MARK LEVINSON No.432

TR13.10.2010

Power amplifiers

The most apparent fact with the No.432 is that nothing is apparent. In that sense the No.432 asymptotically approaches what I would call ‘neutrality’. The sound is very balanced and the things one tends to expect, like ultra-deep bass, are simply not heard. Instead a listener is provided with an expanding and airy canvas upon which all sonic images are carefully rendered.

 

100% reference

Funkce a forma

93%
Ergonomie
74%
Zvuk
94%
Zpracování

I like when one sees no empty space inside an amplifier. It gives me the impression that a designer exploited given construction limits to possible maximum. When I unscrewed the bolts of the No.432’s hood, I was very pleased to see a very thoughtfully a neatly designed machine. Not only was the inner architecture neat but it was also very dense. Like a look under the hood of a Formula One monopost – functionality first, unnecessary things out.

There is quite unusual, at least for a power amplifier, integration of aluminum heat sinks within the No.432’s chassis. Mark Levinson relies on convection cooling (the same principle your home heating works on), the positive side effect of which is that it helps to keep internal operating temperature stable. There is also hardly any wiring to be seen in the No.432: all its internal parts are wirelessly soldered into PCBs and if there is the need for a connection it is accomplished by solid metal bars. Heat producing power transistors are mounted directly onto the heat-sinks and their thermal comfort is guarded by sensors that would switch the amp off before it overheats. I have never witnessed such a situation, however.

Speaker terminals are pleasure to use as Mark Levinson remains faithfull to their winged nuts which I consider (together with oversized Accuphase’s nuts) to be the best in audio industry. Finally, there are two simple handles on the rear that make moving 52kg of the No.432’s net weight around possible.

The front panel is not different from what we have already seen from Mark Levinson before: the faceplate is 45cm wide and 20cm high (add the depth of 50cm and you have the complete dimensions of the amp) and it is dominated by two typical convex whitish satin-silver panels that allow air to circulate behind them and as such help to cool the amplifier. Other than that there are only ON/OFF and stand-by pushbuttons, the company logo and a small red LED diode indicating the amp is running. It is after all a very understated, simple and timeless design.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
90
Výbušnost
91
Artikulace
90

I had a tendency to expect significant bass output from the No.432 and therefore I was quite surprised that unlike other bass heavy power amps (Bryston 7B-SST being such an amp, for example, or Krell’s machines in general) the Mark Levinson seemed not to focus on the bottom end. However, it could be deceptive as when pedal notes of the organ in Rutter’s Requiem kick in you would better close your doors not to disturb all cats in your neighbourhood. The beauty of the No.432 is that it thunders only when asked, only when a recording requires so. This safe approach makes its sound be a tad less juicy, more laid back and, yes, a bit dry.

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
92
Vzduch
90
Transparentnost
88

The thing you would not expect from a solid-state Levinson is the way the No.432 treated highs. Although there was (for sure) significant contribution from the Ultima Studio 2’s beryllium tweeters, the highs of the No.432 were free of any artificial etch; hits on cymbals were presented with shimmering metallic sound and its natural decay, unlike the whittish sizzle that is served by today’s off-the-shelf hifi commerce.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
80
Dynamika
90
Časování
88

The authority of the No.432 builds upon the amp’s focus on precise sonic pictures rather than on immediacy, lush palpability and emotional connections like for example Bel Canto M300 does. While the Bel Canto threw three-dimensional pictures more physically although their contours were more diffused, the No.432 uses sharper pencil and a bot more distant perspective that makes its presentation less emotionally charged and more detached but still very convincing and involving in a way.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
88
Šířka scény
90
Hloubka scény
87

It is only when you listen to such a complex work like John Rutter’s Requiem (Hyperion) when you start to recognize the strengths of the No.432. The amp has no problem to precisely recreate the space of the recording venue including the faint reflections from a cathedral’s walls. I would say that instead of drawing its sonics against an inky black background the Levinson tries to reconstruct the original ambience which is everything but the inky black. I liked how the amp treated the soundstaging of the choir – each singer occupied its own space with the distinction that resulted into the magical experience of listening to massed voices instead of listening to a unified blend, a kind of ‘multivoice’.

The great image specifity was superb with the solo concert guitar of John Williams (Spanish Guitar Music). Individually delineated strings, fingers touching the neck of the guitar, movements of the instrument in space and tonal resonances rendered by the instrument’s body were all in a balance, all present, though none of them really calling your attention.

Cena v době recenze:270 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Excelia HiFi, Chrudim, tel. +420 724 00 77 44

Absolute Audio, Praha, tel. +420 777 739 377

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: C.E.C. TL 51XR
  • Amplifiers: Mark Levinson No.432
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Kubala-Sosna Emotion
  • Loudspeakers: Revel Ultima Studio2
  • Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2, PS Audio Power Plant Premier, Accuphase PS-510

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