I own an audio shop (http://www.cdfaudio.com/) but I would hardly call myself an audiophile. I am a musician – play and adore hard bop music with flaming passion. I am also a rabid fan of many 20th century classical composers.
Part of my job as a shop owner is to evaluate components and select them to introduce to our friends and our customers. Given how much I live and breathe musicians’ sacrifices to squeeze performance to challenge ourselves to reach higher grounds every day, I demand electronic components to play music true to the original art form, capturing the spirit of the original artists.
In other words, I like to hear music as it is: no bizarre coloration, no squished dynamics and most certainly as close to how it would have sounded as if musicians were playing live in front of me.
Many people ask me how we decide on which equipment to bring in. My audition routine is actually very simple: I record a piece of music then I listen to it and ask my friends to listen with me. We drink some coffee, and we listen more… until we auditioned the Luxman C-900u and M-900u recently…
Our auditioning experience of this amplifier and preamplifier combo was so full of surprises for both my friends and I (all very competent musicians and music players) that I felt I had to write about it and share with our readers.
We started out with piano music, playing a piece on my piano and hearing it replay on the Luxman combo. The tone was so close and the sound almost mimics the sound of us playing live. Yes, they had a very slight plumpness in the bass but my friends and I, were completely blown away by how closely this new Luxman combo interpreted our recordings.
We initially set out to have a short listening session but ended up in such awe about the quality of the reproduced music that we kept playing and listening. In fact my bestie (a best friend, originally British slang) could not believe her alto sax was being reproduced like this through a solid state amp and pre-amp. Strings were reproduced with similar results, quick but warm, full and true to life.
Another test we did was with a drum kit. If you have ever been in a room with a live drum kit playing, you would know that it’s not that it’s loud, it’s actually fast. When the drummer strikes the snare it arrives at your ear very quickly with all the initial transient detail intact.
The Luxman M-900u was very capable of delivering those all important details, no smearing or rounding off of the leading edge but at the same time remaining warm and “woody”. A good analogy that all of us came up with was that while it was fast, it did not have that idiotic “I can hear the ants crawling on the studio wall” solid-state signature.
Our final test, last but a very important one as I often refer to it as “the complete note”. When a mallet or beater hits a bass drum or tom, the drum skin resonates for quite some time after the initial attack passes by. This resonant quality is what tricks our ears into believing! It’s just not believable if it’s all attack and little or no resonance after the attack but this amp really nailed it! The skin of the drum seemed to go on forever: beautiful and believable.
I wrote this article determined to share my experience but not to bore the readers with audiophile clichés. I hope I accomplished that. I will however assure you that the Luxman C-900u and M-900u does all an audiophile desires and will satisfy a music lover just as much if not more.
Solid state pre-amps can be tricky when it comes to playing music well. Luxman really took me back to school as I tried (in vain) to wrap my head around how they are able to beat the solid stateness out of it without sounding deliberately rolled off or “slurry”. I can only say that the Luxman C-900u doesn’t just play music well, it plays music wonderfully. It was very quiet, allowing me to walk into the music and listen deeply without being overwhelmed by hyper detail that’s just not important. Even though I cannot figure out how they did it, I was happy to just follow my heart on this one.
If you want to know more go ahead and call me – phone (514) 788-5066.
Graeme Scott Humfrey
www.cdfaudio.com or www.mixedbye.com