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Thread: Change in System Line Up

  1. #1
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    Change in System Line Up

    One of the side effects of trying new gear is sometimes this happens. You all know I really love my Pass amp so when a friend, who just happens to also be a dealer, offered to let me try a Levinson 532h amp in my system I said alright, thinking I'll just show up another piece of gear. Plus I've heard this amp numerous times with good results but nothing that made me lust for one. This is another very interesting point and why it's important to listen in your own system, own music and room.

    The H series Levinson amps are a bit different from the typical Levinson in that they use banks of smaller capacitors opposed to the large can size, so the amp doesn't double down into 4 ohms but what the smaller capacitors do is give the amp an excellent transient response that provides an excitement or liveliness to the music. I'm sure there's more to it than than just the capacitor array. I mean the other Levinson, amps like Krell etc. have crunching transients but the 532h seems to make everything pop. It also does this along with providing the macro/micro dynamics, musicality and the emotion. The amps frequency response is balanced with strong bass and extending clean highs, very quite and transparent. I never expected to have anything in place of my Pass, except a newer Pass but this 532h got to someplace in my emotions, I was addicted to the sound.

    By comparison the X250 soundstage was some larger, more of a lush presentation. The X250 seemed to accentuate the mids where the 532h had more of a flat balance. It's difficult to compare detail as the two amps just seemed to have two different goals, the Pass offering more shading or colorations, not necessarily negative when I use colorations, where the 532h seemed almost stripped down but you got more emotion and finer detail was easier to hear. When I say "stripped down" that was the effect the lack of how the Pass sort of gave a lusher larger sound stage, the 532h had more focus and transparency. It's crazy, I don't remember very many components getting me as excited over it like the 532h. Obviously, when we switch gear there's some improvement or excitement that prompts the switch, and I did enjoy the past gear I've had, but the excitement the 532h puts into my system.... addicting, is the perfect description.

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    As I read what I wrote I don't want to give the impression moving to the 532h was just moving more to a solid state type sound, being analytical etc. To the contrary, and why the 532h is so difficult really to review. Sure, it sheds some of the warmth of the Pass but the 532h gives so much inflection, nuances with a speed and agility...... dare I say it's in a class of it's own. For me, I'd say it's a move closer to the excitement of a live performance.

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    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    There's always something new, eh?, and occasionally there's something better.

    The Levinson 532H got a very positive review in Stereophile back in 2011, (see here). What kind of buck is the Levinson 532H versus a newer model Pass Labs, say a pair of XA60.8 or XA100.8?

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    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    There was a prototype amp once that had many output transistors with a small storage capacitor for each one. It was reported to quickly respond to dynamics. I thought it would be interesting to hear. Not sure if it ever got past the prototype stage.

    Sounds like I would like the Levinson. Similar to how I would describe the Krell S-300i. The Krell has 4 capacitors per channel instead of one large per channel. I do like neutral over lush or bright.

    I will be interested in which you may choose for long term.
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    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    I was at Peabodys house today. I had no idea he had a new amp, but once he fired up the system, I could tell something was different. The speed...the tansparency....the transient kinda told me I was listening to a new amp. Then Peabody opened his cabinet and I saw the Levinson. Its different from the Pass all the way around. Two different sounds. The Levinson is straight to the point....the Pass is lush big and round. Neither is better than the other. Just two different interpretations of the music....It all depends on what a person wants.

    Your system is still sounding nice, Peabody! Congrats on the new amp!
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    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    As I read what I wrote I don't want to give the impression moving to the 532h was just moving more to a solid state type sound, being analytical etc. To the contrary, and why the 532h is so difficult really to review. Sure, it sheds some of the warmth of the Pass but the 532h gives so much inflection, nuances with a speed and agility...... dare I say it's in a class of it's own. For me, I'd say it's a move closer to the excitement of a live performance.
    Mr P, how would you say the Mark Levinson compares with the Merrill Veritas you were auditioning recently?

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    So I guess all of us that went with Pass are going to have to upgrade to Mark Levinson since Mr. P and Harley started the Pass trend among us
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  8. #8
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    So I guess all of us that went with Pass are going to have to upgrade to Mark Levinson since Mr. P and Harley started the Pass trend among us
    Ha! so I was thinking that too. It sounds to me that I might like (or tolerate) the Mark Levinson because it is more "neutral" than the Pass; you might not given you prefer a slightly warmer sound.

    Actually I'm very happy with my Pass X150.5 and given the inevitable cost of a switch, there's basically no way I'd consider it

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Ha! so I was thinking that too. It sounds to me that I might like (or tolerate) the Mark Levinson because it is more "neutral" than the Pass; you might not given you prefer a slightly warmer sound.

    Actually I'm very happy with my Pass X150.5 and given the inevitable cost of a switch, there's basically no way I'd consider it
    I'm with you also on this one, as the cost factor is something to consider now that I'm retired. I'm with Larry in that I prefer a warmer sound too. So that is two major factors that would keep me in the Pass camp. I'm still pulling out music that I haven't listened to since I got my amp and am continually amazed. Yesterday I pulled out my vinyl copy of Strawbs "Bursting At The Seams" and the tonality of Dave Cousins voice never sounded better.
    2 Channel System
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I want to upgrade to an X250.5 from my X250. The 0.5 series is supposed to be warmer with more detail and a tube like sound. I will probably pull the trigger in 1-2 years when the used price comes down a little. I saw a used amp for $3900 a few weeks ago on Audiogon. I am also considering upgrading to a CJ preamp or a BAT VK-32se or Vk-52se.

    I was surprised when Mr P told me that he was considering upgrading to the ML. But it sounds like a nice upgrade.

    Congrats Mr. P.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Mr P, how would you say the Mark Levinson compares with the Merrill Veritas you were auditioning recently?
    Boy, that's a tough one to put into words but I'll try, they have similarities like speed and detail yet different, it's the difference I'm struggling with. Here it is, if this makes sense, the 532h is able to convey the emotion in the recording were I didn't get that with the Veritas, so as good as they were I just didn't connect. The Veritas were very linear sounding, the 532h I suspect not so much but if it's not, any nonlinearity is enjoyable. For sure the Veritas has more control in the bottom end, not that the 532h is blooming, it has more energy in that region and some richer. I also had a friend's Studio 2's while listening to the Veritas and now back to my F52's. I did hear the 532h with the Studios for a few songs but I wish I had more time with them.

    Like Frenchmon was saying, the 532h & Pass are both good amps, the Veritas as well, it's just a matter of which sound we connect with. I really did not expect to like the 532h like I do.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I am really surprised that you changed from Pass Mr. P but hey things happen and sometimes they are unexpected. What makes me wonder is that ML and Revel are both Harmon companies so that makes me kind of think that these products being in the same family of companies might have a good synergy. I know that people mix and match all the time as I have but it is just a thought.

    I am very happy with my .5 Pass and I don't think I will change for quite some time. I have many other things like upgrading speakers before ever thinking of a amp change. that is funny to think that Mr. P and I really did start the Pass push on AR! Kind of feel good about that one.

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  13. #13
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harley .guy07 View Post
    I am really surprised that you changed from Pass Mr. P but hey things happen and sometimes they are unexpected. What makes me wonder is that ML and Revel are both Harmon companies so that makes me kind of think that these products being in the same family of companies might have a good synergy. I know that people mix and match all the time as I have but it is just a thought.

    I am very happy with my .5 Pass and I don't think I will change for quite some time. I have many other things like upgrading speakers before ever thinking of a amp change. that is funny to think that Mr. P and I really did start the Pass push on AR! Kind of feel good about that one.
    You guys should feel good as you have nothing but happy customers thanks to you two.
    2 Channel System
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    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
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    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
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