Luxman and Magico

To say that I had good memories of the Luxman-Magico room at an earlier AXPONA would be an understatement. Two years ago, I heard Magico's phenomenal, $185,000 M6 speakers driven by two just-launched Luxman M-10X stereo amplifiers running in mono. The preamp was a Luxman C-900u. I wrote that "the sound pressure changes in the large room were felt more than heard, but they came as a package alongside top-notch dynamics, slam and impact." The combination made such a strong impression that I still occasionally thought and talked about it through the rest of 2022 and '23.

When I walked into the Prosperity room at AXPONA 2024, I told Luxman America’s Jeff Sigmund that I was looking forward to more fireworks at that elevated level, although I quietly had some doubts; this time, there were no Magico M6s; we had to content ourselves with a pair of S3s, 2023 edition ($45,500/pair). "I think we can get close," Sigmund assured me. He wasn’t overstating things.

The amplifiers were the same M-10Xs as before ($39,990 for the pair), but this time the preamp was a Luxman C-10X ($19,995). New products in the chain were an NT-07 streaming network transport ($7495) controlled by the dedicated Luxman Stream app—Roon Ready certification is coming soon, Luxman says—and an E-07 phono amplifier (price to be determined but estimated to be in the $6000 range). The E-07 replaces Luxman’s EQ-500, Sigmund said. The rest of the analog front end consisted of a Luxman PD-191A belt-driven turntable equipped with a LTA-710 tonearm system ($12,495 for the combo) and the company’s LMC-5 moving-coil cartridge ($2695) outfitted with a Shibata stylus. AudioQuest Dragon cables were used throughout.

The 2023 version of the 44"-tall Magico S3 is a three-way with a 1.1" diamond-coated beryllium-cone tweeter, a 5" midrange driver, and two 9" woofers formed of honeycomb aluminum cores sandwiched between layers of graphene and carbon fiber. I wrote about the speakers here.

The glossy reggae beats on the vinyl version of Grace Jones’s “Use Me” were a fantastic match for the combined Luxman-Magico house sound. There’s a luxurious, borderline decadent sheen to this recording, and you can hear the same thing in the sonics of the equipment. Although all the gear in the room was solid state, about 15% of Luxman’s US revenue comes from the sale of tubed components. This expertise with valves seems to carry over to the 99-year-old (!) Japanese company’s facility with transistor-based audio: Luxman products of either stripe tend toward a relaxed, liquid presentation.

This was still true when we switched from vinyl to streaming. Through the NT-07, the horn timbres on Gordon Goodwin’s “Hunting Wabbits” were on the nose. The two opening tracks from Peace Beyond Passion, Me’shell Ndegeocello’s magnum opus, swung, sizzled, and slammed, leaving no doubt that the synergetic Magico-Luxman combo could grab a groove and deliver it with sting and sophistication.