $8k Model 35 DAC. They wouldn't upgrade it (although that was one of the promises made to sell it to me in the first place), because they discontinued the piece and service was horrific and expensive.

It was a bad time for Levinson and I hear they may be better now, but I've never done business with them again and got rid of two other pieces of Levinson at the same time, b/c of their repair policies and costs.

I'd go with more up to date technology, anyway.
I had my 36 repaired by Levinson repair guys at Harmon. You *will* pay within about $50 of the "it won't cost anymore than $XXX.XX no matter what's wrong with it" price. Mine turned out to just have a few bad electrolytic caps due to age in one analoge section, but they did replace a number of like caps throughout the entire unit. The repair cost was over $700.00, and it will cost you even more if you don't return it in the correct Levinson box, because you will get it back in the correct Levinson box. If I had to do it again, I would seriously consider using a capable third-party repair shop for about half the price of what I paid.
It is a shame that ML (Harmon)no longer services their equipment at the factor. They have (3) authorized repair centers around the USA, Calif, Tx, NY.
I'm looking to have my ML 20.6's sent to HEAR (High end audio repair) or Musical Concepts to fix them.
If you like the ML sound get it fixed by a 3rd party.
Some people do not like the sound of ML equipment some do. There is always something better sounding out there.
When I called ML to get new shipping boxes for my 20.6's (after much delay) they sent me new boxes without charging me for the boxes or shipping.
If anyone has good luck with 3rd party repair shops for ML equipment please let me know.
Joe Nies
I have had non-warranty repair work done by Ben Jacoby at HEAR and this man is second to none....would not hesitate to ever have him work on any of my equipment. This guy knows his stuff...and is VERY honest about what he does.
Thank you Garebear for the input.
Joe Nies
I had a ML-36 combined with an AR-1 CD player ... simply loved the setup ... later took the ML out of the system ... the sound was a bit different, though not much, and I immediately wondered why I had spent almost $4k for a DAC that, in my opinion, didn't compete well with the AR inboard DAC ... nor with the Musical Fidelity DAC that I next purchased for a fourth of the price.

The ML is nice-looking and perhaps makes you feel like you've done the right thing by having it ... sell it and go in another direction ... that's the sport of this stuff.
Thanks for the feedback so far.

I am leaning towards the PS Audio DL III with perhaps a Cullen Level IV Mod.

Can you perhaps tell me how the PS Audio sound is compared to Mark Levinson?


Thanks for all the replies so far. Just some feedback as follows.

I borrowed and tested the stock PS Audio DL III in my setup. Very strange thing. The Micromega Solo could not read discs with its digital out to the PS Audio DL III. At the same time when I used a pair of RCA interconnects to go straight to the preamp, it could read the discs. I guess it could be a grounding incompatibility between the units although I did not have the problem with the Mark Levinson No. 36 DAC.

The dealer lent me a cheap NAD C521BEE player and I hooked it up to the PS Audio DL III and to my preamp to A/B with the Micromega Solo.

My initial thoughts were with the advance in both transport and digital technology, this setup would easily outperform the old Micromega Solo as a player and would perhaps give a sound quality close to if not better than the Micromega Solo/ ML No. 36 DAC combo.

My impressions - rather surprising - I preferred the Micromega Solo. The NAD/ PS DL III combo had more gain. All the sounds were there in the mix. The lateral soundstage was wide. However, I found the sound rounded although there was more body. I can see why some people liken it to vinyl - it gave me the impression of the sound from a lower end turntable like the Rega Planar 2 I used to use. There was no clear delineation of instruments - don't get me wrong - you can hear the different instruments but they did not present themselves as specific images with a distinct image I found on the Solo. They also didn't make music together - they were just there separately in a clump playing. The soundstage also lacked depth. The Solo had a more extended high end although grainy in parts with high frequency piano notes and vocals. However, the pace and interplay among the instruments made music vis-a-vis the NAD/PS DL III combo and I found myself forgetting the shortcomings. There was also greater delicacy in the overall sound and timbre of the music.

In all, I recall the sound from the Micromega Solo/ ML 36 combo being better than this. I used the same cabling in the NAD/ PS DL III as I used to in the Micromega Solo/ ML 36 combo, so if I assume the PS DL III to be at least equal if not better than the ML 36, then I guess the NAD might not be a good match or is a poor quality transport compared to the old Micromega Solo.

Just my 2 cents and back to the search.