Lumin M1

Device Type: Integrated Amplifier/Network Player
Input: Ethernet, 2x USB Type A (storage)
Output: Speaker
Dimensions: 361mm (W), 323mm (D), 58mm (H)
Weight: 4.5kg
Availability: Authorized Dealers
Price: $1999.00
US Distributor's Website: sourcesystemsltd.com

Ethernet In, Music Out
Look Ma, no DAC! The Lumin M1 takes your network-attached digital music files (up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 via DoP), converts them to 24/176.4 (PCM), which in turn gets converted to a pulse-width modulated (PWM) signal, and outputs 60wpc into 8 Ohms and 100wpc into 4. You can also connect USB storage devices (Flash or single-partition FAT32, NTFS and EXT2/3 only) to the unit's 2x USB Type A inputs. Open the Lumin app on your iOS device, point it to your network-attached music library or USB storage, Tidal, Qobuz, or TuneIn radio and play away. The analog part happens at your loudspeakers, so to speak.

The Lumin M1 is, one could say, powered by TI inside (as in Texas Instruments). A pair of TI TAS5558 Audio Processors (chips) convert the PCM signal PWM which is handed off to a pair of TAS5624A PurePath HD chip amps amplifying that PWM signal into the power needed to drive your speakers. The aforementioned sample rate conversion and filtering are handled in a digital signal processor (DSP).

The M1 supports DSF (DSD), DIFF (DSD), FLAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, AIFF, MP3, and AAC (in M4A container) file formats and gapless playback.

Lumin has developed their own control app which I found to be quite nice as it incorporates both Qobuz and Tidal streaming services, TuneIn internet radio, and overall it works just fine. It is far better than the free apps I've used like PlugPlayer and Linn's Kazoo. Lumin has done a good job of providing an overview of the app on their website so I'm not going to waste my words doing the same thing. Here are some screen shots that should give you the basics:

there is a choice between a "Light" and "Dark" Theme

I have Minimserver running on my Synology NAS so the Lumin app 'saw' it on startup and took very little time scanning its contents. I also logged into my Tidal HiFi account giving me access to tens of millions of CD-quality tracks as well as the new "Master Quality" albums, there's currently 564 of 'em, which are MQA-encoded high-res files. Since the M1 is not an MQA decoder, the best you'll get from the hi-res originals is 24/96 output. This doesn't rattle me one bit. After all, there are so many more important things to worry about including what's for dinner.

The M1's chassis features a brushed aluminum faceplate and a rather thin metal chassis. I say 'thin' because it is and if you tap it it sounds hollow. I'm sure this was done to hit a price point. The front panel houses two knobs (on/off and volume) and a display. Simple. All remote functions are controlled by the Lumin application running on your iPad, iPhone or Android tablet. You can also control volume from the Lumin app.

Illuminating
Lumin recommends 500 hours of burn-in for the M1. Our review turn-around time is typically 2 months which equals about 720 hours, give or take a few. If I do that math, it doesn't really add up. That being said, I left the M1 playing 24/7 for weeks on end. I'd like to suggest that anyone sending in a piece of gear for review may want to consider having a burned-in unit for this purpose but I understand how this isn't always possible.

I've already shared some comparative listening with the M1 in my review of the Peachtree nova300. To speak plainly, I preferred the nova300 but we are not really comparing apples to apples in terms of functionality. The Lumin gives you more of it so you need less other stuff. Namely, the network player in the Lumin and the associated app mean all you need to add is your stored music and your Tidal and/or Qobuz account login and you are off to the races.

In the Lumin's plus column resides resolution, quickness, and precision. Music sounds tight and controlled and one could say, by comparison, the Peachtree nova300 sounds a bit fatter and warm. Depending on how you hear things, this observation can indicate a preference for one or the other. I will add that the Lumin really shines with well-recorded music and the DSD albums I listened to through it, including The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, suggest that it really also likes DSD. I also tried on some "Tidal Masters" (MQA) albums, like Beyoncé's delicious Lemonade and I liked what I heard.

In the negative column I'd include nearly all of those same sonic traits as they can aggravate and emphasize a recording's a-musical qualities. Dylan's harmonica on Freewheelin' sounds a bit too hot for my ears and on less-well-recorded music I hear a thinness and sharpness that my main rig never displays and the Peachtree nova300 warmed up. I've also been introducing the Hegel Röst into the comparative picture which offers a network connection, USB DAC input, headphone amp, and AirPlay while pumping out 75wpc (into 8 Ohms) using the company's patented "SoundEngine" technology which can be viewed as a Class A/A/B hybrid.

Thankfully I also have the Simaudio Neo Ace on deck because it may save me from this predicable 3-way observation—the Röst sounds like the best of both, nova300 + M1. There's the control and resolution of the M1 coupled with the warmer, richer sound of the nova300. I'll be talking about the Röst in the not-so-distant future but I will say that it has captured my ear and is working its way into my heart.

I gave the M1 lots of listening time, days and days on end, and its strengths remained obvious; clean, clear, control. Some might call this neutral. I equate this kind of sound with a headier approach to reproduction because it tends to make me focus on sonic aspects of music like dynamics, drive, and edges (start/stop). While these traits are not where I prefer to focus, I know that it's where some people love to live. Horses for courses.

The Light
Personal preference and system matching cannot be ignored in a review. While I have my preferences, and try to be clear about them, a review should convey the sound of a given component, i.e. the way it interacts with the review system, so that readers can decide for themselves if something is worth a personal audition or purchase. While I've been critical of the Lumin, I can see how some listeners may find its sonic attributes in-line with their wants and the M1's features in-line with their needs. If you find yourself shying away from warm, fat, and fuzzy and cozying up to precise, cool, controlled, and clean, the Lumin M1 is worth your time.


Also in-use during the Lumin M1 review: totaldac d1-six, Ayre AX-5 Twenty, Peachtree nova300, Hegel Röst

Associated Equipment

COMMENTS
Danny Z's picture

Are you sure you're getting the right sample rate when playing MQA from Tidal through the Lumin with the miniMserver (+ BubbleUPnP)?

For some reason, on my setup I see only 44,100/16 bits
Nothing with 24/44.1 or 24/48 :-(

Antonmb's picture

My understanding is that, to get 24/96, MQA must be fed from a computer to do the initial software decoding, unless the DAC supports MQA, so 16/44 is all you should get through the LUMIN. But I heartily agree, what's for dinner is a much more important consideration. The hype around MQA these days is mind-boggling - reminds me of "perfect sound forever."