|Mark Levinson Brand Is Back with First New Preamp – The No. 320S|
|Home Theater News Preamplifier News|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Wednesday, 23 June 2004|
After a consolidation of the Mark Levinson and Revel brands with Lexicon to form Harman Specialty Group, Mark Levinson is about to start shipping a new reference preamp called the No. 320S Preamplifier. After moving Mark Levinson’s operations from Connecticut to Massachusetts, this is the first new product from Mark Levinson in approximately a year. New power amps made at HSG’s Massachusetts factory are slated to be available next month. Levinson’s flagship No. 40, two chassis AV preamp, is rumored to be shipping by the end of 2004.
The No. 320s is a direct descendant of the critically acclaimed No. 32 Reference Preamplifier. The No. 320S features audio circuits, controls, architecture, and an optional phono module based on the No. 32. In fact, some audio circuits, such as the proprietary discrete volume attenuators, are identical to those found in the No. 32.
Although it features a single-chassis design, the No. 320S achieves separation of audio circuit, control, and power supply sections similar to the dual-chassis No. 32. Inside the No. 320S, these sections are separated by physical layout as well as a steel shield box that protects against electrostatic and magnetic interference. Filtered AC power is routed outside audio circuit sections, providing audio circuits with the quiet, shielded environment essential for superior sound.
The new No. 320S offers a series of highly effective noise suppression and isolation technologies. Two active voltage regulation stages filter AC power for noise as soon as it enters the chassis. A high-power stage absorbs line voltage and temperature variations, while a second high-performance stage provides audio circuits with local high-speed power. Audio circuit and control sections have separate power supplies, each with their own low-noise toroidal transformer. The audio circuit transformer includes a Faraday shield to separate AC power from low-voltage secondaries for improved isolation.
Featuring an advanced dual-mono design, the No. 320S is endowed with remarkable channel separation and exceptional sonic imaging. All audio channels use independent power supplies, communication circuits, and audio circuits. In addition, each channel’s audio circuits are located in a separate area of the chassis. This innovative design isolates each channel from the others, allowing the No. 320S to produce vividly rich, three-dimensional sonic images with stunning precision according to Harman Specialty Group.
For even greater channel isolation, the No. 320S can deactivate unused inputs to prevent interference from associated components. When an input is deactivated, the No. 320S disconnects the input signal and ground connection, eliminating ground loop noise between the No. 320S and the associated component. As a result, input signals pass through the No. 320S without even the subtlest interference from other components.
Two Mark Levinson-designed discrete volume attenuator modules control master volume level with unparalleled accuracy and sonic neutrality. Constructed with Arlon 25N circuit boards with local power supply regulation and bypass capacitors, these modules generate optimal power and isolation for even the most sensitive adjustments. Precision surface-mounted resistors accommodate adjustments in 1.0dB increments up to 23.0dB and 0.1dB increments above 23.0dB.
Unlike most stereo preamplifiers, the No. 320S is designed to integrate with multi-channel surround sound processors — minus the drawback of competing master volume level controls. A unique surround sound processor mode allows the No. 320S to deactivate its master volume level control, passing complete control to the surround sound processor. With no interference from the No. 320S, the surround sound processor can maintain the relative volume level of all channels without distorting its carefully calibrated input and output levels.
Connectors include three balanced (XLR) and four single-ended (RCA) input connectors. Single-ended input signals are converted to balanced signals upon entering the chassis, and processed as balanced signals thereafter. During this conversion process, meticulously balanced circuits preserve all input signal information, passing it to the power amplifier without the limitations of more asymmetrical single-ended designs. The rear panel also includes separate main and record output connectors, as well as two Link communication ports that make it possible for the No. 320S to be included in Mark Levinson Link systems.
A large front panel select knob provides quick selection of the desired input. When an input is selected, the user just presses and holds the front panel or remote control setup button to open the corresponding Set Inputs menu. This can be used to select a custom name, optimize gain levels, set a master volume level offset, or assign record output connectors to individual inputs.
The No. 320S includes seven configurable inputs, separate main and record outputs, and full surround sound processor integration, which allow it to accommodate a wide range of demands. Even more, an excess of advanced technologies protect audio circuits for a superior sound sure to complement even the most sophisticated home entertainment systems.
The No. 320S product highlights include:
• 7 configurable inputs
• Separate main and record outputs
• 3 balanced (XLR) inputs
• 4 single-ended (RCA) inputs
• Complete surround sound processor integration
• Advanced dual-mono design
• Maximum channel isolation
• Separate audio circuit, control, and power supply sections
• Independent power supplies for audio circuit and control sections, each with its own low-noise toroidal transformer
• Effective noise suppression and isolation technologies
• AC power filtering
• 2 active voltage regulation stages
• Faraday shield to separate AC power from low-voltage secondaries
• Independent audio circuits, communication circuits, and power supplies for each channel
• 2 proprietary discrete volume attenuator modules
• Deactivation of unused inputs to eliminate ground loop noise
• Balanced processing for single-ended input signals
• Intuitive Set Inputs menu
• Large front panel display
• 2 Mark Levinson Link communication ports
• RS-232 communication port
• Trigger output connector
• IR input connector
• Optional phono modules