Review: Luxman PD-284 Turntable

Category: Analog

It’s true that, in general, belt drive yields better sound quality than direct drive. But it’s equally true that not all direct drive turntables are bad. Direct drive got a bad rap thanks in large part to all the cheap plastic junk foisted upon unsuspecting audio buyers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Not everyone took that cut-rate approach. Technics could usually be counted on to deliver a quality table, if not a great tonearm. Kenwood made a number of good direct drive models that were often coupled with SME tonearms to surprising effect. And of course, Denon built -- and still builds -- gorgeous turntables of mid-fi quality. My DP-47F was worth every penny of its $650 price, and I wish I still had it today.

Then there’s Luxman. During vinyl’s heyday, the company marketed products ranging from entry-level hi-fi receivers to expensive, uncompromising tube and hybrid separates. Luxman tables had vacuum hold-down on some models, and many came armless, to be fitted most often with Grace and SME arms. But even the lowliest models offered above-average performance and style.

Case in point: my PD284 from 1985. It’s lightweight but well built. The arm is delicate but confidence inspiring. Arm height is not adjustable, but azimuth is. The platter is deep and heavy and topped with a thick rubber mat. All in all, it’s a great looking piece that promises an above-average listening experience.

And it delivers. The PD284 makes a full-bodied presentation with relatively deep bass using a wide range of budget cartridges. Timing is good, and while it’s not exactly a ‘pacy’ deck like a Rega or Linn, it doesn’t have the dull, one-dimensional sound of a mass-market, plastic piece o’ crap.

It’s also not grating. Many direct drive units tend to exaggerate tics, pops and scratches. The Luxman doesn’t. It’s easy to concentrate on the music, even using a fairly modest cartridge like the Grado Prestige Black (though I got the best results with high-output moving coils).

There’s really nothing modern to compare the Luxman to, except maybe the latest version of Techincs’ venerable SL1200. The new Denon DP-500M, at around $700, is probably the closest match (manual start, big platter, nice cosmetics—just like the Luxman) but I haven’t yet heard it. According to my dealer, they’re selling like hotcakes.

The closest I can get is my Denon DP-47F. Going by memory, it offered a leaner sound than the Luxman but more detail, whether paired with a Grado Prestige Green, Benz Micro MC20E2 or Audio-Technica 440ML. Considering the price difference, though—$650 for the Denon versus $390 for the Luxman if you adjust its original price for inflation—that’s about what you’d expect.

But I vastly prefer the Luxman to something like the Music Hall MMF-2.1. Though they’re worlds apart philosophically, a used Luxman makes a nice alterantive to a $299 Music Hall. Again going by memory, I found the Music Hall sounded a bit ‘canned’ due in part to its Goldring Elan cartridge. But find a clean Luxman, add a $100 Audio-Technica 440ML, and I can about guarantee that the result will at least equal the performance of an MMF-2.1, or more likely, exceed it by a good margin.

If you’re in the market for a Luxman, I can offer the following advice:

#1: Check the tonearm wiring carefully and look over the cartridge clips. The wiring in my tonearm is very delicate and the connections at the cartridge end can get a bit tenuous. I re-terminated mine with Cardas clips not long ago and the connection -- as well as the sound -- is much improved.

#2: Check to see the auto lift-up works. If it doesn’t, be sure it’s not disengaged. There’s a little switch on the underside that allows you to turn it off if it offends. This is an electronic turntable, and as such, it’s not easy to fix. (The auto lift uses an optical sensor that triggers the actual mechanism.) On the other hand, a broken auto lift mechanism could mean a nice discount on an otherwise perfect ‘table.

#3: Check for speed accuracy and stability using the built-in strobe. It’s accurate enough.

#4: Remember that the arm’s damped cueing is not as silky as that of a Rega, so be careful the first few times you set down the stylus until you get the hang of it.

That’s about all. In general, I’ve found the Luxman PD-284 to be simple to setup, easy to enjoy and dead reliable. If you can find one, my advice is to pick it up because, unless you absolutely NEED the pace, rhythm and attack of a Rega, Thorens or Linn, a nicely preserved Luxman will give you years of fuss-free, laid-back musical enjoyment.

Associated gear
Denon DRA-395 stereo receiver with MM phono section
Rega P2 turntable (with P3 glass platter and None-Felt mat)
Luxman PD-284 turntable
Thorens TD115 turntable
Denon DL-160 moving coil cartridge
Grado Black moving iron cartridge
Stanton 500E MkII cartridge
Pioneer DV-563A universal disc player
Philips CDR-785 CD Recorder
ProAc Tablette 2000 loudspeakers
Radio Shack MegaCable 16-gauge speaker wire (bi-wired)
Various Kimber, Audioquest and MonsterCable interconnects
MonsterPower HTS2500 Power Center
AudioQuest MC cartridge demagnetizer
Record Doctor II record cleaning machine
Sennheiser HD580 Precision headphones
Sony ProAudio MDR-7506 studio monitor headphones
Grado 15’ headphone extension cable

Similar products
Denon DP-47F
Dual CS-505
Linn Axis/Basik Plus
Music Hall MMF-2.1
Music Hall MMF-5
Rega P2
Thorens TD-115
I have lost the 2 tops of my cover hinges and need to find replacement top left and right sides or a set of both complete left and right hinges for my PD 288 deck.
hello. i got one of them. but i have a silly problem: how do i get the table to turn ?

yes, it is plugged in, yes i tried the switch on the bottom, yes i tried moving the arm to the left and right .. uh.. am i too stupid or is it sadly broken ????

thank you !
Sorry to say, but it sounds broken. However, it could be something simple - a detached or broken wire or contact, etc. You have nothing to lose at this point so you might want to open it up and check it out. I guess it could also be that the motor has seized up. A drop or two of sewing machine oil might be useful.

Check out -- they often have service manuals as well as owners manuals available for download. I wouldn't throw the Luxman away until you give it at least a cursory exam to see if it can be easily fixed.
I LOVE my Luxman. I have modified mine quite a bit.
-Removed and bypassed all of the automatic features.
-Properly calibrated and cleaned the speed adjustments.
-Installed high quality RCA jacks and upgraded the power cable.
-Dampened the plinth, isolated the power supply and installed isolation spikes.
-Upgraded stock rubber mat with a 5mm Funk Firm Achromat (had to slightly trim and bevel the edges to fit platter), added Michell record clamp.
-Upgraded so-so stock Micro Seiki arm with an older, re-wired Denon DA-307 arm. I have several MM cartridges i use, favorites are Grado Gold and an older Ortofon VMS30fl & VMS20e MkII
The thing sounds WONDERFUL! It's paired with an old RTS Systems broadcast phonostage & B&K Reference 30 in direct analog for my front end.
These things are gems.
hello, thanks for forum - dealers here in melbourne australia claim they can't find me a replacement stylus for my luxman pd 284 - can anyone help???