LUMIN X-1 AUDIOPHILE NETWORK STREAMER REVIEW PART 1


The digital audiophile era is in its richest bloom. Despite many naysayers, count me among the keenest advocates of the digital audio. Mainly for two matters associated with our beloved industry; the digital audio product bloom and digital audio files and media streaming. 

Yes, physical mediums will always have their own solitude standing and value. Still, it's hard to ignore the splendid opportunities of digital and an enormous music's library. The Tidal and few other streaming services are offering more than 30 million songs ready to stream a click away. Digital downloads might not have the same, virtually endless musical landscape, but there is a remarkable amount of high-resolution files, that can be acquired and downloaded from the internet. In that sense, both purists and people who're recognizing the streaming value are being served. 


Part of the digital revolution is intimately associated with the development and extensive endorsement of the high-end audio DACs. While the DACs were formerly a part of the CD/SACD players, the digital boom has established a market for stand-alone devices. In a similar manner, the importance of network players become noticeable and the market again provided a highly influential segment that delivers many conveniences. 

Yes, the desktop computer or laptop are the simplest solutions to be hooked up with the DACs, but as you'll read on the plot thickens with the dedicated audiophile network players like Lumin's X1. 

After the Munich High-End Audio Show 2018, I was approached by Angus Leung from LUMIN: "I have been reading Mono and Stereo for a long time and waiting for the right moment to approach Mono and Stereo for a review, finally the time has come! The X1 is our brand new player featuring some of the greatest technology being put into a network player, the optical network (pretty much world first to include an enterprise-grade SFP module slot), DSD512, femto clock, dual stage dual mono power supplies. I think the features and performance of X1 would generate interest for the readers of Mono and Stereo and it would be our honor for a journalist of your standing in the community to review our latest player."

So, we've worked out the routinely needed and a few weeks afterward the Lumin X1 flagship audiophile network player has reached Mono and Stereo HQs.

MEET THE LUMIN X1


LUMIN X1 audiophile network player is re-engineered throughout and LUMIN X1 makes improvements in every possible location. 


Lumin's team has added all new processor, that can deliver native DSD512 & PCM768 playback. The dual mono design and new output buffer design throughout maximizes channel separation and double ES9038Pro SABRE DACs 140dB dynamic range is promising something extra along with Femto Clock System's precision FPGA distribution.


There is new optical network input, that provides complete isolation from network digital noise (which I'll address later on).


LUMIN X1 also has a dual mono dual stage linear regulator, new USB digital audio output, that supports Native DSD512. An entirely new power supply was designed for the X1 WITH enclosure is made out of solid billet CNC carved aluminum block. 


Below are few more of the power supply highlights:

- dual-toroidal transformer design 
- separate digital & analog circuitry 
- low-noise linear regulator
- new 9-pin output connector
- available as an upgrade for existing s1 / a1 / t1 customers

LUMIN X1 CIRCUIT HIGHLIGHTS


There is a lot to show and pin point under the hood of LUMIN X1 audiophile network player. So let us take a closer look...

DUAL ES9038PRO CONVERTER


- Dual Mono operation
- 32-bit precision volume control DSD512 22.6MHz
- PCM 768kHz

FEMTO CLOCK SYSTEM


- Dual Femto Crystal Oscillators FPGA for precision clock distribution

NEW OUTPUT BUFFER DESIGN


- Fully balanced analogue output module Output transformer compensation circuitry Improved clarity, detail, poise and warmth

DUAL MONO DUAL STAGE LINEAR REGULATOR


- Dual stage low-noise power regulator for analogue converters
- Dual Mono Power Supply design for maximum channel separation

LUNDAHL OUTPUT TRANSFORMER


- LUNDAHL transformers needs no additional introduction. They're an industry standard

BUILT-IN OPTICAL NETWORK


- Industry-first audiophile network streamer with built-in Optical Network capability
- Provides complete isolation from network digital noise
- Industry-standard SFP for maximum compatibility

OPERATIONAL


Once on the same network, the LUMIN X1 can be easily controlled with an iPad or Android tablet. All the extensive features are available in the official, highly resolved and stylish LUMIN app. There are too many features to list them all, but everything is at the tip of a click and presented in a simple, straightforward way. It really shouldn't be a problem to use and turn on any of the features like choosing output, change absolute phase, play around with (up)sampling options etc. But, when you want to go deeper, more experienced user will have a plethora of choices to explore.


Despite its more modest dimensions, I wouldn't call X1 exactly a compact device! Even without all new separated power supply it weights around 8 kg (milled from solid aluminum block) and takes a footprint of my The Bespoke Audio Company Ultimate Silver preamplifier. 

X1 network player doesn't have any onboard storage, but the files can be loaded via USB thumb or external storage drive, but with the assistance of the UPnP/DLNA server. 

Only a bluish display sits in the middle of the minimalistic, yet sharp looking front panel, where all the needed information is displayed.  


Deep under the top, the back panel is hiding RCA/balanced outputs (coupled with Lundahl LL7401 transformers) RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Network (1000BASE-T) and SFP Gigabit Optical Ethernet Network (1000BASE-T) inputs, USB input (for a flash drive, USB hard disk Single-partition FAT32, NTFS, and EXT2/3 only), BNC digital out connector, earth ground connector DC power in the socket and a pinhole with a reset button. 


LUMIN X1 supports DS playback up to DSD512 22.6MHz (1-bit) and PCM playback up to 768kHz, 16–32-bit, Stereo. This should cover the present and upcoming digital audio needs for years to come. And yes, X1 also supports MQA...  

I wouldn't call the inputs/outputs selection neither the spartan or of exuberant. Its more of a safe balance considered the space given. 

THE MUSIC 


Pat Metheny Unity Group - Kin (<-->)’s 15 min long opening track On Day One is both melodic and auditory marvel. It can show an impressive holographic space presentation. At 0:40 into the song when bass drum kicks in the three-dimensional thump advance its decays and delays outside of the speakers and surfaces around the listener. LUMIN X1 presented the needed surround effect and fled beyond of just passing the test. X1 inner core allows sound to extend the thud further into the listening area, than the usual suspects. 

Similar effect, but with a peculiar instrument is markedly illustrated with the Sting - The Soul Cages' first song from the album, the Island Of Souls. Intriguingly, what turns out to be the synthetic voice of electronic pipes’ portrays out of the box delay effect, that is far from being only associated with the loudspeakers positioning. It's heavily depended on the front end's strength of disclosing the digital right! It’s futile to bound the exact attribute's inner processes, but LUMIN X1’s deeper state of digital was adequate to unscramble the fragments and participate effectively with the rest of digital paraphernalia, reaching and affecting time domain related quark like particles on digital data.

It seems, that some spatial details (phase!?) are of utmost importance and when they’re deciphered by the potent front end and within the ultra resolutive high-end audio system the spacial information of the stereo signal can form such immersive impact and believable gravity.

These phenomena extend outside of studio realms to the live recordings like Michele Campanella & Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo & Aldo Ceccato The Best of Saint-Saëns (2 CDs Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No.4 in C minor, Op.44 - 2. Allegro vivace - Andante-Allegro). This album is seldomly presented at the degree that is above of being just close to sounding all right. The rationale of orchestra and piano structure must be displayed very intensely and with their separate formation. LUMIN X1 has brought highly dense information expansion, that allowed highly believable three dimensional objectifying and enhanced image clarity letting much intimate lurking into the music's sphere. X1 has carried out something non-typical evading the usual hyped tension that can be easily detected in some similar devices far beyond the LUMIN flagship's price tag! That alone should put X1 on the highly desired list for anyone concerned... 

SUM UP


LUMIN X1 is a straightforward contemporary digital high-end audio apparatus. It can be obtained in the black or silver finish. The review sample as you've most probably already identified on the photographs arrived in a very nice Batman's' black tint. I like the modern, stealth look of the dark LUMIN X-1. When in action, the small monochrome blue display will indicate the song info and a circle marks the duration of the song. This ring can be tracked even from a few meters away. 



Foremost requested inquiry!? "Is it better, than a computer?". Oh yes! It is and by no small margin.

The second question!? How good is the DAC? Very good! It demonstrates the 21st-century attributes by being fast, resolving and with transparent dynamic quality, providing the music in an unaltered and forthright way, but nevertheless with the necessary touch of the authentic, real-world warmness. 

From the innards to the outer aesthetics up to the stylish iPad app, all screams quality and dedication. The LUMIN team really made their homework and enlisted from the startup to deliver something extra. I like and love the simplicity, a sort of Bauhaus' "Ordnung und Disziplin" operation and most importantly the sonic impact it brings. 


It's tough to imagine, that the X1 owner will adopt it solely as the audiophile network device when the DAC part offers not merely great integration (all in one) but also a stand out performance. Then again... You'll invariably encounter a few of the high-end audio purists in the pursuit of a perfect exercise of the zeros and ones, warm up to take advantage of the X1 steaming and nonetheless re-sampling options.  

To provide the LUMIN X-1 the proper quality of evaluation plane  I've tested it with my collection of reference DACs; MSB SELECT DAC II with Femto 33 clock, Totaldac d1-Seven DAC, Aries Cerat Kassandra II Sig DAC and Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula DAC. In all given situations X1 has presented its fluid structure and efficacy while retaining each DACs strengths. 


Not to overlook! The separated/dedicated optical network inputs on the Lumin X1, as well as custom WestminsterLab DC cable (both sold separately), have brought in an even bigger performance boost. Optical input notably operates in the network noise domain (we all know about the usual router quality) while WestminsterLab's custom cable addresses the powerline advancement in the for of solidness.


LUMIN X1 is no entry level device by any measures. It was undoubtedly constructed to rival upper echelon level devices from companies like Aurender and the rest of the competition, and to be accompanied with the upper class of high-end audio electronics. 

This is another 2018's contender that deserves the highlight. LUMIN X1 has already warmed up my inner clocking and lit up the music related inner sensors to extend my appreciation with Mono and Stereo 2018 Highly Recommend Product award!

Stay tuned for part two. I'll go further into the music's bits and carry out with the evaluation's assertions. 

Matej Isak

PRICE


MSRP 12990 EUR

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION


STREAMING PROTOCOL:

UPnP AV (OpenHome) protocol with audio streaming extension. Gapless Playback. On-device Playlist. Roon Ready

SUPPORTED AUDIO FILE FORMATS:

DSD :

DSF (DSD), DFF (DSD), DoP (DSD)

PCM:

FLAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, AIFF
OTHER:
MQA, MP3, AAC (in M4A container)

SUPPORTED SAMPLE RATES & BIT DEPTHS:

PCM, 44.1khz–768kHz, 16–32-bit, Stereo DSD512, 22.6MHz, 1-bit, Stereo

UPSAMPLING RATES & BIT DEPTHS:

PCM 384kHz and DSD128 upsampling option for all files up to 192kHz

SUPPORTED CONTROL DEVICES:

Apple iOS devices. iOS 8.0 or later required
Android devices. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later required

APP FEATURES:

Volume control. High-resolution artwork. Artwork caching. Multiple-tag handling. ‘Composer’ tag support. Find. Automatic internet links to artists/album/songs. Saving and restoring of playlists.

INPUT:

RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Network (1000BASE-T)
SFP Gigabit Optical Ethernet Network (1000BASE-T)
USB storage, flash drive, USB hard disk (Single-partition FAT32, NTFS and EXT2/3 only)

DIGITAL AUDIO OUTPUT:

USB:

DSD64/128/256/512 2.8-22.6MHz, 1-bit Stereo
PCM 44.1–768kHz, 16-32-bit Stereo COAXIAL BNC:
PCM 44.1khz–192kHz, 16–24-bit
DSD (DoP, DSD over PCM) 2.8MHz, 1-bit

POWER SUPPLY:

External dual-toroidal PSU. CNC construction with finish matched to main unit
Available in 220–240V AC and 110–120V AC versions ~ 50/60Hz

OTHER:

Firmware Upgradable for further features and enhancements

PHYSICAL:

LUMIN: 350mm (W), 345mm (D), 60mm (H), 8kg
PSU: 106mm (W), 334mm (D), 60mm (H), 4kg

CONTACT


Pixel Magic Systems Ltd.
Unit 603-607
IC Development Centre
No. 6 Science Park West
Hong Kong Science Park
Hong Kong