This is a good question.
I recently spent several weeks listening to a Lumin U1 Mini, then a Lumin U1 Mini + SBooster, then a Lumin T2.
These were all feeding a Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC with Unison USB and Analog 2 board via either AES/EBU or USB.
My computer audio set-up for nearly five years has been a 2008 MacMini via USB to the Yggdrasil DAC.
I listened to all iterations using Roon/Qobuz or Lumin’s app with Minimserver.
My system is resolving: SMc Audio VRE-1 preamp (balanced inputs and outputs), Audio Note Conquest Silver amplifiers (balanced adapters made by Steve McCormack), Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE loudspeakers, 20a dedicated/filtered ac, Synergistic Research/Shunyata cabling.
The Lumin U1 Mini +SBooster sounded *maybe* 5% better (backer background/lower noise floor) than the Lumin U1 with stock power supply. It was a minimal improvement.
The T2 sounded he same as the Lumin U1 Mini + Booster.
The kicker was that none of the Lumin streamers, regardless of output used, sounded better than my 2008 MacMini straight to the Yggy DAC using a Wireworld Silver Starlight USB cable.
Others’ mileage will undoubtedly vary, but I was thankful to be able to return the products and allocate the funds to other system improvements.
Have you tried any other streamers like SOTM 200 ultra?
I guess for me, going from my gaming PC direct to my dac vs any kind of streamer would make more of a difference because a mac mini is likely inherently much less noisy than a gaming pc.
But interesting findings indeed. Im actually not all that surprised by your findings with the sbooster. Looking under the hood it seems the u1 mini has a pretty solid isolated SMPS.
@smodtactical , I have not tried other streamers.
I had ordered an Innuos Zenith MK3, but canceled when Covid-19 hit.
At this point, a streamer/server doesn’t provide any must-have extra benefits for me.
BTW, I am a huge proponent of better power supplies. Every component I have ever owned has benefitted by a beefy power supply, and many of the modified components I have owned in the past (disc players in particular) all started with a re-working of their power supplies.
There is simply no way that a Mac Mini will outperform a dedicated steamer. Something else must have been at work here
The MacMini equalled the Lumin devices (or vice-versa). I didn't state the MacMini outperformed the Lumin devices.
And, the Mini + Yggy combo comes close to an Esoteric UX-3Pi playing the same source material using identical power cords and interconnects.
I own a Lumin T2 and do not feel a need for an outboard dac. Using the T2 with an outboard dac defeats the design purpose.Thanks for your comment.
Yes, I compared the T2 direct to preamp via balanced outputs against the Mini/Yggdrasil combination. I also compared the T2 as a source to the Yggdrasil DAC. In all cases, the Mini/Yggdrasil combination was equal to the Lumin device, so I saw no need to invest more money.
A question was asked earlier about an upgraded power supply for the Mac Mini. I am using the stock power supply.
I wonder if you would get a further gain with a better PSU on the mac mini ?
I wonder that as well, but I’m going to stay put for the time being.
Also, upgraded MacMini power supplies are not inexpensive. Once one takes the added cost into consideration, it begins to make sense to move to a more elegant one-box solution like an Innuos Zen MK 3 or Zenith MK 3 (because they include CD drives, and I still buy and rip CDs).
I agree 100% with Grant here @tvad ..... one can be very happy with a MacMini setup, like he is, and like I am too...
I run a late 2012 MacMini (2.3GHz I7 quad processor) with 16Gb ram, a Samsung 860 Pro solid state drive, with an Akiko USB stick on one of the USB ports. I am using USB out to a Gustard U16 DDC that gives me an AES/EBU output for my DAC.
I have an HDPlex 200W linear power supply which I will use to power my MacMini when the MMK power kit arrives sometime in April, from Uptone Auido.
The point is, like Grant, I listened to an audiophile streamer (an Innuos Zen mk3) in my system, directly compared to the MacMini setup, and while I may be in the minority here, I really preferred the MacMini. This is with the stock power supply.