One of the world’s oldest consumer electronics companies, Japan’s Luxman was founded in 1925. By the 1960s, the design, sound and build quality of its electronics were exemplary and set the bar for hi-fi products everywhere. Luxman is also tied to tradition, not just its own, but in its appreciation for design solutions that have endured the test of time.
A demonstration of that philosophy is Luxman’s reluctance to embrace trends and so-called technological advancements when the ears of its engineers reveal them to be otherwise. Most notable was the period during the 1970s, when the entire audio industry jettisoned vacuum tubes and embraced transistors, largely because of cost, the lure of high-volume manufacturing and the ability to claim meaningless high-power specifications that obsessed both the industry and consumers of the day. The sonic result was some of the worst-sounding amplifiers and receivers in the history of audio. Yet Luxman went against the grain, continuing to build vacuum-tube gear, while at the same time making genuine advancements with transistor-based designs that ultimately allowed it to enter that broader market with great success.
Luxman still produces excellent, low-powered vacuum-tube amplifiers and preamplifiers, along with a wide range of top-tier solid-state integrated amplifiers and separates. Not surprisingly, vintage Luxman gear is popular with collectors and commands some of the highest prices on the used market of any brand. The timeless industrial design, fit and finish of its old components have a lot to do with the collectability of those historic pieces, and some of those aesthetic and ergonomic cues are passed on in Luxman’s product line today.
One Luxman component that has a strong collector following is the highly regarded L-570 series, originally introduced in 1989. That integrated amplifier was built like a battleship, had a jewel-like finish and some of the smoothest, most satisfying aluminum-clad, direct-selection switchgear ever incorporated into an audio component. Pushing those buttons was a tactile delight, but such switchgear has long gone out of fashion due to cost and complexity, and has generally been replaced with rotary controls or—more typically—digital touchscreens and remotes, with no physical switches at all.
At great expense and with obsessive attention to detail, Luxman has recreated the allure of those switches on the original L-570 series with the L-595A Special Edition Integrated Amplifier, released in a worldwide limited-edition run of just 300 examples, 100 of which are allocated to North America and priced at $11,995. In fact, in place of a typical serial number, each back-panel plate identifies the unit as a 95th Anniversary edition and is individually numbered out of the 300 produced.
Like the original, the casework features a hairline silver aluminum finish with a black Alumite lower section. A calibrated volume knob, rotary bass, treble and balance controls complement the front panel. That volume knob is not so simple, but is what Luxman calls its LECUA1000 (Electronically Controlled Ultimate Attenuator), a computerized control that achieves incremental and precise volume adjustments across 88 steps, all while minimizing distortion.
An integrated amplifier of the caliber of the L-595A Special Edition has much to recommend itself, eliminating as it does multiple components and requisite interconnect cables. Done right, a great integrated amp is not only an efficient, space-conserving and cost-effective solution, it can sound better than a combination of amp, preamplifier and phono preamp anywhere remotely near its price. And it’s the entrails that make the L-595A Special Edition’s sound such a treat.
Luxman designers have employed Class A topology, a solution to audible switching distortion encountered when output transistors responsible for one half of a musical waveform switch off and others are switched on to handle the other half of the waveform. With Class A operation, the output transistors operate continuously without switching on and off. Sonic benefits are apparent, especially during playback of low-level musical passages. Output is 30 watts per channel (WPC) into 8 ohms, and the circuit is stable into 2 ohms. That modest rating understates the ability of the L-595A to punch well above its class. An oversized, highly regulated power transformer and large, independent left/right filter capacitors suggest that this integrated can wrestle even inefficient speakers to the ground and hold them down in submission. That brawn is suggested by the casework and heft of this component, whose massively overbuilt chassis and internals weigh in at 64 pounds.
Vinylphiles will appreciate a built-in phono preamplifier with selectable moving magnet/moving coil cartridge-type selection. Users can mix and match other amplifiers if the urge strikes, via preamp output/main amp input terminals for bi-amping, and there’s a separate function to support home theater installations. A loudness-compensation switch boosts bass for low-level listening, when such low frequencies are ordinarily attenuated. Two sets of binding posts allow two sets of speakers to be connected (but not run simultaneously). And when the Eames chair is just too comfortable to get up from, a supplied remote control comes to the rescue, also able to operate current Luxman CD players.
Rarely does a single component evoke the nostalgia and aura of audio’s Golden Age while offering state-of-the-art technology and build quality. Make it a limited edition and, all of a sudden, the Luxman L-595A becomes more special still.