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Since its rise, the Lumin A1 has grown into a kind of Linn killer. I have been surprised by the scarce impact on Linn’s strategy who very quickly lost their leadership position against newcomers like Lumïn, Ayon, AURALiC and Aurender. Today’s market offers many proposals to streaming high-resolution files. Never before has this been so competitive. Now Pixel Magic seem intent on setting a new standard in this field.

For now they remain dedicated to iPad users whilst the market awaits their release of an Android app. From what I discussed with Li and Morpheus of Lumïn’s technical team at Munich High End 2014, this should happen this year. That said, the Lumïn iPad app has been adopted by a large number of Linn users as a far friendlier environment that’s exceptionally well maintained. Since my original review, Lumïn have received many more awards and I remain very satisfied with my A1 streamer. After one year of constant and intense use, its most impressive feature perhaps has been the ongoing process of firmware updates and mods.

This doesn’t imply that the initial software was bugged. In this sector ongoing updates are de rigueur where this young Hong Kong firm showed themselves clearly dedicated to professionalism and top-notch customer service. I frankly doubt that you’ll encounter this level of after-sale service from most of their competitors. Kudos then to the tech team of Lumïn for setting new standards for customer service.

Focusing on the new S1 flagship, the main question will be what to expect from an improved version of the original now renamed Lumïn A1? Most its owners seem to have experienced greater listening satisfaction from streaming DSD not PCM files. Of course that is partly linked to the format itself but I believe also the characteristics of the chosen Wolfson chipset. It provides an incredible liquid resolved sound in bitstream DSD mode. For PCM it delivers merely good results which I found not as convincing as what I got from competitors like the Ayon S5 (reviewed here) or the Totaldac combo server + Dual Dac (reviewed by Audiophile Magazine and syndicated on 6moons here). Of course those machines fight in different leagues. It would be quite difficult to establish a formal hierarchy which properly tabulates both performance and price. Nevertheless Lumïn clearly agreed that there was still room for improvement.

Another technical consideration was the ability to stream DSD128 at 5.6MHz, i.e. 128 x the sampling rate of the 44.1 kHz Redbook standard. The main interest in DSD128 resides in pushing up out-of-band noise because DSD as a format relies on very aggressive noise shaping. The usual 50kHz low-pass filter to remove this HF noise points clearly as this requirement. With 5.6MHz DSD at twice SACD’s native sample rate, ultrasonic noise gets moved above 60kHz to promise superior sound quality. Whilst the list of downloadable files in this format is still very limited, I did have opportunity to acquire of few of them to compare to their DSD64 equivalent especially through the Opus 3 website. Like Channel Classics, Opus 3 record in pure analog mode to avoid any destructive conversion from PCM to DSD. Then they can offer both native DSD64 and DSD128 files. At these rates we might actually begin to wonder whether our playback gear has hit its present theoretical limits.

But there’s more. Certain DIYers in Hong Kong had demonstrated significant audible improvements by attacking Lumïn's power supply. I was able to test and then acquire two upgrades over the stock A1 power supply from a true fanatic called Kenneth Lau who also builds external power supplies for other digital gear. Paying attention to these efforts, Lumïn have now endowed the S1 with a far more sophisticated power supply design which should boost the deck’s overall performance. Let’s find out what they have achieved.