You might want to lock the door and check your 401K plan before going any further. Mark Levinson is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022 which is an amazing achievement. Harman has done a superb job resurrecting the brand and the equipment they offer is first-rate. The $50,000 asking price for the Mark Levinson ML-50 Amplifier package is certainly going to limit who can afford it.
There are only 100 pairs available which makes them rare once they are gone — but one could assemble a complete Mark Levinson system right now for a lot less.
$50,000 is a lot of money for any high-end component, but there’s clearly a market for the product.
One could make the same argument about the recently introduced McIntosh MC3500 MKII Tube Amplifier which retails for $15,000 but there’s a $35,000 difference between the two products and our “experience” at the factory (which you can read about here) sold us on the product.
Since 1972, Mark Levinson audio products have set the standard for audio performance and have enjoyed a following of passionate owners who accept nothing but the best in sound reproduction.
In creating the ML-50 monaural power amplifier, the Mark Levinson team looked to its past to some of the most important monaural amplifiers that each influenced the design in a special way. The ML-50 model name itself calls back to the first Mark Levinson power amplifier – the ML-2 – produced from 1977 to 1986.
The № 20 power amplifier and its updated models the № 20.5 and № 20.6 produced between 1986 and 1995 inspired the large front panel handles found on the ML-50. The № 33 (1994-2003) and № 33H (1997-2007) reference amplifiers sparked the idea of the outrigger feet that provide the solid foundation for the ML-50 chassis.
The concept of the glass front panel and red backlit Mark Levinson logo on the ML-50 is lifted from the incredible № 53 reference amplifier built from 2008 to 2019. And the award-winning № 536 amplifier (2015-present) became the starting point platform for the impeccable audio performance found in the ML-50.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the ML-50 is the clear glass top cover that showcases the internal beauty of the circuit designs. The Mark Levinson design team went to incredible lengths to optimize the electrical layout of all component circuit boards in painstaking detail, extracting every ounce of audio performance in the process.
The result is an interior that is simply a work of art visually and electrically. Elevating the drama of the glass top cover, internal LED lighting casts a glow over the interior and can be switched between red, white, and off.
The dynamic solid aluminum front panel design also features a large black glass panel insert with a red backlit LED Mark Levinson logo, and a machined aluminum standby power button encircled with a red LED light ring. The central glass panel is flanked by a pair of silver machined aluminum handles that are as functional as they are beautiful.
The power supply and audio circuits of the № 536 platform have been enhanced to offer even higher performance. The hardware engineers started by creating a lower noise floor by increasing the high-voltage supply (voltage gain and pre-driver circuits) capacitance by 50% (from 8,800uF to 13,200uF).
Next, they gave it increased dynamic power with a 20% increase in the capacitance of the main high-current supply (169,200uF to 206,800uF) plus reconfigured Schottky rectifiers for a lower-impedance path from the transformer to the filter caps. Distortion has been lowered by doubling the output stage bias resulting in more than quadruple the amount of Class A power: 20W into 8-ohms.
The overall Class AB power has also increased to 425W into 8-ohms. The result is an amplifier with the highest levels of subjective and objective performance.
To provide the most stable platform possible for the increased audio performance, a new vibration-damping, mechanically isolated foot design can be found at all four corners underneath the chassis of the ML-50. These feet mimic the curved shape of the front panel and elevate the chassis further above the surface for increased convection cooling in conjunction with the new twin-channel top panel venting and massive external heat sinks.
As a fully balanced design, the ML-50 offers balanced XLR and single-ended RCA audio jack inputs and two sets of Mark Levinson Hurricane binding post speaker terminals. Advanced internal protection and monitoring ensures reliable performance under demanding conditions, while Ethernet, serial, and 12V trigger connections provide complete external control.
Each ML-50 amplifier package includes two monaural amplifiers and an accessory kit that includes two 3m power cords, a microfiber polishing cloth, white gloves, and owner’s documentation. The three cartons are vertically stacked on a wooden pallet base and protected with a triple-wall cardboard sleeve and banding straps.
“The ML-50 is a celebration of the 50 years of products and performance that have made Mark Levinson the benchmark for no-compromise audio that it is today,” said Jim Garrett, Senior Director, Product Strategy and Planning, HARMAN Luxury Audio. “With only 100 pair to be offered globally, this statement amplifier package is an heirloom investment in the finest luxury audio equipment available.”
The Mark Levinson ML-50 limited edition amplifier package will be available from select retailers in Q4 of 2022 at a retail price of $50,000 per system pair. Only 100 pairs will be sold.