Mark Levinson No. 23.5 Amplifiers

No. 23.5

200W Power Amp

User Reviews (15)

Showing 1-10 of 15  
Eli   AudioPhile [Oct 13, 2011]

This is probably one of the best Mark Levinson amplifier ever made, during the past 20 years many electronic components came into my house and left, the 23.5 remains. I have compared this to Proceed, Krell, Aragon, and many other high end makers. Nothing comes close, this is one of the most musical amplifiers made by Levinson, the 23.5 was designed and constructed when Levinson was under the ownership of Madrigal, shame they no longer operate. The 23.5 has tremendous power, it's never bright, you can listen to music all day without fatigue, the high frequencies are sweet and extended, the vocals are phenomenon, with good speakers you will hear the artist with clarity as though they were singing in your house in front of you. Bass is fast, powerful, authoritative and full, unlike Krell (KSA-200S) which colors the sound with exaggerated pumped up bass. The 23.5 is built to last with it's heavy solid construction. I compared the 23.5 to the smaller 27.5 another classic amplifier from Mark Levinson, they are almost identical with the 23.5 leading in the Bass when connected to larger demanding speakers, don't get me wrong, the 27.5 is an excellent amplifier, it's very hard to tell the difference. If you find a Levinson 23.5 in good condition on the used market, grab it.

Associated Equipment:

Mark Levinson 23.5
Mark Levinson 380S
Mark Levinson 360S
Mark Levinson 37
Dynaudio Confidence 3

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
santiago   AudioPhile [Mar 31, 2010]

OF ALL MARK LEVINSON AMPLIFIERS THAT I^VE HAD.THE ML 23.5 IS THE BEST IN ALL THE ASPECTS.
THE 300 SERIES AND 400 SERIES WAS A DECEPTION .FORGET ABOUT THIS LEVINSON SERIES
THE ML 23 AND ML 27 ARE ALSO VERY GOOD. THEY ARE VERY MUSICAL SMOTH AND BALANCED. THE ML 23.5 HAS EVERITHING.SPECTACULAR BASS CONTROL, INCREDIBLE MIDS AND PERFECT TREBLE.IT IS SUPER MUSICAL AND TRANSPARENT, POWER CONTROL SMOTHNESS EVERYTHING.ALSO I HAVE HAD KRELL AND CHORD AMP.THEY ARE INFERIOR.
THE ONLY AMPLIFIERS THAT CAN BEAT IT WITH A VERY SMALL DIFFERENCE AND PAYNG THOUSNDS OF DOLARDS ARE FM ACOUSTICS, CELLO, AND VIOLA.
IN SIMPLE WORLD I LOVE THIS AMP.IF YOU HAVE ANY LUCK DO NOT HESITATE TO GET BUY

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
clemmtec   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 10, 2009]

When a friend told me of ml 23.5 I did not think I was going to get what I was looking for in it
I was already looking at krell , when I got it home and unhooked my carver tfm350 and hook up the ml23
that sound is so clear and crips.
I will buy another one of these if I find one at a good price. I 'm looking into monoing . My speakers are 1600 watts
The sound of the ml is just too good.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
auro   AudioPhile [Oct 26, 2007]
Strength:

Everything.

Weakness:

None. But it gets very hot and the life of components reduces with temperature. I might guess that every 10 years it might require service for parts substitution (cooked resistors, leaking caps) and bias tuning... Beware of cheap audiogon deals. The all-you-can-fix-max-charge (815$) plus shipping (100-200$ depending where you live) can bump up the cost considerably. Do not get fooled by pretending original box, cord and manual (useless). Be smart, ask for pictures of the heat sinks in color. If they are turning red-ish or purple-ish stay away... The amp got cooked. (probably kept inside a cabinet)... If you own big maggies and do not want the headache of servicing the amp every many years, you can try the parasound JC1s... Big quality for the money and it sounds like the 23.5, practically.

Wonderful ! My ML27.5 can not keep up with my Magnepan 3.6R and lacks punch, speed and depth in the low spectrum. The 27.5 is a wonderful amp for small maggies (up to the 1.6QR), but it is a little weak for bigger panels.
The 23.5 I bought was just repaired (815$ all-you-can-fix-max-charge) so I have 90 days warranty from HSG and a new amp. A good deal. The 23.5, 27.5 and 20.6 are the best ML amplifiers ever made. Each one has a different style. Each one is perfect and different than the other. If you like tubes get the 20.6. If you like volume and sharpness get the 27.5 or 23.5 depending on the size of the room. If you drive big panels (apogee/magnepans) get the 23.5 or try the parasound JC1s...

Customer Service

Slow but good.

Similar Products Used: ML 20.6, ML 27, ML27.5, ML 23, ML23.5, ML 33, ML 334, Parasound JC1s, an infinite amount of Rotels (boring).
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dgob   Audio Enthusiast [May 09, 2006]
Strength:

Clarity; frequency extension, bass control and projection, dynamics, timbre, power, speed and naturalness.

Weakness:

NONE

I recently bought my ML 23.5 and had it imported to the UK from the USA. I have had a long history of seeking realism through a variety of tubes based amplifiers (including ownership of a Leak ST60, Audio Research VT100, Conrad Johnson Premier 8a, Atmasphere MA1 and Audio Research VT200 MKII. The recent move to solid state with the 23.5 has been a real revelation. I now know that tube designs have sonic limitations and colourations and this has demanded my re-educating my ears and expectations.

Put simply, the 23.5 is uncoloured, dynamic, pitch and timbre perfect and - therefore - brings you much closer to being there at a live performance. Despite the far more exotic nature and cost of the rest of my system, the 23.5 raises the quality of my system and listening experience. Given this and their unbelievably low retail price on the used market, this classic amp recommends itself.

Customer Service

Although this is no longer produced by the newer Levinson ownership, I managed to have my bias adjusted and a full tune-up by the Levinson engineer in England, UK (thanks Mark)

Similar Products Used: Plinius, Krell, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dgob   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 23, 2006]
Strength:

Clarity, frequency extension, bass control and projection, dynamics, timbre, power, speed and NATURALNESS

Weakness:

NONE

I recently bought this ML 23.5 and had it imported to the UK from the USA. I have had a long history of seeking realism from a power amplifier and this has included my owning the following tube/valve based amp's: Leak ST60; Audio Research VT100, Conrad Johnson Premier 8a and Audio Research VT200 MKII. The recent move to solid state with the ML 23.5 has been a revelation. I now know that there are severe limitations at both freqauency extremes with tube designs and have had to re-educate my ears and expectations.

Put simply, the ML 23.5 is uncoloured, dynamic, pitch perfect and - therefore - brings you as near to the recording as anything I have heard to date. The rest of my system is rather expensive but the ML 23.5's belie there cheap retail price and more than hold their own. Just fantastic performers at an unbelievable price. They recommend themselves.

Customer Service

I managed to have the voltage converted and the bias reset and generally tuned up by the local Levinson engineer in England (cheers Mark!).

Similar Products Used: Leak, Krell, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ricky_NY   AudioPhile [Apr 08, 2005]

The Mark 23.5 is one of the best amplifiers made and among the best I have ever heard. I include it in the lofty company of the Cello Duet 350, Amplifiers, Krell FPB 200 and the Jeff Rowland Model 8T. The 23.5 has all the power you'd need to light up everything from very efficient loudspeakers like my Wilsons or Sonus Fabers to more power-hungry designs from Martin Logan, B&W,Apogee Diva and Revel. The industrial design is excellent. The build quality is even better.Which comes with self-referencing voltage reference in the power supply regulator. On Stevie Wonder’s "Sir Duke" from ‘The Original Musicquarium Volume II’ (Motown), the opening horn riff is very possibly the best example of the Jeff Rowland Model 112’s two best attributes. On "Sir Duke," the horns simply jump forward into space, while retaining a warmth and musicality that is found on only a rare high-performance solid state amp. The Rowland shows its ability to handle more complex arrangements, as Stevie's voice is layered neatly over the horns, bass and drums. There is no amplifier that I am aware of that delivers such a combination of virtues at such a modest price. The Mark 20.6 & 23.5 line is, and has long been, a standard of genuine audio value in a high-priced, often inflated market. Is the 23.5 worth the investment? If you own serious loudspeakers and are looking for a world-class amplifier to power them without a hiccup, then the answer is "yes."

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
RonnyT   AudioPhile [Mar 10, 2005]
Strength:

Super details,Dynamic,Raw enough to sound like real.Excellent timbre shading,great constrast.

The evening that I plugged in my ML 23.5 I immediately starting hearing nuances in beloved old recordings that I had never heard before. The extra roll of a cymbal here and the slight vibration of vocal chords there. That was the obvious stuff, but what floored me was the fact that I could finally here the muscianship of performers coming through. Case in point was listening to the Police's "One World (Not Three)" and hearing the band start playing more intensely after the first chorus. Mind you, they didn't start playing faster, but with a greater passion and the entire band did so in unison. This is something that the 23.5 immediately brought to light. Pulling back the abstruse layers of a piece of music and hearing the raw humanity of a performance is what buying high end equipment is all about. Imaging: The ML 23.5 brought an extra dimension to my already impressive imaging. My B&W Nautilus 802s are renowned for their imaging and formerly I had awesome detailed imaging, but only in two dimensions. That is, I could place instruments in the sound stage perfectly left to right and top to bottom. But there was no front to back - until ML 23.5, that is. Now I hear beautiful detailed full three dimensional imagery. Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" was revelatory and you could place Mayfield easily in front of his drummer, instead of on top of the drummer. Power: In short, the ML 23.5 is very neutral and very powerful, consequently you hear music. Comparisons: I travelled around the country a bit and listened to many other amps before selecting the ML 23.5. Most folks that I talked to recommended Krell FPBs (which is more expensive by the way). The FPBs was the proverbial analytical amplifier. I was listening to "Let Down" by Radiohead wherein Thom Yorke (singer) is pouring is guts out for the listener and even my old Adcom revealed the raw emotion. But the Krell FPBs was absolutely lifeless & colored. I was hearing everything, but not feeling everything. Conclusion: With the ML 23.5 I am no longer thinking about my componentry and instead am obsessing about the soul of the musicians. Its like casting a spell and commanding history's best performers to play for you in your living room. I must commend my fellow reviewers on this site who mentioned that the ML 23.5 was the ideal mate for B&W Nautilus 802s as that is my speaker of choice and the match is flawless.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
carl11529   AudioPhile [Feb 06, 2004]
Strength:

delicate, yet solid and dynamic

Weakness:

none for this listener

In the long search for a soul mate for my Apogee Diva, I finally come across a pair of Mark Levinson 23.5’s. Bi-amped via DAX, the dedicated active crossover for Diva, they have the power to control the very tough bass panel, yet keep the delicate treble and full-blown mid. Projecting a huge and well-differentiated sound stage. The sound of 23.5 is solid, dynamic and balanced. If 23.5 can control Diva so well, I guess that there should be no problem whatsoever in driving any speaker in the current market. Moreover, I realized that most of the buzzing and rattling came from the distortion of underpowered amp(s), not Diva’s age. I can finally lie back in the sofa and enjoy the music, without thinking the next stage upgrade. The amps previously used were Jadis JA200, a very fine tube amp with four chases, regrettably did not have the juice to pump Diva. Next came a pair of Boulder 500ae, dutifully fulfilled their job but still not up to the ultimate demand of Diva. Then I tried a Jadis Defy 7 and a Krell KSA-150. A very good combination, plus these two seemed to have about the same gain. However, the KSA-150 I got was not perfect, and Defy 7 would run out of steam in demanding passages. So came in the ML 23.5. One more advantage of 23.5 is that they run a little bit warm, should last longer than class-A Krell’s. As for the preamp, I switch from a very refined Accuphase C-290 to Mark Levinson 26. My feeling is that 26 is not better than C-290. Then I switch to ML 26s. Bingo!! Much superior to 26 in every regard, and more dynamic and solid than C-290. This setting is going to stay for a long time. Cheers and enjoy the music.

Similar Products Used: Jadis JA 200, Defy 7, Krell KSA-150, Boulder 500ae.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Lee Compton   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 01, 2001]
Strength:

Clarity, Naturalness, Restrained Power

Weakness:

None

I bought the 23.5 used after several years of enjoying its predecessor, the 23, which I also continue to use.

I've used them both to drive Mirage M-3's and Martin Logan Sequel II's, with an AR SP9 MkII input and, more recently for the 23.5, a Proceed AVP. The 23.5 more easily handles the Sequels, producing greater clarity from the electrostatic panels without turning them shrill, and fills a rather large room with their base.

Violating a sacred trust, I use the main system - AVP, 23.5, Sequels with various inputs - both for careful music listening and for home theater, and the 23.5 handles both chores beautifully.

I haven't heard the newer Levinson amps, and unfortunately for Madrigal, my satisfaction with the 23.5 doesn't make me inclined to go out of my way to do so. I hope whoever traded my 23.5 into Lyric enjoys his/her new amp as much as I enjoy his/her old one.

Similar Products Used: ML 23, Threshold T100
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 15  

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