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Mark Levinson offers audiophiles a cheaper high-end turntable

Mark Levinson offers audiophil...
The Mark Levinson № 5105 turntable is due for release by mid-2020
The Mark Levinson № 5105 turntable is due for release by mid-2020
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The Mark Levinson № 5105 turntable is due for release by mid-2020
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The Mark Levinson № 5105 turntable is due for release by mid-2020

Mark Levinson has been in the audio business for nearly 50 years, and if you're not familiar with the company from its hi-fi gear, then you may have heard the Harman brand's sound systems in cars like the Lexus RC350. The company launched its first turntable at CES 2017, and has now returned to Las Vegas with its second – № 5105.

Said to be the first turntable worthy of the Mark Levinson name, 2017's № 515 features an aluminum chassis wrapped in vinyl-covered MDF and supported by vibration-damping Delrin and aluminum feet. Aluminum also find use in the 20-lb platter, and the high-torque AC synchronous motor that drives the belt slots into the side, enclosed in its own mechanically-isolated housing. A gimbal-mounted, 3D-printed tonearm completes a basic setup that carried a cool US$10k price tag when released (it's pricier now).

If you've been putting the pennies aside for that turntable, but haven't quite made it yet, the launch of № 5105 might be music to your ears.

"Engineered and built for the discriminating analog music lover, the № 5105 delivers an amazing level of warmth and fidelity, and an overall listening experience that we have not seen before at this price point," said Harman Luxury Audio's Jim Garrett. "The quality of the № 5105 must be heard to be appreciated, and we're very proud to be able to introduce legendary Mark Levinson quality to a broader set of recorded music enthusiasts."

The standby and play buttons out front of the 2-inch-thick solid aluminum plinth flow into the inch-thick, bead-blasted anodized aluminum front panels on either side, and the whole shebang is suspended on three adjustable aluminum feet rocking mixed-material suspension. A bubble level should help with leveling.

The power supply has been designed for use globally and is integrated into the turntable this time, and low pitch variation (wow and flutter) is promised from the digitally-controlled 12 V synchronous motor. Up top is a 14-lb aluminum platter and an "oil-free bearing bottom made of a mix of composite material with integrated lubrication and a maintenance-free sintered brass bushing ensures reliable operation for years to come." And a 10-inch custom carbon fiber tonearm tube is joined to a solid aluminum headshell, and is balanced atop a custom aluminum gimbal.

The Mark Levinson № 5105 is being offered with or without a phono cartridge. The naked version starts at $6,000, while the model that includes an Ortophon moving coil phono cartridge comes in at a thousand bucks more. Either way, you'll have to wait until the middle of the year for availability.

Source: Harman

11 comments
f8lee
Me, I'm waiting for the Levinson 8-track player to come out...
paul314
So it's essentially a cost-reduced Maybach for vinyl?
jyu
Like the first Levinson-branded turntable, this could likely be made by VPI, with a commensurately much higher price tag.
minivini
Saw the title and thought, “hmm, Levinson and cheap in the same sentence? Sounds dubious.” I was right. In what world is a $6000 turntable without a cartridge “cheap”? And before start rattling off oddities like $40,000 Goldman turntables, you surely realize there are dozens (if not hundreds) of really, really good turntables on the market for under $2k with very serious tone arms and cartridges in the package. There are some decent offerings for under a grand, even. “Audiophile” usually means “expensive”, but it doesn’t have to be comically so.
Hoosier
minivini No disrespect, but it says a “cheapER high-end turntable”, NOT a CHEAP turntable.
So yes, you DO have to compare it to the $40,000 and even $100,000 “high-end” turntables.
Compared to THOSE it is “cheaper”. But a I agree that it is NOT cheap!
Brady
Not sure about Mark Levison, remember when they rebadged an Oppo DVD player and got the THX rating, yet the same Oppo did not. Do have a Mark Levison (or Harmon Kardon (more on that brand later), who just about owns all the old audio brands in my 2011 Hyundai Genesis, which was only available that year in two cars, the Bently Azure and the Hyundai Genesis (which Genesis now puts in all models). Brand cache? Maybe it was Harmons higher line in the past, but remember they used to own AKG, AMX, Becker, Crown, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL,, dbx, DigiTech, Martin, Revel, Soundcraft, Studer, Arcam, Bang & Olufsen, BSS Audio and Clarion. But just note, Harmon is now gone, acquired by SAMSUNG four years ago, so you are looking at a $6K Samsung Turntable! Simple audiophile knowledge, that the consumer should be aware of, maybe the reviewing author also.
Plenty of great turntables out there for under $1500 nowadays save your money.
Brady
and Samsung own Harmon
Aross
I guess in a world where Billions are now bandied around like thousands in days of yore this could be considered cheap. I'm just glad I hung on to my old Hitachi turntable and cassette and 8 track players, not to mention all the old associated medias.
IvanWashington
turntables, cartridges, tonearms and the like are a PITA in terms of maintenance and general finickiness. i wish major moolah could be applied to further development of non-contact playback which would neatly sidestep the limitations of physical playback.
JeffK
In 1977 I worked at Radio Shack and bought a LAB-300 turntable for $149, I also bought a brand new Ford Granada for $7,700. A few belts and a couple of cartridges later, the turntable still sounds fine to my 68 year old ears. I imagine the Granada has been recycled a few times since I drove it last in 1981.