Luxman L505u . . . why not?

I'm getting close to pulling the trigger on one of these--an upgrade from my Rotel receiver. Before I do, I'd like some perspective from the learned A'gon community. First, will it be a significant upgrade from the Rotel? What kind of sonic improvements can I expect? Second, why shouldn't I buy from Audiocubes II?
I know On a Higher Note is the official U.S. distributer, but my budget pushes me towards the less expensive purchase option. Third, regardless of where I purchase it from, it will need a transformer to boost the power to 220. I don't know anything about the possible effects this might have on sound and performance of the component--can anybody speak to this? Is it possible to have the piece modified to accept the U.S. 110 current? I want the piece because it meets my requirements for an integrated: it's at least 100W, it has speaker A/B (I've got speakers in the kitchen and the main living room), it's got a great phono section (I play 50% records, 50% CDs), and it's got a headphone amp. Those are the features I want in an integrated. Any advice, suggestions, dissuasions will be appreciated.

Luxman are my new favorite electronics. Reintroduced for import three years ago, the build quality is equal to their best offerings from the 1970s and 1980s. I love the entire line from the last three years and I like that they are ultimately about musicality rather than specifications. They just sound great.

The phono stage is one of the best I have heard. Ultra quiet.

Their CD and music servers mate well with their components. Very neutral and bring out rich textures out of ordinary CDs.

This will be a system you will cherish.

Rotel is a well engineered product but made of Chinese parts. I suspect it will not hold up to time. I have seen this with NAD and Cambridge Audio.

The only other electronics I have heard that match Luxman are LFD from the UK and McIntosh from here in the US for sonics and build quality at this price point.
Hi...the Luxman L50U 100 volt Japan model is the BEST integrated amp in its price range in my opinion. I bought one from Audiocubes 2 and they will supply you with Nissyo 500 watt or 1000 watt voltage transformer. You cannot use any U.S. made transformer. There's a myth out there that using a transformer will degrade sound quality - this is false in my opinion. I equate the use of this transformer as if you're actually in Japan. The sound of this Luxman cannot be beaten by either McIntosh or Accuphase.I can attest to this because I've sampled both of them. Personally, I believe these are the three top amps in the world. I bought Luxman R1120 in 1980. After 29 years, it's still works like new - NO LIE! I use the Luxman with two pairs of speakers for exceptional sound quality; nothing beats this compared to having only one pair of speakers. For tuner, Rotel RT 1084 AM/FM HD tuner is an excellent combination. The Luxman is hand-made in Japan-similar to Accuphase. The voltage cannot be changed here to 120 because the transformers are hand-made by two technicians in their Japan factory. It took 2 weeks to get the order from Japan. Thank you and GOOD LUCK!
Thanks guys!!

Jaybo. Could you elaborate on this? Why, specifically, chould I give this more thought?
Why not?

Food for thought:

100 volt gray import from Japan.
One year warranty exercised in Japan.(As opposed to 3 year US warranty.)
Customer pays shipping back & forth to Japan.
Units needs to be serviced in Japan.
Units need a step up transformer to work in US.
Very difficult to re-sell in North America.

Other than that, it's a great deal.

Dealer disclaimer
You might want to send an e-mail to On A Higher Note. If you buy the L505u from them, I don't think you will need the transformer option. I believe their units have been setup for the North American market
Thank you all for your thoughts. I did contact On A Higher Note, and yes, I would have to use a transformer if I bought from them. Thanks AudioFeil; those are some important considerations.
Somebody at Stereophile (John Marks?) has been waxing enthusiastic about this amplifier, and I'm seriously considering it too. He hasn't mentioned anything about needing a transformer, though.

Is there any place in the U.S. that one can buy a version that does NOT need a transformer?


Steve O.
No. It is a Japanese product wired for their electricity. With that said, you should have no problem using a standard transformer. I recently bought the Neoclassical CD and integrated amp and have had no problems.

If you want to stay in the US electrical grid, take a hard look at the McIntosh 6300. Very close in performance with a similar "retro" look.
I have auditioned both McIntosh MA6300 and Luxman L505u in
New York. They were connected to B&W 801D. With McIntosh
bass was weak but with Luxman was totally different sound.
Much more dynamic, but highs. You have to hear to believe.
If You buy from Audiocubes2 you do need transformer. If you
buy from Higher Note you don't need transformer but it's
more expensive.

I played the Class AB amp at 100 watts (505), the 20 watt N100 Neoclassico tube amp, and Class A 20 watt (I believe it was model 550). I did not preview the 590.

I auditioned a wide variety of speakers as well. These included ATC 11s and 19s, Harbeth 40.1, KEF 201s, Spendor A1 and A6s, Zu Essence, Devore 8s and 9s, and B & W 805s and 801s.

I thought the ATC and Harbeth sounded best with the 505.
100 watts easily drive both speakers. Really added nice mid range depth to vocals (the English BBC side to these speakers) which married well to my audio content (acoustic, punk, indie, reggae, funk).

I liked the Devores and Zus with the N100. The Devores threw a better soundstage in a small room environment, very neutral and "human", and the Zus had better dynamics in vocals, piano and cymbals. More lively, not hot. I have never been a fan of this company, Zu, but the new line is wonderful at 3,500/pair with tubes like Luxman.

Almost all the speakers listed above sounded great with the 550, except for power hungry ATCs were a tad understated and not fully formed. Spendors and B & W sounded fantastic.

Agree with your comments about the Luxman over the 6300, but to my ears, I thought the differences were narrow versus wide. The 6300 sounded great with speakers who relish solid state clarity. I thought they were very quiet with the sound emerging from blackness. The Luxman had an added lushness. It seemed you could hear more detail, but not in an analytical sort of way.
I would not personally buy an amplifier that is not 120V, 60 cycles. One, for performance. Two, for resale. Professionally, I always recommend buying from the proper country's distributor -- for service and for warranty. Plus, they can be invaluable for help with system matching. They are truly experts who go to shows and get feedback from their dealers and gain knowledge that "money just can't buy."

I had a rare 120V Luxman new series integrated that I purchased from the Canadian distributor off ebay three years ago before the new US distributor took over. Foolish me for selling it for 25c on the dollar!

That kind of deal is over. You must pay to play sometimes :)

I agree with you. It's all about synergy. Somebody told me
that Luxman actually sound best with Studio speakers.
One guy from England tested Luxman L505u with Harbeth and
sound was great but then he tested with old JBL L100T3 and
he was amazed with the sound. I am also intending to buy
L505u. I spoke to some people that are familiar with
electronics and they told me that transformer does not
degrade the sound. Japan version is 50/60Hz,also transformer
(from Audiocubes 2). I really don't see why would be a problem
with the sound.
My son lives in Tokyo and brought me back the N100, which are 40% cheaper there. Have had no problems so far. I mostly listen to it on headphones.
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I bought the L-505f made from 2001-2004(model before 505u) back in 2004 from Audiocubes2 website and had no problems with the sale, shipping, transformer, and the unit.

Jones4music said "the 505u and can tell you it is less clear and less focused than the AX7e and 6300 I compared it with". I think that it depends on what you want from a Int amp at this price.

I think people who will like the 505u are people who want to sit back and just enjoy their music not analyze it. The AX7e and 6300 sounds like they bring out more details which is not bad if that is what you want.

Probably the L-550a II does this more than the 550u. Again just depends on what you want and what other equipment you have to find that synergy that produces a sound you enjoy.

The 505f was a very musical int amp and I'll bet the 505u is even more so.
I bought mine from David Michael Audio. A USA version, no transformer required. And loving it . . . . .
If you purchase the Luxman L505u from Japan (100-volt model) you will save $1400. The reason I purchased one is because Luxman does not have a service center here in the USA. Even if you buy it here, if you needed service (which, due to it's quality I highly doubt would occur), you would need to send it to Japan. I am an electronic technician, recently repairing a Luxman R-1120A. The output transistor 2SD746 was not available in the USA, so I ordered it from the Far East (the only place it was available). I inspected the Luxman 505U to see if I could change it to USA 120-volt. It can only be done by replacing the transformer that must come from the Luxman factory in Japan. So, in my opinion, this is a very good deal for a tremendous INT amp. Luxman created a turntable in the late 1970's still considered as one of the finest ever made. Also, there are the 1987 DAC fluency and the 2000 ODNF technologies - impressive in their own right. Clearly, this company has a track record of ingenuity since 1925. In my opinion, Mcintosh has no comparable innovations. At any rate, I see this as an opportunity to purchase a tremendous amp at a discounted price. Thank you and good luck with your decision!

"The only other electronics I have heard that match Luxman are LFD from the UK and McIntosh from here in the US for sonics and build quality at this price point."

Build quality? My latest version of the LFD Zero Mk III broke. Fortunately the USA distributor is professional and responsive about the matter, but as with most broken consumer goods - it's a time/money waster. My mid-70's tuner is operating w/o a single issue after all these years, and I'd bet it was put together on an assembly line by low-wage working people who were not professors or audio engineers.
This is a followup to my previous post about my LFD Zero with a repair issue:

Received complete satisfaction for my repair issue from the USA distributor of LFD Audio products:

Highly recommended outfit!
Nice to hear.
Plus, he also carries Luxman and Lavardin!
now if only he had Leben....

LFD: I had one for three years with no problems. Sold it this year for 80 percent of what I paid. Replacing it with Luxman.
I've heard the L505. It's really sweet. I've also had the chance to audition the Leben CS-300. I'll stick with the LFD as long as no (more) repair issues ensue. We know different room/speakers/wires/etc. make A/B comparisons of amplifiers unpredictable as there is no place that has all this gear in one room connected to an A/B+ switcher. I'm thinking that because the LFD is aesthetically so very plain Jane (w/o remote capability and the bells and whistles others offer) without the name perception panache - most potential purchasers of the LFD get cold feet and move elsewhere. If I had a relative from Japan that could have brought back a Shindo, Luxman, Leben amp b-e-f-o-r-e I had heard the LFD, I would probably have one. It's obvious I like the LFD, but damn - I love tube amps very much too.
Leben is incredible, as well as Almarro. I love the N100 Neoclassical by Luxman.
Bongo, have you heard the other Luxman tube integrated also, the 38u? I've been hearing raves about it as well.
Not cheap, $6k. Like the Leben 600, but with phono stage as well. I've also heard great things about the two Class A Luxman's, although they are $4800 and $10k?

Oh, and I've read somewhere that Luxman now does have tech service available in the States. I think it took a while to get things going after seperating from the Alpine debacle.
I auditioned both. You need to carefully match the 550 with speakers. It perfers the more efficient English speakers.
I have a pair of Harbeth SHL5 speakers. Anyone had the chance to try L505u or L550 with those speakers?
Merlocpm, there's a nice guy on here who has, maybe he'll chime in....not sure about the 505u, but he has the 550 and 590, which he seems to love...great bass, tone.
Merlocpm ...

I'm using Hl5s with the lux 550a II. This after a series of amps, including bi-amping.
The Lux-Harbeth just sings. It's incredible.
HI Jabas, care to share about what others you've tried?
Don't be such a tease!
how old is your lux 550a II?

Wow! This thread sure morphed!
Well I bought the sucker, and he's in my house hooked up to my Vandersteen 2ce sigs. It's all I had hoped for! Better resolution (than my Rotel receiver)without being harsh. More punch. "Fast" is the adjective that keeps coming to mind. And it has lots of power--clearly way more than 100W per side. The phono stage is exellent. I'm hearing things anew from old records. But none of the detail and attack comes at a sacrifice of musicality. Great texture to the strings (very much like the LFD I heard once). It really makes my Vandersteens jump and groove! The only negatives are 1) the transformer was smaller and lesser build quality than I expected. I've already upgraded to a Kasimura TI-19. 2) No English translation of the owner's manual. Audiocubes won't supply one, and Luxman won't supply one becuse Audiocubes isn't an authorized Luxman dealer. If anybody out there can help me with this I'd really appreciate it. I'd even pay someone who has one for their time to copy it and send it to me!
Anyway, thanks for all your responses. I recommend this purchase and the seller if you're considering a Luxman.

Rosedanny - I am happy for you. I told you it's one of the best amps out there! Did audiocubes send you the 1000W Nissyo transformer? Kasimura TI-19 is also a very good transformer. Both are made in Japan. Enjoy your new machine!
They sent me the Nissyo NDF-550 transformer. It's not what you descibed in your email (size of a bag of sugar), more like a box of tea (3X4X3.5) but heavier. And build quality of transformer does not match Luxman L505u. The fixed cord from the transformer is thin like the one from my toaster!! So . . . I look forward to doing it right with a higher quality tansformer. Too bad because I was under the impression I'd get one with a higher capacity. They did offer a slight discount ($40) on the Kashimura, which I appreciate. Any clues as to where I can find an English owner's manual?
Rosedanny - The 500W and 1000W transformers each have a thin cord. It has nothing to do with the performance, however. Your Luxman is 210W - so it is double, and is therefore more than adaquate. I have the 1000W. A gentleman who bought Luxman 509U new from Japan for $5,000 used a heavy-duty US-made transformer. He was getting a 'hum' because the cords cannot have a third prong/ground-pin. He replaced it with a 1500W Japanese transformer - and there was no longer any 'hum' - dead silent. There are three brands you can use: (1) Nissyo, (2) Kashimura, and, (3) Sanyo. You could have saved more money if you wanted a heavy-duty transformer by ordering one from ''. But you have to pay for the transformer. $2,280 for the Luxman L505U (using pay-pal), and $160 for a Nissyo 1500W transformer (plus shipping costs). That is why I told you to call me. I believe I was the first to order the Luxman L505U from Japan in this manner. I ordered it 20 months ago. None of the Japanese on-line stores will give you the 1500W for free. On the matter concerning the translation of the owner's manual into English, let me look into that.
I guess I spazzed and jumped the gun with the transformer. I'm not really savvy about wattage/voltage numbers and thought the higher wattage transformer would allow more headroom for the amp's fluctuations in power (I'm way out of my limits of understanding here). I made my decision based my understanding of some posts that explained this. Also, the Nissyo didn't have a housing and looked industrial, while the Kasimura looks to have better design and aesthetics. Please tell me at least I will do no damage by using a 1500W transformer?!
Rosedanny - You will not do any damage by using a 1500W transformer. You can use the Nissyo 500W, which is a heavy-duty transformer, for a cd-player. If you order a cd-player from Japan they probably will give you a Kasimura 100W transformer. Now to make sure your transformer has no 'hum' you can test it by turning on the cd player, but do not play the cd. Turn the Luxman on, adjust to whichever input (rca or xlr) you are using for the cd player, and turn the volume up slowly to hear any 'hum'. I recommend testing this with each transformer to find which is optimum.
I live in North America and hence would buy Luxman from the North American distributor.

These units have been factory built to be compatible with our electrical grid.

Moreover the distributor has invested considerable resources to re-introduce Luxman to NA, promote it to the audio press and at trade shows, and build a dealer network, provide after sales service etc.

All those great reviews in The Absolute Sound and Stereophile etc. that help increase market presence and resale value are thanks to the efforts of the distributor (and a great product).

Ordering grey market product at a discount may seem like a deal but it is a selfish act, robbing the official distributor while still allowing you to benefit from their efforts to promote the product and increase its value in their market (and yours).
Toronto416, I agree it is best to buy from approved sources but I would not use words like "selfish act". Do you know how much the mark-up is on high end stuff? One could consider that as daylight robbery as well.
I was initially interested in your thread for the sound of the luxman, not the ethical part of the question, for I've been wanting to hear one. Recently went to Chicago, no Luxman--yet. So then I thought about what if I was a dealer wanting to bring it in, and what a purchase like yours does to the industry, so in conclusion I'd have to say no to what you did. Have you seen the statement on the Japanese global website? No warranty for you. That seals the deal for me.
I agree for the most part regarding buying gray market goods. However, the problem I have is that many US distributors like to have us canadians bend over for them to sell us something. Audio gear is one area for sure where Candians pay as much as 20% higher prices (equalized for currency differences)...this was most apparent when the Canadian $ was above par and we were still paying more for many goods...which is why so many canadians in Ontario were driving to upstate NY to buy cars.
That being said, I would love to hear the L505u with my harbeths as well..but I'd have to bring my speakers to my local luxman dealer to try it out (although he carries only the L550 and L590...)
To Chashas1 - If you are concerned with warranties, Japanese on-line stores do offer warranties, which are good for one year. I acknowledge that the US-version warranty is good for three years. However, you have to pay double for the unit itself. My focus is on the fact that Luxman units are of such high quality - the best in the industry - that they will not break down for 20 years. Regarding the costs, do you mean to imply that changing the transformer unit to US-voltage costs approximately $1,500 for the 505U, and the 509U costs approximately $4,000? So, I'm not buying it. Anyhow, my experience is that the Japanese-version of the Luxman sounds superior to the US-version. As a matter of fact, many US hospitals utilize Japanese and European high-end electonic instruments that employ transformers that convert the voltage to US-voltage. And in regards to Toronto416's post, I have to ask: Would you like to shut down the Japanese online stores so that the North American distributors can charge consumers twice what it costs in Japan in this global economy?
It's called the price of doing business in your own country. If you continue to buy greymarket, I may never get to hear a Luxman in the states. Why wouldn't a huge city like Chicago not carry Luxman? Why are more brick and mortar stores closing?
I'm not condemning your actions, you do what you want.
If it was your business and someone hit you in your pocket book, I'm sure you'd start thinking otherwise....
Renjy651, I also want to buy a luxman from japan, but not the 505u but the new 507u. You say you also bought it directly from japan. Can you give me advice on where to buy it? Where did you buy it?
You should have the freedom to buy any product in any country, based on the strength of that currency against yours. Why not buy at the country of origin? I believe this the free market principle.

May I ask how did the LFD compare to the Leben CS300? I have heard the LFD and the CS600 but both in separate systems. The LFD has the dynamics and bass slam while the CS600 made the highs and midrange sound beguiling with its tube magic but seems to lack punch, dynamics and bass slam. Have you been able to compare the two units directly side by side?


May I ask how did the Leben compare with the Almarro 318B? Which has a sweeter midrange and more refinement, and most important which unit has better bass presence?

Thanks in advance.
Hands down, the Leben is the better unit. Along with Luxman, I think they are the best Japan has to offer in mid-priced gear. (Obviously, the Luxman has better bass and slam due to it being solid state).

With that said, I was really impressed with the Almarro 205 and 318 powering their own speakers. Very musical and organic. Played Stevie Wonder and Dave Brubeck and loved the musicality of both amps. In many ways, I preferred the 205 model. I look at Almarro as a nice entry level tube product, which will run circles of other entry level products I have seen.

Leben sounds a tad more "there" in every category you can think of. I heard it power DeVore Gibbon Nines effortlessly.

I ultimately chose the Luxman because it has: superior built-in phono satge, more compact design, and matching CD player.
Bongo, could it also be you'd have to pay retail for the Leben?
Could you elaborate on the "compact design"? The Luxmans look big (and heavy) from photos, the Leben, which I've actually seen and heard, much smaller and lighter.
Thanks for the insight Bongofury. I listened to the CS600 driving the Harbeth M40.1 and Fleetwood Mac sounded amazingly good. The Leben doesn't quite excel on some musical material with punchy bass and dynamics though.

May I ask if your Luxman had that special beguiling midrange and highs of the Leben with improved bass handling? If yes, what is the model of your Luxman? Thanks in advance.