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Balanced or even-keeled went farther than tonally but also fit there. Acoustic guitars for example were rendered to perfection, leaning neither on string or wood. The D-05 grants equal weight to a friskily sudden attack and the woodily warm follow-up. Ditto for vocals. Compared to my HiFiAkademie Player, the Luxman was fuller and more sonorous. This actually pegged its as more neutral since I know that Hubert Reith’s machine (DSP module bypassed) is somewhat light in the bass. Even so the D-05 rendered female voices a tick more open and freely. Full and sonorous thus didn’t equal romantic haze and prettification just as open and freely didn’t mean hyper present. I really appreciated this high-wire act right through the very middle. Such a superbly balanced midband is rare.

Treble quantity was equally normal without roll-off or peakiness. A Fonel Simplicité by comparison was somewhat subdued while the HiFiAkademie machine equalled extension and energy but was less precise (and sells for less than half of what the Japanese demands). Still, the comparison had merit if only to learn what changes one encounters as one scales the high-end ladder.

It’s accurate to call the HiFiAkademie deck more finely dusted in the treble but by implication this also meant that the ring-out of cymbals fogged up a bit more. The Luxman remained more factual and its decays diminished without fraying around the edges. These small details remained resolute with less blur and shake. This also involved higher edge definition and more information on inner tone details. Sound textures were more finely resolved.

This doesn’t make Luxman’s D-05 into a resolution monster. Magnification power was high as it is with competing machines. A cross check with Audionet’s ca. €8.000 VIP G3 also showed how even more is possible. While the Luxman is flawless for its sticker if not spectacular, I really enjoyed its non-nervous ways in conjunction with that wide-open treble. For once relaxation didn’t equate to upper-end softness.

The same unhurried pace seemed like a side act to the aforementioned precision of edge definition. On Nubla’s Voayeur (relaxed though not boring e-Pop), the cut “Malquerida” with the D-05 retained its electrified sparks as an identifiable signature whereas other machine routinely treat them more casually grouped into little ‘clouds’. The D-05 banished all incertitude. While other listeners might feel less critical about knowing exactly where each sound originates, it does support the overriding calm or tranquility precisely because there’s nothing between individual sounds.

Unlike with the mid and upper bands, in the bass a tendency was identifiable. Bass and midbass sat at dead neutral but in the lowest octave one could expect a tick more. The Fonel for example rendered bass drums with more mass and authority and particularly Esoteric machines specialize in outright stoic infra bass. That proved beyond the Luxman not as a function of defined articulation but sheer quantity. To put this into perspective, certain speaker cables make a bigger difference on bass weight to leave this aspect quite relative to how one has voiced a system.

In lock step with the machine’s essentially balanced nature, the bass was semi sec. An Esoteric X-05 for example renders low synth bass more angular and there are other machines too which apply more grippiness to electric basses – or so much dryness to an upright as to turn it into an academic intellectual caricature and view anything round and fulsome as a lack of control. The Luxman simply avoids excess.

Ditto the parallel polarity of PraT/flow. While finely rhythmic, the Luxman won’t become a vitality injection for slightly lethargic systems. Decays were tracked very well which I view as prerequisite for musical flow. But decays weren’t ‘liquefied’ by artificially extending them. Some listeners might want more pep, others more flow. As I said, the D-05 isn’t for extremists. Or is it - for those chasing soundstaging holography at least? Yes/no. It’s no hyperbole to say that the Luxman presented a very transparent and properly sorted stage that was exceptionally well lit in the depths. However, it lacked the artificial undertones of holography. Sounds weren’t outlined by laser edges but round edges. This didn’t undermine precision but artifice. It’s a natural outcome of plasticity. Big words perhaps but this is the one outstanding virtue of this otherwise very balanced performer. Its talent for sonic embodiment is quite shocking particularly with vocalists. It’s a real gourmet quality that’s usually more the domain of good record players than digital decks.