High-Performance from Harman International
Harman International’s High-Performance Group’s exhibit featured a live demonstration of its most expensive equipment, including two Revel Rhythm 2 18" subwoofers ($10,000 each); two Revel Ultima2 Salons ($22,000/pair); a Macintosh MacBook Pro running Amarra software driving a Mark Levinson No.502 Sound Processor; a No.52 preamplifier ($30,000); two No.53 Reference monoblock amplifiers ($25,000 each); and Transparent power conditioners for the digital equipment and for the amplifiers. The rack also included a No.512 SACD player. The Revel Ultima2 Salons were crossed over to the subs at 80Hz with 4th-order slopes for both high-pass and low-pass filters. Listening to Diana Krall singing "I Used to Love You," I was struck by how all the loudspeakers and electronics disappeared leaving a holographic image of her voice, with a wide and deep soundstage.
The Mark Levinson No.52 Reference Preamplifier ($30,000) is the company's flagship audio preamplifier, and is now being shipped. Like the No.32 Reference that proceeded it, the No.52 is a two-chassis preamplifier, with a control unit that contains all user switches and controls plus the power supply. The audio circuitry is in a separate chassis. The control chassis includes system readouts, pushbuttons to select functions and a rotary volume control that, like that of the No.32, is a digitally controlled analog device using a ladder DAC. Its power supply features AC regeneration. The audio chassis contains a phono module for both moving-magnet and moving-coil cartridges, which had been optional in the No. 2. The audio chassis's rear panel sports three pairs of both RCA and XLR inputs and outputs, a socket for a control cable, and two 9-pin DC connectors to receive DC power from the control module. One of the output pairs is configurable to act as a tape loop or become a dedicated subwoofer output.
Mark Levinson also showed a newly revised concept design for a powerful integrated amplifier, the No.585 ($12,000), which would follow the No.383 integrated from a decade ago, which is no longer in production. It’s rated at 200Wpc into 8 ohms, and 400Wpc into 4 ohms. Besides greater power than the No.383, the No.585 will have many more inputs and outputs than the earlier model, including an asynchronous USB input; S/PDIF, optical, HDMI, and AES/EBU digital inputs; outputs will be analog (preamplifier line stage, speaker outputs) and digital (coaxial, optical, and AES/EBU). The front panel will keep the same interface as the company's flagship No.52 preamplifier. Harman International and Mark Levinson hope to finalize the design and ship it this year.