Luxury audio brand Mark Levinson has launched its first pair of headphones at CES 2022 – and they’ll cost you a pretty penny.
The brand, which is best known for its premium home and car audio systems, unveiled the Mark Levinson No. 5909 noise-cancelling headphones at the Las Vegas tech expo, revealing that they’ll cost a whopping $999. Global pricing is yet to be announced, but that works out at around £750 / AU$1,400.
So, what do you get for your money? Well, these might be among the most high-spec headphones we’ve seen, coming with modern conveniences like active noise cancellation, and audiophile features that will appeal to discerning ears.
They certainly look the part. An anodized aluminum frame holds metallic painted earcups, while a leather-padded headband should prove comfortable for long listening sessions. The ear cushions – also leather – are replaceable, so you’ll be able to keep the No. 5909 looking like new for years to come.
As you’d expect for the price, you get a hard carrying case for the headphones, as well as a microfiber cloth to keep them spick and span.
Premium build, premium price
Inside the chunky housings of the No. 5909 are 40mm beryllium drivers, which Mark Levinson says will deliver “reference-quality sound”. In other words, these headphones should offer enough clarity and detail to squeeze out every last drop of information from your music – that means you could hear things like hidden harmonies in your favorite song, or the slight intake of breath from a singer as they launch into the chorus. And yes, there’s support for hi-res audio thanks to LDAC and aptX compatibility, as well as the AAC codec.
Connectivity comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5.1, which means these headphones should offer stable pairing with your phone or portable music player. You also get a selection of cables for if and when you prefer to listen over a wired connection, including USB-C to 3.5mm audio cables, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm audio adapter, and an airplane audio adapter.
Speaking of airplanes, the No. 5909 should be suitable for use while travelling thanks to their active noise cancellation technology, which you can set to three different levels. There’s also an Ambient Aware mode, which we’re guessing works in a similar way to the environmental sound passthrough feature on the Sony WH-1000XM4, which mix in environmental sounds into your music so you can be more aware of your surroundings.
The battery life should also be more than long enough for long-haul travelers. You get 34 hours of playback with ANC switched off, which drops to 30 hours if you have this feature switched on – and a 15-minute charge will give you up to six hours of playtime.
That’s not the longest battery life we’ve ever seen – and it doesn’t beat the Sony WH-1000XM4 – but it’s perfectly respectable.
As they share many of the features of popular (and cheaper) models like the WH-1000XM4, Mark Levinson’s first wireless headphones will need to set themselves apart from the competition by virtue of their sound; otherwise, you’re essentially paying $1,000 for some premium materials and a hard carrying case.
Based on the company’s track record in the home audio space, we’re pretty confident that the No. 5909 will offer an exemplary listening experience – but they’ll have to sound damn good to make us part with our well worn XM4s.