Mark Levinson No.38S preamplifier Review System

Sidebar 2: Review System

During the 10 months I used the No.38S, the digital front-end consisted of a Mark Levinson No.31 CD transport and an Aiwa portable DAT recorder. These drove various processors—including a Mark Levinson No.30.5 in both HDCD and non-HDCD forms, a Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 Mk.II, and an Assemblage DAC-1—via a Sonic Frontiers UltraJitterbug or an Audio Alchemy DTI•Pro. Digital datalinks used included Madrigal, AudioQuest, and Illuminati AES/EBU cables—the latter needs to be broken-in for 200 hours!—and ASM Labs Mamba ST optical fiber.

Power amplifiers were the Mark Levinson No.20.6 monoblocks primarily driving B&W Silver Signature loudspeakers via their integral silver cables. I also used a large number of other speakers during the review period, those being reviewed for the magazine. The phono front-end consisted of a Linn Lingo'd LP12 fitted with an Ekos arm and Arkiv cartridge amplified via a Mod Squad Phono Drive EPS.

Interconnects were AudioQuest balanced AudioTruth Diamond from processor to preamp, and balanced AudioTruth Lapis from preamp to power amps. Other than the No.30.5, all the front-end components were plugged-in to a Power Wedge 116 AC conditioner fitted with the Power Enhancer meter option, which was itself plugged-in to one of the two AC lines dedicated to audio that serve my listening room. The power amplifiers were plugged-in to the other line.—John Atkinson

Mark Levinson division of the Harman Consumer Group
1718 W. Mishawaka Road
Elkhart, IN 46517
(516) 594-0300