the Lumin U2 is Here
The edge of streaming just got a lot sharper
Even if you're not pro-Bono, this is one U2 you will absolutely adore.
With the same footprint as the T3, Lumin's new streamer could finally be what you're looking for.
Understanding the mysterious ways of streamers and hearing the profound effect they have on the sound of an audio system is an important turning point in the life of an audiophile.
Many an epiphany has been had over Lumin's entry-level streamer, the U1 Mini, now replaced by the U2 Mini. At $2,400, the U2 Mini is close enough to the cost of a tricked-out PC and so much neater than any hi-fi-grade computer setup that most people are willing to try at least and see if a streamer can make a difference.
Once they're sold by the macro improvements (blacker background, better bass, better detail, bigger soundstage), people start to appreciate the more subtle but significant improvement that comes from dropping the noise floor and lowering jitter: better musical flow. Once you hear it, you're in God's country, and you can't go back. As you clean up a digital signal, you realize that all the criticisms about digital "being digital" are less about the supposed missed detail in the sampling process and more about masked detail in an unacceptably noisy playback chain involving laptops, routers, switches, and a mess of wall warts.
War: U2 Mini-with-Sbooster vs. U2
One of our most popular upgrades for the U1 Mini and U2 Mini streamers is to replace the internal switching power supply with an external toroidal power supply. This immediately lowers the noise floor but, perhaps most surprisingly, significantly improves bass depth and quality. The Mini with Sbooster
is a high enough fidelity source to allow system builders to experiment with expensive DACs, and go deep on cable, PSU, and network tweaks.
So what does the U2, at $5,000, with its internal toroidal linear power supply, bring over the $2,800 Boosted U2 Mini? Definitely more than expected. First, though the new PSU is internal, it is a custom Lumin design, micro-tailored to the U2 digital circuit. The noise-floor advantages of this design easily outweigh the disadvantages of proximity. Second, the chassis, like the one on the T3, is a sophisticated, expensive temple, offering far more shielding and rigidity than the U2 Mini's box, keeping out any rattle and hum that can affect the signal.
Over an "Sboosted" Mini, the U2 is immediately more detailed and with a promise of better bass. After a good 24 to 48 hours, it opens up into a truly remarkable component. (At this point, we want to channel Kevin and utterly dismiss anyone who thinks burn-in doesn't apply to digital components. And no, it's not about "getting used to the sound" even if you don't listen during the burn-in, you can hear a huge difference between hour 1 and hour 24. If you can't hear it, go collect spoons or something.)
The U2 is the U2 Mini all grown up, fulfilling its potential and becoming everything it ever dreamed of. It is expansive and authoritative but doesn't lose that energetic little spark that makes the Mini so damned engaging. This is neutrality that allows the warmth of instruments to glow, detail that turns background singers into people, and a presentation that makes you listen with your body, whether scrunching your face and bending your head for that blue note or hitting the splash cymbal at the end of that extensive air-drum kit you keep at your listening position on the sofa.
Trip Through Your Wires
Hong Kong–based Lumin is an off-shoot of a company that makes high-end broadcast equipment, so Lumin products always employ comprehensive and extremely high-quality connections. Nordost cable users, note there's a BNC connection, allowing you to use S/PDIF cables without RCA adaptors. There is one low-noise USB audio output and two USB data inputs. An SFP port offers a low-noise optical network connection which forms a little two-port switch with the RJ45, allowing you to have your Lumin L1 or NAS connected close to your main system while still being visible across the network for other zones.
Desire: Which Lumin Streamer?
With its massive dual-toroid external PSU in a thick Lumin case, the Lumin U1
currently remains the flagship streamer. Those of you with statement systems should look no lower, and now is a great time to get the U1 at just $6,375 (regular $7,500). No question, this is where to go if you're pairing with a high-end DAC in a resolving system.
If you have a mid- to high-level DAC with a stock Mini and feel you want more, we'd recommend skipping the Sbooster upgrade and just going to the neat, single-chassis U2. This is a giant jump in sound quality. With the U2, life will be filled with music, and when you do want to experiment, you will know that you have the front-end resolution to really hear the tiniest differences among DACs or cables or power amps.
If you have a U2 Mini with an Sbooster, this is a moment for some thought. Those of you with big system dreams should jump a level, if you can, to the Lumin U1
. This is end-game streaming at a great price; anything less is running to stand still. If you're not chasing that all-separates monster main system with speakers bigger than your loved ones but still want great fidelity, a Boosted U2 Mini can keep you very happy, but you will not regret some blue-sky thinking and biting the bullet to make the jump to the U2.
We're Open on Saturdays
The Upscale Audio store at 2058 Wright Avenue in La Verne is open on Saturdays from 9 to 5. We will be running with a smaller crew, and there are a couple of important things to note:
1) As with all other days, you'll need to call ahead and set up an appointment for a specific demo. If you decide to drop by, you won't be turned away, but your auditions will be limited to our headphone station and—only if the rooms are free—whatever systems we already have set up.
2) The warehouse will be closed, so if you need to pick up something, please call ahead, and we'll ensure we bring it over by Friday. If you buy something while you're here, it might be cheaper to ship it! After all, shipping is free above $49, and you'll save a little on La Verne city tax. Unless you live in La Verne...
Please call 909.931.9686 to make a demo appointment.