Your independent guide the Lumin range of network players.
Are you looking for an unbiased take on both the Lumin brand and information on how better streamers and network players work and perform? The reasons we have chosen to carry Lumin will align closely with your own interests – we still go through a process of careful research, selection and listening before recommending any product. The Lumin network players have changed the way we listen to music for our own personal enjoyment and we say this as long term analogue enthusiasts. It’s not often we’ve been this impressed with new components but they really are spectaular and open up a whole new set of possibilities for you.
If you want to read reviews the Lumin products are as well regarded as it’s possible to be. But there’s a world of difference between reading about and actually listening to a new brand.
The sound quality of Lumin is compelling. In short, even the entry level model, the D2, when streaming via Tidal, AirPlay and even Spotify, or playing music you have stored on your network, sounds better than any solution we’ve been able to put together previously regardless of cost. Lumin isn’t about making anything in your system redundant – it’s about enhancement and new ways of listening.
The whole concept of streaming can take a little bit to get your head around and we’ve intentionally held off from many other components as we were unconvinced by the sound quality, the complication and compromise that we saw. Lumin solves all these issues.
The Lumins are best described as Network Players. That is they play either music you have stored or access music via streaming services such as Tidal and Qobuz and Spotify. And Apple is in the game as well.
A hugely important part of the experience, the free Lumin App is their vision of how to make music browsing and playback intuitive, visual, and tactile. So there are no front panel controls on the Lumins and only a simple display.
What really counts is on the inside – and the sound that comes out. There is a huge amount going on with both the internal workings and the resulting sound and the Lumin site is as good as it gets when it comes to explaining this with comprehensive, easy to understand descriptions and more reviews than any brand I’ve seen – everyone just loves what they hear.
What we can tell you is that Lumin works beautifully with the systems we’re putting together. And is producing a level of sound quality that easily beats anything we’ve been able to do before.
Here’s a summary of the key Lumin models;
The entry level Lumin D2 (NZ$4500) does for digital what the what a really good turntable does for analogue – and then some. With the D2 you can build a stunningly simple and high performing system that gives you access to more music to enjoy than you could ever imagine. While still not what you might call entry level it’s probably the best value in the entire range. It uses exactly the same software and Ap as it’s more costly siblings, has an almost identical feature and connection set (including fully balanced outputs) while being more compact.
The D2 looks good, is sensibly priced and – thanks to a super-slick app – is a delight to use too…The D2 powers the bass and drums along with real punch, while also rendering the instrumental and vocal lines with a wide-open sense of timbre and texture… In common with some of the higher end network players, it goes further than just delivering a recording, instead getting the listener into the heart of the music… If you want the impression of real live musicians plonked in the room in front of you, the D2 delivers. Andrew Everard- Hi-Fi News and Record Review
We think the D2 is the warmest sounding of the Lumin options – the bass performance is a real stand out. The internal design goes all out with the well regarded Wolfson DACs, by including a pair running in a full balanced design right through to the outputs. This really lifts the performance over more conventional, cheaper single ended designs. Run this baby balanced into a similarly over performing power amplifier and you’ll be astonished by the scale and depth of sound.
The new U2 Mini (also NZ$4500) looks almost identical to the D2 but there is much more than meets the eye. The U2 Mini is a ‘Network Transport’ and hence doesn’t have a DAC built in – but this means it’s perfect for any existing or new system where you do have a separate DAC or and amplifier with one built in.
You might assume the U2 mini is just the D2 with less inside but this couldn’t be further from the reality. In fact the original U1 Mini was based on the formidable U1(which has in turn been upgraded to the U1X at $NZ18,000). Launched in early 2022 the U2 Mini was the first Lumin component to include the all-new 2022 processing system, delivering greater flexibility and future-proofing. Not to mention sound quality and this is where the U2 Mini is an absolute stunner.
Many people have invested in a good quality DAC and will be happy with the sound quality from existing sources. But what the Lumin U2 Mini does can be transformative. Part of this is the streaming quality from on-line services such as Tidal. But even more so is the improvement made when accessing stored music within your system or network. And the Lumin app seamlessly combines these in playlists and gives you a high level of system control. Including the Leedh processing for volume control.
We have found that, as with the previous U1 mini, a combination of Lumin U2 Mini network transport with any of our NuPrime DACs delivers and end sound that’s better than any similarly priced single box solution and almost always with greater flexibility (the exception to this rule is the new P1 which we’ll get to shortly)
Adding the Lumin U2 Mini to your present DAC is a very safe way to get into high performance streaming. It will also take you places you may not have expected. The better the quality of your present DAC, the greater the improvement you’ll experience with the U2 Mini.
One of our client’s writes of his experience with the Lumin U1 Mini –
‘It’s working brilliantly and I’m so glad you suggested trying streaming…I think one of its main points is delivery of the full value of source files… Now I’m getting full sampling value, which makes for sharper detail, improved subtlety of tonal effects (differences between instruments as well as between groups playing the same work are more marked), and a more deftly shaped sound stage. Precision and detail are startlingly improved and naturalness is paramount.’
The just released T3 is a perfect example of why Lumin is your first choice. The T3 builds on the performance up from the previous T2 by a worthwhile margin and also sets the stage for further improvements over time; Lumin’s proven policy of continual firmware and software development with free on-line updates make the T3 a long term investment.
Again fully balanced, the T3 is all about detail, precision and speed yet also maintains the musicality that’s noted in almost every Lumin review. While all the Lumin players are minimalist in their aesthetic, the T3 is an obvious step up from the D2 in terms of it’s finish quality and weight – you literally get twice as much. But it’s what’s going on inside that makes the difference
‘it is simply a great digital source, and one that, which is a feature of every product of this brand, will convince not only fans of digital, but also demanding fans of analog and analog (turntable, to be precise) of high quality..‘
‘I can unequivocally say I like the LEEDH processing much better and think it’s a game changer… When great music sounds this wonderful, it’s addicting… The T3 is one of those products that will perform close to the highest levels, but without the significant cost.’ The Computer Audiophile.
The new P1 is by far the most comprehensively featured Lumin component – it’s a full Network Player, DAC AND preamplifier with both HDMI and analogue line in. The P1 also builds on the T3’s sound quality by incorporating the legendary Lundahl Output transformers in the fully balanced analogue output section and dual toroidal transformers in the power supply section.
In short the P1 is a veritable powerhouse of sound quality and features. And in the very short time since introduction the P1 has garnered more awards and great reviews than any other Lumin component to date. Check them out here.
Alan Sircom writes – ‘To say I’m impressed by the LUMIN X1 is something of an understatement. I am blown away by its performance. It has a sense of absolute confidence in it’s own performance that is typically the domain of the best in analogue. It puts it in direct competition with products that cost several times as much and take up a lot of shelf space in the process.’
You can read our original take on the X1 here. Since writing this much has happened with new Lumin models. Yet having recently sold and set up both P1s and X1s our respect for the X1 has only grown.
The X1 is a luxury component and to make it worthwhile you really have to have a system built around it that will magnify the advantages it has over lesser players. This means careful selection of amplifier, speakers and connecting cables. They need not be anywhere near as costly but quality is the key.
For the X1 is simply breathtaking in the amount of detail and music it can produce, the sense of scale and depth that can be projected from the speakers.
Which ever way you choose to go with Lumin you are assured of a massive upgrade. And it just keeps getting better. The Lumin components all have a significant warm up period from new – while they sound great initially, over the first 200-500 hours the improvement is a real eye opener. Lumin themselves suggest that a brand new X1 just out of the box is only operating at about 40% of it’s potential.
All the Lumin network players have both balanced and RCA outputs and the internal circuitry is genuinely fully balanced. Accordingly Lumin do strongly recommend that if at all possible you use the balanced connection. This doesn’t however mean that the balanced connection is automatically better; the quality of the actual cable and connectors, plus the nature of the amplifier you are connecting to all play into the end result.
We have done a lot of listening and found the Kimber Hero Balanced and KLEI QFlow7 Balanced are excellent choices when using this format. But also that the standard KLEI analogue interconnects are at least as good and sometimes even better in some settings.
The KLEI QFlow7 USB cable is an easy choice with the U2 Mini.
Our experience with all Lumin models is also that there is a significant and worthwhile benefit in using a high quality AC mains cable. The further you go up the Lumin range, the greater the effect of any cable, but more importantly, the effect of the best cable is greatly magnified. This is especially surprising with the X1 as it features an outboard power supply and already sounds so good. What this shows you is that the better a component is and the more musical information it can transmit, any improvement made to it’s operating environment yields an even greater overall improvement to the sound you hear.
With all the Lumin models you really do get much more as you step up the range – the price differences are physically reflected in the components inside, the actual build quality and weight. Most importantly, while there is a common thread in terms of the character of the sound, the the improvements made between models are there for anyone to hear.