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Luxman K-15
1 Reviews
rating  4 of 5
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Overall Rating:4
Submitted by Dr. Allan M. Hunchuk a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: August 14, 1997

Bottom Line:   
About twenty-five years ago, I can remember my father giving me one of those really important father-son talks. Dad said: "Al, don't by a cassette machine for your car. Go 8-track, it's the wave of the future!" A week before that bit of sage advice, I remember Dad saying: "Al, don't buy a vhs vcr. Go Betamax, it's the wave of the future!" Well, I couldn't afford a Betamax video deck, but I could afford an 8-track player for my car and a recorder for my home stereo system. My at home system was a Sony all-in-one compact stereo unit circa 1972 which was a receiver with a built-in car-style cassette deck (it broke shortly after the warranty expired and sort of worked for a few years after that--one got used to living without the rewind function and the tape occassionally going out of alignment due to some serious azimuth problems often remedied by using a matchbook to keep the tape cassette in place) and a BSR automatic (stack up them records, Charlie) turntable. My sister has this very same unit (the cassette deck is very dead now) as her home stereo (she's a vinyl woman) in her living room. Well, I had an 8-track recording deck and was a serious 8-track affectionado for many years (I have hundreds of fine 8-tracks and some nice old equipment to play them should I so choose to do so). To make this long story longer, I finally broke down and became serious about cassette tape in the early 1980s. My first good cassette deck was a big old monster by Pioneer which I got used for 50 bucks. Since that deck, I've gone through several in the elusive search for terrific cassette tape reproduction. Finally, I settled on a used Luxman K-15, a cassette deck which claims its quality is akin to that of a reel-to-reel (close but no cigar--reel-to-reel tape machines consistently out perform cassette tape machines).
The Luxman K-15 is a single well cassette deck with oodles of nice features. There is Dolby B and HX Pro for those who like that stuff (I'm a purist, no Dolby B HX Pro for me). One can adjust the bias for many different tape formulations manually. The preamp in the deck is top notch and one can do all sorts of fun tape play back tricks, such as, play a section of tape over and over again automatically (something that we take for granted when listening to an A-B section on a CD) which is useful for us students of music. Another nice and useful feature is that one can connect two microphones to make a two channel stereo tape. As a composer and musician I find this to be extremely important (yes, I have the use of a mixer whenever I want as well as lots of other fun stuff like DAT and Minidisc recorders and other stuff as well). Sometimes on location, a two channel recording is useful (for archival reasons mostly and for rehearsals when in an acoustic mode). It is a shame that most new cassette machines lack microphone jacks.

The Luxman K-15 has a good sound. It records and plays well. Its playback sound is clear/clean, low wow and flutter, rich and detailed. I am amazed at its smooth frequency response upon playback. Oftentimes, I may claim that the sound is a bit soggy, but that is in comparison to CD and vinyl which to me sound much better than tape. Still, the K-15 is a quality machine--built like a tank (and weighs nearly as much--25 lbs +). And
it makes cassettes sound fine--better on this machine on almost all of the cheaper, entry market models that retail in the under 1,000 dollar (US) range.

There are two things that I'd like to have on a cassette deck. The first is a speed control (cassettes recorded on other machines may run a bit fast or slow compared to one's home machine) and an adjustable azimuth control (found on the Nakamichi CR-7, the cassette deck that I wish I owned and would own if I were convinced that cassettes were going to stick around in the future).
That the Luxman K-15 doesn't have these features is a minor gripe for it is a superior cassette deck.

One reviewer claimed that one should just purchase the cheapest dual deck cassette machine with Dolby B/C (and why not throw in S) and use it until it breaks, then throw it away and buy another one. I think that this is now sage advice. Even my dear old Dad would concur with that as he has a cheap dual deck cassette machine and loves it. As more and more people move to minidisk and when affordable CD recording becomes available, the cassette deck may ultimately be a thing of the past (like 8-track machines). It may be the time to buy a good used high end cassette deck in the near future and it may be the time to buy that Nakamichi CF-7 to ensure that one can have quality play back of one's cherished cassette tapes (also cassette tape blanks are still much cheaper than blank minidiscs or Dat tape).

For those of us with hundreds (or even thousands) of cassettes, we'll probably keep the medium alive and kicking for many years to come. A good used cassette deck such as my Luxman K-15 is not only a bargain (List in the mid seventies was $1250.00; I got it for 250 bucks) but almost a necessity. One last thought: when you buy a used deck, try to get the service manual if you can--it makes repairs much easier and will help ensure that your deck will be serviced well.

I give the Luxman K-15 cassette deck a high recommendation. In comparison with some of the cassette decks running over $1,000.00 U.S. I've have to give it a 4 speaker rating. In comparison with most, if not all, under $1,000 decks, I'd give it a 5 speaker rating. My overall rating is

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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile




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