- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 19 June 2012
Mark Levinson No533H Three Channel Power Amplifier In Use
The 2009 remastered version of Let It Be opens with the solo voice of John Lennon inside of the Apple Studios. I was astonished at the cavernous feeling the No533H produced, providing a feeling of what the recording studio was like. It felt like you were hearing the band in this large studio space, instead of coming out flat without the ambience. Once the guitars kicked in there was a huge change in feeling as the recording location was different, but those first notes come across sharp and distinct. The piano notes from "Let It Be" have are clear with a sense of space around them. As the song progresses it gets complex and busy, but never jumbled and indistinct.
Live at Radio City from Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on Blu-ray is still a reference track after all these years. The 24/96 TrueHD audio offers a huge amount of detail and the Mark Levinson brought out every last pick of the guitar. Notes were strong and clear, without a harsh metallic glare that some equipment will impose on this recording yet still maintaining the tone of the strings. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds each had their own spot on the stage as the front three speakers blend to form a cohesive soundstage for the listeners.
A good reference title for audio on Blu-ray is Tron Legacy, as it has a mix of everything and pushes a system to the limits. The opening arena battles, with Clu descending down the staircase, radiate all around, taking advantage of all the channels available. Here the Mark Levinson did a masterful job with the front channels, even as it was pushed to reference levels. There was no loss in fidelity or accuracy in the soundtrack with explosions radiating all around and a pulsating bass line that taxes even dedicated subwoofer amplifiers. The soundtrack from Daft Punk places demands on an amplifier that you won't find with a typical recording, but the Mark Levinson won't blink when facing such a challenge.
With "Tangled Up In Blue" off the SACD release of Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, the character of the Mark Levinson No533H really shines through. The pace and rhythm of the recording come across loud and clear, pulling the listener into the music and communicating the emotion of the track. Sometimes other amplifiers will sound laid back and passive on this Dylan track, but the No533H communicates the raw emotion, with the strain of Dylan's voice coming across loud and clear.
One track that doesn't come across quite as well on the No533H is Silent All These Years by Tori Amos. The No533H does a very good job with the soundstage and instrument delineation, clearly communicating how it was mixed in the studio, but the Mark Levinson pushes the midrange a little bit. Tori Amos has a wonderful voice that comes across well on most equipment but here I find the midrange makes her sound a little chestier than usual. This little push might help Dylan sound so energetic, but with Tori Amos it takes away some of the fragile and delicate nature of her singing.