As the D/A conversion design is far simpler than in previous Lumin units, a single crystal oscillator working at 12.288MHz is sufficient. Because streaming native DSD through this 192kHz PCM chip is technically impossible, Pixel Magic exploit the common DSD-over-PCM (DoP) mode at 176.4kHz. All DSD and PCM files, including quad and double DSD, are resampled to arrive at such 24-bit/176.4kHz resolution. This heavy resampling required a new more powerful DSP processor than those used in previous Lumin streamers.


The design guide line for the M1 has been to keep the signal path short. Hence the end user can't select sample rates as in previous Lumin decks. All of it arrives us at a perfect example of what could be called state of the art in terms of friendly integration for high-resolution file lovers; plus anyone else dreaming of smart one-box computer audio solutions. The Lumin M1 is a genuine network player which thus still requires a network attached storage NAS device running MinimServer; or any other compatible server appliance correctly installed. Hopefully for IT handicapped users, MinimServer's current version provides for a more intuitive installation process. But then it's always possible to acquire a Lumin L1 which is a 2TB NAS prepped and ready to go with any Lumin network player, including of course our new M1.


It was designed to afford the best achievable quality with very low production costs. The chassis is more or less the same as that used for their entry-level T1 streamer. Appearance remains decent for the price and when I decided to open the box, I was even surprised by the fine quality of aluminium used in the chassis. On the front panel, the display provides useful information about the file being played, its original format and resolution, remaining time and of course volume. A simple volume knob on the right side of the front panel allows for manual operation and a power button lives on the other side. The M1 has no external power supply. All necessary support circuitry is encased within the same chassis.


There is no remote control either which would be useless. All operations, especially volume control, are accessed from Lumin's iPad app. More good news is the recent release of an Android version which will make Lumin owners happy but also all other users of UPnP home network players. The Lumin app is thus mandatory to pilot the M1. It shouldn't really be an issue when the Lumin app is amongst the very best available. With their iPad application constantly improved since the beginning, let's add that all Lumin gear has native Tidal and Qobuz support. At the rear, the familiar single Ethernet input and twinned USB slots remain. The S/PDIF BNC output of previous models is replaced by four WBT speaker binding posts. The M1 allows no further extensions within the playback chain and can only be used as an all-in-one device. It could be viewed as a no-brainer solution for dematerialized music but it is no Swiss army knife.


Output power of 60/100 watts into 8/4Ω may not read too impressive but class D amps in my experience are often quite capable of driving more complex loads than their specs might indicate. I'm for example thinking of the small Japanese SPEC 717EX which I reviewed two years ago. With only 50 watts on tap, that compact integrated powered my earlier Vivid Audio K1 which weren't particularly easy loads with their four woofers and complex filter. It's when I tried the same amp on my later Vivid Audio G1 that its limitations became more obvious. By contrast and against such odds, the small M1 proved a very capable partner with my Giya flagships. I'd learnt already of similar surprises with small Chinese solutions like the FX Audio 802D or QLS HIFI QA100 which, for a fraction of the Lumin's price, offer quite similar output power without any integrated digital player. These grey-market products sold nearly exclusively via aliexpress.com had tremendous capabilities. My overall impression each time was that my speakers had been jacked directly into my AC wall outlet. This was the most impressive feature of these small match boxes  even if their other limitations of tonal accuracy and bandwidth made them not comparable to the usual big high-end contenders on finesse and subtlety. But they sounded almost better than much of the expensive kit from the usual suspects thanks to their stunning power efficiency and direct and transparent PCM-PWM conversion. Of course worldwide warranties were purely illusory, any chances at try-before-buy non-existent and build quality rather basic. But then, who actually gives a shit when their total sticker fell between $200 and $400? Yes, indeed!