Mark Levinson Set To Release Its Flagship No. 502 AV Preamp 
Home Theater News Preamplifier News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Monday, 21 April 2008

Yeah, $30,000 is a lot of money for an AV preamp but when the almighty Mark Levinson comes out with their new flagship unit, it demands your attention. From the company who put high-end audio on the map in the late 1970s and into every Lexus in the late 1990s, comes a no-holds-barred AV preamp with an audiophile soul and videophile switching.

The Mark Levinson No. 502 AV preamp replaces the well-regarded Mark Levinson No. 40 and has many key improvements. Gone is the two chassis design and in is a battery of six HDMI inputs. Controversially, these inputs are set to the HDMI 1.1 standard not the current 1.3b standard which has caused many people (who have seen “This is Spinal Tap” one too many times) to automatically discount the unit. The Mark Levinson engineers, knowing that reliability in the world of custom integrators is priority number one, two and three, can make HDMI 1.1 work every time without the God-awful HDMI “handshake” issues and other HDMI maladies. Moreover, the uncompressed audio that comes via HDMI 1.3 needs to be converted to PCM either by the player or the preamp, thus Mark Levinson opted for the more stable option and suggests that say a Blu-ray player converts the uncompressed audio to PCM before sending it to the preamp. While “this one doesn’t go to 11” in the eyes of some, if you are looking for the best possible sound paired with the most reliable connectivity, Mark Levinson seems to be on to something here.

Download the new PDF on the Mark Levinson No, 502 here.

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