Luxman L-509x high-end 120w Integrated amp w phono

LX 23 IA L509
NZ$ 14,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Luxman

discover new excitement through wonderful music and to continue to share that pleasure with everyone.

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The Luxman L-509X integrated amplifier is a music lover’s dream come true,
It truly embodies separate audio component design and performance in a single chassis. Rated at 120 wpc into 8 ohms and 240 wpc into 4 ohms, the L-509X is designed to deliver tremendous dynamic headroom into virtually any loudspeaker, regardless of impedance or efficiency.

The realisation of a desirable ideal the ultimate refinement of separates in a single unit.
The L-509X integrates the features of both a high quality separate amplifier and a high performance integrated amplifier into one product. The goal of creating an ideal integrated amplifier, initiated by LUXMAN with the launch of the L-509fSE in 2002, has now been advanced with the development of the L-509X. The L-509X integrated amplifier is equipped with many desirable features, such as the New LECUA1000 and a discretely configured buffer circuit in the output stage of the pre-amplifier circuit. LUXMAN’s ODNF (Only Distortion Negative Feedback) original amplifier feedback circuit and a power supply with independent left and right channel blocking capacitors are intrinsic to this design, as well as many components used only in high end models, ensuring high-quality audio reproduction. The design of the L-509X incorporates the cream of LUXMAN's proprietary technologies, breaking new ground and creating the ultimate expression of “separates in a single unit”.

WHAT HIFI - 5 STARS AWARD

  • Detailed, cohesive and powerful performance lacking nothing in subtlety
  • Plenty of power
  • Control and composure
  • Excellent build and finish
  • Generous range of features

OUR VERDICT
If you’re looking for a one-stop amplification solution for a high-end stereo system, this Luxman is an excellent place to start.

 

Features

Specifications

Reviews

Features

ODNF* Version 4.0 - innovative amplification feedback circuit
An integral part of the design of the L-509X is LUXMAN's original ODNF* amplification feedback circuit, featuring a high-speed primary slew rate, an ultra-wide bandwidth and a low level of distortion that is achieved by feeding back only the distorted components of the audio signal from the output of the amplification circuit. The L-509X is equipped with the latest Version 4.0 ODNF providing a dramatic enhancement of accuracy in distortion detection due to the triple-paralleled first stage error detection circuit. Lower impedance and a higher signal to noise ratio have been achieved due to the paralleled first stage and Darlington equipped second stage amplification circuit. A 3-stage Darlington circuit and a 4-parallel push-pull structure is used for the output stage, similar to the M-700u power amplifier. This achieves output at 120W+120W(8Ω) and 220W+220W(4Ω), enabling the L-509X to drive speakers powerfully with rich dynamics and full expression. *ODNF stands for “Only Distortion Negative Feedback

Chassis structure exemplifies excellence in function and design
The L-509X features a top panel with a beautiful hair-line finish and widened venting to improve heat dissipation. The loop-less chassis structure restricts any increase in ground impedance. Analog level meters, illuminated with white LEDs, add to the elegant and stylish appearance.

An abundance of user-friendly functions
The L-509X is equipped with a high-quality phono amplifier, compatible with MM and MC cartridges. This model offers all the functions that a high quality integrated amplifier should, including bass and treble tone controls, L/R balance adjustment controlled by LECUA, pre/power separation function, volume control and headphone output, all integrated into a single unit without compromising sound quality.

Copper alloy terminals
High quality RCA terminals, made of copper alloy, are used for the LINE-1 inputs of the L-509X, combining the beneficial conductivity of copper and durability of brass. The L-509X features many custom-made components befitting a flagship model, such as the robust power supply and high-grade speaker terminals that are compatible with Y-connectors.

Gradation cast-iron feet
Thorough vibration countermeasures have been taken, using cast iron feet with a density gradient to eliminate resonance. The high grade, aluminium body remote control is also supplied as standard.

High stability power supply
The highly stable power supply circuit developed for the L-509X features a 600 VA EI-core-type power transformer and independent left and right channel large capacity blocking capacitors (10,000μFx4 per channel). This generous custom specification ensures that the power supply unit will not be affected by any load fluctuation

Discrete buffer circuit
The L-509X is equipped with a discrete buffer circuit that is equivalent to the type used in the high-end LUXMAN C-900u separate amplifier. The clarity of the audio signal is preserved by this circuit whilst at the same time the following power amplification stage's driving force is significantly increased.

Prioritising audio quality in design
The use of crack-resistant peel coat PCBs for the amplifier boards prevent the quality of audio signals being adversely affected. This product prioritizes audio quality in features such as the non-angled, direct wiring pattern, known as the original LUXMAN’s Beeline construction, ensuring smooth signal transmission via the optimum shortest route.

Increased damping factor
Large-capacity, low resistance speaker relays are connected in parallel, enabling loss-less transmission of the powerful driving force that is generated by the generous power supply circuit and the amplifier output section of the L-509X. The use of 3.5mm2 cabling for the amplifier board output and the unit's damping factor of 370 enables the L-509X to drive all kinds of speakers accurately.

New LECUA*1000 computerised attenuator
LUXMAN's New LECUA1000 is at the heart of the preamp section and the volume adjustment control of the L-509X. This computerised attenuator is integrated with the amplification circuit, a feature integral to the high-end LUXMAN C-900u control amplifier. LECUA provides an ideal level control system which allows smooth and fine adjustment of the volume over 88 steps, thereby minimising the deterioration of audio quality at any point of the volume adjustment range. An advancement of the New LECUA1000 is the 3D design layout. The attenuator circuit board is directly connected to the amplification circuit board. Signal routing has been minimised and efficiency has been successfully enhanced. In addition, this design is extremely resistant to external vibration and eliminates changes in audio quality over the volume control range. The robust nature of this system ensures longevity and durability. *LECUA stands for “Luxman Electronically Controlled Ultimate Attenuator”

WHAT HiFi - 5 STARS AWARD

  1. Detailed, cohesive and powerful performance lacking nothing in subtlety
  1. Plenty of power
  1. Control and composure
  1. Excellent build and finish
  1. Generous range of features

Specifications

Rated output
120W + 120W (8Ω),
220W + 220W (4Ω)
Input sensitivity/input impedance
PHONO (MM): 2.5mV/47kΩ
PHONO (MC): 0.3mV/100Ω
LINE: 180mV/47kΩ
BAL.LINE: 180mV/55kΩ
MAIN-IN: 1.1V/47kΩ
Output voltage
REC OUT: 180mV, PRE-OUT: 1V
Frequency response
PHONO: 20Hz to 20kHz (±0.5dB)
LINE: 20Hz to 100kHz (within -3dB)
Total harmonic distortion
0.007% or less (8Ω, 1kHz)
0.06% or less (8Ω, 20Hz to 20kHz)
S/N ratio (IHF-A)
PHONO (MM): 91dB or more
PHONO (MC): 75dB or more
LINE: 105dB or more
Volume adjustment
Amplification circuit
ODNF 4.0
Output configurationBipolar 4-parallel push-pullDamping factor370Max. amount of tone controlBASS: ±8dB at 100Hz
TREBLE: ±8dB at 10kHzPower supply230V~(50Hz) /115V~(60Hz)Power consumption380W / 150W (under no signal), / 0.5W (at standby)
External dimensions440(W) x 193(H) x 463(D) mm
front side knob of 20mm and rear side terminal of 37mm included in depth
Net weight29.3kg (main unit)AccessoriesRemote control (RA-17A)
Power cableSpeaker terminal Supported Y-lug terminal dimensionWidth of part a: 16mm or less
Width of part b: 7mm or more
* Connection may not be performed depending on the shape of the Y-lug terminal.

Reviews

Luxman has produced with the L509X an integrated that really does seem to achieve results similar to high quality separates. For once a manufacturer’s claim is not just marketing spin.
Hayabusa,

SUMMARY: the Luxman L509x is an extraordinary integrated amplifier delivering a very impressive sonic performance. What has set this apart from all the other amplifiers I have had in my systems over the years and there have been quite a few, is its uncanny ability to present such a detailed presentation of musical performances in such a natural, unforced and, when it is called for, dynamic way.  This is true for both digital and analogue sources. I have a reasonable digital front end but only through the Luxman have I really felt an emotional connection with so much music. Tracks I have heard dozens of times over the years now reveal aspects of the performance I had not previously been aware of. Just to make it clear, this is not because of some hard edged ultra detailed rendering. It is an inherently natural presentation that just happens to be detailed.

EXTENDED REVIEW: My first exposure to Luxman was back in the late 1970’s in Canberra when I bought an SQ38FD to power my second-hand Yamaha NS1000M’s. I loved the way it looked with all those toggle switches and multiple rotary dials. Also, I loved the way it sounded via my Linn Sondek/SME/Shure V15 combination but it was my first really non- budget system. All of this was pre the digital revolution. Since then I have gone through a large number of components and different systems, stupidly got rid of many of my LPs in the dream of “perfect sound forever” via CD but never looked at another Luxman product through all of that Company’s ups and downs. I did, however replenish my vinyl collection with some major purchases a few years ago, mainly 50’s and 60’s jazz but also quite a bit of contemporary music.

I was out of the Australian audio scene for nearly 8 years and had sold all of my Australian based system when I moved to work in Cambodia but still kept up with developments and even put together a simple system when living in Phnom Penh. Before returning to Australia last year I purchased a number of items for delivery to Australia and brought back most of what I bought when in Cambodia. On return I felt after a few months that the amp I had, though very good, was not letting the speakers give of their best. I looked for more powerful options and had a brief sojourn with the very powerful, very tuneful and exquisitely finished Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 but I was not patient enough to let it fully develop and I think I had some system synergy issues with my analogue set up so I decided to move it on and look for something else. The dreaded audio wanderlust with which I have been afflicted for most of my life had struck again. I had read several reviews of some of the latest Luxman gear along with very positive user comments and no negatives that I could determine. Even the Stereophile review was very complimentary and the phono-stage that, from the specifications, is the same as that used in the L590AXII was judged to be “excellent” making it an all the more appealing prospect for an all in one solution (sans USB digital that holds no interest for me).

In its latest iteration Luxman appears to me to be on a bit of a roll if all the reviews of so many of its components in commercial and non-commercial publications are to be believed. I had been looking at their EQ500 Phono stage and the M/C900U combination to drive my Audio Physic Cardeas+ speakers as well as the Continuum had done but as the M/C 900U was outside my immediate means I took a closer look at something I could afford now and appeared to have the juice to run my speakers effectively, the new L509X. This seems to be an amalgam of Luxman’s M700U power amp and C900U preamp components (some of them at least but not the full 20kg worth of the stand alone pre amp, obviously). Until I could afford the EQ500 and the C900U/M900U and possibly another TT/arm/MC combination to go with my current MM centric system I decided to give the L509X a go. While in most people’s view, including mine, this is still an expensive amp in comparative terms for upper level equipment I think it could be considered something of a bargain when you consider its performance.

I have had the L509X in my system for about 6 weeks now. When I brought it home, carefully released it from its exceptional triple box packaging and had it sitting on the floor it was difficult not to be impressed by both the standard of finish, that is as close to faultless as anything I have seen, and its physically imposing presence. It is fairly heavy at nearly 30kg but lighter than many stereo and mono power amps, including the M900U from Luxman. The aluminium top panel with its square and rectangular beveled cut outs with mesh grills is beautifully machined and shares its design with the M900U. It looks great and provides very good heat dissipation even though the L509X does not produce A-class amp heat levels.

When hooking it up you are greeted by two sets of binding posts (use both at once only for 8 Ohms loads!) that are good if not exceptional quality and easy to use with either spades or bare wire but they won’t take banana plugs. Other than the binding posts there are 4 RCA line inputs but there is only one higher quality RCA input for Line 1 and the other 3 RCA line inputs and phono inputs are of lesser quality. There are 2 balanced inputs via XLR’s. There are RCA’s for recording in and out, pre out and main in plus the ground for phono and the IEC power socket. The fittings are not to the same standard as found in the C/M900U and not as good as those of the Jeff Rowland that it replaced in my shelf but they are reasonable. On the front panel the Luxman provides you with large rotary controls for input selection on the left and for volume control on the right. Beneath the larger rotary controls and the VU meters sporting white illumination you find push buttons for on/off, monitor, line straight and “separate”(enables you to use a separate pre-amp via RCA’s only) plus a headphone jack. The smaller rotary controls, which have a very nice tactile quality to them are for the mm/mc phono, rec out, speakers A/B/A+B, bass and treble tone controls and balance. Importantly, the button marked “line straight” disengages the tone and balance controls. I find the line straight with the VU meter lights off (only the lights, the meters themselves continue to operate) to offer the best sound but it is a subtle change for the better. The small rotary control functions are not available via the metal clad remote but everything else is with the addition of a loudness control for low volume listening and a mono function button. No one rates the headphone jack very highly if you read the reviews. I too found it only average and not in keeping with the quality on show everywhere else with the Luxman. If it is not high quality why include it?

Aesthetics are a very personal thing and for me it has a very busy if undeniably classic Luxman look to the front panel with those VU Meters beloved by so many and high quality smooth action large and small rotary switches. In my view it is not as tidy as say the equally old school upper level Japanese style of Accuphase but others will be sure to see this differently. To be frank, I am not really a fan of this modified retro style. It is fair to say for me I bought it in spite of its looks rather than because of them! Personally, I prefer the more streamlined treatment of the Luxman separates but then this is an integrated and you have to put all the function controls somewhere and many people do like the looks and are drawn to Luxman products because they are so distinctive. 

It really does look more powerful than it actually is being specified at 120 Watts/ 8 Ohms/ 220 Watts/4 Ohms (according to Stereophile, it actually measures 154Watts/8 Ohms and 250 Watts/4 Ohms) but I think it would be powerful enough to satisfy most systems used at sub 95db sound pressure levels.  I have no issues with the ability of the L509X to drive my speakers to high, unstrained listening levels. As high as I can stand anyway!

Sound

It has taken a long time to get to this point but the Luxman L509x is an extraordinary integrated amplifier delivering a very impressive sonic performance. What has set this apart from all the other amplifiers I have had in my systems over the years and there have been quite a few, is its uncanny ability to present such a detailed presentation of musical performances in such a natural, unforced and, when it is called for, dynamic way.  This is true for both digital and analogue sources. I have a reasonable digital front end but only through the Luxman have I really felt an emotional connection with so much music. Tracks I have heard dozens of times over the years now reveal aspects of the performance I had not previously been aware of. Just to make it clear, this is not because of some hard edged ultra detailed rendering. It is an inherently natural presentation that just happens to be detailed. Live recordings really transport me closer to the real event but this feeling of being in the room with the musicians can happen with well recorded studio albums too. With up-tempo pieces I cannot stop tapping my foot along with the music while slower, contemplative pieces really make me sit still and listen intently. Voices both male and female are wonderfully reproduced. There is nothing bloated, plodding, aggressive or over hyped about this amplifier. It just plays music in a way that makes you want to listen for as long as possible.

In more hi-fi terms, I found the Luxman even handed across the audio spectrum with very deep, well controlled, impactful and highly resolved bass, well balanced and rounded mids and effortless sweet highs with beautiful harmonic structure. It has excellent PRAT.  Nothing is either added or taken away, as far as I can tell anyway as I was not in the recording studio and given the constraints of my system, room and ancillaries none of which are perfect. Sound-staging is excellent with greater depth than what I have previously experienced with width and height at least the equal of any other amp in my systems. Importantly, placements of performers and their instruments within that sound-stage are clearly delineated and of the correct dimensions. No supersized singing heads or 3 metre guitars here. The tone was spot on for all instruments I listened to. It is just so natural and with good recordings it really is an all-enveloping experience. A big band sounds like a big band but without any glare. You get the raspy sound of brass, the beautiful full resonance of saxophones for instance and percussion can be very impactful and fast. You can easily focus on a particular instrument, following a bass line for instance if you wish or just revel in the holistic event. The best I have experienced in any system I have had.

The phono section is excellent at least for my MM cartridges and I have not tried it with a MC as I do not own one currently.  I listen to vinyl about 80% of the time so it is important to me that this part of my system is delivering the quality of sound I want and of which I know my system is capable. The in-built phono provides me with a truly surprising level of satisfaction. Is it at the same level or better than the Audia Flight phono which I have been using? No it is not but it is damn close. I stress this is for MM and for my Clearaudio Charisma and Virtuoso cartridges which have similar loading requirements and for them the L509X provides an excellent match. There is no adjustment available for loading, however, so only a separate phono amp with resistance and capacitance settings for MM’s will get the very best out of all MM cartridges. I cannot find a spec in the manual for the capacitance setting for MM with the L509X but I would guess it is about 100pf. For MC you are stuck with 100 Ohms impedance so that again is limiting, probably more so and I doubt the MC phono stage in Luxman 509x would be up to the level of the Audia or any other top grade phono stage for MC’s. What the performance via MM does do is make me wonder just how good it would be with Luxman’s EQ500 as it has a great range of adjustments for MM cartridges so that could well be on the cards for me in the not too distant future. I have heard it at another member’s listening room with a lovely MC and it is an impressive piece of equipment! Also, I have just sold my Audia Flight so the EQ500 is my next likely purchase.

What now of my desire for the C/M900u combination? I am sure it would be better still and I do prefer the design of these separates but I think the law of diminishing returns will make it an unlikely purchase now I have lived with the L509X.  achievement of component synergy can prove to be elusive, at least I have found it to be so but with the L509X I think I have finally found the synergy I have been seeking. It does so much right and gives me so much listening pleasure fed by my digital and analogue sources that I am very happy to have it as my long-term companion and the key element of my system. It is an outstanding product!

If you’re lucky enough to have this kind of budget and are looking for a neat package without sacrificing performance, this Luxman demands your attention.

SUMMARY: The L-509X is an amplifier that creeps up on, rather than wows, the listener when the music startsTonally, the Luxman is as neutral and balanced as they come – provided you leave the tone controls alone. It sounds a touch cleaner and crisper with the Line Straight button pressed – doing so bypasses the tone and balance controls, and gives a purer signal path.This is an impressively detailed and insightful performer, one that’s capable of class-leading clarityThe music’s wild dynamic swings are delivered with enthusiasm, the amplifier’s generous power output obvious in the punch and solidity of the presentationWe’re particularly impressed with the way this amplifier can deliver deep bass with such texture, agility and power.

EXTENED REVIEW: Within hi-fi circles, the conventional wisdom of an inverse relationship between amount of features and quality of performance prevails. It’s a point of view that came into prominence back in the 1970s and, in our experience, still holds true today. But for every rule there’s usually an exception - in this case it’s the Luxman L-509X.

This is a fully loaded analogue amplifier. Anyone who thinks such a unit should also include digital inputs should know such modules are rarely great, even when fitted to high-end products

Features

The L-509X packs a moving magnet/moving coil phono stage, headphone output, tone controls and switchable speaker outputs – all things in demand back when its decidedly retro appearance was the latest fashion.

There’s no shortage of connectivity. Alongside the phono stage, this Luxman also has four single-ended RCA line-level ins and two balanced XLR options. We can’t think of a typical stereo set-up in which this integrated might get caught short.

The company has kept this amplifier as flexible as possible - so, although it’s an integrated amp, it’s possible to split the pre- and power sections (at the press of a button) and use them separately.

You can connect two sets of speakers and switch between them, or use them together.

Build

Take a look inside and it’s hard not to be impressed by the standard of construction.

Everything looks neat and carefully planned. We’re pleased with the quality of the components used, right down to the material from which the circuit board is made. It’s clear Luxman hasn’t skimped.

The internal view is dominated by the power supply arrangement. There’s a chunky mains transformer (600VA) and dedicated banks of smoothing capacitors (40,000 micro Farads) for each power amp channel.

The power amp circuitry is a Class A/B design capable of 120W per channel and, even more impressively, able to double output as impedance halves. On paper at least, this is an amplifier that will have no trouble driving difficult speakers to high volume levels.

The preamp side of things hasn’t been ignored either, with Luxman developing its own 88-step volume control system and using the basic circuit from its top-end preamp.

The message is clear: this may be an integrated amplifier, but it really is more like a separate pre- and power amplifier in a single box rather than a compromised electrical design.

General build quality is excellent. The L-509X feels immensely solid and weighs in at almost 30kg. Fit and finish is terrific, and good enough for amplifiers costing considerably more.

We love the feel of the controls - they’re nicely damped and pleasingly precise in use.

Even the remote handset is nice to hold and use, even if its button layout is a little odd. Handsets tend to be a blind-spot for most high-end manufacturers, but overall there is much to like here.

This Luxman may be an expensive amplifier but we feel, physically at least, it’s well worth the money - and then some.

Sound

That view doesn’t change once we start listening. The L-509X is an amplifier that creeps up on, rather than wows, the listener when the music starts.

It has an understated presentation it takes a while to appreciate. Those looking for sonic fireworks will find them here only if they’re in the recording. This amplifier doesn’t spice things up for entertainment’s sake.

Tonally, the Luxman is as neutral and balanced as they come – provided you leave the tone controls alone. It sounds a touch cleaner and crisper with the Line Straight button pressed – doing so bypasses the tone and balance controls, and gives a purer signal path.

We also switch off the backlighting on the power meters. We do this not just to avoid distraction but for the slight increase in transparency it offers. These are tiny gains in the whole scheme of things, but in the context of an amplifier with such talent we think they’re justifiable.

Equally, such an amplifier deserves a top-class source and speakers.

We use our usual NAIM streamer for the line level inputs, together with Clearaudio’s Innovation Wood record player (including the Stradivari V2 moving coil cartridge) to test the phono stage. As for speakers, our reference ATC SCM 50s are pressed into service, along with KEF’s Reference 1 standmounters.

We throw the L-509X in at the deep end with Orff’s Carmina Burana and it swims confidently. This is an impressively detailed and insightful performer, one that’s capable of class-leading clarity.

It recovers subtleties, even in a production as dense as this, and keeps them audible as the piece becomes demanding. The low-level reverb defines the acoustic space the concert was recorded in, and spatial clues help us identify the exact positions of the orchestra and choir upon the sound stage.

The music’s wild dynamic swings are delivered with enthusiasm, the amplifier’s generous power output obvious in the punch and solidity of the presentation.

There’s no shortage of drama in the sound ,yet we become aware of the L-509X’s impressive composure and the sense of control it imparts. There’s an ease of delivery here that shrugs at high volume levels and the readings on the power meters.

We become a little concerned all that control and composure might take the edge off more upbeat music, so play a number of tunes from the likes of alt-JMacklemore & LewisBruce Springsteen and Chic.

We’re pleased to report it's not the case. Feed the Luxman a hard-charging track with a complex rhythm and the L-509X renders the music with a hand-on approach that keeps all the energy and rhythmic organisation intact.

We’re particularly impressed with the way this amplifier can deliver deep bass with such texture, agility and power.

The story remains positive when we try the phono stage. The amplifier loses none of its even-handed nature with this input, delivering a good dose of insight and entertainment.

There’s just a mild drop in transparency compared to the line stages, and a slight loss of the low-level finesse. Still, the phono module has more than enough gain to work with most cartridges, and stays commendably quiet when it comes to background hiss and hum.

We’re less taken with the headphone output. The tonal character of this output is consistent with that we hear through speakers, but using a range of headphones from Grado’s RS-1s and PS500s, as well as the Beyerdynamics’s T1s, we feel the sound is less lively and expressive than we’d like.

If you’re an occasional headphones user, the circuit in the Luxman is fine. However, if you’ve got high-end headphones and want to hear them at their best, a good dedicated outboard amp will do the job better.

Verdict
Overall, though, we’re deeply impressed by the L-509X.

On the surface it might present like an expensive retro throwback, but it’s so much more than that. It has a blend of build, features and performance that’s hard to better at anywhere near this price.

If you’re lucky enough to have this kind of budget and are looking for a neat package without sacrificing performance, this Luxman demands your attention.