This accuracy extends to the timing and sense of rhythm that the Luxman brings to the music. Where rhythm should be present – Kraftwerk’s peerless Minimum Maximum for example, it is present in spades with the Luxman imparting real force and flow to proceedings. When this propulsive force is less desirable- the delicacy of Cinematic Orchestra’s Ma Fleur being one, this urgency is reined in leaving the recording to move as it should. This even handedness is welcome for those of us with music collections that span the gentle to the lunatic as all recordings are presented as they should be. Indeed after some weeks with the Luxman unobtrusively playing everything “just so” I am left aware that my permanent amplifier is not so even handed in this regard. All of the recordings are further assisted by the Luxman’s agile and tuneful bottom end. More powerful Class AB amplifiers can go slightly deeper but what there is reproduced with convincing force and at the same time the details that are easily submerged in the quest for power are all present and correct.
Special mention must go to the on board phono stage. Switched to the moving coil section this formed a very happy partnership with my Dynavector DV20x and meant that a goodly proportion of my listening was done with vinyl. The stage should be considered a viable alternative to some serious separate contenders up to the £500 point. The excellent detail retrieval coupled with low noise and the same beautiful even handedness are extensions of the amplifier as a whole and even flattered very poor pressings such as Placebo’s Meds which normally defies attempts to derive much enjoyment from it. Furthermore, the convenience of having the stage internally and consequent freeing up of a mains socket and interconnect was a welcome bonus as well. By the same token, the headphone amplifier is more than up to the job of occasional listening on cans.
I had envisaged summarising the attributes of the L-550A-II with provisos about the available power and the limitations that this would impose. In truth unless you are possessed of a very big room and very insensitive speakers, these provisos do not really apply. In fact, the L-550A-II provides a far more complete solution than I had anticipated. The performance of the amplifier is easily competitive with similar designs but when the solid build quality, excellent connectivity and superb phono stage are taken into account it must be considered exceptional value even at its relatively lofty price point. The Luxman L550A-II manages to offer a beguiling audio performance matched with the convenience of an excellent feature set. Behind the retro appearance is a thoroughly modern and extremely well thought out amplifier that should work well in a many systems.
Luxman L-550A-II Integrated Amplifier
Inputs: Phono (MM/MC), 4x single-ended line inputs, 2x tape monitor inputs, 1x XLR input
Outputs: 2x tape outputs, XLR output, 2x speaker terminal sets
Continuous Output: 20W + 20W/8Ω Class A, 40W + 40W/4Ω
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006% or less (8Ω at 1KHz), 0.03% or less (8Ω from 20Hz-20KHz)
Input Sensitivity/Impedance: phono (MM), 2.5mV/47kΩ; phono (MC), 0.3mV/100Ω
Balanced line: 180mV/79kΩ
Output Voltage: recorder, 180mV; pre-out, 1V
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: phono (MM), above 91dB; phono (MC), above 75dB; line, bove 106dB
Frequency Response: phono, 20Hz-20kHz (±0.5dB); line, 20Hz-100kHz (+0dB, -3dB)
Tone Controls: bass ±10dB at 100Hz and treble ±10dB at 10kHz
Loudness Control: +7dB (±1dB) at 100Hz, +5dB (±1dB) at 10kHz
Controls: power meter, headphones jack, recording selector, speaker selector (A and B), stereo/mono selector, tone controls, balance and direct line, sub-sonic filter, loudness and line phase sensor, remote control
Electric Power Consumption: 190W (on, but without a signal), 1.3W (idle)
Dimensions (WxHxD): 46.5×17.8×43.4cm