After hearing reports of his own demise, Mark Twain is known to have remarked that such rumors were “highly exaggerated.” So too are the claims by music streaming champions that “the CD is dead.” Many of them hold the opinion that everything has moved to the cloud and only listeners trapped in the 20th century amass actual libraries of music. But in fact, physical media—including vinyl and reel-to-reel tape—have a user base who are very much alive and well, as evidenced by the introduction of Luxman’s new state-of-the-art CD player, the D-10X.
Luxman, the patriarch of Japanese audio brands, was founded in 1925 and has earned its respected status as a manufacturer of some of the best sounding, best-built two-channel audio gear available. Its product range casts a wide net and includes solid-state and vacuum-tube electronics. At $16,495, its pure solid-state D-10X player is not a frivolous acquisition; rather, it’s an “end game” source component that will find its place in systems where spinning silver discs—both CD and SACD—accounts for a primary method of music playback. One look at the blasted white finish and its thick aluminum front panel and casework leave no doubt that this is a statement product.
Tipping the scales at nearly 50 pounds, the billet-of-a-box contains substantial internals. It’s the company’s flagship disc player that replaces the D-08u, which, in its original form, was in the Luxman catalog for more than a decade, proof of the brand’s commitment to long-lived components and not annual model upgrades for the sake of pushing product.
The D-10X improves on its predecessor with an even beefier disc drive, an in-house design called LxDTM-i (Luxman original Disc Transport Mechanism-improved) developed to further eliminate vibration and resonance that contributes to distortion. Seeing the drawer in operation, one imagines a miniature bank vault with a tray that opens to swallow a silver disc—all with eerie silence punctuated by a solid “thunk.”
Digital-to-analog conversion is accomplished with an all-new chip set, from Japanese manufacturer ROHM Semiconductor, called the MUS-IC BD34301EKV. All those letters and numbers identify what may become the reference DAC chip within the industry, and the D-10X is the first application of this technology in a consumer audio product.
The D-10X is a versatile performer; it’s a CD player, an SACD player and, importantly, it features playback of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) CDs and decoding of MQA files up to 24-bit. Also included is Luxman Audio Player software that manages multiple file formats, including WAV, FLAC and (horrors!) MP3.
With optical, coaxial and USB digital inputs on its rear panel, the D-10X is ideally suited to function as a stand-alone DAC for playing computer-based or streamed music files. The matching RD-29 remote control (in aluminum) duplicates every front panel function and has a few other tricks, like zooming in or dimming the panel display. Also new is the D-03X, a $3,295 CD player—and DAC with MQA—for those seeking a taste of elegant Luxman performance at one-fifth the ticket.