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My first surprise was the care given to the overall packaging and presentation. The Lumin arrived very nicely packaged. Build quality and power supply were impressive for a device in this price range. The Lumin consists of four parts - the player itself, the external power supply, the independent external storage (not included) and the user interface (software provided). The player is beautifully carved from solid aluminum billet with a Linn Klimax-type 'roof' over the rear panel which hides all cabling from top view. You can push the deck all the way up against the wall and still have enough room for all cable connections. The same care was lavished on to the bottom panel with its beautifully etched Lumin logo. This massive CNC casing is presumably the perfect Faraday shield against EMI/RF pollution. The outstanding build quality and industrial design in fact reminded me much of the five times as expensive Linn Klimax and the Devialet D-Premier though the French's visual sex appeal remains unsurpassed from my perspective.

The external power supply is typically audiophile-grade and includes two toroidal transformers. The Lumin player does not reflect its disproportionately heavy 8kg mass by measuring a svelte 350mm wide by 345mm deep by 60mm high. The narrow front panel houses a small blue-green alphanumeric display to show the main playback information of title, track number, track duration, track format, track length and sampling frequency. A circle located at the right of the display shows whether the streamer is ready for playback. For firmware updates the display also shows the currently installed version. Beneath the Lumin’s roof sit one Ethernet RJ45 port and RCA/XLR analog outputs as well as BNC and HDMI digital outputs plus two USB ports presently reserved for firmware upgrades. In the future it may be possible to directly stream music files from a connected USB storage device. The BNC output supports PCM at 16-24 bits and 44.1kHz up to 192kHz. The HDMI supports files all the way to 1-bit DSD at 2.8MHz.

Again, the overall industrial design seems inspired by Linn's top-of-the-range Klimax DS to which was added DSD. Even the balancing Lundahl 7401 output transformers, Wolfson WM8741 converters and surface-mount construction pay homage. The Wolfson silicon supports 32-bit/384kHz PCM and native DSD 64 with very low noise, high dynamics and advanced digital filtering. Lumin’s DSP enables various sample rates, DSD-to-PCM conversion on the fly and of course native DSD-direct mode. It is the first dedicated audiophile network player with an HDMI output for a native DSD bit stream. In that mode the BNC output is disabled whilst with DSD-to-PCM conversion one can output DSD as 176.4kHz or lower PCM via both BNC and HDMI.

To support 44.1–384kHz PCM and 2.8MHz DSD, the Lumin runs four separate ultra-low phase-noise clock crystal oscillators from Japanese maker Nihon Dempa Kogyo. One NZ2520S Series clock is for 44.1/88.2kHz, one for 48/96kHz, one for 176.4/352.8kHz/2.8MHz and one for 192/384kHz. As a streamer the Lumin must be connected to a network-attached storage device with a UPnP server and PC/Mac network. Setup is quite simple. The most complicated parts relate to the NAS settings since they determine the server functions. The essential thing here is to set up the computer, NAS and Lumin on the same network of your internet router. It's also important to install the recommended Minimserver UPnP app on your local network to retrieve meta data. The Lumin app in fact was designed around the Minimserver’s architecture. This allows the indexing of native DFF/DSD files which is not always possible with servers like Synology’s proprietary UPnP software. With thanks to friend Thierry for his helpful support, I successfully installed the Minimserver on my Synology D112 NAS.

Except for DFF browsing, I could still use Synology's own server (or a Qnap variant if your NAS is a Qnap). Nevertheless the Minimserver is the most convenient and apparently stable environment within which to manage cover and tag display over the Lumin app. The Lumin streamer is said to handle most mainstream high-resolution formats like native DSD, PCM-embedded DSD aka DoP or PCM up to 32/384 as DXD studio masters. Some minor present restrictions should be lifted with future firmware upgrades. I for example couldn't play DXD files unless they were encoded as AIFF or WAV. I had further small issues with Qobuz downloads whose metadata seem embedded differently. Those the Lumin couldn't locate to display. All of these issues could be resolved by converting the 'bad' files to the same format with the DBPoweramp or XLD softwares.

The Lumin supports gapless playback and uses the Linn UPnP AV protocol to install a certain level of compatibility. For now the only remote is the Apple iPad. iPhone or iPod support doesn't exist as yet. The remote also works exclusively with the UPnP AV media renderer which supports Linn-style operation (i.e. it doesn't work with generic UPnP renderers). The Lumin Control Point looks very intuitive and attractive. It is not far removed from the best I'd previously experienced with the Aurender S10. My only two criticisms are linked to the standard UpnP architecture and the app's early status (i.e. many additional features should be added over time). For numerous screen captures of what the GUI looks like, click here.

One, the search function was mostly MIA and I had to make do with the preset filters of Lumin’s app. The search function was limited to the data stored in the iPad's cache as tags of various albums. Multiple-entry selection was impossible. I still had a complete overview of all tracks and albums ordered by song name, artist, genre and recording year however. On the top right of the iPad it was also possible to see different views of the same filter which were presented as album art, header list and song list. A classical music lover presently simply lacks the ability to browse by composer.

Two, one cannot browse the NAS directory by folder. One must use a 3rd-party Linn-friendly app like the Kinsky freeware to sort through the media server tree. This means that the user must get involved in the creation of a detailed index of the NAS directory. Even so I still experienced more crashes and abnormal reactions with the Kinsky embedded in the Minimserver than with Lumin's proprietary app. With Minimserver the latter displays album title, album artist, artist, composer, year, genre, track title, track number and cover art link. The UPnP protocol simply refuses to send any specific server tree configuration to the Lumin control point.

Another consideration is the Lumin’s tag sensitivity which will only 'see' correctly tagged files. This relies on accurate tagging by the user. As already stated, I experienced difficulties with all files downloaded from Qobuz. Another issue with the Lumin app is the display of native DSD files. Those cannot be tagged to then not be directly visible over the Lumin app. For now such files had to be launched via Kinsky but future software fixes should remedy this. On the extremely positive side, the intuitive and beautiful app made browsing most pleasant indeed by storing tags in the iPad's flash memory. It does require a few minutes to scan, read and cache all library metadata for the first time and of course relies on available storage on the iPad yet the latter didn't seem excessive. With my 16GB iPad I encountered no issues. This process of caching art work is a background task by the way. It does not interfere with other operations.