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Article: Lumin U1 Streaming Transport Review

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6 hours ago, One and a half said:

 

Comments to (3)

The two mini Lumin variants have a single output SMPS to drive the whole system. Yes, you can buy a linear supply to fit out, provided the regulation is such that over voltages do not occur.  Warranty is then a tricky issue. All other models have separate power supplies in their own enclosure and have dual linear voltages from two transformers for analog and digital circuits. 

 

Comments to (4)

Before purchasing the U1, an audit was made of the Aries G2 as alternative. What put me off purchasing that unit:

 

a) The G2 iLink is useful only with other Auralic product

 

b) Several users reported bugs with the on screen display artwork or other details relating to the screen on the Auralic support forum. The conversations went on for too long I thought and a fix was underway, but needed more time. I would have expected software issues like this to be well put to bed with limits (?) placed on metadata for example. The bugs were on production machine released 10 months after they were officially released for sale.

- A quick scan of the support forums of both camps will reveal which site has less user problems, the site a AS (CA) is example.

 

c) There's different methods for galvanic isolation, some work, some don't.

 

d) The U1 is also a single block aluminium body, with footers, so don't see advantage in construction, since both are similar.

 

As for pricing, there's room to negotiate in a civil manner directly with the suppliers, the sticker price isn't the final outcome.

 

Thank you for commenting. Allow me to relate.

 

Warranty is then a tricky issue.

Those changes are easily reversible and cheap to do, especially if you're handy with the soldering iron. 

 

All other models have separate power supplies in their own enclosure and have dual linear voltages from two transformers for analog and digital circuits. 

I haven't seen any reference that each external PSU powers a different board. But learn and live.

 

The G2 iLink is useful only with other Auralic product

The G2 iLink isn't a channel to input anything into the ARIES G2. It only facilities streaming from it into the VEGA G2.

(The latter's streaming capabilities are more limited). So as a stand-alone streamer, your point is actually moot. 

 

Several users reported bugs with the on screen display...

I believe AURALIC has outsold Lumin by a fat margin, given the relatively affordable prices, so you'd find more users with issues in general. As a rule, every vendor in the field has occasional software/hardware issues, so customers always take a chance when they take the plunge. But if Lumin is truly more robust than AURALIC, then more power to them and to you. And I write that with sincerity. 

 

There's different methods for galvanic isolation, some work, some don't.

What's your point? That AURALIC galvanic isolation is questionable? You need to substantiate that assertion, or be accused at merely floating vague innuendoes.  

 

The U1 is also a single block aluminium body, with footers, so don't see advantage in construction, since both are similar.

Lumin hasn't made any claims its chassis blocks EMI. Maybe it does, then I'll be stand corrected again. The G2 has suspension footspikes that dampens a certain range of frequencies so the oscillators aren't disturbed. I didn't see such feet on the Lumin.

 

 

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7 hours ago, One and a half said:

@Sonis, the reason I thought for the overhang for the rear connectors is protection from the atmosphere. Unless audio components are in air conditioned environment 24/7, dust, moisture and corrosive air (even lived close to the beach?)  can settle on connectors and cause corrosion. Witness a 15 year old AVR, the RCA connectors are not the same material any more. Having a cover, slows this process.

 

Once a method is settled on the output of the U1, it stays in place unchanged for, well, years. The U1 can be turned upside down to access the connectors better, there are usually only three cables, Ethernet, power and the output. 

 

For the review in general, it would have helped a little more if the music to evaluate was listed and any differences heard between what was existing and with the DUT, where it stood out or worse. 

 

Anyway, the U1 at home is with me for a month now with some solid listening hours under the bridge. Still happy with what I hear, a substantial improvement over anything else I tried, such as:

USB, ifi Micro USB, Mutec MC-3+USB, RME HDSPe AIO, USB extenders, plain USB cables, Curious USB cables, Nordost USB Cables, Mutec MC-1.2- AES3, Intona, ifi Galvanic 3.0, the list is extensive, all blown away by the Lumin U1. 

 

Anyway, the U1 at home is with me for a month now with some solid listening hours under the bridge. Still happy with what I hear, a substantial improvement over anything else I tried, such as:

USB, ifi Micro USB, Mutec MC-3+USB, RME HDSPe AIO, USB extenders, plain USB cables, Curious USB cables, Nordost USB Cables, Mutec MC-1.2- AES3, Intona, ifi Galvanic 3.0, the list is extensive, all blown away by the Lumin U1. 

 

I auctioned the G2 and U1 side by side. To my ears, the Lumin was slightly bloomier, which is an indication of more jitter (again, to me). In that regard, I think the U1 shows its age (3 years to date), and could benefit from an upgrade.

 

As for the improvements that you tried, cables don't reduce jitter, so I would't expect anything from them.

MC3+USB: I appreciate the G2's low jitter, but I still can't retire my chain of 3 x MC3+USB + REF10. If you've never tried such cascade--and able to put your hands on one--you're in for a serious treat. 

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52 minutes ago, John Yow said:

It would be cool to have a comparison review of the different streamers.  I would love to read how my dCS Network Bridge compares with other streamers.  A blind listening would be quite interesting.

 

Candidates could include low end players like the Squeezebox Touch, Chromecast Audio and may be direct from a Mac Mini.  And of course between same class players like the dCS, Linn, Naim, sonictransporter, etc.

 

Hell Mr Yow,

 

Your first comment on the matter of HKK vs China don't have room in the politically correct West. But I'm with you :)

 

Chromecast Audio is unlistenable. The jitter levels of the optical output renders the sound a thick mash. 

Mac Mini is merely a a notch or two above. Still pretty dismal.

Naim and Linn don't offer pure digital transports. Their products are streaming DACs. In fact, having phoned up Naim numerous times, it became patently clear that their SPDIF output is an afterthought with no jitter reduction mechanism whatsoever. Later, I  did a little audition with the ND5-XS-2 to discover how much had been left to be desired.

dCS  makes sense only if you have compatible dCS gear. Otherwise, their bridge is a waste, since the dual AES and dual clocks can only be used with dCS systems. Furthermore, if you insist on purchasing their equipment, having all that unused electronic inside might increase jitter levels (in theory of course; that has yet to be proven).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Archimago said:

 

Yes, it's 2019. And the interesting thing is that the "bits are bits" argument has become even more true over the years with good quality, lower jitter devices! Best to have this discussion another time of course...

 

‘Right! So why would the LUMIN U1 sound any different than a Chromecast Audio you have tested and found no jitter above the audible spectrum when used as a streamer bypassing its DAC?

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13 hours ago, audio.bill said:

Because even though it doesn't play discs, like a transport it plays digital files and provides a digital output to a DAC's input.

 

7 hours ago, wklie said:

 

We call our Ethernet-connected DAC with analog outputs "network music players".

 

We call our Ethernet-connected streamer with digital outputs only "network music transport".  To me a transport means "digital output only".

 

 

Ok with me, but transport just sounds mechanical - not digital.   Need a new term?

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10 hours ago, John Yow said:

As far as I know, Lumin is a product of Pixel Magic which is a 100% Hong Kong company based in Hong Kong's Science Park.  Which is a high technology incubation hub.  

 

Their bread and butter products are set top boxes for terrestrial digital TV which I consider to be the best out there.

 

Hong Kong is part of China, but the business practice cannot be more different.  

 

I thought I would like to clarify that because there are a plethora of electronics coming out of China, but only a handful of hardware companies from Hong Kong, and Pixel Magic is one that I personally am rather fond of.    

 

Thanks for the details in your post John. The world isn't black and white and although HK is in China, it's very different. 

 

 

One note on the overhang in the back of the unit. I've used a couple other components with this same overhang. It's really a pain in the butt when connecting / disconnecting cables, but once that is done, there's usually no need to deal with it again. Plus, I like the look of components with this overhand.

 

 

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46 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

 

One note on the overhang in the back of the unit. I've used a couple other components with this same overhang. It's really a pain in the butt when connecting / disconnecting cables, but once that is done, there's usually no need to deal with it again. Plus, I like the look of components with this overhand.

 

 

Agree, but like you noted once you get everything connected up, its not a big deal.   I have not unhooked anything on my two streamers in years. Still work great and sound great.

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23 hours ago, ajay556 said:

I am surprised that we are still using  'bits is bits' logic to defend insignificance of digital source. Extracting bits from your 'digital storage' in a audio world requires a highly precision clock that is dependent on a solid power supply. The entire process from storage to digital conversion is highly dependent on precision clock in various steps. That is the reason sound quality differs from  different digital transports. We are in year 2019 and bits is bits is archaic logic and  audiophile style reviewers should not be surprised anymore by transports playing a key role in SQ. Bits is Bits is a marketing ploy and should be removed from audio vocabulary.

It kinda makes sense if you think about it. If bits weren't just bits, then computers wouldn't work. You code an application and when you open it, you expect it to work. You expect the bit stream that makes up that application to remain the same throughout the computer and the app's life. Is that not so? Why should a bit stream representing music or video not be the same? In fact video should be more sensitive to changing bits and clock timing than audio. So you can't blame people, especially those who work with digital signals in their jobs every day, for being skeptical. And we also know that hearing is not always believing. People hear things in their audio systems that aren't really there every day. A healthy skepticism for things that should not be is probably a good thing...

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3 hours ago, gmgraves said:

In fact video should be more sensitive to changing bits and clock timing than audio.

 

In a videophile forum, I've read people there report significant improvement to SQ (typically ATMOS / TrueHD / DTS HD-MA, etc.) and comparatively minor improvement to picture quality with LPS mods of the power supplies in video players, which output bits via HDMI.

 

If this debate continues, someone will bring up expectation bias and blind test quickly.  Rather than talking about own products (which would sound like hard selling), let me report that we actually carried out a blind test of a leading USB cleaner product popular in this forum.  To our surprise, our expert listeners actually got 100% right in the blind test in identifying when the USB cleaner is used and when it is not.  (I'll try not to say further on this, please pardon my lack of response in advance.)

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2 hours ago, gmgraves said:

It kinda makes sense if you think about it. If bits weren't just bits, then computers wouldn't work. You code an application and when you open it, you expect it to work. You expect the bit stream that makes up that application to remain the same throughout the computer and the app's life. Is that not so? Why should a bit stream representing music or video not be the same? In fact video should be more sensitive to changing bits and clock timing than audio. So you can't blame people, especially those who work with digital signals in their jobs every day, for being skeptical. And we also know that hearing is not always believing. People hear things in their audio systems that aren't really there every day. A healthy skepticism for things that should not be is probably a good thing...

 

The video portion had been addressed below. Maybe not fully, but I'll leave it as is. 

 

Let me attack the fallacy of the "bits are bits" from a different angle.

 

Let's assume you sampled an analog wave and now wish to recreate it in the Cartesian world. The bits (i.e., different voltages) you plot along the y-axis; the timing, along the x-axis.

 

Now, what happens if the points along the x-axis deviate from the originals? Would the result be identical to original analog wave? Certainly not. Thereby, the new curve wouldn't sound exactly the same. Throw in random jitter, and the sound will be pretty terrible. 

 

In summation, for applications that operate in a single dimensional space, e.g., a word processor file system, "bits are bits". On the other hand, the demand of applications that operate in multi-dimensional space is precision in all plains. 

 

 

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53 minutes ago, wklie said:

 

In a videophile forum, I've read people there report significant improvement to SQ (typically ATMOS / TrueHD / DTS HD-MA, etc.) and comparatively minor improvement to picture quality with LPS mods of the power supplies in video players, which output bits via HDMI.

 

If this debate continues, someone will bring up expectation bias and blind test quickly.  Rather than talking about own products (which would sound like hard selling), let me report that we actually carried out a blind test of a leading USB cleaner product popular in this forum.  To our surprise, our expert listeners actually got 100% right in the blind test in identifying when the USB cleaner is used and when it is not.  (I'll try not to say further on this, please pardon my lack of response in advance.)

Yes, please keep this on the down low.  Don't let anyone know.  Too controversial to discuss what you did and what the results were. Thank you for your advanced discretion.  

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21 hours ago, LowMidHigh said:

 

Anyway, the U1 at home is with me for a month now with some solid listening hours under the bridge. Still happy with what I hear, a substantial improvement over anything else I tried, such as:

USB, ifi Micro USB, Mutec MC-3+USB, RME HDSPe AIO, USB extenders, plain USB cables, Curious USB cables, Nordost USB Cables, Mutec MC-1.2- AES3, Intona, ifi Galvanic 3.0, the list is extensive, all blown away by the Lumin U1. 

 

I auctioned the G2 and U1 side by side. To my ears, the Lumin was slightly bloomier, which is an indication of more jitter (again, to me). In that regard, I think the U1 shows its age (3 years to date), and could benefit from an upgrade.

 

As for the improvements that you tried, cables don't reduce jitter, so I would't expect anything from them.

MC3+USB: I appreciate the G2's low jitter, but I still can't retire my chain of 3 x MC3+USB + REF10. If you've never tried such cascade--and able to put your hands on one--you're in for a serious treat. 

I envy your position to audition the G2 and the U1 side by side. For that opportunity in this country, well, I have better chances at sweeping rocking horse poo. Age - 3 years? the more time a product is on the market, the more chance to prove itself. The G2 has bugs, the U1's are already fixed and gone. Whats there to upgrade? Less jitter, s'pose.

 

I had the two MC-3+USB in cascade for a time, quite good results, but not enough to keep them. The REF10 came out a few months later, by then the horse had bolted.

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21 hours ago, LowMidHigh said:

There's different methods for galvanic isolation, some work, some don't.

What's your point? That AURALIC galvanic isolation is questionable? You need to substantiate that assertion, or be accused at merely floating vague innuendoes.  

 

 

Last 12-18 months I purchased Intona and ifi Galvanic (x2) devices. Both claim to isolate USB, one using the Silanna chip the other something else, can't remember now. Found out later there's leakage across the barrier anyway.

 

The ifi Galvanic disconnected itself from the host USB controller ad nauseum. Depending on the cables, would work, sort of. Returned to the supplier.

Intona worked after a firmware upgrade, but sometimes failed to connect too. When the music played it wasn't bad, but not enough to warrant it in the system. The Intona benefited the MC-3+USB, but in the wrong way, in that the top end was too artificial, depending on the music sounded hard. Both Intona are now in a drawer.

IIRC, @Superdad identified the Silanna chip in the G2. Yes, it's all in the implementation I'm told.

 

The isolation in the MC-3+USB series is very good and that's how it should be.

 

There's my evidence of floating innuendo, happy now?

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1 hour ago, One and a half said:

I envy your position to audition the G2 and the U1 side by side. For that opportunity in this country, well, I have better chances at sweeping rocking horse poo. Age - 3 years? the more time a product is on the market, the more chance to prove itself. The G2 has bugs, the U1's are already fixed and gone. Whats there to upgrade? Less jitter, s'pose.

 

I had the two MC-3+USB in cascade for a time, quite good results, but not enough to keep them. The REF10 came out a few months later, by then the horse had bolted.

 

Yes, lucked out a bit :) Two long running demo units.

 

You make a good point: stability vs progress. I haven't encountered any glitches with the G2 yet, but I mainly use AirPlay to stream off SoundCloud.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, One and a half said:

Last 12-18 months I purchased Intona and ifi Galvanic (x2) devices. Both claim to isolate USB, one using the Silanna chip the other something else, can't remember now. Found out later there's leakage across the barrier anyway.

 

The ifi Galvanic disconnected itself from the host USB controller ad nauseum. Depending on the cables, would work, sort of. Returned to the supplier.

Intona worked after a firmware upgrade, but sometimes failed to connect too. When the music played it wasn't bad, but not enough to warrant it in the system. The Intona benefited the MC-3+USB, but in the wrong way, in that the top end was too artificial, depending on the music sounded hard. Both Intona are now in a drawer.

IIRC, @Superdad identified the Silanna chip in the G2. Yes, it's all in the implementation I'm told.

 

The isolation in the MC-3+USB series is very good and that's how it should be.

 

There's my evidence of floating innuendo, happy now?

 

Actually, I'm quite happy, because it's clear you haven't covered the entire galvanic insolation inside the G2.

 

A.

Yes, there's the USB galvanic treatment, which  @Superdad actually commended in the 'AERIS G2 Review,' comment section. You can find it on this site.  Personally, I never use the USB so I have no idea.

 

B

There's galvanic isolation between the dual LPS. A good move of course. 

 

C.

Lastly, a dual circuitry isolation, both for signal and ground, that blocks noise from traveling into the digital output stage. You can detect telltale signs of that mechanism in the marketing photos of the innards. AURALIC has gone the extra mile here. I believe  UpTone is going to employ a similar design in their up-and-coming network switch, but it's beyond my pay-grade.

 

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2 hours ago, One and a half said:

The ifi Galvanic disconnected itself from the host USB controller ad nauseum. Depending on the cables, would work, sort of. Returned to the supplier.

Exactly my experience.  I ordered an iGalvanic when it first became available and documented this carefully for iFi technical support.  They were useless.

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On 1/29/2019 at 10:55 AM, John Yow said:

It would be cool to have a comparison review of the different streamers.  I would love to read how my dCS Network Bridge compares with other streamers.  A blind listening would be quite interesting.

 

Candidates could include low end players like the Squeezebox Touch, Chromecast Audio and may be direct from a Mac Mini.  And of course between same class players like the dCS, Linn, Naim, sonictransporter, etc.

Unfortunately, few mention the MiND by Simaudio Moon.
One of the precursors and well-sounding devices!
I also point out the new Belcanto eOne stream.

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Luminosa U1 and   T+A DAC 8 DSD

Hello, I understand that Lumin U1 is capable of DSD128
upsampling. I have an T+A DAC 8 DSD that is capable of DSD 512 upsampling. My question is: Can I upsample to DSD 512 with my DAC and Roon?

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27 minutes ago, Cgrossi said:

Luminosa U1 and   T+A DAC 8 DSD

Hello, I understand that Lumin U1 is capable of DSD128
upsampling. I have an T+A DAC 8 DSD that is capable of DSD 512 upsampling. My question is: Can I upsample to DSD 512 with my DAC and Roon?

The U1 is capable of DSD512 with the update in Dec 2019. Adjust the sample rate conversion under DSP in Roon to send to the U1. Done !

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12 minutes ago, One and a half said:

The U1 is capable of DSD512 with the update in Dec 2019. Adjust the sample rate conversion under DSP in Roon to send to the U1. Done !

Perfect! Thank you so much.

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6 hours ago, Cgrossi said:

Hello, I understand that Lumin U1 is capable of DSD128
upsampling. I have an T+A DAC 8 DSD that is capable of DSD 512 upsampling. My question is: Can I upsample to DSD 512 with my DAC and Roon?

 

No.  As of December 2018, T+A DAC8 does not support Linux native DSD and therefore is not compatible.  There is a beta firmware (for the Amanero USB board inside) that supports it but T+A said it was not mature enough:

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/roon-does-not-detect-my-t-a-devices/36167/29?u=wklie

 

Right now, the only way to send DSD512 to your particular DAC is to run Roon on Windows, and connect your DAC to it via USB.

 

If you connect it to any Linux streamers including Lumin U1 (MINI) or some other streamers mentioned in this thread, it would be limited to DSD128 via DoP.

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6 hours ago, wklie said:

 

No.  As of December 2018, T+A DAC8 does not support Linux native DSD and therefore is not compatible.  There is a beta firmware (for the Amanero USB board inside) that supports it but T+A said it was not mature enough:

https://community.roonlabs.com/t/roon-does-not-detect-my-t-a-devices/36167/29?u=wklie

 

Right now, the only way to send DSD512 to your particular DAC is to run Roon on Windows, and connect your DAC to it via USB.

 

If you connect it to any Linux streamers including Lumin U1 (MINI) or some other streamers mentioned in this thread, it would be limited to DSD128 via DoP.

 

Thanks for the reminder, Peter, there *was* a reason (duh) I stuck with AES3/coax, the incompatibility with Linux drivers, USB receivers and sample rates/formats in certain combos is too much risk to sink all eggs in the one USB basket and end up with "The Sounds of Silence" permanently.

 

My apologies to @Cgrossi to supply incorrect information, seemed like an easy solution.

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4 hours ago, One and a half said:

 

Thanks for the reminder, Peter, there *was* a reason (duh) I stuck with AES3/coax, the incompatibility with Linux drivers, USB receivers and sample rates/formats in certain combos is too much risk to sink all eggs in the one USB basket and end up with "The Sounds of Silence" permanently.

 

My apologies to @Cgrossi to supply incorrect information, seemed like an easy solution.

Thank you One and a half. This is a very valuable information and it changes the whole approach. I'll continued seaching for an streamer that can upsample to DSD512 through my T+A DAC8. Any suggestions?

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11 hours ago, Cgrossi said:

Thank you One and a half. This is a very valuable information and it changes the whole approach. I'll continued seaching for an streamer that can upsample to DSD512 through my T+A DAC8. Any suggestions?

I haven't followed DSD512 progress very well, suffice to say if you want to use DSD512 this only can work from the network source to the U1. The U1 then can sample rate convert to the coax/AES3 output to 192 max and from there to the T+A DAC 8 input. OR convert DSD512 to DSD128 DoP.  I think by the time all the sample rate conversions are completed twice say 44.1 to DSD512, then back down again x 2, the signal processing gets very messy. For this reason, apart from > DSD64, is routed straight through as is to the U1.

 

Alternatively if you have Roon, let Roon sample rate convert to coax/AES3 capable 192 to the U1 and use the AES3 output to the T+A.

 

Quite a few DACs perform better with coax/AES3 than using the USB, have you tried, it's worth the exercise. DAC I use works best with coax rather than USB, Yggdrasil, Berkerley DACs top of my head, sound better than USB.  I let Roon convert DSD256 (highest rate file I own) to PCM either 192 or 176.4 (can't remember exactly) direct to the U1 and it passes through x 1 to the DAC.

 

USB, for DSD512 generally works only for a (specialised) Windows Driver, so that means a computer connected directly to the T+A DA as @wklieexplained. 

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