Lumin is a subsidiary of Pixel Magic Systems Ltd., a Hong Kong-based electronics company. The brand has not only succeeded in achieving a reputation among audiophiles around the world in a short time after releasing the components but also expanded its range largely to cater to almost all the applications and cover different price points.
The company behind the world’s first Linux-based video processor, Pixel Magic, has an in-house team of designers and engineers that allows it to release new products so quickly. It uses almost the same hardware and software throughout its range of products. Lumin-based products are also made in the China-based facility.
Today, we review Lumin U1 Mini, a part of the brand’s growing line of Network Players. Let us look at its features, specifications, setup, and performance to find out what you can expect from it.
Lumin U1 Mini Review – UPDATED 2021
Lumin is a company specializing in digital components producing network players and transports, as well as software for these products. Lumin U1 Mini is introduced following the immense success of Lumin D2 in an attempt to make the transport technology highly accessible. It is developed as a huge specification in a compact package to match the bigger U1 in all respects, except size and price.
Lumin U1 Mini is advertised as an ‘Audiophile Network Music Player’ that accesses music stored on your home network or from a streaming service and converts it into a digital signal. Intended for audiophiles who own a good DAC, this network transport unit is capable of upsampling and downsampling all the formats from 44.1 kHz sampling rate to 768 kHz and bit depths from 16 to 32 bit and DSD256.
The Transport-Only unit combines the best offerings from the Lumin U1 and D2 with some of the most impressive features including:
- Support for high-res formats including FLAC, WAV, DSD, and MQA
- Intuitive and user-friendly app
- Native support for Spotify, TIDAL, Airplay, and more to give access to millions of tracks
- Resampling to all the possible formats up to DSD128
- Five types of digital audio output
- Native clock system for precise timing
- Supports 384kHz and DSD256 playback
- Low noise shielded switching power supply
- MQA decoding
- Power supply – Internal Shielded 100-240V AC
- PCM support – Up to 384kHz, 16-32 bit
- DSD support – up to DSD256
- Dimensions – 300 x 244 x 60 mm (WxDXH)
- Weight – 2.5kg
The design of Lumin U1 Mini is quite similar to the other two models – U1 and D2. It shares the functionality with U1 while the enclosure resembles D2 in every way. The resulting product is a transport-only unit in a compact, attractive enclosure. It looks and feels like any other product from the brand with excellent build quality.
The front of the unit is a thick, brushed aluminum with a small display in the middle and no knobs or buttons. At the rear, you can find five digital output options – coaxial BNC and RCA, AES/EBU, TOSLINK, and two USB ports. Flat USB sockets can also be used as inputs for USB sticks, USB SSDs, and more. There is also an RJ45 input and a grounding pin located next to digital outputs followed by a reset button.
The U1 Mini is overall a minimalist unit assembled nicely in black and silver options. There are four aluminum feet with rubber washers and the chassis is simply an aluminum sheet folded and anodized, unlike the Lumin U1. So, it is overall a quiet box with no replaceable components or buttons. The user needs to access and control settings from the application.
The Lumin U1 Mini comes with no hardware controller; it is instead controlled through an app you can run on an Android or iOS device. Getting started with the unit is straightforward because it just requires connecting via the Ethernet port on the rear to your router and plugging the power cord. The application will then detect the device and load your music library.
Connecting a DAC is also easy as the unit offers a readily accessible set of inputs – USB, optical, RCA, BNC, AES/EBU. Though the outputs are fixed directly to the rear, the sides and top of the case overhang the panel by 32mm which means you can position the unit in an open area without any visible wiring.
The U1 Mini can directly connect to Tidal, Spotify, and other internet music services. An amazing feature of the unit is the ability to control volume with a digital algorithm named Leedh Processing before conversion. However, you could turn it off and control the volume through the analog method. The app caches the music library on the device to pop it up instantly with up to 40 images on the device screen at a time.
The Lumin app is easy to use and intuitive and lets you do almost everything. You can organize the library by track title, album, genre, composer, artist, and more. It even allows sorting the library by the date and time the music was added. The app even lets you edit the album and track information. With the ‘Find’ and ‘Filter’ options, you can use the app to look for the particular song.
When tested with a laptop or DAC, the Lumin U1 Mini doesn’t fail to impress with its sound quality. Digital conversion is handled well to deliver perfect reproduction and diction. Instruments are heard natural-sounding and the bass is outstanding. The U1 Mini reproduces the deepest organ notes perfectly and with authority.
The sound of the drum is also quite impressive with an instant transient without any pre-echo. Lumin U1 Mini turns out to be an excellent performer where it matters the most. It serves music in a tangible, pleasant way without prettifying it. The voice clearly favors a charming, lively, humane side of the music.
Lumin U1 Mini Power Supply
The original Lumin U1 comes with a separate large power supply unit that connects to the transport unit through a cord. The Lumin U1 Mini, on the other hand, has a compact switch-mode type power supply built right inside the chassis. The idea was to reduce the required space to make a compact unit that is more affordable.
The Lumin U1 Mini uses a low-noise shielded switching power supply that eliminates any need of managing an external unit for powering the transport. The special design ensures a more natural resolution and details of the music while reducing grounding noise and other issues with the streamer.
Lumin U1 Mini Vs Auralic Aries G1 – How They Compare?
The Auralic Aries G1 is a high-end network player that shares a lot of similarities with the Lumin U1 Mini in terms of design, functionality, and features. Both these streamers offer a wide range of input options to connect to online streaming services and network devices to provide a high-performance playback with support for high-resolution formats up to PCM 384kHz. A difference between the two is that the Lumin U1 Mini supports up to DSD256 while the Auralic Aries G1 offers support for up to DSD512.
Another notable difference between the two units lies in terms of their power supply. While the Lumin U1 Mini is powered by an internal switch-mode power supply, the Auralic Aries G1 features two linear power supplies that power different components for superior performance. Moreover, Lumin offers its standard application to control the transport player while the Aries G1 uses Lightning and Roon software. The problem with Lightning is that it is available for iOS only; Android users need to invest in Roon software to be able to control the streamer.
Though Auralic Aries G1 comes loaded with several additional features, it has a hefty price tag of about $3900. Lumin U1 Mini is designed to be a more affordable option that offers all the basic features and high-end performance without having to break the bank.
Lumin U1 Mini Manual
Lumin offers an online manual for all its models including the U1 Mini to enable users to learn about the features and correct usage. The manual tries to differentiate its network music player models and network transports in terms of specifications and features to help buyers to make an informed decision about the right model for their needs. You can also find important safety instructions that apply to these devices along with common damages that need repair.
The manual also displays the typical network configuration to understand how the transport unit should be used with different components in your system. You also find useful information about using the Lumin app with all its features and functions explained in detail. Apart from the technology guides for Leedh, Roon, and others, the manual contains useful hints and tips as well as a troubleshooting guide that should help you make the most of your device.
The Lumin U1 Mini is a beautifully designed music transport with support for all the formats and streaming services available today. It delivers outstanding sound quality and offers a best-in-class, intuitive application. If you are on the lookout for affordable network-based transport for your DAC, the Lumin U1 Mini is undoubtedly a recommended option.