Founded in 1925, the brand is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Japan’s Luxman will successively launch many collectible products. It is not easy to find a brand with a history of more than 100 years, not to mention that High-End speakers are rare. Luxman’s first comprehensive SQ-38 amplifier was released in 1964.
The SQ-38 series is now one of the classic equipment of Japanese Jazz Cafes. The latest L-509Z flagship comprehensive amplifier released in this review not only uses Luxman’s latest preamplifier and power amplifier innovations. In addition to technology, it also inherits the classic spirit of SQ-38, replacing the previous generation L-509X. In addition to improving the sound, L-509Z provides an adjustable phono preamplifier with increased output, making it easier to cope with different needs.
Phono cartridge requirements This is undoubtedly a very needed feature for friends who want to listen to vinyl. Others include redesigned EQ tone adjustments that are more delicate and diverse, a new 12V linkage interface, and an LED volume display. , mute switch on the front panel, 4.4mm balanced headphone output, etc. To show the importance it attaches to the L-509Z, Luxman’s R&D team used its Feedback Engine System (LIFES1.0) for the first time on both the preamp and amp circuits of the L-509Z.
The L-509Z is also the first to use Luxman Electronically Controlled Products with Ultimate Attenuator-EX (LECUA-EX) technology.
The body of Luxman L-509Z adopts the same style as the previous generation L-509X. However, if you carefully compare the two units, you will find that many places are different. These main differences are not for good looks but are mainly based on actual functions.
For example, as mentioned above, there are more MM/MC phono stage switching options, volume display, more EQ adjustments, 4.4mm balanced headphone output, etc. To eliminate vibration and isolation interference, L-509Z uses high-thickness and extremely strong aluminum alloy.
As the main material, it is equipped with high-density cast iron foot pads. The upper panel is made of Luxman’s classic hairline texture and has 28 independently cut heat dissipation holes. In addition, the internal materials are solid, making the L-509Z weigh 29.4 kg.
The back of L-509Z can be said to be super complete with all kinds of interfaces. The original factory comes with an exclusive protective cover to prevent terminal oxidation, which is a super plus. In addition, the balanced output is also equipped with a phase adjustment switch.
If the balance pin position is different When using equipment, you don’t have to worry about changing cables or using adapters. You can switch directly here. The exclusive remote control can also operate Luxman digital playback equipment after 1996.
The two power output displays of L-509Z have an LED volume display in the middle of the VU meter. Users can directly understand the current volume. The SEPARATE button on the lower left is to turn off the L-509Z preamp function. At this time, the volume control will be disabled.
The L-509Z also has a preamp analog output that can be connected to an external power amplifier. The CARTRIDGE phono stage has more MC-H high output and MC-L low output settings to choose from, which can be perfectly combined with different phono cartridge outputs.
The EQ part has more MIDDLE mid-frequency adjustment functions than the previous L-509X, and the overall adjustment is more multi-band and delicate. LIGHT STRAIGHT turns off the EQ line. If you don’t use EQ, it is recommended to turn it on to get a purer sound.
It’s time to appreciate the inner beauty of the L-509Z. Here, you can also see many of Luxman’s thoughtful details, such as leaving enough space between the terminals to allow users to use thicker-diameter audio cables. The RCA terminals are entirely Made of copper alloy, which combines the superior conductivity of copper with the durability of brass.
The speaker delay protector is designed with a large parallel symmetrical structure, and the OFC oxygen-free copper internal wiring with a thickness of 3.5mm square ensures low impedance transmission. To pursue the purest transmission, the circuit adopts the shortest path design. The main circuit board uses a Peel-coat to minimize the dielectric effect. The rounded circuit board path without right angles makes the transmission smoother. The entire center of L-509Z is the power supply core, using a custom-made high-quality and super-standard 600VA El transformer and a new large filter capacitor (10,000μFx 8)
The Luxman L-509Z is the third Luxman product to adopt Integrated Feedback Engine System (LIFES1.0) technology, and it is also the first device to be used in both the preamplifier and the postamplifier. This is the result of Luxman’s years of research and can transform amplifiers into Negative feedback to reach the ideal equilibrium point. Although negative feedback can cause distortion, it is also an important source of music regeneration energy.
To solve this problem, Luxman developed the Only Distortion Negative Feedback (ODNF) circuit as early as 1999. During this period, after five generations of evolution, the excellent LIFES1.0 was achieved. The L-509Z has a high-energy, ultra-linear output thanks to its four-way parallel push-pull design using three-stage Darlington bipolar transistors, which can output 120W (8 ohms) per channel.
L-509Z’s precision sound control Luxman Electronically Controlled Ultimate Attenuator-EX (LECUA-EX) has 88 levels of adjustment (0~87dB) and can control distortion to a minimum, avoiding the problems caused by using traditional variable resistors. , the carefully machined selector buttons and delicate axis make it very smooth to use.
The history of Luxman can be traced back to 1925, which is close to 100 years ago. Starting from the early radio receivers, Luxman has been focusing on high-quality equipment for a long time, and it still maintains local production in Japan. It can be seen from various sources that it has a strong fever spirit and a tradition of rigorous spirit in Japanese products.
There are quite a lot of Luxman products at present, and they are developed for mid-to-high-end consumers. The characteristics of its products can be roughly seen from the naming method of its products. The L-509Z at the beginning of this review represents a comprehensive amplifier, digital source, and decoding type product. It will start with D, C means preamplifier, M means power amplifier, and P means vinyl record player or headphone amplifier.
Luxman L-509Z is a new comprehensive amplifier launched at the end of last year. It is positioned as the most rigorous and perfect flagship level. The previous generation is L-509X, and the suffix of the model number represents a different generation. L-509Z is very complete in terms of functions. It has many sets of acceptable analog inputs, including balanced XLR and single-ended RCA. Users can connect to different sources at the same time.
It also has a phono input, which is particularly special when singing. In terms of head input selection, in addition to the two common types of cartridges, MM and MC, it is also subdivided into MC-H and MC-L. Friends who are not familiar with vinyl playing may not understand that some MC cartridges are deliberately made to be high-quality. There is a big difference in voltage output between the level output and the low-level output of traditional MC cartridges. For example, the Dynavector MC reference cartridge we use has two versions.
The high-level output version has data of 2.8mV and a low-level output. The level output version data is 0.3mV, and there will be completely different reference value adjustments when paired with a phono amplifier. Therefore, although the Luxman L-509Z cannot adjust the corresponding impedance or capacitance, as a comprehensive amplifier, the MC gears that provide two different levels of input are quite detailed, and this function is not available on other Luxman comprehensive amplifiers. Didn’t see it either.
In addition, the L-509Z provides three-band gain adjustment for treble, midrange, and bass, as well as balance ratio adjustment for the left and right channels. This is very useful for users who cannot properly position their speakers to achieve a three-band balance or even a balance between the left and right channels.
A convenient life-saving straw, it provides a record that allows users to achieve normal sound performance without having to worry about the dilemma of incoordination of speakers, moving wires, and space environments. Users who prefer certain frequency bands can also adjust the sound taste at any time and restore it, which adds a lot of fun to listening.
Many Luxman integrated amplifiers use two very dynamic pointer meters. Although this is not a substantive function, it can touch the user’s eyes and heart, greatly improving spiritual satisfaction. In the center of the two meters, It displays simple dB volume numbers, satisfying both spirituality and practicality. The remote control equipped with L-509Z has very good texture and touch, is moderate in weight, is made of aluminum alloy, and is universally applicable to different models of Luxman products.
When listening, I first used digital network streaming as the source and referred to John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” jazz album. The L-509Z itself is very powerful and will not be too soft when playing lazy jazz, such as this Saxophone. The protagonist of the album can still fully express the penetrating power of the instrument, and the details and contrasts during playing can also be released at a medium or even low playback volume.
You don’t need to use a high volume to hear every instrument. The role and weight played also show the lively and freehand connotation of music. L-509Z is quite neutral in tone and has a strong sense of acoustic performance. The mid-to-high frequency band has a higher proportion than the low frequency. You can feel that the control ability of the speaker is quite good. It should have a fairly average performance level when paired with most speakers.
Using vinyl as the source, I listened to the phono stage capabilities provided by the L-509Z. One difference between this equipment and other models of Luxman integrated amplifiers is the phono stage function. My reference was Michel Jonasz’s “la fabuleuse histoire de Mister Swing”. To my great surprise, the Luxman L-509Z’s phono preamplifier capabilities are quite excellent.
Compared with the phono preamplifiers that came with other integrated amplifiers that I have tried in the past, this is undoubtedly the best. The first-line sound performance is no less than the sound of our digital network streaming sources.
Moreover, the L-509Z can demonstrate the excellence of vinyl sources. The naturalness, smoothness, excellent frequency band connection, and sound thickness are quite adequate, and the frequency band balance is also quite excellent. If the user is a digital source, users who use both vinyl sources or who may add vinyl sources in the future can seriously consider using the L-509Z phono stage to play music first and then pursue independent phono stage equipment if there is higher demand. , until then, the L-509Z should be enough for a while.
Playing the song “Goodbye Girl,” sung by The Civil Wars, the sound performed by the L-509Z feels warm, and the sound of the instruments is three-dimensional and distinct. The first guitar string sound of the song has multiple feelings of thickness, density, and layers at the same time, and it is calm.
A sense of the position of varying heights can also be heard in the voices. The sound of the strings has a high contrast. From the first part of the music, the sound performance is solid. When the song progresses to the middle and later parts, the strings can hear the sonorous luster of the sound. It shows a compact texture without making the sound feel cold and stiff. I can feel the musical instruments playing an important role in the song.
The human voice also sounds comfortable. You can feel the cleanness of the voice in the soft passages, and there is enough air at the edges, making the voice seem to be floating lightly in mid-air. As the voice turns from false to solid, we can see the changes in the voice line. The graceful curves and lack of abrupt lags also bring out the different charms of the voices between men and women quite uniquely. The male voice is slightly lazy but also full of emotion.
There is a little bit of affection and tenderness, and the female voice has a weak, vaguely visible fluorescence at the end. Various diverse factors make the listening experience more interesting in many different aspects.
Then listen to Ed Sheeran’s “Photo.” When playing, you can feel that the picture in front of you is quite spacious, and the sound is a little fat and thick. As the song continues, the sound does not feel squeezed or suffocated at all. When the drums start to play, you can see that your eyes are more spacious, and you can also clearly hear that the drumsticks are hitting the ground very solidly.
Although the drum sound is not very powerful, through the calmness of each drumstick strike, I still feel that there is quite majestic energy in front of me, so the low-frequency performance is very special, and it is presented comfortably without feeling any pressure.
The sound displayed through the L-509Z has a somewhat refined feel. For example, the string sound at the beginning of the song and the notes are clean and quite light and coherent. In the clear background, there is not too much emphasis on the plucking feel, which is a bit like a melody.
It appears naturally in front of you, but the sound of sliding strings appears from time to time, but it depicts the shape of the guitar quite profoundly. Even with the fluffy drum sound at the rear, the obvious texture or trace of the guitar is not lost. , it is still clearly visible in the dense and spacious sound in front of you. The energy of the sound is also very three-dimensional. When the song is about to end, the volume of the sound gradually increases with the rhythm in front of the eyes. It seems that the music is directly visible to the naked eye, making people cling to the music.
Next, I listened to Boyce Avenue’s cover of “Cold Heart”. The songs selected for review were either guitar-based or drum-based, but no matter what, I felt that the L-509Z properly brought out the flavor and beauty of various instruments. For this song, I personally like the percussive feel of the drums.
The ending of the percussion point is very clean and neat, and at the same time, I can clearly hear the solidity contained in it. It is slightly crisp but also clearly elastic, which makes the rhythm of the song better. The feeling is stronger, and the song is successfully made more lively or vivid, and the sense of dynamics is really excellent.
The performance of the string sound is also good. The low sound gives the song a calmer and solid bottom. Perhaps the drumstick sound is also more lively and crisp because of this. When listening, I felt that there was the sound of strings flowing at the bottom of the picture in front of me.
It was calm and evenly distributed. Although the sound was not super thick, it matched with other sounds. It had sufficient contrast and, at the same time, felt a stable balance. From this, I also feel that whether it is the sound of human voices or musical instruments, it is made brighter, clearer, and cleaner.
Finally, I tried the L-509Z ear amplifier system. I played the song “Easy On Me” by Adele. I felt that the performance of the Luxman L-509Z in all sound ranges was quite balanced when listening to it with headphones. First of all, the sound of the instrument is satisfying.
The piano sound at the beginning of the song is clean, round, and translucent. The height, shortness, fatness, and thinness of the notes have a unique and realistic depiction. The feeling of pouring out is like a waterfall, which brings out the connection of the song. At the same time, the sound of the piano is also full and makes people feel a little sweet. Whether it is the high pitch in the early part of the song or the low sound in the middle and back parts, the sound is coherent, and the notes are clear. The sound of the piano alone is enough to make people feel Savor.
The vocals listened to through the headphones are also good. The sound contrast is more obvious in the headphones. When the sound shows full energy, the voice line is like a dragon, full, solid, and thick, rolling around the ears. But if the voice starts to become slower and softer, a lot of light air will gradually appear around the voice, making the singing a little more delicate and gentle.
And even in such a gentle passage, the voice does not seem hollow because of this but still has a solid quality. The performance allows people to appreciate the exquisite details of the sound, such as the most delicate tremors, which are very clearly presented to the ears.
Luxman’s imminent centennial celebration marks a milestone in its legacy of audio excellence. The Luxman L-509Z flagship amplifier, drawing from the classic SQ-38 series and integrating cutting-edge technology, exemplifies the brand’s commitment to innovation and craftsmanship. With features like an adjustable phono preamplifier and advanced technologies such as the Feedback Engine System (LIFES1.0), the L-509Z delivers unparalleled performance.
Its neutral yet dynamic sound profile, whether playing digital or vinyl, showcases Luxman’s dedication to sonic perfection. As Luxman continues to push the boundaries of audio technology, the L-509Z stands as a testament to a century-long legacy of passion and innovation in pursuit of audio excellence.