Lumin D2 Network Music Streamer
RICHARD VAREY auditions a network music player that’s in a class of its own but which doesn’t cost a bomb.
Lumin-branded products are designed by Pixel Magic Systems of Hong Kong (founded in 2003). They are producers of high-definition home audio and home theatre products, manufactured in China. Their range of products also includes high-definition digital TVs under the Magic TV brand. They’ve been developing DSD-compatible audio streamers and network players since 2012. The Lumin family presently comprises five players, two transports, two amplifiers, and a UPnP server. Let’s get started with my Lumin D2 Network Music Player review.
The D2 is a music player that’s also a file streamer and DAC in a single box. The value proposition offered is, “a modest update to the hugely successful Lumin D1”, which turns out to be a modest claim.
“The soft sequences were soothingly sweet, while the punchy passages were eloquently dynamic.”
I’ve heard that the Lumin D1 is considered to be one of the best-sounding, most feature-rich and best-looking network streamers. With the pedigree of a successful predecessor and family of devices, and the award-winning designers’ reputation … the sound quality of the D2 was never in doubt in my mind, and listening confirmed my expectations.
The music I played was consistently presented effortlessly, relaxed, clean, and full-bodied. The crisp, tonally realistic image had a warm and natural musicality. With plenty of texture and space. The soft sequences were soothingly sweet. While the punchy passages were eloquently dynamic. The unit provides easy listening. By that I mean a fresh, lively and smooth, and a very refined, impactful and enjoyable sound image on everything I played.
My Lumin D2 Network Music Player review is my first encounter with the Lumin brand. So I wanted to know what that “modest update” meant in terms of music reproduction. I gather from a range of reviews that the D1 was highly regarded for its ‘non-digital’ sound quality.
Especially when paired with a high performance external power supply in place of the standard PSU. The Lumin brand has been in hi-fi for about six years. And has very quickly gained a strong market position. This is partly attributable to their much longer term design experience in commercial as well as consumer products.
Following the apparent success of their A1 Network Audio Streamer (which was created to provide the best music streaming source possible no matter what the cost), the aim for the D1 player was to create a product with considerably reduced costs. Without compromising on playback quality. The D2 is a refinement and enhancement of that, with a range of improvements.
“The aim for the D1 player was to create a product with considerably reduced costs without compromising on playback quality”
One feature that sets the Lumin range apart from other products is the designers’ continued programme of software updates and refinements. All Lumin products are designed for full software and firmware updates. So new features can be made available without further purchase.
They design Lumin products for full firmware, software, and Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) updates post-purchase. Features such as Tidal, Roon, and MQA support are now available automatically. And they are free of charge, with no need to change the unit.
A revised (faster) processor has been incorporated for playback of DSD128 5.6MHz files. The switch-mode power supply is now internal. And the circuit board layout has been reworked. This was done to deliver improved audio quality. And it required the case to be enlarged and configured so as to still ensure electro-magnetic interference protection. It’s still only 300mm (W), 244mm (D), 60mm (H), and weighs 2.5Kg. It features a solid aluminium CNC front panel, and some (unspecified) production refinements have also been made.
The Lumin D2 is available in a very sleek black anodised finish as well as the usual raw silver.
It’s a fully balanced design. It includes XLR outputs (my listening was through the unbalanced RCA connection), DSD upsampling, DoP (DSD over PCM) support, a Wolfson WM8741 DAC chip in each channel. And the benefit of the company’s continuous software development programme. This has resulted in the addition of MQA and Roon support in recent months. The Lumin D2 provides effortless playback for DSD lossless, FLAC, Apple lossless, WAV, MP3, and AAC.
“Library files are scanned and added at the rate of approximately 250 albums per minute”
It’s a sleek, cold metal box with a nice turquoise coloured information panel on the front. And the connectors and on/off switch on the back. There’s a digital output for connection to an external DAC. So you can bypass the internal DAC (SPDIF, unusually using a BNC connector, but you can get an RCA/coax adaptor easily, from Jaycar, for example). And there are no digital inputs except for USB-connected storage and Gigabit Ethernet connection.
This device is highly configurable. It has a wide range of settings options that are easily accessible in the app. Within a couple of minutes of plugging in for the first time, I was able to select the source and get Tidal playing, while my external drives were scanned for files. Scanning my (very) large file library took a long time. On the very first use of the app, library files are scanned and added at the rate of approximately 250 albums per minute. Subsequent rescanning and updating are much quicker.
“The iOS app is indeed a brilliant convenience, and aesthetically very pleasing”
On first connection, I tried both the Android and iOS control apps (there’s no remote control handset). Importer Mark Erceg (Audionut) advised that the Android app is currently less stable than the iOS app, and this was evident, although I was able to use both.
The app is designed to be intuitively used, without instructions. Although a helpful guide is to be found on the support section of the website. The iOS app is indeed a brilliant convenience, and aesthetically very pleasing. I found the controls to be instantly responsive. And I witnessed no hang-ups or stutters during my auditioning listening time in this Lumin D2 Network Music Player review.
Easily selectable are options for external network drive folder browsing (Standard UPnP Browsing), Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, AirPlay, and Internet Radio. There’s an optional ‘low’ setting on the analogue output which uses a combination of DAC settings to lower the level by around -4dB. There’s switchable de-emphasis for 44.1 kHz CD files.
This deals with some (generally old) CDs that have a ‘flag’ for ‘pre-emphasis’. High frequencies were occasionally increased in magnitude to improve signal-to-noise ratio. Digital files don’t carry this ‘flag.’ So this only needs to be set ‘on’ for files that need it.
This setting has no effect on high-resolution files, or when re-sampling is used. You can invert phase where this improves the image (some studios fiddled with this on some recordings to enlarge and enliven the image, but not always to the listener’s liking). There’s an ultrasonic noise filter for DSD playback, and a comprehensive range of re-sampling settings.
“It just works, and it sounds marvellous in doing so”
Summary: Lumin D2 Network Music Player review
In several languages, Lumin refers to snow (it’s also part of the word aLUMINium). And indeed it is a very sleek and cool piece of kit. It just works. And it sounds marvellous in doing so, especially with MQA-encoded and high-resolution files – but most importantly, also with standard Redbook files from CDs.
I don’t know of a similar device that is this well built, fully featured, and well conceptualised at this price. Based on my Lumin D2 Network Music Player review, I highly recommend the D2 if you want a high-performance, no-nonsense music file player.
Equipment used for this audition:
Black Ice Audio F360 tube pre-amplifier
Viganoni & Viganoni Sachém v2 monoblocks
Audio Pro Avanti 100DC floorstanding loudspeakers
Supra cables throughout, except interconnection of the D2 to my pre-amp. Mark Erceg loaned a 1m pair of ‘entry level’ Kubala-Sosna Fascination single ended interconnects ($1750) for the review listening