Luxman P1u Loaner program and reviews!
Jan 24, 2010 at 5:37 AM Post #16 of 89

BIG POPPA

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Jan 26, 2010 at 8:12 AM Post #17 of 89

Voltron

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Received the P1u from Todd today and it is a beauty. I actually might like the brushed silver face more than the original P1's champagne gold. The P1 is about one inch wider, but the other dimensions are very close between the two units. Obviously, the P1u has 2 headphone outs instead of 3, but it does sport a loop out that is nice. The unit comes with plastic caps on all the inputs and the outputs, which I left on except for the XLR ins. The P1u feels much like the tank that the P1 is.

I set them up stacked on top of each other, and they are both plugged into a Shunyata Hydra 8 power conditioner with Crystal Cable Reference PCs. They are receiving identical inputs from the Amarra Model 4, which has 8 channels of XLR output. The cable, I believe, is a Mogami wire product, and it breaks out the 8 channels from a DB25 connector. Other than volume matching, there shouldn't really be any variables going back and forth between the two siblings.

I have just started listening and have tried a number of songs of different varieties, using an Audio Technica AD2000 and a Sennheiser HD800. Without going into detail, which I cannot really offer as yet, I would say that the two units sound more similar than different. I hope to spend some quality time with both of them to really see what I can hear that distinguishes them. From what I can tell early on, the P1u easily steps into its big brother's shoes.

Here are some pics, and it is particularly difficult to photograph these shiny beasts at night so they are nothing special.

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Jan 26, 2010 at 5:25 PM Post #18 of 89

Seamaster

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I might perfer original P1 for the look only. I know SQ is where the money goes. They should have balanced headphone out put. It is a wast of good quality of balanced in put signal. i need to get one of those Omega headphone stands, they look very cool, and funtional. Todd, can you stock some those stands?
 
Jan 30, 2010 at 7:49 PM Post #19 of 89

Voltron

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I was sitting here listening to the P-1u when I noticed a post about quietness and Luxman's claim that the P1u is 4x quieter even than the P1. The P1 is a silent, silent amp, and I wondered how much quieter the P1u really could be. I still have both of them hooked up right now to the same balanced source and nothing in the RCAs. The P1u has the plastic caps on the RCA jacks, but otherwise they are set up the same. I paused the music and listened on both amps with the HD800s.

At 10:00 on the volume, neither was making any noise--no hiss, or what I call "presence" when you can just hear enough to know it is on. I then cranked the volume all the way on the P1u and there is only the slightest hiss/presence audible. It is there, but it is very, very faint. Also, the "sound" does not ever appear until 4:00, which is almost fully open (5:00 is the end of the dial). I then did the same on the P1 and it was FOUR TIMES LOUDER! Well, I'm kidding, but it is noticeably louder even though it is still very quiet compared to many amps. It also kicked in around 3:30/4:00 on the dial. Interesting. I also switched the input selector to coax and there was NO noise at any volume level on either amp. Pretty impressive all the way around.

More impressions to follow, but suffice to say that the P1u is a special amp.
 
Feb 2, 2010 at 9:15 AM Post #20 of 89

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Todd asked me if I was interested in starting out another one of his great loaner programs by checking out the Luxman P-1u because I own and love the P-1 and therefore I might be able to provide some comparisons, context, etc. After mulling it over, I decided it would be fun to hear them together and I am very glad that I did. I knew about the planned release of the P-1u, but hadn't been really focused on it and I wasn't sure whether the P-1u was supposed to be better than my P-1 or not quite up to its predecessor, cheaper or more expensive, or what. Todd has done a nice summary of his impressions of the P-1u and I pretty much have to agree with everything he wrote. I have been enjoying some good concerted listening and wanted to share a few impressions and comparisons, although I am not sure this rises to the level of a "review."

I have been listening to the P-1u and P-1 and even the headphone output of my Amarra Model 4 DAC over the last week or so, and it has been the most concentrated headphone time I have spent lately. I have a Mac Mini connected by Firewire to the Amarra Model 4, and have been playing tunes from the hard drive or on CD using Amarra software. The Model 4 has 8 channels of identical output so I have both Luxmen receiving identical signals through the identical cable (Mogami breakout cable from a DB25 connector on the Model 4). I also connected my iPhone 3GS by a mini-RCA connector and ran it into the P-1u and even out through the pass through to the P-1. The latter source didn't quite match up, but it was an alternative that isn't out of the question and sounded pretty darn good.

The output levels on the two Luxmen is very similar, but I wanted to match the levels to the extent I could using an SPL meter. I found that the P-1u is a little higher output such that when it was on 10:00, the P-1 was on 9:57/9:58. Very close but I kept that difference in mind and matched the levels throughout.

I used a wide variety of headphones on both amps, with an emphasis on the P-1u, obviously. I started with the HD800 for the sake of trying to hear the amps at their purest because I think those cans are a pretty clean and neutral option. I also used the AT AD2000 quite a bit, the Sony CD3000 for a long session, the Grado HF-1 for a while, and now the AKG K340 just to see how well this amp can drive one of the hardest loads around. Are you surprised to learn that it can? At half way up the volume, it sounds wonderful, which would have melted my ears on some of the other cans. At 3pm the volume is darn loud but not until pretty much fully pegged can I induce some distortion on the K340s at dynamic peaks. That is pretty impressive to me.

For music selections, I was really trying to get a wide range through the amps to see how well they could portray different styles and deal with music that might be quieter, faster, louder, denser, leaner, more acoustic, more electronic, etc. A number of selections that stand out include the following:

Anour Brahem, The Astounding Eyes of Rita
Queen, News of the World
Dave Alvin, Blackjack David
Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious Monk, Mulligan Meets Monk
Lorin Maazel: Cleveland Orchestra,Pictures at an Exhibition
Ray Charles, etc., Genius Loves Company
The Beatles, Rubber Soul
Ry Cooder, Paradise & Lunch
David Russell, The Art of the Guitar
Robert Plant & Allison Kraus, Raising Sand
Toe, For Long Tomorrow
The Feelies, Crazy Rhythms
Patricia Barber, Companion
Clark Terry, One on One
The Smithereens, Play Tommy
Dick Hyman, Thinking About Bix

You get the point. I was trying to listen to stuff I know pretty well, and stuff that represented a lot of genres and challenges for an amp. Much of it was high resolution music, at 24/96, 24/88.2, 24/176.4 or 24/192. The CDs and rips were at 16/44.1. The iPhone tunes were Apple Lossless files. The bulk was well-recorded, some not so much.

I had a really good time listening. As Todd points out, one of the strengths of the P-1u is how involving it is. As a starting point, I can say that I did not find one single headphone or type of music that the P-1u handled well and others that are not as good a match. All of the cans I tried sound about as good as they can sound, and draw you in to keep listening. It does not sound "solid state" to me, and neither is it mushy or "tubey" as some might use that term. The detail and clarity are stunning and superior. The body, cohesion, and balance are really impressive. True timbre and tone something that I think sets this amp apart from many others. Piano keys sound like they should, guitars -- whether acoustic and jazzy or amplified and crunchy -- sound like they should, and vocals have a beautifully real texture to them. The Amarra Model 4 sounds like a world class source and the iPhone sounds like a hobbled but passable alternative.

Some examples come to mind from my listening. Trumpeter/flugel-hornist Clark Terry was over 80 when he recorded 14 duets with 14 different piano players on the same piano in the same recording space and I listened to all 14 in a row on the P-1u/P-1. I don't think I have listened to this Chesky Records session as closely before and I loved it because the distinct sounds and styles were all there. The details like creaking foot pedal or the breathing/lips sounds before Terry started a run were present but not artificially enhanced or exaggerated. The organic presentation of these very nicely recorded sessions was outstanding.

The super, hi-rez recording of Dick Hyman solo piano by Reference Recordings is another piano challenge that not all amps can meet. I thought the P-1u made this recording sound pretty much perfect, and I listened straight through for over an hour without noticing the time fly by.

The oud is not an instrument I am really long-familiar with, but the ECM recordings of Anour Brahem are fantastic and allow you to hear this string instrument with remarkable clarity. I loved they way these sounded on the P-1u, just like have already heard them on the P-1. It is a dynamic sound that brings in the sound of the room and the reverberations of the strings and the notes that flow from them. The P-1u portrayed this recording with delicacy and power.

The Feelies are not particularly well recorded, and neither is Toe. But they are powerful, driving records and the P-1u pumped them out to the AD2K and HF-1 with lots of force. I really liked the bass tone on the Feelies and in general I think that the bass presentation of the P-1u is very well defined and nicely deep. It is not overpowering, but that is not what it should be, imo. On the other end of the spectrum, cymbals sparkle and sound very clean and clear. Toe is dense and layered and came through with nice effect. Rubber Soul in mono was tons of fun on the HF-1, as was Ray Charles on the CD3000.

The Smithereens, Plant/Krause and Dave Alvin (MFSL) are very well recorded and well-mastered, and reflect some difficult loads for headphones. The Tommy songs Sparks and Pinball Wizard on the Smithereens are fast and dynamic and the amp kept up well. The vocals (Pinball Wizard) are nicely placed and have their own place in the soundstage, and the mid-range cannot be questioned. The vocals stand out even more as the focus on Raising Sand and the duets sound wonderful. Another bass test I often use is Dave Alvin's vocals on his Blackjack David album, and the P-1u portrayed the depth, body and soul of those vocals just like I like them.

All of these statements apply about equally to my P-1 and I have been saying them for a long time. Somebody else reading my comments about these two amps may have hit the nail on the head when he mentioned that these two amps may be more like twins than mere siblings. To me, that is quite accurate because I have a hard time hearing more than subtle differences between them. It is also a huge compliment in my book because I thought (without knowing) that the P-1u might just be a lesser replacement. If anything, it might edge out the older brother. Just don't tell my P-1 I said that.
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Feb 2, 2010 at 3:05 PM Post #21 of 89

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Great review, for a great amp.
 
Feb 2, 2010 at 5:46 PM Post #22 of 89

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Whew ... saved from having to upgrade
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Nice write up, certainly much better than I'm capable of doing. Your impressions pretty much match mine on the P1, so that is indeed high praise for the P1u. I prefer this type of review which gives distinct impressions.

Nicely done!
 
Feb 2, 2010 at 9:05 PM Post #23 of 89

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Nice impressions Al. I am very much looking forward to my test drive. I'm worried that I might need a pair of worthier dynamics, though...

Did you try the JH13?
 
Feb 2, 2010 at 9:40 PM Post #24 of 89

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Good point on the JH13. I know I like the sound of them on the P-1, so I imagine it would be sublime. I will check it out and post when I can.

I think your cans will be just fine for the test drive, but invite Jeff over with some more and expand your horizons.
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Feb 3, 2010 at 6:16 PM Post #26 of 89

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A couple of people asked how the JH|13 Pros sound out of the P-1u, so I thought I would post a quick comment. I already knew the P-1 drove them extremely well, but I tried the JH|13 out last night and the P-1u hit another home run. The JH|13s are so much better with really good amplification, and the P-1u / P-1 drive them better than anything else I can recall hearing. The silent background and very balanced volume control obviously factor into that performance. You forget you are wearing IEMs and the immersion in music is complete. Fantastic stuff.

blessingx came by last night and did some A/B listening with the P-1 and P-1u to see if they sound as similar as I feel they do. At first, he thought there might be some slight differences in presentation but after equalizing the volume level as much as possible his tentative thought was that it is hard to distinguish between them. Ric is taking the P-1u for a few days before it moves on to the next lucky member in the loaner program, and I hope he will post up his own comments and experiences with them.

Great. Amp.
 
Feb 5, 2010 at 9:03 PM Post #27 of 89

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Here are some very, very brief thoughts. My time with the P1u was limited and I selfishly spent more time listening than detailed comparing.

I was a fan of the 'powerful reserves, but polite' Luxman P1 presentation and the P1u continues this. They are very, very close in sound (spent some time comparing Al's P1) and I'm afraid I don't currently own a dynamic headphone amp that competes closely with either.

Much of the differences may come down to balanced operation, and their prices ranges certainly differ greatly, but using the Tony Bennett and Bill Evans XRCD (ripped and Airport Express to Parasound 1600 HD) the P1u has a larger and seemingly more accurate soundstage than my Headamp GS1 with both HD580 and K701. This was further confirmed by the more problematic, though best I've ever heard them, CD3000. A better extension in both ends (including increased lower presence), a more organic (though may or may not be accurate) decay were more obviously also added to the mix there (then confirm back with other cans). Overall though, the most immediately recognized difference, and all-encompassing trait, was a more life-like atmosphere with all three cans.

Shifting over to tubes and Ennio Morricone's The Best of 50 Years of Music (previous B&W Society of Sound club and future CD release), the Singlepower Extreme Platinum (with RCA 6SN7/IBM 5998s mostly) immediately falls behind the P1u in instrument separation and resolution (clearly can pick out more separate strings) and overall signature balance. The Extreme seemed a bit peaky and plain uncontrolled in comparison. And again the soundstage grows.

On the discussed blackness levels, I don't have the cleanest electrical system, but I only heard slight noise when maxing the volume, and once disconnecting my source, heard nothing all the way up.

I know these trait differences are rather simplistic, but from my limited time comparing, the P1u clearly stood out above the others. More importantly it eliminated the issues I occasionally have with either, which arguably are their greatest strengths. If you feel the GS1 is a bit neutral/flat, the P1u is will bring life to the music with some signature tweaks, if you feel the energy of the Singlepowers can often step on the music, the P1u will tame that down. While doing both it will dramatically create a more believable soundstage. Course this is at minimum triple the cost and sacrificing a little functionality.

I've been pretty focused on Stax and K1000s the last few years, however if I was looking for a solution for conventional dynamic cans, this is where I'd start. I'd easily recommend the same for tube or solid state fans. It's probably my favorite headphone amp.
 
Feb 6, 2010 at 1:36 AM Post #28 of 89

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Nicely done impressions Ric! I think we need to try a K1000 on the Luxmen. I don't think I have ever done that, so maybe I will give it a shot this weekend.
 
Feb 6, 2010 at 2:39 AM Post #30 of 89

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Voltron /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nicely done impressions Ric! I think we need to try a K1000 on the Luxmen. I don't think I have ever done that, so maybe I will give it a shot this weekend.


Tried earlier and the one time a smile wasn't on my face. Actually, the P1u/K1000 sounds very nice as long as everything is aligned - not too soft recording, strong source signal, boost by going balanced - but drop one of those and it starts sounding underpowered. Simply isn't much headroom to play with. Wouldn't recommend as a K1000 primary amp, but certainly pleasantly usable for periods of time. The P1 may be slightly more successful here.

Since 'stats were completely out of my trial earlier, have run a few other brief tests tonight (using a bunch of Juana Molina albums). As someone who usually leans that direction pretty heavily it's always interesting to see the HD580/K701/CD3K* really compete with Lambda Sigs. The P1u is one of those rethinking-your-setup pieces of gear.

[size=xx-small]* I think most CD3000 owners would admit the phone has issues. If you're a fan the P1/P1u is especially a must listen.[/size]
 

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