Luxman DU-50 Universal Player

March 7, 2011

John Marks has posted a review of the Luxman DU-50 universal player ($4990) at Stereophile. His conclusions:

I think the L505u integrated amplifier is a screaming bargain. The situation with the more expensive DU-50 is perhaps not as clear-cut. I think it's fairly priced. The real questions are these: How much of the functionality you're paying for will you end up using? How future-proof is it? If all you're going to do with a DU-50 is play "Red Book" CDs, I think the $1500 or so of its $4990 list price that I'd roughly allocate to its ability to play DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, and SACD discs would be wasted—as nice as the Fluency DAC is.

However, when I played a great SACD such as Gretchaninov's Passion Week, using the DU-50's balanced outputs into the L505u's balanced inputs, it really sounded more like a million bucks than nearly $5000. But the lurking serpent wants to ask whether the tattered remnants of the classical-music recording business will move in the direction of putting hi-rez music on Blu-ray discs.

I hope not. We've confused poor music-loving consumers enough. As I've said before, the optimal hi-rez music-delivery format that should have been but was blocked by the major labels is 24-bit/96kHz stereo PCM on plain old DVD-Video discs. Stereo audio DVD-Vs at 24/96 would have played just fine on the millions of vanilla DVD-V players already in peoples' homes. Instead, what we have today is a "return of the repressed" fully worthy of Sigmund Freud's leather couch: 24/96 stereo PCM as downloads (or, in a few cases, delivered on physical media) becoming the de facto hi-rez standard, with even SACD stalwarts such as Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi selling hi-rez PCM versions of their SACD releases through

The small amount of 24/96 material on DVD-V or DVD-A I had handy sounded magnificent through the Luxman DU-50. I played the same recordings for Bob Saglio, first on "Red Book" CD and then on 24/96 DVD. His comment: "To quote Bud Fried, it's like taking the cotton out of your ears." So let's not mess it up this time.

You can read the full review here.