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  1. #1
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    comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Hi, all, my first post here (aside from my intro post)! With apologies if I've breached any forum etiquette... I've also posted to the computer audio/digital forum, but this also seems like a relevant place to put up a few thoughts/questions. This will be a sort of rolling review/solicitation for any advice/suggestions....

    A dealer has given me a loaner of a Lumin U1 Mini, and I'll be comparing it to my Node 2i over the next week as both a streamer and a volume control. I don't know a ton about digital/computer audio, other than that things like power supplies and interior shielding, etc are supposed to matter. However, the notion that bits are bits also makes a kind of horse sense, so I'll be curious if I hear some, a lot of, or no difference at all between the two streamers.

    Lumin's current killer feature is meant to be Leedh Processing, which is supposed to have finally nailed digital volume control. However, a little digging on Bluesound's volume control suggests that it, too, is essentially bit perfect. (I tested this, as best I could, with a DAC that shows the bit rate incoming. Unless I'm interpreting things incorrectly, it seems that the Bluesound doesn't lower the bit rate to lower the volume. A 48/24 or 96/24 stream from Oubuz remains the same whether at fixed or variable volume, up and down the slider. Interestingly a 44.1/16 stream stays at 16 bits, of course, at fixed/full volume. But if you lower the volume slider in app, the bit rate goes up to 24. I assume that's the Bluesound kicking in some kind of upsampling to allow for the volume control?)

    Anyway, I'll be comparing overall sound quality and ease of use of the Lumin app next to the Bluesound app (which I already know and think is basically fine). Both streamers will be going into a Schiit Yggy DAC. I'll hook the Lumin up via AES, and the Bluesound via optical, likely, or possibly coax.

    The Yggy will go straight into a pair of Sanders Sound monoblocks, which in turn power Magnepan 3.7i. I'll also be playing around with sending both streamers direct (digital) into a DBX DriveRack Venu 360 and using that as a combo DAC/room correction device/digital crossover between the Maggies and a pair of Seaton Sound subs. Should be interesting!

    Anyway, watch this space. If anyone has experience of either the Lumin or Bluesound or both, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts and whether you see any clear advantages in the Lumin's feature set. I only stream (Qobuz and Tidal), don't do any local-storage files, and haven't messed around much with things like upsampling. This will be something of a learning process. Thanks for any thoughts!

  2. #2
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    With Schiit Yggdrasil, do not use Lumin custom re-sampling. Enable Lumin Volume Control and Leedh Processing Volume. If you play DSD128 or DSD64, Lumin will convert DSD to PCM 176.4kHz for your PCM-only DAC.

    I need to release a firmware update that improves U1 and U1 MINI Leedh Processing Volume output to SPDIF and AES ASAP.
    Peter Lie
    LUMIN Firmware Lead

  3. #3
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Thanks, Peter! That's good to know. I'm not likely to play any DSD. Right now, I'm just streaming, mostly from Qobuz.

    Do you recommend using an output other than SPDIF and AES? The coax out, perhaps?

  4. #4
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Also, is there any chance of the Lumin app ever being available on Mac OS?

  5. #5
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    What USB board does your Yggdrasil have? Unison or older like Gen 5 / 3?

    If you have Unison, you can try AES or USB. When using AES output, you must disconnect the USB from U1 MINI to Yggdrasil. See which sounds better.

    If you have the older Gen 5 / 3 USB boards, please use AES.

    Note that in depth SQ comparison should only be done after both streamers are powered on for no less than 24 hours. If the U1 MINI is new, I'd recommend you burn it in for a few days first with both USB and AES connected to the Yggdrasil (if you have Unison), which needs to be powered on and switched to USB input. But when actually playing instead of burnning in, please disconnect USB if you intend to use AES.

    Please disable Roon Ready, Spotify Connect, and Lumin Streaming (AirPlay) if you don't use these. And disable Coaxial, BNC, and Toslink outputs.

    We may be able to run Lumin app on ARM-based Mac M1 someday, but no guarantee.

    Currently, you can also use Linn Kazoo or Audirvana Plus (UPnP mode) on Mac to control Lumin.
    Peter Lie
    LUMIN Firmware Lead

  6. #6
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Thanks, Peter!

  7. #7
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    +1
    Set-up 7.2.6
    Amp: Mark Levinson 533, 2- Parasound 52+
    Video: JVC 990, Panasonic DB9000, StudioTek 130
    Processor: Marantz 8805
    Speakers: Wilson Alexia, Wilson Mezzo, 4 Wilson Watch, 6 Dynaudio 600 in-ceiling
    Subs: 2 JL F113
    Power: Torus Wam 100
    Wires: Transparent Reference for the front three, the rest Audio Quest FLX/DB 16/4 In wall speaker cable
    Other: Primacoustic -Max trap and Full trap, Vicoustic -Wavewood and Cinema rounds. IsoAcoustic GAIA 1

  8. #8
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Please upgrade Lumin U1 (MINI) to firmware 13.4 for SQ comparison using Lumin app.
    Peter Lie
    LUMIN Firmware Lead

  9. #9
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Quote Originally Posted by wklie View Post
    What USB board does your Yggdrasil have? Unison or older like Gen 5 / 3?

    If you have Unison, you can try AES or USB. When using AES output, you must disconnect the USB from U1 MINI to Yggdrasil. See which sounds better.

    If you have the older Gen 5 / 3 USB boards, please use AES.

    Note that in depth SQ comparison should only be done after both streamers are powered on for no less than 24 hours. If the U1 MINI is new, I'd recommend you burn it in for a few days first with both USB and AES connected to the Yggdrasil (if you have Unison), which needs to be powered on and switched to USB input. But when actually playing instead of burnning in, please disconnect USB if you intend to use AES.

    Please disable Roon Ready, Spotify Connect, and Lumin Streaming (AirPlay) if you don't use these. And disable Coaxial, BNC, and Toslink outputs.

    We may be able to run Lumin app on ARM-based Mac M1 someday, but no guarantee.

    Currently, you can also use Linn Kazoo or Audirvana Plus (UPnP mode) on Mac to control Lumin.
    One needs to do all this preparation to compare a 500 usd BS Node 2i to a 2000 usd Lumin U1 Mini????
    Are you not confident that Lumin U1 mini would sound better even if one doesn’t wait for one week to make the gear ‘burn’???
    Sorry Peter and other Lumin supporters, I am not chasing you, these are things that worry me, that’s all.
    When I bought a Lumin U1 Mini, I frankly did not suspect that this device could be compared to a Node 2i
    But now that Peter you give all these instructions to make the comparison fair, I am worrying about the results... maybe it just sounds the same ....

  10. #10
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    To pop back in... I'm still listening, still enjoying listening. I sometimes find it hard to compare digital components--the differences often seem subtle to me--but I think I'm hearing finer grain detail with the U1. I still think Bluesound makes nice stuff, but maybe the Node 2i paints detail with a slightly broader brush. Again, still listening.

    I took Peter's suggestions more in the spirit of optimization, which I appreciate. It's clear that Lumin gives you a lot of ways to tweak. I'm currently experimenting with upsampling and seeing what that does.

  11. #11
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Quote Originally Posted by wbass View Post
    To pop back in... I'm still listening, still enjoying listening. I sometimes find it hard to compare digital components--the differences often seem subtle to me--but I think I'm hearing finer grain detail with the U1. I still think Bluesound makes nice stuff, but maybe the Node 2i paints detail with a slightly broader brush. Again, still listening.

    I took Peter's suggestions more in the spirit of optimization, which I appreciate. It's clear that Lumin gives you a lot of ways to tweak. I'm currently experimenting with upsampling and seeing what that does.
    What I have read is that the Node 2i from BS is an excellent gear for the price
    I bought a Powernode 2i myself for one of my setups and I really enjoy it, sound is excellent with my BW CM8s

    For my headphone listening I have the Lumin U1 Mini connected to my headphone amp, a Sony TA-ZH1ES with Sony headphones (MDR Z1R or IER-Z1R). I love Sony headphones!

    Well it is sad to say that what I really like in my Lumin after months of testing is ....... its display above all. I like to see the name of the song displayed
    Sound from my Lumin U1 Mini (upgraded with a Sbooster power supply) is not better than my laptop using USB output
    I never tested with a BS node 2i but I am afraid of the result, it may just sounds the same (with PCM flow)

    However I like sometimes to upsample the music using Roon
    Lumin is a very capable unit that allows you to play DSD even if the music comes from Tidal or Qobuz
    Upsampling to DSD gives to my experience a better sound, it is more profound, more 3D like, clearer and with a nice soundstage. Bluesound stuff cannot read DSD. Maybe this is not something to worry about with speakers but with headphones DSD is better in my point of view

    But be careful. Lumin is a Linux streamer. This is a spec that is not written in the spec page. It may not work flawlessly with your DAC using its USB output

  12. #12
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Besides my Schiit Yggy, I'm also playing around with a Matrix Sabre Pro DAC, which can handle DSD.

  13. #13
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    Hi wbass. What was your conclusion in your comparison of node2i and lumin u1 mini soundwise ?

  14. #14
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    Re: comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

    I do hear a difference in the end. With speakers (Magnepan 3.7i), it can be fairly difficult to discern. But with headphones (Sennheiser HD800), I've started to notice ways in which the Lumin is (oh, gawd, here comes some audiophile-speak) more resolving and offers more fine grain detail. It can be subtle, and not every recording shows up the differences. But here are three that I've been testing with that--I think--do:

    Brad Mehldau Trio, Blues and Ballads, the first two tracks, the first 20-30 sec of each--There's some subtle lefthand stuff that the Bluesound smears or blobs a bit. The Node 2i even makes a few notes--particularly the pianissimo passing tones--harder to discern. In general, the Lumin shows off Mehldau's touch better and gets across more microdynamics and nuance in the playing. The Bluesound sounds just a bit blobby or rounds off the edges a bit. Again, it can be quite subtle. I haven't compared blind--and perhaps I should--but I seem to be able to hear the differences with repeated listens.

    Rickie Lee Jones: "Chuck E's in Love"--I mostly focused on Steve Gadd's kit here, particularly the sound of the bass drum and snare. With the Lumin, I seem to hear a bit more room sound/ambience (despite Gadd's fairly dead 70s LA-session tuning). Also, the various guitar lines, with all of their bends and high strings ringing out, seem just a touch more coherent and easy to pick out. The Lumin has, here, better flow (again, forgive the awful audiophile-speak), and the Node 2i sounds just a touch flat or dull in comparison.

    So, yeah, I *think* I am hearing a difference. I believe I can consistently pick it out on headphones. Speakers may be a different story. My conclusion is that the Bluesound remains pretty darn good, but the Lumin is ever so slightly better.

    I'm also messing around with a microRendu. With a relatively cheap iFi power supply, I really couldn't tell it from the Bluesound. With a nicer SBooster LPS (on loan), it just about beats the Bluesound, but isn't quite as good as the Lumin. I'm curious to hear an ultraRendu or opticalRendu.

    There are differences. Quite subtle. Maybe just about worth it for me. Kind of fun to mess around with, but I still find AB'ing digital stuff a bit head scrambling.

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comparing Lumin U1 Mini to Bluesound Node 2i

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