Stereophile reviews the Mark Levinson No.585 integrated amplifier

25 November 2015 08:57

In July 2000, I reviewed the Mark Levinson company's first integrated amplifier, the No.383, and found that its sound had "clarity, transparency, liquid mids and highs, with dynamic contrasts." Also evident were the No.383's power-output limitations, the result of building large power supplies and heatsinks into a single case that had to fulfill multiple functions. Still, the No.383's price of $5900 was much less than the total cost of the equivalent in Mark Levinson separates. Later, in April 2007, I reviewed a similarly powered integrated amplifier, Bryston's B100-DA ($3195), which included a built-in DAC.

Since July 2000, Class A and B of Stereophile's "Recommended Components" have swollen from 17 to a total of 29 integrated amplifiers. The April 2015 edition of the list shows prices of most integrateds (with the exception of Bel Canto Design's Black system) to be lower than those of comparable component audio systems, and ranging from $3300 to $14,000. Integrateds have continued to be popular in these pages. Within the last 12 months alone, we have reviewed and recommended nine integrated amplifiers—three including built-in DACs—ranging in price from $799 to $50,000, in weight from 2.9 to 77 lbs, and in power output from 22 to 300Wpc.

At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, the Harman Luxury Audio Group introduced a new Mark Levinson integrated amplifier, the No.585, designed to be compatible with present-day multichannel surround systems and to handle digital signals with an internal, DSD-capable DAC—and managed by a sophisticated and intuitive user interface. When an opportunity arose to review the No.585, I jumped.

What's New
The Mark Levinson No.585 delivers 200Wpc into 8 ohms, provides 6 digital inputs, and sells for $12,000—double the No.383 in all three parameters. New to the '585 are its line-level outputs, its digital-to-analog converter that handles both PCM and DSD digital music files, and is equipped with Harman International's proprietary Clari-Fi circuit for reconstructing compressed digital audio files. The exterior heatsinks of its predecessor have given way to a combination of internal heatsinks and vents in the top and bottom plates, and the new amp's exterior is further streamlined by leaving off the No.383's rear handles. The No.585 is 0.31" narrower, 0.35" taller, and 2.8" deeper—but only 7 lbs heavier—than the No.383. (Even so, the No.585 is Mark Levinson's lightest amplifier.)

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