Försteg med analoga ingångar.

Mark Levinson № 523

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The Mark Levinson № 523 is the definitive preamplifier for the analog music lover. Six line-level analog and phono inputs travel through the Mark Levinson proprietary Pure Path discrete, direct-coupled, fully balanced, dual-monaural signal path for breathtaking purity and performance. With precision control including a discrete, balanced R-2R Ladder volume control, class-A Pure Phono stage, and class-A Main Drive Headphone output, the № 523 preamplifier delivers an uncompromising performance regardless of analog source. Housed in a 6000-series aluminum chassis, like all Mark Levinson equipment, the № 523 is designed and handcrafted in the USA.

Mark Levinson Pure Path Circuit Design

Since 1972, Mark Levinson has been dedicated to the uncompromising art of sound, with the guiding principle of musical purity above all else. To achieve that goal like never before, Mark Levinson engineers scoured company archives, ultimately developing a circuit-design philosophy called Pure Path. On a conceptual level, its hallmark principles include a discrete, direct-coupled, fully balanced, dual-monaural signal path that delivers unrestricted, uncompromised sonic purity.
Far from merely arranging high quality components in an intelligent manner, Pure Path is the meeting of science and art: Mark Levinson engineers are tasked to create the best possible measured AND subjective performance. To quote Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Pure Path highlights in the № 523 include Folded Cascodes, an R-2R Ladder volume control, the class-A Pure Phono stage, and class-A Main Drive Headphone amplifier output.

Analog Mastery: The Folded Cascode

Mark Levinson components are designed around a Pure Path amplifier circuit concept that makes heavy use of a circuit design element called a cascode. Originally created for improving the bandwidth of vacuum tube circuits in radios, Mark Levinson engineers deploy cascodes in Pure Path circuit designs to both improve bandwidth and enhance linearity. A cascode combines two transistors so that they operate as a single composite device that functions like a single transistor, using the wanted characteristics of each component transistor, and rejecting the unwanted characteristics.

Mark Levinson engineers began their design of the preamp gain stage with pairs of JFETs (junction field-effect transistors), chosen for their low noise and high gain. JFETs achieve these characteristics in part by being large, and with their large size comes nonlinear gain – or distortion. To mitigate this, BJTs (bipolar junction transistors) were added to the circuit. The BJTs exhibit very low input impedance and very high output impedance, which translates to excellent bandwidth and linearity. By creating a cascode of the JFETs and BJTs, they created a design with the best characteristics of both sets of devices.

Engineers than connected the output of the cascode to another transistor of the opposite “gender.” Current flows through it in the opposite direction to “turn around” the direction of the signal current. This special connection is called a Folded Cascode and it is a hallmark of the Pure Path circuit: high gain with low noise, wide bandwidth, and excellent linearity.

Superior Volume Control: The R-2R Ladder

The basis of many volume controls is the venerable analog potentiometer – a device with a number of performance drawbacks. The mechanical connection wears out, creating scratching or crackling noises; it is nearly impossible to manufacture an identically performing pair, and mismatches in a stereo pair can cause level imbalances between the two channels; and due to their varied reaction to parasitic capacitances at different volume settings, the sound changes depending on where the volume is set. Rather than attempting to improve upon this flawed design, Mark Levinson engineers abandoned it. Instead, they employed a complex circuit architecture called an R-2R Ladder.

Highlights

  • Pure Path discrete, direct coupled, fully balanced, dual-monaural signal path
  • Discrete, balanced R-2R Ladder volume control for precision and performance
  • Class-A Pure Phono stage with physically separated channels for MC and MM
  • Class-A Main Drive Headphone output for up to 32-ohm headphones using main circuit
  • Six analog line-level and phono inputs; balanced, single-ended, and headphone outputs
  • Selectable fourth-order, 80 Hz high-pass filter allows seamless integration of subwoofers
  • Designed and handcrafted in the USA

Specifications:

CONNECTIVITY

  • ANALOG INPUTS: 2 balanced (XLR), 3 single-ended (RCA) line, 1 single-ended (RCA)phono w/ ground
  • ANALOG OUTPUTS: 1 balanced (XLR); 1 pair single-ended (RCA), 1 headphone(¼”, 6.3mm TS)
  • CONTROL CONNECTORS: Ethernet (RJ45), RS-232 (RJ12), Trigger In and Out, IR In,USB-A, Mini USB

ANALOG AUDIO PERFORMANCE

  • LINE STAGE GAIN, NORMAL GAIN SETTING: 13.5dB balanced; 7.5dB single-ended
  • LINE STAGE FREQUENCY RESPONSE, 20Hz TO 20kHz: ±0.02dB
  • LINE STAGE FREQUENCY RESPONSE, 0.4Hz TO 370kHz: +0.1 / -3dB
  • THD+N @ 1kHz (2VRMS SINGLE-ENDED OR 4VRMS BALANCED OUTPUT): < 0.003%
  • SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO (REF. TO 2VRMS SINGLE-ENDED OR 4VRMS BALANCED,MAX VOL): >115dB @ 1kHz
  • CROSSTALK @ 1kHz: <-107dB
  • CHANNEL SEPARATION: below noise floor (>115dB @ 1kHz)
  • INPUT IMPEDANCE: >45kΩ
  • OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: < 80Ω single ended, < 160Ω balanced
  • MAXIMUM INPUT LEVEL, NORMAL GAIN SETTING: >10VRMS, single ended, >15VRMS,balanced
  • MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL: >11VRMS single ended, >22VRMS balanced

MAIN DRIVE HEADPHONE CIRCUIT

  • HEADPHONE OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: selectable; < 3Ω or 75Ω
  • HEADPHONE MAXIMUM OUTPUT, LOW IMPEDANCE SETTING, 30Ω (0.3W),20 TO 20kHz, < 0.1% THD: >3VRMS
  • HEADPHONE MAXIMUM OUTPUT, LOW IMPEDANCE SETTING, 300Ω, 20Hz TO 20kHz,< 0.1% THD: >9VRMS
  • HEADPHONE THD+N, 20Hz TO 20kHz, 2V RMS: < 0.03% @ 30Ω, < 0.01% @ 300Ω

PHONO STAGE

  • RIAA FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz to 20kHz, ±0.3dB
  • INFRASONIC FILTER: defeatable, 15Hz, 2nd order (12dB/octave)

MOVING MAGNET MODE:

  • INPUT RESISTANCE: 47kΩ
  • INPUT CAPACITANCE: selectable; 50, 100, 150, 200, or 680pF- GAIN: 40dB @ 1kHz
  • THD+N, 20Hz TO 20kHz, 2V RMS OUTPUT: < 0.03%

MOVING COIL MODE:

  • INPUT RESISTANCE: selectable; 20, 33, 50, 66, 100, 200, 330, 500, 1000, or 47kΩ
  • INPUT CAPACITANCE: 50pF
  • GAIN: selectable; 50, 60, or 70dB @ 1kHz
  • THD+N, 20Hz TO 20kHz, 2VRMS OUTPUT: < 0.02%, 50 or 60dB settings, < 0.04, 70db Setting

A/C POWER

  • MAINS VOLTAGE: 100VAC, 115VAC, or 230VAC, factory set
  • POWER CONSUMPTION: 0.4W Green Standby, 5W Power Save, 72W Normal Standby, 75W On, idle

DIMENSIONS

  • Height (with feet): 3.75” (10.2cm)
  • Height (without feet): 3.25” (8.9cm)
  • Width: 17.25” (43.8cm)
  • Depth: 18” (45.7cm)

WEIGHT

  • Net weight: 41 lbs (17.7kg)
  • Shipping weight: 60 lbs (26.3kg)
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