Tag Archives: Luxman

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

I use a Luxman L590AXII that is rated at around 55 watts per channel of Class A amplification into my Daedalus Audio Ulysses loudspeakers and it’s the best sounding audio amplifier I’ve ever owned and its not the first Class A amplifier I’ve owned. I’ve owned and used Parasound JC-1’s, Pass 100.5’s and a Plinius Class A amp. All three are great sounding amps, but while they are all high biased Class A amps, none sounds as good as the Luxman. It sounds powerful, tonally rich and very transparent. It’s a great match with my speakers.

Paul make an oopsie!!

Class dismissed

When I was attending school there were no sweeter words than the headline of today’s post. Free at last.

Let me start today’s topic with an apology. Because I disliked school so much my math skills suck. Badly. I tend to get confused around percentages especially when they work in reverse.

Armed with the correct info, let’s review: if a 100-watt amplifier is 50% efficient, it draws 200 watts from the wall and delivers 100 watts to the load. Half of its energy is converted to heat. (I had mistakenly said 50 watts would be converted to heat). Thanks to our ever-helpful eagle-eyed community for correcting me.

According to Wikipedia, the classes of amplifiers are related to the time period that the active amplifier device is passing current, expressed as a fraction of the period of a signal waveform applied to the input. A class A amplifier is conducting through all the period of the signal; Class B only for one-half the input period, class C for much less than half the input period. A Class D amplifier operates its output device in a switching manner; the fraction of the time that the device is conducting is adjusted so a pulse width modulation output is obtained from the stage.

What’s a valuable takeaway from the above droll few sentences is this: a Class B amplifier only draws power from the AC wall socket when a signal is present, where a Class A amplifier is drawing wall power “through all the period of the signal”, including the zero-crossing point where, technically, there is no signal.

Keep that thought in your head as tomorrow we’ll come back to that.

There is a hybrid amplifier we’re all familiar with. This topology shares traits from both Class A and Class B and is appropriately named, Class A/B.

In a Class A/B amp when there is no signal there are still a few watts of power being drawn from the wall. This is because the A part of the Class A/B means the amp is always on—at least a little. This always-on time is called bias, a technique of applying just enough always-on power that we’re not relying upon the application of an audio signal to get things started (eliminating a type of distortion known as crossover notch). The amount of that always-on bias varies from amp design to design. In some amps, like the BHK series, it’s fairly high, which generates a fair amount of constant heat regardless of whether or not a signal is present. In other designs, there’s just enough always-on bias to keep the amp warm to the touch.

The only time the heat sinks of a class A/B amp get good and toasty is when it’s been working out delivering loud music to hungry speakers. That’s the opposite of what happens with a Class A amplifier.

Tomorrow, the strange world of pure Class A.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl

There is something to be said for tone controls, but they need to be done correctly, or they will make a sonic impact on the music. My Luxman 590 AX II has them for bass and treble and they are done very well. It even has a loudness control to be used at low listening levels, boosting bass and high frequencies. Very transparent, but when I’m using the Luxman, I listen direct as my system doesn’t much need tone controls and I almost never listen at low levels.

Tone control

There was a time in our HiFi history that the ability to electronically control music’s tone was necessary. Necessary because the entire chain of electronics and loudspeakers were bad enough to warrant their intrusion.

Sure, many bemoan the lack of bass and treble controls, even full band graphic equalizers, but for the most part, we neither miss them nor need them.

And that’s the point. Our equipment’s gotten so much better as to obviate the need for tone controls.

The crutches of the past don’t apply to the equipment of today.

Yet fond memories of their power linger on.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Put lousy sounding audio equipment in a great room and it will sound lousy. Put great stereo equipment in a lousy room and it wont sound great. There needs to be a balance of both. I’m lucky that I have a great room and great audio equipment from Rogue Audio, Luxman, T+A (THeory + Application),  Well Tempered Labs and Dynavector. Things usually sound great over here!!

Setup and rooms

We all pay at least lip service to the importance of rooms and setup though I suspect in our heart of hearts we believe the components are really the key to sound quality.

It’s truly a chicken and egg sort of thing: crappy equipment in a great room isn’t going to sound amazing just like excellent equipment in a crappy room’s not going to set your hair on fire.

But like the age-old debate about whether sources are more important than loudspeakers, the truth behind setup and room importance vs. the contribution of the stereo equipment is always going to be a contentious one.

I have heard equipment I have little respect for sound more than amazing in a well set up room. In fact, if I had to summarize my years of experience, I’d have to say I’ve heard better high-end audio systems of medium quality equipment in great setups than the opposite.

I can’t tell you the number of great collections of equipment that have sounded dreadful. Yet, knowing that equipment can sound amazing leads me to conclude that in the end, all things considered, setup, and room is more important than the components playing in them.

Just sayin’.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Cane Creek AV sells two integrated amps that would be the end all of stereo equipment, if space was at a premium, or people just wanted one single component that does almost everything separate components do. One is Solid Sate from Luxman and one is a tube unit from Rogue Audio. The Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum is made in the US and probably the best bang for the buck in high end audio!

PS Audio will have theirs, which will be sold directly from them and I’m sure it will sound good.

Stratospheric synergy

Most products we think of as integrateds are compromised. They’re typically collections of known technology cobbled together in one chassis and made to work as well together as is possible. And the key to today’s riff was those last few words, “made to work well together as is possible”.

Engineers get excited when they’re challenged to build a great standalone product. It’s their chance to shine, to show the world what they can do when given a specific task: a phono stage, a power amplifier, a preamplifier. The purpose of the product is clear.

Too often those charged with extracting the essence of separates to then bundle into a lower cost amalgam do so without excitement. Their goals are often centered around merely meeting expectations.

Not so at PS Audio. When our team set out to build Strata, we took a completely different tack. Strata represented a chance to put all that we know into a synergistic system. A chance to eliminate interconnection weaknesses and compromises—remembering the best one can hope for in an interconnect is to minimize damage. A chance to voice an entire system so that the sum of its parts exceeds any one function within it. A chance to control the user’s end-to-end experience.

It is a rare day when we get the chance to manage an entire system’s performance. Rare indeed since we cannot know if customers are mixing and matching our separates, nor have any say in how those separates are interconnected or powered.

Strata changes that dynamic for the better. A chance for PS Engineering to be judged not by the technologies or componentry within, but the end results when connected to headphones or speakers. A chance to put music first.

Look for further announcements late this month.


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

I am a user and dealer for Melco’s music servers and it took me years to take the plunge. Is it perfect? No, but it works seamlessly and is a one great sounding one box solution for storing my audio files, some 2200 CD’s ripped in WAV files, as well as playing them back. The custom Melco HD App lets you stream a couple of the Hi Resolution streaming services to it, such as Tidal and Qbuzz. The N1 ZH I use has a 3 TB drive and another 3TB drive inside the machine, so it automatically gives me a back-up drive. Very cool… Melco is distributed by Luxman USA and we are Luxman dealers, as well.

Meta and machines

Three years and thousands of hours into the development of our music server, Octave, and we’re still not finished. (But we’re getting close).

It’s not the hardware that’s hard it’s the software, though perhaps not the software you might be imagining. Octave’s software has been able to pull and play music from any source for several years now. And sound amazing. No, the hard part is teaching a machine to know what you know.

You know that John, Paul, George, and what’s his name are The Beatles and not the Beetles. But who are Beatles, The? Or Fab Four? And how does Billy Preston relate to Beatles? And for that matter, who is Lady Madonna? Is she a singer (there is a Madonna who is a lady) or a song?

Teaching machines how to know what we know is really, really hard. And when a machine gets it wrong we think it’s stupid. But, in reality, it’s neither stupid nor smart.

The real challenges of building a world-class music management system are found in sorting through the millions of bits of data that have been collected on just about every recording made. Matching up the right track with the correct artist is just the beginning. There are no set conventions for how data are organized and no authority to guard over misspellings and inaccuracies as we might expect in something like the Oxford Dictionary (and even this classic isn’t perfect).

We are getting close. Over the past weeks, we have been testing the system and sussing out the quirks: assigning fuzziness to the logic where decisions aren’t black and white and scoring our accuracy against the standards of today (we’re at about 92% which is pretty darned great).

Octave’s getting close.