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Mark Levinson Sound that Speaks for Itself

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  #1  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:27 AM
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Default Mark Levinson 432 Amplifier on the Way

Since purchasing my Vandersteen 5As, I've been contemplating a move away from my integrated amplifier.

This move has been complicated by the fact that my wife loves the look of the MA6600 and I'm also rather enamored with the integrated amplifier. Therefore, I made the decision to keep the MA6600 and move it to the living room (where my wife spends most of her down time) and out of my two-channel cave. This also means that I don't get the benefit of the sale of the MA6600. Sub $5k was the budget for this experiment.

While I've briefly considered tubes, tubes just seem incompatible with the way I currently use my system: I want quick warm-up and I don't want to feel guilty if I fall asleep listening to music.

Mark Levinson has intrigued me and I've decided to give a used Mark Levinson 432 a try. There are a few things I really like about this particular model.
- truly balanced design
- true 'dual mono' design (two massive transformers, one for each channel)
- more power (for more headroom)
- no input buffer
- no autoformer
- a standby mode which keeps the amplifier warm
- extensive protection features (I do not want to risk harming my beloved 5As)

A number of these things I like might not make the amplifier any better than the MA6600, but they do make it different and will be interesting to me on my audio journey.

I will first be trying the ML432 driven directly from the Wadia 121 DAC being used as the preamplifier. I've been interested in trying the Wadia's famous digital volume control, and this will give me an opportunity to try directly driving a beast of an amplifier.

Mike from Audio Classics told me that my ML432 has a very clean front panel, has been fully tested, and is currently benching beyond manufacturer spec.

Stereophile's measurements of the ML432's smaller brother, the 200wpc 431, exhibited textbook performance and some of the lowest distortion levels I've seen from sub $10k amplifiers in that publication.

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this next experiment on my audio journey. I'm also considering upgrading some of my cables in honor of the new arrival (should be late next week or early next). Wireworld XLR's and a new Wireworld PC are on my mind! Any other brands that I should be considering for good synergy between Wadia/Levinson?

Cheers

Some stock pics:





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Listening Room (2 Channel): Vandersteen 5A speakers, Simaudio Moon Neo 400M Mono Block Amplifiers, Esoteric D-07X DAC (preamp) via Apple Mac Mini (Roon), Furman IT-Reference 20i Power Cond., Wireworld.
Listening Room (HT Portion): Vandersteen VCC-5 Center, Vandersteen VSM Signature Surrounds, JL Audio CR1 Crossover, JL Audio f110 v2 Subwoofer, Marantz SR 5010 Receiver, Wireworld

Office: KEF R500 Speakers; rest of system temporarily deconstructed and TBD
Family Room: Monitor Audio Silver RX6 speakers, McIntosh MA6600 Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject RME 9.1 TT w/ Sumiko Blackbird MC Cart.

Last edited by kfr01; 09-08-2012 at 12:51 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:39 AM
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Karl... Congrad's, I have always had a soft spot for ML Gear. Looking forward to your impressions and pics.
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2012, 10:44 AM
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Karl
I agree with Ivan, when I purchased my first McIntosh piece it was a decision between ML gear and McIntosh. It is nice sounding gear.
Jim
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:45 AM
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Karl,

I am glad you did not sell the 6600!! It is my favorite Integrated amp. Please take pictures and post your impressions!
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:48 AM
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Karl...congrats on the ML amp. I hope it turns out to be a great match with the Wadia and the Vandies
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:52 AM
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Karl,

Congrats on the Mark Levinson amp! You'll be glad you kept the MA6600. Her beauty is everlasting!

I had every intention of purchasing a ML amp a few years ago, but my dealer offered me a deal on some Lexicon equipment that at the time was just too good to pass up. The Lexicon's are long gone, but I still have a soft spot for the ML look and sound. I hope you enjoy it! Keep us posted!

Terry
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:58 AM
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Josh and Terry: I don't expect that I will ever sell the McIntosh MA6600. It is a beautiful integrated amplifier with great sound and a classic user interface.
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Listening Room (2 Channel): Vandersteen 5A speakers, Simaudio Moon Neo 400M Mono Block Amplifiers, Esoteric D-07X DAC (preamp) via Apple Mac Mini (Roon), Furman IT-Reference 20i Power Cond., Wireworld.
Listening Room (HT Portion): Vandersteen VCC-5 Center, Vandersteen VSM Signature Surrounds, JL Audio CR1 Crossover, JL Audio f110 v2 Subwoofer, Marantz SR 5010 Receiver, Wireworld

Office: KEF R500 Speakers; rest of system temporarily deconstructed and TBD
Family Room: Monitor Audio Silver RX6 speakers, McIntosh MA6600 Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject RME 9.1 TT w/ Sumiko Blackbird MC Cart.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmalak View Post
Karl...congrats on the ML amp. I hope it turns out to be a great match with the Wadia and the Vandies
Cyril: I value your analytical point of view and almost PM'd you before making the decision on this. Do you predict it will be a good match?
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Karl

Listening Room (2 Channel): Vandersteen 5A speakers, Simaudio Moon Neo 400M Mono Block Amplifiers, Esoteric D-07X DAC (preamp) via Apple Mac Mini (Roon), Furman IT-Reference 20i Power Cond., Wireworld.
Listening Room (HT Portion): Vandersteen VCC-5 Center, Vandersteen VSM Signature Surrounds, JL Audio CR1 Crossover, JL Audio f110 v2 Subwoofer, Marantz SR 5010 Receiver, Wireworld

Office: KEF R500 Speakers; rest of system temporarily deconstructed and TBD
Family Room: Monitor Audio Silver RX6 speakers, McIntosh MA6600 Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject RME 9.1 TT w/ Sumiko Blackbird MC Cart.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:08 PM
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Congrats Karl great choice, smooth clean power nice amp!

Sure going to wake up those speakers a bunch
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C500C C500T preamp and a MX150 control center, (3)McIntosh 601 mono block amps, (1)7270 McIntosh amp driving rears in 7.1 (1)Halo A23 amp for side surround, & (1)452 McIntosh amp for main towers part of a bi-amp setup with 601's, Esoteric K-03 JL F212 sub all glued together with mostly all WireWorld & Moon Audio Black Dragon cables.

Headphone Rig
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djwhog View Post
Congrats Karl great choice, smooth clean power nice amp!

Sure going to wake up those speakers a bunch
That's the plan! :-)
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Karl

Listening Room (2 Channel): Vandersteen 5A speakers, Simaudio Moon Neo 400M Mono Block Amplifiers, Esoteric D-07X DAC (preamp) via Apple Mac Mini (Roon), Furman IT-Reference 20i Power Cond., Wireworld.
Listening Room (HT Portion): Vandersteen VCC-5 Center, Vandersteen VSM Signature Surrounds, JL Audio CR1 Crossover, JL Audio f110 v2 Subwoofer, Marantz SR 5010 Receiver, Wireworld

Office: KEF R500 Speakers; rest of system temporarily deconstructed and TBD
Family Room: Monitor Audio Silver RX6 speakers, McIntosh MA6600 Integrated Amplifier, Pro-Ject RME 9.1 TT w/ Sumiko Blackbird MC Cart.
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