Mark Levinson components have occupied the top rung of two-channel audio for years, long before Harman International Industries acquired the brand in 1990. The eccentric audiophile, whose name became synonymous with high-end sound, began his music career as a stand-up bass player with jazz pianist Paul Bley; a career that doubtless informed Levinson’s audiophile ear when he founded his eponymous brand in 1972. Today, the only thing that connects current Mark Levinson gear with that of the past is the logo, though the commitment to performance and build quality takes the same square aim at state-of-the-art sound as it did nearly 50 years ago.
Mark Levinson’s current 500 series electronics are at the top of their class, and have provided plenty of inspiration for the brand-new, more affordable 5000 Series range of separates that bring the signature Levinson look and sound to a broader audience. The heavyweight in the new lineup is the No.5302 amplifier ($9,000), a high-current, Class AB design featuring an oversized 1100 VA toroidal transformer that delivers 135 wpc (watts per channel) into 8 Ohms, with stable operation into 2 Ohms.
The No.5206 preamplifier ($9,000) features full-function versatility, and includes MM/MC phono preamplifier circuitry, as well as a preamp output stage designed with the current and power to drive headphones directly, without a separate headphone amp. Balanced and RCA connections tie everything together.
The No.5101 streaming player ($5,500) features a DAC that uses the latest generation ESS PRO Sabre 32-bit D/A converters with jitter elimination circuitry. With the ability to stream platforms like Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, it also plays files from NAS devices or a USB flash drive. Importantly, functions include a dedicated CD/SACD player, with front slot loading.
The new No.5105 turntable ($6,500; $7,500 with cartridge) is machined from a solid, two-inch-thick aluminum plinth, which supports a 14-pound aluminum platter that’s belt-driven by a 12 volt synchronous motor. It comes equipped with a 10-inch carbon-fiber tonearm and is available with an optional Ortofon Quintet Black S moving-coil cartridge.
The appeal of this one-brand quartet is just not in its uniform aesthetic presentation and user interface. Each component in the 5000 Series has been designed to complement the other in its function, and importantly, in its sound—the kind of sonic synergy that comes from envisioning a holistic system, from its signal source to its power amplifier.