I think we have one of the more fair comparison battles today with this Esoteric F-05 and Luxman 509X contest. I have looked at the Luxman L-509X a few times now and I have always been impressed. As of me writing this, this is the first time I have had the pleasure to talk about the Esoteric F-05. However, as a lover of Japanese electronics, especially Sony and their PlayStation 5. I am always excited when I get the chance to check something out that originates from Japan. I think it is because my dad was such a huge Sony fan in the 80s that I have this love for Sony and tech from Japan.
We are starting out with a category that is very even to kick off this Esoteric F-05 and Luxman L-509X thing just right! As I said in the intro, this is one of the more fair comparison articles that I have done and all three rounds are going to be quite hard for me to pick a winner in.
I feel like I have looked at a great deal of higher-end amplifiers recently so when I saw that the Esoteric F-05 is going to cost you around $10,000, I was pretty happy with that. I know that ten thousand dollars is an insane amount of money, but I have seen some amps cost double that. I will be honest with you and say that this and the Luxman are out of my price range, but I do have a buddy that buys and sells high-end audio equipment and he lets me try these things out. The fact he spoke very complimentary about the price of this said all I need to know. You can get a DAC attachment for this, but that will add around an extra grand to the price which is not completely out of line in comparison to what some other companies charge for a DAC.
To add a Luxman L-509X to your setup, you are looking at around the ten grand mark. This puts it right next to the Esoteric in terms of its pricing. With something this expensive, you will probably want to do a bit of shopping around as I have seen different dealers have it for different prices which can save you several hundred bucks which can be used to buy even more music with. As far as a used one of these goes, I have not yet seen one pop up on eBay. However, to be honest with you these higher-end amplifiers very rarely do pop up on eBay.
The Verdict: With these being so close in price it is a tough one to say for sure which one of these is giving you the best value for money. However, I think if I found ten grand laying on the road (extremely wishful thinking) and I could get either of these, I would probably go for the Esoteric F-05.
Just like the price round was, the design round in our Esoteric F-05 and Luxman L-509X showdown is going to be very close. These are two very stylish looking amps and I have to say that I would be more than ok with having either one of these in my home right in the center of my entertainment unit.
Esoteric F-05: While this Esoteric F-05 Integrated Amplifier: Reference-Class Separates Performance video is short, it does let you know more about how awesome and stylish the Esoteric F-05 is. This is a pretty decent size, coming in at 17 5/8″ x 7 5/8″ x 18 1/2″ and weighing over 30 KG. It is a little shorter than the Luxman, but the two are quite close in their overall dimensions. I just love the overall design of this thing. On the front, we have an LCD as the main focal point. Below this, we have three dials, one for bass, one for middle, and one for treble. You also have a few buttons and another dial for balance. It is a nice and clean look that gives you all you need to get the sound just the way you want it. On one side of the LCD, we have a large volume dial and on the other, we have our input selection dial. I love the silver they have used and the whole unit just has a very cool and stylish appearance that I really do like.
As we head around to the back of the Esoteric F-05, we can see what we have in terms of inputs and this thing is stacked! All of your inputs and outputs are nicely spaced out and clearly labeled. You also have your “option board” slot which is where you could have something like the DAC if you decided to go down that route. Just like the front, the back is very elegant and stylish in its design. You get a lovely little remote control with this too. It is nice and solid and gives you complete access to the amp. In all, I am a massive fan of the whole design of this thing and I think I would go as far as to say it is one of the coolest looking silver amplifiers I have seen.
Luxman L-509X: The Luxman L-509X has a very similar silver body to it and I really do like what they have done with the design here. You do not have an LCD, but the “old-school” meters that it has are always something I get a kick out of and I personally feel that it gives the amp a kind of 70s vibe about it and that is something I think is cool. It comes in at 17.3” x 7.5” x 18.2” so it is a little bit taller, but there is not much in it in terms of the amount of space this thing is going to take up. As I said, I love that display in the middle of the unit, but there are many other eye-catching things going on here. Below this, you have a selection of dials to mess around with things like the bass and the treble so that you can get the sound just the way you want. On one side of that display, we have an input selection dial and I like how it has all of the inputs written on here so you know exactly what you are selecting. On the other side, we have a large volume dial.
Before we get to the back, I have to say I love the design of the air vents on this thing, it is a silly thing to bring up I know, but they do look cool. On the back, Luxman has gone for a more simplistic kind of design. All of your inputs and outputs are here and they are labeled well enough so you know what you are plugging into where. There is no spot for putting in any kind of other board like a DAC for example. One thing that I thought was really cool was the remote control, this thing could not look any more retro and it has a design that reminds me of an old VHS player my grandfather used to have and that is pretty awesome!
The Verdict: While I really like the design of both of these and I think that the Luxman L-509X has a real retro charm about it. I am ultimately going to give this round to the Exoteric F-05. I think that it has a more “modern” kind of design to it and I do prefer the LCD over the display the L-509X has. Plus, I like how it gives you the option to add things to the amplifier if you so wish.
We come to our third and final round in this Esoteric F-05 and Luxman L-509X fight for supremacy and just like the other two rounds, this one is going to be very close. With these higher-end amps, you get a really special kind of sound and that is what I am trying to describe to you guys as we look at them both.
Esoteric F-05: The Esoteric F-05 is freaking awesome! I have used amps that cost as much as double the price of this thing and I would be hard pressed to tell you the difference. The first album I tested out was The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have lost count as to how many times and how many versions of this album I have purchased over the years. Anyway, I put The Time Warp straight on and kept all the dials right in the middle. Even without tinkering with the various settings, the Esoteric F-05 provided a really authentic and raw kind of sound that impressed me greatly. It just hit all the notes and had a real warmth to the sound, granted we were using a set of very expensive speakers to test this thing out. However, I am certain, this is going to get the best out of any record that you throw its way.
For fun and because it is awesome, I took my original copy of WWF: The Wrestling Album that I have had since I was a kid to my buddy’s store to test with this. Now, this record has seen better days that is for sure, but I was very impressed at how strong it still sounded thanks to this amp. With this record and the other few ones, I played around with, I did mess with the dials on the front of the amp. I found a real sweet spot with the bass that just tickled my ears perfectly. Even when I would turn it up, there was never any kind of loss of quality or distortion. I have to say that I expected this thing to be good, but I was blown away by how good it actually was, it well and truly exceeded my expectations.
Luxman L-509X: If you check out this Luxman L-509x Integrated Amplifier Overview and Features video you can get a good idea of the sound capabilities of the Luxman L-509X and also how you can play around with its various features to get the sound just the way you want. My friend who deals with high-end amps for a living always speaks very highly of this amp and says that for ten grand it is one of the best sounding analog amps you can buy. One of his favorite records is No Prayer For The Dying which if I am honest would not make my top five Maiden albums, but Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter is a classic. Anyway, when it comes to badass rock music, the Luxman L-509X well and truly kicks ass! There is only one way to listen to Iron Maiden and that is loud and when we had the store to ourselves, he showed me how to get the best out of the amp. It was not only very loud, but it was also crystal clear too!
Thanks to those easy to access dials (and the awesome remote) you can have a lot of fun playing around with this amp and getting the sound just the way you like it. As a massive Aerosmith fan, I decided that we needed to check out Big Ones which still to this day is my favorite of all the Aerosmith compilation albums. There may be albums that have more of their hits, but I always gravitate towards this one. To say that Steven Tyler’s vocals blew me away is a massive understatement. It is truly outstanding the way this can bring your favorite albums to life. The way the sound is so balanced impressed the hell out of me and at every range, I felt like it was just nailing each song that played flawlessly.
The Verdict: Now this is a very tough round to pick a winner for! I loved the experience I had with both the Esoteric F-05 and the Luxman L-509X. In all honesty with you guys, I want to call this round a tie as there is so little in it. However, I am not some kind of chicken so I am going to think really hard about it…… I have decided that I am going for the Esoteric F-05! I have to be real and say I cannot give a definitive reason as to why and if I were to re-write this tomorrow the Luxman L-509X could possibly take it, that is how close this round is.
Which Is The Better Amplifier?
Thanks for joining me on this Esoteric F-05 and Luxman L-509X journey we have been on today. I am going to tell you guys right now that you cannot go wrong with either the Esoteric F-05 or the Luxman L-509X. At the price range, these are at, these are easily two of the best amps that I have had the pleasure to experience. I think that both companies have done a fantastic job here. They both look amazing, they sound amazing, and to be fair, when it comes to higher-end amps, the price is actually more on the reasonable side. If I had the money to buy one of these and my wife would not kill me for doing so, I am pretty certain I would go for the Esoteric F-05. I liked the Luxman L-509X. However, with the price and sound being so similar, it ultimately boiled down to which one I liked the look of the best.