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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Mark Levinson 27.5 Amplifier (SS) by elektrafication

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REVIEW: Mark Levinson 27.5 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: 27.5
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $6,000
Description: 100 watt stereo
Manufacturer URL: Mark Levinson
Manufacturer URL: Mark Levinson

Review by elektrafication ( A ) on May 02, 2003 at 01:43:03
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I have always been skeptical of equipment reviews done in isolation, believing that the synergy or lack of in a system should be the defining criteria. I have had equipment that has received excellent reviews; sounded fine in the shop, when put into my system they did not perform as expected.

So it with that in mind that I start this review of the ML27.5. I am using it with a ML28 pre fronted by a Linn LP12, Aro, Armageddon and Lyra Clavis DC and Wilson Watts and Puppies 3/2 with XLO and Hovland cabling. The connection between the pre and power is balanced.

Prior to this amp combination I have been using a Conrad Johnson Premier 11a for the last 6 years with a Nagra PLP, which I have retained as an alternative or to swap around to give me options. I briefly owned a Pass X150 and had access to Chord 1200 and 600s. I bought the amplifier secondhand. I have owned the ML28 for a few months and have found it to be generally a satisfying alternative to the Nagra PLP. I believe the phono section of the 28 to be superior to that in the Nagra.

The first observation was how smooth everything suddenly became, when the 27.5 took the place of the 11a. All the grain had gone out of the music, and initially I did not find the sound that appealing. But allowing things to settle down and playing a wide variety of music I began to appreciate the benefits of this amplifier. The detail that this system can resolve at awesome. Tambourines being tapped off to the side of the speaker, which before were barely audible, are now fully fleshed out and believable. Acoustic guitars within rock mixes are clearly defined. Bass notes either from electric or acoustic instruments are palpable.

Timing on all types of music superb, the instruments all hang together in completely believable whole. This system gives you the trees and the wood, you can follow each instrument through the course of the track or just focus on the whole event and just sit back and enjoy. The system has now become very addictive, and I am aware that I am listening to more music and staying up later to fit more in.

Any down side? Well on high octane rock (ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin) the Chord had better control of the event in terms of presenting the dynamics, but on acoustic music it although extremely clear it lacked the 27.5s delicacy of shading. I liken the difference to male and female ballet dancers. The Chord was male, powerful, capable of highflying leaps and bounds and in control and capable of grace while the ML is feminine, having superb control but is also graceful, elegance and refinement. Both are artists who have differing strengths.

Product Weakness: weight, can be better on high dynamic rock
Product Strengths: timing, delicacy, feminine. excellent service back up.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Ml27.5
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): ML 28
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Lp12, Aro, Clavis DC; Micromega
Speakers: Wilson Watts and Puppies 3/2
Cables/Interconnects: Hovland, XLO, Nordost
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Acoustic, Jazz, World
Room Size (LxWxH): 14' x 14.5' x 10'
Room Comments/Treatments: Heavy carpet on walls. Speakers set up using the Decware formula
Time Period/Length of Audition: 6 months
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Mark Levinson 27.5 Amplifier (SS) - elektrafication 01:43:03 05/2/03 ( 3)