One has a Fiber Optic input.
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@david_ten well, Lumin is using output transformers as part of their analog stage which adds some color but otherwise retains the detail provided by the ESS DAC chips.
To a large degree the goal and result is similar to that of the DAC I designed, which also uses output transformers combined with PCM1794A DAC chips.
dCS is not aiming for the same thing with their products, although with multiple filter settings you can influence the sound.
Listening to the Rossini right now, which has similar character to the Bartok. I came from a Mytek Manhattan II which is based on the ESS Pro. All I can say is it’s not even close between those two. The dCS has this smooth, natural presentation with incredible detail and separation. I loved the sound of the Mytek but it always had this hint of brittleness that I believe the dCS ring DAC and upsampling provide.
I’ve heard the X1 and Bartok in the same system, and they definitely have different sound characters. I preferred the X1 by a considerable margin, in fact I thought the Lumin T2 bested the Bartok (at less than 1/3 of the price). The Bartok is no slouch though, and includes digital inputs and the optional head amp neither of which are available on the Lumins.
Interesting comments. Can you please expand on the differences between the X1 and Bartok and why you preferred the X1.
I have an Ayre QX5 and a Mytek Manhattan II, both using the latest ESS chips, which I find extremely good. I prefer both of these to the Chord DAVE/Blu 2 which I owned. I've also been considering the Bartok, but wondering whether it is a real upgrade.
Interesting about the Dave. I have the Hugo 2 (along with the mentioned Mytek Manhattan II, dCS Rossini, Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, and a Violectric DAC). To me, the dCS is by far the most natural. The Mytek overemphasis on highs becomes tiring. That said, I do find the Chord Hugo to really lack in resolution. It’s a nice, pleasant sound, but lacks the finesse of the dCS or Manhattan. (The Brooklyn being my least favorite, but still excellent).
I can only speak to the Lumin. I have owned the D1, A1and now the X1. I ended up selling my Emm Lab Dac after getting the X1. I had a Raven Integrated Reflection MK2 amp and SF Amati Tradition Homage speakers. People who came to my house were amazed at the quality of my sound. My whole music library is digital and I also used Tidal. The ease and simplicity of the Lumin ap is what initially sold me on Lumin. Each iteration I went to improved the sound dramatically.
The best way I could describe the difference would be that the Lumin’s sounded more real and natural. Guitars, pianos, voices, etc... sounded more like they do in real life. As a result everything sounds less like a recording. I went in expecting the Bartok to be clearly superior, and I was also prejudiced against Sabre chip based DACs. The Bartok has a much better feature set, and will undoubtedly hold its value better, the Lumin’s just sounded better.
We are a major Lumin dealer and have had extensive experience with DCS in the past, in fact Wilgolf is one of our clients.
The battle between DCS and Lumin can be summed up with DCS tends to favor resolution over musicality, not saying the DCS is harsh, but there is a distinctly clean uncolored but not harsh presentation to the DCS while the Lumin tends to be a very dimensional, and very engaging sound also with excellent resolution.
We had a client many years ago trade in a DCS Rossini for a Lumin A1 which he found to offer a more relaxed presentation while still offering much of the clarity of the DCS.
Lumin's products are also a technological tour de force, Lumin is a division of Pixel magic a large Taiwanese manufacturer of broadcast video products. There engineering dept has the resources of a very large high end company.
Spinaker the Lumin X1 also uses a FPGA as well, the reality is a FPGA really doesn't mean much, most of these companies use mature filtering techniques and don't need to come up with magic software upgrades every few months, the advantage of an FPGA is that you can add and improve features easily through firmware,
The Lundhal transformers are really magical and do help the X1 with its liquid sounding midrange.
Very few people will walk away from the X1 to hear one is to fall in love with one.
The X1 has a huge three dimensional sound stage, good top and bottom extension, excellent resolution and air, a warm full bodied midrange and a great feature set, MQA, Roon endpoint, a great app, easy software upgrades, optical isolation
We sell some of the world's best digital products from Aqua, Light Harmonic, T+A, Naim, Innous, and a few others.
The summation is that the X1 can only be bettered by spending a lot more money,
Tomic the X1 is a far better deal than the Naim and in most ways far outperforms the Naim for way less.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Lumin dealers
Lumin is using output transformers as part of their analog stage which adds some color but otherwise retains the detail provided by the ESS DAC chips.
Love transformer coupled output stages, especially in balanced outputs. :) Yumm.
TBC: I've never heard or seen a Lumin, just saying I love the idea.
Re transformers, McIntosh uses transformers. They have their followers, but many people do not consider them high-end (coloration, pace, etc). At the same time, I think dCS cut corners with Bartok. Imagine you have a Ferrari and now you want to cut corners on it. I still remember some silly Mercedes Benz whose corners were so much cut that it no longer looked like Mercedes.I investigated 100s of forums and formed an opinion that both of these products have their MSRPs ballooned big time to begin with (the truth of the matter, though, is that the MSRPs of lower tiers, Mytek etc. are ballooned too).In conclusion, I think neither of these products can justify their hefty MSRP.
Fiza, your explanation of your findings is not based on fact.
Lumin uses Lundhal output transformers which acts as a buffer between the output stage and the incomming signal from the Luimin into the preamplfier or power amplifier.
A Macintosh amplifier uses an autoformer as a load matching device which contains thousands of feet of wire, vs a the Lundhal which uses a tiny amount of wire in comparison to an output or load matching transformer.
The Macintosh amplfiers use this technique to enable the amplifier to see a common load vs a direct coupled solid state amplfication stage which can provide enough current to power an arc welder.
Also your assumptions on cost of the Lumin are just wrong, the case of both the power supply and main chassis are cut from solid billet aluminum this drives up costs dramatically and provides a very inert chassis, factor in the cost of the dac chips, two circuit boards the Lundhal output transformers, three high end toridial main power transformers you can see this is not an inexpensive product, that also doesn't take into consideration the rest of the costs in manufacturing, the importers profit, shipping and research and development.
The fact that the Lumin X1 compares to much more expensive front ends is testament to its value proposition.
We have a store full of dacs, in order to beat the X1 you have to spend $30k- 50k, The X1 sounds dramatically better than the less expensive digital products.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Lumin dealers
I can’t imagine what corners were cut on the Bartok. Weighs a ton and it’s universally raved about. If one feels that the Bartok has corners cut the Rossini is there for 10k more. I think the Rossini has a more sophisticated power supply and a more luxurious box. It too is universally praised. Only the consumer can decide if the 10k is worth it. Better is always in conflict with good.