PS Direct Stream Vs. Lumin X 1 Sound quality difference?


I think I'm going to purchase a Lumin X-1 and sell my PS Direct Steam Dac.
Can anyone share their experience with these 2 products, particularly in sound quality?

ozzy
Bc4a0914 6194 48fd bd39 be2ab770836cozzy
Hello ozzy,

     I use a Lumin D2 in my system and think it's an excellent performer.  I use it with a 20TB Synology NAS and an iPad for wireless control using the Lumin software interface.  I believe the X-1 would perform at least as well as the D-2 and probably even better.
    Sorry, I don't have any experience with the PS Audio Direct Stream.

Tim
noble100,

Thank you so much for your reply.
I am presently using a Bryston BDP-2 with my hard drive attached to it and then to the PS Dac. The Bryston and the hard drive works flawlessly.
The Lumin would stream line my set up. I am hoping the sound quality will be as good or better than the PS Dac.
No way to compare both. So I am trusting the on line reviews (risky) and hoping some Audiogon members can reply.

ozzy
Ozzy - have you considered going with a standalone DAC to give yourself more flexibility?  I feel like the X1 is too much of commitment combining the streaming transport in the same box as the DAC.  I'm sure it sounds fantastic though.
I haven't heard either but I think I remember seeing a post from someone who had owned both and thought the X1 was big step up.  It should be at double the cost, right?

If you search the forum you can probably find it.  Maybe it was in the Bartok v X1 thread, as I'm interested in Bartok and have been following those threads, but I can't remember for sure.
three_easy_payments,

Thanks, I am going to the Lumin to reduce components, cables etc, but I am very much hoping for improved sound quality.

ozzy
kren0006,

Thanks. The Bartok was on my short list. But for some reason I am going after the Lumin. Maybe its the way it looks?

ozzy
Ozzy, you can't go wrong with Lumin....good support, well engineered product. If I had the dough I would have gotten the X1 but settled for the T2 and am happy with that choice

Ozzy,

I have both but not compared them the same way yet.  With the DirectStream (DS), I have connected via microRendu both with USB and then with Matrix from microRendu and then I2S to preamp.  The Lumin X1 takes significant break-in of at least 200 hours but recommendations say double that and I am getting close now.  It truly has dramatically improved from the out of the box and as I continue to add plaing hourss.

Lately I have been experimenting with running the X1 straight to active crossover and not using the preamp. I have not tried the DS that way. I will try to cut some time this long weekend to do that and will do listening using the same XLR cabling from the DACs to the active crossover.  

I really like my preamp,a Vinnie Rossi L2 Statement DHT, which also has a DAC.  However, the X1 direct to active crossover has provided excellent results.  If you do not have other sources you wish to use, this makes for a very simple connection system.  It will be interesting to do this with the DS.  Both PS Audio and Lumin provide free updates to their platforms.   I was one of the early ordering owners of the DS, and it has been completely trouble free for me.  

I hope to post my impressions next week.


azwill,

When you can please update your impression of the sound quality  between the two Dac's. 
It would be very helpful.

ozzy
Well I ordered the Lumin X1 and traded in my PS Direct Stream. I hope I did the right thing.
We'll see...

ozzy
Ozzy,

I did some comparisons over the long weekend with my PS Direct Stream and my Lumin X1.  My impressions are my own perceptions on my on own system.  I also did not level match the various combinations I tested.  I came away with renewed respect for the PS Direct Stream, but did prefer the Lumin X1 overall.  

My X1 is going direct to my active crossover and currently not using a preamp.  I am connected via fiber optic ethernet from A Side of an EtherRegen.  I have a ground connection from my SoTM PS1000 linear supply to the ER.  I also run copper to a microRendu from A Side and use a separate power supply, Uptone LPS 1.2 for it.  From the mR I connected a WireWorld Platinum Starlight USB to a Matrix X-SPIDF-2 with a WW Starlight 7 HDMI cable to I2S on the DS.  The Matrix is powered by an HDPlex linear power supply.  I recently have acquired a pair of Audio Sensibility Signature OCC Silver XLR cables that have approximately 60 hours run time on them so far.  I transferred these from the X1 to DS for testing direct to the active crossover.  I used Herbie's Tenderfeet under the DS and initially used these as well as same cables for the X1.

I used a variety of music selections with Redbook rates as well as DSD 64, DSD 128, 24/96, and DXD (352 kHz) with selections I like and am familiar with. These involved female and male vocals, and variety of instruments.

I was listening for vocal qualities, imaging, sound staging,  perceived dynamics, and perceived transient retrieval.  I have not kept further track of hours on my X1, but should be close to 400 hours.

My initial impressions favored the DS for vocals, with seemingly more weight and seemingly more natural voice texture.  I thought imaging and dynamics were better with the X1 with seemingly better transient retrieval. It seemed to present more detail information. Soundstage seemed close on some and seemingly wider with the X1.  The DS was a bit warmer and overall very organic presentation.  It is just a very enjoyable unit to listen to.  Though I favored the X1 on this run, it was much closer than I had thought it would be.   The DS direct to active crossover provides more noticeable detail retrieval than through my preamp and not as warm either.  I like it direct for me.

I have been using some Daedalus DIDs feet under my X1 from early on.  The X1 really needs substantial break in, and the presentation really does evolve.  Very early on the imaging was flat, and vocals too detailed and sharp.  The DIDs improved both over the stock feet and the Herbie's Tenderfeet.  When I put the DIDs back in for the same selections, the perceived differential between the DS and the X1 widened in favor of the X1, with vocals most noticeablly more natural and nuanced--think better than the DS now.  I did not find any degradation in the other areas and the overall presentation seemed more organic and enjoyable.  I did not test the DIDs under the  PS.  If I keep the DS, I may pursue trying that but it is a pain getting to the XLR cables and connections, and I wearied of doing it further for now.

As an aside, I find minor changes in position with footer feet, both the Tenderfeet, but more so with the DIDs make a difference.  It is pretty easy to make small incremental movements with these and judge the changes.

I have had the DS since it first came out--early adopter.  I have too many DACS and have considered moving it on before, but truly it is a very enjoyable unit and have not convinced myself to do so.  I think the results could be improved further in my system with the DS if I would make some additional changes.  The mR has been good to me, but I believe going to the Ultra Rendu and better yet the Optical Rendu or Signature Rendu SE Optical would up my perceived results.  I had considered those changes in my system before the X1.  

I really like the connection simplicity of the X1 with fiber optic ethernet to it and XLR out.  I have not experienced any drop outs with the X1 on streaming.  It just seems to work and very reliably.  I use Roon and also use the Lumin App often with Qobuz.  Most of the time the mR has worked very well, but I have had some issues in the past with it. I recently replaced the micro SD card, and it has been doing well since.  There are more connections, cables, and power supplies with the DS.  

Ozzy, I see you have indicated you have ordered an X1.  I think you will be very pleased, but the break in time is no joke.  I have read the recommendations saying to run it for a couple weeks constantly before you go to listen.  I did not do that, but knew long break in was required.  If your curiosity and impatience intervenes as it did with me,  know that the unit really improves.  I suspect mine still is.  Hope you enjoy it.

azwill,
Thanks for the very detailed comparison. I too have owned the PS Direct Stream for a long time and went thru many of the firmware iterations. It’s been good and dependable but I think its time to move on.

I only have the Stillpoints Ultra SS footers and that’s what I will at least use initially under the X1.
And, I am going to use a external drive plugged into the X1 but Qoboz will be streamed via a ethernet cable to the X1.

Many have mentioned to connect up a NAS unit for my recorded music but I am not too sure how to achieve that. I’m kinda old, perhaps later though. Also, the fiber optic cable and the Ether Regen has been recommended and eventually I will look into them.
Thanks also for the info on the long break in time needed, I’ll need to be patient. Which is not my nature and it cost a lot...

Based on the Fed Ex tracking the X1 is to arrive tomorrow but tracking and actual delivery has been spotty these days.

ozzy
Hello Ozzy,

     For some reason I thought you live in Michigan.  If you do, I think I have a very good and simple NAS solution for you that I bought from a local hi-end shop here in Indianapolis.  This solution requires the use of an iPad running the Lumin App to control what you play through your X1, like a huge juke box and very convenient. This is what I use with my D2 and it's awesome.  Please let me know.

Tim
noble100,
I sent you a PM

ozzy
ozzy congratulations with your Lumin X1 , i have had it on loan in my system where i use the T1 at the moment , and can only say that in my view and ears its a huge step up , and also noticeable from S1 which i also had on loan.
Hopefully my finances will allow me to upgrade to the X1 , sometime next year.
fdpdk,

Thank you for your reply. I am really looking forward to getting it. 
It looks like Fed Ex has screwed up the shipment. So, hopefully it will be sorted out soon.

ozzy
ozzy,

  just answered your pm but forgot you already bought the Lumin X1.  But I think you can still get the same deal with just buying the Synology and drives through them.  They offer excellent service as well.

Tim
Well finally received the X1.

It was a little confusing at first and I had to do a factory reset. Then after trial and error and a few swearing sessions it started to work.
And... it is playing the songs from my 8TB external Hard drive just fine.

First impression, perhaps a little sharp sounding, but its new and I assume a break in adventure is needed.

ozzy
@ozzy Congrats on the X1. Thinking of moving to Lumin from Aurender. Could you say whether the overall tonality is neutral or whether it favors either side of neutral (warm-dark vs. cool etc, you get it). Hoping an actual Lumin user can advise on this as I do my research. Or anything else about the sound. Thanks.
jaybe,
At this point, it is a little harder sounding compared to my Bryston/PS Dac combo in which I had for many years. It's not dark that's for sure.

But, I have read elsewhere that the Lumin X1 takes several hundred + hours to sound its best. So, I will give it time.

ozzy
I initially thought my T2 sounded a little harsh on some music with higher pitched vocals, such as Genesis and some female singers. After the first week or so I thought I had made a mistake, and thought about returning it. I will say it improved considerably after extensive burn in. Very Smooth and dynamic after several months of using it. The X1 Is their flagship and I can only imagine how it will sound after burn in.
bwguy,
Thank you for the info/help. 
I have been playing  the X1 for about a day via Qoboz. The plan is to let it play 24/7 for a few weeks.
Do you think there should always be music playing  through it or is just having the unit on enough? 

ozzy
@ozzy  When I bought my Lumin U1 the distributer suggested I leave the power supply on for 500-600 hrs but not necessary to be running music through it the whole time.  I think the power supply burn-in is a big component of the run-in. I honestly have not noticed a big change in SQ but then again the U1 isn't a DAC as well.
three_easy-payments,
Thanks. I noticed there is only and on/off breaker type switch in the back of the power supply so its probably designed to be left on all the time.
BTW, I just ordered a SR orange fuse for it.

ozzy
Peter at Lumin recommends having it run 24/7 for at least 2 weeks.  He has said it does not have to be run with amps on, so I would run a continuous playlist all night for 2 weeks.
@ozzy  I leave my unit on 24/7 and have the display set to go to "sleep" after 15 minutes of inactivity.
Thanks,  I wonder if it would matter the type of resolution playing through it? Probably not, but if I play Qoboz I'll find a higher rez file to loop.
I'm going to find the sleep setting.

ozzy
     
    Hello ozzy,
      I do the same thing as three_easy_payments with my D2, leave it on 24/7 and it's set to 'sleep' after 15 minutes. 
      I use mine with a 20 TB Synology storage unit, using an iPad as the GUI, and with all 3 devices wirelessly connected to my wi-fi.  I like the Lumin app with its mega data and configurable sortation options including the resolution of each track playing.  It's only frozen up on me once in the almost 5 months I've been using it and this was easily rectified by just shutting the 3 units off and then back on to reset them.
     My only complaint thus far is I wish the letters for alpha quick access, with the letters displayed vertically down the right side of the iPad display/remote, were a bit larger; it's hard to select accurately without using a small stylus.
     Ozzy, are you using an iPad as a remote?

Tim
Noble100, Tim,
I first ordered a Apple I-Pad via Amazon but it must have been a resold unit because it already had a password and couldn’t be unlocked. Apple was no help.
Knowing that the X1 was on the way to me, I went to the local Best Buy and bought a Samsung 10.1. Tablet
It seems to work and do what a good remote does, so I am happy.

ozzy

Hey ozzy,

     Cool, Samsung 10.1s are very nice. excellent picture quality with a very responsive touchscreen.  
Here is what Source Systems LTD/ Lumin commented on via email about the Lumin break in time.

" All good digital takes 400-500 hours to begin to sound its best. Then it gets better and better even after that. You can leave it on with or without music playing."

ozzy
Now this is very interesting. At least to me.

I placed a Perfect Path Tech (PPT) Omega mat and some of the cards on the Lumin X1 and on the external power supply. I placed them on it from the day I received the X1.

I noticed that I was getting a upper/mid high frequency glare and limited lower bass response, but I thought it was due for the need of more break in time.

Today, I removed the PPT Omega mat and the cards from the X1 and to my surprise the sound quality blossomed and became much more enjoyable and smooth.

Come to think of it I also did not place a PPT Omega mat under my former streamer- Bryston BDP-2.

So, since the X1 also contains a dac with lundal transformers it seems that what ever the PPT Omega mat / cards are made of, it conflicts with the Lumin X1.


ozzy
Hello Ozzy,

 

I got my X1 last Thursday so I am in a similar situation.

It does not sound good yet, it's really harsh and sometimes even unpleasant on some recordings. Luckily I had my dealer's demo unit on loan in my system before I ordered it, so I know what to expect in a couple of weeks time :)

Last night I put the Quadraspire Qplus Reference Support under its feet and it got even worse. Previously these were under the U1 Mini and they improved the sound. I guess during this break in time I should just leave it alone and wait patiently with any change in the system...

 

And which SR Orange fuse did you order? Lumin uses F2.0A fuses (fast blow) but my dealer says the SR fuses tend to blow earlier than normal fuses so I should get the 2.5A or the 3.15A version.

 

Zsolt


kzs70,

Congrats on your purchase, I ordered my X1 on blind faith, not the best way. I am using Stillpoints Ultra SS under mine, later on I will experiment with different footers.

I have now about 150 hours on the X1 and it is mellowing out more and more daily. I’ve been playing Qoboz HR around the clock.
It did start out pretty harsh. Funny that the PPT Omega mats affected the sound so much, but they do have a magnetic backing so that may be part of the issue. Or it may be whatever the PPT are made of affects the streaming and/or the electronic components inside the X1.

I ordered the SR orange 2.5A slow blow, because just as you stated the SR tend to blow faster than others.

ozzy
Well its now been 8 days. Close to 200 hours since starting the Lumin X1. At this point, the soundstage has moved way back and way wide. I have never experienced this even with all the add on devices I had used. That is; with my Bryston BDP-2/ PS Audio Dac combo i.e. Uptone ISO Regen, SOtM usb, Core Power perfect usb. etc. With that combo there was a nice left, right and center, but with the Lumin X1 there is an all encompassing soundstage. Sorta like using headphones.

kzs70,
Not sure where you are in the breakin in process with your X1 but hang in there it does change quite a bit.

Still haven’t received the SR fuse yet. Darn USPS...

ozzy

I have also recently swapped power cord from another component.  It did change the presentation, so this may be something worth exploring after major hour break-in.
azwill,

Different power cords do work differently with each component, that I know for sure. 

Question:
Do the feet on the X1 come off? Placing the large Stillpoints under it only allows for them to be placed at the edges due to the X1 feet. I haven't  turned it upside to check if the feet are removal, but from what I can tell there appears to be no screw in them.

ozzy
Not sure where you are in the breakin in process with your X1 but hang in there it does change quite a bit.
I still have less than 100 hours. It is better than it was on the first day but still far from what I heard with the demo unit.Yes I have to hang in for 2-3 weeks more. I try to be patient and not to change anything (fuse or power cord) until I am not happy with what i hear...




kzs70,

You need to let it run 24/7 to get some more hours on it quickly.

ozzy
kzs70,

Any improvement yet?
Tomorrow will be 2 weeks of continuous  music playing 24/7 on my X1.
Really digging it.
I just received the SR orange fuse for it today.

ozzy

ozzy,
Yes it has improved a lot after 200 hours continuos playing.I think I need at least one more week break-in, so I am not changing the fuse before that...
Zsolt
kzs70,
I use my Lumin X1 with a Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix power cord.
Due to selling my Bryston BDP-2 and the PS Dac to purchase the Lumin X1, I now have an extra one for sale.
Its listed on audiogon now if your interested.

ozzy
I use my Lumin X1 with a Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix power cord.

Thanks but I recently bought Siltech power cables and I am quite happy with them.Last night I had a ccouple of hours and was listening to the X1...after 2 weeks it sounds much better, very smooth and fuid now :)
I reread an online review of the Lumin X1 I think it was the Absolute Sound and in that review they suggested running the X1 output in DSD 512.

I just tried it and so far it does sound very good. Better stage presence.

ozzy
I have tried it as well. But I prefer native resolution, which for most of my collection is redbook PCM. I find conversion to DSD and upsampling generally to sound a little artifical and "processed". But then I also thought the same thing about the effects of the M Scaler when I owned a DAVE.
Thanks. I think I will play it @ the DSD 512 for a while then switch back.

ozzy
rossb,
Well I switched back to the native rez and I agree with you.
But man, I am getting some wide open soundstage! I was just playing Get Yer Ya Ya’s  Out- "Sympathy For Devil" and the guitar solo’s are way off to the extremes. And, I have played this tune many times! What an excellent Dac!

ozzy
So Ozzy, can you estimate how much better X1 is now than the Directstream dac?

is it night and day?  Or is it clearly better but not mind blowingly so?