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High Efficiency Speaker Asylum: REVIEW: Mark Levinson No. 29 Amplifier (SS) by Tuvan

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REVIEW: Mark Levinson No. 29 Amplifier (SS) Review by Tuvan at Audio Asylum

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Writing about the sound of a stereo system is like miming the flavor of a meal.

The Mark Levinson No. 29 is an old style basic black amplifier. The white Levinson logo and model designation is centered on a thick front panel framed by heavy handles. Beneath the logo is a rocker switch and a single small red LED that lights when the unit is powered. The No. 29's appearance is simple, clean, understated, and businesslike.

Two pairs of binding posts for each channel's output are provided on the back panel. Connections to a balanced source are made through XLR sockets.

My No. 29 directly drives Klipschorn K-77 tweeters covering frequencies above 6.3 kHz. Klipschorns are extremely sensitive, low in distortion, and dynamically expressive. They are usually characterized as bright and aggressive, especialy with digital sources and solid state amplifiers. In my experience, these undesirable attributes can be mitigated by eliminating the Klipsch AK-2 passive crossover. I've chosen to implement the same corner frequencies, slopes, and levels with a Yamaha D2040 active crossover. The Yamaha's AES/EBU digital input accepts the output of a Mark Levinson No. 37 CD transport. A Mark Levinson No. 331 amplifier drives the midrange and woofer on each side. This is the context in which the No. 29 is considered.

If the system's purpose is to illuminate the music, a bright overcast spring day in New Hampshire is the No. 29's light. Colors seem to have infinite gradation. Shifting focus allows the listener to examine the texture of an individual voice or instrument within a mass of voices or instruments. Percussive attacks are fully formed and harmonically rich. The amplifier's character is lusciously feminine and completely dignified. It exhibits poise and grace even when playing processed, compressed, and sterile recordings. It has by far the cleanest, most musical top end of any amplifier I've heard.

What does it sound like full range? Well, it played through a pair of PSB Alpha AV's for a while and was magnificent.


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Topic - REVIEW: Mark Levinson No. 29 Amplifier (SS) Review by Tuvan at Audio Asylum - Tuvan 22:05:54 06/8/01 ( 2)