Whats up with the Japanese obsession with vintage Mark Levinson gear?

Levinson is a towering figure in hifi, and I’ll bet his namesake (pre Madrigal) gear was quite hard to get in Japan. It was already expensive to begin with and the JPY was worth 1/200th of a dollar. To me, it’s a similar feeling to finding some of the Japanese ultras for sale, the end of a quest.
Something I desired and can have now, whereas I couldn’t then.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I owned one of their pieces from when they were making the Madrigal transition, a gigantic 130lb 400wpc monster of an amplifier. The No, 432 amp. The build quality was superb and it really did sound nice, it was just overkill for my setup and a smaller, less poweful German amp ended up taking its place and being a better sonic fit. I tried an earlier No. 331 (?) amp that I didn't like, but I've also heard the older ML-2 class-A monoblocks and they were very nice.

It's nice gear and its incredibly well built, but honestly I think some of it is overkill, and paying for the cache of the name. As for the Japanese taking a liking to it, many people like what is foreign to them. Look at the Asian penchant for Western Electric gear, or pretty much any old American tube gear.
 

UncleBingo

Senior Member
How many Japanese guys does it take to lift one of those beasts? Seriously, I’m large and strong as hell (6’5 239) and could barely lift one of those stereo power amps (of course there’s nothing to hold onto and the heat sinks are sharp as all get out...). Stubbed my damn toe on it in the dark once, too.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I sold mine because I could barely lift it. You're right, there's no way to grab it. It was equally good at throwing out my back as it was at making sound. It weighed almost exactly as much as I do. I got it for a great price used, though and actually made money on it... its always nice being paid to listen to Levinson for 2 years... but in the end it was just kind of ridiculous. I don't really like showy audio gear, and there was no way to hide it.
 
The days of giant SS amps are long ways back in my rear view mirror.

But the pre-amps look interesting. Looks like top shelf ergonomics.

I haven't owned a SS pre-amp in a long time (or a remote control). Not sure about their sonic charms.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
I gotta say I heard a lot of Levinson gear back in the late 80s and early 90s and I always found it very sterile.
 

S0und Dragon

Junior Member
I loved my Krell amps sound. But the sheer weight and awkwardness of it was just too much in the end. Levinson is very much in that same realm for me. I love it but have no desire to own it anymore.
 

JimPA

Junior Member
I sold mine because I could barely lift it. You're right, there's no way to grab it. It was equally good at throwing out my back as it was at making sound. It weighed almost exactly as much as I do.
JohnVF you need to start lifting weights :).
I would be more than happy to give you some helpful advice from many years of experience.

The Japanese people kind of get into obsessions.
A few years back they got into the heavy duty Norwegian welted hiking boot market.
 

UncleBingo

Senior Member
JohnVF you need to start lifting weights :).
I would be more than happy to give you some helpful advice from many years of experience.

The Japanese people kind of get into obsessions.
A few years back they got into the heavy duty Norwegian welted hiking boot market.
I feel like the Levinson stuff weighs more than they admit in the specs. I had no problem carrying the the big Marantz monoblocks (ma-9s2?) up the stairs and they are supposedly 100lbs. I’ve also carried a couple of 50lb sand bags around home despot because there weren’t any carts. Pretty sure the Levinson has some gravity-doubling circuitry in there, if not some atmospheric compensation.
 

MikeT.

Senior Member
How many Japanese guys does it take to lift one of those beasts? Seriously, I’m large and strong as hell (6’5 239) and could barely lift one of those stereo power amps (of course there’s nothing to hold onto and the heat sinks are sharp as all get out...). Stubbed my damn toe on it in the dark once, too.
One Sumo wrestler
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I feel like the Levinson stuff weighs more than they admit in the specs. I had no problem carrying the the big Marantz monoblocks (ma-9s2?) up the stairs and they are supposedly 100lbs. I’ve also carried a couple of 50lb sand bags around home despot because there weren’t any carts. Pretty sure the Levinson has some gravity-doubling circuitry in there, if not some atmospheric compensation.
I finally got to the point with my Levinson 432 where I just decided that I just didn't have enough failings in life to need an amp that big to make up for them. Plus it kind of looked like a 1990s Gateway computer tower laying on its side.

It was my one foray into gigantic, show-off, high end. Sounded good, but no better than the much smaller and prettier amp that replaced it, that I was often able to hide behind the door of a credenza. If people aren't impressed by the sound your hi-fi makes, chances are they're not going to be impressed by how big it is.
 
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