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A Little Bit of High-End Audio History

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  • A Little Bit of High-End Audio History

    Two notes.

    I thought Mark’s original preamp ran around $1100 when new. Still an absurd and almost unheard of sum of money back then. I can check the original review for the price. Geez remember when Grado released a $600 cartridges and audiophiles called for his head on a platter?

    Second, there were at least two more LPs released under the ML name. They were Elvin Jones v. 1 and 2. I think, though, both albums were recorded though by Dean Roumanis, not Mark. Dean later went onto to work for for Krell and sadly died from AIDS back in the early ‘90s (?) I have a sealed copy of V.2 but have never opened or played it.

    IIRC Mike Kay, owner of Lyric HiFi, was a major investor in MLAS.
    A History of Mark Levinson Audio Systemsby Chris Bennett and Barr
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
    -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    that was an interesting read. thanks for posting Myles. the article states $1750 as the price for their first preamp.
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


    • #3
      The good old days. I had an "affordable" MLAS system at the time (ie: bottom-of-the-line MLAS), which was my first all-out high-performance system attempt. It sounded great and consisted of:
      ML--11 Amp with ML-12 preamp and PLS-124 Power Supply
      ML Silver wire interconnects with Camac connectors, with Music Hose speaker cable
      Quad ESL-63 (modified and with special stands) with Entec SW-1 Subwoofers
      Linn LP12 with Syrinx Tonearm and at some point was using a Grado Signature III cartridge (I splurged, it was $750 at the time, enormously expensive)

      This was a poor man's attempt at creating the HQD speaker system (Hartley/Quad/Decca)...
      Last edited by Joe Pittman; 01-03-2020, 12:11 PM.

      Comment


      • kcin
        kcin commented
        Editing a comment
        I bet you in the right environment that system would sound great today.... Nice.

    • #4
      Nice read, thanks for posting.
      Front end: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
      Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point ,FR64S, Brinkmann 12.1 , .Koetsu Jade Platinum,Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM, HRSM3X
      Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2
      Pre-Amps:Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
      Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3 DD amps, REL S/2 x 2
      Otari 5050BXII, DeHavilland 222

      Comment


      • #5
        Myles, thanks for the post. My very first "High end" component was a used ML JC1-AC phono pre that I bought from John Garland Audio in San Jose in the mid-70's. IIRC, it was $95. I couldn't afford any other high end stuff until I bought a pair of Maggies (2167-F predessor to the MG II) around 1977 from PUD's which was based in Berkeley, but had opened up a shop in Hayward where I was teaching. Never bought another ML piece.

        Larry
        Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0 BottleheadPhonoPre,Herron VTPH-2A
        Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
        Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
        Electronics-Herron 360Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
        Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
        Other-512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, ArtKelmGround1, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
        Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

        Comment


        • JCOConnell
          JCOConnell commented
          Editing a comment
          The ML JC-1AC unit was a step up or ":head" amp, not a phono pre as known today
          Last edited by JCOConnell; 01-03-2020, 05:50 AM. Reason: typo

        • astrotoy
          astrotoy commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, I had a stereo receiver, but bought my first low output cartridge (don't remember which one) and bought the JC-1AC to step up the output to the phono input of the receiver (I think it was a Pioneer SX-1050). This was 45 years ago, so my memory is a bit fuzzy.

          Larry

        • JCOConnell
          JCOConnell commented
          Editing a comment
          about ten years ago, I was shopping for a head amp; I had auto ebay searches every two hours for many different models, and the ML was one of them. I never found one. Ended up with a nice Electrocomp. Also had a cj premer 6 tubed unit but it died in action.

      • #6
        I had the Quad ESL57 once, and the ML-2 were the best amps for them. Nobody could believe these speakers could produce proper bass until they hear the ML-2s driving them.
        The Quad 2s were probably the worst amps for the speakers !

        Comment


        • #7
          ML was a Southern Connecticut company that had offices first in Hamden, I believe, then moved to the south end of Middletown where they were for many years until Harmon closed them down and moved the operation to the Boston area. Apparently their engineering operation is back in Orange - near where Krell still is. Our Ct Audio society has asked if we could have a "plant tour" but they politely said no.

          I remember engaging in a conversation with a cook at a retreat 10 years ago,somewhere in central CT., Somehow the conversation turned to audio and this gentleman blew me away when he said that he actually assembled some of the original preamps in Mark's fathers' Woodbridge basement. He said that as soon as a few were finished, Mark would jump on a plane to Japan where they sold immediately.

          Sometime in the 80's, I went to the pre-auction viewing at ML's Middletown facility (per an ad in the Middletown Press). The workspace area was pretty bare and tho I tried, I couldn't finds any product nor drawings. There was a display case with a few older pieces and in the corner what I later realized was their MQA (I think it was) double Quad system (with the Decca tweeters). In another corner was this large tape recorder and many boxes of tape - which I also later realized was an ML5 and MANY Master Tapes. As you probably know, the auction never took place and I stupidly never followed up on the tape stuff - which I understand "disappeared".

          Charles

          Found out later that the pieces in the display case were "appropriated" by an engineer working there when the facility was shut down. Probably as part of his "separation package". A friend ended up with them (4 or 5 generations of amps/preamps; their glorious LNP1; some ML5 modules and even one prototype active speaker) and I/we had a chance to check out and listen to them.

          Comment


          • seamonster
            seamonster commented
            Editing a comment
            "Our Ct Audio society has asked if we could have a "plant tour" but they politely said no."

            Doggone lawyers spoil the fun for everyone. Very interesting re the cook!

          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Why didn’t the auction take place?

        • #8
          Originally posted by stellavox View Post
          ML was a Southern Connecticut company that had offices first in Hamden, I believe, then moved to the south end of Middletown where they were for many years until Harmon closed them down and moved the operation to the Boston area. Apparently their engineering operation is back in Orange - near where Krell still is. Our Ct Audio society has asked if we could have a "plant tour" but they politely said no.

          I remember engaging in a conversation with a cook at a retreat 10 years ago,somewhere in central CT., Somehow the conversation turned to audio and this gentleman blew me away when he said that he actually assembled some of the original preamps in Mark's fathers' Woodbridge basement. He said that as soon as a few were finished, Mark would jump on a plane to Japan where they sold immediately.

          Sometime in the 80's, I went to the pre-auction viewing at ML's Middletown facility (per an ad in the Middletown Press). The workspace area was pretty bare and tho I tried, I couldn't finds any product nor drawings. There was a display case with a few older pieces and in the corner what I later realized was their MQA (I think it was) double Quad system (with the Decca tweeters). In another corner was this large tape recorder and many boxes of tape - which I also later realized was an ML5 and MANY Master Tapes. As you probably know, the auction never took place and I stupidly never followed up on the tape stuff - which I understand "disappeared".

          Charles

          Found out later that the pieces in the display case were "appropriated" by an engineer working there when the facility was shut down. Probably as part of his "separation package". A friend ended up with them (4 or 5 generations of amps/preamps; their glorious LNP1; some ML5 modules and even one prototype active speaker) and I/we had a chance to check out and listen to them.
          Two MLAS tapes found by Jurg Schoppers in Switzerland.

          “more than 10 years ago i was buying some used ML amps in a store somwehre at the lake of Geneva also a A80 / ML5 and as a gift a got around 30 tapes some ML tapes from his vinyl releases and some Montreux tapes... the one above is from this lot...the ML5 was not in working order and i sold it right after my return to a ML enthusiast in germany the tapes are all original Master Tapes or protection copies cause some have hand written recording datas inside of the boxes... the sound of this tape is fantastic but after 5 min the transport and the heads are dirty from the ss syndrome.”

          Click image for larger version  Name:	4A78612C-CB81-45F5-BC45-EABACC8C154D.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	67.0 KB ID:	129647Click image for larger version  Name:	DBE8D5AE-30DF-448D-9268-F07FC040C0E8.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	86.5 KB ID:	129648Click image for larger version  Name:	B43AE523-2346-4F94-953C-261B4EC1328E.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	59.4 KB ID:	129649Click image for larger version  Name:	3A962E99-F8ED-443F-9B82-005B4E2961AC.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	87.1 KB ID:	129650Click image for larger version  Name:	206C2690-EDFD-49E6-AECD-26F629F0545E.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	98.9 KB ID:	129651Click image for larger version  Name:	7F5E8D47-DB07-4960-BD5D-474A3E25D03A.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	119.0 KB ID:	129652
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
          -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • seamonster
            seamonster commented
            Editing a comment
            "...ss syndrome.”

            Does that refer to some sort of shedding?

          • astrotoy
            astrotoy commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, sticky shed syndrome. The bane of Ampex tapes beginning in the late '70's when they changed the tape binding formula for around a decade (particularly 456 used for many, many studio master tapes in the late 70's and 80's.) I have a friend who was an Ampex engineer during that time and he has a collection of master tapes he recorded for Ampex (mostly 1/2") using Ampex 456. I have borrowed them and they all played fine after baking (using a food dehydrator). The baking treatment lasts for a few days to weeks, and then needs to be repeated. Normally, one makes a copy of the tape onto good tape.

            Larry

          • seamonster
            seamonster commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks, Larry!

        • #9
          Another tape from the lot.

          ”Montreux Larry Corryel with Stan Getz Master Tape direct recorded from the Mixing Console to a Nagra4s with extender and Nagra EQ by the Mixer Guy in 1978 yeep no SSS on this only Killer Sound.”

          Click image for larger version  Name:	B68A6D7C-B994-4FB4-8112-94E9A6B7A7EE.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	101.6 KB ID:	129654
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
          -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • #10
            Bake those things for at least 2-3 hours (140 degrees F or so) before trying to play them! That will really reduce or eliminate the shedding.

            Comment

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