To set the record straight...

turntables, tonearms, tuners, open-reel & K7 recorders...

To set the record straight...

Postby Axel » Mon May 09, 2011 9:52 am

As japanese high-end hi-fi is gradually dwindling to not much, brands and new owners of old brands try to bank on the past. As japanese do not like to recollect much, this could be seen as a last desperate step before complete disparition :)

Denon and Luxman recently made such efforts and a lot of people talk about them - quite a "buzz" in fact.
However, outrageous pricetags cannot hide reality :

Denon DP-A100
Interviews on the japanese website ( teach us that the DP-80 was "the first AC Servo direct-drive with pulse magnetic field detection for professional use" and that it was "universally used by radio stations".
Apparently, the current product planners and marketing lads don't know their brand's own history - difficult to accept for a 100th anniversary product !
Or they try to avoid remembering successful past competitors who, luckily, do not exist anymore - Technics that is.

Nevertheless, the 2500€ DP-A100 is nothing more than a relooked DP-1300M (Taiwan/China-built on a... Technics rotor/platter base :) (or an Onkyo CP-1050) with a whatever/wherever tonearm sourced from any of the later Technics rippers or the myriad of OEM makers and users such as Vestax or whoever built the Marantz DJ-2550 (a plasticky ripoff of the SL-1200 made in China) or such strange items as this one
The DP-A100 can have a taller plinth, a deep black finish, it can come with its own 100th anniversary certifcate signed with diamond-coated ink by Ryo Okazeri himself and even five-year warranty,
the DP-A100 still is nothing more than a cheap DP-1300M produced before the D&M purchase of Denon, a model which, btw, Nippon Columbia/Denon also sold to Pioneer as PL-PM2000.

(The same applies to the 220k¥ PMA-A100 integrated (2010) which is a 170k¥ PMA-2000SE (2009) in shiny black face ; 50k¥ for the color change - wow !)

Luxman PD-171
Luxman changed hands recently (again) but the new management seems to take the same route as any of the previous ones : plenty of lineups pointed at all possible directions, with limited distributions outlets and very limited brand visibility for the past 20 years.
Enter the 5000$ PD-171 which looks very pretty with its thick top plate reminiscent of several early 1970s Yamaha.
See the unboxing of one here :

Naturally, the 171 is not built by Luxman per se as Lux has no factories of its own since ages... It is assembled by a "Fukusima D" which I've never seen anywhere else... And it is an obvious re-make of any of the early 1980s TTs Micro Seiki built for Lux like the very successful PD-300 series.

And it has an added low-end Jelco SA-250 300$ tonearm, the lowest you can get from them and an old 1977 design which one can see on the Marantz Model 6370Q for instance !
A tonearm also available throughout the 1980s under the CEC name with a straight wand (CST-901, as used in the 1989 ST930 'table) or Feickert (DFA-90) or Hino Audio (HA-937) or Bell Dream (TA-0919) or Koetsu (SA-1100D) or Victor (QL-V1) or in ever-marketing-efficient Sumiko guises or at Ortofon in its TA-110 (9") and TA-210 ("12) which are all rebadged Jelco SA-250. And looking at the exploded drawings of both, it is clear the 3000$ AS- and RS-309S also are basically an SA-250E !
Remember all of these Jelcos have 30mg [H] and 20mg [V] friction ratios - crazy numbers which should be compared to a Technics EPA-100 for instance (5mg) or Yamaha's YSA-1 of the GT-2000 series (7mg) !
Any Sony PUA-1500 or 1600 would pan these thingies, direct and unequivocably.

(Jelco :

However, reading the "elements of language" everybody quotes, the PD-171 evidently is an absolute must-have :

"Its high output electronics offer impressive dynamics and resolution."
"A high torque synchronous AC motor drives a high inertia platter via a synthetic belt for smooth, seamless playback."
"The precision-machined spindle rests on a wide Teflon bearing to ensure frictionless rotation."
"The PD-171's statically-balanced custom Luxman tonearm glides smoothly on ball bearings for stable and reliable sound."
"The universal headshell allows easy cartridge replacement,"
"and a detachable stylus light unobtrusively enhances visibility in a mood-lit room."

Smooth and seamless playback, frictionless rotation, stable and reliable sound, easy cartridge replacement - I find the same in every low-end 1972 Kenwood KP or 1979 Sony PS-X catalog. And Micro was using Teflon bearings way back in '75 already. Mechanically or electronically, there is nothing here that justifies such a list-price. But maybe the price of teflon and milled aluminium have risen like mad ?

I for one am happy turntables are produced again but are these basic revamps worth 2500€ or 4500€ ?
By the marketing ballyhoo in play : it seems to be !
By the hardware displayed : certainly not , to say the very least.

If old and respected japanese brands try to come back with the very tools which plague so much of the contemporary european and american high-end brands and products, the writing is definitely on the wall.
I'll avoid going into the happy mood so many websites and mag' reviewers write about these products : mere variations of the press releases.

Actual sales will tell but with such overblown prices... Marantz was actually more honest in pricing its Taiwan-made TT-8001 at 125k¥ because TT-8001 = Pioneer PL-PM2000 = DP-1300M = DP-A100 = etc :)

Making rebadges isn't the problem here but selling rebadges at full-development prices is.

Luxman wisely started production of a PD-171 sans crappy Jelco tonearm in november 2013. It's the "PD-171AL", as in ArmLess.
The cost of it is 395,000¥, vs. the 415,000¥ of the original PD-171 ; this very slight price difference tells how much the Jelco arm did cost in the bundle :)
Especially since the price of the Jelco-bundled 171 has been in the meantime cut down to... 395,000¥. More transparent than this, you die.

This AL version is delivered with a blank armboard (OPPD-AB6) and four pre-drilled boards can be optionally purchased (OPPD-AB1 > 4) covering the most popular tonearms in Japan (SME 3009R/3010R, SAEC WE308 series and Fidelity Research FR64 series) and one other, OPPD-AB5, added for the old Ortofon AS-212S / RS-212D (which were both, you guessed it... JELCOs in disguise !).
These armboards are made of milled aluminium and cost 25,000¥, or 20,000¥ for a spare blank, should you wish to not follow the usual and the standard.

It is a good thing Lux decided to get rid of that sub-par arm, sub-par on a 400k¥ object that is, but is the brand selling many PD-171s ? Not really and apparently very few. At 6400$ (2013 list price), there's a limit to BS.
And maybe the price of teflon and milled aluminium have risen like mad indeed.
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Re: To set the record straight...

Postby theophile » Thu May 12, 2011 8:49 pm

No-one expects these companies to make new tooling for limited release turntables in a Digital Age.One would however hope that they could give us more than products which are all style- no substance.

I predicted that many audio companies would go under during this Global Financial Crisis.The fall-out will continue.It would be hard-going for all aspects of the audio industry.
TT - Yamaha GT 2000
Cart - Soundsmith 'The Voice' Ebony
Phono - Moon LP 5.3
Pre - Hornshoppe The Truth
KRK Expose E8B Studio Monitors

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