Mark Levinson Amplifier Brings Back Traditional Styling

"Our Asian and Pacific clients were strongly requesting it," said Mark Levinson's Walter Schofield, VP of Sales and Marketing, "so we designed an amplifier in the older Mark Levinson tradition with external heats."

Sure enough, the large, heavy—try 140 lbs—dual-mono, $15,000, No.532 amplifier had the characteristic, classic, curved black-silver monolithic shape enjoyed by Mark Levinson amplifiers designed in the early 1990s.

"It may have the classic Mark Levinson appearance," continued Walter, "but it enjoys the latest in our technology. Its output levels are matched to within 0.02dB and the signal paths are 35% shorter than any previous Mark Levinson amplifier. It also has our very-low–dielectric Arlon printed-circuit boards. We've designed it to act like a voltage source down to 1 ohm, so the current keeps doubling as you go down in impedance. I think that it will be have terrific sonics."

"Yes indeed," I said, "it will be important to test your claim. Can I have one for review?" Stay tuned!

"I've never seen the rear of an amplifier look like this," I said, pointing how each channel of the Mark Levinson No.532 stereo amplifier formed what seemed to be a peninsula, so that each channel had its own left and right heatsinks."

"Yes," said Walter, "this chassis configuration allows to have smaller heatsinks, but still get the needed heat dissipation."

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COMMENTS
Bill's picture

Paired up with Revels new Studios or Salons and I'm guessing, from much past experience, that the sound might represent a new quality benchmark...

Marko's picture

I'm hoping "quality" here means more than just sound quality. Had two power amps and both were unreliable.

Walter's picture

I assure you that quality will equate to sound AND reliability.When the components were designed previously, and I do not want to get anyone mad because I have friends who worked there, they were designed with sound perfomance in mind as a sole purpose. Unfortunately, that meant that components within the component were operating at their peak tolerances in many instances. That is what contributed to the reliability issues. Think about red lining an automobile every time you hit the gas pedal....how long would that car last?At Harman Specialty Group, we have re-designed the current stable of products (the ones now being delivered) to be better from an engineering/reliability perspective, while retaining their great sound quality.The new products, including the No 532 depicted in this blog, have been conceived from the ground up with performance and reliability as the top design criteria.Regards,Walter SchofieldVice President of Sales and MarketingMark Levinson

Rick's picture

My 336 had to go back twice for the same issue. Not easy to lift, box and transport such a big amp and then do it twice! The bottom end on my 336 was never tight but the midrange was really sweet. Absent any dealers where I live (Atlanta), I would like to hear this amp vs. the 336. With arlon boards and new circuits, it has to be amazing.I heard rumors that Levinson may be affected by the downturn. I hope this company keeps its head and shoulders above water. It would be a shame to see it fall.

Nate's picture

Actually they are having noise issues with the Arlon boards....not only that the 300 series amplifier suffered from lesser Phillips capicitors and do not use the far superior and more reliable Panasonic caps....

Hennie's picture

I had reliabilty issues with an 336 as well. It was in the repair shop of the Dutch importer for 9 months, I didn't even get an apology after that. Though i'm currently looking for an rehaul of my system, no matter how great they may sound, ML isn't on my shortlist based on this experience.

Jimmy's picture

what is the life span of ML amp.with avg. use.

Bill's picture

It's hard to know precisely, but unless there are issues such as the cap problem early ML 300 series amps had, I'd say at least two decades if not longer.My No. 334 is coming up on ten years old and it sounds as good as it did the day it finished its initial burn-in.

Ed's picture

The main problem with the old Levinson Amps were the capacitors were mounted with the vent caps pointing down. In this position the electrolyte would block vent not letting internal gas escape which is really not a good thing. Many of Madrigal's problems were brought on by a Marketing group which did not understand engineering or electronics. They wanted "sexy" products. However, even with all the mistakes at least they understood audio and the audiophile market. It wasn't about numbers it was sonics and quality. That pretty much went out the window with the No 333 and hit the wall when the external heatsinks went away and the proceed line was, well, just a huge mistake. Harman purchased Madrigal for one simple reason - to get the Mark Levinson name onto their automotive audio equipment. They destroyed a company to make a profit. Not the first time. Still I wish the relatively new owners luck. It will be difficult to undo the damage done over the last 7 years.

Walter Schofield's picture

Ed, there is no question that the Lexus contract is important to Harman,, however, Harman owned a portion of Madrigal and left the brand alone for many years. Harman did not buy it for the reason you stated.The current folks running Mark Levinson are business oriented but they also love the brand as a performance one....Being the ex VP of Sales and Marketing, I wish the brand well!!

Ed C's picture

Why are they using Arlon 25 RF PCB material. There is no inherent superiority over FR4 for audio applications. Using RF PCB material is a marketing gimmick! If they really wanted to improve performance, they would use and highlight selection of state of the art capacitors such as Sanyo OS-CON low ESR Aluminum Organics. Regards,EX Audio and Current RF Enginer

mudgely's picture

Levinson sold out. So would I when it came time to retire. Time for the Levinson customers to move on, since Mark is no longer a part of the Levinson brand.Sort of like buying a Rolls Royce with a BMW engine. Nice car, but not a Rolls.

Jan Woning's picture

Well, I have been using a Mark Levinson no. 333 since Jan 1996 for driving a fully reactive load (AudioStatic ES300/DCI-4 and DCM-5).Just like oil filters in cars, electrolytic power supply caps are wear parts that need periodic replacement. For those who forgot the numbers: No. 333 has a 5.5 kVA AC power supply, which generates 4.9 kVA DC. Each TO-3 pulls up to 8 amps, so times 32 equals 256 Amps peak. Even to today's standards that's high performance, which will cause wear on caps, be it Panasonic or not.My no. 333 has had new caps twice now, at age 7½ and 13½ years. Other than that it keeps going and going and going... After 50,000 hours of music, I'd say it's an amp for life.The same goes for my 380S, 25S and a Proceed PDT3 18½ years of age and 70,000 hours on the clock! Only my 360S has broken down twice, owing to a SHARC board problem, exchange cost £500. At the time Harman actually repaired exchanged boards to be able to help other owners.

Jan Woning's picture

Well, I have been using a Mark Levinson no. 333 since Jan 1996 for driving a fully reactive load (AudioStatic ES300/DCI-4 and DCM-5).Just like oil filters in cars, electrolytic power supply caps are wear parts that need periodic replacement. For those who forgot the numbers: No. 333 has a 5.5 kVA AC power supply, which generates 4.9 kVA DC. Each TO-3 pulls up to 8 amps, so times 32 equals 256 Amps peak. Even to today's standards that's high performance, which will cause wear on caps, be it Panasonic or not.My no. 333 has had new caps twice now, at age 7½ and 13½ years. Other than that it keeps going and going and going... After 50,000 hours of music, I'd say it's an amp for life.The same goes for my 380S, 25S and a Proceed PDT3 18½ years of age and 70,000 hours on the clock! Only my 360S has broken down twice, owing to a SHARC board problem, exchange cost £500. At the time Harman actually repaired exchanged boards to be able to help other owners.

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