HARMAN’s Mark Levinson Celebrates 40 Years Of Ultimate-Performance Audio In 2012
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Since 1972, the name Mark Levinson has been synonymous with high-end audio. In 2012, the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary – 40 years of offering the finest in ultimate-performance audio and home theater components to music lovers and audiophiles worldwide.
As one of the founding companies of high-end audio, Mark Levinson was instrumental in defining the concept – that audio components could achieve a level of performance far beyond the “high-fidelity” conventions of the day to reproduce music with astonishing realism. High-end audio components do not simply play back sound – they convey the essence of the artist and the emotion of the performance.
In 1972, Mark Levinson Audio Systems, based in New Haven, Connecticut, introduced its first product, the JC-1 preamplifier. The JC-1 offered a level of fidelity that surprised and thrilled listeners and significantly raised the state of the art. At a time when audiophile purists were embracing the sonic qualities of vacuum tube audio components, the JC-1 convincingly demonstrated that solid-state technology had come into its own.
The JC-1 evolved into the ML-1, followed by the ML-2 monophonic power amplifier. The audio community had literally never seen anything like it – a massive, imposing black dual-mono pure Class A design that make even the most difficult to drive exotic loudspeakers of the day come alive. These early products set the hallmarks of all Mark Levinson components to follow – superb construction and parts quality, genuine technological innovation, striking industrial design and above all – sound that was nothing less than extraordinary.
The company continued to refine its products into the mid 1980s, with innovative designs such as the ML-3 200 watt-per-channel dual-monophonic power amplifier, a series of fully modular preamplifiers and studio-quality open-reel tape decks. However, Mark Levinson Audio Systems found itself in difficult financial straits, and was purchased by Madrigal Audio Laboratories, Mark Levinson’s “sister company” and distributor at the time. Under the ownership of Madrigal, the company was reorganized with key personnel remaining to continue design and production while an expanded engineering staff and financial management was brought in to a new facility in Middletown, CT.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the audio industry was beginning its transition from analog to digital – and Mark Levinson soon established the state-of-the-art in then-new digital playback technology with the introduction of the № 30 Reference Digital Processor. This classic component set a new standard for digital audio reproduction and heralded digital’s “coming of age” after years of criticism by audiophiles who felt that digital sound was not as good as it could be. The companion № 31 Reference CD Transport soon followed, as new preamplifiers, power amplifiers and other products.
Mark Levinson expanded its reach beyond the specialist home audio market in 2001, entering into a partnership with luxury automaker Lexus. Mark Levinson auto sound systems soon established themselves as the standard of excellence for in-car audio with refinements such as 7.1-channel, 19-speaker sound and ultra-efficient multichannel amplifiers.
In 2001, Harman International purchased Mark Levinson and today the company is part of its Luxury Audio Group based in Elkhart, Indiana. The move enabled Mark Levinson to combine its decades of singular expertise with the research and development and manufacturing resources of global technology leader Harman International. The decade saw the introduction of ultrahigh-end products including the № 53 Reference Monaural power amplifier, № 502 Surround Sound Preamplifier and others, all designed in the Mark Levinson tradition of uncompromising quality.
In 2012, Mark Levinson is reaffirming its position as the standard-setter in ultimate-performance audio with the introduction of The 40th Anniversary Collection at CES 2012. The company is premiering its № 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier, the № 585 Integrated Amplifier, The № 519 SACD Disc Player and the № 560 Digital Audio Processor. The 40th Anniversary Collection is the embodiment of everything Mark Levinson has learned in the last 40 years – along with significant new design and engineering advancements that once again redefine the state of the art in music and movie soundtrack reproduction.
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of audio and infotainment solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets — supported by 15 leading brands, including AKG, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. The Company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 12,500 people across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and reported net sales of $4.0 billion for twelve months ending September 30, 2011.