Mark Levinson Shows Two New To-Die-For Components

Mark Levinson has a strong tradition of making ultra-luxurious audio gear, and under Harman’s stewardship, the tradition is alive and well. Harman showed the ML No. 519 Audio Player, and the No. 526 Dual-Monaural Preamplifier. Both will break your bank and are worth every penny.

A summary of the extent of the features and even a barely adequate description of the build quality are impossible in these few words, but let’s get a sense of what we are dealing with here. The No. 519 Audio Player (pictured in foreground) is designed for high-resolution wired and wireless streaming, with both disc and digital inputs. Think of the No. 519 as a component that marries both traditional and contemporary sources. A Teac-sourced slot-loading CD drive forms the basis of the component; if you have a couple hundred (or thousand) CDs on the shelf; this is a top-notch way to play them. The player also has full WiFi on board, with access to Tidal, Spotify, Rhapsody, internet radio, etc. It has network capability as well as Bluetooth to access mobile devices.

The No. 519 is designed and engineered at Harman’s Engineering Center of Excellence in Shelton, CT. The design and construction are immaculate. The ESS Sabre32 Reference DAC is used with nine digital inputs. Resolution up to 24-bit/192-kHz as well as double-speed DSD are supported. Other niceties: embedded Linux computer; fully-balanced dual-monaural signal path; digital volume control that enables standalone playback connected directly to a power amplifier (ML, of course) or active speakers with a separate preamp; selectable low-pass filtering for unbalanced output to a subwoofer; controllable from the front panel, included remote, or Apple or Android apps. When you plug in a headphone, the speaker outputs are defeated, and that signal is routed to the headphone; in other words, you get the full fidelity of the player at the headphone jack.

The No. 526 Dual-Monaural Preamplifier (second from the foreground) features Sabre DAC conversion, and integrated phono stage for MC/MM. It has five line-level analog, phono, and six digital inputs all wrapped in a 6000-series aluminum chassis. Other cool stuff: fully balanced dual-monaural signal path; discrete, balanced R-2R ladder volume control; support for 24-bit/192-kHz as well as double-speed DSD; and low-pass filtering for subwoofer output. As with the No. 519, the No. 526 comes from the Engineering Center in Shelton, CT.

The No. 519 has a MSRP of $17,000 and will be available in July. The No. 526 has a MSRP of $15,000 and will be available in May. Start skipping your morning Starbucks so you’ll be ready to buy.