Record Store Day 2017 a Success

These kids were focused and motivated. In other words, RSD works.
Mon, 04/24/2017

Jana's Day Two, Part One: In Pursuit of the Affordable at AXPONA

The first of two Auralic-sponsored systems I encountered featured an Auralic Polaris wireless streaming amplifier ($3800), Ryan R630 speakers ($5000/pair), and AudioQuest cables—the idea being to present a minimalist, all-in-one, hassle-free setup that still offers high value and high performance…
Sun, 04/23/2017

Jason's Day One Continues: One Step Closer to Oz

Kyomi Audio's was the first room I'd entered where I was so taken by the sound that all I wanted to do was sit and listen, and then listen some more. And it wasn't just the fabled Jadis midrange that had me in its grip; the bass was also quite good, and the highs divine…
Sun, 04/23/2017

Jana's Friday Afternoon at AXPONA

A couple of months ago, I listened to a prototype of the Sonoma Acoustics electrostatic Model One Headphone System ($5000) at CanJam NYC, so I was excited for the opportunity to have some more one-on-one time with a production model of the system at AXPONA.
Sat, 04/22/2017

Jana at AXPONA 2017: the First Morning

AXPONA is the show that breaks barriers and defies stereotypes.

The audiophile community is filled with kind, generous people who are fiercely passionate about good music and good sound. But it is no secret that there are a small number of audiophiles on the dark-side (and not of the moon) whose sole purpose in life is to sour it up for the rest of us. They are foul beings of the dark underground hi-fi network that globally infiltrates hi-fi shows, dealers, regional clubs, and even the occasional Can-Jam. I won't even begin to tell you about my findings on their black-ops missions with rogue assassins or just how many government conspiracies they're responsible for. . .

Sat, 04/22/2017

Mytek HiFi Brooklyn D/A processor–headphone amplifier Herb Reichert May 2017

Sat, 04/22/2017

AXPONA's Major Start

The doors of the 2017 AXPONA—taking place this weekend at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, close to Chicago's O'Hare airport—had opened but 15 minutes when yours truly (far left) joined (L–R) Steve Guttenberg (The Audiophiliac blog for CNET.com/ Stereophile), panel moderator Chris Martens (Hi-Fi+), Conor Cawley (Tech.co), Steve Rochlin (Enjoythemusic.com), and an audience of at least 50–60 people to discuss "What does 2017 mean for audio?" I didn't know what to expect, or what to discuss besides the resurgence of vinyl and the promise of better sound through MQA. But thanks to excellent questions from Chris and attendees, and some truly stimulating contributions from my fellow panel members, I think some major ground was covered.
Sat, 04/22/2017

Record Store Day Saturday Marks 10th Anniversary

Robert Baird gets ready for the big day with a special reissue on two 180gm LPs of Elton John's live 17-11-70 album. (Photo: Jana Dagdagan)

Are record stores who have the product in hand breaking ranks and selling on eBay to the highest bidders?

Fri, 04/21/2017

Mark Levinson No.526 preamplifier Measurements

Thu, 04/20/2017

COMMENTS
tonykaz's picture

I hear women say'n that about $500 Purses & Shoes.

You didn't mean it that way, did you?

I'll guess that you meant that it wasn't worth destroying your next three years financial life to own, so you sent it back. I would too, even if they let me have it for dealer cost ( about 50% ) or used/demo type of scratched damaged level ( 35% of Retail price ).

I think this "to die for" concept started with the early Christian Martyrs but it kinda died out till recently when wannabe up-scale women started shopping at Lord & Taylor, ISIS got it from them and reallllllly means it. ( ouch )

Now it aptly applies to the staggeringly priced Audiophile Gear.

I'm no longer an Audiophile!

I'm one of the fresh/new Stereophiles!!! ( I may even be the oldest )

Phew

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Tony, I wish your rant had some new information. But, nice guy that I am, I'll throw you a bone here - one that you might have missed in the review:

"....nonetheless, it has things the No.52 (the $30k preamp) doesn't: a DAC that can accept 32-bit data, a newer-design class-A phono circuit, a headphone output, a front-panel polarity switch, Harman's Clari-Fi digital-restoration module—which scans for file type (and thus degree of compression) and then uses existing data to guide it in restoring "waveform deficiencies"—and a defeatable, fourth-order, 80Hz high-pass output filter for use in a surround-sound system or with a subwoofer."

So there - you see? User with $30k preamp sees that the $20k preamp has new goodies that the $30k preamp doesn't have, and so Levinson obviously needs to create a new $40k preamp. Just sayin'.

tonykaz's picture

I still give the Front Cover to Mytek Brooklyn, it has MQA, it can even do Surround, for a measly $2K.

Only a very few will end up owning the ML ( the "Luxury" buyers ).

Besides, it's the actual quality of the recording that matters here, the sound quality differencial of DACs seems to be rather minute slivers overshadowed by stuff like iFi USB Cable technologies.

But, lets not tell the Orthodontists any of this. ML, Harmon and Samsung need these Good/Better/Best "Luxury" DACs to be a Sales Success.

It's safe to say that I've never enjoyed the Applause of Admiring Customers but I always seem to get re-hired after completing their troublesome projects. I'd be damn lucky to assemble a kit DAC and have the darn thing actually work. Annnnnnd, if it did actually work, I'd doubt that I could discern if it sounded any good.

However,
Give me a Lamb Transfer Machine and I'll have it singing like a International Harvester.

Tony in Michigan

ps. the Schiit Yggy DAC has 7 individual Circuit boards that each look as jam packed as the one board of this ML. the Yggy cost = $2,500, go figure! ( it might even sound as good or better )

ps.2) nice hearing from y'all ( again )

dalethorn's picture

I don't know all of that gear (very little of it actually), so I enquire for my own use starting with certain principles. For example, if I want the most realistic sound, I know I will need a good-size room and big speakers that can output realistic sound. There's no getting around that, unless you intend to compromise. Then I need amps appropriate to the speakers, and from there work backward to the source (CD, digital etc.) Do you think that people who want the most realistic sound, who are buying the big speakers for their listening room, are inclined to skimp on amps and DACs and source components? Do you decide on those items mainly by price? I'd like to read case studies of audiophiles who want the real thing, but are able to get there with relatively cheap ancillary components. Those systems should be an interesting study.

tonykaz's picture

I'm old school Scotland ( Linn ). I start with a darn good source and darn good recordings and build out from there. Speakers come last.

In the USA, folks start with Speakers and build back to the Source.

I can recall a CES ( 1980s ) where the Cerwin Vega guys were playing Sheffield Lab records making their crappy but gigantic loudspeakers sound pretty darn good. But... try playing really crappy recordings on a well done Wilson system and you're gonna get really crappy sound.

Most vinyl was made to be played on really crappy Sears & Roebuck crappy record changers. We could forgive ( back then ), the World was a nicer place.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Sorry, but that reply does not address what I said. A case study of "best sound" large speakers - which ancillary components can go with those speakers that don't compromise the sound?

tonykaz's picture

Of course.

The very best I've owned were the Elecrocompaniet Mono Amps, today the Mastering Engineers are using gigantically powerful Class D. They're talking over a thousand watts per channel.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

In that case, I will confess I'm still skeptical about Class D, in spite of our advances in electronics. People say they can hear the difference between 96 khz and DSD 384 or what have you, and they *can't* hear the difference between Class A and Class D (all other features being equal of course)?

tonykaz's picture

All this stuff has different sound quality, I think.

But, Class D definitely does a superb job with music.

The Gigantic plus is that Tons of Power comes realllllllly cheap and does make Loudspeakers come to life. It's like Infinite Head-room with no down-side.

Harmon's finest System, the M-2, uses Class D.

We Audiophiles are the last ones to find out.

We still have Class A on our Alters.

We're Old School

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Dodging the issue again, Tony. If you're good with Class D over Class A, then I assume you're probably OK with CD's 44 khz over any high-res format. Unless you say otherwise.

tonykaz's picture

I'm ok with 16/44.1

I feel like the higher rez. files are like using a Box Car to haul a milk crate.

Besides, MQA is a 16/44.1 format.

The Pro-Audio folks mostly use 48 & 96, I'm not having to Standardize to their communities needs.

Consumer music barely has 10 bits of dynamic range, and my hearing starts tapering off at 8khz.

24/192 is the Sizzle,
16/44.1 is the Steak

Tony in Michigan

Trace's picture

I see Me. Kaz is on one of his non-germane rants. Always amusing/pitiful. If Mr. Greenhill compares the Levinson to the Theta Prometheus monos I can relate as I own his review samples. In relating to the clarity/dynamics it would seem to be a good pairing and am sorry the test could not have included them.

tonykaz's picture

You nailed it!

Staggering price levels are non-germane to Music gear, they are germane to the world of Modern Art.

Maybe, just maybe, you might get the reviewer to autograph this piece and buy it from Harmon.

Tony in Michigan

ps. like the reviewer, I once owned ML gear. I'm not a "Luxury" buyer any longer.

mrkaic's picture

John, do you happen to have the measures of the residual noise at open input? From Figure 3 I eyeballed it to be around 0.04 mV, which appears quite good. But it would be interesting to know the precise value.

Best,

MM

Staxguy's picture

It's a very good looking product (just look at the interior photos), the Mark Levinson No. 526 Preamplifier ($20,000.00 USD), and the Clari-Fi digital technology sure sounds interesting, but what has happened to Mark Levinson?

It is 2017, and the SN ratio is 97 db (100 dB, A-weighted). What of 24-bit audio? What of at least 130 dB?

For $1750, back in 1973, Mark Levinson made the LNP-2 Preamplifier, which boasted dynamic range of > 130 dB.

http://www.preservationsound.com/?p=6060

Today, for about $2000.00 USD you would find that in a product like the Brooklyn MyTek DAC.

https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn/

To my eye, Mark Levinson of today has gone a bit McIntosh, in the box-preservation department, harking back to the days of the 33 (1990's).

Would I take a Mark Levinson No. 526 and associated components over a Daniel Hertz ML 6L Preamplifier and ML 5L Monoblocks?

Ah, there is nothing wrong with 97 dB. That's 1 dB over the CD's 96 dB dynamic range, though not yet into Sony's Super Bit Mapping (20-bit) territory...

BTW, TonyKaz, are you the famous Kaz of inner|fidelity?

Looking at the circuit boards today, they remind me abit of Asus and their Xonar ...

https://www.asus.com/ca-en/Sound-Cards/Essence_STX_II/specifications/

Though I am thinking of their external DAC.

Would I buy the Mark Levinson, if I had more money. Ah, yes, likely to go with the JBL speakers...

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/96/6b/3b/966b3bc31e076c7d3ecbc...

I should probably work on a 97 dB wallet. :)

Staxguy's picture

BTW, I like the sound of the Mark Levinson Pure Path technology.

It is so well in contrast to the Convergent Audio Technology CAT SL-1 Renaissance Black Path ($9995.00 USD), which is so Aghora Tantric!

https://www.amazon.com/Aghora-At-Left-Hand-God/dp/0914732218

http://www.stereophile.com/content/convergent-audio-technology-sl1-renai...

PurePath TM is more Christian, more Promise Keepers!

Ah, Charlie Hayden would have a revival!

ToeJam's picture

I own a No. 523 and a pair of No. 536's. My DAC is a Bel Canto 2.7. I've found the clarity of sounds and the spaciousness between voices in harmony is remarkable. I don't have experience with other fine DACs or Preamps as these are my first non-AVR purchases, but I couldn't be happier with what I hear coming from my B&W 800's. However, the quality of a recording is revealed to an extreme, and a great deal of good music is noticeably less appealing on this system. On the other hand, fine recordings are magical.

christophervalle's picture

When referring to the Koss Pro 4AA, do you mean the original? Decades old? Whenever I put on a pair of those, I was reminded of Uncle Fester with his head in a vice. Painful? Maybe, but he sure looked happy.

Glotz's picture

The comparisons were very meaningful, while admittedly super-convenient. It still resonates well.

Pages

Mark Levinson No.526 preamplifier Associated Equipment

Thu, 04/20/2017

COMMENTS
tonykaz's picture

I hear women say'n that about $500 Purses & Shoes.

You didn't mean it that way, did you?

I'll guess that you meant that it wasn't worth destroying your next three years financial life to own, so you sent it back. I would too, even if they let me have it for dealer cost ( about 50% ) or used/demo type of scratched damaged level ( 35% of Retail price ).

I think this "to die for" concept started with the early Christian Martyrs but it kinda died out till recently when wannabe up-scale women started shopping at Lord & Taylor, ISIS got it from them and reallllllly means it. ( ouch )

Now it aptly applies to the staggeringly priced Audiophile Gear.

I'm no longer an Audiophile!

I'm one of the fresh/new Stereophiles!!! ( I may even be the oldest )

Phew

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Tony, I wish your rant had some new information. But, nice guy that I am, I'll throw you a bone here - one that you might have missed in the review:

"....nonetheless, it has things the No.52 (the $30k preamp) doesn't: a DAC that can accept 32-bit data, a newer-design class-A phono circuit, a headphone output, a front-panel polarity switch, Harman's Clari-Fi digital-restoration module—which scans for file type (and thus degree of compression) and then uses existing data to guide it in restoring "waveform deficiencies"—and a defeatable, fourth-order, 80Hz high-pass output filter for use in a surround-sound system or with a subwoofer."

So there - you see? User with $30k preamp sees that the $20k preamp has new goodies that the $30k preamp doesn't have, and so Levinson obviously needs to create a new $40k preamp. Just sayin'.

tonykaz's picture

I still give the Front Cover to Mytek Brooklyn, it has MQA, it can even do Surround, for a measly $2K.

Only a very few will end up owning the ML ( the "Luxury" buyers ).

Besides, it's the actual quality of the recording that matters here, the sound quality differencial of DACs seems to be rather minute slivers overshadowed by stuff like iFi USB Cable technologies.

But, lets not tell the Orthodontists any of this. ML, Harmon and Samsung need these Good/Better/Best "Luxury" DACs to be a Sales Success.

It's safe to say that I've never enjoyed the Applause of Admiring Customers but I always seem to get re-hired after completing their troublesome projects. I'd be damn lucky to assemble a kit DAC and have the darn thing actually work. Annnnnnd, if it did actually work, I'd doubt that I could discern if it sounded any good.

However,
Give me a Lamb Transfer Machine and I'll have it singing like a International Harvester.

Tony in Michigan

ps. the Schiit Yggy DAC has 7 individual Circuit boards that each look as jam packed as the one board of this ML. the Yggy cost = $2,500, go figure! ( it might even sound as good or better )

ps.2) nice hearing from y'all ( again )

dalethorn's picture

I don't know all of that gear (very little of it actually), so I enquire for my own use starting with certain principles. For example, if I want the most realistic sound, I know I will need a good-size room and big speakers that can output realistic sound. There's no getting around that, unless you intend to compromise. Then I need amps appropriate to the speakers, and from there work backward to the source (CD, digital etc.) Do you think that people who want the most realistic sound, who are buying the big speakers for their listening room, are inclined to skimp on amps and DACs and source components? Do you decide on those items mainly by price? I'd like to read case studies of audiophiles who want the real thing, but are able to get there with relatively cheap ancillary components. Those systems should be an interesting study.

tonykaz's picture

I'm old school Scotland ( Linn ). I start with a darn good source and darn good recordings and build out from there. Speakers come last.

In the USA, folks start with Speakers and build back to the Source.

I can recall a CES ( 1980s ) where the Cerwin Vega guys were playing Sheffield Lab records making their crappy but gigantic loudspeakers sound pretty darn good. But... try playing really crappy recordings on a well done Wilson system and you're gonna get really crappy sound.

Most vinyl was made to be played on really crappy Sears & Roebuck crappy record changers. We could forgive ( back then ), the World was a nicer place.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Sorry, but that reply does not address what I said. A case study of "best sound" large speakers - which ancillary components can go with those speakers that don't compromise the sound?

tonykaz's picture

Of course.

The very best I've owned were the Elecrocompaniet Mono Amps, today the Mastering Engineers are using gigantically powerful Class D. They're talking over a thousand watts per channel.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

In that case, I will confess I'm still skeptical about Class D, in spite of our advances in electronics. People say they can hear the difference between 96 khz and DSD 384 or what have you, and they *can't* hear the difference between Class A and Class D (all other features being equal of course)?

tonykaz's picture

All this stuff has different sound quality, I think.

But, Class D definitely does a superb job with music.

The Gigantic plus is that Tons of Power comes realllllllly cheap and does make Loudspeakers come to life. It's like Infinite Head-room with no down-side.

Harmon's finest System, the M-2, uses Class D.

We Audiophiles are the last ones to find out.

We still have Class A on our Alters.

We're Old School

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Dodging the issue again, Tony. If you're good with Class D over Class A, then I assume you're probably OK with CD's 44 khz over any high-res format. Unless you say otherwise.

tonykaz's picture

I'm ok with 16/44.1

I feel like the higher rez. files are like using a Box Car to haul a milk crate.

Besides, MQA is a 16/44.1 format.

The Pro-Audio folks mostly use 48 & 96, I'm not having to Standardize to their communities needs.

Consumer music barely has 10 bits of dynamic range, and my hearing starts tapering off at 8khz.

24/192 is the Sizzle,
16/44.1 is the Steak

Tony in Michigan

Trace's picture

I see Me. Kaz is on one of his non-germane rants. Always amusing/pitiful. If Mr. Greenhill compares the Levinson to the Theta Prometheus monos I can relate as I own his review samples. In relating to the clarity/dynamics it would seem to be a good pairing and am sorry the test could not have included them.

tonykaz's picture

You nailed it!

Staggering price levels are non-germane to Music gear, they are germane to the world of Modern Art.

Maybe, just maybe, you might get the reviewer to autograph this piece and buy it from Harmon.

Tony in Michigan

ps. like the reviewer, I once owned ML gear. I'm not a "Luxury" buyer any longer.

mrkaic's picture

John, do you happen to have the measures of the residual noise at open input? From Figure 3 I eyeballed it to be around 0.04 mV, which appears quite good. But it would be interesting to know the precise value.

Best,

MM

Staxguy's picture

It's a very good looking product (just look at the interior photos), the Mark Levinson No. 526 Preamplifier ($20,000.00 USD), and the Clari-Fi digital technology sure sounds interesting, but what has happened to Mark Levinson?

It is 2017, and the SN ratio is 97 db (100 dB, A-weighted). What of 24-bit audio? What of at least 130 dB?

For $1750, back in 1973, Mark Levinson made the LNP-2 Preamplifier, which boasted dynamic range of > 130 dB.

http://www.preservationsound.com/?p=6060

Today, for about $2000.00 USD you would find that in a product like the Brooklyn MyTek DAC.

https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn/

To my eye, Mark Levinson of today has gone a bit McIntosh, in the box-preservation department, harking back to the days of the 33 (1990's).

Would I take a Mark Levinson No. 526 and associated components over a Daniel Hertz ML 6L Preamplifier and ML 5L Monoblocks?

Ah, there is nothing wrong with 97 dB. That's 1 dB over the CD's 96 dB dynamic range, though not yet into Sony's Super Bit Mapping (20-bit) territory...

BTW, TonyKaz, are you the famous Kaz of inner|fidelity?

Looking at the circuit boards today, they remind me abit of Asus and their Xonar ...

https://www.asus.com/ca-en/Sound-Cards/Essence_STX_II/specifications/

Though I am thinking of their external DAC.

Would I buy the Mark Levinson, if I had more money. Ah, yes, likely to go with the JBL speakers...

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/96/6b/3b/966b3bc31e076c7d3ecbc...

I should probably work on a 97 dB wallet. :)

Staxguy's picture

BTW, I like the sound of the Mark Levinson Pure Path technology.

It is so well in contrast to the Convergent Audio Technology CAT SL-1 Renaissance Black Path ($9995.00 USD), which is so Aghora Tantric!

https://www.amazon.com/Aghora-At-Left-Hand-God/dp/0914732218

http://www.stereophile.com/content/convergent-audio-technology-sl1-renai...

PurePath TM is more Christian, more Promise Keepers!

Ah, Charlie Hayden would have a revival!

ToeJam's picture

I own a No. 523 and a pair of No. 536's. My DAC is a Bel Canto 2.7. I've found the clarity of sounds and the spaciousness between voices in harmony is remarkable. I don't have experience with other fine DACs or Preamps as these are my first non-AVR purchases, but I couldn't be happier with what I hear coming from my B&W 800's. However, the quality of a recording is revealed to an extreme, and a great deal of good music is noticeably less appealing on this system. On the other hand, fine recordings are magical.

christophervalle's picture

When referring to the Koss Pro 4AA, do you mean the original? Decades old? Whenever I put on a pair of those, I was reminded of Uncle Fester with his head in a vice. Painful? Maybe, but he sure looked happy.

Glotz's picture

The comparisons were very meaningful, while admittedly super-convenient. It still resonates well.

Pages

Pages