Review: Luxman PD-284 Turntable

Category: Analog

It’s true that, in general, belt drive yields better sound quality than direct drive. But it’s equally true that not all direct drive turntables are bad. Direct drive got a bad rap thanks in large part to all the cheap plastic junk foisted upon unsuspecting audio buyers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Not everyone took that cut-rate approach. Technics could usually be counted on to deliver a quality table, if not a great tonearm. Kenwood made a number of good direct drive models that were often coupled with SME tonearms to surprising effect. And of course, Denon built -- and still builds -- gorgeous turntables of mid-fi quality. My DP-47F was worth every penny of its $650 price, and I wish I still had it today.

Then there’s Luxman. During vinyl’s heyday, the company marketed products ranging from entry-level hi-fi receivers to expensive, uncompromising tube and hybrid separates. Luxman tables had vacuum hold-down on some models, and many came armless, to be fitted most often with Grace and SME arms. But even the lowliest models offered above-average performance and style.

Case in point: my PD284 from 1985. It’s lightweight but well built. The arm is delicate but confidence inspiring. Arm height is not adjustable, but azimuth is. The platter is deep and heavy and topped with a thick rubber mat. All in all, it’s a great looking piece that promises an above-average listening experience.

And it delivers. The PD284 makes a full-bodied presentation with relatively deep bass using a wide range of budget cartridges. Timing is good, and while it’s not exactly a ‘pacy’ deck like a Rega or Linn, it doesn’t have the dull, one-dimensional sound of a mass-market, plastic piece o’ crap.

It’s also not grating. Many direct drive units tend to exaggerate tics, pops and scratches. The Luxman doesn’t. It’s easy to concentrate on the music, even using a fairly modest cartridge like the Grado Prestige Black (though I got the best results with high-output moving coils).

There’s really nothing modern to compare the Luxman to, except maybe the latest version of Techincs’ venerable SL1200. The new Denon DP-500M, at around $700, is probably the closest match (manual start, big platter, nice cosmetics—just like the Luxman) but I haven’t yet heard it. According to my dealer, they’re selling like hotcakes.

The closest I can get is my Denon DP-47F. Going by memory, it offered a leaner sound than the Luxman but more detail, whether paired with a Grado Prestige Green, Benz Micro MC20E2 or Audio-Technica 440ML. Considering the price difference, though—$650 for the Denon versus $390 for the Luxman if you adjust its original price for inflation—that’s about what you’d expect.

But I vastly prefer the Luxman to something like the Music Hall MMF-2.1. Though they’re worlds apart philosophically, a used Luxman makes a nice alterantive to a $299 Music Hall. Again going by memory, I found the Music Hall sounded a bit ‘canned’ due in part to its Goldring Elan cartridge. But find a clean Luxman, add a $100 Audio-Technica 440ML, and I can about guarantee that the result will at least equal the performance of an MMF-2.1, or more likely, exceed it by a good margin.

If you’re in the market for a Luxman, I can offer the following advice:

#1: Check the tonearm wiring carefully and look over the cartridge clips. The wiring in my tonearm is very delicate and the connections at the cartridge end can get a bit tenuous. I re-terminated mine with Cardas clips not long ago and the connection -- as well as the sound -- is much improved.

#2: Check to see the auto lift-up works. If it doesn’t, be sure it’s not disengaged. There’s a little switch on the underside that allows you to turn it off if it offends. This is an electronic turntable, and as such, it’s not easy to fix. (The auto lift uses an optical sensor that triggers the actual mechanism.) On the other hand, a broken auto lift mechanism could mean a nice discount on an otherwise perfect ‘table.

#3: Check for speed accuracy and stability using the built-in strobe. It’s accurate enough.

#4: Remember that the arm’s damped cueing is not as silky as that of a Rega, so be careful the first few times you set down the stylus until you get the hang of it.

That’s about all. In general, I’ve found the Luxman PD-284 to be simple to setup, easy to enjoy and dead reliable. If you can find one, my advice is to pick it up because, unless you absolutely NEED the pace, rhythm and attack of a Rega, Thorens or Linn, a nicely preserved Luxman will give you years of fuss-free, laid-back musical enjoyment.

Associated gear
Denon DRA-395 stereo receiver with MM phono section
Rega P2 turntable (with P3 glass platter and None-Felt mat)
Luxman PD-284 turntable
Thorens TD115 turntable
Denon DL-160 moving coil cartridge
Grado Black moving iron cartridge
Stanton 500E MkII cartridge
Pioneer DV-563A universal disc player
Philips CDR-785 CD Recorder
ProAc Tablette 2000 loudspeakers
Radio Shack MegaCable 16-gauge speaker wire (bi-wired)
Various Kimber, Audioquest and MonsterCable interconnects
MonsterPower HTS2500 Power Center
AudioQuest MC cartridge demagnetizer
Record Doctor II record cleaning machine
Sennheiser HD580 Precision headphones
Sony ProAudio MDR-7506 studio monitor headphones
Grado 15’ headphone extension cable

Similar products
Denon DP-47F
Dual CS-505
Linn Axis/Basik Plus
Music Hall MMF-2.1
Music Hall MMF-5
Rega P2
Thorens TD-115
I am really impressed with how you are building this 2 channel HT system ... a combination of budget gear that performs well above its price tag (Denon DRA 395; Radio Shack Mega Cable; Pioneer 563 universal player) with higher end units (ProAc speakers) and now a vintage piece (Luxman turntable). I have done something similar with my 2 channel HT system and I find myself doing most of my listening to this system ... not that it is the best sound available in my house, but it is pretty good nonetheless. Nice review and nice job done.

Regards, Rich
Thank you for pointing these things out! I agree with you, and we as record-spinning audiophiles, who often would not evan think of having something as "outdated" as a direct-drive, mass market turntable to quickly push the thought of them aside. You forgot to mention that the rega's are still much more dough than many of these decent, direct-drive tables still floating around the used market. And furthermore, while direct drive does have drawbacks, more are well executed which is better than poorly executed belt-drive designs. In that era, most of the better mass market turntables with better arms, suspension systems, and drive/platter systems were direct drive, and in real life, real use, are better performing turntables than the lower cost music hall's and sumiko's and such.
Thank you for pointing this out, that there are respectable options such as your table.
I just have a question regarding the Luxman, would you know if it is possible to replace the tonearm of this particular model. I'm about to buy one but i'm already planning on the future upgrades that i can do on this deck. Hope to hear from you soon.
No, it doesn't look possible. There's no seperate armboard anyway, so you'd have to take the whole thing apart and cut the acutal plinth. It would probably be messy and ugly.

Besides, this turntable likely wouldn't benefit much from an arm swap. It's good, but even a low-cost arm like the RB250 would probably be overkill. I found the arm that came with it to be fine.

If you want a nice DD table with upgradeability, you'll have to look for one of the more expensive Luxman models that was sold armless (some also had vacuum hold-down), or a nice 1980s Denon model -- although the Denon arms were actually pretty good.
Don't overlook the Luxman PD 441 turntable with the ability to use an arm of your choice. Fabulous build quality and beautiful to behold. VERY heavy, and of course great sonics.

The PD 444 was the same table, but allows the mounting of two tonearms.
I couldn't agree more. I have a Luxman PD 277, which is very similar, direct drive, automatic. The tonearm may be a little better than that on the 284. The automatic function doesn't even work any more, but I'm still using this table as my preferred front end (better than my Levinson 390S) in a system costing literally a hundred times what the table did. I'm probably missing a lot for not upgrading the table, but it sounds damn good.
Great point, Klinerm. And commendable that you've resisted the (often futile) urge to upgrade. I could've saved myself at least $1000, probably more, by simply sticking with the Denon DP-47F I bought in 2000, or the Linn Axis I bought used in the late 90s, or the...well, you get the idea. That's money I could have used the buy LPs and CDs. Live and learn.
It's totally false what belt drives are better than direct drives... I am a sound engineer for more than 15 years, and for my proper experience I'm total disagree with you
Thankyou for doing your review of the Luxman PD 248 I just bought one here in Sunny Australia at a Garage / Yard Sale
for a lazy $20.00 !!!! the pickup was a cheap one but I soon fixed that. Mine is fully operational with the instruction manual and a colour Spec Flyer. My much loved Direct drive Sony PS-1 will now be put away as a spare.

There are two other adjustments, not in the manual you can adjust the tone arm rest height and the cue hight have adjustments. My sony does not have these the sound from
the turntable is wonderfull and there is less rumble in between tracks also.

This is a first rate turntable you would have to spend $500 plus to get anything to match it. I just got lucky
last weekend I also bought 10 or more records as well at the same sale. Yes they were also bargins

John Papandreou
Thank you for your nice review. I just bought a pd-284 in a great condition for 50 usd.
unfortunatly it came with a mounted Excel es-70s cartridge with a bent and malfunctioning stylus.I have a spair shure m75ed type2 cartridge but I hesitate to change it alone because I don't have the owner manual and I also don't have much experience in changing cartridges.
do you have by any chance the owner manual of the pd-284?
if you do, it will be great if you can send me a copy and I surely will appriciate any help which you can give me regarding the turntable.
Thanks in advance,
Shmulik Faigenboim
I'm hoping someone out there can help me. I dug out my old turntable (Luxman PD284) for my 16 year old the other day only to find that the entire needle mount at the end of the arm is missing. Anyone have any idea where I might be able to get a replacement?
cant figure out how to alter speed music plays too fast
If you can't adjust it using the knob next to the pitch readout, the knob is either broken or the unit is far out of spec. In that case, you'll need to crack it open. You may be able to find a service manual at with the procedure for bringing it back to spec.
I have a PD-264 with a Shure X97e cartridge. While I found the deck in original conditon to be "OK" the following simple tweaks will bring it to another level that must be heard to believe.

First I covered the entire underside of the platter with self adhesiive
shingle roll found for under ten dollars at Lowes. It is somewhat messy and tedious to cut and fit but if you note how the platter rings when you tap on it, you will understand why it must be dampened.
Next I bought 3 gabon ball/flarge footers from Herbies Audio Lab. I also highly recommend his mat which I have placed on top of the stock rubber one.

Try these simple and inexpensive mods, you will not believe the difference!
Hi there, another comment from sunny Australia. Have just dug out my Luxman PD-284 after 7 years of storage in a North QLD garage. Guess what? - It still plays! Am working on replacing the cartridge (any advice re' replacement Supex styli?) and would like to clean the tone arm which is displaying some corrosion 'spots'. Any advice? Thanks for the site.
See my article in Positive Feedback on refurbishing a vintage turntable...
Hi, I have PD 284 since the end of the 80's. I like it so much and listen some times vinyls with a lot of pleasure.I use it finaly with an Ortofon OM 20 cartridge (I trie it with several models and products, according to me this one is a good choise).
I would be pleased if you can give to me your opinion. Sorry for my language but I've not practiced the english language since a long time
The high-compliance OM20 should make a good match for the Luxman's low-mass arm. It's also a relatively neutral yet detailed cartridge that imparts little of its own character. I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it.
Hi , I bought PD-284 yesterday – it looks and works great ( except some scratches on it’s lid ).
I have Grado Gold cartridge and I want try to mount it on Luxman, but I don’t know PD-284’s tonearm features e.g. effective length, overhang etc. Can anybody help me ? If anybody have user’s manual and have a few minutes to scan it or just make several pics by digital camera, I’ll be very glad to get it . Thank You very much and sorry for my English.
I have lost the 2 tops of my cover hinges and need to find replacement top left and right sides or a set of both complete left and right hinges for my PD 288 deck.
hello. i got one of them. but i have a silly problem: how do i get the table to turn ?

yes, it is plugged in, yes i tried the switch on the bottom, yes i tried moving the arm to the left and right .. uh.. am i too stupid or is it sadly broken ????

thank you !
Sorry to say, but it sounds broken. However, it could be something simple - a detached or broken wire or contact, etc. You have nothing to lose at this point so you might want to open it up and check it out. I guess it could also be that the motor has seized up. A drop or two of sewing machine oil might be useful.

Check out -- they often have service manuals as well as owners manuals available for download. I wouldn't throw the Luxman away until you give it at least a cursory exam to see if it can be easily fixed.
I LOVE my Luxman. I have modified mine quite a bit.
-Removed and bypassed all of the automatic features.
-Properly calibrated and cleaned the speed adjustments.
-Installed high quality RCA jacks and upgraded the power cable.
-Dampened the plinth, isolated the power supply and installed isolation spikes.
-Upgraded stock rubber mat with a 5mm Funk Firm Achromat (had to slightly trim and bevel the edges to fit platter), added Michell record clamp.
-Upgraded so-so stock Micro Seiki arm with an older, re-wired Denon DA-307 arm. I have several MM cartridges i use, favorites are Grado Gold and an older Ortofon VMS30fl & VMS20e MkII
The thing sounds WONDERFUL! It's paired with an old RTS Systems broadcast phonostage & B&K Reference 30 in direct analog for my front end.
These things are gems.
hello, thanks for forum - dealers here in melbourne australia claim they can't find me a replacement stylus for my luxman pd 284 - can anyone help???
Does anybody have good advice for a phono stage for the PD-284. I currently have a Grado Prestige Green, but am considering upgrading to a Gold. I will be running it to an ARC sp-4 pre-amp
The Grado PH-1 would be an obvious partner, but at $500, probably overkill in terms of both price and performance.

Since Grados, to me anyway, sound a little soft, I would counter that with a phono stage that's a little more 'exciting' sounding. The Cambridge Audio 540P is probably all you need and it's on closeout at most places for under $100. Plus, the silver finish should match well with your SP-4.