In a world where the best-sounding audio material is copy-protected via HDMI
, audiophiles have become so frustrated with the complexities of home theater (AV) preamps
systems that many are simply going retro. They are returning to systems that are based around or exclusively used a two-channel preamp just to keep the purity and simplicity of their sound on their un-copy-protected CD and even LP sources. This short-lived trend might start to die, thanks to the Mark Levinson
No. 502 media console.
• Read more AV Preamp reviews from the top companies like Classe, Krell, Meridian, Arcam, Anthem and many others.
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The Mark Levinson
No. 502 AV preamp is the $35,000 replacement for the mighty Mark Levinson No. 40. It represents a major leap forward in terms of technology and integration. Gone is the two-chassis design. The new edition is a sleeker, six-HDMI input audio and video switching preamp that stands up to the audio demands of a true audiophile, while switching both audio and video the way Hollywood studios demand of a copy-protected Blu-ray driven world. Tremendous effort has gone into making the Mark Levinson No. 502 immune to outside interference and noise from other components, allowing this home theater monster to link to its audiophile brethren also in the Mark Levinson line-up. The graphical user interface (GUI) on the old No. 40 was excellent compared to other AV preamps and the No. 502 is even better. While it might not be an iPhone, this preamp can be set up by the end user if you want but, for $35,000, you could very well expect your Mark Levinson dealer to complete the install for you, as this is about as expensive an audio-video component as you can find.
• The 502 packs audiophile sound while still having all the connections needed for today's modern home theater and distributed audio systems
• Mark Levinson's customer service is topnotch and, in a world where putting all the pieces together in a complex home theater is like cracking some sort of sick code, it's nice to have somebody who cares and answers the phone. Try that with the big Asian companies when you can't get their copy-protected products to make a picture on your screen
• The No. 502 is built to last forever with the types of materials and build quality you expect from a significant investment in your home theater system.
Read The Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2