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Gus141

Node 2i upgrade: Lumin or Auralic?

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Hi, I’m looking for upgrade advice: Auralic Aries G2 or Lumin U1 Mini.

 

I’ve been using a Bluesound Node 2i (with BluOS Controller on an iPad Pro) as my primary network streamer for the past 10 months (I also use an Oppo 205 via DLNA/UPnP with mConnect) . I’ve been getting away from computer-based streaming and haven’t used my Macbook Pro or Mac Mini (w/ Audirvana) for music in months. I don’t use Roon. I just stream Qobuz, TIDAL, Tune In, Radio Paradise, etc. to an external DAC and no longer maintain a NAS library of rips.  I’m not interested in RPi-based products or Sonore products. Also, I’m very happy with my DACs, so I’m thinking of just getting a transport only (i.e., a network streamer without a DAC); and the iOS app interface is very important to me as well.

 

 I know @The Computer Audiophile is doing an X1 review soon, but that’s out of my league; and, he did an Aries G2 review this time last year and liked it, but I don’t think he did more testing with a Vega G2 or their stand-alone clocks (and recent pictures of his stack don’t show the G2), but the ad-on options of the Auralic line intrigues me. 

 

Based on my preferences and my budget (nothing more expensive than the Aries g2), I’ve narrowed my choices down to the Auralic Aries G2 and the Lumin U1 Mini. Both of their respective iOS apps seem ok but the Lumin app looks like it’s maintained more often and @wklie is an active member here.

 

So, if you own these streamers and want to express your preference, or love something else that I should consider, please let me know! Thanks in advance!

 

Cheers and here’s to the music lover in all of us.

Gus

 

 

 

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Do you listen to Tidal MQA?  Lumin and (I believe) your current Bluesound support MQA Core decoding to 88.2/96kHz for digital output to another DAC.  (This decoding is necessary to retrieve the 22kHz-48kHz musical content embedded in the music.)


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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Hi Peter,

I’m not a fan of MQA personally, but during music discovery when using TIDAL, it is nice to get the first unfold (core decoding) of MQA, which I have benefitted from on both the Node 2i and the Oppo 205 even though using external DACs; I’ll then add the track to my Qobuz library to get pure high-res . I know the Lumin supports MQA decoding on the DAC-less devices, and full MQA rendering on the ESS-based DAC products.

 

I was wondering something on the Lumin iOS app: does the Qobuz API you use allow you to sort Qobuz favorite tracks by artist, or is it just a list of tracks in date-added order like the BluOS Controller?

 

Cheers.

 

 

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Currently the Lumin app shows the favorites in the order they're reported by the Qobuz API.  We have not been able to find a way to sort it from the API yet.

 

For Tidal, we support favorite sorting as supported by its API.


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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Excellent. Thanks for the info. Sounds like the Qobuz API has some catching up to do with the TIDAL API, which I agree has much better sorting/grouping functionality. I wasn’t sure if Bluesound was using an old Qobuz API or if every third-party app developer was impacted by a limited Qobuz API. It’s a shame actually, because I find the Qobuz desktop and iOS apps to be awesome and just wish their API was as robust, so our 3rd-party streamer apps were as useable as the native apps.

 

 

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Qobuz is working on all of those things. As to the Aries vs Lumin I have owned both and they are both great just different.  The model comparable to the U1 Mini is the G1 the G2 is double the price.

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14 minutes ago, JMD54 said:

Qobuz is working on all of those things. As to the Aries vs Lumin I have owned both and they are both great just different.  The model comparable to the U1 Mini is the G1 the G2 is double the price.

Thank you for the info. Good to hear you liked both. How were they “different”?

 

As for the G1 vs G2, you’re right, they are almost identical, and the G1 is closer in price to the U1 mini.  But, I like the USB galvanic isolation of the G2, and the lightning link connection (I might add a Vega DAC in the future).

 

I know the G2 is double the price of the mini, but the Lumin U1 (non mini) is triple the price; I’m willing to go double for the G2 if it (and its software) is that much better than the mini, but I can’t justify the cost of the Lumin U1 (or above) right now.

 

Which software controller did you like the most?

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The main difference between the two is the software design and some like one better than the other.  I started out with the Aries Mini years ago so when I bought the Lumin I just had to adapt to the different way of doing things but it wasn't a big deal.  Even now I have the G1 in one system and the Teac NT-505 (which is based on the Lumin architecture and runs on Lumin software) in a second system.  Now that I have had both a while I move between the two without thinking anything about it.  And though they can't call it MQA as they are no longer a member of the consortium the Aries does do software based MQA that was developed when they were one of the original members.  It works regardless of the DAC used.  So my suggestion is to look closely at the tutorials on both units and pick the one whose software best fits your needs.  The CEO of Auralic doesn't participate much here anymore as they now have their own forum which I would join and look over if I was you.  

 

I am the most comfortable with Lightning DS but I have used it a lot longer.  If I had started out with a Lumin I might feel differently. 

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Thanks JMD54! Great info. Interesting that you mentioned the NT-505, since I looked closely at it too, but it doesn’t have a digital out.

 

After more research I’m beginning to think the U1-mini and the Aries G1 will be equal in quality with the only subjective difference being which software one likes better; and the Aries G2 and Lumin U1 (non-mini) will be double/triple in cost for a modest (?) improvement in sound quality.

 

Hm. I’m now beginning to wonder if the U1-mini or G1 will bring any noticeable sound improvement over the Bluesound Node 2i.  

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When I first settled on the Aries Mini I had both it and the Node at the same time as did a friend in another state.  We both kept the Mini and sent the Node back.  I then bought a used Aries Femto and that was an improvement over the Mini even though the Mini had an outboard LPS too.  The G1 is a huge leap over the Aries Femto to my ears so yes either one of your choices will sound better and give you more choices.

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Cool. That’s what I was hoping. I’ll look at the software tutorials as you suggest: since I don’t use Roon, the software is going to be a big part of my decision.  Thanks for the insights.

 

Cheers,

Gus

 

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Another question for those with the Aries G1/G2 or U1-mini: how warm do they get? I would guess the switching power supply in the mini keeps the U1-mini cooler than G1/G2 with their built in linear power supplies. But the processors can also be a big output of heat (like in the Oppo 205). Are they hot, warm, barely warm? I’m interested due to my setup and heat concerns in the listening room.

 

Thanks. 

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Gus

 

I just put my hand on top of the G1 which has been on continuously since the first of June and playing music for the last six hours and it is barely warm.  One unit has two linear power supplies inside and the other a SMPS and the temperatures I would guess are within a degree of each other.  Not a concern for any streaming device that I am aware of. 

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Ordered a LUMIN U1 Mini (black) through my dealer. Arriving by the end of this week, I hope.

 

I’m now considering how best to hook it up to my DACs (RME ADI-2 DAC and Oppo 205). I also realize that I won’t be giving up my Node 2i completely: there are other streaming services it supports that the LUMIN app does not and I want to be able to keep using those. I also don’t have PCM files above 24/192 nor do I play or upsample to DSD, so S/PDIF limitations are fine for my needs.

 

But what sounds best on the LUMIN U1 Mini? What outputs have the best engineering? I know @wklie has said to try AES/EBU and USB and decide what you like the best. 

 

No AES/EBU input on the Oppo. The RME ADI-2 DAC doesn’t have an XLR connector for a dedicated AES/EBU input, but it supports AES/EBU through the S/PDIF Coax input via a cable adapter (XLR to RCA), but with non-standard soldering.

 

The non-standard cable adapter described in the RME manual says to connect pins 2 and 3 of a female XLR plug individually to the two pins of a phono plug (pin 2 wired to the tip of the RCA plug); the cable shielding is only connected to pin 1 of the XLR - not to the phono plug. I can’t find an adapter or cable with this soldering so I would have to make a custom cable adapter and I’m not sure I want to do that if the improvement would be minimal compared to S/PDIF coax. But I guess I’ll never know unless I try it. I have a question posted on RME forums to see if anyone else has tried AES on the coax input of the RME ADI-2 DAC with an adapter.

 

Also, I want to use the Oppo 205’s USB DAC input when listening to MQA: it will do full MQA decode and rendering over it’s analogue outputs. Although I’m not a fan of MQA, if I’m playing an MQA track via TIDAL during music discovery, I might as well here it fully rendered with the intended MQA D/A filters.

 

Since the RME ADI-2 DAC is my primary DAC and the Oppo is rarely used, this is what I’m planning:

Node 2i <-(Toslink)-> RME

LUMIN U1 Mini <-(Coax)-> RME

LUMIN U1 Mini <-(USB)-> Oppo 205 (when using USB output of U1 Mini set MQA passthrough)

 

For U1 and U1 Mini users, what are your preferred outputs? If you don’t have AES/EBU capability, did you go coax or USB?

 

Cheers,

Gus

 

 

 

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I do not recommend the use of an adapter.

 

Your setup looks fine to me, but please be aware that when you're outputting coax or toslink (or AES), the USB needs to be disconnected first otherwise the timing will be off.  I guess powering down (not just standing by) the Oppo may also be ok.


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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Awesome, thank you Peter! Powering off the Oppo (not just standby) will be easy in my setup. Thank you for the advice.

 

Cheers,

Gus

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12 minutes ago, wklie said:

...the USB needs to be disconnected first otherwise the timing will be off.  I guess powering down (not just standing by) the Oppo may also be ok.

Would leaving the USB cable connected to the LUMIN, *but disconnected* from the Oppo  be OK, or is there some cable-detection activated just by having the USB cable attached to the back of the LUMIN that messes up the S/PDIF clock?

 

Attaching and detaching the USB cable from the Oppo will be easy compared to the LUMIN due to the location of the LUMIN in my stack and the way the extended hood covers the cable ends.

 

Thanks again.

Gus

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That depends on the Oppo implementation, but I guess it is likely that power off should be sufficient.


Peter Lie

LUMIN Firmware Lead

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Do you know there are aftermarket power supplies/adapters available for the U1 Mini which do take the sound quality further? 

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10 hours ago, FIndingit said:

Do you know there are aftermarket power supplies/adapters available for the U1 Mini which do take the sound quality further? 

Yes, I have been reading a lot about the U1 Mini and saw the LPS upgrades and connection kits mentioned. I’ll keep it in mind, but I’m more likely to save that money to apply to an upgrade, like the U1 or the next generation, if I really like this LUMIN (it’s my first one).

 

Cheers,

Gus

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On 11/14/2019 at 10:34 PM, wklie said:

Currently the Lumin app shows the favorites in the order they're reported by the Qobuz API.  We have not been able to find a way to sort it from the API yet.

 

For Tidal, we support favorite sorting as supported by its API.

The mconnect player (iOS app) had an update today which added sorting options for Qobuz favorites.  Also, the “My Mix” playlists in TIDAL are now supported too.

 

Hopefully this means there are new Qobuz and TIDAL APIs out for 3rd-party software.

 

Cheers,

Gus

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Don't Lumin devices still support standard UPnP?

 

If so, you should be able to use yours (at least for now) with the mconnect Player app as a UPnP/DLNA controller providing its Qobuz & TIDAL access, just like you are currently with your OPPO.


We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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I will let you know if mconnect works well with the U1 Mini. The LUMIN arrives today. I’m assuming you are correct: your knowledge on all-things UPnP/DLNA and Open Home networking has always been impressive and your posts have help me greatly in the past.

 

I actually like mconnect despite not reading many good reviews, and with this latest update they now have some features not present in other 3rd-party controllers for TIDAL and Qobuz.  But, one of the reasons I bought the LUMIN U1 Mini was because I like the look of the LUMIN app and the frequent software updates. The BluOS app is going backwards with each update in my opinion and that’s why I wanted to find a new hardware streamer. I’m not a roon user either.

 

This mconnect update hopefully means the additional TIDAL and Qobuz interface features will make their way to other controller software soon.

 

Cheers,

Gus

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47 minutes ago, Gus141 said:

I will let you know if mconnect works well with the U1 Mini. The LUMIN arrives today. I’m assuming you are correct: your knowledge on all-things UPnP/DLNA and Open Home networking has always been impressive and your posts have help me greatly in the past.

 

I actually like mconnect despite not reading many good reviews, and with this latest update they now have some features not present in other 3rd-party controllers for TIDAL and Qobuz.  But, one of the reasons I bought the LUMIN U1 Mini was because I like the look of the LUMIN app and the frequent software updates. The BluOS app is going backwards with each update in my opinion and that’s why I wanted to find a new hardware streamer. I’m not a roon user either.

 

This mconnect update hopefully means the additional TIDAL and Qobuz interface features will make their way to other controller software soon.

 

Cheers,

Gus

 

make sure you try the lumin app -- i've always thought it was the best one out there.


source:  intel nuc8i5 (roon rock) > intel nuc6i5 (win 10, ao, roon bridge, dirac v1) > schiit yggdrasil (gen 5, analog 2)
headphone rig:  bryston bha-1 > senn hd600
two-channel rig:  luminous audio axiom ii xlr walker mod > parasound a21 > monitor audio gx100

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11 minutes ago, jcn3 said:

 

make sure you try the lumin app -- i've always thought it was the best one out there.

Oh I definitely will. The LUMIN app is one of the reasons I chose a LUMIN streamer over others. Looking forward to it.

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