Is Mark Levinson still considered up there with the best of the best?

Since Mark Levinson sold his company the name still remains the same 40 years later. Obviously the man Mark Levinson is not who designs and builds Levinson anymore, but that being said, is Mark Levinson still considered among the best with the team that designs and builds current Levinson equipment? 


I'm not aware that Mark Levinson (the person) ever designed anything audio related (always thought of him in an owner/PR sense).




Tom Colangelo (RIP) designed the first generation of ML gear - ML1 preamp, ML2 mono amps and the ML3 amp. Mark Levinson just financed the company. 

The newest ML gear is certainly expensive enough to place it in the upper tiers of high-end gear. Can it compete with the likes of CH Precision, DartZheel and Soulution? These are six-figure components!

im with bdp24, john curl now of parasound was the chief designer of mark levinson. when he left things changed drastically.  when they were brought out by harmon kardin it has been a disaster.  they have had nothing but design and durability problems since and the sound has changed with it.    

Not had a chance to do very much auditioning, but I heard them with Magico 3 years ago while ago and was not moved the way I was for Luxman or D’Agostino or CAT which I heard about the same time.

Another brand I like a lot after a short audition is the Vandersteen amps. I don't mention them cause they are too rich for my blood, but since we're talking ML ...

My understanding is that Mark Levinson remains top tier. I haven’t heard it in a while. But it was never my cup of tea. But my impressions mirror @erik_squires. It has never moved me. Great specs and dynamics… just to clinical to me.


I had no534 for a few years. Sounded great until I tried a similar type amp that was much less expensive and easily sounded better. This was with Focal Scala evo speakers 

Doesn’t help that their products are so rarely reviewed.  You’d think if Harmon believed in the products and wanted to get them more exposure they’d reach into their deep pockets and do some advertising.  To many other stellar options out there for me to get interested in a relative unknown, especially at their price levels. 

I never considered ML to be top gear. There is far better. I remember their disastrous sounding first digital amp for a lot of $$$. Could take your ears off. I rushed out to hear it as I was very interested. One of the brightest and driest sounding amps I ever heard. Even the salesman admitted he didn’t like it. 

Mark Levinson is an American high-end audio equipment brand established in 1972 by eponymous founder Mark Levinson, and based in Stamford, Connecticut. It is owned by Harman International Industries, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics.

Harman markets its products under various brands, including AKG, AMX, Arcam, Bang & Olufsen Automotive, Becker, BSS Audio, Crown, dbx, DOD Electronics, DigiTech, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, Martin, Revel, Soundcraft and Studer.

Look at what's been happening with Revel recently.  Need I say more?

Well I have heard B&O and JBL branded cars and I much prefer the JBL sound, for whatever that is worth

Well... I only had ML in 2 Lexus 470's...I thought the system sound was excellent for car sound (better than Harmon/Burmester Benz and Porsche had) but nowhere near the Meridan System in the Rover...

Dear @hiendmmoe  : I owned and own several ML amplifiers and I can tell you that if you have the quality level r00m/system ML were top tier amps with nothing to envy today very expensive amps like Dartzeel.


I own a pair of monoblcks 20.6 ML and here in my room/system and with other audio friends listened sessions not only competes with Dartzeel or Pass and D'Angostino but outperformed in some areas. 


At least my samples ( 30+years design. ) are a true challenge to other today amps.


Btw, I like a lot your Utopia's. Btw, too your cartridge model is not Umani but Umami Red.

Looking to other gentleman posts in this thread I think that maybe their those times room/system just were not good enough for ML amps or your MUSIC/sound targets/priorities are extremely special.

I can't speak for today ML because I have not yet the opportunity to give an audition.

Btw, in 30+ years my amps never failed and been true pure Class A runs really hot and in my city the temperature is not cold and I have not air conditioned.

The 20.6 design is a bullet proof one.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


@twoleftears What’s going on with Revel?  I don’t really follow them but seems like some of their models are a bit long in the tooth (i.e. Salon, Studio).

John Curl designed a number of early Levinson products.

John also has some really interesting stories concerning that area of his audio design life....

it has never been considered even close to the best , very good within the under $15k group , in Audio $100 k for a amplifier is very. Possible and exceptional .

unless you have a $$Million + to spend the best is out of reach for most of us .

My Lexus has a Mark Levinson system as well. Much better than an after market system. But it is also very much in line with the sound I associate with ML. My 4Runer has a JBL system… completely different, not at all accurate… very exaggerated, brassy, but kind of fun to listen to. 

Noisy environments are very different than quiet environments. High end sound in noisy environments sounds really flat. 

They have new products out that are designed by a few top designers today.  The integrated amp (list price I think is $9500) is a really fantastic sounding unit.  One of the best SS units I have heard.  I believe that the people who designed this are working on other units. The integrated was musical, had dynamics, slam and nice separation of vocals and instruments.  If I was looking for a SS piece, it would be a top option for me.  I think the B class units are $5400.


Happy Listening.

Interesting that John Curl once designed ML amps as the latest ML amps made me think of parasound sound with that added warmth in the mid bass.

I have always liked the Mark Levinson 3 series amps the 331  332  333    335 and the 336. Once you get them recapped with good caps they preform great. I did not like the 4 series and have not heard enough of the newer 5 series to form a opinion 

Dear @68pete  : "" Once you get them recapped with good caps they preform great""


Rigth you are because I just made it that with the 20.6's and is a great quality improvement in its performance whole levels.




My former dealership made some of the solid oak stands for the Levinson HQD system:

MARK LEVINSON: The HQD system, stacked Quads, Hartley woofer – and zero  wife acceptance factor | Audiophile News & Music Review


We also made some huge cabs for the Hartley 24" woofers that some HQD customers used.

What I can say as facts:  Levinson company was a VERY SLOW PAY, which is why we only made a few for them.  We were small and could not extend credit for months and months.   Next, compared to Audio Research gear in those days, his stuff was SHRILL and lacked depth and transparency on Magnepan speakers, which were (and remain) the best speakers for accurate listening. (I know, you can "measure" them and they lack this and that and the other.  Best advice is to listen to them IN YOUR ROOM with quality hardware and MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND.)  Finally, we never sold much of his stuff because, as expensive as Audio Research was in those days (comparatively), his stuff was way more and sounded way less.  This is not to say the mil-spec parts and Curl designs were second rate, just that they did not SOUND good on revealing speakers, including his HQD speaker system.  But boy, those 24" Hartley's were the BOMB!

As for today, you have to listen for yourself IN YOUR ROOM and decide if it is for you.


I should have did my homework a little better before I started this thread. John Curl was the chief designer behind Mark Levinson products when they were in their infancy and Mark Levinson was the man who promoted the product under his name? 

ML is a bit of a shady character. When running Red Rose music he apparently re-badged a Chinese Dussen amp and sold it under the Red Rose Name for 7K. Also he's multi talented he and his former wife Kim Cattrall co-wrote a book on sex.

+1 @twoleftears

for the noobs and unaware, you might provide a synopsis of what has happened to revel owners and their speakers

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68pete and rauliruegas, which caps are recommended for ML class AB amps? I have a 532h that I like a lot and had been considering 8 new fuses for the DC rails. Who does this cap work and do they match the caps in anyway? I understand this amp uses a bank of smaller caps and it seems like matching might be a good idea. I loved the sound of the old 33H monos, but they were too pricey to me.

Question for all, what is the harmon response curve that I've seen mentioned re Levinsons? Is it a little fullness in the bass with a slight roll off in the treble?

Mark, unfortunately, has a checkered past. But one cannot deny that his accomplishments are substantial. And that he is legendary in the Audio world.

I spent 3 days several years ago at T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas helping him run the room for his current line, Daniel Hertz. That room had among the best sound I have ever heard at a show and best ever.

The bio above is an interesting read. For sure, Mark did not “design” much, if any, components of his companies. However, as the owner of any company, he was responsible for working with the best people and creating, promoting and disturbing. I listened to him “promote” for three days straight and his charm and knowledge was as impressive as his gear.

In the above bio, I was very impressed that Mark’s great uncle was Heinrich Hertz (so the company name). And that he started his career by designing the mixing board for Woodstock. And that, as a bass player, he has played with some of the top Jazz guys.

Is Mark Levinson gear still up there with the best? Not really his Harman products branded with his name. But I believe Daniel Hertz stuff is absolutely among the top Audio products available. While not cheap, way more affordable than the stratospheric stuff.


Don't get me wrong, he was involved in some great products, and no-one has mentioned Madrigal yet.

However he was involved with so many products he was like the Pierre Cardin of HIFI.

From my personal experience  any new amp will be challenged  to keep up with a well serviced pair of 33h mono blocks.