Gossiping about my House Guest ( Levinson 432)

S0und Dragon

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So some of you may know already that I am fostering @Ds2000's Mark Levinson 432 here at the Dragons Den. In an effort to not have his apartment collapse under the weight of freshly restored Ultra gear, killing his neighbors in the process and making the evening news. So, he has graciously allowed me to (home demo) store this Amplifier safely for a bit. I have been without a power amp for a few weeks now, while I go through the motions of a complete overhaul and restomod of my recently acquired Onkyo M-508. It is my hope to compare the two amps at some point. But for now, the Levinson is in the king-ding-a-ling seat. And make no bones about it, this amp is a worthy piece of audio Kit. So I will be deep diving into the Levinson here and post my thoughts. This amp is also on the market in the Marketplace so it may leave here before I can do the comparison? Or I may fall victim to its siren call and put it on the credit Card...…

Stay tuned for more.
 

JohnVF

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Lovely amp. I look forward to your comments on how it compares to your other amps.
 

JohnVF

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My main recollection of that amp was how much of a delicate sound it could convey for how heavy and powerful it was. It was very controlled. I even ran my Quad 63s Pros with it.
 

S0und Dragon

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@JohnVF I agree with you on the delicate way this amp handles the source material. Having gotten the amp fresh from the rebuild and final shake down. I got the privilege of experiencing some burn in and break in of the new caps and updates that this amp has received. This amp is pretty much updated to all but the final possible mods and all the added expense that it entails. Now while it does delicate naturally, dynamics and brute force are in the amps quiver as well. Anyway, back to listening.
 
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JohnVF

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I predict you're in for a treat. But the kind of treat that doesn't immediately woo you...it's just a really wonderful amp capable of being neutral and subtle but also being there when needed for oomph. It never upset my Quads, though they were pro-versions with serious protection circuits. They liked my Pass Aleph 30 a bit better but you're simply not supposed to run a 400wpc amp on Quads and on those particular well protected and rebuilt/robust ones, I ran them with this amp for a year... with a watchful eye on the voliume control but I still played them loudly within reason. They really liked it, came to life. I did accidentally short its outputs once while switching things around and it just went to sleep, a brief protection period, and then came right back on like nothing had happened. It's rated to 2-ohm if I remember correctly. And at a short it should just shut off to save itself from harm, as it did with me.
 

JohnVF

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I'm really fond of this amp so can't stop yapping about it. I've long considered it one of my biggest regrets in audio that in order to get my Harbeth SHL-5s, I had to trade in the Levinson 432. It was just a matter of finances, and I got back in trade more than I originally paid for it so it made sense. I always felt they'd have been a great match...they just like a lot of power. It wasn't an aesthetic match for my place, it didn't really fit anywhere, but I never faulted a thing about its sound.
 
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S0und Dragon

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I'm really fond of this amp so can't stop yapping about it. I've long considered it one of my biggest regrets in audio that in order to get my Harbeth SHL-5s, I had to trade in the Levinson 432. It was just a matter of finances, and I got back in trade more than I originally paid for it so it made sense. I always felt they'd have been a great match...they just like a lot of power. It wasn't an aesthetic match for my place, it didn't really fit anywhere, but I never faulted a thing about its sound.
Its funny you mention this. For I find myself wishing the Harbeth's were here to pair with this amp. I really have to agree with you that the synergy would be downright magical.
 
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JohnVF

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Its funny you mention this. For I find myself wishing the Harbeth's were here to pair with this amp. I really have to agree with you that the synergy would be downright magical.
Sometimes you just know two things are going to work and I know those speakers would love this amp. Every time I gave them more power they sounded better.
 

S0und Dragon

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So I have been spending some time with the Mark Levinson 432 for the last few weeks. I have in this time, grasped a good feel not only for the amp, but the system as a whole. At about 125Lbs., it is no light weight by any stretch of the imagination. The case work is solid and the unique heat sinks are really cool. This one is a little battle scared having had a rough shipping mishap in its life. As a matter of fact, it behooves you to check out @Ds2000 's AK thread on its resurrection. An absolute testament in his commitment to seeing a project through. One would never know how far it has been restored from what little markings remain on it. He likes to remind me that it is part of this amplifiers history now, and should remain to tell its tale. I admit that I would have probably covered it up if I were paying to do the restoration. I also have to admit that I would not have taken on this daunting task at repair/restoration. And lord knows, I have done my fair share of crazy restorations.

One of the first things I want to share about this fine amp is how damn neutral it is. It adds no real signature of its own. It gets signal and passes it along faithfully without any hindrance. So if the Music is bass filled, that is what you get and if its soft and delicate, ditto to that also. It is a refreshing experience and a true palate cleanser, It has an airiness about it. There is no hindrance to the music and it allows me to really get a feel for system changes. It also guarantees you will not struggle to pair it up with associated equipment for fear of a mismatch. Like an excellent session musician, It simply takes its place and plays along. And does it like a true professional with cool and grace. It makes this amp truly versatile and very much a sonic Chameleon. @JohnVF has shared this sentiment and I have to agree, this amp paired with a Pair of Harbeth would be sublime. Can you tell I like this amp yet?

Having it hooked up to the Onkyo Monitor 2000X however is a veritable sonic treat. The Monitors are also very true to the source and are very much a full range monitor with no discernable colorations added. So that truly allows just the music to come through. It also allows one to still enjoy poor recordings like classic rock without the fatigue of an overly audiophile music presentation. Not to say that it doesn't do Audiophile, it just doesn't sap out the musicality and emotion. Yet, the amp has gobs of power on tap. It is almost Krell like in that regard. But while it does not have the hammer of the gods bass slam of my former Krell KSA 250, it is a more balanced amp across the audible audio range. It still does not beat the top spot of amplifiers I have had here however. That crown remains firmly on the head of the Goldmund Mimesis 3. Which is, bar none, the best amp I have ever heard here. PERIOD! The 432 however shares that wide frequency that just opens up the soundstage before you if your speakers do holographic sound staging.

But, the ML 432 has one thing the Goldmund lacks. The ability to drive loads down to 2 Ohms. Rated at 400/8 and 800/4 with no official numbers for 2 ohm. But it has a robust secondary and should be quite a beast power-wise into 2 Ohms. Just not to an almost dead short, like my former trusty Krell. It manages to keep its delicate and neutral footing all along the way up the volume path without any change to the presentation. It does not distort at all. Which is very impressive to say the least. If I had to nit pick and find faults, it would be very minor and maybe even personal in nature. I was personally all but done with back breaking amps. Weight with the Levinson 432 is still substantial and it is not an easy amp to lug around. The Binding Posts are typical Levinson and do not take plugs. Which is what I mostly own with my speaker cables these days. The Monitor 2000X do not take spades on their binding posts. So that makes me just plain aggravated over all in using adapters. Again, a small world problem to have, but it is something to consider. Also, the power up/stand by/sleep sequence is not intuitive. Its dumb if you ask me, but the Goldmund also had an intricate power on sequence that would make me batty. But those are truly my only detractions and all in all, they are very minor.

The only question I have for myself now is? Will it be leaving? I really do like it very much. But I have a major amp resto-mod Onkyo M-508 project that will hopefully be done before the end of the year. An amp battle between the two is in the cards and highly anticipated (by me). I do not have an amp purchase slated for 2021 either in my audio planning. So I will have to do some serious mental Jiu-Jitsu in the next week or two in order to have it fall in 2020. I need to not grieve my weird self delusions about my annual audio spend. This amp is listed in the marketplace currently, so if you are inclined to both save me from eating Ramen for a few months and also slightly break my heart, reach out and scoop it up! For now at least, I will continue to fall deeper in love with this amp. At least it is the perfect amp for my SUT try outs that I will be documenting here on the haven!

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JohnVF

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You’re making me miss my old amp! And have captured one thing I particularly miss... it simply didn’t care what speakers it was driving. It always sounded good. And always let other things shine, not wanting to call attention to itself. The Luxman I’m currently using reminds me a bit of it.

That Goldmund must have been some amp.
 

S0und Dragon

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You’re making me miss my old amp! And have captured one thing I particularly miss... it simply didn’t care what speakers it was driving. It always sounded good. And always let other things shine, not wanting to call attention to itself. The Luxman I’m currently using reminds me a bit of it.

That Goldmund must have been some amp.
It is not as common a trait in audio as one would think. It is also not evident, until you experience it in your system. Luxman gets it and I agree with your assessment of the brand. There is so much value in the Luxman integrated amps these days that I do not hesitate to recommend them. On the used market, they should be on everyone's short list. As to the Goldmund mimesis 3? Yeah, it is that good and truly left a lasting impression on me.
 

JohnVF

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I used mine with several preamps. Mostly a Klyne SK-5 (or 6?), a Marantz Reference SC-11s1, a McCormack TLC-1 Deluxe passive and occasionally an old Fisher 400c tube preamp. Like the situation with the Harbeths, I felt the gear it wanted came to me after I got rid of it. Those preamps were all nice but none of them were on the same level. The Primare Pre-32 I had right after it would have been great ...it seemed to want to run off the balanced inputs and the Marantz was my only option for that. It introduced me to “oh, ok, cables make a difference, great”.

If given the chance to pick a system out of all the gear I owned, paying attention to only sound, I’d pair it with that Primare preamp. I also think, without anything but guessing, that it would love something like Prime Ministers Arsthetix Calypso tube preamp.

Tough decision you have! If I had a dedicated listening room I’d actually re-buy it. But I don’t and doubt I ever will. City life. I had this when I was single ...
 

S0und Dragon

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So as I prepare to shift into Analog comparison mode, I wanted to bring this to some sort of conclusion. I think that regardless of how my resto-modded Onkyo M-508 turns out, this amp has so much going for it. Plus, I do not have any other power amps in house at the moment. The fact that this amp is so transparent makes it a valuable tool for a gear aficionado such as myself and last but not least. I know that I will at some point pivot back into the higher end of audio. Having the amp already is a convenient to say the least. So I have decided that this amp is not going back to @Ds2000 after all. But I suspect that he already knew this was always going to be a one way trip....
 

JohnVF

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So as I prepare to shift into Analog comparison mode, I wanted to bring this to some sort of conclusion. I think that regardless of how my resto-modded Onkyo M-508 turns out, this amp has so much going for it. Plus, I do not have any other power amps in house at the moment. The fact that this amp is so transparent makes it a valuable tool for a gear aficionado such as myself and last but not least. I know that I will at some point pivot back into the higher end of audio. Having the amp already is a convenient to say the least. So I have decided that this amp is not going back to @Ds2000 after all. But I suspect that he already knew this was always going to be a one way trip....
Plus moving it again.... yikes.
I saw where this was going from the title. Congrats on an awesome amp.
 

S0und Dragon

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Plus moving it again.... yikes.
I saw where this was going from the title. Congrats on an awesome amp.

Actually, and honestly. I was not sure if the Levinson was going to stay or go. And not for lack of wanting to own it from the first listen. But it is not the path that I was planning on taking at all. In fact, if I am being completely honest. It is the exact opposite of the direction I was planning on taking. It was the major mental wrangling that I was going through. As I do not want to have gear sitting around fallow. So in order to make this purchase work for me, I had to promise myself that I would move on a few other items here and that I would complete the Onkyo Integra set up before chasing another path. That said, it is a true Gem of an Amp and I am truly pleased to be keeping it here.
 
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