About the Mark Levinson No. 5909
Mark Levinson style and performance, everywhere you go
The well-put-together Mark Levinson No. 5909 noise-canceling headphones play music wirelessly through high-grade beryllium drivers.
Mark Levinson style and performance, everywhere you go
The Mark Levinson No. 5909 noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones are unlike any model we've ever carried. They are at once super-premium wireless work/travel headphones, as well as bona fide audiophile wired headphones for focused at-home listening. During a brief audition, I learned that their deluxe build and high-grade beryllium drivers help them excel in both scenarios.
And they impressed from the moment I unboxed them. Right away I was struck by the industrial design — it captures that timeless vibe of classic Mark Levinson audio gear. I could see and feel the thoughtful detail in the strong aluminum frame, textured leather headband, and the polished, gloss-metallic earcup finish.
Noise cancellation that adapts in real time
Built-in adaptive noise canceling circuitry scans and monitors external sounds, then adjusts itself accordingly. It was certainly put to the test in my basement office! With noise cancellation "on," these headphones quieted the constant low-frequency hum of my furnace, and also the — well, let's just say more "staccato" — rhythm coming from my 9-year-old kid's new keyboard piano.
While these headphones don't offer the absolute best noise cancellation available, it is well above average. And based on my experience, I think the No. 5909 headphones are equipped to knock out the plane engine drone and other air travel distractions. And it sets a low noise floor for what separates these headphones from the pack: that lifelike, nuanced Mark Levinson sound.
Listen wirelessly or wired — without compromise
These are primarily wireless headphones, and the newer, more reliable Bluetooth 5.1 is on board. Premium Bluetooth formats aptX™ Adaptive and LDAC are also supported with compatible devices, helping retain more musical detail. And they offer extended wireless range, so I could keep my phone on my desk and travel down the hall and upstairs without audio dropout.
There are also several wired listening options, including traditional 3.5mm miniplug cables in two different lengths. So you can connect to a portable high-res player or dedicated headphone amp/DAC with that or the included 1/4" adapter. I found you can also make a digital connection and listen with the included USB-C charging cable (or USB-C to USB-A adapter).
Adaptive noise cancellation helps remove unwanted distractions.
Secure, well-cushioned fit
The No. 5909s have a form-fitting design that helps keep them from slipping off as you move around. It's snug for sure, but it doesn't feel too "clamp-y" or like my head is in a vice. And the leather ear pads are soft, avoid pressure points well, and keep the drivers positioned properly toward the ears.
In my hands, they felt heavy for a set of Bluetooth headphones. But they are not nearly as heavy as the larger audiophile headphones out there. And the padded leather headband distributed the weight in a way that didn't cause me great fatigue, even as I wore them through entire work shifts.
Influenced by decades of scientific research
It's hard to believe, but these are the first headphones in the long, storied history of Mark Levinson. But think of the landscape back in the '70s when the company first introduced their world-class amplifiers — loudspeakers were so much more sophisticated than headphones. That's changed in the last decade, largely thanks to the advancements and scientific research of Harman, Mark Levinson's parent company.
Expertly tuned high-performance drivers made of beryllium and other premium materials.
Within their California labs, Harman's audio experts — led by Dr. Sean Olive, former president of the Audio Engineering Society — developed a distinct sound signature, known within the high-end headphone scene as the "Harman curve." This special sound profile has been honed over the years by exhaustive user testing and has been proven to satisfy most listeners. It has informed and improved the tuning of countless headphones from entry-level models on up to the rarified air of these No. 5909 headphones.
Quick-moving beryllium drivers
Of course with headphones, proper tuning is only one aspect of the overall performance. The No. 5909's dynamic drivers are made of precious metals and other high-grade material for optimal detail retrieval and resolution. That includes beryllium, an incredibly light and rigid metal that can stop and start quickly for realistic dynamics.
Beryllium also has strong damping characteristics, which cuts down on reverberation and sound colorization that can especially muddy the midrange. I found that vocals, guitars, and other sounds in that area were very distinct and well-defined. In fact, I felt that way across all frequencies.
My listening impressions
Again, as I write this I've listened to these headphones for about a week. The good news is they aren't the type that takes a long time for me to warm up to — I was quite taken by their pristine sonic presentation.
Well balanced and accurate
The highs sparkled with detail, but never sounded grating or overly analytical. And the bass had a refined punch out of the box — tight, complementary low end for the jazz, acoustic, and classic rock tracks I played initially.
I connected to my Samsung phone via Bluetooth with LDAC and fired up and the new remaster of the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young iconic Déjà vu album on Qobuz. It includes the original album, along with three "discs" worth of demos and outtakes. I got sucked into an earlier, looser extended version of "Almost Cut My Hair" through these headphones.
David Crosby's vocals aren't as prominent as in the final cut we all know. But having him fall back in the mix fit the more improvisational feel of this version. Grounded by the biting percussion, his vocals became part of the jam. That gave way to the two lead guitars dueling between the left and right earcups.
I switched over to hip-hop and wanted a little more sub bass, so I bumped it up with the Mark Levinson Headphones app — a free download for iPhones and Android phones. On the Boldy James EP, Super Tecmo Bo, this gave extra heft to the boom-bap beats that producer Alchemist laid under classic soul and jazz samples. Boldy's deep, baritone vocals are further accentuated, but never lost in the mix like they can be in lesser headphones with boomier or bloated bass.
Pinpoint stereo imaging
Sure, most Bluetooth headphones offer wired listening options. But few perform nearly as well in "passive" mode, without the built-in amplification or sound processing and sweetening. The No. 5909 headphones, with their premium drivers, held up just fine when powered by my reference tube amp. The sound was warmer, as expected, but still just as pristine and detailed.
I was particularly impressed with the imaging. The soundstage itself isn't huge, maybe just outside the head, but the instrument separation and sense of place within gives it extra depth. This played to the strengths of the dreamy, ambient jazz album Promises, a collaboration between British DJ Floating Points, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
The sweeping, mood-setting string instruments seemed to emanate from nowhere — or everywhere — as they engulfed my head. But as soon as I was lulled into a daze, the sax or electronic effects would cut through from a very specific location. And all the soft-to-loud musical moments had the beryllium-fueled dynamics on full display, with the subtle moments coming through just as clear as a gripping crescendo.
- Featured in our article: Best audiophile headphones for 2022
- premium closed-back, over-the-ear headphones
- Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless music listening and phone calls
- extended wireless range up to 65 feet
- high-quality aptX, aptX Adaptive, and LDAC audio streaming
- adaptive noise-canceling circuitry automatically adjusts to the level of external sound
- Ambient Mode allows in external sounds to keep you better aware of your surroundings
- also includes passive wired listening options for connecting to a dedicated headphone amplifier
Expert-tuned high-performance drivers:
- 40mm premium dynamic drivers coated in beryllium
- rigid, lightweight metal known for quick movement and superior damping characteristics
- tuned to Harman's targeted headphone EQ curve
- sound signature honed by decades of scientific research and exhaustive user testing
- accurate, well-balanced sound with pronounced clarity and detail
build quality and fit:
- lightweight anodized aluminum frame and flexible headband
- snug, secure fit with soft, sculpted ear pads (removable)
- headband and ear pads lined in premium stitched leather
- metal mesh bass port to reinforce lower frequencies
- earcups finished in automotive gloss-metallic paint
Mobile app and easy controls:
- free Mark Levinson Headphones app for Apple® or Android™ lets you adjust settings
- choose from three sound presets for bass preference
- manually choose the amount of ambient noise you hear
- earcup buttons offer music, volume, call, noise cancellation, and Ambient Mode controls
- four-mic system with echo-cancellation for clear, hands-free calls
Included cables and adapters:
- two USB-C to 3.5mm miniplug cables for optional wired listening:
- extended 13-foot fabric-lined cable
- 4-foot fabric-lined cable
- 1/4" adapter and flight adapter included
- USB-C to USB-C charging/listening cable
- USB-C to USB-A adapter
General info and specs:
- built-in rechargeable battery offers up to 30 hours of wireless use with noise cancellation (34 hours without)
- 15 minutes of recharging provides enough power for 6 hours of listening
- includes protective carrying case and microfiber polishing cloth
- frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz (wireless); 10-40,000 Hz (wired)
- sensitivity: 97 dB
- impedance: 32 ohms
- weight: 12 ounces
- warranty: 2 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # MLNO5909BLK
- Large earcups
- Snug fit
- Good for flight/travel
What's in the box:
- Over-ear wireless headphones (Pearl Black)
- 13' Audio cable (USB-C on one end and 3.5mm plug on other end)
- 4' Audio cable (USB-C on one end and 3.5mm plug on other end)
- 4' Charging cable (USB-C on both ends)
- USB-C (female) to USB-A (male) adapter
- Screw-on 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter
- Airplane audio adapter (3.5mm female to dual 3.5mm male)
- Microfiber polishing cloth
- Hard zippered hard shell case
- Quick Start Guide (English)
- Quick Start Guide (multi-language)
- Safety and Warranty Information
- Qobuz promo card
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More details on the Mark Levinson No. 5909
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.19" x 4.008"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||Yes|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||10-40k Hz|
|Cord Length||48" + 156"|
|Parts Warranty||2 Years|
|Labor Warranty||2 Years|
Overview: The Mark Levinson No. 5909 wireless headphones sound as good as they look. These lightweight over-ear headphones deliver reference-quality audio from the 40mm beryllium-coated drivers. The No. 5909 is equpped with Bluetooth 5.1 for hours of wireless, high-fidelity performance. Plug them in to a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) with the included audio cables and enjoy your favorite hi-res music tracks. The No. 5909 headphones come with a variety of audio and charging cables and adapters, and a hard shell carrying case.
Drivers: The headphones are equipped with 40mm Beryllium-coated drivers that are acoustically optimized to the Harman Curve. The drivers are expertly tuned to an acoustic response curve that scored highest in subjective listening tests. The No. 5909's drivers feature a wide frequency range of 10Hz-40kHz (wired listening) and are Hi-Res Audio certified.
Materials: The No. 5909 features a leather ear cushions (replaceable) and a premium leather-covered headband. The anodized aluminum frame is sturdy and lightweight. The stylish ear cups have an automotive-grade metallic painted finish, available in Pearl Black, Ice Pewter, and Radiant Red. The headphones include a microfiber polishing cloth to keep your headphones looking new.
Cables: The Mark Levinson headphones have a USB-C port on the right ear cup for connecting an audio cable or for charging the battery. Two lengths of audio cables are included: a 4-foot cable for connecting to a portable device, such as your smartphone, tablet, or a digital audio player, and a 13-foot cable for listening to your home audio system or professional audio console. Both cables have a 3.5mm terminal for plugging into your source device. A threaded 3.5mm-to-6.3mm (1/8" to 1/4") adapter and an airplane audio adapter are included, if needed. The included USB cable (USB-C on both ends) is for charging your phone. The included USB-C to USB-A adapter lets you charge the headphones with a USB-A charging port.
Microphones: The headphones have four beam-steering microphones with Smart Wind Adaption to keep your voice from being blocked by wind noise. The microphones assure your phone calls are crystal clear, and allow you to access your phone-based voice assistant (Siri or Google Assistant).
Bluetooth 5.1: With Bluetooth 5.1, the No. 5909s let you listen to your favorite music on the go. The headphones feature SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, and LDAC codecs for the highest wireless fidelity, and A2DP (1.3.1), AVRCP (1.6), and HFP (1.7.1) profiles.
Adaptive ANC: The headphones have Adaptive Active Noise Canceling (ANC) that shuts out ambient noise so you can listen to your music and phone calls in quiet. When you want to hear what's going on around you, or talk to those around you without removing your headphones, you can activate the Ambient Aware mode. The ANC button on the left ear cup lets you switch between ANC and Ambient Aware modes. When ANC is activated, you can further adjust the noise canceling in the Mark Levinson Headphones app by selecting ANC High (for noisy environments like airplanes or crowded places), ANC Adaptive (self adjusts according to the environment), or ANC Low (for relatively quiet places). ANC can be turned on when listening via Bluetooth (active) or plugged in (passive).
Mark Levinson Headphones App: The Mark Levinson Headphones app is available from Google Play for devices running Android 7.0 and up, and from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 11.0 or later. In addition to the above-mentioned ANC adjustments, the app gives you the following options for personalizing your headphones' performance:
- Bass Contour: You can select from three bass contours: neutral, enhanced, or attenuated.
- Auto-Off Timer: To save battery power, the headphones will automatically turn off after a selected amount of time when no content is playing: 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours (default), or never.
- On-Head Detection: When activated, On-Head Detection will automatically pause your music when you take off your headphones. When you put them back on, the music will resume right where it left off, so you don't miss a second of your favorite tunes.
On-Board Controls: The Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones feature basic on-board controls. On the right ear cup are three buttons--a multi-function button surrounded by volume up and volume down buttons. The multi-function button lets you play/pause your music (1x press), answer/end call (1x), skip forward (2x), or skip backward (3x). A long press activates your phone-based Voice Assistant as set up on your device. The left ear cup has Bluetooth pairing and ANC buttons.
Battery Power: The headphones have a built-in 3.7-volt, 750mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery charges in 1 hour 40 minutes when connected to a 5V/1.0A USB power source. A fully-charged battery provides up to 34 hours of music playback time with Bluetooth on. Battery life is reduced to 30 hours with Bluetooth and ANC on. When listening with a wired connection (passive), you can enjoy up to 30 hours of ANC.
- Frequency Response:
- Active: 20Hz to 20kHz
- Passive: 10Hz to 40kHz
- Sensitivity: 97dB SPL (@1 kHz/1 mW)
- Maximum SPL: 98dB
- Maximum Input Power (Passive): 100mW
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Ear Cup Dimensions: Width 3.19", Height 4.008", Depth 2.348"
- Weight: 12.55 ounces