Mark Levinson No 5101 Network No 5302 Power Amplifier Review
February 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
The end result is that the No 5206 gives you least three components—all designed with the same lack of coloration—for the price of one: A standard preamp, a DAC, and the kind of phono preamp that I wish were integrated into every preamp. The phono section fully complements the sound character of the high-level analog sections; it is unusually quiet, although best used with normal rather than ultra-low-output moving coils. The phono sound is about as revealing as the LP permits. It does a great job of handling low-level passages, and the cartridge and recording—not the preamp—will limit the accuracy of timbre and soundstage.
Another key feature of the phono preamp is that the DIP switches on the rear panel provide a much wider range of loading for moving-coil cartridges than usual. This is a feature that has real practical value in getting the best moving-coil frequency response, and one where I’ve found user experimentation can really pay off—particularly in smoothing the upper midrange and highs and in getting a smooth balance with the rest of the midrange and bass. Loading is a tweak that’s really worth several hours of listening, during which you may well find the cartridge manufacturer’s recommended load is not the best option. (Go for natural musical sound, not warmth or exaggerated highs.) There also are four capacitance loadings for moving-magnet cartridges. Finally, the No 5206 has a number of other features that are described in detail in an exceptionally well-written and detailed instruction book. These include the ability to update the No 5206 using your home computer, home-theater pass-through mode, and a subwoofer high-pass filter that can be switched between the RCA and XLR outputs