The Class A amplification circuit was invented and patented over 100 years ago, but it is still in use today. Its main advantage is a low level of distortion of the audio signal supplied to the speakers, and a list of shortcomings can take up half a page of text. It is also believed that it is simple, but this cannot be said when you see the Luxman L-590AXII in a solid case and weighing 28.5 kg.
Luxman has been developing and manufacturing amplifiers, both semiconductor and tube, since 1961 – since the first Japanese integrated amplifier entered the market. All the experience gained over the years is embodied in the flagship model L-590AXII, which operates in the same class A with a fully balanced circuit topology, but outputs to the speakers not typical units of watts for this technology, but quite solid 30 watts (8 ohms) per channel … Its previous version, the L-590AX, was released 10 years ago; this is a long time in our fast-moving time, but outwardly it has not changed at all, and its equipment has remained the same: it accepts only analog signals as inputs, including those from vinyl players.
Some modifications were made inside. In particular, for the first time in the Luxman integrated amplifier (previously only in the top-end C-900u preamplifier), the LEGUA 1000 precision attenuator with electronic control is used, providing accurate and smooth 88-step volume control without noticeable signal degradation. Its layout minimizes signal paths and provides vibration resistance.
Radiators occupy a significant part of the design, because they need to provide heat removal, into which the main part of the 310 W power consumption goes. To make it easier for them to work, you should provide free air access to the amplifier.
Also, the L-590AXII uses the proprietary ODNF4.0 (Only Distortion Negative Feedback) technology of the fourth generation. Its essence is the use of negative feedback to eliminate noise and harmonic distortion in the amplifier circuits without compromising sound quality.
The power supply uses a large power transformer with an E-shaped core and a thicker primary wire, as well as eight buffer capacitors of 10,000 uF each, rather than four as in the previous version. Bipolar transistors are installed at the output, and the circuit in this section has been modernized in such a way that the dumping factor became equal to 320, and not 240, as in the L-590AX, which should contribute to more energetic reproduction.
Signal paths in the amplifier are shortened as much as possible, and high purity oxygen-free copper is used as a conductor. The rugged, well thought-out chassis design eliminates an increase in grounding resistance, and the cast iron feet on which the chassis is mounted prevent vibration propagation.
Integrated high-end amplifiers usually do without a tone block. On the Luxman L-590AXII, it can be disabled using the Line Straight button on the front panel or on the remote control.
From an amplifier operating in a pure class A, you expect something unusual, wonderful – after all, it’s not for nothing that music lovers have put up with the shortcomings of this technology for a hundred years, while many others, more effective, have been invented and widely used. And, I must say, Luxman L-590AXII did not disappoint our hopes for a special listening pleasure.
Of course, for this it was important not to be mistaken with the selection of the remaining components of the system, since it only promises to amplify the audio signal very accurately and without distortion, but by no means improve it. After going through several sources, including those related to the High-End class, we settled on a relatively inexpensive DAC ADI-2 DAC FS from the German company RME, which has been developing and manufacturing digital audio equipment for professional use since 1996. It transformed the stream coming from the USB output of a specialized computer equipped with the Roon Core software product. Thus, the Roon network player was used. It cannot be said that Luxman L-590AXII is capricious in relation to the source, it is just that it is honest and does not intend to obscure any nuances, and we liked this option the most during the testing period.
On the other side of the audio path, there are large Revel F-52 floor speakers, which the amplifier coped with quite successfully, while providing a high volume level in a large showroom.
Two XLR inputs, the ability to connect two pairs of speakers or one in a bi-cable scheme, a loop for recording and monitoring, a preamp output and an input to the power amplifier, an input to an MM / MC phono amplifier and four more RCA inputs – a comprehensive set of analog connections …
Extremely elaborate sound
The sound of the amplifier can be characterized as balanced, detailed, energetic and emotional, that is, it is endowed with that set of properties, from the presence of which one can start talking about its high quality. To this list should be added the amazing ability of the L-590AXII to convey in all details and nuances every melodic line, while combining them into a large-scale and colorful canvas. Rhythmic structures are also subject to him, as well as rapid changes in dynamics or sharp attacks. For all the informational content, the sound cannot be called monotonous or boring, since the subtle variability of the dynamics contributes to the high expressiveness of the presentation of dramatic, sensory material.
We did not notice any genre preferences, but I would like to note the fantastic presentation of “atmospheric” compositions, such as Koto Song from the album of Dave Brubeck’s quartet Concord On A Summer Night . This very night with the chirping of cicadas and warm air fills the space of a huge stage, languid music is gentle and refined, the voice of each instrument is rich in timbre, their images are vividly focused on the stage. Percussion is light, volatile, sparkling; the grand piano and saxophone take turns animating the midrange, while the double bass takes you deep down while remaining textured and controlled.
The sound of rain and the thunder of a distant thunderstorm mixed with the melodies of a few instruments and vocals begins the composition The Globalist of the Muse group with an equally naturalistic recreation of the sound of rain and thunder . All the more striking is the contrast with the rhythmic, tense and multifaceted middle part of the song, in which the amplifier manages not to lose sight of a single element and to present many details that have previously escaped attention, including in the deep bass foundation of this entire grandiose musical construction.
With the Luxman L-590AXII, listening to a variety of songs is a lot of fun. With You’re My Thrill, the image of Ella Fitzgerald clearly appears in front of you, her voice is perfectly articulated, the instruments are present right there in the showroom. A beautiful emotional song easily takes the soul, and the light hiss of the old record is so organic and unobtrusive that it does not interfere, but only adds a retro scent that is fashionable today.
It is also present when playing the Highway Star of the Deep Purple group, but it is expressed not in overtones, but in the timbres of the instruments, their arrangement on the stage, and a rapid but even rhythm.
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony performed by the orchestra under the direction of T. Currentzis made a strong impression with its fast and emotional presentation, as well as a very clear study of a large-scale stage endowed with perspective and reliable, lively voices of instruments. And by the way, it was with the source described above that it adequately presented that drive (perhaps it was not planned by the composer) that distinguishes this modern interpretation of the great work. With other of the options we tested, it was not enough, and this suggests that the L-590AXII needs quite energetic partners.
The wide remote control in a metal case looks solid. And it is very convenient to use it.
If you prefer that every nuance was registered in the music being played, but at the same time its emotional component was not left out, then the Luxman L-590AXII is able to provide just such listening. Lovers of pressure and drive will also not be disappointed with the proper selection of the rest of the system components: let the speakers be sensitive and easy to lift, and let the source be energetic. At the same time, it is better to avoid devices that have any flaws in the sound – the amplifier will not hide them.