which amp to upgrade my Levinson 383/39/WattPuppy6


i have a Mark Levinson 383 integrated, 39 CD proc, Wilson Watt Puppy 6, Transparent cable setup. my room is not is a fair size (22'x16' w/14' ceilings), but minimal rugs and lots of windows without curtains. the sound in this room tends to be on the bright side with all of the windows and no sound treatments.

even with the Levinsons, the sound feels a bit forward, almost bright sometimes, and i'm not getting enough "weight" in the bass (i seem to lose a lot under 30hz). assuming i can't do much with the room, what is the best way to help improve the sound. especially in the bass area. if i add a multi-hundred watt stereo or even mono-block amp, will this improve?

i prefer solid state over tubes, and mostly listen to standard cd's, mostly jazz, classical, house/trance.

i've been considering upgrading my amp (using the pre-amp in either the 383 or even 39) to a Krell FPB series, Classe CA-M400, Parasound JC 1, or Pass Labs 350. am i on the right track or should i be considering something else?

thanks in advance!

I find the synergy with harmon products to be very important. You may want to jump up in power. An inexpensive way to "try" this is there are usually many Proceed HPA 2 on the gon that you could buy for less than 1.5k if it works you can keep it or sell it and buy the more expensive Levinson piece. I had levinson front end and pass amps and sold the amps and stuck the Proceed AMP5 in to run the Salons and it matched up better than the X600s. It was going to be a short term solution and ended up being a keeper. Just my two cents.
FWIW I found the 383 to be thin and grainy with a 'flat' quality to the imaging in two different systems. I think the Rowland Concentra easily bettered it which is just one example of a better solid state amp.
I'm not so sure the 383 has enough power for you. Maybe if you stepped up in a power, it might help?
I recently replaced my Levinson 331 with a McCormack DNA-500 to drive my Aerial 10Ts. The improvements wrought are substantial. You can finds many, many positive posts about the McCormack here, AudioCircle and AA.

I had the Levinson for quite a few years and really liked it a lot, but the DNA-500 took everything to the next level. For me, the biggest improvement was a major step toward recreating a live event. Far better dynamics, transient response and musicality. Definitely worth a listen!

great. thanks for the suggestion on the McCormack. i have certainly read good things about that amp as well.

I am in your shoes right now. I am using a Levinson 383 to drive my Egglestonworks Rosa loudspeakers. Like your Wilsons, the 383 just isn't enought to drive my Rosa's properly. It is definitely the weak link in my system.

The 383 cannot be run as a pre-amplifier so you will have to replace it with another integrated or make the full jump to separates. I am auditioning separates at home right now. I think I have decided on a Mark Levinson 320S pre-amplifier and the Halcro DM38 power amp. It is proving to be a wonderful combination to my ears and it has found new music in much of my old CD collection. It is clearly a major step up in price over the 383, but it is even a more dramatic upgrade in sound quality - night and day really.

Hope this helps!

RUN to the NuForce site and order the Ref9s. You will find exactly what you lack. You will also have 30 days if it isn't right.

I have WP7s in a room approximately your size. NuForces gave me weight and dynamics I didn't think I could get! Boy, are you in for a surprise!

And for god's sake, get a rug!

Bob Wood
You might also add a the BAT integrated to your list. It has a tube preamp stage with SS amp stage. I think this will give you the bottom end slam and weight you seem to desire.

The 6h30 tube version, the tubes should last 3-4 years, and when it's time to replace, it's plug and play. You'll really never know their are tubes inside...it's that maint free.

Good luck

I like the suggestions so far: Halcro, McCormack, BAT, Nuforce. All really great options.

I have Watt Puppies too and about the same room as you. I think the suggestion that the 383 isn't going to cut it is correct. It's got to go.

I was driving my puppies with a FPB200 200W Krell and the sound was decent. It doesn't take much power really to handle the puppies - they are pretty sensitive. Just use a good separate amp. All the ones above are great.

However, Pass Labs just released the new X-0.5 series which sound a lot like the XA series but faster and with more power. I took a chance and bought the new X-250.5 and it is the best amp I have heard to date. With the puppies it is perfection. Be careful though because the older non-.5 models do not sound anything like this. Get the new .5 models. They are from another world. At 250W the meter shows I'm only pulling about ~23% of the max power out of the X-250.5 even all loudest volume I can handle. So I've got plenty.

It you want to buy my old Krell I'd probably sell it at this point. It'll take care of the bass problem you have. But I wouldn't suggest it. The X-250.5 is really the bomb.
what a cool site. only here will you find not just one but 2 or 3 other guys with similar equipment. too fun. thanks everyone for the suggestions. i will try to audition them all (assuming the dealer will comply and carry. :>)
Oh my stars....If you went to a a Full Peanut Butter (FPB), you would really hear a difference in that system. Or any of the ML amps.