Update: MQ-88u vs MQ-88:
Luxman released MQ-88u to replace their MQ-88 but On A Higher Note did not import the new unit for three reasons:
1. MQ-88 has twice the output of MQ-88u (MQ-88 is 40-50 watts vs MQ-88u is 20-25 watts),
2. MQ-88 was made in Japan and used local parts but MQ-88u involved more Chinese parts sourcing,
3. MQ-88 was a return to Luxman’s roots, as one of the oldest tube amplifier manufacturers in the world. Superior build quality compared to their MQ-88u.
Having said all that, the lineage of this family of components are meant to all work together as a full solution and a common preview is appropriate before we dive into each product’s features and attributes:
- CL-88 Control Amplifier
- EQ-88 Moving Magnet Phono Stage
- MQ-88 Stereo Amplifier
- MT-88 Moving Coil Transformer
- OPEQ-88 Outboard Power Supply
The CL-88, the Control Amplifier with line stage can supply power to the matching EQ-88 Moving Magnet Phono Stage for use with a moving coil cartridge. However, you will need to pair that up with the MT-88 Moving Coil Transformer. An outboard power supply, the OPEQ-88 is also available for use with this combination. The MQ-88 Stereo Amplifier have both fixed and variable inputs and can be used as integrated amplifier with a single input with a volume control in the front panel.
Since inception in 1925, Luxman has never been about mass produced products. In the similar vein, these Luxman products are designed in Japan, with each part carefully tested/evaluated, including many custom-made parts, preserving the functionality and special-designed features, making each Luxman component worthy of its pedigree.
Apart from the shared Power Supply, the amplifier designs are usually dual mono. Not only are the transformers made in Japan to their specification, Luxman selects the color paint used on the resistors (to identify value & tolerance) based on extensive listening tests. The chassis are carefully tuned with carefully controlled vibration and resonance, performing much like a musical instrument.
This family of Luxman products come with signature attention to detail most only found in Japanese assembly and testing. The amplifiers come wrapped in a cloth shroud with elastic underneath with all of the RCA & XLR sockets being protected from oxidation by individual plastic sleeves. Even the power cord is a cut above the normal give-away with good sound abound to achieve the superior Luxman sound that so many revere, love, and lust after.
Luxman has a long tradition of producing some of the finest vacuum tube amplifiers in the world. The MQ-88 has taken that tradition and incorporated some recent innovations in resonance and vibration control to raise the ante even higher.
This is a classic tetrode design, where low distortion and linear output were chosen in favor of maximum power from the KT-88 output tubes. The lower output from the output tubes will also help in a longer useful life of the tubes.
By cleverly hanging the electronics from the 15mm (5/8″) top plate, resonances & mechanical vibrations are isolated from the delicate vacuum tube electronics. Even the cast iron feet are bolted to solid aluminium L shaped stand-offs, which in turn are bolted to the 15mm top plate.
There is no circuit board, all the parts are hard wired to each other.
There are two sets of outputs, variable so that a single input (e.g. a CD player can be connected directly ) and then the output to the loudspeakers can be adjusted. Or fixed, so that a separate preamplifier (such as the partnering control amplifier the CL-88) can be using for switching between inputs as well as controlling the volume.
Comes standard with a grill to cover all of the vacuum tubes, which can be easily removed.
Bias for each of the output tubes can be adjusted on the top panel. The bias meter is a convenient way to monitor each individual output tubes bias setting, to maintain optimum performance.