Everyone wants to save a buck these days. Consumers want to spend less and manufacturers, even the biggest in the business, are looking to cut costs. Well, venerable manufacturer, Mark Levinson
, is doing both with the introduction of their new No 500H series of amplifiers, all of which offer up the traditional Mark Levinson sound but at a more advantageous price - for Mark Levinson and for you. The No 532H reviewed here is Mark Levinson's two-channel offering in the No 500H series, a series that includes a monaural amplifier (No 531H), a three-channel amp (No 533H) as well as a five-channel amp (No 535H). The No 532H reviewed here is said to be the workhorse of the bunch and is offered at $8,000 retail -a lot of money but nowhere near as expensive as Mark Levinson's other two-channel amp, the No 532
at $21,000.Additional Resources
• Read more stereo amplifier reviews
by the staff at Home Theater Review.
• Find source components in our Source Component Review section
• Look for Floorstanding Speakers
or Bookshelf Speakers
for the No 532H to drive.
Mark Levinson is able to keep costs in check with the new No 500H series due to the fact that they largely all share the same chassis and internal construction, meaning whether you want a monaural or five-channel amp you can rest assured you're going to be getting similar if not the same performance across the line. The No 532H features a pretty clean façade with only a grey standby button present on the front panel. Mark Levinson's trademark rounded edges help dress up the No 532H's otherwise plain looks though it's clear that Mark Levinson has spent the bulk of their investment in the No 532H's performance and not its appearance. The No 532H measures in at 17 and three quarter inches wide by nearly eight inches high and almost 20 inches deep, making it one of the larger, rack mountable two channel amps I've come across in recent memory. Its weight of 74 pounds isn't backbreaking, though due to the No 532H's size it's a bit awkward. Around back the No 532H has both balanced and unbalanced input options as well as Mark Levinson's trademark hurricane style binding posts. There are a few trigger ports as well as an Ethernet 10Base-T port rounding out the No 532H's connection options, not to mention a standard IEC power connector and cord. In terms of power the No 532H boasts 300 Watts into eight Ohms and 450 Watts into four. For more on what makes the No 500H series unique for Mark Levinson check out my review of the No 533H that I did earlier in the year.
In terms of sound the No 532H is identical to its stable mates and possesses the same trademark sound Mark Levinson amps are known for. The No 532H's midrange is rich, full bodied and a touch laid back while its bass remains taut, controlled and deep. High frequencies are airy and sparkle with a sort of analog-like flare to them while never becoming fatiguing even at high volumes. The No 532H is a truly unflappable amplifier, falling somewhere in the middle between the dark, lush sound of McIntosh and the neutral and energetic sound of Krell. One area where the No 532H parts with tradition is in its dynamic presentation, which is far more exciting and nimble than previous Mark Levinson designs. Also the No 532H's soundstage is also more open versus recessed and dark as was the case with previous designs as well. Read about the high points and low points of the No 532H amplifier.