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  • Cheryl Tan

Mark Levinson No. 5909 Headphones Review: One Of The Most EXPENSIVE Wireless Headphones To Date!

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Edit 25/7/2022: The price of these headphones has increased to S$1,599.

Have you ever heard of Mark Levinson before? Well, I wouldn’t fault you if you didn’t. They’re more well-known for their preamps, amps and such, but these are the brand’s first-ever headphones, and they’re quite possibly the most expensive wireless headphones in the market right now.

We have the Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones with us today, and they’re expensive with a capital E. These come in at US$999 or S$1,499, which is honestly, kinda insane.

So, let’s talk design first. These come in three colours, pearl black, ice pewter and radiant red. We have the black with us today, which is the most understated, but I do think the radiant red looks very nice, and it would match nicely with the red stitching on the headband too. Anyway, you get very plush earcups that are replaceable, so plus point there, a good amount of padding on the headband and all-metal construction for the yokes. That being said, the earcups themselves are made with plastic, which is a bit of a letdown for the price this commands. Nonetheless, the headphones still look very premium and they feel nice in the hand too.

On the left earcup, you get two buttons, one for power, one for ANC. On the right, you get the buttons for volume control as well as play/pause. There’s also a USB-C port here, and something special about these headphones is that there’s a USB DAC mode, which allows you to use the headphones wired with your laptop and such and that’s great.

Comfort-wise, these are incredibly comfortable, no doubt thanks to the plush earcups. I can wear these for hours on end without the slightest bit of discomfort.

The earcups are also quite big, I never noticed my ears touching the sides of the earpads and it was deep enough that my ears didn’t touch the mesh inside either.

The earcups are also able to swivel flat, which is a very nice touch. That being said, the carrying case that comes included is still quite large, but you get two cables, one USB-C to 3.5mm, one USB C to C, a flight adapter, a ¼-inch adapter and a USB-C to A adapter in the package.

Inside, you get 40mm beryllium-coated drivers that the brand claims is tuned to the Harman curve. I won’t question that, especially since Mark Levinson is owned by Harman, and these headphones really do sound great.

Moving on, there’s a Mark Levinson Headphones companion app, although it’s really quite barebones. You get a battery indicator on the main page, and in the Settings page, you can toggle between ANC or awareness, adjust the “bass contour”, set an auto-off timer and toggle on-head detection on or off. That’s about it.

As for connectivity, these are on Bluetooth 5.1, which isn’t all that great when it comes to futureproofing, but at least the connection is solid. What’s nice though, is that these support SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and LDAC, so audiophiles will be able to stream high-res audio if their source device supports LDAC.

There’s supposed to be 30 hours in the headphones with ANC on and 34 hours with ANC off, and I have to say that I charged these once, and never had to charge again until now.

Microphone quality is pretty okay too, I’d say these are perfectly fine if you need to take some work calls with these, and in quiet environments, they work great.

As for the ANC, it works pretty well. It’s not on the same level as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or other top tier ANC headphones, but it blocks out a good amount of noise and I wouldn’t mind having these on a long flight.

But we now come to sound quality, and I really enjoy listening to music with these. Keep in mind that I’m testing with MQA files off Tidal and streaming through LDAC, so your experience will definitely vary depending on your setup.

It’s generally a more neutral sound that picks up a bit in the upper mids with a slight emphasis on the vocals, and it’s incredibly detailed with a very good amount of clarity and coherence. The bass is thumpy and impactful, and if you want more, you can always use the “bass contour” feature, but I personally left it at neutral. The mids are smooth and you get a bit more sparkle in the highs which I definitely enjoy.

The best part about these headphones, though, is the staging and instrument accuracy. The soundstage is wider than average, and instrument imaging is on point with plenty of space in between and beautifully separated instrumentals.

Plugging these in and using a wired connection brings it up a notch of course, and with a 32ohm impedance, these are easily driven with pretty much any laptop or phone.

So, are these worth the exorbitant price tag? I’d say it’s really quite tough to swallow for most people. A thousand bucks is a lot, and most people probably wouldn’t be willing to drop that amount on a pair of headphones. For those who are willing, though, you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful-sounding headphones that look really nice and have very decent ANC.

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