Harman Rocks Hard with New Revel, JBL, Levinson Offerings

To say that Harman (NYSE:HAR) was getting meaty at the recent 2015 International CESwould be an understatement.

Off site from the main venues at the show, the company took over a massive ballroom at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was an apropos location for its powerful lineup of new equipment from Mark Levinson, Revel and JBL Synthesis. Besides displaying multiple automobiles featuring its audio systems in the ballroom there were large demo rooms to blast music demos, which also included AMX equipment.

Mark Levinson High-End Amp

Starting with Levinson, the company previewed the new № 536 Monaural Power Amplifier, a $15,000 high-end amplifier with high power output and industrial design that is set to be released in Fall 2015.

The № 536 delivers a massive 400 watts of power (into 8 ohms, 800 watts into 4 ohms), to power even hard-to-drive loudspeakers in larger rooms. The № 536 employs discrete class AB amplifier topology with no integrated circuits in the signal path, along with Class A voltage gain and driver stages.

“Our new № 536 continues the long-standing Mark Levinson heritage of offering ultimate-performance audio products for the most discerning music lovers and audiophiles,” says Jim Garrett, director of marketing and product management, HARMAN Luxury Audio. “Its high power output, musical accuracy, sonic transparency and extraordinary dynamic capability make the № 536 ideal for the absolute highest-quality music and home theater systems.”

The Mark Levinson № 536 includes an XLR balanced and an RCA unbalanced input, two pairs of heavy-duty speaker binding posts with Mark Levinson’s characteristic hurricane knobs, and Ethernet, RS-232 and 12-volt IR trigger inputs and outputs. The unit is EuP-compliant and will go into low-power standby mode when not in operation.

Design-wise, it has a stunning, distinctively elegant appearance using a black and silver industrial design with the trademark Mark Levinson angular, modern contemporary look.

Revel Concerta2 Speakers

The new Revel Concerta2 Series is a complete lineup of home theater and music loudspeakers that incorporates numerous design and engineering upgrades. The loudspeakers have a refined appearance with new contoured enclosures, high-gloss finishes and elegant design accents.

The six models in the Concerta2 Series include:

  • F36 2.5-way floorstanding tower (1-inch tweeter, three 6.5-inch woofers; SRP: $2,000/pair)
  • F35 2.5-way floorstanding tower (1-inch tweeter, three 5.25-inch woofers; SRP: $1,500/ pair)
  • M16 2-way bookshelf monitor (1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch woofer; SRP: $850/ pair)
  • C25 2.5-way center channel (1-inch tweeter, dual 5.25-inch woofers; SRP: $750/each)
  • S16 2-way surround speaker (1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch woofer; SRP: $1,000/ pair)
  • B10 powered subwoofer (10-inch woofer, built-in 800-watt amplifier; SRP: $1,500/each)

The loudspeakers employ a 1-inch aluminum tweeter with an integral phase ring derived from Revel’s Performa3 Series. The tweeters are mated to a new, patented fourth-generation Acoustic Lens Waveguide that optimizes the blend between the tweeter and woofers and improves off-axis performance for smoother, more consistent performance over a wide listening area, according to the company.

The newly designed woofers feature aluminum cones to help keep distortion to a minimum by improving rigidity without increasing mass.  The models are designed using computer-optimized driver positioning and crossover network integration and feature ¾-inch MDF enclosures with edge-to-edge “windowpane” bracing to reduce cabinet-induced coloration and gold-plated multi-way binding posts. Lastly, the units are accented with matte black trim rings around all drivers, a matte black tweeter waveguide with contrasting embossed logo and a removable magnetically-fastened grille with a brushed-metallic logo.

JBL Synthesis Processor, Amp

The Hard Rock demo room also showcased the JBL Synthesis SDP-25 Surround Processor and SDA-7200 7-Channel Amplifier for custom-installation installation..

“With the introduction of the SDP-25 and SDA-7200, JBL Synthesis now offers a lower-cost, high-quality preamp/amplifier solution that is ideal for smaller rooms and brings the benefits of JBL Synthesis performance to a wider range of consumers than ever before,” says Garrett. “The SDP-25 can accommodate 4K Ultra HD and 3D video source components and displays and both components deliver the superlative sound quality that is inherent in every JBL Synthesis product.”

The SDP-25 offers a host of features including six HDMI 1.4 inputs (one on the front panel) and two HDMI outputs with 4K Ultra HD and 3D video compatibility, and 7.1-channel surround-sound audio capability with dual-subwoofer output. It offers two component and two composite video connections and multiple analog, coaxial and optical audio inputs and outputs including a front-panel 3.5mm aux input. The preamp/processor provides RS-232 ports, IR inputs and outputs, and trigger inputs and outputs to enable interfacing with other JBL Synthesis components and automation and control systems.

The SDP-25 is compatible with all high-resolution surround sound formats including Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and other Dolby Digital and DTS surround modes. Its USB input enables connection to the output from a streaming audio device or computer and the SDP-25’s 7.1 Direct and Stereo Direct modes provide a signal path with minimal audio circuitry for listening to high-resolution digital and analog music sources.

The SDP-25 offers adjustments for bass-management, individual level and delay adjustment for each channel, a selection of 7.1-channel and 2-channel and DSP surround-enhancement modes, and front-panel Picture Adjustment control.

Meanwhile, the JBL Synthesis SDA-7200 7-channel amplifier delivers 200 watts per channel into 8-ohms with all channels driven. The Class D rack-mountable amp is the same size as the SDP-25 and it includes RCA inputs and binding post outputs. Both units has a black brushed-aluminum front panel.

What about AMX?

Meanwhile, the Harman demo room did also include some AMX equipment controlling the lights and other elements in the room. Garrett admits that AMX has decidedly aimed at the commercial integration market over the past several years but that could be changing as the venerable control brand becomes more aligned with the rest of the Harman audio brands. But for now, that incorporation is is still in its early stages. Harman acquired AMX back in May 2014 from the Duchossois Group for $365 million. Garrett also revealed that Revel speakers will soon be appearing in car audio for the first time soon.