Luxman PD-151 MARK II Record Player Page 2

Willy DeVille is probably best known for his late '70s, early '80s band Mink DeVille, but it's his debut solo album Miracle (A&M SP 5177) that floats my boat. Recorded in England by Mark Knopfler and an all-star cast, the album sounds a bit like Dire Straits if they had made an album of bluesy American rock. One standout track is "Assassin of Love," which, through the MkII with the LMC-5 cartridge installed, sounded tonally vivid and three-dimensional with a soundstage that was wide and deep but tidy. Willy's voice was right up front and center, far more dynamic than a typical rock vocal track. The MkII kept everything sounding smooth and clear.

Ray Brown's Soular Energy (Concord Jazz CJ-278) is one of those jazz albums that sounds impressive on just about any system. Perhaps for that reason, I find it to be a good benchmark. Ray's definitely the boss here; every twang, pluck, and thwack on his stand-up bass will get your speakers pumping. Comparing the MkII to the vastly more expensive SME Model 30/2A may seem unfair, but it allowed me to zero in on the differences. The Luxman couldn't quite match the tautness and bottom end slam of the big SME, but it more than held its own in most other areas.

As a kid, I spent many years living in England, which may explain why I have such a fondness for the Lyrita Recorded Edition label and their deep dives into more obscure 20th century English music. One of my favorites is Walter Leigh's Concertino for Harsichord and String Orchestra (Lyrita SRCS 126), which juxtaposes harpsichord, which by 1936 (when the piece was composed) was pretty much forgotten, with a thoroughly modern (circa 1936) compositional setting.

Sonically, this record provides a rich contrast in tonal textures, the sharp bite of Trevor Pinnock's harpsichord set against the lush sweep of the London Philharmonic Orchestra's strings. In contrast to baroque harpsichord music, Leigh's composition calls for plenty of sustained chords, which can be a torture test for a turntable's speed stability. On the PD-151, the chords never wavered and were always perfectly in tune, while the transient attack of the harpsichord was clean, clear, and fast, never becoming etched or edgy.

Between the two cartridges, I found that the Ortofon's slightly lean bass best suited the Luxman's character, while the richer sounding LMC-5 provided a more relaxed presentation, with a little added bloom around the string players' pizzicato.

Summing up
There's a funny New Yorker cartoon by Alex Gregory in which a man is showing his friend his vinyl-based stereo and says, "The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience." If that's how you feel, the PD-151 MK II may not be the right turntable for you. Turntables can be a bit diva-like, sounding off some days and demanding attention and tweaking. The PD-151 MK II is the opposite of that. And while it isn't exactly cheap, it's affordable by current hi-fi standards, and it is convenient and easy to live with. Once you have it set up and dialed in, you can expect it to be about as unfussy and long-lasting as turntables come. It just plays your records superbly, without fuss, bother, or artificial pizzazz. It looks beautiful, feels beautiful, and is beautifully made; but most importantly, it also sounds beautiful.

Luxman Corporation
1-3-1 Shinyokohama
Kouhoku-ku, Yokohama-shi
Kanagawa 222-0033, Japan
(518) 261-6464

volvic's picture

A terrific read from Mike and I think, nailed the capabilities of this player in his write-up. That said, I think it is very unfortunate that Luxman stopped making the magnificent PD-171AL, what a terrific turntable that was.