LUXMAN C-900u / M-900u

MJ16.10.2014

Power amplifiers

My summary could be pretty straightforward: the anniversary Luxman M-900u/C-900u combo is a fantastic piece of audio that signifies a new era for the company. I can say aloud that both amps are first affordable amps, however relative is this term, I can imagine to spend the rest of my life with.

 

100% reference

Funkce a forma

98%
Ergonomie
87%
Zvuk
100%
Zpracování

New 4th generation of the ODNF 4.0 uses Darlington circuit in one stage of both the amplifiers to boost the current gain and provide high output impedance which consequently improves the overall system sensitivity. Combine this with the feedback that utilizes only ‘waste’ signal, that is distortion, and behold the amps that sport, at least on paper, high dynamic capabilities (126dB for the C-900u and 117dB for the M-900u) and ‘better extension and clarity on high frequencies’, according to Luxman

The M-900u’s façade is simple: two needle type VU meters and their control plus a switch to select either balanced or single ended mode. I loved the oversized speaker terminal knobs that were spaced well so I could connect even the thickest and stiffest speaker cables from my arsenal with ease.

Where their relevant Japanese competition employs MOSFETs and toroids, Luxman uses bipolar transistors and EI/CI core transformers. It is nice to see the attention to detail they give to the parts that others leave unnoticed – like the square copper wires they use for transformers or double-side gold plated bending curves of printed circuit paths that imitate the constant section and flow of classical wiring.

The M-900u boasts of nice damping factor (710) and the power output that drops in linear fashion to 1 ohm. In result it will be breeze for it to drive most speakers. The specified output power 2x150W into 8 ohms doubles down to 2x300W into 4 ohms and ends with 1x1,200W into 1 ohm. Luxman’s specifications are usually on safe side so in actual use I would expect 10-20% higher values. Still, if your listening room is really big or your speakers are difficult to drive – Magico or Lansche – give the Luxman combo try before you buy.

The lit needle type VU meters on the M-900u´s frontplate show the amplifier´power output in dB scale. 12W equivalent, according to Luxman, should read around -10dB. This is a quite useful piece of information as up to 12 watts the M-900u operates into pure class A before it switches to class AB.

Nízké frekvence

Váha
90
Výbušnost
89
Artikulace
91

Apart from the soundstaging capabilities and much improved transparency, there is something even more important that makes the Luxman combo so outstanding: bass quality is probably the area where the Luxmans made the biggest leap. The bass of the M-900u is deep enough for any recording and it has enough weight not to cause proportional misbalance in frequency spectrum. It digs deep to the basement yet the sound does not stay confined underground and swiftly gets back to daylight if music calls for it. On top of it the bass of the Luxman combo is miraculously delineated.

Master and Margarita (Malgorzata Zalewska, Crater´s Edge) is a brutal test for any piece of high end gear. A harp that is played live is accompanied by synthesized lines that start at subsonic extremes and extend up to supersonics. Ladies and gentlemen (though I already lost by faith that audio reviews are read by ladies), I have never heard better rendering of the bass in Master and Margarita than through the Luxmans. The only system that had bettered it in definition was all-digital based Lyngdorf Millennium, yet it lacked the Luxman’s weight. The C-900u and M-900u not only managed to transfer the subterranean lows but they managed to keep them resolved across the octaves. No smearing, no mud, just impactful and strong bass lines, one by one. I loved it!

Čistota rozlišení

Detail
92
Vzduch
91
Transparentnost
91

Notwithstanding all that was said the Luxman combo will most likely not appeal to anyone whose music collection favours rock’n roll. The electric guitar in Sheer Heart Attack (Queen, News of The World) is precise and full through the M-900u and the C-900u, yet it lacks ultimate bite and electrifying presence I heard through the Van Medevoort, for example. I suspect it is a kind of tax for class A as the tonal purity and textural resolution brings (almost) always along the slightest touch of transient roundness. If you like your music hard and aggressive, look elsewhere. If you are looking for refinement and grace, Luxman is the right address and I am afraid that there is no other amplifier at the Luxman’s asking price level that combines all the positive treats so skilfully.

Tonální věrnost

Témbr
90
Dynamika
90
Časování
92

I have recently spent few days with astonishing triplet of Van Medevoort amplifiers - PAQs/CAQ/DAQ. On the same track, Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker, the Luxman exhibited more even mids without any audible perturbation that were tonally and texturally closer to the real event. The Van Medevoort counterstruck with a grade higher dynamic contrast to make differences between pianissimo and forte much more dramatic and orchestral scale more believable. I assume that three times bigger power output of the Van Medevoort (2x300W in class A) makes the dynamics bloom. Is it a concern for the Luxman?

Perhaps the IsoTek’s Super Titan that was used for the M-900u bottlenecked energy for the power amp? I experimented with shuffling the power cord between the IsoTek and the wall and decided to keep the amplifier plugged in the Super Titan. Without it the sound lacked everything, gone was the imaging magic, definition, dynamics and highs became harsher. It is fair to say that the Van Medevoort PAQs is by 5000€ (30%) more expensive. When I compare to a direct competitor, the Accuphase A-65, the sound of the M-900u is more alive, more detailed and more defined at low octaves, yet it manages to keep the aura that is common for refined performances of both. The children choir in Waltz of Snowflakes came to life in the listening room through the Luxman combo and transformed the room into a real ballroom. Waltz is a royal dance and it needs to be reproduced like that so I appreciated a lot that the Luxmans, behind their high resolution, never sounded mechanic and uninvolving, although technically perfect, like many of high end esoterica amplifiers on the market.

Prostorovost

Trojrozměrnost
94
Šířka scény
94
Hloubka scény
94

The M-900u and C-900u provide wide and deep look into the soundstage of the London´s Barbican. The Luxmans excel in instrumental separation yet they manage to convey the wholeness of the symphonic orchestra. They can dissect if you want them to dissect – Allegretto begins with muted cellos and the Luxmans bring the smell of resin on strings to the listening room. You can feel how variable is the pressure of bows on strings, you see the incidental moves of the cellists, and if you wish you can just pick up one cello and follow it through the rest of the piece with its full front to back perspective.

Imaging of the Luxmans is pinpoint sharp. Not only within the depth and width of the soundstage but also in vertical space – tympani, for example, sit recessed in the soundstage at a level slightly above the orchestra. One of the best tests for imaging can be found at Chesky´s Jazz sampler. Four musicians with percussive instruments (shaker, maraca, hand drum and wood blocks) are marching through a reverberant chapel, approaching a microphone, making three rounds around it and disappearing through the gate in the back of the chapel.
Through the Luxmans the portrayal of the event was impressively precise and solid. As mentioned earlier, the sound did not disintegrated into small sonic events – the detail for the sake of the detail – as well as the LSO never lost its communication power as an orchestra. This is what the Luxmans continue pursuing with all grace and magic – they lure you into the music.

Cena v době recenze:400 000,- Kč

Doporučení prodejci

Navrátil Audio, Havířov, tel. +420 737 821 360

PP HiFi, Otrokovice, tel. +420 603 581 305

Nisel SK, Bratislava, tel. +421 905 203 078

Připojené komponenty

  • Sources: Luxman D-05, Luxman DAC DA-06
  • Amplifiers: Luxman C-900u, Luxman M-900u
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Neyton Nuernberg XLR, Audioquest Mont Blanc
  • Loudspeakers: Usher Dancer CP-8571
  • Power conditioning: IsoTek Super Titan, cables from IsoTek and Neyton

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