I bought this preamp new two months ago for a home test. It's a Luxman premium special edition (100 units) with really nice upgrades and build. Great MM/MC phono section, and it was awarded a Stereophile Class A rating. It's super quiet, high resolution and very natural sounding. I love its sound but decided to spend more and go back to a Shindo preamp to better fit my SET system.
If you web search for this specific model you'll find much to read from owners on Steve Hoffman forum, What's Best forum, Audiogon forum, along with formal reviews from Art Dudley (stock version) and Ken Kessler (this SE version).
I wrote to Luxman to find out the specific differences between the SE version and stock. Here is their reply:
1. Tubes are premium and more reliable for SE
2. SE uses oil condensers and stock uses film condensers.
3. SE has better S/N ratios and the phono gain is larger (MM +2dB, MC+5dB)
4. SE has smaller chassis (400mm width vs. 440mm).
And here is a full description from the web:
The CL-38uSE encapsulates the original design and features
of the CL-35 control amplifier developed in 1970, updated and reconfigured in
celebration of 90 years of high-end audio reproduction. LUXMAN’s R&D team
have paid special attention to the tonal quality of this “Special Edition” with
upgraded ECC803 and ECC802, Slovakia JJ Electronics Tubes for unbeatable
silky-smooth expression. CL-38uSE is as “38 series tradition” shield chassis
structure and housed in an attractive wooden cabinet. The classic SRPP (Shunt
Regulated Push Pull ) amplifier configuration operates in anti-phase bringing
extremely low output impedance throughout all gain stages and achieves a strong
drivability to cope with the most awkward amplifier loads.
Equipped with a multi-function tone control and phono
equalizer The CL-38uSE is equipped with four fully-fledged, MC cartridge
step-up transformers LR independent / 2 stage gain independence and phono
equalizer amplifier circuits, optimised for analogue record playback. A
three-stage treble / bass tone control, enhances dynamic control to the
listener’s taste. In addition, it is also equipped with a convenient switch for
mono playback and low-cut switch to suppress unwanted low frequency vibrations
from warped records. A simple aluminum remote control is supplied.
The proprietary design of the CL-38u SE includes a number of LUXMAN original custom
made parts including the transformers and block capacitors. While a simplistic
circuit configuration has been implemented into the tube amplifier circuits to
ensure tonal purity, each individual component has been evaluated for sonic
performance through repeated and extensive listening tests.
Input Sensitivity / Impedance
LINE: 190mV / 50kΩ
2mV / 47kΩ,
PHONO (MC-H): 0.3mV / 100Ω, PHONO (MC-L): 0.08mV / 30Ω
Output Voltage / Impedance
1V RMS / 300Ω, 19V (max.)
Total Harmonic Distortion 0.006% (1kHz), 0.06% (20Hz - 20kHz)
PHONO: 20Hz - 20kHz (+0, -0.5dB)
LINE: 10Hz - 70kHz (+0, -3.0dB)
PHONO (MM): 70dB, PHONO (MC-H): 68dB, PHONO (MC-L): 65dB
Input LINE x
4, PHONO x 1
Tape Input /
Output 1 set
Turnover Frequency: 150Hz / 300Hz / 600Hz
Turnover Frequency: 1.5kHz / 3kHz / 6kHz
Low Cut 30Hz
(W x H x D) 400 × 170× 307 (mm)
All original packing, manual, and the remote is still wrapped and new.