T H E G E R M A N H I F I M A GAZ IN E ISSUE #12 2017
H I F I E X C L U S I V E C D - P L AY E R / A M P L I F I E R
High quality brushed metal fronts, rosewood veneer casework,
and the magic of tubes: Luxman‘s new „Classic Series“ creates an
aura of timeless elegance and nostalgic charm. But does the sound
of D-380/LX-380 deliver what the styling promises?
ome components are simply too
good for testing: it’s almost a
shame to play them off against
competitors or to get to the bottom of
them with measuring instruments. That’s
exactly how I felt when I looked at Luxman’s D-380 CD player and its LX-380
integrated amplifier partner, with which
the Japanese high-end manufacturer –
one of the world’s oldest hi-fi brands, by
the way - is expanding its “Classic Series”.
Now that series is already off the beaten
track when it comes to general awareness, and perhaps only known to the
cognoscenti, so perhaps submitting it to
‘normal’ test scrutiny is already committing sacrilege.
However, you don’t have to be an
insider or a Luxman fan to realize something special’s going on here, due to the
retro look, including the wooden cladding
for the sturdy metal chassis which evokes
the spirit of long gone days, and the toggle
switches and squiggle logo. Amps looked
like this 40 years ago, and really only the
tiny window for the signal from the infrared remote control indicates there’s something modern about this one.
High-tech in vintage clothing
True there were no CD players at that
time, but even the D-380 player makes
every effort to fit into the frame of solid
nostalgia without appearing squeezed in.
It impresses with its simple elegance and
minimal controls on the elegant shimmering front panel, while the amp retains the
wide range of functions usual on older
 If you buy both 380s, you also have two
remote controls, but the amp‘s one will control
all essential player functions.
H I F I E X C L U S I V E C D - P L AY E R / A M P L I F I E R
 Just like in the past, when hi-fi fans wanted to
adjust more than just the volume and inputs on
their amp, the LX-380 has differentiated tone
control with three switchable frequencies for the
bass and treble controls.
 The D-380‘s double-triode tube is visible
through the window, the digital outputs can be
switched off, and the display can be switched to
large numerals from the remote control by pressing the „Zoom“ button (above).
TURNTABLE: Transrotor Rondino nero with
arms from Jelco and SME
CARTRIDGES: Clearaudio Charisma V2
(MM), Transrotor Figaro (MC)
CD PLAYERS: Lua Appassionato MKII GS,
T+A MP3000HV
AMPLIFIERS: Accuphase E-270, Accustic
SPEAKER: DALI Epicon 6, Dynaudio Cont.
60, Q Acoustics Concept 500
Japanese amplifiers and those “retro-styled” – something this Luxman shares
with, for example, models from Accuphase.
So the LX-380 has a switchable tone
control with three selectable input frequencies for the bass and treble controls,
a phono section that can be used with
moving magnet or moving coil cartridges,
a switchable subsonic filter, tape monitor,
loudness control and a headphone output.
Inside, the it combines a tried and tested
tube power amplifier design, in which
three ECC82s control four 6L6GC power
tubes, with what’s said to be the first lossless volume control: the “Luxman Electric
Controlled Ultimate Attenuator”, or
LECUA for short.
This sits on its own circuit board and
converts the music signal from voltage to
current, adjusts the desired gain by combining several stages according to the
volume knob, and then performs current/
voltage re-conversion. The manufacturer
says that as this runs over its entire range
without any impedance change, LECUA
has no negative influence on the signalto-noise ratio or the frequency response
of the LX-380. All of that is invisible to
the user: rather everything simply works
perfectly and precisely.
The D-380 CD player’s handset offers
a choice of modes: you can use the transistor output, or also connect a double
triode ECC82 stage? The tube is located
behind a small window, kept warm at all
times and discreetly illuminated at the
rear as soon as the small rocker switch,
which is positioned below it, is operated.
It’s logical that, despite the vintage flair,
the developers used the latest technology
for their purebred D-380, which, contrary
to today’s trend, only plays CDs and offers
 The L-68A, which is around 35 years
old, was one of the models for the
LX-380‘s design. The transistor amp cost
around 2500 marks at that time.
no digital inputs. Texas Instruments’
PCM 5102 DAC chip, with jitter reduction and selectable filter characteristics is
used, and the dimmable and completely
defeatable display can be switched to a
large display of tracks and time data,
which can then be read from a distance
of a few meters.
If you are looking for signs of retro, you
will find further refinements in the LX-380’s
elaborate transformers, but the “fascination
of technology”, however sophisticated it
may be in detail, kept in the background:
upfront is the joy of the styling – and of
course the sonic experience.
The amp’s the star
The player spoiled us with silky accuracy,
sounding anything but mechanical: even
in the transistor mode, the details in Eleni
Karaindrou’s “To Vals Tou Gamou” were
woven delicately into the sound picture
and created an almost floatingly light
grace, but the player also grabbed the
heavier sound of the Blues Company in
full-blooded manner.
Switching to tubes, it was as if the upper
midrange was highlighted more
H I F I E X C L U S I V E C D - P L AY E R / A M P L I F I E R
energetically – although nothing is apparent in the frequency response measurements – with the effect of making voices
and strings a little more present and striking, and the strike on guitar strings more
prominent. Switch to the time-optimized
Filter2 via the remote control and,
depending on the quality of the recording,
you get a more spatial representation,
albeit at the expense of a sometimes somewhat brittle overtone. Which filter setting
fits better and which one is more pleasing
is a matter of personal taste- they’re easily
selected from the listening position for
quick comparisons.
So far, so convincing – but the star
of the set is the amplifier. Initially it
doesn’t sound too promising due
to its low power, but it uses its
approximately 20 watts per
channel so skillfully that it
can bring tears of enthusiasm
to the.
The choice of speaker plays a
more important role than it
would with a potent transistor
amp, which would be more amenable: the LX-380 needs efficient speakers
that won’t exhaust its power reserves, and
would be unsuitable as a party animal, so
we initially had some doubts about setting
it up with Dynaudio’s Contour 60.
Although the Danish speaker almost
90dB/W/m sensitivity and a good-natured
impedance response, it might not be considered a favorite for use with a tube amp,
On the connection side, there are only RCA
sockets (including tape loop) as well as outputs
and inputs for the preamplifier/power amplifier
section. If not assigned, use the short circuit caps
on the phono sockets (l.) 
but then it’s well known that trying is more
vital than studying. Even so, it was surprising how easily, confidently and enthusiastically the Luxman partnered with the
speakers, raising Maria Pihl’s “Malvina”
over her deep, colorful and radiant backing. It unraveled the dense web of band
and audience on the Red Norvo Quintet’s
“Saturday Night” with ease, letting the
mallets over the succinctly struck
 The main transformer 1 supplies the LX-380
with energy. The pulse generator behind the
volume knob 2 informs the „LECUA“ circuit 3 of
the desired gain. Three small double triodes of
the type ECC82 4 control the four main tubes 5 ,
two per channel. These transmit their power to
the loudspeakers via output transformers 6 .
vibraphone with relish, gave the swing free
rein and at the same time conveyed the
sense of the audience in the background.
A better sense of live atmosphere and
instinctive, joyous playing is rare.
Maybe even more exciting was the
way the amplifier matched with DALI’s
Epicon 6. This design is three decibels
“quieter” than the Contour, but its
impedance is straightforward at the fiveohm mark, which is something amplifiers generally like, tubes in particular.
The Luxman had an easy time with it,
let the sparks sparkle and made Ray
Brown’s acoustic bass on “Exactly Like
H I F I E X C L U S I V E C D - P L AY E R / A M P L I F I E R
You” sound superb. Using this record we
checked the phono input, which is well
up to the standard of the rest of the amp,
with different cartridges, concluding that
even top-quality partners are brought to
life with a three-dimensional sense of
space and tonal color. That’s great – after
all, tube fans usually also like vinyl.
Tubes and filters
according to taste
Compared to transistor rivals in the same
price range, the LX-380 was extremely
airy, light-footed and agile, but at the same
time less “dense”. Where others paint in
opaque oil, the Luxman has more dazzling
watercolors in its palette - not untypical
for tubes. Nevertheless, it delivers the fat
groove of “Homeward Bound” of the
Blues Company in full and dominant
fashion, belying the myth that rubes are
soft, warm and cozy.
Considering how dry, contoured and
dynamic is the manner in which the
LX-380 delivers the bass, one might start
wondering whether it’s best via the highest possible damping factor, to take the
speakers woofers under a tight rein, or
whether one should let the bass run unbridled. Yes, the Luxman is looks on paper
to be a complete failure in terms of damping, but still doesn’t sound mushy or
spongy. Rather, the airy and diversified
diction of midrange and treble is also
prevalent in the low frequency range.
Whether you operate the player with or
without tube participation, and which digital filter you choose, is down to taste, and
may even vary from track to track. We
haven’t reached a definitive judgment on
this – to be honest, we’ve been enjoying
too much simply listening to the 380s.
The system even worked superbly with
the Q Acoustics Concept 500 speakers, in
a manner making it easy to forget that
there’s only 20 watts per channel on tap.
Luxman makes the best of its power, and
while these retro components may not be
aimed at those who want ultimate level,
those who appreciate something really
fine are likely to adore them.
Matth ias Böde
at € 4790
Dimensions: 44 x 17 x 34 cm (WxHxD)
Warranty: 2 years
at € 6990
Dimensions: 44x20x46 cm (WxHxD)
Warranty: 2 years
For some hi-fi fans, the CD itself is retro.
This player gives it a solid platform, and is
technically and sonically up to date. The tube
option on the output makes it particularly
In a world of purist, minimalist tube amps,
the luxuriously equipped Luxman gives the
„full range“. And it combines its tube output
stage with a high-tech volume control. First
class sound!.
Signal-to-noise ratio digital 0 103 dB
Quantization S/N ratio (400 Hz/0 dB) 96 dB
Distortion factor (400 Hz/-60 dB, trans. /tube) 0.1/0.3 %
Converter linearity down to -90 dB 0.1 dB
Sampling reliability very good
Reading time 7s
Output resistance RCA / at 1 kHz 300 Ω
Output voltage RCA/XLR at 0 dBFS 2.1 V
Channel deviation 0.2 dB
Jitter 7.2 ns
Deviation from sampling frequency +36 ppm
Power input
Off | Standby | Idle
0 | - | 13 Watt
Continuous power at 8 | 4 Ω 18 | 17 W per channel
Pulse power into 4 Ω 21 W per channel
Distortion factor
at 50 mW | 5 Watt | Pmax -1 dB 0.04 | 0.4 | 0.9 %
at 50 mW | 5 Watt | Pmax -1 dB 0.02 | 0.4 | 0.9 %
CD signal-to-noise ratio at 50 mW | 5 Watt 68 | 88 dB
Phono MM (5 mV/1 kohm/5 W) 81 dB
Noise ratio Phono MC (0.5 mV/10Ω/5 W) 65 dB
Channel separation at 10 kHz 63 dB
Damping factor at 4 Ω 1
Upper cut-off frequency (-3 dB, 4 Ω) 70 kHz
Connected load valuespractice-oriented
Crosstalk Tuner/CD (10 kHz/5 kΩ) 72 dB
Synchronization error Volume control up to -60 dB 0.3 dB
Power input
Off | Standby | Idle 0 | - | 104 Wattt
LAB COMMENTS: All measured values are very good
to excellent and meet today’s standards – only the outer
appearance of the D-380 is
AC phasing
retro. The data for the sigon test unit
nal-to-noise ratios and the
output resistance apply to the transistor output. However, when the valve stage is activated, the deviations
are a maximum of two decibels or ohm and are therefore negligible. That’s why this one is so great!
Pre-adjustable tube in the output stage,
dimmable and switchable display, time and
track display with large display, two digital
filters, digital outputs, remote control
Four high level inputs plus one phono input
(MM/MC), subsonic filter, mono button, tape
out, pre-/power stage separable, loudness,
remote control
Contact: Luxman
LAB COMMENTS: The low output requires sensitive
speakers. Distortions remain low, so do the noise values. Virtually no damping
AC phasing
factor, good channel sepaon test unit
92 %
94 %
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