Lumin P1 Streaming DAC Preamplifier Review

With the P1, LUMIN continues its line of forward-thinking products that build on the rich and proven heritage of music players with DAC and preamplifier. Like the rest of LUMIN's P and T Series products, the P1, perhaps the brand's most flexible and powerful all-in-one box product to date, was designed from the ground up to be the centerpiece of a high-end audio system. 

Heritage

The LUMIN P1 inherits many of the flagship features of the outstanding LUMIN X1. The fiber-optic network that is so popular with the X1 provides complete isolation from network noise. Plus, the dual network ports let you connect LUMIN L1 or a NAS directly to the P1.

The P1 Femto Clocking System includes two Femto crystal oscillators and LUMIN's proprietary FPGA clock distribution system, which was first used in the X1.

The fully balanced analog dual-mono output buffer module includes the legendary Lundahl output transformers and has been making music lovers happy since the original LUMIN A1.

The spacious P1 chassis provides room to move the X1's dual toroids (power supply) inside for a cleaner installation while retaining all the benefits of separate analog and digital circuitry.

Main Features

LUMIN P1 makes system integration easier than ever with nine digital and analog inputs, USB digital audio input and output, support for up to Native DSD512, balanced and unbalanced analog inputs, SPDIF & AES input support up to 192/24 & DoP, HDMI 2.0 inputs and 4K passthrough with ARC support.

The LUMIN P1 was designed from the ground up to deliver exceptional musical performance and includes many new features. 

The new processor offers native DSD512 and PCM384 playback, and the end-to-end dual-mono design maximizes channel separation. Two ES9028PRO SABRE DACs are used in full mono mode and clocked by the Femto Clock System with precise FPGA distribution.

As mentioned earlier, the new integrated dual-toroid linear power supplies are housed in an all-in-one chassis and the fiber optic network provides complete isolation from digital network noise. 

The P1 can be used as a streamer, DAC, preamp, or in synergy with all three as one box solution using flexible setup options. 


Supported Streaming Services

Leedh Processing 


Leedh Processing is an innovative new digital volume adjustment algorithm that eliminates rounding errors. Leedh Processing is an innovation by Gilles Millot of Acoustical Beauty, a French manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers that already holds several patents for its innovative designs and technologies. 


It accurately modifies the digital signal amplitude without changing its shape and is free of any information loss. It uses more efficient integer volume values to preserve the integrity of audio information during subsequent DAC conversion.

Low processing power requirements free up CPU resources. The P1 implementation of Leedh processing eliminates the need for a preamplifier in more systems and, as mentioned in my conclusions, improves the quality of the signal in the LUMIN Amp.

Leedh processing is now automatically enabled for all LUMIN players but can be easily turned off in the settings if you want to run the AB tests, or simply turn it off. 


Setting the volume of P1 to 100% completely bypasses the digital volume control in LUMIN.

Leedh Processing routed directly into the amplifier has proven that there is a way to "preamp-less" direct connection, which in most cases simply does not work for many reasons. 

I was surprisingly taken by some of the qualities of The Bespoke Audio Company Silver Passive Preamplifier such as sheer speed, above-average transparency, much higher information density, and harmonic richness to name a few.

P1 allows the implementation of leedh processing, and the use of the traditional digital volume control algorithm, bypassing both of these options. 


When the LUMIN volume is set to 100%, the volume is controlled by the preamplifier or the integrated amplifier. This completely bypasses the digital volume control in LUMIN.

Prior to firmware v13, this was the recommended way to set the volume for most LUMIN systems (especially with integrated amplifiers and multiple sources), but now Leedh Processing has opened up the following two options.

1. Bypassing the preamplifier volume control 


The preamplifier needs to be set to the Unity Gain (noted in the amplifier manual or checked with the manufacturer - some have this marked) and leave the value fixed at that setting. The LUMIN app volume adjusts the listening level. Leedh Processing is the default setting in this scenario.

2. Discarding the preamplifier completely


By connecting LUMIN directly to the LUMIN Amp or power amplifier and bypassing the preamplifier completely, Leedh Processing is the default choice in this scenario.

Operational


Like all other LUMIN products, the P1 follows a minimalist elegant styling, but feature-rich design philosophy. 


There are two ways to use the P1: as a Roon Ready device or via LUMIN's own extremely effective app that controls LUMIN's proprietary software. There is both an Android and iOS sleek multifunctional app that allows for numerous settings to be set easily. 


The front panel display shows only the music currently playing, as well as the sample rate and bit depth. 

If you use the LUMIN app, external drives (USB), NAS, and UPnP servers are recognized without any problems. 


The two most important steaming services Tidal and Qobuz are supported and can be easily set up with the login and passwords of these services. Logically, the app scans the playlists from Tidal and Qobuz and can use them without problems. 


On the back, there is a variety of digital inputs including coaxial, TosLink, AES, USB, HDMI 2.0, ARC-enabled HDMI 2.0 with (4K video passthrough), as well as RJ45 and optical inputs. 

The left side is reserved for a pair of balanced and RCA analog inputs and outputs, and USB and BNC digital outputs. 


The LUMIN P1 reaches its fulcrum at 500+ hours of duty cycle and several days of continuous streaming. Like all other LUMIN players, the LUMIN P1 can be used as a streaming DAC with DSD512/PCM384 support, Femto-clock system, fiber-optic networking, toroidal power supply, and Leedh processing. The P1 is the second-best streaming-only player after the LUMIN X1.


With all stereo sources linked to the LUMIN P1 and a power amplifier connected, everything is in place for the P1 to act as a digital epicenter.

And the P1 can also serve as a stereo TV music hub without the need for an AV receiver. HDMI sources are simply connected to LUMIN P1 and P1 to TV. With HDMI ARC, all sound comes through the main speakers.


A new remote control allows easy input switching, volume adjustment, playlist navigation, and more.
LUMIN's exceptionally well-made acrylic and zinc tactile infrared remote is manufactured in Austria and is fully Roon Ready. The new infrared receiver built into LUMIN P1 is compatible with universal remotes, phones, and automation systems.


With 9 inputs, LUMIN P1 provides enough flexibility for any audio or video stereo system to sound top-notch with the inclusion of an industry-leading XMOS USB audio controller, which is natively DSD512 and PCM384 compatible and is fully compatible with Windows 10 and Mac OS. 


Of course, PCM and DSD sounded different and divergent, I could distinctly hear the extreme qualities of well-known reference tracks with both PCM and DSD. 

The same is true for the RJ45 and SFP optical inputs. It was more than intriguing to observe the difference between the two. I have covered this in detail in the final summary.


With its flexible settings, and extremely versatile digital and analog ins and outs, P1 is a no-brainer device to be used as a streamer, DAC, preamp, or all three actioning at once as a superb combo!

The Music 

Here are a few reference tracks that point out LUMIN P1 virtues. The team at LUMIN has gone to great lengths to make the P1 a great-sounding unit, and it certainly lives up to my, rather high, expectations. 

Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower is a dazzling kaleidoscope of sound, a mix of distorted guitar tones,  vocal and metallic percussion that creates a hypnotic atmosphere that calls for a much more powerful digital front to unfold entirely, and I am not talking entry-level or mediocre decoding. 

To objectively reconcile with "Bridge of Sighs", to evoke lyrical reflection and not sound like a detached experience and a sum of isolated sonic attributes a higher level of digital handling is needed. 

This recording shows the true nature of P1 when it comes to cementing a multitude of sonic attributes, which could easily sound contradictory if the resolution is not there. 

The Turning Point by John Mayall was recorded at the Fillmore East in 1969. The album thrust Mayall into the spotlight and boosted his career. 

A sublime interplay of drums, bass, flute, saxophone, and guitars creates an exceptional aural blend and interesting fusion that completely escapes drums and lead guitar and still sounds complete. 

LUMIN P1 propelled The Turning Point with the big and blazing rhythmic progression of Jon Mark's finger-like acoustic playing and Steve Thompson's pulsating bass with much-needed electricity.

All instruments can be too easily garbled when the DAC lacks the needed foundation. Not with P1. The P1 reproduced The Turning Point with a sense of pristine clarity that really should not exist in this price range. A big compliment to the P1 and how it stands out from the crowd, regardless of the price tag. 

Kenny Dorham - Matador was recorded at Soundmaker Studios, where the given acoustics allow the music to truly come together as an impressive juxtaposition of harmonious whole and a sum of instruments expertly captured on the tape. This must-have Dorham album is an ode to jazz 

With LUMIN P1, Dorham's trumpet never lost its epicenter in sound collage. P1 allowed the bass to shine as it was recorded; focused, clean, perfectly in sync, and dynamically unsuppressed with a crystal clear-sounding drum battery. 

The inner heart of the LUMIN P1 allowed the digital bits to decode Matador deeper and truer than I am used to in this price range. The P1 once again acted as a sonic beacon, signaling the importance of being in tune with the core of the music. It sounded anything but ordinary, much more engaging than expected, and allowed each Matador music sequence to unfold with the right gut feel.

Surprisingly and unlike some of the more expensive DACs (or DAC/streamer combos), the P1 escaped sonic partialities and disarrays that are not only quickly apparent in entry-level solutions but also not mandatory in premium ones as would be expected. 

LUMIN P1 pitched a rich palpable aural presentation, clear horizontal and vertical layering, and a deep sound field where not only instruments but also notes had their distinctive place and three-dimensional standing. 

Drexciya is one of the more enigmatic electronic bands Drexciya, an American electronic music duo from Detroit, Michigan, still has a cult following for many reasons. For those who do not know them, it's worth listening to some of their musical material and finding out if it resonates. 

Lifestyles of the Laptop CafĂ©, the only album by James Stinson of Drexciya, who sadly passed away in 2002 in the form of Other People Place, is a reflection, if not a precognitive scan, of our current reality, which William Gibson once called bizarre enough not needing a futuristic sci-fi preamble. 

With a melancholy, Detroitisch, in-the-moment Blade Runner, or Neuromancer narrative, this excellent album from the early 2000s is still outstanding after all these years. It's electronic music, electro at its finest, to be exact. Nothing comes close to the mood of the pulsating, perplexing Roland 808 rhythms, the deep jazz rooted chords, and the fetching melodies, infused with a thick touch of melancholy and urban alike resignation. 

The micro-universe of Other People Place was quite different from what I am via LUMIN P1. The tantalizing patterns of analog synth sounds and themes appealed to my inner triggers and senses far more involving than I would expect. The melodies' decays, delays, and sonic details emerged much more quickly with P1 and trigger far less warring.

Tedeschi Trucks Band Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN') was likewise quite a different experience, again refreshingly different and better rendered. 

P1 managed to tie all the performers more evenly, allowing them to be united yet still solitude-standing, and the music fit into the melodic scheme of things with a far more palpable balance, sounding more like a holistic, harmonic endeavor than a fragmented mosaic of sound. 

Compared to the real and the reproduced sound, we are always dealing with a kind of sonic fallibility. Still, there are different grades, levels, and planes of sound reproduction.

P1 excelled in materializing music with obvious antonyms, contrary to the digital tendency of emotional disconnection. That alone (and among other virtues) show the P1 level of quality and that speaks for itself where P1 belongs and what it is capable of. 

Conclusion

Let us face it. The streaming in the new consuming favourite of most people and more and more audiophiles and music lovers are embracing this kind of music enjoyment. 

I've been evaluating and living with LUMIN products for years and by each year and new generation of products, they are pushing the bar of performance, features, quality and nonetheless design. The latest P1 is no exemption. 

Placed between the Flagship X1 I've reviewed here and the T2 I've reviewed here P1 comes as a logical follow up with what it feels most feature packed of the baunch. 

I've spent a considerable time with LUMIN P1 before it was shipped back. As with the rest of the reviews, I don't like to draw a quick conclusions or purr out reviews like a daily news. 

Despite some object to acknowledge the fact that it takes time for any product that has travel to settle, stabilise, burn in capacitors etc., my experience over three decades has proven to leave any product the given time. Some manufacturers are also stating 1200+ hours of burn in time. 

LUMIN P1 can be used as DAC, streamer, preamplifier or simply coming all three at once. P1 also comes with the built in remote function and Leedh Processing, that plays a major role in P1 acting as a standalone device. Leedh Processing is actually making P1 a highly potent device, that more or less for the first time, makes an objective proof of concept for the DAC/streamer with a potent enough preamplifier to justify the absence of the outboard preamp line-stage. 

There is something about P1 and Leedh Processing combination that simply works. The speed, the purity, transparency and harmonic density is all there not only non-compromised, but a much better, next level upgrade. The high frequencies were less artificially excited then with outboard preamplifier, music had more of raw energy and vertical and horizontal expanse easier filled the listening room.

The  harmonic series' partials were more noticeable and  lower register frequency had more potency, making bass and upper-mid-bass much more focused, cleaner in presentation and the complete frequency spectrum felt less cluttered. 

As with T2 and X1 I've had a bit more dynamic and transparent presentation with LUMIN native app compared to the Roon native playback. I cannot put my finger on the exact reasoning, but the P1 native presentation was notably more natural warm and with sharper, more life like leading edges being at forte.

Another feature that elevates P1 about the competition is a fibre optical networking, that compared to RJ45 again push the performance of P1 on the upper level. It surely is connected with optical input being isolated from network noise and something that I've stumbled on a few previous engagements. Yet, I must say, that by default optical networking is not always better. 

It really depends on the ancirally gear and implementations. I can say that in most cases the optical to Ethernet conversion offered a better sonic outcome. Interestingly and I'm applauding to this, the LUMIN P1 did worked considerably better with fibre network input pushing the transparency, liquidness and overall presentation a bar higher. 

Acting as a digital hub LUMIN P1 basically need a stereo power amplifier driving the speakers to have a complete high-end audio system. 

Most of the DACs also doesn't offer HDMI inputs like P1. This addition will not only make videophiles happy, but ease the process of connect various devices like Blueray players, etc. 

I've tried P1 with numerous amplifiers and had a repeated great sonic outcome, but as expected there is a particular click with LUMIN AMP power amplifier. 

With its elegant and stylish design that embraces LUMIN recognising aesthetic, that was upgraded with a slight, but subtle enough curved space on the centre of the front panel, P1 is instantly recognisable for its already discernible aesthetic, and due to new design front panel shape and remote dot, that makes it different enough to knew that it was upgraded. 

There are many devices on the market that try to be jack of all trades, master of none. Oppositely LUMIN P1 is a rare proof of concept that actually works. Not always the new, latest and greatest additions make a device a better sounding product. As an example, LUMIN P1 raise the bar in this regard. 

LUMIN P1 continues the impressive legacy created by the rest of the P and T series. LUMIN remains my clear recommendation for the contemporary music player/streamer/DAC regardless of the price tag. 

For what it represent technically, how well-tuned is to the reproduction of the unaltered music, and for the refined inclusion of the new technologies I'm wholeheartedly giving LUMIN P1 2022 Mono and Stereo Upper Echelon Product Award. 

Matej Isak

Price

  • 10.000 USD

Specifications 

STREAMING PROTOCOL

  • UPnP AV protocol with audio streaming extension (OpenHome)
  • Roon Ready
  • Spotify Connect
  • Flac lossless Radio stations
  • AirPlay-compatible
  • Gapless Playback
  • On-Device Playlist

APP FEATURES

  • Native support for TIDAL, MQA, Qobuz and TuneIn Radio.
  • Tidal MQA icons to identify high-res music
  • Qobuz high-res icons to identify high-res music
  • Volume control
  • High-resolution artwork
  • Artwork caching
  • Search
  • Multiple tag handling
  • Composer tag support
  • Album-grouping in playlist
  • Automatic internet links to artists/album/songs
  • Saving and restoring of playlists (including Tidal and Qobuz)

SUPPORTED AUDIO FILE FORMATS

  • DSD Lossless: DSF (DSD), DIFF (DSD), DoP (DSD)
  • PCM Lossless: FLAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, AIFF
  • Compressed (lossy) Audio: MP3, AAC (in M4A container)
  • MQA

INPUT

  • Gigabit Ethernet Network (1000BASE-T) RJ45
  • Shared USB port can also be used for storage, flash drive, USB hard disk (Single-partition FAT32, exFAT and NTFS only)

ANALOGUE AUDIO OUTPUTS

  • XLR balanced, 6Vrms, pin 2 Hot
  • RCA unbalanced, 3Vrms

SUPPORTED CONTROL DEVICES:

  • All models of Apple iPad (v2 or later). iOS 8.0 or later required. Full Retina Display support.
  • Android devices. Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later required

OTHER

  • Leedh Processing lossless digital volume control
  • Programme of Continuous Development – Firmware-upgradable for further features and enhancements
FINISH
  • Black anodised aluminium
  • Raw aluminium
DIMENSIONS 
  • 350mm (W), 380mm (D), 107mm (H), 12kg

Contact

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

email: info@luminmusic.com