$3,000 to replace caps? Brutal.
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I always find it interesting the fault protection on expensive amplifiers, there is none apparently. So now you're presented with $6000 repair bill just to get back to square one, no improvement or spend more money on a new amp. If you're left with those choices I would buy a new amp every 5 years just to be safe it might actually save you some money in the long run.
The Levinson 336 is a 10k amp. The reason Levinson repair center charges 3000 dollars is brutal. This is how they make a huge profit. The 336 when the caps explode it will take out the 3 surge resistors on the slow start circuit. you can replace those wires very cheap. These surge resistors are there to protect the amp in case there's a short or capacitor fail. No other high end amps have this cap problem. The reason they used philips caps made in China. They used these caps on 331/332/333/334/335/336 and Levinson 33h. These caps need to be changed on these amps. You can replace these caps for 800 dollars on 336. These caps are very hard to find. I have purchased caps for all these amps from factory. Very expensive. Because no one uses this high voltage for filter supply.
The problem is..older amps use large single caps for plus and minus rail voltages. They take up a lot of space as well. Newer amps use many small caps in parallel to make up the large capacitance. The advantage besides size requirements is, small caps have less ESR (equivalent series resistance). This allows the smaller caps to rapidly deliver their current under transient conditions and recover quicker, which in turn makes the amp sound 'fast'. This is especially true in the bottom end i.e. slam.
With all due respect, I find your assessment surprising. Cornell dubilier 51000uF/160V replacemet cap for 336 ESR 6.9 mOhms. Using a 10000uf cap ESR 31 mOhms you need 5 caps. It will not fit in Levinson. ESR is lot lower on big caps also ripple current is three times higher. There is a reason Levinson used these Super caps it will give better bass also. Philips caps is the culprit. Replace the caps on Levinson 336 with Cornell dubilier caps or Tech cap 62000uF/125V. The Cornell Dubilier is the worlds best capacitor reason they uses a three stage process to create worlds lowest leakage current, longest shelf life. Also they are made in USA. They have no factory in CHINA. You can watch the youtube on google and see how caps are made. Also Nichicon capacitors are very good for power supply.
The Newer amps uses many small caps to reach large capacitance because it is lot less expensive than big caps. That is the reason.
You sound like an ad for CDE. Your assumption is that I was referring to a high quality capacitor. I wasn't referring to a super cap. Frankly the reason those caps are the price they are is because of the quality of the cap. Point is, many manufacturers are not going to be using caps like that much longer. They are too expensive and take up too much real estate and dictate the height of the product. Generally speaking, newer designs also use power supply caps at the output circuit board so they don't have to distribute voltage from the main filter caps through wires to the output transistors. This somewhat defeats the purpose of using a low ESR part especially if you're using 16-18 gauge wire in long runs, which I have seen. I'm not familiar with Levinson's circuit topology so I don't know what they are doing. Putting additional low ESR caps at the output circuit board is the best place to put them since you now have current delivery right at the point where it's needed the most, the high voltage plus and minus rails. These caps are also used as a 'by-pass' improving the characteristics of the main filter caps. I guess what I should have said was newer, less expensive, high quality, small value radial type caps can be just as good as expensive computer grade electrolytic's. When they are also located at the output transistor circuit board they enhance fast current delivery and improve bottom end performance. I stand corrected.
I have the caps for Levinson 336. Your best choice is to replace the caps on levinson 336 and save about over 2000 dollars. The Levinson 336 is one of the best sounding amp out there. You need total of eight caps for filter supply four caps at either 50000uF/125V OR 62000uF/125V and four 1900uF/250V caps regulator supply. When caps are replaced you will never have any problems.
If caps are exploding, there is potentially a design problem with the amp. Yes, age might be a factor, but I have electronics products built by Techtronics and HP that go back to the early 70's and their power supplies are not blowing up or caps shorting out.
Either the caps are not specified for a high enough voltage rating, or the actual voltage in use is exceeding the rating. I am amazed by some manufacturers who will specify for example, an 80 volt capacitor and run it at 80 volts. There is a surge rating for these parts but it is not to be relied on.
Have a tech measure the ACTUAL power supply voltage on the caps and compare it to the rating. Also consider any impact of increased temperature as this will also reduce rated voltages.
If you are going to replace them, buy upgraded or higher voltage rated parts or you may be looking at the same disaster again in the future. You may need to buy caps of lower capacitance to get a higher rated voltage, but to do so would improve reliability, at perhaps some expense in sound quality.
And if your are going to have Levinson replace them, I would insist they pay for it as this is not something that a properly designed product should be doing, barring anything you did as an owner such as shorting out the speaker leads.
I think it outrageous that a manufacturer should be taking advantage of customers by making them pay exhorbitant costs for their poor designs.