Lumin U1 vs Lumin U1 mini + sbooster?


Has anyone done this comparison ? How close can the mini get ?
smodtactical
This is a good question.

anyone?
I do know 1 dealer of both sotm and lumin who states that U1 mini + sps 500 is about 80% of the U1. But would love other opinions.
I would agree with that Dealer.  But the sbooster is big, ugly and your Lumin will require internal modifications that void your warranty.  Your choice.  Contact me if you want either
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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.
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I am surprised by your findings. There is simply no way that a Mac Mini will outperform a dedicated steamer.  Something else must have been at work here
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Surprising posts, agreed.  Dedicated streamers tend to win out from the old PITA computer setups.  Is what it is I guess.
Maybe he has some high end PSU on his mac mini ?
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.  I went from a MacMini to the Lumin....the change was stunning and obvious to me, something I liked. However, everyone's ears and gear is different. YMMV.
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@tvad  impressive. I wonder if you would get a further gain with a better PSU on the mac mini ?
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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.  
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Is sbooster a safe mod to do on the U1 mini? Doesn't it void warranty
It requires you cut a wire in the U1 Mini thus voiding the warranty.
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Yup same my local dealer said he would cover the warranty and he would do the install. I dont like that the internal shielded psu is being wasted though.

I’m one of the guys who was actually curious about this comparison (U1 vs U1 Mini+S Booster). I have both units and I thought it would be useful to share my experience with the to help potential buyers.

I can safely say to just don’t bother with the U1 Mini, if you have the funds just go for the big brother U1. The difference is so noticeable that it’s not even worth comparing them, the U1 is simply better - better resolution and clarity, wider and deeper stage, blacker background, greater instrument separation, greater refinement...in a nutshell I would say that the U1 makes the U1 Mini sound “strained”. 

The U1 Mini+S Booster combo is a serious step up from regular computer streaming and it beats most streamers at the same price range currently available on the market but it can’t hold a candle against its big brother, the U1.

I’ll be putting the combo up for sale in a few days, so that it can find a new home where it will get some love, otherwise it will turn into a great dust collector.


I went in a different direction. I got the U1 mini + Keces p8  (with ghent dc cable) going into  a Audio GD DI20HE then I2S out into my DAC. This chain is simply incredible. Absolutely beats my old SOTM 200 ultra + sps 500 + dx usb setup. And doing the u1 mini + P8 or DI20HE alone was not as good as the combo. Oh and I am using coax out of the u1 mini.
Now I have not compared to full size u1 but others who have tried the di20he + streamer (even something like pi) have found it to be better than dcs bridge. This is something really worth trying and ultimately cheaper and possibly better than full size u1.
others who have tried the di20he + streamer (even something like pi) have found it to be better than dcs bridge
Was having an i2s input on their dac a prerequisite or does the di20he have the same goodness via its spdif output? I ask because my streamer already has an i2s output but my dac has rca coax, optical & usb inputs only.
I got good results with AES out of the DI20HE also. But I2s just took it further. Im also only using a basic 8k shielded amazon HDMI cable. Still waiting for a better wireworld chroma cable.
But you'll definitely feel most of the benefit with AES.
This is a great tip to bring the U1 Mini performance up a notch. It’s awesome to read that the DI20HE reclocker is getting the job done with satisfying results. I’m one of those guys who believes that less is more for linearity and less induced overall noise and interference in the signal chain.

The U1 Mini already have a “higher” noise floor than the U1, so I really can’t see how the DI20HE brings that down, it probably adds its own distortion, which might be a sweet one for the ears, thus giving the sense of improvement. I’m glad that this setup works great in your system at a significantly less cost than the U1. 

I can safely say to just don’t bother with the U1 Mini, if you have the funds just go for the big brother U1. The difference is so noticeable that it’s not even worth comparing them, the U1 is simply better
This is likely true if you take the "stock" U1 Mini and compare it to the standard U1.

That being said, I took a close look.  I think the U1 Mini + Sbooster is probably going to be equal to the standard U1 if you just use them as a digital transport. 

The only thing that the standard U1 has here is a DAC and analog output.  If you don't need this and are still intending to do the Sbooster mod on the U1 MIni, then I would say go for the U1 Mini.  The digital transport section is the same on both.
The only thing that the standard U1 has here is a DAC and analog output. If you don’t need this and are still intending to do the Sbooster mod on the U1 MIni, then I would say go for the U1 Mini. The digital transport section is the same on both.
The U1 does not have a DAC, it is a digital transport like the U1 Mini. The "only" difference is that it is a much better transport.

That being said, I took a close look. I think the U1 Mini + Sbooster is probably going to be equal to the standard U1 if you just use them as a digital transport.
I used to have the U1 Mini and added a good LPS (Kenneth Lau Signature). I thought I had a transport as good as the U1 for half of the price. Well I was naive and wrong. I took home the X1 for a test and connected it as a transport (same like an U1), with the same cables and Aesthetix DAC I used to have with the U1 Mini.
The difference was huge, the weakest link in my system was the U1 Mini with LPS and not the DAC what I thougt. There is a reason why the U1 costs almost 3 times more than the stock Mini....
sorry, I was looking at a wrong picture.
This is likely true if you take the "stock" U1 Mini and compare it to the standard U1.

That being said, I took a close look. I think the U1 Mini + Sbooster is probably going to be equal to the standard U1 if you just use them as a digital transport.  

The only thing that the standard U1 has here is a DAC and analog output. If you don't need this and are still intending to do the Sbooster mod on the U1 MIni, then I would say go for the U1 Mini. The digital transport section is the same on both.

I guess that was your experience. For the records the transport section of the U1 Mini and U1 are not the same, the mini has the same digital section as the D2 and the U1 has the same digital section as the S1. Also the U1 does not have a DAC nor analog output.

I think that it will eventually come down to how resolving the system is to allow one to discern the differences. Both my speaker and headphones rigs are fairly resolving which is why I shared my impressions about the differences I noticed between the two.

For reference below are the rigs:

Speaker: LUMIN U1 Streamer —> Chord M Scaler —> Chord Hugo TT2 —> SPL Phonitor X Pre-amp (sometimes PrimaLuna Evo 400 pre-amp for some tube flavor) —> 2x SPL Performer s800 monoblocks —> KEF Reference 5 speakers

Headphones: LUMIN U1 Streamer —> Chord M Scaler (yes I have two) —> Chord Dave —> Woo Audio WA33 tube amp or RAAL-Requisite HSA-1a amp
The rigs feed the following headphones: Focal Utopia, HifiMan Susvara, ZMF Verite Closed a d RAAL-Requisite SR1a.

Again, your experience is apparently different than mine and I’m glad that in your system you don’t seem to perceive the differences between the U1 and the U1 Mini with an upgraded power supply which is great for your wallet...in my system there’s no place for the U1 Mini anymore because the U1 is that much better.


The U1 does not have a DAC, it is a digital transport like the U1 Mini. The "only" difference is that it is a much better transport.

I used to have the U1 Mini and added a good LPS (Kenneth Lau Signature). I thought I had a transport as good as the U1 for half of the price. Well I was naive and wrong. I took home the X1 for a test and connected it as a transport (same like an U1), with the same cables and Aesthetix DAC I used to have with the U1 Mini. 
The difference was huge, the weakest link in my system was the U1 Mini with LPS and not the DAC what I thougt. There is a reason why the U1 costs almost 3 times more than the stock Mini....

I had the same experience as yours, and yes I was also naive and wrong to believe that upgrading the power supply on the U1 Mini would make it as good as the U1....the U1 is just a lot better, that's not even close!
sorry, I was looking at a wrong picture.
You're good! I thought you had first hand experience with the units. You might want to give them a try to notice the differences. 
Its fine having beliefs. But having a belief and actually listening is a different thing. People have been using DI20HE after some pretty high end streamers in their chain including auralic aries g2 with gains in SQ. For those reading this go to head fi and talk to the guys there including Jimmy Chang who did an A-B of dcs bridge vs pi +di20he (dcs bridge is known by many to be better than even the full size lumin u1).

By the way di20he can also take external clock and I don't even have one connected. But a $300 morion ext clock from queensland seller off ebay takes SQ even further! Its a future upgrade I plan on.
I think having a strong ext psu with the u1 mini is a great option because then you have a PSU in another chassis like full size u1 and have the ability to use the psu you want (there are better PSUs out there than sbooster). My dealer modded my u1 mini so I can put on w/e PSU I want. This gives you the flexibility select  a very high quality PSU.
I think the one main advantage of full u1 is that its a cleaner looking solution with less boxes and looks very nice compared to my stack of boxes (but I do like the look of my box stack).
I completely agree with your statement there about having beliefs vs actually listening to it. I hope you’ve listened to the LUMIN U1 and compared it against your current setup rather than “believing” that your setup out performs the U1 based on what you read. 

The aforementioned streamer, in my opinion, is inferior to the LUMIN U1 and probably on par with the U1 Mini with S Booster - again, that’s based on my experience in my system. Your experience might be different. 

I gave up using reclockers and external clocks in order to reduce the amount of boxes to have a more streamlined but “ultra” high performance system, if possible.

Again, I’m glad that you’re happy with your solution, after all that’s what we are all after - the joy of having a satisfying system that completely eliminates the need for further “upgraditis disease”.
I got good results with AES out of the DI20HE also. But I2s just took it further. Im also only using a basic 8k shielded amazon HDMI cable. Still waiting for a better wireworld chroma cable.
But you'll definitely feel most of the benefit with AES.
Thank you for the quick response. This is the first I'd heard of the DI20HE and your comment of pi and it to be reportedly comparable to the dcs bridge really got my attention. I've been considering the DCS nb or a u1 mini and now a di20he but it might just be a sideways move in my system as I'm pretty sure my streamer (sonore SSR) has a great built in LPS and sonore paid special attention to the spdif implementation with a separate board for it if I remember correctly. I'll ask the manufacturer if my DAC can be retrofitted with I2S, if so,  that might be the way to go for its simplicity. I've read much about I2S sounding the best, of which the SSR has that output.

What I am talking about is not my belief I am simply reporting real world findings of audiophiles that have compared DI20HE + pi to DCS and that have compared DCS to full U1. So its not my personal belief based on my theoretical understanding. Its real world experience from other audiophiles.
I am not saying that I personally observed that. If I tested it myself I may disagree or agree with them. But given their findings I am content with my solution and their impressions are enough for me to be satisfied that going full U1 would not be worth it.
To re-iterate (because it seems you did not read/understand my post)... they found that:

DI20HE + Pi > DCS Bridge
DCS Bridge > full size u1
Feel free to read audiophile style or head fi if you doubt what I am saying ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES.

One other anecdote is from Steven Huang of audiosensibility who finds that sbooster + u1 mini is about 80% of the performance of full U1. So taken all the above its not a far stretch of the imagination that a better ext PSU + di20he in the chain would be on par or likely out perform full u1.
@stray

With your system probably the smartest thing to do is just add DI20HE. And down the road ext morion clock is an option. Sonore is already a great streamer. Going to full DCS bridge or even u1 mini probably not worth it based on everything I've said above.
Thanks for the thorough explanation. I did understand your initial post.

The difference between our takes is that I have had first hand experience with both U1 and U1 Mini+ S Booster and shared my experience on the perceived differences between the two, you on the other hand are assuming, based on real world findings of other people, that the DI20HE plus a streamer out performs the U1 and even the dCS Bridge. I’m happy that you’re content with your solution, but realistically you don’t know if it’s better than the stand-alone U1. You’re just assuming it is, based on what you read.

I read other people’s impressions/reviews and experiences to use it as a guide to improve my system but I make a conscious effort to not claim anything based on other people’s experiences, until I try it myself.

Again I compared both the U1 and U1 Mini + S Booster myself.
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I concede totally that I am relying on other peoples impressions. But what are you using to evaluate the DI20HE? You are not even using other peoples impressions. You are just using theory about how it 'should sound'. Also you have never tried u1 mini with any other PSU besides sbooster... so people looking at the ext psu option should be made aware that doing this may be something to explore... they shouldn't simply conclude that welp sbooster is the end of the line.
@steakster Its also silly to dismiss a product based solely on how in ’theory’ it should sound and assuming its just adding ’colour and distortion’ when you have not heard the product nor are you even relying on any real world impressions or experience of the product.
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Yes he did by saying  "It’s awesome to read that the DI20HE reclocker is getting the job done with satisfying results. I’m one of those guys who believes that less is more for linearity and less induced overall noise and interference in the signal chain."

And"I gave up using reclockers and external clocks in order to reduce the amount of boxes to have a more streamlined but “ultra” high performance system, if possible."

So indirectly he is saying ya well DI20HE likely will just cause noise and interference so its not for me. He has not heard it personally just as I have not heard full size u1 personally. If he just said 'Glad di20he is working great' and left it at that I would have absolutely no objection. But that little extra part he added was done so just to make himself feel good and justify his purchase.

By the way if you read what I wrote nowhere did I say he is wrong. This is all subjective. We all have our opinions based on what we have heard. My only aim was to provide other people with another option to consider. Neither I nor has he tried full size u1 vs di20he. So I invite others to try this face off and report your results.
I don’t have any experience with the DI20HE and never claimed to have, as I never heard it. I shared my thought a d the reasoning behind without making any claims. I also said that I was actually happy that you found it a great solution for your system but struggled to understand that you think that your solution is a better alternative than the stand-alone U1 or even the dCS Bridge, which you’ve implied more than once, without any first hand experience whatsoever. 
I would suggest that you recommend the DI20HE (and possibly add an external clock to it for further enhancement) as a solution to enhance the performance of the U1 Mini + S Booster because you’ve actually heard the improvements but avoid stating or even implying that it is better than the U1 or the dCS Bridge based on what you read. 
@steakster thanks for the kind words. As I stated on my initial post, I was personally interested in the answer to that question and came to this thread looking for the answer, that’s why I thought it would be useful to share my impressions and experience with the audience here and anyone who might be interested in this information.
By the way I want to add 1 thing. I actually think buying a full size lumin u1 is a good decision for 3 main reasons.
1. It looks really nice, much nicer than u1 mini. It just has a great chassis and if I could get one for a very good price I would do it.
2. Its possible that u1 is better than U1 mini + Keces p8 and do its also possible that u1 mini + p8 + di20HE stack would be even better than my stack.3. It is great if you want a cleaner solution and want to avoid stacks of boxes.

So I DO NOT fault @mrcypruz  or anyone who want to get the full size U1. And I agree with his original point that if you have the cash go for it for the above 3 reasons.
I just need to clarify that I didn’t state that the DI20HE increases noise and interference, I said that it could be possible that the perceived improvements were due to additional distortion and/or noise/interference.

Additionally, I don’t need validation for any of my purchases, I’ve been humbled many times in this hobby that I’ve learned that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, but in the case of the U1 and U1 Mini + S Booster, it is the case to my ears in my system. My intention was solely to share my experience.
"avoid stating or even implying that it is better than the U1 or the dCS Bridge based on what you read. "

I don't see whats wrong in saying that this solution 'may' be better than full size u1. There is nothing erroneous about that comment.

Also I don't see anything wrong in saying that Jimmy Chang on head fi found pi + di20he better than dcs bridge. And a number of other users on audiophilestyle found dcs bridge better than full size u1 (including a personal friend of mine who I really trust).
Just because these are not my personal experiences I am not allowed to state them?
"I just need to clarify that I didn’t state that the DI20HE increases noise and interference, I said that it could be possible that the perceived improvements were due to additional distortion and/or noise/interference."

Sure but you are doing the same thing as me. You are coming to a conclusion without personal experience (trying di20he). I think the implication here is quite obvious that ’hey man what I did is better than what you did... your setup is just more distortion, my setup is better’. If that is not your implication then thats cool, but thats what I got from your post. And I felt it was a bit arrogant to be honest. Like my cheaper solution is not as good as your more expensive solution and mine is just more distortion prone and therefore I like distortion.

" Additionally, I don’t need validation for any of my purchases, I’ve been humbled many times in this hobby that I’ve learned that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better, but in the case of the U1 and U1 Mini + S Booster, it is the case to my ears in my system. My intention was solely to share my experience. "

That was my intention too. To share my experience as well.
And by the way I highly doubt di20he sounds better because of distortion. Because when I put it in my chain what I actually hear is a blacker background, more detail, more air, better dynamics.
It’s just amazing how you give a twist to everything I said to make it sound erroneous. When I use the words “could be” or “might be” you proceed to give examples with “is”...and then when I suggest you to avoid making absolute claims with “is” you proceed to saying that you said “may be”.

I rest my case and once again, I just wanted to share my first hand experience with both units. I never intended to state that the DI20HE plus any given streamer couldn’t be better than the U1, I just tried to have more clarity about how could you make such claims without listening to the U1. As a reminder, I never claimed that the DI20HE isn’t better than the U1, I threw a possibility that there could be additional artifacts being introduced to the sound.

Anyways, happy listening and once again my intent was to actually contribute to the thread by responding to your initial question. Sorry for having to go through this “you said” / “I said” type of posts. They’re, in my opinion, unproductive and discouraging for the broader community.
I think the implication here is quite obvious that ’hey man what I did is better than what you did... your setup is just more distortion, my setup is better’. If that is not your implication then thats cool, but thats what I got from your post. And I felt it was a bit arrogant to be honest. Like my cheaper solution is not as good as your more expensive solution and mine is just more distortion prone and therefore I like distortion.
My apologies if I came across that way, I didn’t mean to “look down” at your system because it’s cheaper or because mine is more expensive. I also didn’t want to seem arrogant, again my apologies if I came off that way. One thing I ask though is to not imply things I did not say. I never stated that my setup was better than yours, I actually stated that I was glad and happy that you’re happy with your current system.

I don’t think that we need to be defensive or to point fingers at each other, after all we’re all here just for fun.

Once again, please accept my sincerest apologies for making you think that I was being arrogant and looking down at your system solely due to price difference.