Luxman B-1000F monoblock power amplifier Page 2
This solidity and jump factor remained constant throughout my audition of the Luxmans. The amps' stability and solidity of imaging, and natural dynamic ease never failed to impress me. Take, for example, "Lover You Should Have Come Over," from Jeff Buckley's Grace (CD, Columbia CK 57528). The song begins softly, with acoustic guitar and Buckley gently singing, but as it continues and Buckley's band comes in behind him, his singing gains urgency and grandeur. The Luxman revealed all of this without adding weight to Buckley's ethereal voice. More important, as each layer of instrumental and vocal backing was added, the sound simply became fuller, with no diminution of depth or spacejust as live music does.
And no, in the several thousand previous listenings I'd devoted to this track, I don't think I'd ever noticed just how solid and startling Matt Johnson's drumming is.
As a longtime fan of both Peter Gabriel and the Kinks, I love, love, love Gabriel's cover of "Waterloo Sunset," on the Special Edition of his Scratch My Back CD (Real World 1). Yes, Scratch My Back's concept is sort of a schtick, but it's a wonderful schtick to be hit with: Gabriel singing an album's worth of cover tunes, backed by a real orchestra. Again, the B-1000Fs did a superb job of capturing his thin reed of a voice, but what was truly impressive was how much depth and clarity they gave both the large studio acoustic and individual instrumental timbres. No Sturm und Drang here, justjust?palpably lifelike sound.
When I want to pull out all the stops (literally, given Don Pullen's inspired Hammond B-3 playing), I put on David Murray's Shakill's Warrior (CD, DIY/Columbia CK 48963). Most of the album is fairly restrained, but "At the Café Central" has both Murray and Pullen blowing full forceand in Murray's case, that's a lot of wind. Murray racks up solo after solo, taking his tenor sax from its lowest notes into cascades of overblown sound that few other saxophonists have even attempted. Pullen matches him with sheets of sound that might easily have shredded his Leslie unit's drivers.
Such tracks were what the B-1000F was created forit delivered Murray and Pullen with phenomenal intensity. Recorded saxophone frequently lacks the physical impact of the instrument heard live, but with the Luxmans, Murray was not only in my room, he was possibly too darn close. The B-1000Fs also revealed that, in certain hands, the combo of Hammond B-3 and Leslie speaker is almost as much a percussion instrument as an amplified keyboard.
And even at intense loudness levels, the Luxmans never left cruising mode. These amps were pretty much unflappable.
The luxury of choice
I had on hand a pair of Parasound Halo JC 1s, and as they're among the best solid-state monoblocks I've heard, I thought they'd make a good point of comparison for the Luxman B-1000Fsand, at $8000/pair, a bit of a reality check.
With Jeff Buckley's "Lover You Should Have Come Over," the Parasounds had the bass delivery I remembered (Mikey Fremer called it "jaw-dropping"), along with lots of air and, yes, grace. But I "saw" deeper into the soundstage with the Luxmans, and Matt Johnson's drums remained startlingly present. The differences weren't immense, but they were audibleand dayum, I really had wanted to rate the Parasounds as equal to the high-priced spread. No dice.
I thought the JC 1s smoothed out Peter Gabriel's voice a tad in "Waterloo Sunset." The B-1000Fs put more longing and vulnerability there. Longing? Vulnerability? What kind of audio terms are those? They ain't; they're musical values, and the B-1000Fs delivered them in spades.
The differences were even less subtle with David Murray's "At the Café Central." Good as the Parasounds are at delivering impact and drive, the Luxmans did it better, and sounded deeper, richer, and more vivid while doing so.
Lest it sound as if I've fallen out of love with the Halo JC 1s, they're still my go-to amplifiersand they, at least, I can afford. However, the Luxman B-1000Fs did everything the Halos didbackward and in high heels.
It is impossible to overdo luxury
Like most audiophiles on a budget, I'm always looking for the best sound for the dollar I can find. But when confronted with a component that is clearly superior, it would be foolish for me to deny the fact simply because I can't afford it. The Luxman B-1000F is clearly a superior component, possibly the finest amplifier I have ever auditioned.
Is it worth $55,000/pair? Define worth. In its construction, design, and meticulous attention to the smallest detail, no one could mistake the B-1000F for a bargain. But it's hand-built and beautiful, and is the best there is at what it doesand what it does is pretty. Pretty amazing.