Mark Levinson continues to develop its 5,000th line of devices with the # 5206 preamplifier. This is the flagship model in one of the more affordable lines of the brand.
It has a matte black aluminum casing with silver dials flanked by a red display. The preamp circuitry is dual mono and uses the proprietary Pure Path principle. In many ways, when creating the preamplifier, the developers based on the model of the integrated amplifier 5805, but somewhat “shuffled the elements”, since they produced a separate component, and added a toroidal transformer to the analog section, having previously sewn it up with three layers of insulation.
Each of the line inputs – two balanced and unbalanced, plus one MM and one MC phono input – is equipped with a relay: when one of the inputs is active, the others are automatically turned off to exclude any interference to the signal. The digital section includes six inputs: two optical, two coaxial, USB and AES / EBU. The digital signal is processed by the Precision Link II DAC based on the 32-bit ESS Saber Pro chip. It supports USB PCM up to 384 kHz and DSD up to 11.2 MHz, as well as MQA. There is also Bluetooth with support for the aptX HD codec.
The main feature of the model is in the built-in phono stage, developed according to the hybrid scheme: it uses a hybrid passive / active RIAA equalizer with precision resistors and polypropylene capacitors. The circuit is based on discrete components from a five hundredth series phono stage. In the device menu, you can select the input – MM or MC, as well as enable or disable the infrasound filter. Load settings are available on the rear panel of the preamp.
As stated in the description, the built-in headphone amplifier allows you to fully enjoy all the advantages of the pre-amplifier circuit and get high-quality and accurate sound. The output is located on the front panel next to two buttons.
Mark Levinson has promised that # 5206 will be on sale this year. The model will cost £ 8,599 in the UK.