Mark Levinson Introduces the No.526 Preamplifier

I first encountered Levinson's new No.526 preamplifier ($15,000) when I visited the Mark Levinson Engineering Facility on September 30, 2015. The company embargoed any mention of the product until CES, so I went over to the Harman exhibit at the Hard Rock Café to take photos and get information. I was greeted by Levinson's Director of Engineering, Todd Eichenbaum (left) and Jim Garrett, Director of Product Development (right). They walked me through the design of the No.526. Jim presented the inner circuitry as a layer cake, with identical digital control board and DAC digital boards to those in the No.585 Integrated amplifier that I had reviewed in December 2015.

Later, they provided a lengthy listening session to a system that included the No.536 400W monoblock amplifiers, the new No.519 media player/DAC/CD player, a No.526 preamplifier, a VPI Prime turntable and JMW tonearm, and an Ortofon Black cartridge, all mounted on an Aretsania rack. A pair of Revel Ultima Salon2 loudspeakers was the remaining crucial part of the system. Music selections were controlled from an iPad running the latest version of the Mark Levinson's User Interface app. I greatly enjoyed listening to Livingston Taylor's "Isn't She Lovely," which was totally involving, relaxed, unstrained, and translucent-sounding.