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Mark Levinson No 5909 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 22 11.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 55 28.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 88 46.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 25 13.2%

  • Total voters
    190

hampestampe

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I've bought a pair of No5909 headphones in April.
I' musr say I am a little disappointed about the maximum output of the volume when I connect my Android, Samsung Galaxy s21 ultra via USB-C.
The USB-C volume set to max is equivalent to around 50% or less via Bluetooth. I want the best sound quality. I prefer usb-c over LDAC bluetooth connection, but the volume is totaly unacceptable, set way to low over /Phone/USB-C to-> USB-C/headphones/.
Obviusly the amplifier in the headphones have enough power but the limit is set to a much lower output via USB-C.
I heard from other users of the 5909 that they are experiencing the same problem.
But the worst thing is that theire support mail is not valid and when I try to reach them via web form it's error. I reached them after some weeks when I did post about this issue on Mark Levinson Facebook page. They just told me that they will pass this question along to the team and someone should support my request. I have not heard any thing from them since I got that answer May 13.
I think the overall sound quality is OK, but it certanly sounds like a regular closed headphone, It's realy nothing spectacular.
I like the ANC though, I think they perform good and are pretty dynamic in a bussy enviroment, like in an airplane. When listening in quiet enviroment like at home I prefer my Hifman HE 500 all day long.
So because of Mark Levinson poor custom service/support my overall inpression is also quite poor.
 

Robbo99999

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Just take a look at the underlined, and I am sure you'll realise the contradictions. In science, which is what this forum should be about, we don't reach conclusions based on aneccotal observations.
Yes, indeed (re just your underlined - not the contradictions), and you'll also understand (if you think about it), that measured frequency response at a dummy head (GRAS) is not the same thing as wearing the headphone on your own head - so the comments I made re angled drivers & angled pads transferring some of your own personal HRTF signature still stand.

By the way, I'll provide my own experiences until the cows come home! (And I do my best for my observations to be controlled, I'm a scientific mindset & past, I understand the method........I admit I don't tie every loose end down all the time with level matched comparisons of headphones and going to the utmost level, but I understand the limitations in comparisons & won't knowingly talk bollocks).

(Lol, Pete, you are one of my nemeses on here, you always try to contradict me (spin my comments), I've noticed....just to put it out there.....I mean I don't mind that much in the scheme of things, not at all really, just thought I'd tell you I realise, you can keep doing it for sure, that's fine).
 
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Toni Mas

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I am a bit suprised by a few comments about soundstage and headphones. In my experience soundstage is the weakest point of any headphones and what makes me prefer listening to loudspeakers. Some headphones may deliver a wider soundstage than others but no headphone can offer the deep soundstage that loudspeakers can offer. Headphones also give a sensation of being artificially inmersed inside of the sound field, while loudspeakers tend to give another illusion, more natural sounding to me, that i am listing from a distance to a source situated in front of me. Btw, my musical programs are mainly acoustical ones, classical or jazz.
Also, i have never found an headphone tonally really satisfying for me ( Beyer DT880, DT770, AUDEZE LC2), even with EQ (i dont like the harman target). The only model i casually enjoy and find tonally natural is a cheapo Beyer in ear Mode... Though i hate having to wear these inside my ears...
 

Robbo99999

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I am a bit suprised by a few comments about soundstage and headphones. In my experience soundstage is the weakest point of any headphones and what makes me prefer listening to loudspeakers. Some headphones may deliver a wider soundstage than others but no headphone can offer the deep soundstage that loudspeakers can offer. Headphones also give a sensation of being artificially inmersed inside of the sound field, while loudspeakers tend to give another illusion, more natural sounding to me, that i am listing from a distance to a source situated in front of me. Btw, my musical programs are mainly acoustical ones, classical or jazz.
Also, i have never found an headphone tonally really satisfying for me ( Beyer DT880, DT770, AUDEZE LC2), even with EQ (i dont like the harman target). The only model i casually enjoy and find tonally natural is a cheapo Beyer in ear Mode... Though i hate having to wear these inside my ears...
Of course, since when did anyone say that headphone listening sounded the same as optimally located stereo loudspeaker listening (equilateral triangle with listening position). If you want that then you'll have to go the Impucifier or Smyth Realizer route re headphone listening. Headphones with good soundstage can get a bit closer to that, but it's not the same, not in my experience (it's certainly different).

(Good headphone listening can give you a bit more resolution than loudspeaker listening as it's not influenced by the room towards the bass area, and often lower distortion with headphones whilst being able to go all the way down to 20Hz if you use EQ).
 

PeteL

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Yes, indeed (re just your underlined - not the contradictions), and you'll also understand (if you think about it), that measured frequency response at a dummy head (GRAS) is not the same thing as wearing the headphone on your own head - so the comments I made re angled drivers & angled pads transferring some of your own personal HRTF signature still stand.

By the way, I'll provide my own experiences until the cows come home! (And I do my best for my observations to be controlled, I'm a scientific mindset & past, I understand the method........I admit I don't tie every loose end down all the time with level matched comparisons of headphones and going to the utmost level, but I understand the limitations in comparisons).

(Lol, Pete, you are one of my nemeses on here, you always try to contradict me (spin my comments), I've noticed....just to put it out there.....I mean I don't mind that much in the scheme of things, not at all really, just thought I'd tell you I realise, you can keep doing it for sure, that's fine).
Maybe, don't take anything personal, I may just happen to have different opinions than you, in many subjects. It's just that. I personally think that since the sound stage is created in music production, by microphone placement and FX and such, the most resolving headphones will be the ones that will showcase the soundstage the best. Meaning very clearly hearing the tails of the envelope of each sound source, being able to distinguish if the mic was placed at 1M of the source or close to it the depth that is created with careful use of the reverberation, natural from the recording room or digitally induced, etc etc, etc. You don't hear this level of details on all headphones even if it has a friendly frequency response and this review demonstrate it. I feel that the best recreated soundstage I heard was on the Senn He1, but I also think I have never simply heard higher fidelity and details on a set of headphones. Regardless of the perfect frequency response. So you have it. It's my opinion That the most resolving headphones will give you the best soundstage, but I may be wrong.
 

Robbo99999

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Maybe, don't take anything personal, I may just happen to have different opinions than you, in many subjects. It's just that. I personally think that since the sound stage is created in music production, by microphone placement and FX and such, the most resolving headphones will be the ones that will showcase the soundstage the best. Meaning very clearly hearing the tails of the envelope of each sound source, being able to distinguish if the mic was placed at 1M of the source or close to it the depth that is created with careful use of the reverberation, natural from the recording room or digitally induced, etc etc, etc. You don't hear this level of details on all headphones even if it has a friendly frequency response and this review demonstrate it. I feel that the best recreated soundstage I heard was on the Senn He1, but I also think I have never simply heard higher fidelity and details on a set of headphones. Regardless of the perfect frequency response. So you have it. It's my opinion That the most resolving headphones will give you the best soundstage, but I may be wrong.
You haven't really said anything there if you really think about it.....
(apart from the first sentence)
 

PeteL

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You haven't really said anything there if you really think about it.....
(apart from the first sentence)
Please elaborate on your thoughts? In the sense that resolving, details, resolution are meaningless terms perhaps?
 
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nyxnyxnyx

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Let's just say this is a reasonable example of Amir describing what spatial effects, and to another extent, soundstage in his terms to us.
Sometimes I would read something like 'FR is accounted for everything' and while I can understand the logic they explain I find it hard to view it as a rule of thumb while headphones like HD800s, HE1000 and 007/009 exist (though I'm sure there are more than just those I mentioned).
It's definitely something we all should try to have a better experience and understanding of what great headphones designs are capable of outside of just 'nailing' the FR to a certain target.... It also helps us discuss better because some people who engage in topics like that haven't quite experienced it yet and only placed their hypothesis upon their available knowledge.
 

Robbo99999

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Please elaborate on your thoughts? In the sense that resolving, details, resolution are meaningless terms perhaps?
Yeah, it's not specific, it means nothing (what you said). There is frequency response measured at your eardrum - which you can't do, and I mean that (I think in most practical circumstances). And there's frequency response measured at the eardrum of a dummy head (GRAS) which you can do. What I'm saying is that the angled pads and angled drivers of an over ear headphone (when not touching the ear) somehow enable an element of your own HRTF to be transferred to your eardrum that would not be represented by comparing 2 headphones that have been EQ'd to the same frequency response on a dummy head. (and combined with perhaps the psychological aspect of the headphone not touching any part of your ear - adding to the soundstage). So I think those two variables add to the soundstage. In contrast what you've said in vague terms of "resolving, details, resolution" are meaningless in themselves, and especially in reference to how any such spurious elements might effect soundstage - you're just saying words. I'm relaying the pattern of different headphone design in how it relates to my perception of soundstage once the measured (on a dummy head) frequency response has been taken out of the equation. Personally, I find my observations to be compelling as they're routed in my own experiences and correlations, and yours are just.....vague & non-descript language. I mean, maybe you're not communicating exactly what's in your mind, but the pattern remains in my assessment of your posts over the past year(s?) that you're not of a particularly scientific mindset, nor of a particularly articulate nature, and that's fine....just I'm not convinced by you at all, in my view it's easy to build a picture from people's posts. (I see you as a "spinner" primarily). (As in primarily just "spinning" posts).

EDIT: normally I wouldn't respond to people in such a personal manner like this....being this personal about it, just when a pattern of people's posts keeps forming when it's pretty much always antagonistic to your own, then I think it's justified to say something. Like I said, you can keep doing it, just I want it to be known.
 
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RJO

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It pains me to not recommend a headphone that hits the magical tonality curve but here we are. I want the headphone experience to do things that even good speakers can't. And we simply are not there with Mark Levinson No 5909 headphone.
I may have found one but in the form of an IEM, called Fiio FD7. It may not hit the magical tonality curve, at least, not on paper because it's their other model the FD5 which you had recently reviewed that had put claims on it. However, this FD7 seemed to have tamed some of the unwanted peaks in both ends of the spectrum that were found in the FD5, it just delivers and sounded more correct with no EQ needed; I wish you get a chance to measure one.

Anyway, it replaced the 5905 that I was planning to use for travel but ended up using it daily, I just couldn't stop. Needless to say, kudos to their audio engineer for finally tuning something right for my ear :)
 

solderdude

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I find that strange too, but according to this DOC:

HOW DO I LISTEN IN TRUE PASSIVE MODE (WIRED)? For airplanes or analog listening, plug 3.5mm audio plug into headphone audio input to engage passive (wired) audio. Headphones power off when audio cable is plugged in. Passive audio listening will work even if battery is depleted. Microphone and buttons are disabled during passive mode. NOTE: The № 5909 is only compatible with the Mark Levinson proprietary passive audio cables included.

Other paragraph as well rephrase that, so not sure what's going on.

Well it could be possible that once the battery is depleted (below a certain percentage) the driver is connected to the analog input (using the ML cable)
This was not tested by Amir I assume.
A passive driver would have to be somewhere between 16 and 40ohm at most.
 

Madlop26

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The ones you were describing as being better with the Sennheiser and Dan Clarks and are missing from these ML.

I honestly don’t use headphones except when I need to be quiet and use IEMs most of the time when I need to be quiet :)

Is it as simple as having big drivers?
I was thinking the same, I have the HD800s and the K371, two good sounding headphones, with a major difference in spatial qualities, so I check driver size for the k371: 50 mm, HD800s: 54mm; not a huge difference; but looking at them size by size (yes, I like to look at my headphones), the HD800s have huge cups and the other small cups.......so there is something going on there, my 2 cents in spatial qualities, the boogeyman in headphone audio science.
 

solderdude

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so I check driver size for the k371: 50 mm, HD800s: 54mm; not a huge difference

Moving membrane diameter of the K371 is just 40mm. The plastic chassis is 50mm in diameter.
Diameter of the HD800 membrane (the moving part) is 54mm and is a ring driver (huge voicecoil) where the AKG driver is 'standard'.
So substantial difference the HD800 driver has 1.8x bigger radiating surface... ;)

Driver angling, driver position, driver-ear distance, radiating surface.
 
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PeteL

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Yeah, it's not specific, it means nothing (what you said). There is frequency response measured at your eardrum - which you can't do, and I mean that (I think in most practical circumstances). And there's frequency response measured at the eardrum of a dummy head (GRAS) which you can do. What I'm saying is that the angled pads and angled drivers of an over ear headphone (when not touching the ear) somehow enable an element of your own HRTF to be transferred to your eardrum that would not be represented by comparing 2 headphones that have been EQ'd to the same frequency response on a dummy head. (and combined with perhaps the psychological aspect of the headphone not touching any part of your ear - adding to the soundstage). So I think those two variables add to the soundstage. In contrast what you've said in vague terms of "resolving, details, resolution" are meaningless in themselves, and especially in reference to how any such spurious elements might effect soundstage - you're just saying words. I'm relaying the pattern of different headphone design in how it relates to my perception of soundstage once the measured (on a dummy head) frequency response has been taken out of the equation. Personally, I find my observations to be compelling as they're routed in my own experiences and correlations, and yours are just.....vague & non-descript language. I mean, maybe you're not communicating exactly what's in your mind, but the pattern remains in my assessment of your posts over the past year(s?) that you're not of a particularly scientific mindset, nor of a particularly articulate nature, and that's fine....just I'm not convinced by you at all, in my view it's easy to build a picture from people's posts. (I see you as a "spinner" primarily). (As in primarily just "spinning" posts).

EDIT: normally I wouldn't respond to people in such a personal manner like this....being this personal about it, just when a pattern of people's posts keeps forming when it's pretty much always antagonistic to your own, then I think it's justified to say something. Like I said, you can keep doing it, just I want it to be known.
Ok, frequency response, or tonality, whether it's at the eardrum or not, can be had by eq, or physical construction and tuning . And sure it should be partly responsible. But my point is, what if there are drivers that are simply better than others? Any frequency response can pretty much be obtained by almost anything, but all don't sound the same. Your theory is not invalid, but it's just a theory, not demonstrated. it's ok to take a shot at trying to understand, nothing wrong with that. But most agree that there is limits to headphone measurements, In my experience, yes two headphone can have close to the same frequency response, with one giving you much more fidelity to hear very subtle things and others will give a much more blurry, top level experience, pleasing tonality but not fully resolving. And this high fidelity can be had with angled, straight, over ears Iems, all kind of headphones.
 

GXAlan

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I was thinking the same, I have the HD800s and the K371, two good sounding headphones, with a major difference in spatial qualities, so I check driver size for the k371: 50 mm, HD800s: 54mm; not a huge difference; but looking at them size by size (yes, I like to look at my headphones), the HD800s have huge cups and the other small cups.......so there is something going on there, my 2 cents in spatial qualities, the boogeyman in headphone audio science.

I have these AKG K-60 headphones which sound really spatial and have huge earcups but a small driver… they do allow exterior noise in which may also enhance the spatial qualities because ambient noises trickle in too.


 

Cars-N-Cans

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There will have to be a 'target' that is similar to the non-ANC response and the ANC of course needs to work.
I ask as I would have thought that compliance with the Harman curve would at least imply conveyance of the ITDs and IIDs of the source material, and very basic spatial effects, at least. But here according to the review it sounds like it’s than my old set of Klipsch R6i‘s, which still have nothing even after some manual EQ to clean them up and make them fairly neutral. Im sure what I said above is a gross oversimplification of what’s required for some degree of spatial separation, but if the onboard electronics are doing something to skew the time dependent portion of the spatial cues, that could be the issue right there. Maybe a minor point, but it would be nice to rule out. A large theme in past headphone reviews was that post EQ almost invariably improved things on the imaging front. But if it’s possible to make passive headphones and IEMs that have excellent compliance with the Harman curve, but end up with in-head localization, “three blobs stereo”, or even pseudo-mono stereo imaging, then compliance looses a lot of gravitas it once had in my humble opinion. It would also mean that us in the more general public have a rather poor understanding of how imaging works in headphones.
 

Nango

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The 700er Se
View attachment 215314
Here is the top of their list, I have heard most of them and it seems reasonable. However I currently own the HE-400i and the LCD-2C and it's clear as day that the Audeze has vastly wider and more realistic soundstage. Their model isn't perfect but it seems to have some predictive power for sure.
The 700er Sennheiser that way ahead of the curve, strange ........
 
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amirm

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Well it could be possible that once the battery is depleted (below a certain percentage) the driver is connected to the analog input (using the ML cable)
This was not tested by Amir I assume.
A passive driver would have to be somewhere between 16 and 40ohm at most.
It is a quandary what it is done. But I definitely ran both analog pass-through and digital. These were the two sets of test. I think there is some kind of solid state switch (FET) that is normally closed for analog pass-through. It wouldn't make sense for it to use power as you say.
 
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amirm

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I am a bit suprised by a few comments about soundstage and headphones. In my experience soundstage is the weakest point of any headphones and what makes me prefer listening to loudspeakers.
I am not talking about soundstage or I would have called it that. I talk about a unique experience with headphones: instrument separation and layering just outside of my ears. This can range from non-existent to incredible. It is as if the music is shrunk to the size of a dollhouse and you are sticking your head in it. :). Needless to say, this never happens with speakers. They provide imaging which I do not get with headphones of any kind.
 

Garrincha

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My takeaway: size matters

Jokes aside, the differences in FR between this and the Stealth still look significant to me. Stealth has much fuller subbass and is much smoother in overall response. Sometimes even small quirks can screw up the tonality. Also the upper treble peak around 12khz is not there on the Stealth. In my experience this could colour instruments quite significantly, as in the case of some Hifiman headphones.
I don´t know if this is true, neither visually nor quantitatively. @Maiky76 has calculated for the Stealth a Score without EQ of 77.8 and a Score with EQ of 90.0, whereas for this one a Score without EQ of 94.2 and with EQ a Score of 102.4. The Stealth has also 3 large spikes above 10kHz (even if these could be artefacts from the measurement). But still, maybe pure compliance to a target curve does not tell us as much about the sound as was speculated before?
 
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