Oct 02, 2023

Luxman’s Sleek New Turntable Is Our Favorite of 2023 (So Far)

Luxman is one of the oldest audio brands in the world. Two years shy of its centenary, the Japanese manufacturer excels at solid-state and digital electronics, while continuing to make exceptional vacuum-tube amplifiers, integrated amps, and turntables, burning the torch even during those dark decades when other companies—and many audiophiles—gave these time-honored technologies up for dead. But time, tastes, and trends have proven that perseverance pays off, and today, consumers have more turntables and vacuum-tube options to choose from than ever before in the history of the audio industry.

We’ve long been fans of Luxman turntables. Its PD-151 Mark II earned a place in the Robb Report 2023 Audio Awards as our best turntable, arm, and cartridge combination. While not inexpensive, it offers excellent value and a taste of state-of-the-art without diving headlong into the vinyl abyss.

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Now, vinyl lovers inclined to go further can up the ante with the new $12,495 Luxman PD-191A, which replaces the long-unavailable PD-171 as the brand's most ambitious turntable. While its appearance and dimensions are roughly similar to that of the PD-171, this belt-drive monolith spins all three record speeds (33 rpm, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm). Its predecessor eschewed 78 rpm, to the dismay of serious record collectors.

A reflected LED stroboscope and revised strobe markings on the underside of the nearly 1.5-inch-thick, 12-pound aluminum billet platter add enhanced visibility and allow precise pitch adjustments of all three speeds. Ensuring stable and silent rotation is a high-torque, brushless DC motor and high-capacity power supply, running the high-mass platter with a drive belt formulated for excellent resistance to aging.

The PD-191A combines a thick aluminum plinth with an underslung suspension to achieve maximum rigidity and damping, while the motor and power supply are mounted on a rigid bottom plate to isolate the tonearm and cartridge from transmitted vibration. Four height-adjustable insulator legs—with special damping rubber—further eliminate feedback and external vibration. And the repositioned motor and power supply allow the PD-191A to have a lower center of gravity than its predecessor, as well as being almost a half-inch lower in height. The rosewood-stained front panel, which is made of high-gloss-lacquered wood, offers a touch of tactile luxury and gives a nod to the craftsmanship and refined aesthetic that's a Japanese tradition.

Notable is the sophisticated tonearm developed jointly with SAEC, one of Japan's most respected tonearm manufacturers. "Serious" tonearms are complex and sophisticated devices—scientific measuring instruments, really—and a turntable the caliber of the PD-191A demanded the best.

RELATED: Robb Report Audio Awards 2023: The 40 Best Headphones, Earbuds, Speakers, Turntables, and More

Previous Luxman ‘tables feature arms made by Jelco, a decades-old Japanese manufacturer that, regrettably, closed its doors during the pandemic, and so the new LTA-710 static-balanced tonearm is a welcome inclusion. Utilizing knife-edge bearings, it's an original design requiring almost three years of development and presents an effective arm length of 10 inches (most arms are nine-inch designs). The additional length further reduces cartridge tracking error.

Owners wishing to use other arms, though, can choose from about a half-dozen interchangeable base plates, and a novel mounting base (accommodating 12-inch SME-mount arms) can be attached to the rear of the chassis for a flexible two-arm system. Add the optional acrylic dustcover and Luxman's $2,695 LMC-5 moving-coil cartridge for a complete vinyl-playback system that will satisfy even the most particular LP collector.

Click here for more photos of the Luxman PD-191A turntable.

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More from Robb Report Click here for more photos of the Luxman PD-191A turntable.