The No. 5101: A New SACD Player (!) from Mark Levinson

From my first room at High End Munich: Some actual news: A new SACD player from Mark Levinson.

True—SACD still exists, supported by a small but enthusiastic niche of audiophiles, many of whom buy every new SACD that's released—which, lets face it, isn't that many silver discs.

Which is why it's so surprising that Levinson or any high-end company would release a new SACD player. The No.5101 will join the No.5805 ($8500; review forthcoming in the July Stereophile) and No.5802 integrated amplifiers in Levinson's affordable 5000 series. In addition to playing discs, the No.5101 will serve as a streaming DAC, delivering Tidal or Qobuz and serving up music from your network storage or drives connected to USB ports on the back. The US-built No.5101 will be priced at $5500—not a lot for a Levinson.

When I was in the room, the No.5101 was in the system but not in use. Instead, the source was the company's $20,000 No.519 Audio Player, which plays CDs only—not SACDs. Also in the system but not playing during my visit was the $10,000 No.515 turntable. Amplification was the No.5805 integrated, which was feeding the JBL L100 Classic loudspeakers ($4000/pair), which sounded far better than I expected—my expectations set by distant memories of '70s-era L100s in someone's college dorm. The L100 Classic indeed has that classic look, but it does not have that classic sound. The L100 sounds good.

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is ML 5101 review forth coming too? :-) ..........

Normal Man's picture

Why keep quipping "isn't that many silver discs" when over 3,000 SACD titles have been released?

Jim Austin's picture
that's not very many? My Best, Jim
Normal Man's picture

Interesting. I cite over 3,000 titles released on SACD because I see that as making it the most successful digital audiophile format ever. Jim replies “Maybe because that's not very many?” I offer that we are both correct. If the only standard is widest possible availability of titles from Eagles Greatest Hits to Ars antiqua circa 1150 AD then Jim is correct and the only formats that count are LP, CD, and streaming. My 400 LPs and 1,000s of CD and hi-res tracks ripped to my media computer attest to my agreement that wide breath of selections is a good thing. However as an audiophile I also like and chase what I call ‘HiFi mountain top experiences’ where the reproduction borders on the magic. While trips to the peaks of HiFi happen with regular CDs and LPs I find when I use direct-disk LPs, open reel tape, high-res downloads, and SACDs the peak is more readily attained. Among those more esoteric formats SACD has the widest title selection. This discussion peaked my interest and so I checked and on acousticsounds.com as I type this one enjoys from just that one vendor a selection of 1,579 different titles in the SACD format. That’s a lot of potential trips to the mountain top of HiFi listening. Of course they also show 35,643 products in the Vinyl Record category so the analog vs. digital issue will apparently be with us always.

soundboy's picture

The total number of SACD titles released worldwide is over 13,000. If not more. Current projection for new 2019 SACD releases worldwide is over 700 titles.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

According to Google search No.1 top selling SACD is Pink Floyd DSoTM ........ Michael Jackson Thriller is No.5 :-) ..........

Ortofan's picture

... here: http://www.sa-cd.net/titles/0/0/title/100/1

soundboy's picture

Has been superseded by HRAudio.net.

12,918 SACD titles listed as of this post

wozwoz's picture

hraudio.net was an unfortunate attempt to generalise the success of the sa-cd.net site (which is an excellent site), and to try to tap into the download market. Unfortunately, while the original sa-cd.net is brilliant and focussed, the audio.net version of the site doesn't seem to do anything well, and is just another of those 'try all' sites (Bluray, and every other format) that doesn't really excel at anything, by trying to be a jack of all trades. Also, the developer overestimated the importance of downloads which is basically now a dying commercial format, being replaced by streaming (albeit not much streaming in DSD these days).

Anton's picture

SACD is deserving of our support.

I hope the vinyl hipsters latch on to SACD next!

wozwoz's picture

If you look at the list of top sellers of new releases in the classical world, a substantial (and disproportionately high) proportion of those new releases are on SACD.

I just checked, for instance, the BEST SELLER list of new releases at Prestomusic: of the top 6 sellers, 3 are SACD releases: Bach Cello Suites arranged for violin with Rachael Podger; Bach Markus Passion Savall; and the new Mahler 7 with Ivan Fischer.

wozwoz's picture

The art of good journalism is to get someone who appreciates and understands a format to write about it. It doesn't reflect very well on Stereophile when the author writes: "surprising that Levinson or any high-end company would release a new SACD player" ...

It is almost as though the author is unaware that Stereophile just dedicated an excellent review to the brand new dCS Rossini SACD transport ($23,500) which got rave reviews: see https://www.stereophile.com/content/dcs-rossini-transport-sacdcd-transport. Why do you think dCS bother? Why do you think Stereophile bother? Because they sell and people want them (including the reviewer).

The exciting thing about the new Mark Levinson SACD is that it is a relatively mainstream product for ML, at a relatively low price point for Mark Levinson, that will simply knock their own low-res CD players (which are vastly more expensive) out the market, and includes for free integrated streaming, and supports FLAC and other download formats, and stand-alone DAC for digital sources.

Not sure I am a fan of slot loading for physical formats, but I digress.

Jim Austin's picture
At a reception today, I had a chat with a Harman executive and expressed this very idea. The response: The SACD crowd is indeed enthusiastic (as I noted), and with the company's recent acquisition of Arcam, adding SACD was straightforward. For what it's worth, I'm happy for this--happy for all the SACD enthusiasts. The fact remains that introducing an SACD player right now is not an obvious thing to do. Still, I'm glad they did it. Jim Austin, Editor Stereophile
Widell's picture

Gents,

With all due respect, I think you all missing the point.....

First of all, SACD is not dead, and even if less people engage in purchasing physical discs these day, myself included, I do have a backlog of abt 400 CD and abt 70 SACDs and some DVDA...

As such this is a perfect bridge between the physical medium and streaming,and I think this is exactly why ML has priced this unit as it is, not pocket change I agree but done right (looking forward to reviews....) you get a DAC, CD/SACD player, and a streamer which undoubtedly would cost much more as separates,plus all this fancy and expensive cables we all want but don't need...;)

I think ML are very conscious on this product placement and I for sure look forward to a review soonest, that said, competition is fierce...

Jim Austin's picture
>>I think ML are very conscious on this product placement ... << Yes, Harman knows what it is doing. I do not doubt their decisions; I merely find them surprising, in a good way, Jim
Bogolu Haranath's picture

Glad ML is paying attention to under $10k market :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stereophile has already reviewed ML 532H stereo amp in 2011 ......... 300/WPC $8,000 :-) ........

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