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Mark Levinson Ships A/V Component Trio

10/13/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

A trio of new high-end audio products shipped by Mark Levinson include the brand's first-ever switching power amplifier, promoted as eliminating the technology's traditional switching-noise and "dead-band" drawbacks to rival the best sounding tube-based amps.

The other two products are the brand's first non-Reference power amp with balanced differential outputs and a new preamp processor.

The Harman brand's $25,000-suggested No53 single-channel amp, appearing in the Reference series, is the switching amp, which is rated at 500 watts into 8 ohms and measures 21 inches by 9 inches by 21 inches. Like any switching amp, it switches its output devices on and off in rapid succession to mimic the input signal. The design delivers increased efficiency, higher power and compact size, but switching amps also create switching noise and dead bands, the company said. The No53, however, is said to remove switching noise by, among other things, raising the switching frequency to 2MHz to push the fundamental switching noise and its harmonics above the limit of human hearing. That also allows the use of gentler filters to more easily remove the switching noise from the output signal, the company said.

The amp is also said to completely eliminate dead bands, which are silent audio-output gaps created when the output devices driving the positive half of the signal and the negative half of the signal are both turned off. The No53 allows both sets of output devices to be on simultaneously for short periods of time.

In another launch, the brand began shipping the $20,000-suggested No532 dual-mono power amp, a 2x400-watt single-chassis model promoted as the brand's first fully differential mode outside the Reference series. It features RCA and XLR connectors that accept balanced signals directly into the input stage of the amplifier. Its chassis isolates potentially noisy power and control circuits from the audio circuits, and it features Levinson's proprietary ML Net and Link2 inter-device communication protocols for control from other Levinson components. The No532 also provides a 12-volt trigger input and output to synchronize on/standby status with non-Levinson components. An RS-232 port also enables control from integrated control systems.

In preamp processors, the brand began shipping the $35,000-suggested 7.4-channel No502 media console, which incorporates video processing. It features 1080p/24Hz video inputs and outputs, up-converts video sources to HDMI, up-scales to 1080p, and features noise-reduction and detail-enhancement algorithms to clean up and sharpen compressed images from standard DVDs and TV broadcasts. It also features motion-adaptive video de-interlacing with edge interpolation.

On the audio side, the No502 features Dolby Digital, DTS and multichannel-PCM playback as well as Harman International's proprietary Logic 7 surround processing. It also features automatic room EQ, RS-232 control port and a bass-management system that utilizes phase-matched signal paths to prevent signal cancellation.