Stereophile comments on the Luxman SQ-38u - "Let's not beat around the bush: this is what an amplifier is supposed to look like."
Sixmoons reviews the SQ-38u - "For what it is and wants to be, it's a real winner. Its only competition is probably an Audiomat (you'd lose most the features) or Leben (no phono). Considering, perhaps Luxman's exact combination of features, performance and price really is exclusive? I think it might be indeed."
Luxman's retro-styled SQ-38u is the 11th installment of a now 30wpc EL34 push/pull integrated with auto bias and a classic Ultralinear Mullard circuit. The company first introduced the SQ-38u in 1963. Now the firm's current president Kazuyuki Doi has reinvented it for 2011. It includes a 2-stage PK-NF type MM/MC-hi/MC-lo phono stage with MM step up transformer and defeatable 30Hz rumble filter. There are tone and balance controls. There's a headphone output, rec/monitor loop and remote control for volume/mute. There is also a very clever front panel switched pre-out/main-in loop that avoids sound-degrading metal jumpers.
"...Sunken living rooms with deep shag carpeting, real wood and leather furniture, large modernist paintings, nelson bubble lamps, and cocktails shaken, not stirred...
Like Sansui audio or Seiko watches of the 70's, Luxman has a look that has remained (or maybe even, set the standard of) a clean classic integrated style that takes us back, in a good way, some four decades. And has plenty of quality and care under the hood to always entertain and be relevant juxtaposed to the modern children. Brushed and polished aluminum bits, lots of knobs, lots of face plate (negative space), and slotted toggles, sooooo clean, sooooo classic..."
A Full 16mm MDF-with-wood-veneer casing nostalgia extends to back-panel provisions for two pairs of speakers. The speaker off, A, B and A+B scheme is truly vintage. Ditto the mono switch and two auxiliary power sockets. In a similar spirit, a 5 x ECC83 and 2 x ECC82 all-tube preamplification stage with phono transcends the passive pot+power amp concept which many modern integrated amps have embraced. The SQ-38 is a real vacuum tube preamplifier and power amp in a single 20kg chassis. Taking advantage of modern parts, input switching between phono and four line-level sources is accomplished by nitrogen-encapsulated relays for long life. The Luxman signature power LED ring from its famous 38 Series components is a tasteful yellow as is the volume indicator.
The tone controls are entirely different from the grotesque sizzlers and boomers of cheap receivers. Engaging them and listening instantly proves that these gentle controls are far more useful and less damaging to overall tonal balance than the sort which eventually got them all banned for life from the high end.