Jump to content
  • The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    Lumin L2 Music Library & Network Switch Review

     

     

        

        Audio: Listen to this article.

     

     

     

    Over a decade ago I installed what was then called the Lumin Network Music Player in my system. Today that same component, since renamed the Lumin A1, remains in my reference two channel audio system. The A1 still receives firmware updates, new features, and fixes along with all other Lumin components. Take a second to let that sink in. When I installed the A1 Tidal was still a Norwegian service named WiMP, Neil Young wouldn’t launch the Pono Kickstarter campaign for another year, and Roon was still called Sooloos and owned by Meridian. A decade can seem like a lifetime in digital audio.

     

    Most importantly, the A1 isn’t some vintage component that I keep around for digital nostalgia. Its build quality is still among the best, it’s sound quality is as good today as it was in 2013 when I said, “The sound quality is exquisitely analog,” and its feature set is as current as anything released today. It takes experience, vision, and dedication to customers in order to continue innovating and bring everyone along for the ride, whether they purchase in the 2010s or 2020s.

     

    Why the focus on a ten year old product? Because good companies and product longevity matter to me. In addition, it lays the foundation for using the Lumin L2 Music Library and Network Switch with something old and something new. I used the L2 with, among other things, the former flagship Lumin A1 and the new entry level Lumin D3 network players. I figured the L2 could be a component that improves the audio life of those who’ve been on the bandwagon for a long time, and those just jumping on. I also threw a dCS Rossini APEX into the L2 mix for good measure and to check interoperability. Yes, this is my life. It’s a tough job but someone has to listen to great music through great components, and send smoke signals to the others :~)

     

     

    feature-l2.jpg

     

     

     

    The Lumin L2 - Yes, Even You Need one

     

    If the Lumin L2 would’ve been released at the same time as the A1, my younger and foolishly more confident self would’ve written it off as a solution looking for a problem. I’m sure I would’ve said something along the lines of, just get a NAS and call it a day. Over ten years of maturity, experience, and a half-dozen NAS units later, I’m thrilled to see the Lumin L2 Music Library and Network Switch.

     

    Let’s cover the “what” before the “why.” The Lumin L2 is billed as, “An advanced dual-drive music server requiring zero setup configuration and containing a 4-port audiophile-grade network switch.” After spending months with the L2, I can confidently say that Lumin hasn’t oversold the L2’s capabilities.

     

    LUMIN-L2-Black-inside-straight-2.jpgThe L2 is a music library storage server with either four or eight terabytes, depending on the configuration purchased. Given that the unit holds two internal SSDs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the storage capacity increased, but that’s my own speculation, not communication from Lumin (official or off the record). Note: Lumin provides detailed instructions for consumer installation of SSDs at home as well (link).

     

    The network switch part of the L2 is one that will potentially ruffle certain audiophile feathers, but hear me out on this one. Networking is not a strong suit of most audiophiles, and most don’t want it to be in their wheelhouses either. Network problems are the biggest headache for HiFi industry support professionals. One way to reduce potential network issues is to use the Lumin L2 as both a storage server and network switch. By connecting the L2 to one’s standard switch or router, and the remaining HiFi components to the L2, traffic between the L2 and audio gear never leaves this “closed Lumin loop.” It’s essentially a direct connection between the server and streamer, and both the server and streamer remain network accessible (they both retain real IP addresses handed out by one’s router).

     

    To bolster my point about the need for the L2’s switch, I ask all the networking professionals reading this to think about all the screwed up networks they’ve seen at peoples’ houses over the years. Then multiply the misconfigurations, mis-cabled, and downright bizarre stuff by 10, and you’ll arrive at the situation in which many audiophile’s have placed themselves. The L2 is the right horse for the audiophile course.

     

    feature-l2-switch.jpgIn addition to the simplicity of connection and zero configuration, the L2 switch features two optical SFP ports and two gigabit copper Ethernet ports. This is really nice and far beyond what 99% of audio companies are thinking about, let alone implementing. I’ll detail how I connected the L2 a bit further below.

     

    The L2 is accessible over one’s network or via direct USB 3 connection to one’s computer. At first I thought, who would connect this to their computer, but then I remembered, it’s all the audiophiles with terrible network connections between their computers and their HiFi components. Or, those who are just more comfortable with a USB connection. Who am I to judge? Live and let listen.

     

    Technically the L2 runs a UPnP / DLNA server supporting OpenHome, SMB over the network, and NTFS disk formatting on the internal drives. If connecting via USB from a Mac, use a tool such as SYSGeeker NTFS for Mac or Microsoft NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software, as Macs can’t write to an NTFS formatted drive natively.

     

    Why do you or I need the Lumin L2? The Lumin L2 arrives already configured for optimal performance, is supported via personal interaction with Lumin engineers, and is incapable of being screwed up. That’s important to most audiophiles, and should be important to all audiophiles, even those who are tech savvy. If one values time, the Lumin L2 is capable of giving you back your life to enjoy music rather than mess with off the shelf commodity storage solutions.

     

    I know this because I have direct and indirect experience with all types of music storage. To put it bluntly, NAS units can really suck. I’ve been through too many of them, outgrown a few, had four succumb to obsolescence, and my current QNAP has been replaced twice. Add to that, the QNAP I performed surgery on to recover a friend’s 20,000 albums, many other dead NAS units of friends and colleagues, and my six month, ongoing / unresolved open support ticket for drive errors on my TVS-872XT, and one can get a picture of what it’s like to use such a solution.

     

    If the hardware issues alone are too much for many audiophiles, don’t even delve into the software side of things. It all works great. Until it doesn’t. For the most part I can figure out the issues and recover from anything thrown my way, but sometimes I really don’t want to mess with anything. I want to listen to music. It’s times like those that make the L2 an undeniable godsend.

     

     

    In My System

     

    When the L2 arrived I connected one of its optical SFP ports to my network via single mode fiber, one of its copper Ethernet ports to my Lumin A1, and the other copper port to the new Lumin D3. Both A1 and D3 were connected to my Constellation Audio preamp > Constellation Audio mono amps > Wilson Audio Alexia V loudspeakers, via Transparent cable. If I still had the Lumin X1 I reviewed previously, I would’ve connected it to the remaining optical SFP port on the L2, which would have made the network connection optical from the X1 all the way to the far side of my router, where a single six foot copper cable separates my network from the optical fiber coming into my house.

     

    Someday I may stop complaining about UPnP, but until that day arrives, I’ll continue calling it the most nonstandard standard that delivers as many problems as it does pleasure. Fortunately Lumin has an answer for those seeking a UPnP-based environment that’s trouble-free. Using the L2 with the D3 and A1 really makes the UPnP experience seems like something other than UPnP. It feels like a custom protocol more akin to Roon Ready in that everything just works. This is a real feat, and a gigantic benefit of going with an all-Lumin system with the L2 as its base.

     

    I played everything I wanted and some tracks I didn’t really want to but felt I had to for testing purposes. The L2 > D3 and A1 was flawless, with the exception of one Multi-Room use case that was quickly resolved by Lumin support. Gapless, DSD, high resolution, queue management, library updating and scanning, etc… were all a piece of cake.

     

    Given my love of JPLAY for iOS as my UPnP control point of choice, I used it for much of my listening through the Lumin players. I pointed JPLAY at the L2 server and the A1 or D3 players. Again, it was flawless. Music delivery from the L2, down six feet of Ethernet cable to the D3, and music delivered from Tidal, down a thousand miles of fiber cable were both fantastic. In fact, I was extremely impressed by the responsiveness and speed while using this combination. It was like my iPad sensed my finger was about to press play, and it got a jump on me by starting music a split second early, making it seem like playback was instantaneous. The “closed-loop” network and fast SSDs don’t hurt either.

     

    After testing and listening with the Lumin players for weeks, it was time to try my reference DAC, the dCS Rossini APEX. Don’t get me wrong, both Lumin players are really good. I think the price to performance ratio on the new D3 is fantastic and it will make many people very happy listeners. But, I had a Rossini APEX warmed up in the bullpen, waiting to come in to close out the game. As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the Rossini APEX was my Lee Smith, coming into the game in the ninth inning to throw flames and strike out the side.

     

    Sound from the Lumin L2 to the dCS Rossin APEX was, as it should be, amazing. What surprised me most was the dead silence and black background while playing music. This wasn’t something for which I listened, as I was just trying to kick back and enjoy the music. It was one of those things that was immediate once I hit play.

     

    With the Lumin L2 delivering nothing but music, leaving any upstream electrical issues behind via optical isolation, my Rossini APEX was elevated to another level. I must have listened to Aoife O’Donovan’s entire catalog four or five times over the ensuing two days. The album Aoife plays Nebraska was recorded live in Brooklyn at Aoife's home, and sounded like she was literally playing right in front of me. There is a special under-produced feel to this album, in addition to fantastic music, that when heard through a revealing system can really place O’Donovan in the room.

     

    Another Aoife O’Donovan album  that I purchased from Bandcamp and placed on the Lumin L2’s SSDs is Age of Apathy Solo Sessions, recorded live at The Audio Temple at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. It’s another barebones recording that really shines and reveals a three dimensional image when played on components as capable as the L2 > Rossini APEX combo. The dead silence and black backgrounds were ever-present on this album as well, leading me to keep listening until 1:00 am this morning. This transparency made it so easy to listen at low volume while my family slept, yet still hear every single detail as if the level was turned to 11.

     

     

    L2 Wrap Up

     

    cash@3x.pngThe Lumin L2 music library and network switch is the component you didn’t know you needed (if you’re a geek) and the component you’ve been waiting for if you’re more of a music listener than a digital mechanic. I’m a geek and I not only see the benefits of the L2, but I love them. I could just sit down and listen to music without a NAS issue, a network issue, or some other item popping up that would impede my listening enjoyment.

     

    Listening to music in an all-Lumin system from L2 through to the A1 and D3 was flawless and sounded really great. Gapless high resolution, multi-room playback, and zero configuration to get it all going was just sweet. Bringing in the dCS Rossini APEX for a reference level experience and to reveal any shortcomings in the L2 as a server / switch, resulted in “nothing but net” sonically. The sound quality was stellar, placing my favorite musicians holographically in the center of my room, without any distractions to be heard.

     

    I recommend the Lumin L2 for every audiophile who values doing business with a great company, likes direct user support, zero configuration setup, rock solid stability, components that work and are nearly impossible to break, and of course sound quality commensurate with incredibly revealing audio components. The Lumin L2 easily makes the CASH List.

     

     

     

     

    Product Information:
     
    Lumin L2 Music Library & Network Switch: Price $3,500 (0TB), $4,500 (4TB), $5,500 (8TB)
    Lumin L2: Product Page
    User Manual: User Manual
    Purchase: Purchase

     

     

    About the author - https://audiophile.style/about
    Author's Complete Audio System Details with Measurements - https://audiophile.style/system

     

     




    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Is there anyone familiar with the distinctions, beyond storage capacity, regarding the on-network capabilities of the Lumin L2 compared to the Melco N1?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Lumin is a stalwart brand, and the L2 indicates their understanding of the audiophile world.  I look around the digital side of my music systems, where the music is stored on a disk array attached to my M1 Mac and backed up to my NAS, which requires The Mac to be up and running constantly. The L2 seems to have "fixed" most of our issues with music storage.

     

    The internals of the L2 show a lot of care in how the SSDs are connected and mounted.  The power supply is internally cased and separated from the motherboard.  Very clean!  I wish that they had used USB-C for the computer connection.    Their rear overhang impacts cable attachment and removal on some devices, mostly XLR connectors.  

     

    I also note that Lumin continues to add ground connections to their devices.

     

    The Melco N1 has some of the same features, such as the build. It runs Minimserver, a different and long-term take on music server and storage with one bridged network port and USB output to a DAC.  Again different.

     

    I also find that UPnP can be fussy and weird.  I have used Jplay and found it interesting, but I had several product wishes before using it everywhere.  (a discussion for another thread)

     

    @The Computer Audiophile, did you use the Lumin App for your testing?

     

     

    RJF

     

     

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    Lumin is a stalwart brand, and the L2 indicates their understanding of the audiophile world.  I look around the digital side of my music systems, where the music is stored on a disk array attached to my M1 Mac and backed up to my NAS, which requires The Mac to be up and running constantly. The L2 seems to have "fixed" most of our issues with music storage.

     

    The internals of the L2 show a lot of care in how the SSDs are connected and mounted.  The power supply is internally cased and separated from the motherboard.  Very clean!  I wish that they had used USB-C for the computer connection.    Their rear overhang impacts cable attachment and removal on some devices, mostly XLR connectors.  

     

    The Melco N1 has some of the same features, such as the build. It runs Minimserver, a different and long-term take on music server and storage with one bridged network port and USB output to a DAC.  Again different.

     

    I also find that UPnP can be fussy and weird.  I have used Jplay and found it interesting, but I had several product wishes before using it everywhere.  (a discussion for another thread)

     

    @The Computer Audiophile, did you use the Lumin App for your testing?

     

     

    RJF

     

     

     

     

    Hi Bob, very wise take on this one. 

     

    While you and I, and several others around this community, can handle a NAS and drive arrays, etc... most people don't want to bother with this. Some days I'm also in that camp. Other days I like to tinker and see if I can increase performance or try something different just because it's possible. After using the L2, my brain was seriously relaxed and I felt like I could focus on other things. It's seriously a nice feeling. 

     

    Your two points that I agree with entirely are the USB connector and the rear overhang. I too wish USB C could've been used. It has become ubiquitous, making cables plentiful everywhere for cheap. The rear overhang is probably an issue for guys like us, who need to change cables and equipment. Perhaps a more normal use case involves connecting the cables once and leaving them for years. 

     

    When comparing to items like the Melco, one thing that is invaluable with Lumin is the company's support, community interaction, and speed at which they find and resolve issues. I don't know of another company at this level. 

     

    Yes, I used the Lumin app quite a bit. I like the JPLAY app better as a control point, and given that it worked flawlessly, I had no reason to change. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Thank you for the review.  A tempting piece of gear at a relatively good price it seems to me.

     

    Can one buy an L2 without SSDs installed and add them to save some coin?

     

    Ignorantly (somewhat) yours,

     

    Scott

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    2 minutes ago, Scotte_1 said:

    Thank you for the review.  A tempting piece of gear at a relatively good price it seems to me.

     

    Can one buy an L2 without SSDs installed and add them to save some coin?

     

    Ignorantly (somewhat) yours,

     

    Scott


    Absolutely! It’s $3,500

     

    From the review: Note: Lumin provides detailed instructions for consumer installation of SSDs at home as well (link).

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Chris,

     

    Nice review, thanks.

     

    I own a Lumin X1 and use both Roon and the bespoke Lumin app, preferring Roon when I wish to use its music discovery feature and casual listening and the Lumin app when I want the absolute best SQ (there is a difference).  I have music storage on a Synology NAS and on an SSD inside a NUC.  After reading your review, I thought the L2 could be a great way to keep music storage on just one device.  (FYI, the Lumin app cannot "see" the Roon SSD.)  Plus, I could sell my current "audiophile" switch and its connected OCXO clock and use the L2 switch, with an optical network feed to the X1 and a RJ45 feed to my Roon NUC.  Regrettably, a Lumin rep told me that while the X1 will obviously see the L2 dual-drives via the Lumin app it will not see them when I use Roon.   Of course, I could just use Roon with my streaming service and the Lumin app for both Tidal and connected music.  Decisions, decisions.

     

    At any rate, thanks for the excellent review.

     

    Michael

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    3 minutes ago, Flashman said:

    Chris,

     

    Nice review, thanks.

     

    I own a Lumin X1 and use both Roon and the bespoke Lumin app, preferring Roon when I wish to use its music discovery feature and casual listening and the Lumin app when I want the absolute best SQ (there is a difference).  I have music storage on a Synology NAS and on an SSD inside a NUC.  After reading your review, I thought the L2 could be a great way to keep music storage on just one device.  (FYI, the Lumin app cannot "see" the Roon SSD.)  Plus, I could sell my current "audiophile" switch and its connected OCXO clock and use the L2 switch, with an optical network feed to the X1 and a RJ45 feed to my Roon NUC.  Regrettably, a Lumin rep told me that while the X1 will obviously see the L2 dual-drives via the Lumin app it will not see them when I use Roon.   Of course, I could just use Roon with my streaming service and the Lumin app for both Tidal and connected music.  Decisions, decisions.

     

    At any rate, thanks for the excellent review.

     

    Michael

    Hi Michael, I think you are on a good track. The L2 is great. 
     

    Technically, Roon can see the L2 drives as SMB shares, just like Roon can see what’s on your NAS. 
     

    rereading, I’m not sure I understand the X1 can’t see something if Roon is running?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Hi Michael, I think you are on a good track. The L2 is great. 
     

    Technically, Roon can see the L2 drives as SMB shares, just like Roon can see what’s on your NAS. 
     

    rereading, I’m not sure I understand the X1 can’t see something if Roon is running?

    A Lumin rep said that if I were running Roon via my X1, the L2 dual-drives would not be accessible.  The rep said, "It requires setting the network drive path correctly.  I doubt using L2 with Roon would be beneficial."  Now that I am re-reading this, I wonder whether the network path can't be set for both Roon and for the Lumin app.  Perhaps that's why the rep said the L2 might not be beneficial running Roon.  But as I indicated, the workaround may be just using Roon for my Tidal streaming service and the Lumin app for both streaming and connected music.  Further investigation needed, I guess!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    So does the L2 serve as a transport for the dCS the same way as, say, an Aurender N20 does? It's not listed as a transport on the Lumin website. 

     

    My Nucleus+ died and I'm not using Roon at the moment. Wondering if the L2 can be the local audio file storage device for Roon Core on a MacBook, all connected via ethernet to the wifi satellite, including a dCS DAC. 

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    3 hours ago, Andrewteee said:

    It's not listed as a transport on the Lumin website

    It is not a transport, it works like a nas with a upnp mediaserver running on it.

    In other words it doesn’t have any player capability.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Apologies as I'm not a Lumin user and get a little confused by the model names of A1, L2 and D3...

     

    What does your music playback chain look like between your router and DAC please? Something like Router R>cable C>Library L>...? Thanks

     

     

     

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    59 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

    Apologies as I'm not a Lumin user and get a little confused by the model names of A1, L2 and D3...

     

    What does your music playback chain look like between your router and DAC please? Something like Router R>cable C>Library L>...? Thanks

     

     

     

     


    Below is a somewhat recent network diagram for my house. The L2 connects to the HiFi switch. The other Lumin components connect to the L2. 
     

     

     

    Network High Resolution.png

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 2/16/2024 at 5:11 AM, Flashman said:

    the Lumin app cannot "see" the Roon SSD

     

    Assuming the Roon SSD is the local music SSD drive in Roon server: To allow both Lumin app and Roon to see/share the library, you need to use Windows (or Mac) instead of ROCK or Nucleus.  Install both Roon Server and MinimServer on Windows.

     

    On 2/16/2024 at 5:24 AM, Flashman said:

    A Lumin rep said that if I were running Roon via my X1, the L2 dual-drives would not be accessible.  The rep said, "It requires setting the network drive path correctly.

     

    I meant it is accessible only after you manually input the L2 SMB network drive path using IP address in Roon:

     

    smb://L2.ip.address/public

     

    Also reserve the IP address for the L2 in router DHCP reservation table.

     

    Note that in Roon architecture for network music drive, music data is sent from the network drive to Roon Server (via network), then to Roon Ready endpoint (via network).

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 hours ago, TheFlash said:

    Apologies as I'm not a Lumin user and get a little confused by the model names of A1, L2 and D3...

     

    Lumin X1 P1 T3 T2 D3 D2 D1 S1 A1 T1 are streamers with built-in DAC.

    Lumin U2 U1 series are streamers without built-in DAC.

     

    Lumin L2 is a dual-SSD UPnP library with a network switch, not a streamer.  It supports a network file system.

     

    Lumin L1 is a single-drive UPnP library that can act as a USB HDD, not a streamer.  You can only copy files to it via a USB connection from a computer.  Network file system is not supported.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    5 hours ago, wklie said:

     

    Lumin X1 P1 T3 T2 D3 D2 D1 S1 A1 T1 are streamers with built-in DAC.

    Lumin U2 U1 series are streamers without built-in DAC.

     

    Lumin L2 is a dual-SSD UPnP library with a network switch, not a streamer.  It supports a network file system.

     

    Lumin L1 is a single-drive UPnP library that can act as a USB HDD, not a streamer.  You can only copy files to it via a USB connection from a computer.  Network file system is not supported.

    Thank you!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now




×
×
  • Create New...