Mark Levinson's New Middle-Tier Preamplifier

Mark Levinson introduced its new No.523 stereo preamplifier ($15,000) at CES 2017. Todd Eichenbaum, who designed the No.523, explained that it offers many of features found in the company's No.52 preamplifier ($30,000). However, compared to that reference preamp, the No.523 is an all-new design. It features six line-level inputs, a phono preamplifier, and a headphone amplifier (there's a 1/4" jack on the preamp's front panel). The No.523 is identical in every way to Levinson's No.526 preamplifier ($20,000), apart from lacking that unit's internal DAC.

ToeJam's picture

I've owned one for months now. I have no meaningful first hand experience with other preamps, but compared to directly connecting my Bel Canto 2.7 DAC to my ML No. 536 amps, I notice more resolution and space between sounds when the 523 is between the Bel Canto and the amplifiers. I assume that's attributable to the superior attenuation circuit of the 523 vs. the digital DAC attenuator. Whatever the actual reason/s, the improvement is not subtle.