Blind test $3000 LUMIN D2 with Sbooster sounds the same as a $600 Bluesound Node

Why don’t you list your systems components and perhaps that could be the reason you don’t believe more expensive DACs can sound better. Some people that say they don’t hear differences in components just have a low resolving system.

Krell 300i amp
B&W 801 D4
Kimber carbon cable 11 Gauge
All power plugs are audio quest hurricane
All interconnects are audio quest fire
Blue sound node
LUMIN D2 with SBOOSTER

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When comparing endpoints, I always ensure all endpoints play the same track, with small time offsets. I can then instantly switch between the sources, listening to the music I just heard, flipping back and forward.

Comparing from memory is impossible, and not reliable, at least for me.

There are so many factors at play here, but I do believe differences in streamer SQ exists; Especially when comparing sources using different connection protocols, I.e. SPDIF, USB, AES, I2s, etc.

An example:
Instantly switching between my RPI4 USB to RPI4 Pi2aes SPDIF, into my RME ADI2 DAC fs, there were more similarities than differences in the macro sense (Dynamics and leading edges), but listening more critically shows the Pi2aes renders longer decay tails on drums and cymbals.

Further comparing to a Node N130, Cambridge CXN V2, Pioneer N70a, Nuc, shows more differences.

The difference is small, most people would not listen so critically, but the difference is there. Whether this difference is source or DAC its difficult to say.

Great system. I’m still waiting for my inheritance from a long lost aunt to come through personally.
I’d like to know your opinion on the cabling in your system though.
You seem to me to be a pragmatic gentleman who will reject out of hand any element of a Hi-Fi setup if it doesn’t make a difference to your system.
May I therefore assume that you believe a difference in cables make more significant difference compared to the difference in endpoint “streamer, players” (for lack of a better term on my part) - hence it’s inclusion in your system - and I am and fellow Roonthusiasts are better served apportioning a larger chunk of my Hi-Fi budget on cables as opposed to endpoint “steamer, players”?
Or your advise specific to the two products you auditioned?
I ask because I initially assumed your advice to be general advise on endpoint streamer/players.
Thank you kindly.

Maybe it’s the fuses in those power cables and complete lack of an etherREGEN that is holding your system back :thinking:

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I don’t actually say that more expensive DACs (and other components) cannot sound better. The question for me is: how much more expensive?
I’ve opened a thread about the relationship between sound impressions, money, and eyes. You’re welcome to participate.

My system is not an über-system, but I think it’s fairly decent. Mind you, even if my system were much more expensive, that wouldn’t prove anything, as I might just have particularly low-resolving ears.

dCS Bartok
Moon 700i v2
Sonus Faber Olympica Nova III
cables and interconnects: Nordost (Blue Heaven/ Red Dawn/ Valhalla)

I am wondering whether I couldn’t have the same sound with less expensive gear. More importantly, as I’m very happy with the sound and the looks, I am wondering whether any possible upgrades would really make sense (that is, have a meaningful impact on my enjoyment of the music).

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Thanks for the time to test and post. Since you went to the trouble to set it all up and assemble some testers. I’d be curious to know if you compared the same tracks/songs/versions Tidal v Local FLAC and what the jury thought?

Love your test results ! Having spent many years in sales and marketing I understand their value. I am relatively sure the Lumin D2 out-performs the Bluesound on paper. However, if “real world” differences are un-detectable, then where’s the value? Audio engineering has gone way beyond our range of hearing. Our ears have now become the weakest link in the chain of sound reproduction.
Marketing creates a need by making yesterday’s products seem obsolete or inferior. Why do we need a bigger TV, a $2000 cell phone etc.? Because MARKETING has done it’s job !
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support marketing. It creates a need to purchase and that is what drives our economy.
The bottom line is PERCEPTION.
I sincerely hope I haven’t offended anyone and offer my apology.
Don’t forget to keep smiling.

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I do my tests by linking the devices in Roon. Then I can switch between the streamers while playing the same track.

I adore both my Node and Powernode. They both are tanks, no crashes, and the sound quality is outstanding IMHO.

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Really great that you did a blind test! Thanks a lot!
Just a question. When comparing to CD, did you rip the CD, to be sure you compared the same versions on streamer vs CD player? I don’t have Tidal anymore, but I’d suspect they have the lower DR remaster, so comparing that with an original CD would for sure produce an audible difference, probably in favour of the CD.

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CD was store bought. Tidal version was highest quality MQA.

CD (Player) won hands down.

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Ok, that would explain the diffrence. Totally different masters, then.

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Did you blind test the DCS Bartok vs. the Lumin and Bluesound too? Same source? Statistically significant difference? Sorry for all the questions…

The Cd had better mid range and bigger sound stage.

We didn’t blind test the Bartok, but the Bartok just sounded smooth more of everything (less fatigue). all around winner.

Whilst I’m not surprised if the results are valid because I’ve heard the node as good as some pricey streamers. A Couple of points ; what is the control in the test? When audiophiles get together they are notoriously bad at agreeing with each other and being influenced by one another. I’ve seen it at events when audiophile people meet up.

Also a big thing as to why people say X cheaper product sounds as good as something more expensive, is they don’t know the gear.

If I go to a shop and listen to two streamers on varying amps I don’t know of, and speakers too, I may come to same conclusions they are the same, as I’m not tuned too and sensitive to the original system.

I’m not trying to make an argument that expense is necessarily better, the node is truly a punch above product. But the methodology is important. Also you need a 95% significance in a T test generally, to have any validity which also impacts on the sample size.

In other words I don’t think anyone can take anything from this. Correct me if I’m wrong. But I’ve seen countless of these ‘blind tests’ which are not scientific.

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I’m not sure how to add science to this test, but I do trust my ears.

At the end of this test there was no difference in.

  1. Sound stage
    2 bass
    3 treble
    4 mid bass

They sounded the same, and all 5 people agreed

I thought something was going on so we tried the CD player and the dCS Bartok and both sounded different from the LUMIN and the node.

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Not surprised. Thanks for making the effort and sharing your results.

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I would agree CD sounds better, as would most.
Even a local high bit rate CD rip sounds better than the equivalent stream, IMHO.
But streaming is very convenient.

I don’t understand why more don’t have locally ripped libraries for that very reason. Spend 10s of thousands on equipment then be at the mercy of services that don’t care about anything but $$$. Vinyl people get tracking down the best version.

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