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Luxman DA200 & M200 DAC/Pre/Power

simon g

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The reviews seem a bit of a barren desert at present, so i thought I’d just write a short review/thoughts on these two components. 

 

I’ve now had these in my system for a couple of months, having bought them new from that very nice organisation Audio Emotion. So, plenty of time to get acquainted with them, functionally and sonically.

 

Both of these units came in excellent packaging, complete with double boxes. They look and handle like the premium products that they are. In general the finish and fit is excellent. These are designed to offer great performance, but in a relatively small package, hence they are a fair bit smaller than might be expected. This suits my needs very nicely as it would many others, I suspect. Having said that, these should not be labelled ‘lifestyle products’ (i.e. potentially all design with little content) as they do offer very high quality performance.

 

The DA200 is a DAC, which is also a pre amp, that also has a quality headphone amplifier. (my Beyer T70ps, AKG K701s and Audeze EL8s all sound very good, with no signs at all of the amp struggling properly to drive them) The DAC used is aBurr-Brown PCM1792A, 24/192Khz, but only 96kHz on USB. Analogue output is Class A. Luxman make the similarity in design and performance to their D05 player. Having never heard that myself, I can’t comment. It does though highlight the care that has gone in to the implementation of the DAC and the pre. There is no remote control, which may be a deal breaker for some.

 

There is a display window which shows sample rate on digital, but which goes blank if using analogue inputs.

 

There are coaxial and Toslink inputs in addition to USB. Unusually, there are also 2 analogue inputs, meaning that this can act as the heart of most systems. It needs to be noted that, whilst there are balanced and SE outputs, variable out is only available on SE. It can operate in fixed mode on both XLR and SE.

 

The M200 is a power amplifier, with a pre (can be set to be bypassed) Hence this could be used as a single source integrated. There are also two power meters. These show average power; you can choose over what period this average is set. They can be turned off if required. Inputs on XLR and SE.

 

Power output is fairly low at 25W/channel in to 8 ohms, 35W in to 4 ohms. It can also work as a mono amplifier with a 70W channel in to 8 ohm rating. 

 

The amp is very quiet, mechanically and electrically (so far as I can detect through my speakers).

 

As background to how this combinations sounds to me, a little about the type of music I have listened to on the system. I don’t listen to much in the way of classical, with the exception of works by Steve Reich, John Adams and Terry Riley. It’s mostly jazz, from 50’s Blue Note to Pat Metheney’s more ‘adventurous’ work. And of course some prog, but not so much these days (but Selling England does indeed sound really good through the system!). My speakers are Harbeth P3ESRs. You might think that such a lowly powered amp would be a hopeless mismatch with these low sensitivity ‘speakers. Not a bit of it. The P3s are easy to drive. In my listening environment, at a round 80dB levels, sitting about 2m or so away, then the amp never even breaks a sweat. The power meters hardly move above 0.5W. Even when I turn it up a bit, it rarely goes above 3W. There’s no sign of clipping that I can detect and I’ve been listening to systems to well over 40 years.

 

I’ll talk about the system as a whole, as I haven’t listened to the components individually. Having said that, i strongly suspect that the DA200 is the stronger performer of the two. Describing sound is just so subjective, it’s a difficult one to put in to writing. The overall sound is very complete, to my ears. The detail of the music is all there, but there’s not that often found forwardness bordering on stridency (?) (as I find the MDAC, by way of comparison). It all hangs together well. No sibilance at all (apart from on some poor recordings). The presentation may be a bit too laid back for some as it does lean towards the warm side of neutral. To illustrate this, my previous amp with the Harbs was a Bel Canto C5; a very fine amp. That produced a much cleaner sound, bordering on sterile. It also controlled the P3s a bit better as bass was better defined using that amp. But it just wasn’t engaging, if you take my meaning? I much prefer the sound using the Luxman pairing. I've tried other amps with the P3s, including the Gato DIA-250, which was good, but again just a tad too controlled, for me. I don't want to gush on about mids, highs, soundstage and the like; I'll just say that music is presented beautifully, with instruments easy to place and hear, with a sound that seems independent of the 'speakers. OK, bass (or lack of) will be an issue for many, but if that's important to you then you probably wouldn't choose P3s (although they can surprise).

 

Overall I’m very happy with this combination. Both components are satisfying to use, nice to look at and produce a very grown up sound. They originally retailed at the £2K per component mark, which I think was overpriced. They are now available at substantially less, a price point at which you’d struggle to match, let alone, beat them. If you can live with the low power then very much worth considering.

 

PS: I know everyone likes a piccie, so I've uploaded some to my gallery on this site

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, luvpies said:

Great review thanks Dude!!

Thank you - I'm pleased that you liked it.

I'm more happy to answer any questions I can about this pair (via this blog). 

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Good review, down to earth, definitely no gushing:D I particularly enjoyed your description of soundstage, for me just how it should be. Cohesive sound, easily identifiable instruments placement, with the boxes just disappearing.

Thanks

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As this is a blog, I'd thought I'd update, for those that may be interested.

The Luxman duo have now moved on to happy new owners. I'm a bit of a box swapper in this, my second, system. Reflecting on this pairing, I would definitely consider the DAC/Pre as the stroger component, when viwed indiviually. Together though they do produce a very engaging, sweet sound. The lack of a remote is a pain though.

Interestingly, I also bought a new Arcam UDP411, which is a remarkably good player. it should be viewed as a universal player that also plays blu-rays. CD and SACD  replay from it easily compete with dedicated players in the £1-£2K mark. Considering what you can now buy these for they make a great purchase, especially given  the 5 year warranty. Anyhow, I plugged it straight in to the analogue input of the DAC in the Luxman pair. Really very good indeed. Bass definition really tightened up and instrument placement became further refined. Whilst speakers/room/amp will have the most effect on a system's performance, it's still important to remember the importance of a good source. I had atrributed the slightly ill defined bass as a product of the amp/speakers, but that was just part of the picture.

My amp is now a Primare i32, which I have to admit is a step up from the Luxman duo. I've had quite a few Class D amps, but Primare's take on it is preferable to my ears to the BC B&O Ice implementation and the Hypex amps I've heard. It's also a very well put together, flexible and classy amp. The display is quite the best I've seen.

I've recently bought a new Quad Platinum DMP. Wow. This things is a very serious bit of kit. Playing through the Primare, this is without doubt the best sound I've had in this system. Of note; the Harbs just keep on responding - it won't be much of a shock to many to learn just how accomplished they are. Back to the Quad; very  serious tray action (properly guided and very substantial), so a delight to use. Silent mechanism in operation. Straightforward and easy to use controls. 6 digital inputs. Fixed and variable out on XLR and SE (can be fixed on one and varaible on other, which could be a useful feature in some systems). I stream Tidal through my Bluesound Vault in to the Quad. I've also got the analogue outs of the Vault connected to the Primare, so it's easy to compare the performance of the Vault vs its digital out through the Quad. No contest at all. The Quad really elevates things to a superbly good level. Music is just so much more real, is the best summary I can provide. The bare Vault is good, but very one dimensional with a flat sound when comparedto the Quad.

So, lots of changes but I now have a system that would be very difficult to better in my room (without spending really serious money), IMO. I'll leave it like it is for the remainder of this year as work is about to become very busy indeed. As ever, always happy to provide info/feedback on any of the components mentioned.

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Have been looking at intergrated amps for a while now and have been thinking about the Primare i32 and the new Denon PMA-2500NE

Have the Primare Dac30 already and very satisfied with it. How do you find the treble with the i32, am a bit afraid that the amp will sound too sterile, plan to use it with Qln Signature 3.

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The Primare take on Class D is a bit different to other implementations (Bel Canto's, for example). I would characterise the amp as very accurate and unforced. It isn't sterile, more very controlled. It will very much reflect the quality of your source; there's very little colouration with the amp. It is also very flexible in its set up and use and will drive more or less any speaker. Dead quiet mechanically and electrically, as far as I could tell.

Your speakers will be the most significant contribution to the final sound; the Primare will certainly allow the QLNs to shine, as long as their interaction with your room is OK and you can position them optimally.

If you're looking at amps around the £2K mark, then you could also consider the Lyngdorf TDAI2170. That would also allow you to have in room EQ set up via its Room Perfect feature. It's certainly one way of taking the room out of the equation, to a large degree at least.

I've now sold the i32 and moved up to a Resolution Audio C50.2., which is in a different league, tbh. A simple, but fabulously fast, engaging and (to use a well worn cliche) musical amplifier. Quite the best SS amp I've owned, and I've had a few (dozen!)

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Recently bought a Denon PMA2500NE and sterile it isn't!   A friend recently sold his Primare i32 and bought the Denon Amp and is pleased he did.  Fortunately for him he had the funds to purchase the matching Denon DCD2500NE.  Been into HiFi for 50 years and think the Denon Amp is a real bargain.  System Puresound A8000, Funkfirm turntable and arm, Audio Technica OC9 III cartridge with PMC Twenty23 speakers, MIT cables throughout.  Started to use a Denon DVD A11 as a transport, with  the SPDIF connected to the Amp's DAC.  Every facet of the PMA 2500NE is superb.  Previously had amplication from Esoteric, Chord, Primare, Copland and many others.  None come close in any way to the PMA2500NE.  I have no connection with Denon in any way.  So before any criticisms roll in?  Is there a more subjective hobby?

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Seriously considering the Denon, after wading through so many amp options new and old. Reviews seem very good, and comments like yours based upon previous kit you have owned just goes to show what a big manufacturer can produce for a reasonable price point. Got to demo one now!

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That looks very like the PMA-S10 I recommended earlier in the thread. If it is, it will be powerful, controlled and fully specced.

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27 minutes ago, Spen ago said:

Seriously considering the Denon, after wading through so many amp options new and old. Reviews seem very good, and comments like yours based upon previous kit you have owned just goes to show what a big manufacturer can produce for a reasonable price point. Got to demo one now!

I know it's only a YouTube video, but it does sound good in this video clip. Fine dynamic performance and good tonality are evident: 

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It's funny how you need vids of this nature to take the kit as seriously as it deserves, seeing it in that kind of environment evaluated as a piece of audiophile grade equipment. 

Definately helps to shake the Dixons/Currys lo-fi preconception! 

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marlew

(edited)

2 hours ago, Spen ago said:

It's funny how you need vids of this nature to take the kit as seriously as it deserves, seeing it in that kind of environment evaluated as a piece of audiophile grade equipment. 

Definately helps to shake the Dixons/Currys lo-fi preconception! 

I reckon it would work very nicely with your Dyns . A system I/you (any music lover) could happily live with long-term without ever feeling short-changed. Such a versatile system would work well in the majority of average to medium/large sized UK rooms and across a wide range of music genres. Just add decent sources (good quality recordings being most important) and you will be good to go. 

I reckon this system would major on accuracy, excellent dynamic performance (both micro and macro), controlled bass, imaging and sound-staging. I suspect it would be a natural and musical sounding combination; capable of providing genuine long-term satisfaction.

Edited by marlew

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Looking for somewhere that will do a combo deal👍

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18 hours ago, Spen ago said:

Looking for somewhere that will do a combo deal👍

If you are talking about the matching Denon SACD player, there would need to be a hefty discount for it to be a worthwhile purchase imo. It retails @ £1500 new. According to a European review I read, the DAC chip and analogue output stage of both the amp and the player are of the same/similar spec. I suspect there would be very little sonic difference between the two. Use the digital out of your current disc spinner or spend £300 on a purpose built Cambridge Audio CXC CD transport is my advice. By all means try the matching SACD player but I suspect the sound quality performance difference will be minuscule and not worth the additional £1500 expense - any discount. Obviously, they would make a nice cosmetic match but the retailer would need to take off about £1K from the combined retail price to make it worthwhile imo, and in all honesty I cannot see them doing this. 

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Checked in with two dealers to set up demos. Low and behold both suggested demoing against Naim. 

Agree about the disc spinner, unless you have a library of SACD a bit excessive..

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On 8/11/2017 at 17:09, Ron Hilditch said:

Recently bought a Denon PMA2500NE and sterile it isn't!   A friend recently sold his Primare i32 and bought the Denon Amp and is pleased he did.  Fortunately for him he had the funds to purchase the matching Denon DCD2500NE.  Been into HiFi for 50 years and think the Denon Amp is a real bargain.  System Puresound A8000, Funkfirm turntable and arm, Audio Technica OC9 III cartridge with PMC Twenty23 speakers, MIT cables throughout.  Started to use a Denon DVD A11 as a transport, with  the SPDIF connected to the Amp's DAC.  Every facet of the PMA 2500NE is superb.  Previously had amplication from Esoteric, Chord, Primare, Copland and many others.  None come close in any way to the PMA2500NE.  I have no connection with Denon in any way.  So before any criticisms roll in?  Is there a more subjective hobby?

How do you find the sound of the headphone output?

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The comments on purchasing the matching CD Player are pretty valid.  I am using the CD Player's SPDIF output into the PMA-2500NE's DAC.  Sounds really good and can't see the Denon CD Player being much better.  When playing SACDs and HDCDs I use the DENON DCD A11, into one of the Amps analogue inputs, again really great sounding.  Had a few SACD Players over the years and some of them have been over smooth and gutless.  Seems to depend how long the digital signal is kept in its DSD format.  If it's converted to PCM too early it doesn't seem to work.  Luckily Media Centre 19 in DOP guise doesn't fall into this trap.  Files played from my Apple MAC Pro fed into the PMA2500NE at 2.8MHz sound just as they should.  

Finally a word about HDCD a much overlooked and great format.  Pity Pacific Microsonics went bust and Microsoft took over the patent.  So many promising audio systems have come and gone.  Quite often because Hardware and Software Companies are owned by the same few people.  They can strangle innovation and progress based understandibly on commercial considerations.  

Ron Hilditch 

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