The retro-modern integrated amplifier JBL SA-750 was presented alongside them. The “class G” amplifier is inspired by the vintage JBL SA600 model but contains a DAC with integrated UPnP streaming and Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast. Her initial “remake” had had teak side panels as a decorating option; it’s coming soon with walnut veneer panels as standard for its MSRP of $3300/pair. Among other models in the Classic line, the L52 Classic ($1100/pair) was also featured.
The JBL 4305P small powered studio monitor has a scaled down version of JBL’s compression driver; the horn also acts as a waveguide for wider dispersion. Bidirectional offers a balanced input between other connectivity: Ethernet, USB Type B and TosLink digital inputs, a single auxiliary input, a secondary output, etc. It showed a “Roon Tested” designation with the usual streaming services: Qobuz, Tidal Connect, Spotify, Amazon, HD, etc. Settings on the rear include a choice of -10dB or +6dB input sensitivity, and 0dB or -3dB bass contour.
The main active system in the room included the large JBL Summit Everest DD67000 loudspeakers. This loudspeaker uses an exclusive Bi-Radial horn, as well as a 1″ super-tweeter and a 4″ tweeter with beryllium diaphragms. Two 15″ woofers with tri-layer sandwich cones handle the bass.
The Summit Everests were driven by a pair of Mark Levinson ML-50 monoblock amplifiers ($50,000 per pair) with fully balanced discrete circuitry. The ML-50s commemorate the brand’s 50th anniversary; the limited edition of 100 pairs will be sold only in pairs. Shipping begins later in 2022. A Levinson Noh526 preamplifier with an integrated phono stage, which picked up signals from an Ortofon cartridge on the Levinson NohThe gimbal tonearm of the 5105 turntable was in the chain ahead of the glowing monoblocks with glass platters. System wiring was sourced from AudioQuest.
But the order of the day was the playback of dynamic digital tracks, reproduced by a Mark Levinson Noh519 audio player with network streaming, CD player and D/A converter. Learning to listen to one of my records on the Levinson N setupohThe 5105 turntable took a while. I patiently waited while the guys handling the room worked on the transition as needed. It was worth the wait: “Alma Seca” from my LP Juanita Euka revealed lively dynamic energy. Transient percussive attacks were quick and crisp. The guitar sounds sounded right. The basslines were clear enough to follow easily, as they should be for those funky Afro-Latin grooves.
Harman’s Mark Levinson brand continues to expand beyond amplification into new product categories: first there was the Noh5105 record player, now there’s the new Noh5909 Wireless Headphones. The Mark Levinson NohThe 5909 headphones ($1000) use 40mm beryllium-coated drivers “optimized for the Harman curve” plus some EQ options, three active noise-canceling modes, and an “ambient awareness mode” for the ” situational awareness”, i.e. safety. They work with the latest aptX Bluetooth 5.1 (LDAC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs) and feature a four-mic voice array with “intelligent wind adaptation”, the company said. These modes are controllable by the application.
A handful of pairs were installed in a few demo “stations”, each pair being powered by an Arcam SA30 integrated amplifier (to which they were connected by wire) running a Roon playlist controllable via an iPad. (Or you can go “off-script” and try out bits by searching Roon.) They come in Pearl Black, Radiant Red, or Ice Pewter — Levinson’s brand colors — and are now shipping.