Luxman P1u Loaner program and reviews!
Feb 11, 2010 at 3:31 PM Post #31 of 89

Voltron

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Ric and I are wistfully letting the P-1u move on to the next lucky participant in the loaner program, so vpivinylspinner should make some room in his rack!
 
Feb 12, 2010 at 8:04 AM Post #32 of 89

Voltron

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Some parting shots of the P-1u and The Brothers Luxman:

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Feb 17, 2010 at 12:00 AM Post #33 of 89

vpivinylspinner

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The P1u has made its great trek across the snow covered country to snowy New Jersey.

First out of the box, in the rack impressions are this is a really nice looking amp and could go head-to-head with any of the equipment in my rack in fit & finish.

Going to get started with some light listening tonight with the following setup:

Sources:

Mac Mini>Amarra>dCS Paganini Upsampler>dCS Paganini DAC>Luxman

Tape Project Technics RS-1500 Reel to Reel>Bottlehead Tube Repro>Luxman

Headphones:

Senn HD-800
 
Feb 17, 2010 at 2:08 AM Post #35 of 89

sillysally

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Quote:

Originally Posted by vpivinylspinner /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The P1u has made its great trek across the snow covered country to snowy New Jersey.

First out of the box, in the rack impressions are this is a really nice looking amp and could go head-to-head with any of the equipment in my rack in fit & finish.

Going to get started with some light listening tonight with the following setup:

Sources:

Mac Mini>Amarra>dCS Paganini Upsampler>dCS Paganini DAC>Luxman

Tape Project Technics RS-1500 Reel to Reel>Bottlehead Tube Repro>Luxman

Headphones:

Senn HD-800



Great I have the se HD-800s, I could go to balanced but a lot of added expense.
How big is the out of head soundstage and how is the 3D?
How is the bass?
How about ear fatigue?

I have a Woo WA6Se max with 6EW7 RCA big bottle silver top tipped circa 1963 Drive/Power tube's and a EML 274B solid plate Rectifier tube.
My source is a Oppo BD-83SE Nuforce Edition (plays everything) hooked via king cobra interconnects to my Woo.

I also use my rig for Blu Ray moves (HD soundtracks). Oppo does a great job of down-mixing for 2ch analog stereo.

ss
 
Feb 18, 2010 at 3:18 AM Post #36 of 89

vpivinylspinner

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sillysally /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Great I have the se HD-800s, I could go to balanced but a lot of added expense.
How big is the out of head soundstage and how is the 3D?
How is the bass?
How about ear fatigue?

I have a Woo WA6Se max with 6EW7 RCA big bottle silver top tipped circa 1963 Drive/Power tube's and a EML 274B solid plate Rectifier tube.
My source is a Oppo BD-83SE Nuforce Edition (plays everything) hooked via king cobra interconnects to my Woo.

I also use my rig for Blu Ray moves (HD soundtracks). Oppo does a great job of down-mixing for 2ch analog stereo.

ss



In answer to your questions I listened 4 hours last night and 3 hours tonight with no fatigue. Bass is good, fairly accurate in my opinion. Listening to a 24/96 HD Tracks album of very well recorded pipe organ, the bass is full but the scale is not as good as I have heard it with other headphones. Doesn't seem to pressurize and give that sense of waves of big rolling bass notes that I certainly get with speakers and to some degree with headphones, the R10 in particular.

The ability to pick up spatial cues is excellent, probably due to the very black background. Something like Belafonte at Carnegie Hall or Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions really shines as the space is clearly depicted with this set up, much as it is on my speaker set up. I have really enjoyed listening to live recordings as there seems to be more information on the recordings making for an interesting presentation with this setup.

Soundstage is very good. Listening to the Hi-Res Binaural recording Up Close by Ottmar Liebert really allows the HD-800 to open up and give the sense of an out of head soundstage. On a smaller scale well recorded small ensembles like the Fairfield Four provides a clear soundstage with each voice fairly well anchored.

Going to get back to listening so I can put something formal together. Need to switch to some other headphones but I am finding it hard as this is the best I have heard my HD800s sound.

Al I will take some pics this weekend as I am never around when the sun is out during the week so I take sorry, dark pictures when I try to use what lights I have available in the listening room.
 
Feb 18, 2010 at 3:24 AM Post #37 of 89

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Quote:

Originally Posted by vpivinylspinner /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Al I will take some pics this weekend as I am never around when the sun is out during the week so I take sorry, dark pictures when I try to use what lights I have available in the listening room.



"sorry, dark pictures" FTW!
 
Feb 18, 2010 at 3:37 AM Post #38 of 89

Voltron

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Quote:

Originally Posted by The Monkey /img/forum/go_quote.gif
"sorry, dark pictures" FTW!


biggrin.gif
Beggars can't be choosers.

Glad to hear that you have the same reaction to the Luxman / HD800 combination that I have, Jeff. I think that the Luxman is amazingly adept at handling different cans well, but the HD800s reach their potential with this amp. Have fun putting it through the paces.

You're gonna have fun when it's your turn, Dinny.
 
Feb 18, 2010 at 5:06 AM Post #40 of 89

sillysally

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Quote:

Originally Posted by vpivinylspinner /img/forum/go_quote.gif
In answer to your questions I listened 4 hours last night and 3 hours tonight with no fatigue. Bass is good, fairly accurate in my opinion. Listening to a 24/96 HD Tracks album of very well recorded pipe organ, the bass is full but the scale is not as good as I have heard it with other headphones. Doesn't seem to pressurize and give that sense of waves of big rolling bass notes that I certainly get with speakers and to some degree with headphones, the R10 in particular.

The ability to pick up spatial cues is excellent, probably due to the very black background. Something like Belafonte at Carnegie Hall or Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions really shines as the space is clearly depicted with this set up, much as it is on my speaker set up. I have really enjoyed listening to live recordings as there seems to be more information on the recordings making for an interesting presentation with this setup.

Soundstage is very good. Listening to the Hi-Res Binaural recording Up Close by Ottmar Liebert really allows the HD-800 to open up and give the sense of an out of head soundstage. On a smaller scale well recorded small ensembles like the Fairfield Four provides a clear soundstage with each voice fairly well anchored.

Going to get back to listening so I can put something formal together. Need to switch to some other headphones but I am finding it hard as this is the best I have heard my HD800s sound.

Al I will take some pics this weekend as I am never around when the sun is out during the week so I take sorry, dark pictures when I try to use what lights I have available in the listening room.



Thank You,

You paint a wonderful picture in words of how the P1u really sounds.
Now I have to dig up some of the music you are talking about and give it some play time with my WA6SE and HD-800s.

ss
 
Feb 20, 2010 at 2:21 AM Post #41 of 89

vpivinylspinner

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I guess it about time I lay the groundwork for the more formal review regarding my time with the Luxman P1u. I wanted to start by thanking Todd for the opportunity. I have always liked the Luxman P1 but never got to try it in my system so I was very interested in hearing this one to see if it as good as I remember the P1 being.

I have decided to start by documenting the music to be used, sources available and all the auxiliary equipment that in some way play parts in the overall system.

The Luxman is sited on a Zoethecus rack and is powered with the standard power cord connected to a BPT power conditioner. The Luxman will be connected to three analog and two digital sources over the course of the review with all digital connecting via the balanced inputs with Nordost Frey interconnects. The analog sources will connect via Nordost Valhalla (TT & Reel-to-Reel) and Nordost Quatro-fil Reference (FM Tuner).

The equipment line-up is as follows:

VPI HRX TT w/ Lyra Titan Cartridge >>> Manley Steelhead V.2 Phono Preamp
Mac Mini >>> Amarra Mini >>> dCS stack or PS Audio PerfectWave DAC
Technics RS-1500 >>> Bottlehead Tube Repro
Modified Mitsubishi DA-F20 Tuner

Music used for formal listening:

RTR:

Arnold/London Philharmonic Orchestra: Arnold Overtures
Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (Copy of an early generation studio master)

Digital:

Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra: Up Close (24/96 HD Tracks)
Keith Jarrett: Paris / London Testament (24/96 HD Tracks)
Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are (24/96 HD Tracks)
David Chesky: Area 31 (24/96 HD Tracks)
Sarah Jarosz: Song up in Her Head
Kaki King: Everybody Loves You
Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins: Rabbit Fur Coat
The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
Eric Clapton: Unplugged

Vinyl:

Eric Clapton: Just One Night
Crowded House: Crowded House
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: 20 Years of Dirt
The Beatles: Assorted tracks from the Blue Box
Uncle Tupelo: 88/93 An Anthology

For headphones I will try to keep it simple:

Senn HD-800s
Grado HP-2
Grado Deep Woodied HF-1s
Grado HF-2
JH Audio JH-13

So now that all the housekeeping is in order on to the first of my listening impressions.

Headphone: Grado HF-1
Source: Mac Mini > Amarra Mini > dCS Paganini Upsampler > dCS Paganini DAC
Music: Ottmar Liebert, Up Close: La Luna


As a binaural recording this album has some tracks that are more special effects than good music with guitarists bouncing around the soundstage at will. This song is simply a very well recorded flamenco guitar duo (center and far right stage) with an electric bass deep center stage with percussion far left stage. The percussion is augmented throughout with hand claps that can be startlingly realistic as they certainly are when listening to them on this set up.

I believe this small ensemble type music benefits from the very low amounts of background noise found with this amp. The binaural recording style means that the typical audiophile attributes of closely miked guitar music are not present, no fingers running down the strings, etc., but the black background provides for excellent detail retrieval all the same. The plucked notes, as with most dynamic/low noise setups are allowed to develop much as you would expect them if the guitarists were sitting in the room. The hard start of the string being plucked followed by the tone expanding out of the black background makes for a very realistic portrayal of live music dynamics, tone expansion and decay that makes acoustic guitar exceedingly good with this setup.

Headphone: Grado HF-1
Source: Mac Mini > Amarra Mini > dCS Paganini Upsampler > dCS Paganini DAC
Music: Sarah Jarosz: Come on up to the House


This is one of my favorite new albums that features Sarah who happens to have a young woman with a hugely expressive voice with great control and inflection. This one starts with a stand up bass that is present throughout the song. The bass is big and hits fairly hard in the opening stanza. The bass portrayal of this song on this setup is as good as I have heard it on any of my systems.

Sarah’s voice and its textures are very well represented with this system. She has a habit of strongly accenting some notes that can get a bit wooly when I hear it played straight out of my iPod or other lesser (dynamically challenged) systems but the Luxman handled these dynamic swings very well. Again I think this might have something to do with the very low levels of background noise and the better than typical dynamic range that results.

Headphone: Grado HF-2
Source: Mac Mini > Amarra Mini > dCS Paganini Upsampler > dCS Paganini DAC
Music: David Chesky: Concerto for Flute & Orchestra Allegro con Spirito


An interesting piece of music that I have always enjoyed through my speaker setup primarily due to the variance of scale from the sparse beginning of hand claps in a large space and scaling up to the climax of a solo flute accompanied by a full orchestra and the hand clappers. This song in parts has huge dynamics and can have excellent soundstage. While the Grados are not known for soundstage I found a decent approximation of the stage height, though side to side soundstage was narrower than I know is capable from the HD800s and the R10s. That being said, it is quite good for a Grado.

I have found the Grados to be very good at getting to the heart of Flute solo on this track as they do not gloss over the texture or tone as I hear a lot of other headphones doing. This matchup with the Luxman and HF-2 proved to be very good at representing the flute at Fortissimo levels, warts and all as they say.

I think the best thing the Luxman does with the Grado HF-2, as with the other headphones I have tried, is great control of the lower register. The HF-2s have great bass and can add real weight to large orchestral pieces when well controlled. The Luxman controls the low end of the HF-2s as well as I have experienced.

That’s it for now but I intend to post a bit more after I have tried some other gear with the Luxman.
 
Feb 20, 2010 at 3:53 AM Post #42 of 89

plaidplatypus

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Quote:

Originally Posted by davidhunternyc /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I am going to ask an apples and oranges question here, but I can't resist: How does the Luxman P-1u compare to the Woo Audio WES?


That's a rather odd comparison because one drives dynamic headphones exclusively and the other electrostatic earspeakers. HeadphoneAddict should be able to shed some light on this in the future when it is his turn to review Todd's loaner unit. I'm guessing that it will mostly come down to headphone/earspeaker used and personal taste.

From a cost standpoint the P-1u comes across as the value winner. The WES with a few upgrades costs more than twice as much as the P-1u. The HeadAmp KGSS would be a more competitive option. For example: a used SR-007 and KGSS would cost the same a RS-1 and P-1u.

All of the amps I mentioned are excellent with the right headphone or earspeaker.
 
Feb 21, 2010 at 5:34 AM Post #43 of 89

davidhunternyc

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Yes, I knew this was an odd question but I thought it was worth asking. I was thinking about how I can narrow the question down a bit. Perhaps it makes things more complicated but I can't resist. Seeing that that Luxman P1u and the Woo Audio Wes have gotten superlative reviews, they are such different kinds of amplifiers. I thought about what headphones might synergize with each amplifier the best. As a top-of-line system I was thinking about the Luxman P1u coupled with the HD800. The Woo Audio Wes would be coupled with the Stax Omega mkll. Has anyone tried to qualitatively compare these two systems against each other and what were the results?
 
Feb 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM Post #44 of 89

nikongod

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I would like to thank Todd for running this loan program, I appreciate that he lends his gear out for us to hear. I doubt I would have the opportunity to hear this amp in my home any other way.

I got into the line between vpivinylspinner and The Monkey so that I could take the amp to the Boston area meet this weekend. I met up with VPI last night to pick up the amp, and could not wait to get home and set it up.

Setup was uneventful. I am running the amp with the RCA/SE in from my DAC. My DAC has balanced outs, but the other amps I want to compare to are SE so I will try to level the field.

After a night of listening (mostly with my HF-2, thanks for running that too Todd!) I can give a first hearing impression that this is an outstanding amp. The amp has outstanding detail across the board and I am quite impressed with the depths the bass goes to.

The website says that the amp can put 2W into 8ohms so I tried it out on my little 4" driver voigt pipes (4" drivers, 7ft tall tapered cabinets) in a 3.5ft near field setup. My speaker cables are terminated with a 1/4" plug just for this sort of thing and a couple of my DIY amps have been designed to accommodate driving efficient speakers. The speakers dont take much power to play loud, and I like to listen quietly anyways so the amp didnt even break a sweat. The amp drove the speakers very well with good imaging left to right, height, depth, and detail. I dont think other people are interested in running speakers off of this amp, but its nice to know that they could. Im not going to run the amp much more this way, but assuming my solid first impressions for headphones hold it will make for an outstanding "compact system" amp driving both efficient speakers and headphones.

I did not compare it to any of my other amps as it was getting late but I'l put together some better impressions with other headphones & amps after I can spend some more quality time with it.
 
Mar 12, 2010 at 4:47 AM Post #45 of 89

nikongod

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It seems my time with the P1u is winding down. It is a great amp and Im glad for the time I got to spend with it.

A brief description of my sources:
Ditigal:
Transport: ESound E5 using RCA/spdif out
DAC: Behringer SRC2496 resampler, upsampling 16/44 to 24/96
Behringer DEQ2496 set up as a DAC only.

My analog system is as follows:
Technics 1200mk3 with rewired arm & breakout box.
An old Grado GC cart (Im not sure exactly which it is) which gives my red a run for its money.
DIY opamp based “passive RIAA” phono stage.

Headphones used for this:
Senn HD-800
Sony R10
Grado RS-60 DIY Frankenstein headphones
Grado RS-1
Grado HP-2
Grado HF-2

Although my digital system has balanced outs the rest of my system is really set up around RCA/single ended interconnects so that is how I ran the P1u. I think it is quite the advantage to someone who has a nice vintage source from before the popularization of balanced lines in home gear. The amp sounds great run with SE inputs.

For those of you who dont want to read the rest I am EXCEPTIONALLY happy with this amp and whoever designed it should be very proud of what they have built. It works amazingly well with a wide variety of headphones and does not stumble on its self in several areas I value quite highly. Specifically: image separation, image placement (soundstage), textured, and layered sounds are all reproduced extraordinarily well with no guessing done on my part about where something ends or what I'm trying to focus on. This is truly a high end amp and Im going to be sad on Saturday when I have to pass it on to the next happy listener.

All of the music listened to here came from a copy of the head-fi album “party at neils” which was the test CD for the meet at Neils. The track list can be found in this thread: here It is an outstanding compilation of music and I have bought several albums after hearing a single song off of this album. Enough about the music, more about the gear!

The first song on this album is QUITE an unusual bit of music but it “makes its point” nicely. It is XTC - River of Orchids. It is a very unique sound making good use of out of phase vocals and other tricks to throw a huge soundstage and give a presence of scale that is hard to beat. The HD800 on the amp sounded GREAT! The track starts off with a crystal clear water drop and a big rumbly drum hit. The system got both perfect for placement, depth and textures. The vocals on this track are mixed in a very deliberately un-natural way and this got them “right” well as right as anything else.

The second track is Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!!!... Again as I have come to expect from the amp over the past couple of weeks it gets image placements spot on and in good focus with the HD800. The vocals in the song are a supported by a mix of several backup singers who are each shown separately and in their own well defined space. The lead vocal is crystal clear with just a hair of breathyness that puts them almost too close for comfort, but its quite a nice thing to hear.

Track 3 is The Decemberists - Shankhill Butchers which has never failed me as both bizarre music and at the same time wonderful. This track makes wonderful use of a “wandering singer” effect, where the singer “wanders” like a storyteller in the town center in the 1800's. With the R10 The singer wanders well never jumping from place to place. The room reflections give a great sense of space to the piece, and details in both the vocals and the guitar are GREAT. There is an old organ that comes in and the actuation of the keys/pedals can be heard on the right, nice stuff.

Skipping a few (great) tracks to keep this readable I went to track 10: Kate Rusby - Underneath The Stars. This is a simple song with the female vocal and a pair of guitars playing the melody Later into the song a trumpet comes in to support the backround. With the R10 this is a captivating piece of music. The vocals are so close to me, and the placements of the guitars are well defined. This is really a piece that is all about the voice and it really nails it. The texture in Kate's voice and subtle accent are played effortlessly.

Skipping on to something a little different its time for some vinyl. Its always time for vinyl, but skipping tracks and the rewind feature are too convenient to pass up.

I happen to be on quite the “Talking Heads” trip, so thats what I'l play. All tracks off of “Little Creatures”

First up is the first track “And she was” with the Grado RS-60 with TTVJ flat pads. The RS-60 is a DIY hybrid that are what they sound like they are
wink.gif
A grado RS-1 shell and an SR-60 driver. A few people have heard them and think quite highly of them. They are much nicer than you may guess. How do they sound with the P1u? The bass has great impact and pace. The vocals are outstanding for both tone and placement. The supporting instruments (the cymbal with the brush really moves this song along) all stay within their respective boundaries and are panned nicely across the sound stage.

Next up is the third track “creatures of love” playing on the TTVJ/Grado HF-2. Many thanks to both TTVJ and Grado for getting this great headphone out to the community. This track is great, with nice texture in the vocals, and a great female backup vocal that just fills the whole soundstage so nicely. The deep bass hit that moves the song along has great impact and texture. Again, everything has its place and dosnt bleed into the neighboring sounds. The electric guitar off to the right has nice a nicely knurled distortion. It dosnt sound like anything is being rolled out or dulled off. Im VERY happy here.

Now for the B-side with more A+ music.
“little baby” with "vintage S" RS-1 with TTVJ flats. This starts off with a deep bass hit with a little rumble in it. The system plays it flawlessly. The cymbals are clear and neither etched or harsh, VERY nice! As with the rest of this album the vocals are outstanding. Again everything is in its place and nothing bleeds across to the other sounds.

The last song on the album is “Road to Nowhere” and I'l play my HP-2 for this one. This is a very complex piece with a large choir supporting the lead vocals but they dont break up or interfere with each other. The lead vocal is crystal clear and separated well from the rest of the music. Somewhere in there I got lost with the toe tapping and the way this song just pulls you along.

If you skimmed to the bottom for conclusions they are closer to the top.
 

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