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Dead Mark Levinson amp on 04 LS430 - any other options?

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Old 07-03-12, 11:44 AM   #1
sparky3
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Default Dead Mark Levinson amp on 04 LS430 - any other options?

Right now there is a used ML 86280-0W250 amp on ebay for $999.

Local Lexus dealer said $685 plus tax for a replacement if I bring my dead one to them, provided it's not rusted in any way else they won't be able to do it.

Option #3 - Send it to United Radio in NY and they have a flat repair fee of $450 and they'd need it for at least a week.

Any other cheaper options? I have installed many car amps before so the technical side is no big deal - was thinking of an aftermarket amp + JL cleansweep, but here's what's making me pause: the volume is not working at all, nor are the fader / left-right / bass treble buttons. Normally I'm used to a radio with a mechanical potentiometer; this appears to have a digital component somewhere and I'm afraid it still might not work.

So, if anyone has any ideas of a cheaper repair place, or if you've put a different amplifier in your 04+ LS, please let me know.
It worked yesterday and I have tried unplugging it for quite a while and plugging it back in.

Shawn
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Old 07-03-12, 04:41 PM   #2
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I am in the same boat. I am not finding any cheaper options. I have located one a parts lot for $400 but still seems like a lot to swallow right now.
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Old 07-03-12, 05:14 PM   #3
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http://www.db-r.com/

I'm not sure if they can help due to how the ML amp differs from aftermarket amps I've dealt with. Best to explain it to them and I would recommend removing the amp case and sending them pics of the board.
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Old 07-03-12, 05:15 PM   #4
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Well, it has to be the ML amplifier. The 30 amp fuse for the amplifier in the trunk (driver's side) keeps blowing. It does not blow with the amp unplugged.

I wonder if there's anything I can look at if I remove it? Sounds like a melted transformer or something's shorted for sure.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:46 PM   #5
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Here's an update. Sent my amp to United Radio in NY. They repaired it and sent it back. Total cost was $450; they covered shipping back to me. They had the amp no more than 2-3 days, so it was a quick turnaround. Put it back in yesterday and works just like new.

In other related LS430 news, I had my card parked out on the street for the 4th of July (we have friends park in our driveway and I needed to be able to leave if necessary) and my neighbor backed into my car. Will need entire front bumper replaced and repainted.

At least she left a note!
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Old 08-04-12, 11:44 AM   #6
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How do you determine if it's the amp?

One minute the radio works the next all I get is the occasional crackle then the radio dos nothing or it revives itself.

Is the amp part of the dash unit or is it someplace else?
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Old 11-23-12, 09:25 PM   #7
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prices have gone up...just had mine replaced at Lexus of Bellevue (WA) in my 2004 LS430 with 85K miles, just died last week. took four days to get it P/N 86280-OW250-R, I think the "R" means remanufactured. $996 plus $220 labor for diagnosis and replacement. I didn't want to mess around with it any more. final talley was $1331 with tax. that's just crap for a mediocre radio.
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Old 11-23-12, 09:30 PM   #8
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the amp is mounted on the right side of the spare tire on the trunk floor, easily accessible. lots of specialty connectors. a metal chassis about twice as long as a cigar box. I recall the ML is made by Harmon Kardon, a relatively low unit volume product, hence the lack of reliability. this is a real weak spot in the car per Consumer Reports.
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Old 11-23-12, 10:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karasdad View Post
the amp is mounted on the right side of the spare tire on the trunk floor, easily accessible. lots of specialty connectors. a metal chassis about twice as long as a cigar box. I recall the ML is made by Harmon Kardon, a relatively low unit volume product, hence the lack of reliability. this is a real weak spot in the car per Consumer Reports.
Are these amps failing on their own or after speakers were replaced with aftermarket? I had read a number of posts mentioning that aftermarket speakers were a culprit with many amp failures. Just curious.
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Old 11-24-12, 05:54 AM   #10
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Most definitely. Let this be a caution to anyone trying to put some cheap replacements in.
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Old 11-24-12, 07:24 AM   #11
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Almost all modern (last 20 years?) car and home use power amps have built in protection from mismatched impedance on speakers. All but the cheapest crappiest amps have a couple of layers of built in protection to detect low impedance and/or overheat and shut down to protect the amp from any damage. So if you wire speakers incorrectly or wire in grossly mismatched impedance speaker set up you will see the amp cut out or not run at all but it would not commit electronic hari-kari just based on mismatched speakers.

A more likely reason that some ML amps fail after a few years is that car environments are harsh places with high levels of humidity, and huge temp extremes, and they were not very high quality units to begin with.

$1300-1400 to replace a ML by Lexus - no way I'd do that. I would have instead gone down to my local custom audio shop and had custom amp, head unit and new door and sub speakers (leave the tweets in place) installed for less than $1500. Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 11-24-12, 05:18 PM   #12
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Yes Jabberwock I did consider that but in the end I think these cars are easier to resell with the OEM stuff. I did get four days of no charge rental on a new Lexus, I figure that was worth something at least. My speakers are all original, no mods. Pretty benign environment here and car was garaged it's whole life. Lots of starts and stops in my driving with kids activities, I think turning the power on and off wears it out too, especially if the design isn't robust. We have a 98 ES300 with a Nakamichi that is rocking loud all the time and it still runs strong.
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Old 11-25-12, 06:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karasdad View Post
Yes Jabberwock I did consider that but in the end I think these cars are easier to resell with the OEM stuff. I did get four days of no charge rental on a new Lexus, I figure that was worth something at least. My speakers are all original, no mods. Pretty benign environment here and car was garaged it's whole life. Lots of starts and stops in my driving with kids activities, I think turning the power on and off wears it out too, especially if the design isn't robust. We have a 98 ES300 with a Nakamichi that is rocking loud all the time and it still runs strong.
Karasdad - i understand - your approach makes sense.

I definitely agree on the Nakamichi stuff. Lexus using Nakamichi equipment in the 90s was the real deal at the time - Nakamichi was a real company at the time producing high quality audiophile level equipment. Its a real shame that Lexus cheaped out and switched to the Harmon Corporation BS brands like ML.
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Old 11-26-12, 04:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jabberwock View Post
Karasdad - i understand - your approach makes sense.

I definitely agree on the Nakamichi stuff. Lexus using Nakamichi equipment in the 90s was the real deal at the time - Nakamichi was a real company at the time producing high quality audiophile level equipment. Its a real shame that Lexus cheaped out and switched to the Harmon Corporation BS brands like ML.
It's called change................nothing seems to stay the same.
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Old 11-26-12, 05:10 PM   #15
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Interesting question - how "good" is the sound of the ML? I've been listening for about 4 months now - my thoughts:

CLASSICAL MUSIC through the ML is really the best I've ever heard - and I can easily tell the difference between a really good classical CD and a merely good one. It has really opened my eyes up to classical music and a great de-stress after work.

JAZZ - Good, but I don't know enough to really know much difference. Sounds good for the instrumentals, tho.

POP/ROCK - Really doesn't do as much for me as my age-old aftermarket in my old Bimmer with a cheap power amp and a couple of 6-inch subwoofers. That thing had a great thump, a couple of nice tweeters, and was great. Not much "detail" maybe, but lots of "pow." ML seems a bit slack in the "pow" department.

SIRIUS - I got the VAIS system aftermarket and put it in - - it works well in terms of using the NAV screen - but it just doesn't sound as crisp or clear as the CD player at all. Nor does it sound as good as some of the XM radios I've heard in some new cars I've rented with built-in XM. Kind of stinks, since I am very lazy and liked someone playing music for me...
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Old 11-26-12, 05:10 PM
 
 
 
 
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