Mark Levinson No. 519
Mark Levinson No. 519
Mark Levinson No. 519

Mark Levinson No. 519: CD player with ultimate streaming capabilities

One of the most respected manufacturers of high-end technology introduces a CD player with ultimate streaming capabilities. Ethernet – Wi-Fi, UPnP, USB, and even Bluetooth aptX – Mark Levinson No. 519. The CD transport is equipped with a slot loader, the general circuit solutions fit into the Mark Levinson Pure Path concept. The device is equipped with a large color TFT display, the remote control is designed in the style of the player and is quite heavy (apps for iOS and Android are available). In addition to the streaming options mentioned above, our test subject also has a scattering of traditional digital inputs and outputs, and traditional lettering – designed and assembled by hand in the USA. The Mark Levinson Model No. 519 has a traditional 6063-T5 milled aluminum alloy body and weighs 16.4 kg.


Inside the Mark Levinson No. 519 CD transport, a discrete, fully balanced dual-mono circuit with direct feedback is used. The company refers in its approach to its development to A. Einstein (“everything should be simplified as much as possible, but no more than that”). Traditionally, “broken cascode” elements are used – transistors combined in pairs. In this case, we are talking about junction field effect transistors (JFETs), chosen for their noise floor and gain, combined with bipolar junction junction elements (BJTs, which have low input impedance with high output impedance). Moreover, they are turned on in opposite polarity, so the direction of the current is reversed. The result of this assembly is the best characteristics of two types of designated semiconductors at once, reduced noise and increased dynamic range. Thin-film capacitors are used, resistors are made of tantalum nitride.


DAC chip – ESS Sabre32 Reference; The chip was chosen for its extremely low jitter levels. The branded Precision Link DAC itself is extremely interesting – only one designated circuit, ESS Sabre32 Reference, is powered by five independent power supplies, and the power supplies for the right and left channels for the circuit are linear. Precision Link current outputs operate on a fully balanced current-to-voltage converter: accordingly, by maintaining close to zero voltage in the current sources, nonlinearity is virtually eliminated. And interference and distortion are neutralized in a mirror differential configuration. The result is that the original signal shape is preserved with amazingly low noise floor and the widest dynamic range.


Mark Levinson No. 519 runs on its own OS build – Precision Stream Linux, uses a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 Sitara processor, 4 GB of RAM and another 4 GB of flash memory. A significant part of this power is spent on streaming – the player can work over both a wired and wireless network, the UPnP protocol for working with network storage is also available. USB (from a computer or for reading external drives), Bluetooth aptX – the finishing touches (we won’t even mention the ability to read Redbook CDs, as well as MP3 discs). File options – 32/192 when working with PCM and DSD128; In addition, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, APE, AIFF and WMV are supported. Adding built-in streaming clients Spotify Connect, Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Rhapsody/Napster and internet radio – wow! This is exactly what a modern network player should look like.

Mark Levinson No. 519 has an ADC option – it uses Cirrus Logic circuitry. The USB circuit is built on the basis of an asynchronous CMedia chip and complies with protocol 2.0. To restore the compressed data signal, a separate Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor is installed in the HARMAN Clari-Fi unit. Finally, for the first time for the company, No. 519 has a headphone output – a 6.3 mm jack is located on the front panel. Installed its own amplifier for Main Drive Headphones: pure class A, working with impedance up to 32 Ohms.


The model takes quite a long time to start. The on-screen menus are simple and clear; there will be no hassle setting up the player. The Mark Levinson Precision Link DAC circuit offers three digital filter options – fast, fast, and steep rolloff – ideal for reducing noise and distortion. The slow filter, Slow, guarantees a smoother decay. Finally, the Minimum Phase filter ensures a sharp HF roll-off (we liked this setting the most). The remote control is very convenient (despite its weight). The connectors on the rear panel are arranged ergonomically, and the quality of the connectors is admirable.


Mark Levinson No. 519 demonstrates its signature sound from the very first chords – sculpted and muscular. The lower middle is the most critical range for sound perception; this spectrum is responsible for the “foundation” of sound, its power and the feeling of physical presence. And it’s amazing how good it is in Mark Levinson No. 519! The fact that many devices of comparable price categories are presented somewhat crumpled, slipping into a cloying airiness – in our test subject it looks like a reinforced concrete wall. Firm and unshakable. Because of this, the (sometimes) opposite effect is possible – behind the power and macrodynamics, at times it may seem that Mark Levinson No. 519 narrows the width of the stage. Indeed, the player does not “hang musicians on trees” and the concept of “surgical sound” clearly does not apply to it. Mark Levinson No. 519 has absolutely the right musical presentation. Solid images, no oil, no embellishment. And if Metallica’s “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” sounds like it’ll give you goosebumps, that doesn’t mean Dire Straits’ “Communiqué” won’t get you completely immersed in the music. Special thanks should be said for the ease with which Mark Levinson No. 519 copes with the most complex classical works. The finale of Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony is a stress test for a device of any price range. And Mark Levinson No. 519 held it up flawlessly, conveying both the ideal timbre picture of the work and charming with microdynamic contrasts against the backdrop of a storm of passions.

Characteristics Mark Levinson No. 519

Supported disc types CD-DA, CD-R/RW, incl. discs with recorded MP3 files
DAC 32-bit Precision Link DAC, three types of digital filtering to choose from: Fast (fast filter with a steep frequency response roll-off), Slow (slow, with a smoother frequency response roll-off), Minimum Phase (minimum phase filter with Integrated
Precision Stream computer module optimized Linux OS, 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 Sitara processor (clock speed: 1 GHz), 4 GB RAM, 4 GB built-in flash memory
Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor
TFT LCD display , 5-inch, color
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth with aptX codec yes
DAC output voltage 3.7 V DAC
frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz (+ 0/ – 0.2 dB)
DAC harmonic distortion 0 .0001% (1 kHz), 0.0003% (20 kHz)
DAC signal-to-noise ratio over 120 dB
Supported web services/web radio streaming, Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, Rhapsody/Napster, Roon Ready
Supported formats for playback over LAN and USB PCM, DSD, FLAC, ALAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, APE, AIFF and WMV
Supported sampling rates PCM up to 32-bit/192 kHz and DSD up to 5.6 MHz ( native mode)
UPnP certification yes
Built-in Cirrus Logic ADC
Control via application for iOS and Android yes
Inputs digital balanced AES/EBU (XLR), 2 optical, 2 coaxial, Ethernet port (LAN), 2 x USB for external drives (HDD connection available up to 8 TB), asynchronous USB ( PCM up to 32bit/192kHz, DSD up to 5.6MHz)
Outputs 6.3mm headphone jack (Class A Main Drive Headphone amplifier, works with headphones up to 32 ohms), AES/EBU (XLR), optical , coaxial, linear RCA, linear XLR
Other switching interface RS-232 (RJ12), trigger input and output, IR input, socket for Bluetooth/Wi-Fi antenna Power supply
toroidal transformer Remote control
present, assembled in a metal case
Control via web browser supported
Power consumption 50 W (with headphones connected), 39 W (without headphones), standby: 46 W (with headphones connected), 33 W (without headphones), standby in energy saving mode: 10 W, standby in eco mode mode: 0.4 W
Dimensions (WxHxD) 438x146x406 mm
Weight 16.4 kg