Luxman, Harbeth and Melco – Florida 2019

Luxman L-509x integrated amplifier

I’ve become a recent interloper into the cult that is Harbeth loudspeakers. I’ve also been a long time fan of Luxman electronics, so this exhibit pairing was bound from the start to find favor with my heart and ears.

The big news from Luxman was a slew of new products, starting with the new PD-151 ($3,895 USD) turntable. A belt driven affair, with 33/45/78 independant speed control, a custom Jelco tonearm and a universal head shell. The Cartridge used for demonstration was Ortofon’s moving coil Cadenza Red ($1,300 USD). Pre-orders have been going for a while now, and scheduled shipping to happen in February of 2019. Continuing the new theme, Luxman’s new L-509x ($9,495 USD) integrated amplifier, dubbed a “Single Chassis Seperate”, the unit operates in Class-A/B, screams up to 120 watts per channel at 8-ohms (240 watts per channel at 4-ohms) conservatively. Features include a few brand unique technologies such as ODNF 4.0 (Only Distortion Negative Feedback) circuitry, along with the new LECUA1000 and a discrete buffer on the preamp output stage. Refreshing to see was Luxman’s D-08u ($14,995 USD) SACD player in the system, though during my listening time, we only used the PD-151 turntable, and Qobuz streaming service.

Also newsworthy were a pair of Harbeth Super-HL5 ($7,995 pr USD) loudspeakers on Ton Trager stands ($1,295 USD) which are purposely developed for Harbeth monitors. The speakers are the latest and greatest iteration of the Harbeth HL-Monitor Mk1 from 1977 fame. Continually in production through several design generations, the new version now features Harbeth’s RADIAL 2 driver and radically redesigned crossover network. There is a “Super-HL5 Plus” version also available that receives the absolute cream-of-the-crop from Harbeth’s RADIAL 2 driver inventory. As to what criteria standard used to define what is the “cream”, is yet unknown to the public.

Rounding out the system were two units from Melco, the N1ZH60 Music Server ($4,999 USD) and D100 Compact Optical Drive ($1,295 USD), and Luxman 15000 Series cabling throughout.

This is the first time I’ve heard Harbeth on any other solid-state only amplification and I must say, it is indeed a desirable pairing. The Luxman dances beautifully with the Harbeths and shows some of the needed oomph that Harbeths do well with. In some respects I would prefer this all solid-state system over some of the tube based systems I’ve heard Harbeth speakers on in the past. None were as universally fruitful with all types of music and texture as the Luxman electronics were here in Florida.

By Eric Shook

Luxman PD-151