Mark Levinson Opinon?

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Chippieboy

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I have a pair of Sequel II's mated with a Sunfire Cinema Grand Amp. This amp has failed me again. Twice now. I used a Bryston 3B for years and did like the sound but it's lacking a certain punch. I have an option to purchase a Mark Levinson #23 amp for around $1500.00 The owner/seller stated that it has been fully serviced. (as with all his equipment) It's a small shop selling vintage HiFi. The last time I sent my Sunfire to get serviced, it took a few months. I did not see a lot about the Levinson on this forum. Any comments?
 

Ronin

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I love the 585. I would suspect that the 5805 would do well too. As for vintage, it's kinda a crap shoot but even the older stuff (much like Mac) packs a punch. Now it's really just a Harmon amp but still well made. Music Direct sells B stock Levinson- same warranty if you can swing that.
 

twich54

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stating it has been 'serviced' is one thing, as a shop owner unless he can provide documentation and some kind of warranty his words are meaningless IMO ......
 

Russr

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Have you considered a Bryston 4B-ST or one of tee nwwer 4B-type models? Twice the power of the 3B, they seem to be a great (if understated) match. Used to be able to find them on eBay or Audiogon for ~$1,000 - $1,500.
 

DanR

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I’m not going to blow smoke up your skirt here and tell you I’m some kind of expert on Levinson or any vintage amp but I did buy a Vintage (same era as the Levinson 23) recently and I’m completely satisfied with it. Here’s some good info on the Levinson you’re looking at Mark Levinson No.23 Amplifier – Old School | TONEAudio MAGAZINE
Now this what I will say. Before I bought my Krell KSA-100 MKII I made sure to look for one that was completely gone thru and brought up to factory specs which generally means all new capacitors and any resistors in the high heat regions of the amp. The seller I bought from provided me with the invoice included in the pic here and also a copy of the receipt showing paid in full for the work done. So that is one thing i would make sure of before I dropped the coin for it. If it checks all the boxes I personally think it’s a serious bargain for a great amp compared to todays prices. Just my 2 cents worth😎
91745AE4-B4B3-4037-AD15-10BA46AA944F.jpeg
 

Northy

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Wholly smokes, that is some repair bill. Hopefully, the amp will provide you worry-free enjoyment for many years to come.
 

audioxcel

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I have a pair of Sequel II's mated with a Sunfire Cinema Grand Amp. This amp has failed me again. Twice now. I used a Bryston 3B for years and did like the sound but it's lacking a certain punch. I have an option to purchase a Mark Levinson #23 amp for around $1500.00 The owner/seller stated that it has been fully serviced. (as with all his equipment) It's a small shop selling vintage HiFi. The last time I sent my Sunfire to get serviced, it took a few months. I did not see a lot about the Levinson on this forum. Any comments?

I have a pair of Sequels that I bought new. I have changed the panels twice. I have used quite a few amps over the years, one of them was a ML 23.5. It sounded very good, particularly the bass which was very controlled and made every deep note clear. It was never fatiguing to listen to but after a while I began to miss something I had with my ARC CL-60. There was not the same sense of "life" with the ML. It sounded good but not vibrant like the smaller tube amp. Running KT-88s, the ARC gave the ML a run for its money in bass slam but not quite in deep bass definition, close but not quite.

Anyway, I sold the ML and went back to my CL-60 which I used until it died. I tried several other vintage ARC amps afterward before settling in a D-70 MKII which I really like.
 

DanR

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Wholly smokes, that is some repair bill. Hopefully, the amp will provide you worry-free enjoyment for many years to come.
It’s not so much a “repair bill” the amp was overhauled as any class A amp of that age should be. None of the equipment we use lasts for ever and if you want it to sound the way it was designed to sound these overhauls have to be performed every 20-25 years. The new Krell amp I was considering is priced at $12,000 US. The unit I bought was less than 1/3 of that and the sound is amazing.
 

Sunkenpirate

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I have a ML 5805 paired with a pair of esl 11a and it is a very nice match. Very clear sound, more pure than something like a McIntosh, IMO.

I do not see a problem buying vintage as ML equipment is very well constructed. Just be sure it is in good condition and well maintained.
 

twich54

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Aragon amps work well. I have the 8008 dual monoblock and it does great on my big Prodigy speakers.

Aragon 8008 Power Amplifier - The Absolute Sound

Maybe find one used if you are trying to keep the price down.

The new one looks like the same thing, but its price is insane now. It is $14,000 new.

Aragon - Titanium (aragonav.com)

Holly Molly, 14k, ridiculous !!

Having owned the original Mondial design years back I can't imagine this newest iteration to be better if at all. I know during the Klipsch years it was felt that they went backwards
 
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I owned the ML 23 at one time. I thought it sounded very good although it was not an easy amp to move about.

If I were buying one that has been worked on, I would want to know who worked on it and if they are truly competent when servicing ML gear. I would also want to know what they specifically did to the amp.

One of the best places to send ML gear for repair is Pyramid Audio in Texas. From their website, here's what they have to say about the 23/23.5:

No23 and No23.5 have amazing build quality. Most problems have nothing to do with a design weakness but are simply due to their age. For almost 30 years now they have cooked themselves to the point of failure. Service is difficult because the internal construction has no connectors. That’s right, everything is soldered in place. Not only that but the common problems are not so much capacitors but a fair number of resistors that have aged and have become noisy and there are a number of capacitors that need to be replaced. The good news is the very largest electrolytic capacitors almost never fail and that does keep the price down to some extent. However the repair takes in the neighborhood of 30 hours. The result is an amplifier with the original specifications and classic Mark Levinson sound. So the bill for overhauling the No23 or No23.5 typically runs about $3000, maybe a fifth of the replacement cost.

I would stay away from any 331/2/3 amps that haven't had their power supply caps replaced. The originals were very problematic and the repair is not cheap.

As with any vintage amp, I would look for "purpling" of the anodized metal of the heat sinks/case especially on one side/section of the amp. That means the amp was running hot. Let the amp play for 15-30 minutes and put your hand on the heat sinks...are they warm and symmetrically so? If not, some of the devices might be working harder than the others, which is not a good sign. You might call Pyramid and ask them what the temperature should be for a properly working 23.

If you do your due diligence, a properly working 23 for $1500 would be hard to beat.
 

Robert D

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Holly Molly, 14k, ridiculous !!

Having owned the original Mondial design years back I can't imagine this newest iteration to be better if at all. I know during the Klipsch years it was felt that they went backwards
The one I have I paid about $4500 for and feel that it was a fair price. That was just 7 years ago. I can't imagine that the design changed much at all since then.
 

DanR

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I owned the ML 23 at one time. I thought it sounded very good although it was not an easy amp to move about.

If I were buying one that has been worked on, I would want to know who worked on it and if they are truly competent when servicing ML gear. I would also want to know what they specifically did to the amp.

One of the best places to send ML gear for repair is Pyramid Audio in Texas. From their website, here's what they have to say about the 23/23.5:

No23 and No23.5 have amazing build quality. Most problems have nothing to do with a design weakness but are simply due to their age. For almost 30 years now they have cooked themselves to the point of failure. Service is difficult because the internal construction has no connectors. That’s right, everything is soldered in place. Not only that but the common problems are not so much capacitors but a fair number of resistors that have aged and have become noisy and there are a number of capacitors that need to be replaced. The good news is the very largest electrolytic capacitors almost never fail and that does keep the price down to some extent. However the repair takes in the neighborhood of 30 hours. The result is an amplifier with the original specifications and classic Mark Levinson sound. So the bill for overhauling the No23 or No23.5 typically runs about $3000, maybe a fifth of the replacement cost.

I would stay away from any 331/2/3 amps that haven't had their power supply caps replaced. The originals were very problematic and the repair is not cheap.

As with any vintage amp, I would look for "purpling" of the anodized metal of the heat sinks/case especially on one side/section of the amp. That means the amp was running hot. Let the amp play for 15-30 minutes and put your hand on the heat sinks...are they warm and symmetrically so? If not, some of the devices might be working harder than the others, which is not a good sign. You might call Pyramid and ask them what the temperature should be for a properly working 23.

If you do your due diligence, a properly working 23 for $1500 would be hard to beat.
Chippieboy, this advice Lurch490 gives here is excellent!!! Pyramid Audio is absolutely the place you want a vintage ML amp refurbed at, and the part about the resistors is right on the money!
This is exactly the thing I looked at when I bought my Krell. The work on mine was done by George Meyer Audio in Los Angeles they are to Krell what Pyramid is to ML, you’ll notice on my invoice they used some ML capacitors because the original Krell caps are not available anymore. I also talked with George Meyer about the overhaul now he did not remember doing the work on this specific amp but he assured me if he did the refurb it went out the door at factory specs. Here’s some pics of my amp and his work it’s like artwork just beautiful the same way the amp sounds. Not bad for a 37 year old amplifier I think.
 

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DanR - Very nice Krell!

Here's a Threshold S/500 that is the poster child for purpling of heatsinks. Stay very far away from this one.

2593301-6d47623c-threshold-s500-ampliifier-pristine.jpg

Some brands had problems with their anodizing over the years, but it shows up across the product line. Threshold and ML not so much, which tells me something is going on with this particular specimen.
 

DanR

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DanR - Very nice Krell!

Here's a Threshold S/500 that is the poster child for purpling of heatsinks. Stay very far away from this one.

View attachment 23007

Some brands had problems with their anodizing over the years, but it shows up across the product line. Threshold and ML not so much, which tells me something is going on with this particular specimen.
Wow I’ve never seen or heard of that before, that’s another thing I love about this sight, you can always learn something participating here. That’s refreshing in this day and age. It’s very interesting that the discoloration isn’t equal on both banks of heat sinks.
And thanks for the compliment on the amp, it amazes me that it’s 37 years old and there is not one single mark, scratch, or ding on it so I keep it covered when not in use as I do with the Odyssey panels
 

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Here's an ML 27.5 with a face- and top-plate issue. I wonder if the culprit here is the sun, since the purpling doesn't correspond with the hottest parts of the amp?

2979221-366d0f54-mark-levinson-275-dual-mono-power-amplifier (1).jpg
 

DanR

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Here's an ML 27.5 with a face- and top-plate issue. I wonder if the culprit here is the sun, since the purpling doesn't correspond with the hottest parts of the amp?

View attachment 23009
That’s just one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. I wonder if it could be from some kind of cleaning solvent that was used on it?
 

Robert D

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That’s just one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. I wonder if it could be from some kind of cleaning solvent that was used on it?
Kinda looks that way to me, since the discoloring isnt uniform across the top. Youd think it would all fade the same if it was the sun.
 
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