The Mark Levinson brand has always been famous for it’s high-end home audio gear. No doubt, it’s the stuff that audiophiles drool over as they window shop for their next dream purchase. But headphones are a new endeavor for the company. And the pricey No.5909 comes at a time when high fidelity Bluetooth cans are beginning to flood the market. Let’s see what we can expect from Mark Levinson’s headphone debut.
In the Box
Hard shell carrying case
– 4 m USB-C to 3.5 mm audio cable
– 1.25 m USB-C to 3.5 mm audio cable
– 1.25 m USB-C charging cable
– USB-C to USB-A adaptor
– 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm audio adaptor
– Airplane audio adaptor
Microfiber cleaning cloth
Look and Feel
The No.5909 is not particularly ostentatious in its appearance. At the same time, it sports all the qualities of a high-end headphone. The leather headband is nicely padded with careful stitching, and the leather ear pads feel luxuriously soft and smooth. The No.5909 offers plenty of natural sound isolation. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the clamping force is quite firm. Fortunately, the leather pads are plush, and even wearing glasses, I felt no discomfort. Though the yolk is a sturdy aluminium, the sides of the ear cups – around the circumference – appear to be made of plastic. (It could be aluminum in disguise, so don’t quote me.) The No.5909 only folds flat, so you’re limited to the accompanying hardshell case.
Design and Functionality
The No.5909 sports a 40mm beryllium driver. Beryllium drivers are well-known for their fast, tight sound and punchy bass response, and the No.5909 seems to hold true to it’s promise.
For those who love to crank up the volume, be aware that, as is the case with most Bluetooth headphones, the max volume is less than heart pounding. But as someone who tends to listen on the louder side, I was still satisfied at about the 85% volume level.
The No.5909 supports Bluetooth 5.1. Compatible codecs include LDAC and aptX Adaptive. Even wearing these cans in the middle of Manhattan, I didn’t experience any dropouts. Call clarity is great, especially on the receiving end, but you might hear some momentary dropouts here and there.
Combine the No.5909’s natural sound isolation with the ANC, and you have a very quiet commute to work. It will certainly kill any ambient hum or nearby chatting. The headphones come with an accompanying app, which allows you to adjust the level noise cancellation. Ambient mode is also available for when you need to hear the surrounding environment. Although an EQ is provided, the settings are limited to bass boost. So, not much creative control there. Finally, the app allows you to adjust the auto-off timer, a handy tool for conserving batter life.
The buttons on the cups themselves are pretty standard and easy to navigate. The left cup has a power/pairing button as well as an ANC button. The right cup employs 3 buttons, allowing you to adjust volume, play/pause and skip through tracks.
With the ANC switched on, you should be able to get about 30 hours of battery life and 34 hours with the ANC switched off.
The No.5909 presents a spacious soundstage for a Bluetooth headphone. And perhaps because the separation on these cans is top-notch (more about that below), the stage offers a colorful listening experience. You’ll hear plenty of left to right dimension with very precise placement. Maybe less so on the vertical axis, but still decent enough to feel like an immersive sound. Based on the tracks I listened to, I didn’t hear a tremendous amount of depth. Still, the level of “3D-ness” can certainly compete with other Bluetooth headphones in this echelon. Also notable, the No.5909 has a live, stage-like feel at times, which adds to the engaging quality of the space.
The No.5909 shows a solid profile in this range without any hint of muddiness, and the bass displays a fast punch. Listening to The Beatles’ “Come Together”, the kick drum reveals satisfying oomph and energy, as well as an impressively natural and transparent timbre.
The sub-frequencies come out with plenty of presence as well but avoid drowning out the higher frequencies. And overall, this range stays clear of any overkill. In short, you’ll get your bass fix, but not at the expense of the overall balance.
Again, well balanced in this range. You’ll get a good dose of lower mids, though it stops short of sounding indulgently lush. The upper mids avoid upstaging the lower midrange, so you won’t experience any harshness in this frequency range. Certainly, the overall balance in the mids makes for a smooth and easy listening experience.
The level of separation is fantastic here as well. Acoustic guitar strums in the lower mids, for example, have clear definition, and heavy mixes feel nicely spaced out. Again the No.5909 conveys great articulation and sounds entirely natural. And these elements become especially clear when listening to acoustic genres like folk, jazz or classical. Saxophones, for instance, reveal plenty of breath and detail. And while you can’t call the sound signature thin (in fact, it has some pleasing color), the more delicate instruments are amply nuanced.
Plenty of detail in the highs, but no unnatural sounding extension, which makes for an easy, comfortable listen. Listening to Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green”, even at the treble peaks, the trumpet stops short of becoming grating. So, even highest frequencies sound consistently smooth. For those who enjoy a more brilliant feel, these cans may not be ideal. But for stretches of long listening, the sound profile is perfect.
Though it’s hard to ignore the steep price tag, Mark Levinson’s No.5909 checks all the boxes you’d expect for a high end Bluetooth headphone. Musical, articulate, fast and beautifully balanced, the No.5909, if nothing else, is thoroughly pleasing to the ears. Add to that a superb level of ANC that matches, if not beats the competition, and you have a Bluetooth headphone that come pretty close to flawless. The fit may be the only factor to consider, especially if you have a particularly large head or are sensitive around the ears. Again, for me, it wasn’t a problem, even with my thick glasses. But I don’t want to be blamed for any buyer’s remorse. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for audio luxury, the No.5909 is an ideal option.