Who heard the Mark levinson 53 monos?

Who has heard the big levinson (class D monos) and how do they sound compared to the other great contenders , Levinson stands for absolute high end for me ,although it seems not be in the picture on the web a lot .
Levinson was my atraction into high end , the set up of 390 s , ml 32 , 432 and avalon eidolon was an eyeopener of high end sound to me , a warm /dark seductive sound i dont know if i am happier with the krells actually ,i moved appartments during the amp change so comparing is hard , i might buy back some 436 monos some day.
you would think SOMEONE- even audio dealers- would come forward and give their impressions of these amplifiers by now- they've been out for over two years already.
the guy on hometheater (the only review on the net) can have his billy joel records (which should sound good on a 20 year old pioneer receiver)- can't people who are familiar with flagship amps from rowland/levinson/pass/etc.
spare a few sentences about the new amplifiers? please and thank you.
I have not heard the 53 monos but I did get to hear the earlier version. Best solid state monoblocks I have ever heard. I have since largely made the transition to tubes, but if I were going to do SS again, the amp that would tempt me the most is the current top of the line Musical Fidelity (Pure) Class A at 50 watts a side. Awesome amplifier!

Now that I have put a tiny crack in the proverbial ice to this thread, maybe someone else with more relevant knowledge and comments will chime in.

Good luck!
ok, i will write a "review" based on everything i have read, and the fact that i own levinson 33H amplifiers. the new amps are very fast- they respond quickly to the attack of notes no matter how loud and complex the sound might be. they have seemingly limitless power reserves, so your ears will give out before the amplifiers will. i am sure that levinson made sure that the 500W rating is extremely conservative as their amplifiers have ALWAYS been found to be when tested. they should at least match halcro et.al. in their distortion measurements.
they will never get hot.
as for the Great Unknown, that is their ability to express the subtlest nuances in the music and bring out details you've never heard before in material you thought you were familiar with, i expect they will do this with
considerable success, although whether or not they are totally "relaxed" and non-artificial sounding will be something only the most experienced listeners might be able to determine. can they carry a tune like Lamm 1.2's while getting out of the way to the degree that Soulution amplifiers are supposed to do? THAT would indeed be a welcome result after having spent $50K and "keeping the faith" as it were with that welcoming name and logo on the front. i want to be able to say that they are truly musical instruments in every sense of the word. i also would want to know that every pair that leaves the factory gets rigorously tested for a considerable period of time, both listened to and exposed to a sizable load to double check that they meet specs and sound as good as the prototypes. FINALLY, there should be no doubt in the customer's mind that, other than More Watts or external Cosmetics per se, that nothing coming out of europe, australia, or elsewhere, has been better made or better sounding- and that would include tube amplifiers (assuming the listener prefers solid-state overall to begin with).
so would someone like to add something to this admittedly limited synopsis?
wouldn't that fulfill the purpose of having the audiogon forums- instead of simply starting another argument where no one learns anything new, perhaps expanding the knowledge of the readers- most of whom can't shlep to audio shows or fly to new york or "the factory" to get an audition? after all, didn't we "seal our own fate" by letting the internet take the place of local dealerships where we use to be able to audition new gear? so NOW it's time IMHO to share as much constructive information as we can with one another. thanks again...
I see it much the same way, what about one of the big magazines ?
There is a dealer in germany who has them on permanent display and i heard of one in singapore , maybe i ll check it out on a holiday/stopover
A perfect argument as to why we should find reputable, reliable dealers and not only frequent them for their advice, but to purchase from the dealer. I am not a dealer. However, If my favorite Dealer, Stereo Design in San Diego, CA carries equipment that I am looking for, I will negotiate the price with that dealer (everything is negotiable to a point), and purchase from him. They will let me take equipment home for a week and audition. They require a credit card and will not charge the card if you return the item.

The dealers that won't give me the time of day (rare these days) I don't deal with. But, when people use the dealers to listen to equipment only and purchase on-line, then when dealers go out-of-business, the looky loo should not be suprised when they can't find a dealer.

remember, everything is negotiable.

The reality is that products made by Harmon ((Levinson, Revel, and others) enjoy so little support from Harmon that many former dealers and custys will never invest their money in these products again . Under Madrigal the products were exceptional and a joy to own. Under Harmon's management service is an abomination and endless money pit, the products and parts are back ordered for months with dealers reducing product that fails out of the box. Not to mention the fact that their new CD player has been discovered to be little other than a modified Oppo in a very expensive box add to this the fact that many failed after a few hours and a new disaster resulted, Levison amps and preamps are now part of the Crown division (are they Crown in disguise?). I used to own a Levinson Reference system but because of Harmon's gross mismanagement dumped it all for other brands. I won't even consider investing in Levinson/Revel again unless Harmon sells the franchises to new investors. What a shame! I believe the above to be the reasons for the lack of interest in Levinson's new products.
Hi SGR, would you please tell me what (R)eference amplifiers YOU would buy (cost being a consideration but sound being the most important) ? they would have to be as close to "keepers" as you could get, regardless of the introduction of new technologies down the road.
the levinson 53's do have a number of innovations that MAY have considerable impact on the sound quality that other manufacturers lack. SO
barring their failure to work properly for the 1st 10 or so years, i again would ask someone to step forward and evaluate what they heard when playing well-recorded music. i am presently using a ML-326S preamp and ML-33H amplifiers and i am VERY PLEASED with the sound. in the past i had the 37 TRANSPORT/360S DAC and (again) was extremely happy with the sound (not forgetting the outstanding performance with HDCD recordings as well).
so for me it is hard to dismiss a line of components that have done about as good a job of getting you closer to real music as anything else out there regardless of price or country of manufacture. but rather than conjecturing that levinson amplifiers are now "crown in disguise" (the pictures of the internal components on their web site sure look similar to the #33's), i still need feedback from reviewers with excellent qualifications to write about what THEY heard.
there are of course some serious issues in getting a levinson component repaired- not the least of which is the COST. also (for example) repairing the venerable 31.5 transport may not be possible due to some of the parts that are no longer available (and this may apply to other components as well).
but whether or not you can boycott any and all products and services that harman int'l offers only compounds the problems they already have.
P.S.- and WHAT IF the ML53 AMPLIFIERS can send some serious chills down your spine, even after having heard some of the best amplifiers out there?
curious minds just want to know...
French Fries,
I did hear the 53 monoblocks briefly this summer in the Harmon traveling trailer that demos Levinson, Revel, and JBL. The sound was good, but voiced to impress. The technology used inside the trailer and the ability to move it all around across the country was SOTA I'm sure. It sure looked slick.

I'm certainly not going to knock the sound of the 33h. It is a great amplifier I and many others agree. A Madrigal design. I would hope that the 53 is incredibly better for the price. I've never said I didn't like the sound of the Levinson equipment made by Madrigal, (sorry I can't speak for equipment designed by Mark Levinson himself, I've never heard any). I invested thousands at the time and probably would again if the franchieses were renewed and supported again, like some other companies that have been revived, Marantz and McIntosh come to mind. I think the build quality and engineering were second to none in the industry under Madrigal. As for sound quality, my investments in Madrigal equipment(31.5 transport, 30.6 DAC, 360s DAC, #39 CD Player, #380 Preamp, #32 Preamp, #336 amplifier, two pair of #436 amplifiers, Revel Salons, and Revel Sub30 Subwoofers) make me a more than casual fan.

But the wait of over six months for a Salon midrange, a Salon returned from service with what appeared like and smelled like dog urine on the grill, my amps held captive for almost 9 months while Harmon employees were first locating my equipment, then "fixing" it, having the same amps shipped back and forth across the country multiple times only to be dead in the box on arrival, and then factor in the exorbinant amounts of money charged to repair the Levinson electronics if out of warranty by the only three (now only 2 service centers I believe) Levinson repair stations in the country is a road I will not take again. Let's not mention the termination of almost all the engineers and service techs employed by Madrigal who were working one day and unemployed the next.
Levinson has only been retructured and combined with other Harmon companies at least 3 times in the past since the demise of Madrigal. This was all caused because Harmon claims that Madrigal's companies were losing money. I'd sure like to see the balance sheets before Harmon raped Madrigal and were shipping fine products around the world compared to today's profit margin.

My advice, enjoy your 33hs and 326s preamp (both designed and voiced by Madrigal). They are both beautiful and excellent sounding gear. Find someone who can repair the the equipment locally if possible. And remember you're at Harmon's mercy for support and parts.
The big problemo is there are almost NO dealers and the few that are left are mostly home theater or custom system integrators (what ever the heck that is). Harman is to caught up in the ultra high end home theater market. It's too bad the really ended Madrical Labs, and now ML it is just a name like all the other Harman brands.
thanks to everyone for their responses (especially SGR). i wonder how their RECENT repair record has been for levinson customers. if this situation has not improved, then (unfortunately) i would no longer be inclined to finance a pair of $50K amplifiers. however i am quite sure Harmon has received alot of unfavorable feedback in the last few years, SO they MUST be aware that they aren't going to sell much of anything if the situation doesn't improve.
i ALSO had to repair a #37 transport (it made a scratching noise when spinning discs and started to skip towards the end of discs as well)- it cost about $1000- this should have been more on the order of $500 IMO. i also had to repair one of the 33H amplifiers- $1800 plus shipping both ways plus... however the turnaround times were reasonable for both components. plus the tech in TEXAS spent several minutes on the phone with me describing what had failed in the amplifier (plus he did some preventative cap replacements).
after reading the audiogon forums for some time now i see alot of things out there that need adjustments, repairs, and replacements from some very
"holy grail" manufacturers either on arrival or 2-3 years thereafter. as much as i believe high-end gear should perform flawlessly for 10 years or more before the first sign of (even the slightest) trouble, the reality is that that may have applied more for pioneer receivers in the 80's than krell, rowland, or levinson NOW.
anyway, hopefully HARMAN is paying careful attention to customer concerns both now and into the future. I really REALLY do hope they do not destroy altogether the incredible reputation that these components have earned.
French Fries,
I believe the reasons above are why there are few dealers. They got so discouraged with not being able to get any new product and the service issues they found other lines to replace the Levinson/Revel products. A good friend of mine worked for the largest Levinson dealer in the country and they begged Harman to change their ways to no avail so they were forced to drop the line.
I'll always be a Levinson fan, just not a Harman fan.
Have fun!
have not heard anything newer the the 400 series amps but still consider myself a Levinson fan. guess i'd have to be a fan as a current owner =). fell in love with the 33's and 300 series way back when. 400's only reinforced the feelings. dark or whatever you'd like to call it, Levinson amps (400's on back) have always sounded fantastic imho.

then came the 300's cap issues, crazy repair bills and turn around times. horrible customer service all around, from almost everything i've read. it's a shame what "they" have done to the brand. as a happy owner, i still dread the day if/when my 432 needs work. so far it's been fantastic (please knock on some wood for me). but if i ever have to go through the hell others have described.....i'll be done with the brand too.

If you need service on Levinson products contact Alpha Tech on St. Louis, MO. (314) 645-5250
Mike can fix just about anything.
Happy listening,
I just noticed this thread and thought I would add some perspective. First, I empathize with those who have had "nightmare-like" experiences with various companies (i.e. Harman). I have had my share of nightmare-like experiences with a variety of different companies which include banks and financial institutions, automotive manufacturers, insurance companies, airlines, and yes...audio manufacturers. I have canceled policies, dropped product lines, and have taken my business elsewhere. In some cases it has led to the demise of the company or product, but in other cases it has led to people's butt's being kicked out the door and has led to the reorganization, restructuring, and the rebirth of a company and/or product line. I believe Harman has realized this and has already taken steps to take the Mark Levinson and Revel brands to the next level. I am personally very impressed by the new ML 500H series amps, but moreover, the new direction these brands are taking under the Harman umbrella. I would also feel some reassurance that they are under Harman. Just take a look at the marketshare and the awesome product offerings available under Harman on the pro audio side. Anyway...just some perspective.
All nice , but i am waiting for some listening experiences .
If i had 50K $ laying around i might buy em , I m not interested in repair bills (which might be a distr/dealer problem i dont know ), bad press , things what people say, no im just interested in shivverproducing soundreproduction and nothing else .
I finally herd the allusive 53 s in the Harman truck , ( called sound that stirs the soul ) . The bass in a converted tractor trailer was less than optimal , but in my personal opinion the 53, Salon combo was the best I have heard , bar none .But I dont think a 2 hour demo qualifyes me to make A purchasing decision of this magnitude . In the back half of the Harman event truck they had A JBL synthesis home theater system , oh my god , Im A strict 2 channel guy , but what I heard there totally blew me away . Any audiophile worth his salt must seek out the Harman event truck and give it a listen , its unforgetable . MAX
Thanks tmsorosk , I suppose getting the sound right in a truck will be a challenge , i just made a offer on a 5 year old ML 32(phono) / 33 H combo which i want to have also in my system one time sooner or later .
Yes...the 53's sound phenominal! In short...what you will gain from the entire new line up from Levinson (500H series amps on up to the 53's) will be superior performance on ALL accounts. More powerful, more efficient, much cooler, more reliable, etc. I have been a long time Audiogoner for years and have owned and listened to a lot of stuff from tubes to solid state. I also have a degree in music and am a sound engineer. There is no substitute for raw, clean power. Furthermore, heat is a killer in amps or with any electronics for that matter which leads to reliability issues. Lastly, the 53's are not Class D. If you want I can personally send you the white papers on these amps. In the meantime, if you have purchased the 33H's, good luck with them and enjoy. They are great amps, but the 53's are leaps and bounds ahead of them as well as the older, discontinued 33's.