Historically there have been two channel products and then there has been Mark Levinson. No. other brand has seemingly come to represent the pinnacle of high end in the eyes of audiophiles like Mark Levinson, and their No. 326S preamp reviewed is No. exception. Retailing for $10,000 the No. 326S is a single chassis, seven input dual mono. stereo preamp. The folks over at Mark Levinson state that the No. 326S has a lot in common with their reference two chassis preamp, the No. 32, in fact the No. 326S shares many of the same components.
The No. 326S is a sleek piece of kit featuring a black, brushed aluminum façade with a slender display flanked by two gray dials, one for input selection the other for volume. Below the small display there are five small hard controls for setup, enter, display intensity, balance and mute. Around back you'll find more than enough inputs for any old school or modern two-channel system. The No. 326S has both single ended and balanced inputs as well as an optional phono. stage, which eliminates the No. 326S's seventh unbalanced input. On top of the No. 326S's input options it also features RS-232 support, 12-volt triggers and an IR input connector, making it easy to integrate into a state of the art home theater or whole house control system.
The No. 326S is about as straightforward as they come, out of the box (minus a bit of break-in) the slender preamp is ready to sing. Making connections is easy as is customizing the names and features of each input. The No. 326S's remote has a good feel in hand and is relatively omni-directional. From a sound perspective there are few two channel preamps, solid state or tube that can match the No. 326S's openness, warmth and definition. There are more forward sounding and sharper preamps out there however they don't posses the musicality and soul the No. 326S does.Read about the high points and low points of the No. 326S on Page 2.