Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi Formula, AURALiC Vega, Soundaware D300Ref
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V, VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL 3000; Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: €12'990


Despite elite German engineering, my 1962 brain is sadly old tech.
It means that I'm WiFi allergic. So is my wife. Think actual migraines for her, nasty brain pressure for me which leaves me feeling toxic upon longer exposure. As a result, our home computers hardwire to a TP Link router whose WIFi is disabled. It means no tablet remotes. That disqualified audiophile servers which rely on them. Until now.


Lumin's poker-faced Li On had kept me updated on how to use an iPad in wired LAN mode. When he contacted me post Munich HighEnd 2018 to announce availability of their brand-new X1 flagship streamer for review, I asked whether I could use our existing 25-metre long RJ45 LAN cable to the X1, then jump from there to the iMac via a short link. "For networking, you couldn't usually connect directly to your iMac without a second long cable from the router. But say hello to the X1's special feature, dual network ports. The X1 has a regular Gigabit RJ45 LAN port and an optical network port. You can use regular RJ45 cable with a small optical/RJ45 adapter. I will include such a media converter. So the connections will be your regular long RJ45 LAN cable from your router to this media converter which connects to the X1 via the included short optical network cable. The X1 then connects via short included RJ45 LAN cable to your iMac. I will also include a regular iPad and the adapter to use LAN not WiFi on it. But now we have a new problem. As the iPad also needs a RJ45 LAN connection, we need one more network cable/port. One simple solution would be a small network switch connected to the X1's LAN port. Now your iMac and the iPad's LAN adapter tap into that. Of course you could share your iMac's WiFi as hot spot for the iPad like normal people would. But I guess you won't allow that. Anyway, my head is starting to hurt! -:)"


Since ours wouldn't, I assured Li that I'd handle the network switch on my end. Having to deal with abnormal folks like us, I'd given him enough guff already. Rather than farm out yet another Lumin review to a contributor whose more hi-tech grey matter is immune to WiFi radiation, I could happily accept this assignment myself. Li had already confirmed that if I ran Audirvana—I have it though PureMusic is my default player—the X1 could access our iMac's iTunes library over the network. Go Lumin. As a normie, your Lumin X1 setup would mirror theirs from Munich: networked WiFi with an iPad remote, streaming Tidal, Qobuz & Co.; perhaps even their matching Lumin Amp for a simple two-box affair. No fuss, no muss. 21st century tech.


As a flagship player, the X1's business end could seem spartan. Whilst dual network ports go the extra mile, digital outputs are just USB/BNC. The more robust 5V AES/EBU is absent. Lumin probably figure that their twin Sabre S9038Pro DAC with native DSD512/768kHz PCM is so good that few would buy an X1 with the intention of bypassing it. Now the only outputs one uses are their 3V/6V RCA/XLR analog ports coupled via Lundahl LL7401 transformers. Their absolute polarity can be inverted inside the Lumin App. To keep the X1's milled aluminium extrusion tidy and exploit physical separation for dirty power, Lumin's linear power supply occupies its own chassis.


The X1 innards show dual-mono architecture with dual-stage linear regulators and a femto master clock under FPGA control. What they don't show is any form of drive, hence no built-in music storage via HDD/SSD. That has to pipe in via network-attached storage or—slower and with less browsing flexibility—a USB-connected flash or hard drive (single-partition FAT32, NTFS or EXT2/3).


The new power supply with twin power toroids also gets a matching solid billet case. It separates digital and analog power feeds and becomes an upgrade option for existing S1/A1/T1 owners, with a then different multi-pin umbilical to account for a changed plug. Co-exhibitors and Lumin collaborators WestminsterLab offer an upgraded DC cable. Munich showed it priced at £800. For analog out, volume control is Sabre's on-chip digital. For the digital outs, it's by FPGA. The steps are progressive; 0.5dB from 100-80%, 1dB from 80-60% and >1dB below 60%. Output impedance is 20Ω/40Ω on RCA/XLR regardless. There are no user-selectable digital filters and Lumin don't specify whether theirs are Sabre's or their own FPGA code. Default playback is at native resolution up to DSD512 or 768kHz PCM.


If told to, the X1 can resample up to 24/192 PCM to DSD128; and DSD64 to DSD128. PCM can thus output as DSD128 via USB; and as analog. The X1 supports gapless playback, on-device playlists, Tidal, Qobuz, MQA, AirPlay and TunelN Radio, high-resolution album art and DSD as DSF, DIFF and DoP, PCM as .flac/wav, .alac/aiff and MP3/AAC.


For remote control, any iPad v2 or later with at least iOS 8.0 will do. There's full retina display support. Android devices need Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later.


Physical real-estate take up for the Lumin kit is a footprint of 35x34.5cm WxD with just 6cm height and 8kg for the X1; and a 10.6x33.4cm WxD footprint for the PSU with matching height and 4kg. Finish options are silver or black.
... to be continued...

Lumin website