Luxman has an interesting history that has included ownership changes, and diversions in product direction that leave some of their high fidelity components much more memorable than others. The tuners I’ve looked at from this company, of which this is the first, are from a classic post-tube, solid state period, of which the T-110U is a fine minimalist, FM-only, example. It also has an art deco design flair that is unique, even among Luxman tuners. And the Rosewood veneer case has been restored to as close to its lustrous beginnings as possible, with the veneer grain continuous from side to side.
The front panel has, from left to right, a Power button, Mono and Muting Off beside, and the stereo indicator (which works) towards centre, with beneath it behind the glass, Signal Strength and Tuning meters just above the long well-lit dial. One light at left may be out, but illumination is excellent. The tuning knob is at right, and action is silky smooth and flywheel assisted, the pointer illuminated in red.
The rear panel has spring clip and coaxial 75-ohm connections, with spring clip 300-ohm also at left, with both adjustable and fixed audio outputs to the right. Scope outputs are seen towards centre, along with an output intended for outboard decoders, the 25/75-microsecond switch designed to work with Dolby. There is also an antenna attenuator switch designed for extreme urban use.
This was a pretty extreme design for 1975, too, but built so well as a flagship model that our sample functioned like new. Of course, it’s had a thorough cleaning and alignment. The fmtunerinfo.com site describes the T-110U as, “one of Luxman’s milestone tuners”, and contributor Mark goes on to say, “The T-110 is the best FM I’ve ever heard. In [my] area, sensitivity and selectivity are non-issues, and the T-110 locks on and sounds great…Music and voice sound great on the T-110″.
It has 5 tuning gangs and linear pole ceramic filters, and also seems to have some automatic IF narrowing to improve its selectivity, and in our Audio Ideas tests, I was surprised by its ability to pluck close-together stations out of the ether, rather like the classic Sonys, such as the ST-5130. On our high 75-ohm yagi antenna 53 stations were received in less-than-average conditions in mid-September, while the omni double dipole lower on the tower brought in 54 signals. The latter antenna also brought in more clean stereo signals, indicating a pretty good capture ratio and ability to reject multipath. Dial calibration was very accurate, and tuning smooth and silky.
Sonically, the T-110U stands out from the crowd, with solid bass and a very sweet treble, making it a perfect match for the best Luxman solid state amplifiers of the period, which were way ahead of their time. It compared well with our much more expensive reference, just lacking that in-studio quality, but better and warmer sounding than most analog tuners, and much better than any digital tuner I’ve ever heard, except, of course, the Luxman T-02 in our next review.
The Luxman T-110U is not a “blast from the past” so much as a welcome breath of fresh air that will show you which stations in your area broadcast the best signals. It is a very good choice for avid recordists who want to listen again and again to concerts from such sources as NPR, CBC Radio 2, or the few great jazz stations still out there.
Table of contents for The AIG FM Tuner Project
Related Reviews:The AIG FM Tuner Project: The Luxman T-02 Digital Tuner
Audio Ideas: Some Year End Thoughts from Andrew Marshall
The AIG FM Tuner Project: Hitachi FT-4000
The AIG FM Tuner Project: The Classic Accuphase T-100
The AIG FM Tuner Project: Budget Sony 5000 Series
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