Lumin X1 Streamer/DAC/Preamp


Equipment report
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Lumin X1 Streamer/DAC/Preamp

If you do an Internet search for Lumin, “Lumin Music” will pop up. Its website headline reads, “The Audiophile Network Player Family,” which pretty much sums up what Lumin does—all Lumin’s product offerings are network-aware audio devices, with the exception of its AMP, which is a power amplifier. This review will focus on Lumin’s alpha offering, the X1. Priced at $13,990, the X1 is Lumin’s fully featured flagship that serves as a streamer, digital audio converter, and digital preamplifier with its own dedicated smartphone app (and Roon compatibility). Let’s find out if the X1 is the right ship to steam (or stream) into your port.

Technical Tour
The X1 will support PCM formats up to 768/32 and DSD to 512 (with upsampling options for both PCM and DSD files). It also supports all the standard formats including FLAC, ALAC, WAV, DSD, DSF, AIFF, and MP3, and will unpack and decode MQA. Streaming protocols supported include Tidal and Tidal Hi-Fi, Roon, Spotify Connect, Qobuz, Apple AirPlay, and TuneIn Internet radio. DLNA and UPnP compliance are also standard. Multi-room multi-play will be available by firmware update.

The heart of the X1 consists of dual ES9038Pro Sabre DAC chips, which have the capability of 140dB dynamic range and are configured to operate in a dual-mono fully balanced mode. The DAC’s clocks are controlled by a new Femto clock system that uses FPGAs. The X1’s analog output utilizes dual Lundahl LL7401 output transformers. 

The X1’s power supply (AC to DC) is housed in a separate chassis and connected via a DC umbilical cord. The solid-billet CNC case design contains separate digital and analog circuitry with a special low-noise regulator that can be used with the X1 or as an upgrade to the Lumin S1, A1, or T1 units.

As you would expect, the Lumin X1 has provisions for updating its firmware as needed and it has its own dedicated and fully featured control application that can run on either an iPhone or iPad that supports iOS 8.0 and later or Android devices that run 4.0 or later. More about the app’s features later.

The Lumin X1 has multiple input options. Foremost is the special optical network connection that employs a junction box with a dual optical cable connection followed by a standard wired Ethernet network connection. The Lumin X1 has a digital USB input. The USB port is bidirectional—USB-in for HDD playback, and USB-out for native DSD512 and 768/32. You can attach a single-partition FAT 32 formatted hard drive, which can be employed as a music source in lieu of a NAS drive, if you wish. The X1’s outputs include both balanced and single-ended analog as well as a BNC-type SPDIF digital.

Unlike some streaming devices, the Lumin X1 does not have any internal hard drives for file storage. While for some potential users this could be seen as a disadvantage, not having internal hard drives ensures that the X1 will never need to be opened up to have a drive replaced. And for those audiophiles who already employ a NAS drive, or connect a USB drive to the X1, an internal drive would be redundant.