Mark Levinson/JBL Ear-Opener
There’s nothing like a good demo to change one’s opinion of what are now called Harman Luxury Audio components for the better. I had previously heard the pairing of JBL’s visually striking NDD66000 Everest loudspeaker ($60,000/pair) with Mark Levinson electronics at the speaker’s debut at CES a few years back. Although the buzz around the speaker was major, I recall thinking how dark and monochromatic the system sounded, and how it lacked the luminosity and color that I prefer.
Here, by contrast, the sound was some of the best solid-state sound I heard at the show. Home Audio Sound of Colorado paired the JBL speaker with the Mark Levinson No.502 media console ($35,000, discontinued, and being used solely as an analog stereo preamplifier), Mark Levinson No512 CD player ($15,000), and a pair of Mark Levinson No.53 monoblock amplifiers ($50,000/pair, to be reviewed by Mikey Fremer in the December Stereophile). Equally important were the products from Transparent Audio: RXL8Transparent Reference XL speaker cables ($13,190/set), BRXL1Transparent Reference XL balanced interconnects (2 pair, $18,530 total), PLMM2Transparent PowerLink MM power cords (3, $6300 total), and PIRPowerIsolator Reference power conditioner ($3195). Together, the chain produced a wonderful, big presentation in which lively, beautiful highs mated with impressively deep, admirably solid percussion.
“Bass lovers will have a field day,” I wrote in my notes of a system in which the entire spectrum of sound seemed of one very satisfying piece.