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Mark Levinson No 433 Three-Channel and No 436 Monoblock Power Amplifiers

Part II

September, 2006

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

The Sound

I tested the No 433 and No 436 amplifiers with a Mark Levinson No 326S preamplifier and Carver Mark IV ribbon speakers. Cables were Nordost (balanced).

Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances is one of Jason Serinus' favorite pieces for auditioning equipment, so I decided to listen for myself (Profil PH05027).

Wow!

The No 436 provided not only more slam, but more detail. Nevertheless, the No 433 was still excellent. The difference in detail was slight, but noticeable.

Bottom line on these two products: If I were putting together a home theater/audio setup, I would use the No 433 for the center and two rear channels, and two No 436s for the front left/right (for stereo music listening).

 

Mozart is always a fine choice to listen with first rate components. This EMI two disc set (0-94635-09222-6) has several of his symphonies recorded in the late 1960s with the English Chamber Orchestra.

With Symphony 41 ("Jupiter") on disc 2, the opening salvo is about as thunderous as any symphony could be.

All of the instruments maintained distinctness, including violins, oboe, and clarinets, against brass.

 

A Motet was originally Catholic church music, with Latin text from the bible sung in two parts. After 1400, it was simply a multiple part choral composition, sometimes without instrumental accompaniment, but obviously, in the case of Bach's Motets on this CD (EMI Classics 0-94634-14102-4), with an ensemble.

What I was looking for here, and got, was a clear delineation between the bass instruments and the bass choir members.

 

Christopher Parkening is one of our finest classical guitarists. On this album (EMI CLassics 0-946-3-56418-2), the attack of each note was accompanied by the sound of his fingernails against the strings.

This may sound like a simple thing, but it is this kind of detail that distinguishes the superb from the good audio component.

 

Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" (EMI Classics 0-94635-08242-5): this Orchestral Works recording is an excellent piece to demonstrate an amplifier's (or speaker's) power capability.

The Levinsons just plain sounded great here. I didn't analyze anything in particular, I simply sat back and enjoyed it.

Every instrument is on this 2-CD set. In "Scheherazade", the thunderous opening, the air of the flutes, the rosin of the solo violin . . . all were breathtaking.

 

With the Schumann String Quartets (EMI Classics 0-94635-08192-3), every instrument - violin, viola, cello, bass - were distinctly placed across the soundstage, along with the musicians' breathing. Detail is critical to this accurate soundstage placement, and the Levinson gear has plenty of detail.

One of the most important characteristics of the No 433 and No 436 is their neutrality. This goes far in making the musical instruments sound "real".

Click Here to Go to Part III.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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