I didn’t expect Luxman to be part of such a big exhibit room at High End 2019. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been using the superb Luxman LX-380 integrated amplifier in my reference system for the last few months and I equate its performance with intimacy, ease and midrange immediacy that can only be produced by relatively low-powered tube amplification. The big Ascendo loudspeakers in the room had a slightly different idea. These large, German-made speakers are powerful and dynamic–especially the large “Bauhaus-designed” active Live 15 models that are powered by amps that have 1650 watts per channel!
The Luxman/Ascendo room, assisted by the always impressive power management from Isotek, created quite a party atmosphere in the room–and not just because of the nearly constant and sometimes overwhelming High End 2019 crowds. I marveled at the sheer oomph of a presentation that mixed brute power, an unbelievably low noise floor and the sweet tubey goodness of a wide variety of Luxman amps. A full complement of the current line of Luxman turntables completed the illusion of a big bash straight out of the ’70s–albeit one with a modern and clean high-end audio sound.
The Ascendo Live 15 (starting at 25,000 euros) was particularly impressive with its point-source drivers, ones that also glowed with colored LED ambient lighting set deeply into the big cones. These speakers also include features such as DSP processing, analog and digital inputs and a switchable mode that allows the 15s to be used both for two-channel audio and home theater. Ascendo likes to describe the Live 15 system as “the alternative to a live concert,” and they proved it at High End 2019.
I’ve been on quite the Luxman kick lately, especially when it comes to these turntables they’re currently offering. The PD-171A ($6995) and the PD-151 ($3895) always create a compelling analog sound, one that really impresses me, and I’m eager to give one of these models a spin as soon as I can. With the help of Ascendo and Isotek, Luxman created a completely different type of sound, one that is still refined but able to truly rock the house–if that’s your desire.