Cello musings

May 30, 2010
15,435
668
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Portugal
#1
As many audiophiles I also went through a short Cello period in the 90’s. I had the Audio Palette MIV, a Duet, the Encore mono amps and even the Stradivari Premier and the beautiful active Seraphins. I sold most of them at audiogon, may be a few of the current owners of this equipment will see this thread.
Cello was a charismatic brand, centered on Mark Levinson personality, mixing an idea of exclusivity and an hifi “religion”. The technical quality was high; most of the equipment sold at that time is still operating and still reaches high values at second hand markets. It had a dark sound, but with the adequate source could be very musical.
I met Levinson once at a local presentation of Cello – he was an enthusiast and could lead an audience with great conviction. His technical arguments were sometimes very dubious, but he was a master operating the Audio Palette.
For me his systems had two drawbacks – they needed to be played at very loud levels and the Audio Palette was the “antimusic” to an amateur – I was not listening to music anymore, just turning buttons looking for the perfect tonal balance.
I have to say that the long lasting remainder my Cello phase was Forsell. Mark Levinson recommended the Forsell CD air transport and I bought one, that I kept until recently. I still regret having sold it cheap, but I have now a Forsell Air Force one air turntable in his place. But for this we will need a new thread...
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,606
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Metro DC
#2
While you may hate lawyers in general you will love the one that saves your bacon. Mark Levinsons' saga could have been prevented by a lawyer of average skills and business experience. Harry Pearson documented how Levinson was forced out of his own company and not allowed to use his own name. I especially appreciated Levinsons' courage to say digital was killing the high end. He remarked that audiophiles had just stopped listening.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
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#4
I was a big Mark Levinson fan boy back in the day. I had everything from Cello to Red Rose at one time.
Unfortunately the highlight of meeting him was actually getting to meet Kim.

Regards,
The fellow who cuts my hair did Kim's dew for Sex in the City. Never asked him to introduce me to Kim though :(
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#5
The fellow who cuts my hair did Kim's dew for Sex in the City. Never asked him to introduce me to Kim though :(
sort of like Seven Degrees Of Kevin Bacon
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
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#6
While you may hate lawyers in general you will love the one that saves your bacon. Mark Levinsons' saga could have been prevented by a lawyer of average skills and business experience. Harry Pearson documented how Levinson was forced out of his own company and not allowed to use his own name. I especially appreciated Levinsons' courage to say digital was killing the high end. He remarked that audiophiles had just stopped listening.
Not quite sure "forced" out of his company is totally correct. As I remember, ML was in bankruptcy and Harman bought the name from the bank. Few times I've met Mark over the years, always felt he was a great salesman -- but history shows his business acumen wasn't up to his audio designing. But one has to feel for Mark that he no longer is connected to the company that uses his name.
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#7
one has to feel for Mark that he no longer is connected to the company that uses his name
sad but true
 
May 30, 2010
15,435
668
113
Portugal
#8
It is a pity that the fan site www.marklev.com is not online anymore. It contained plenty of information about the products of Mark Levinson and CELLO.

CELLO also produced a DAC - it was based in the Apogee DA2000 with an analogue stage using discrete amplifier modules similar to those used by the Audio Palette

Some time after CELLO dismissed a few friends were able to order Apogee DA 2000's with the Mark Levinson modules with the normal Apogee face plates at reduced prices. I did not want to take the risk and they laughed at my face when they received there mint perfect units! Happily I had an original Cello DAC.

Although Mark Levinson did not like PCM digital he was later taken by DSD.
 
Apr 24, 2010
214
1
18
#10
Cello Musings - Take 2

Hi All,

Cello was formed around 1983-84 by Mark Levinson after he was forced out of the company bearing his own name. ML was in the South end of Middletown, CT maybe 10 miles from where I lived. They held an auction and the entire entity (including the name) was bought by a group of employees headed by Sandy Berlin. Harmon International acquired the ML concern 10+ years later. Went to the viewing before the auction and if I was on the ball and had enough money, I might have been able to get away with their ML-5 along with (as I remember) PILES of master tapes - Oh well.

ML (the man) then went on to form Cello in 84-85 and brought Tom Coleangelo with him. That company was located in New Haven CT. Levinson sold Cello in 1998 and it lasted till '01 when at least the "parts" were either sold at auction or otherwise acquired by two gents who set up a company called Matthew James (MJ). They attempted to build and market Cellos "last" amp and preamp under their own name - not a good idea as it turned out. ML (the man) went on to found Red Rose in NYC and Paul Jayson (the other engineer at Cello) and Coleangelo went on to found Viola Labs in the same location as Cello (Viola just moved to North Haven). Cello did around $5M of business in their "heyday" and sold 50 to 100 of each amp/preamp product a year.

For what it's worth, Harmon moved ML (the company) from Middletown CT to its corporate headquarters outside of Boston maybe 7 or 8 years ago after firing most of its 125 employees. It only retained 4 or 5 and only one of those had any "longevity" - so any tie with it's great heritage was/is long gone. I tried to dumpster dive during the move but was unsuccessful - have no idea what happened to any parts or info about their original product line. A few years back, Harmon moved their whole corporate operation to the West coast.

Matthew James still maintains a website with a lot of Cello information including product manuals:
http://www.cello-audio.net/ But don't ask or expect any additional info or help from them.

I now have a lot of info and knowledge on their amps/preamps and can expound on that and their various products if anyone is interested.

Charles
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#12
Hi All,

Cello was formed around 1983-84 by Mark Levinson after he was forced out of the company bearing his own name. ML was in the South end of Middletown, CT maybe 10 miles from where I lived. They held an auction and the entire entity (including the name) was bought by a group of employees headed by Sandy Berlin. Harmon International acquired the ML concern 10+ years later. Went to the viewing before the auction and if I was on the ball and had enough money, I might have been able to get away with their ML-5 along with (as I remember) PILES of master tapes - Oh well.

ML (the man) then went on to form Cello in 84-85 and brought Tom Coleangelo with him. That company was located in New Haven CT. Levinson sold Cello in 1998 and it lasted till '01 when at least the "parts" were either sold at auction or otherwise acquired by two gents who set up a company called Matthew James (MJ). They attempted to build and market Cellos "last" amp and preamp under their own name - not a good idea as it turned out. ML (the man) went on to found Red Rose in NYC and Paul Jayson (the other engineer at Cello) and Coleangelo went on to found Viola Labs in the same location as Cello (Viola just moved to North Haven). Cello did around $5M of business in their "heyday" and sold 50 to 100 of each amp/preamp product a year.

For what it's worth, Harmon moved ML (the company) from Middletown CT to its corporate headquarters outside of Boston maybe 7 or 8 years ago after firing most of its 125 employees. It only retained 4 or 5 and only one of those had any "longevity" - so any tie with it's great heritage was/is long gone. I tried to dumpster dive during the move but was unsuccessful - have no idea what happened to any parts or info about their original product line. A few years back, Harmon moved their whole corporate operation to the West coast.

Matthew James still maintains a website with a lot of Cello information including product manuals:
http://www.cello-audio.net/ But don't ask or expect any additional info or help from them.

I now have a lot of info and knowledge on their amps/preamps and can expound on that and their various products if anyone is interested.

Charles
You forgot Mark's non-audio venture while owning Cello ;) The restaurant/audio showroom/tailor all located in an upper East Side Townhouse in Manhattan :) Never went to it but the restaurant always got good reviews!
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,707
833
113
#13
as far as Mark Levinson, the man, a couple of local Seattle area audiophile friends of mine who were the principles of Audioprism, partnered with Mark in Red Rose. That ended very badly for my friends and both have moved on to better things. From what i know Mr. Levinson would be the last guy you'd want to be in business with. My friends said that Kim was a class act all the way, and that Kim shared my friends viewpoint of Mark as time went on.

OTOH i was a complete Mark Levinson 'the brand' fanboy in the late 90's. ML32, ML33, ML33h, ML335, Ml37, ML36S, ML38S....i owned and loved them.

and now i own a Cello Phono/Tape preamp.

no one can say that Mr. Levinson did not leave his 'mark' (pun intended) on the high end audio scene.
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,757
146
63
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#14
and now i own a Cello Phono/Tape preamp..
What I've been wondering is what does this have to do with the audio brand Cello? Are they back in business? Do the owners have the right to use the name "Cello" or did someone find some "Cello" parts and are trying to capitalize on their name? I can't seem to find a website for them.
 
Last edited:

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#15
as far as Mark Levinson, the man, a couple of local Seattle area audiophile friends of mine who were the principles of Audioprism, partnered with Mark in Red Rose. That ended very badly for my friends and both have moved on to better things. From what i know Mr. Levinson would be the last guy you'd want to be in business with. My friends said that Kim was a class act all the way, and that Kim shared my friends viewpoint of Mark as time went on.

OTOH i was a complete Mark Levinson 'the brand' fanboy in the late 90's. ML32, ML33, ML33h, ML335, Ml37, ML36S, ML38S....i owned and loved them.

and now i own a Cello Phono/Tape preamp.

no one can say that Mr. Levinson did not leave his 'mark' (pun intended) on the high end audio scene.
Oh I don't think we've seen the last of Mark. He was in china for a while doing some CD mastering and last I heard thru FB is living in Switzerland, has two children and is doing some design work for a company whose name I can't remember.

And don't forget Mark was a talented jazz musician!
 
May 30, 2010
15,435
668
113
Portugal
#16
The last time I read about Mark Levinson he was collaborating with LG Electronics in the home theater area.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#17
The last time I read about Mark Levinson he was collaborating with LG Electronics in the home theater area.
He was but think that was a while ago or maybe he still is???
 
May 30, 2010
15,435
668
113
Portugal
#19

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