Luxman D-117 CD-player

The D-117 is Luxman's flagship Compact Disc player. As such, it employs four-times oversampling with a combination of digital and steep analog filtering (the latter fifth-order Butterworth), in conjunction with a laser-trimmed ladder-type digital-to-analog converter (DAC) credited with exceptional decoding accuracy. As in many current high-end products, care has been taken to avoid mechanical resonances or sources of vibrations, and the model is loaded with extra features.

Among these, we were struck immediately by the connection options. "Serial" jacks on the back panel permit chaining of Luxman components, which can then work off a whole-system remote control. For signal routing, there are five output options. Two are digital-via optical or electrical (pin-jack) back-panel connectors-and are intended to supply a direct link between the digital output of the CD and an outboard DAC like that built into the Luxman LV-117 integrated amp. The other three outputs are analog: the back-panel fixed-level pin jacks, the front-panel variable-level pin jacks, and the headphone jack.

The output level control for the headphone jack also affects the variable line output. Next to it is a switch to turn on the digital outputs. Another button near the drawer open/close switch steps through four time-display modes: elapsed or remaining time within the current track, and elapsed or remaining time within the entire disc or programmed sequence.

The programming buttons (including check and clear) are next, followed by one for repeat and another that sets the start and stop points for A-B segment repeats. Then there's a-scan (intro-scan), which samples the first ten seconds of each track in turn-either on the whole disc or in a programmed sequence. The mechanical controls, at the right, comprise all the usual options, including bi-directional scan with two speeds (depending on whether you're in play or pause) plus bidirectional index-point steppers (which also require that you be in play or pause).

The cueing keypad, above the mechanical controls, has ten buttons numbered 1-10 plus one marked "+10" that advances the tens digit. You can thus select any track number up to the CD maximum of 99. The display panel contains numbers that illuminate to show how many tracks are on the disc (up to 20). When you program a sequence, each track's number is surrounded by a red box; the number disappears as the track is played. You can program as many as 16 selections, counting repeats.

All of these controls except the power switch, the headphone level adjustment, and the digital-output switch-and even the drawer open/close-are duplicated on the supplied RD-109 remote. The remote also has one very nice feature missing from the main panel: a single-play option that stops the player at the end of the current track-or recycles to the beginning of that track when the player is in the repeat mode.

Diversified Science Laboratories found the frequency response to be exceptionally flat out to 20 kHz, despite a slight rise at the extreme top when de-emphasis is required. Some treble ripple, attributable to the analog filtering, is detectable in the lab's response traces, but it is so small in amplitude as to be altogether negligible. Ringing in the square-wave and pulse traces also is well damped and nearly symmetrical, reflecting the role of the digital filtration.

The remaining bench-test data are similarly excellent with the sole exception of those for linearity, which suggest that one digital bit is incorrectly converted. In other respects, however, the D-117's performance is on or above par. Suffice it to say that, in our listening tests, we were unable to spot any audible effect that could be associated with the linearity measurements.

In fact, the listening experience with the D-117 was excellent, thanks in part to the variety and utility of its many features. In that respect, we have only one reservation. When we program several contiguous tracks (say, to play a portion of an opera act), playback is not seamless. The breaks last barely one second and might not be noticed between movements of a symphony or concerto but are disturbing in continuous music.

Playing a CD that is a succession of independent selections-such as all manner of pop music-obviates this as a material consideration and qualifies the D-117 as among the most enjoyable of CD players: logical, capable, handsome, and sonically impressive. The comprehensive controls on the remote contribute significantly to that evaluation, as does the intuitive front-panel design.

Luxman D-117 CD-player photo