Mark Levinson, the brand not the man, has finally delivered a new reference preamplifier. It’s been over six years since the No.32 went out of production so the arrival of the No.52 will fill a gaping void in this prestigious range. The No.52 was first spotted at CES in January 13 but the company’s production speed has always been tectonic, their motto would appear to be better never than imperfect. It’s a no-holds barred all-analogue, dual-monaural design arranged in a two-chassis system of discrete control and audio sections.
In the No.52’s control section (below) are mirror-imaged DC power supplies and AC regeneration circuits. The audio section (above) employs a mirrored left/right channel configuration, which includes isolated and independent circuit boards for the volume, main and auxiliary signal paths, not to mention extensive shielding. Individual DC umbilical cables between the two chassis carry power to each audio channel while control signals are conveyed via a third connection to keep them isolated.
Inputs include three balanced XLR, four unbalanced RCA line and a dedicated phono input, equipped with selectable moving coil (MC) or moving magnet (MM) operation. Twin sets of XLR and RCA stereo preamplifier outputs are joined by auxiliary pairs of XLR and RCA outputs with fixed or variable output levels and independent source selection. These function either as a third preamp out, a full-range subwoofer output or a record output. In addition, a unity gain SSP (Surround Sound Processor) output provides for the integration of audio sources connected to the No.52 with a home theatre system.
The No.52 offers connectivity via Ethernet, Mark Levinson’s proprietary ML Net, 12V trigger and IR control ports. A USB port facilitates possible future software upgrades. The No.52 is supplied with a remote control that can also be used to operate other Mark Levinson components.
The No.52 is distributed in the UK by Karma AV and will retail for £28,000, availability: April 2014.