Mark Levinson No.53 Reference monoblock power amplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Solid-state, monoblock power amplifier with proprietary "class-I" output stage. Inputs: 1 unbalanced (RCA), 1 balanced (XLR). Outputs: 2 pairs binding posts. Maximum output power (20Hz–20kHz, at <0.1% distortion): 500W into 8 ohms (27dBW); 1000W into 4 ohms (27dBW). Frequency response: 10Hz–20kHz, ±0.1dB. Input impedance: 100k ohms balanced, 50k ohms unbalanced. Voltage gain: 26.8dB. Output impedance: not specified. Input sensitivity: 2.89V input for full output. Signal/noise ratio: 85dB ref. 2.83V RMS (1W at 8 ohms). Power consumption: not specified.
Dimensions: 20.9" (530mm) H 8.4" (214mm) W by 20.4" (518mm) D. Weight: 135 lbs (61.2kg) net, 165 lbs (74.8kg) shipping.
Serial Numbers of Units Reviewed: 9800004366 & '7.
Price: $50,000/pair. Approximate number of dealers: 50. Warranty: 5 years, transferable.
Manufacturer: Harman Luxury Audio Group, 1718 W. Mishawaka Road, Elkhart, IN 46517. Tel: (888) 691-4171. Web:

Harman Luxury Audio Group
1718 W. Mishawaka Road
Elkhart, IN 46517
(888) 691-4171

tmsorosk's picture

Many may find Mike's less than stellar review a surprize , not me , I found his sonic discription about on par with mine , and thats coming from a guy thats on his third generation of Levinson amps.

Mark Levinson needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Will Levein's picture

I was looking forward to this review because my understanding is the No.53s have pretty much split-opinions between those that 'get-them' and those that don't. Obviously Mr Harley is in the latter camp & he hasn't exactly held back has he!

I myself am the very satisfied owner of the stereo No.532. Unlike the commentor above this was the first ML purchase I've ever made, and believe me, I compared it at length (both in terms of time & geography!) with all the expected contendors. It emerged far and away as my favourite: the best power amp I've heard in 20 years of listening.

I accept that the consensus is emerging that the No.53s are indeed disappointing, but what I would say is don't write off the 'lesser' amps in the range, because they perform superbly and offer what I think is good value for money too.

John Atkinson's picture

Larry Greenhill favorably reviewed the No.532H in the August 2011 issue of Stereophile: see

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Will Levein's picture

Of course I meant Mr Fremer, not Harley. I read too many Hi-Fi magazines!

Axiom05's picture

The technology used in the 532 and No. 53 amps is very different. They are very different amplifiers and one should have no expectations about one based upon the other.

tmsorosk's picture

Good point { Axiom05 } , the 53 's were Levenson's first attempt at class D , but Levinson will send you a bunch of imfo stating it's not class D if you question them on the technology . From there written description it sound's allot like class D to me , but I'm know expert .


It was Larry's review that put the nails in the coffin for the #532H for me . After a little over a year listening to it , I've found it to be as he described. Thanks again Larry.

JohnnyR's picture waited a whole year after LISTENING to the amp yourself THEN read a review and decided it was a crap product but only after letting someone else tell you it was? xD

"It was Larry's review that put the nails in the coffin for the #532H for me . After a little over a year listening to it , I've found it to be as he described. Thanks again Larry."

So much for trusting your own ears and judgement. LMAO

UpAnA's picture

It is not Class D. It is based on the idea of "interleaved Class I". They are fundamentally different, although both switching amplifier technology.

As they say, when all you have is a hammer, everything sort of looks like a nail. In audio, some folks will call switching amplifiers "Class D" and even assign the false moniker like "Digital Amps" to them.

tmsorosk's picture

You may want to read the whole post JohnnyR , and get off drugs.

JohnnyR's picture

Where did I misquote you? Get off drugs yourself. Don't blame me if you kept a "faulty" amp for over a year.

tmsorosk's picture

 " Putting the nails in the coffin "  Would mean it was the last step in a very long process of reading , researching , listening in many systems as well as a long term loan of the #532H in two of my own systems , listening to different music at different levels and trying many cords , cables etc over a period of months to make things just right , before purchasing . Larry's timely review simple confirmed what I felt .  

 I also feel the " faulty amp " as you described it , is one of the best I've ever heard  and will likely keep it for years .

                 Clear ?

UpAnA's picture


Nothing this terrible should be foisted upon an unsuspecting listener. Please allow me to send you a forwarding address and I will properly dismantle it and melt down it's parts for scrap.

I will even refund all of the money recovered from the scrap process, and do the entire procedure for free.

Shall we split the shipping cost?

gn77b's picture

I can't help but wonder about few things and simply notice others. first, are the measurements and subjective reviews completely independent here at Stereophile and the results kept secret until publication? there seems to be a correlation between good measuring gear and subjectively perceived "dry", "fatiguing" or "uninvolving" sound. that, to me, seems suspect. I can imagine a scenario along the lines of "oh, these are the measurements? they look very good, I expect this to sound bad". maybe even unconsciously so. which, amusingly, proves that there is indeed a correlation between sound and measurements.

I have wondered if what we read here are not indeed slightly biased opinions and the result of idiosyncrasies. would anyone reviewing the No. 53 judge it the same?

also, the Soulution is an exceptionally good measuring amp but not class D and not based on large amounts of NFB. but again we read about that "clinical" sound. I can't think of many good measuring amps here at Stereophile that weren't characterized as sounding "dry", "clinical" etc. the same way I can't think of many horribly measuring SET amps that weren't sbjectively praised.

it gets even weirder with speakers. the also recently reviewed Alexandria XLFs have an impedance dropping to 2 ohms and a "schizophrenically" looking frequency response. I can think of many much cheaper speakers reviewed here at Stereophile that have much better measurements. and yet Mr. Atkinson ends his comments by saying "But overall, this is an impressively well-engineered design."

note that I'm not saying I disagree, I have myself perceived some sonic traits that seem to correlate with certain types of amplifiers but no topology/technology seems to be free from its inherent flaws. yet, many times there seems to be a double standard in some reviews, certain equipment receiving harsher critique, just because.

I'm at a loss on how to interpret all this.

Michael Fremer's picture

Actually many great sounding amps measure well too and I never did write that the Soulution wasn't a fine sounding amp. I just described how it sounded, something measurements really don't fully tell you. As for the XLFs, if you look at but one measurement, rather than at all of the ones that really provide a window on how a speaker actually sounds, especially of a complex speaker design like the XLF, you'll often come to a wrong conclusion. A pair of Russian engineers insisted based on the measurements that I have "boomy bass" at home. I told them I don't. They insisted the measurements don't lie so I invited them over. They came with their test CDs and I let them do as they wished with volume etc. Their conclusion: "no boomy bass"! Then I said let me play you some records. "Oh we don't like vinyl" they replied. I said "as long as you're here and since I was kind enough to invite you over, indulge me please." So I played them a few records---not "audiophile" records---that left them literally dumbfounded. They'd never heard anything like that (in a good way). One record in particular moved them---a 1975 recording of "Porgy and Bess" with Maazel conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. "Is that on CD"? they asked. I said "I'm sure, but it won't sound like that." "Well it should," they responded. "Buy it and let me know" I said. So they did and a few weeks later they got back to me and said "You are right! It didn't sound nearly as good". But I'm sure gn77b that it measured better.

kevon27's picture

Ah EMOTIVA XPA 1 mono blocks - made in China and I can get thee on eBay for $1600 and still pay my mortgage..
I love being frugal and can still get great quality gear.