Harman's luxury audio division – the owner of high-end brands such as Mark Levinson, Revel, Lexicon and JBL Synthesis – has ambitious expansion plans, with 17 new products planned for release over the next 24 months.
The company has created a new, state-of-the-art engineering facility in Shelton, Connecticut, USA and its director of engineering, Todd Eichenbaum, has joined Harman after 20+ years experience at Krell.
The first product to come out of the new R&D centre is the $12,000 Mark Levinson No.585 integrated amplifier. Robert Lardon, general manager of Harman's Luxury Audio Group, describes it as a "Swiss army knife product" because of the number of things it can do.
It combines Class AB amplification delivering 200W per channel into 8ohms (or 350W into 4ohms) with the flexibility to handle a wide variety of digital music sources, including high-res 32-bit/192kHz computer audio and DSD via USB.
At the same time, Harman accepts that even audiophiles will own some compressed audio files, so it has developed its proprietary Clari-Fi processing technology. This applies signal-enhancement to any compressed file format to improve sound quality.
At the heart of the No.585's digital audio processing stage is an ESS Sabre 32-bit DAC (digital-to-analogue converter). Separate left- and right-channel regulated linear power supplies are used for all the analogue circuitry, to maintain maximum signal purity.
A Cmedia USB audio processor is capable of asynchronous data transfer of high-resolution DSD and PCM files at up to192kHz/32-bit resolution.
The No.585 also has six digital and four analogue inputs – including USB, optical, coaxial, AES/EBU XLR and RCA.
For those who want to expand their system, the Mark Levinson No.585 has a stereo preamp/subwoofer output and includes ethernet, RS-232, IR and 12V trigger ports for integrated system control.
Due on sale in September, the No.585 will be followed next year by the Mark Levinson No.585P with built-in phono stage, priced at $13,500. There'll be a "whole suite of new Mark Levinson amps", says Lardon, new streaming products from Lexicon and a new disc player – possibly with SACD.
By Andy Clough