Mark Levinson … A brand with a very rich history. And a brand that makes many an enthusiast’s mouth drool. Think of the No.33 power amplifiers. Or the new ML-50 in honor of the 50th anniversary. We slow down a bit with the No 5805 integrated amplifier. Although that’s still 11,500 Euro… so… a lot of money. A Mark Levinson is and remains an ML….
Whether we’d like to test a Mark Levinson 5805, Reference Sounds asks. Sure. Gladly… we’ve – oddly enough – never had a Levinson in our hifi-rack before. We’ve heard them at shows, but that’s different. A few weeks of living with such an amp just gives you very different insights.
The Mark Levinson No 5805
Levinson’s numbering makes sense on its own. But you need to see the logic. The 51X(X) models are CD and vinyl sources (or perhaps sources in general). The 52X(X) models are pre-amps. Models with 58X(X) are integrated amplifiers and 53X(X) models are power amplifiers. Three-digit models are listed above four-digit models. So, with the above in mind, the No 5805 is an integrated model in the ‘entry’ range, although ‘entry’ is VERY relative at Mark Levinson. Just like an ‘entry’ level Ferrari.
The 5805 – 11490 Euro – is a variant of the 5802 – 9990 Euro – whereby the 5802 only has digital inputs and the 5805 also offers analog inputs: single ended and balanced. This makes the No 5805 particularly flexible. After all, there are many users who still have beautiful sources with analog outputs. You can easily connect them to the No 5805.
Digitally, there is little to complain about: USB, coaxial, optical, AES and even Bluetooth. The Ethernet input is not for streaming; that is for home automation and a web interface to update the 5805. By the way, that process could be improved. In our case, the update button did not go away and we can keep updating…. The second time we updated and the button was still visible, we strongly got the feeling something was wrong. Not a disaster, but something ML may fix in a next update.
Now we are talking about improvements: what could be handy is that the web interface lets you click through the menu of the amp…. You can click on menu, but that literally controls the amplifier. What would be more convenient is that you can click through the menu on your laptop or tablet. And also be able to name the inputs there. Under Utility that seems to be possible, but we are not allowed to enter a name. However, we are allowed to enter a preselected name.
The Levinson is really built like a tank. The just under 30 KG amp, is very neatly put together and also feels very solid. The two knobs turn nicely and smoothly. Even in this price range we sometimes see that producers skimp on that. Now it is Mark Levinson, so we expect something decent, but we are still glad to see that the American brand lives up to its name. No half-assed work. Not even under the hood.
The display on the front shows everything in red characters and is perfectly readable from a distance. The remote control with red accents fits comfortably in the hand and also allows the amplifier to be operated well. The buttons are not illuminated, but frankly we don’t think that’s a disaster with this product: it’s not a home theater product.