|Mark Levinson No. 32 Reference Stereo Preamplifier|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Monday, 01 April 2002|
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Although the remote for the No. 32 is constructed with the same quality as the rest of the product, it fatigued me to hold it. I’d like to see it made smaller and lighter. A/V manufacturers could learn a lesson from the cell phone industry that has definitely figured out how to produce something that sits comfortably in your hands for hours on end and can be operated in the dark.
The Mark Levinson No. 32 is well-engineered sonic masterpiece that when combined with the proper supporting components can produce sound beyond your wildest imagination. Before I recommend you plop down this kind of money, it is important that the rest of your system is up to its level. There is no question that it will improve any system regardless of price, but it only makes sense to me when teamed up with equal components and for that matter, components of equal pride-of-ownership. The Mark Levinson No.336 power amplifier is a great choice at $10,000, the choice of the Audio Revolution’s Publisher. The Pass X Series amplifiers, and Krell FPB Series amplifiers represent additional options at a similar price point. I currently have the No. 32 matched with tubes from Sonic Frontiers, which proved to be a great sounding solution. At the Reference level the Mark Levinson No. 33 mono power amps are well suited for those who have the cash for the best along with a friend at the fork lift rental place. The No. 33’s are as huge physically as they are large in performance and price ($35,000 per pair).
To most, the Mark Levinson No. 32 sounds ridiculously expensive. I may be slightly jaded due to the fact that I have similarly priced products that reside in my A/V system, however I do understand that most if not all have no real understanding of what this thing does for music, or why it costs so much. The fact exists, however perplexing, that there is a real demand for the best-of-the-best however unpractical is seams to those of us that don’t enter our driveways through a motorized iron gate. The No. 32 is transparent and fast without even the slightest edginess or unnatural artifacts. It’s analytical yet not a bit forward. It has an extremely liquid and open top-end that never felt the least bit constrained. The bass control was unequivocally the best that I have heard. The No. 32 allowed images to naturally breath giving life to absolutely every recording it saw. At times I felt such a sense of space between my room and myself that I felt closer to the musical event than to my actual surroundings. If you allow it to, the No. 32 will seduce you and musically transport you to a place that you have never before been. Truth be said, the No. 32 was so superior to every other preamp that I had heard, I couldn’t possibly resist. I bought it. The Mark Levinson No. 32 shares something in common with the likes of David Copperfield, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis – all both produce magic.