When it comes to any kind of tennis equipment, you’ll often hear us talking about compromise. Whether that’s compromising on power to achieve control, or comfort to achieve performance, there’s always some kind of trade-off. This is particularly true when it comes to string, but what if there was a string where you didn’t have to compromise? Well, the Luxilon LXN Smart String is trying to end the days of compromise, at least in some areas.
Strings have changed a lot in recent years. In the past, we had natural gut strings, which were powerful, comfortable strings, but they didn’t have great control, and they certainly didn’t last very long.
Since the early 2000s, we’ve had the development of polyester strings, which have completely changed the way strings play. These strings, are much stiffer, offering good control, and more longevity, but you guessed it, there’s a trade-off. While we’ve now got the control, which is great when you’re taking big cuts at the ball, we’ve lost a lot of the softness and feel, things that we need when we’re playing the more finesse shots.
As you would expect, the search has always been on for something that means we don’t have to compromise. The thing is, finding something that’s both hard and soft isn’t easy! It’s a little bit like the racket dilemma of finding a racket that is flexible yet solid, one that the Wilson Clash has taken steps towards solving.
While racket technology seems to be moving on at pace, the string technology is never far behind, and as always, Luxilon seems to be right at the forefront. Luxilon makes some of the most well-known strings out there, in Big Banger Original and Alu Power, and now, we figured it was time to try out the Luxilon LXN Smart String.
Now, I’m never one to complain about strings being too firm, I love a really muted feel to my rackets, but I figured it would be interesting to see exactly how the LXN Smart String works and whether it would suit my game.
For this playtest, I took my Babolat Pure Strike 18 x 20s out with a full bed of Luxilon LXN Smart String, one strung at 42lbs, and the other at 48lbs. This way, I could get a feel for how the string reacted at different weights.
Power – 6.5/10
So when I talked about ending compromise I might have been over exaggerating a little bit. Of course, you can’t have 10/10 power and 10/10 control with 10/10 feel thrown in for good measure. That’s just not how life works.
You might see 6.5 out of 10 and think that this string offers no power whatsoever, but for a poly, this is a fairly high score. As we mentioned at the beginning, polys are designed so that players can take big cuts at the ball and have the confidence that their ball isn’t going to hit the back fence.
This generally means that poly strings are better suited to more experienced players who have well-developed strokes. If you take big, fast swings with a poly you’ll get a lot out of them, but if you have short, slow swings, then you won’t see very much performance.
The LXN Smart String is designed to be stiff on big, fast swings, and soft on shorter, slower swings though, so it does offer a little bit more power for people with slower strokes. While I did notice the effects of the technology, I don’t think it made such a big difference that it could appeal to players without fully developed strokes.
For someone who likes to string their rackets with a low power setup, I certainly didn’t find the Luxilon LXN Smart String to be lacking in power. However, for players who are switching from a more powerful, multifilament string, you will notice a big difference.
We gave the Luxilon LXN Smart String a 6.5 out of 10 for power, a strong score for a poly string.
Control – 8/10
This is why I love poly string – they offer brilliant control. The modern day game is all about racket head speed and if you want to swing like the pros and still find your ball landing in court then you need to have a ton of control from your strings.
I normally play with Babolat RPM Blast, which offers great control, and the Luxilon LXN Smart String wasn’t far behind. I felt confident from the get-go with this string and was able to hit my targets with great accuracy. The feel is still quite deadened on full swings, which for me is preferable, but when I did shorten my swings a bit there was some evidence that the strings became a bit softer – more on this in the next section though.
For me, control is the reason why you play with a polyester string. When I’m playing tennis, I want the power, spin and feel to be left up to me with the racket simply giving me the control to rein in whatever I create. That’s what polyesters can do for you, and the Luxilon LXN Smart String was no different.
I got excellent control from the LXN Smart Strings and gave them an 8 out of 10.
Touch – 6/10
So here’s where we find out if the Luxilon LXN Smart String’s technology really is smart. The common complaint with poly strings is when it comes to touch, they’re just not soft enough. The LXN Smart String is designed to overcome this by playing soft on slower, shorter swings, so when it comes to volleys and finesse shots, you should have a little bit more feel.
Did this make a massive difference? In reality, I would say it made a slight difference. I did feel like I had a little bit more feel than with Babolat RPM Blast and Luxilon Alu Power, but at the end of the day, it is still a poly, and you still have to make compromises.
For someone who has been playing with stiff polys all my life, this really doesn’t bother me. I like the stiff, dampened feel and I’d say I’ve still got pretty good touch shots. Touch is a pretty subjective thing, it’s mostly about what you feel comfortable with.
Still, the purists out there would probably say this string lacks a little bit of touch, although for a poly it is pretty good. We gave the Luxilon LXN Smart String a 6 out of 10 for touch.
Spin – 6.5/10
Spin is an area where the poly strings can vary greatly. If you’re playing with something like Babolat RPM Blast Rough then you’ve got access to an unbelievable amount of spin. Of course, though this provides another tradeoff. If you’re adding more spin, you’re going to be taking away in another area, it’s just the way of life. That’s why picking a string is about a balance, and I really like the spin levels the Luxilon LXN Smart String gave me.
As I said, I generally want it to be left up to me to generate the spin rather than the strings. If you’ve got a string that offers too much spin then I find it makes it much harder to flatten the ball out when you need to, and I find that quite hard to do, so I really worked well with the LXN Smart String’s more medium levels of spin.
Anyone who is used to playing with poly strings will find the LXN Smart String to offer more than enough in the way of spin without going too crazy, it’s a good balance. We gave the Luxilon LXN Smart String a 6.5 out of 10 for spin.
Durability – 7/10
I have to say, durability is quite important for me when it comes to strings. I don’t want to be constantly having to restring my rackets, and I’d rather lose a tiny bit of performance in search of extra durability. With my Babolat RPM Blast it’s always a massive surprise whenever I actually break a string, and that’s the way I like it.
While the Luxilon LXN Smart String didn’t have quite the longevity of Babolat RPM Blast or Luxilon Alu Power, it did hold it’s tension nicely throughout the playtest and lasted a good few weeks before breaking (I played a good amount of tennis those weeks)
Considering the LXN Smart String is a little bit softer than lots of other polys, I thought it did well on durability and I gave it a score of 7 out of 10.
Comfort – 6/10
Comfort is never going to be the strong suit of a poly string. They’re designed to be that bit stiffer and that means you’re going to lose a bit of comfort. If I’m honest, I love poly strings, and none of their downsides bother me, other than the comfort. I know that I could be giving my wrist, elbow, and shoulder such a nicer time on the tennis court, but that’s the compromise I choose to make.
The Luxilon LXN Smart String is very comfortable for a poly string, but that’s about as far as it goes. Did the technology make it more comfortable? Well, I spend most of my time trying to bludgeon the ball with fast swings and it wasn’t designed to make those strokes any more comfortable.
I think LXN Smart is a good string, with a great idea behind it, but it’s difficult to make it any more comfortable than a string like Alu Power already is. To reflect this, we’ve given Luxilon LXN Smart String a 6 out of 10, the same score as Alu Power.
Overall – 7.5/10
I could have gone for an 8 here, but I don’t think the LXN Smart String is quite as good as Alu Power and we gave that an 8. There’s a lot to like about LXN Smart String, and I really like the concept of it playing soft on slower swings and hard on faster swings. Perhaps I’m not the ideal target for this string because I don’t spend too much time at the net, or mix in slices too often.
If you’re someone who loves to throw a lot of variety at your opponent, with lots of changes in pace and spin, then the Luxilon LXN Smart String could be a great option for you. However, for myself, I thought it was a good string that wasn’t quite as good as Alu Power.
Being a massive fan of Luxilon Big Banger Original, I guess I was never likely to find the LXN Smart String to be my perfect fit, but I still found it to be a very good string.
Overall, I gave the LXN Smart String a 7.5 out of 10, just missing out on an 8. It will really suit players who play with a lot of variety.
Review by: Will