Vintage Levinson DACs

I was always fascinated by the Levinson reference digital components.

I had and enjoyed using a 31 transport for many years, but never stepped up for the 30.6 DAC.

Can anyone comment on how the old Levinson DACs might compare with the best DACs today?

Is there something magical about these DACs, or is it mainly the enclosures and red LEDs?
I have the #31 transport and use it with the #35 dac.One look at them and it screams quality.I absolutely love the sound and don't care to upgrade,others opinion may be different .I have heard some say that these older dac's are now outdated and easily outperformed by new cheaper knock offs.That doesn't intimidate me, I also have the Krell md-1/sbp64x and I believe if they were to design and make this level of quality in todays currency it would be in the upper $40000 range.
I would agree with George. I've got the ML 31.5/30.5 COMBO which makes magic with the new Synergistic T3 balanced digital cable. I've auditioned the new generation of DACS/TRANSPORTS or cd players and I'm not sure I hear a better sound. Different YES.Better...err...NO
Sorry Guys, it's just personnal taste, but I beg to disagree, I had the reference ML DAC and transport pieces in my system for over five years and they were terrific at that time. However, what digital front end I have now in my system is so much more musical/natural sounding then the Levinson pieces ever were. The best piece, in my opinion that ML ever built was the 31.5 transport, which is still a great piece, but just does not sound quite as good as the newer reference transports.
I am with Teajay. I had the 31.5transport & 30.5& 30.6. I loved then at the time. But was replaced easily a few years later. Today's DACs are much cleaner allowing more refinement. The ML will sound grainy and dark by today's standards.

I say all that still loving the ML. It was a work of art then & gave many hours of fine service. If you want looks maybe still get one.
I owned both pieces too. The quality of the fit and finish were beyond reproach. The 31.5 did have issues with the lid opening and closing. The sound quality was very good but to me, lacked rhythm and pace. But the major issue, is that Levinson equipment,under Harman's rule, are not well supported. They charge extreme amounts to repair the product and I question the ability of their service centers to provide a high level of service. So if you look at these factors: 1. digital has evolved and the Levinson equipment has stayed frozen in time, meaning it still sounds good, but not SOTA anymore, 2. Levinson/Harman discontinued both these items as soon as they enveloped Madrigal because they were to expensive to manufacture and support, and 3. Service is very expensive, questionable, and parts such as the laser assembly and transport itself are no longer manufactured by Phillips. My decision, even though I loved the look and feel and the sound quality, I sold the stuff before it became an expensive boat anchor.
Iv'e tried many new DACs but my Levinson #360S still makes them sound thin and digital like .
When I wrote my above post and made mention about the crowd that is all over the new cutting edge digital it was you in my mind,I have noticed from way back that you pop in every ML debate,and vote against.Well you are perhaps right,after all you are well respected and very knowledge in these matters,but please understand that some of us don't care to chase the latest and greatest.Really I wonder how long before your digital gets outperformed by the newer thingamagic.In my opinion the ML gear is classic ,pretty,top performer and build like no other,I will keep mine.I also have the Krell md-1 transport and a spare NOS cdm-3 mechanism.
i now have an Emm lab cdp - I finally advanced/upgraded mainly to listen to SACD's. the new player sounds very good, no complaints there. but i never had that "day versus night" experience when i got it. not so when i upgraded years ago to my ML-37/360S combo which sounded so smooth and was just a sheer pleasure to listen to. plus it had the HDCD decoding feature which i really enjoyed as well. that is why i still keep a ML-390S cdp around as a back-up.
Hi George,

I can honestly say that I have never bought a new piece of gear because it's the latest and greatest. I'm always curious about new stuff, but take all the hype with a grain of salt. I have had now for close to four years my AA Tube Hybrid Reference DAC and have found none of the new DACS to sound better, maybe different, to purchase a different DAC. Also I had the great fortune to score the reference MBL transport, to replace its smaller brother, which sonicly lead to an improvement that was quite noticable.

I think the ML pieces are "classics" and at the time were built to beautiful standards, however, they sonicly are not on the same level in their performance compared with the top reference level digital gear now.

I don't change gear very often but when I do it's only because I believe I'm getting more of the illusion of real music in my system, not because I need a new toy to play with.
Hi George,
I readily admit that when I owned Levinson Reference, I too disagreed with Teajay concerning the Levinson's sound. It did and still does sound excellent with the ability to pull the listener into the music. But after hearing a few other DACs, (I'm not the busy auditioner Teajay is!) I heard what he was talking about. I still miss my Levinson pieces, but was not about to get stuck with them.
I'm very happy with my 37/360s combo and see no reason to replace them anytime soon. Redbook CDs sound great, 24/96 sources are even better, and for simplicity I upsample flac (via software) to 24/96 from my Mac mini. Is there better out there sure... But at what cost?