MARK LEVINSON: ML5 reel to reel. His literally incendiary visit to Howard Popeck’s music room, a long time ago.

When the Quad 63 was announced, the makers had the foresight to anticipate a high level of demand. A carefully thought out waiting list system was introduced and dealers were warned that demo units were, initially at least, like gold dust. The clear implication being not to sell them, despite the ludicrously inflated offers made by enthusiasts. Replacement demo units were unlikely to arrive. Okay, fair enough.

Coincidental with this I was considering taking on the Levinson range of electronics. To hasten my decision, the man himself, Mark. Levinson visited my house, where I had the precious ELS63s. He brought a pair of the largest power amps I seen up to that date, and an ML6a or ML7 too. I can’t remember which.The power amps had mechanical hum, so we left them powered up in the hall. I played a few records to get started. The sound was startling.

Mark pointed out that this wasn’t really showing the amps at their best, although he was deeply impressed with the Quads. This was his first time with them although he’d used the Quad 57s to great effect in his mighty HQD system.

Anyway, he brought out one of his own test pressings of a harpsichord recorded by him, on his own modified valve reel to reel tape recorder (an ML5 I think) in a church somewhere in Basle, Switzerland. He hit PLAY and the sound was nothing short of magnificent. Tear inducing in fact. The dynamics were extraordinary, especially for an electrostatic. And then, with seemingly unlimited reserves of power on tap, the sound reached a climax – and both speakers caught fire – literally.Mark was non-plussed, but very apologetic, and puzzled. I was dumb struck.

Anyway, he wrote me a cheque there and then for the trade price, interceded with Quad and I got a replacement pair very quickly too. And as for the stunning recording, as far as I know, it was never released. Mark was, as I had expected, a perfect gentleman.


2 thoughts on “MARK LEVINSON: ML5 reel to reel. His literally incendiary visit to Howard Popeck’s music room, a long time ago.

  1. Being it a pair of Levinsons it must have been the Class A ML-2’s monaural amps good for 17 Volts max. but almost endless current. The ML-2 was by the way the only amp that could power the Apogee The Apogee directly and the 1 Ohm version of the smaller Apogee Scintilla even before the Krells managed to do that.
    The ESL-63 should have swallowed the ML-2 input because the ML-2’s are said to be the perfect match for Quad ESL’s from thata era (55 and 63).
    In the Owner’s manual of the Levinson Class AB stereo ML-3 powerhouse (50 Volts and almost 20 amps at 2 Ohm) though the owner was specifically warned not to power Quad ESL’s with this amp because it could destroy them.

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