Lumin U2 vs Aurender N200

I’m looking to upgrade my streamer from a Bluesound Node 2i.  My DAC is the module that comes in the McIntosh MA 8950. 
I curious about others experience with these two streamers.  How they may differ. 
currently I’m using Tidal but would change it SQ could be improved.  I thing the interface with the Node is decent.  
Thanks for any feedback.  


This topic has been raised a lot. The typical responses will list various brands.

There is some skepticism as to whether the differences between streamers can be heard if an external DAC is already in use. Many will say there are differences, and then opinion will vary as to what is causing that difference, with some weight behind the idea that the streamer's power supply is important. Personally, I improved my Node fairly inexpensively with an adaptation to its power supply. PD Creative sells easy to implement kits.


I believe that the usefulness of an upgrade can be answered simply by purchasing from a dealer with a good return policy.  This way you don’t have to rely upon what everyone else thinks.

I went to an Aurender N20, purchased used from a member/dealer here and it was a solid upgrade to my iFi Zen Stream with iFi’s top power supply.  It wasn’t subtle.

I appreciate the response.  I’ll a long way for any dealer and I understand buying would be the best way to know.  Appreciating any insights people can share on these particular units. 

See my previous post on this subject:

All I can say is; this was a massive upgrade in SQ going from the Bluesound Node to the Aurender N10, I could not be happier.


I was late to  streaming and bought an open box Node N-130. I then bought a better USB cord instead of the cheapie I had laying around and it made an improvement. Then I went kinda crazy and bought a Teddy Pardo power supply that cost more than the N-130! And yes it made an improvement as well. Then I swapped out the pc going to the TP with a better pc and that made a difference as well.

Having said that, the U2 is 8.5 times the price as the Node and the N200 costs ten times the price as the Node! So yeah, they better sound better.

All the best.

Lumin has a good reputation for sound quality. I have not heard one so I can’t really comment on it.

However I own two Aurender and have heard a couple others. Streamers is all that Aurrender does and the produce what is probably the best. At shows, if a company does not have their own, they are demonstrating with a flagship Aurrender. I have compared with a couple other products and in their price category Aurrender wins. aurrender service is amazing. You can access it within the app, I have gotten a response within hours on a question and if they need to do something, they can log onto your machine and change something… at least with my W20SE they can.

Each level of performance is worth it if you have the equipment to support it. So, a $10K streamer if you have $2K components (preamp, DAC, amp, etc) makes no sense. My very general rule of thumb for optimal performance is each component should be roughly the same investment. Getting something much better makes sense during an upgrade cycle. Having said that, my streamer is about 20% more than my DAC, preamp… etc). Totally worth it.

The streamer is critical, if it is not the best possible signal, then the rest of the components are not going to fix it.


If you want to go down the “but it is only bits”… line of reasoning… forget it.. that is a complete waste of time. It matters, and it matters big time. I kept thinking that way for years and it condemned my digital sound quality to very disappointing mediocrity. Now my analog and digital are at the same great level.

+1, @vonhelmholtz
“My DAC is the module that comes in the McIntosh MA 8950. ”


I wouldn’t waste money on a better streamer like Aurender N200 or Lumin U2 unless you are planning to upgrade the DAC. The DAC module inside the MA8950 is not day n night better than the one inside Node 2i. Reach out to a dealer that can allow in-home audition…that’s only way to know!



Regarding the McIntosh DAC2.  Mine malfunctioned and I really didn’t go back once I got it repaired.  I moved to the Aurender and Holo May DAC KTE during the long down time of my DAC2 and the combination Aurender/May DAC were a major upgrade, but here is a pretty good evaluation of my integrated the MA12000 (with DAC2)  against much more expensive equipment.  They also compare the DAC2 to the new PS Audio DAC.  Worth a look.

McIntosh MA12000 Dan D’Agostino Progression Integrated


I have a Lumin U2 mini hooked up to a McIntosh C2700. I am using the DAC2 module. My only comparison is against a Mac Mini as Roon core/streamer that I original had connected to the C2700. The sound improvement with the Lumin was absolutely worth the money. I could not go back to using the Mac Mini to stream as I was doing before. I would not hesitate to invest in a better streamer. 

I think the next step for me would be to get a standalone DAC instead of using the DAC2 module in the C2700. I am not certain which DAC to even consider at this point. 

I purchased the MA12000 because the Sabrina X has a 2.6 ohm dip at 135Hz, but with a bit easier to drive speaker, I would expect our integrated amps to sound much the same and these guys really praised the DAC2, so leave upgrading the DAC for the future and put money into a great streamer, balanced interconnects and put some money into the right Ethernet cable and power.

Von- I agree that upgrading the Streamer will improve my sound, so many have said that it will.   Just trying to figure out which one of these two fine pieces,  hence my original questions and theme of discussion.  Thanks for you 

That Mac 8950 is sweet !!!   My Dad just picked one up.   It is a fine amp for sure. Congrats.  

I have an Aurender N200 and like it a lot.   They are actually getting ready to update the Conductor app, which is already quite good.   The N200 sounds great into my external DAC and is built li,e a tank.  Build quality is high on Aurender.  No experience with Lumin.  I tried finding a dealer to demo one near me and couldn't.    So I ended up with the N200.  No regrets

My Dad is using the Eversolo dmp A6 for the time  being.   It sounds really good but  I know it is not the sonic equal of that Aurender.    The difference between the N200 and the BS Vault 2i it replaced was not subtle.  Not cheap but some dealers will do better than list. 

No experience with Lumin or Aurender. However I will say that the post by lalitk mentioning the questionable thought process of OP wanting to upgrade his streamer but staying with the McIntosh dac is something worth paying attention to. FYI I use Innuos ZENith mk3 streamer with Gustard X26 PRO Dac. And many more upgrades such as master clock, ethernet switch, optical isolation and expensive cables. Good luck in your upgrade path.

I have a Lumin T2 with SBooster. I have found the dac inside of it sounds better than the dac2 in the McIntosh. I have read/heard that the dac2 in the McIntosh is on par with a standalone dac in the $1500 range. 

My test bed was Lumin into a Ma2700 preamp via AQ earth cables, versus an AQ Diamond coax cable feeding the Dac2 in the Ma2700 from the Lumin T2. 

My opinion is that the dac in the Lumin had better imaging. 

However I will say that the post by lalitk mentioning the questionable thought process of OP wanting to upgrade his streamer but staying with the McIntosh dac is something worth paying attention to.

Of course, but staying with it as an interim step and replacing the DAC2 at a later date might allow for both a better streamer and better DAC than what could be purchased all at once.

Have been around this for a while... used a Node alone & it was perfectly fine, added a Rega, DACr and it was exponentially better. Went to an Elac Discovery streamer and thought that was excellent as well. The lifetime Roon feature was a huge plus. It all worked great and I was super happy with that setup. Tried an Auralic, Aeries Mini and felt the sound quality was more or less the same as the Elac but fell in love with the Lightning App; great interface. Swapped out the Rega for a Line Magnetic DAC and things improved yet again. I now use a Lumin, U2 Mini w/ S-Booster with the LIne Magnetic and it's better than ever. Really next level. Swapped out an Aural Symphonics cable for an Audience, AU24 and it's the best my streaming system has ever sounded or performed. Just a list of what works - all are very good and I've made solid steps up the ladder but for now, I'm totally in the pocket. Oh, also, recently swapped out the stock 12au7 in the Line Magnetic for (2) RCA clear tops and it's truly sublime. Just amazing and just my digital path

I was sitting on the fence for a really long time when it came to digital streamers. I must have read all similar threads on the Gon a zillion times. I finally pulled the plug on a Lumin U1X. I was previously using a Cambridge audio Azur 851N as a digital streamer into my Esoteric dac. The improvement with the Lumin was not subtle. The three main areas of improvement have been blacker back ground, way better clarity and improvement of instrument seperation even during complex passages.I think it is a worth while improvement in my book.

I searched a lot,  but could'nt find any head to head comparisons between lumin, innuos and aurender. Iam sure any of them will sound great. I have a system of separates, so wanted the same in the digital setup with no on-board storage, as I plan to add a Melco server for local library playback. But if i wanted on board storage, then both innuos and aurender would have been the main contendors. So you cant go wrong with any of them. And you wont find a definitive answer as to which is better. So you have to choose as per what features you want. And if you can get an in home demo, or buy from a dealer with a return policy, you will be in luck :)

Comments on upgrading the DAC if you are going to drop the kind of coin on a steamer make sense.  The comments on upgrading the streamer now and then the DAC down the road represent a good path.  I’ve had the Node, Lumin D2 with S-Booster, Lumin P1, Auralic G1 stand alone streamer and now a Lumin U2 mini with S/Booster.  I found improvements with a stand alone streamer.  Synergy between your streamer and external DAC are important and the interface, supporting App is key, if you hate the interface or the brand you roll with doesn’t maintain, update, support you won’t be a happy camper.  Both companies you reference are top notch when it comes to streaming, you won’t go wrong with either.  I’d recommend looking at the Lumin U2 mini and upgrading the power supply unless your plan is to drop the same or more on an external DAC down the road.  Generally, most will put more $$ into the stand alone DAC vs the Streamer as the return on investment in a Streamer once you reach a certain level drops off quite a bit.  As mentioned, Power Supplies are often referenced as a big player in how a streamer performs.  I currently use the U2 mini with a PA Audio Direct Steam 2 DAC. 

Good Luck and have fun! 

  I went from a Bluesound Node 2i to the Aurrender N200.  Night and day.  My DAC is a Berkeley Alpha Series 2.

 @john1629 buying new equipment is so much fun, so congrats. you got some very good posts with good info. here's my thought. I have heard both the N200 and the Lumin U2. @ghdprentice is die hard Aurender guy for good reason. It is still the best SQ experience for the price range. Amazing sound. Lumin is good but not anything like the Aurender. That said, I agree I think you need to upgrade with a new DAC, considering a used A series Aurender (A200, A10) would solve that problem and not break the bank as badly. Their units have great internal DAC. happy hunting!


Have you heard the N200 + DAC2 vs A200?  If you have an A200 and want to improve upon what you have, what do you buy and what do you dispose of?  If you have a N200, you can easily upgrade the DAC.  Of course you can just not use the internal A200 DAC, but as a streamer does the N200=A200?


Besides the whopping cost difference note that the Lumin works with Roon and Aurender does not. (Roon done right needs some other goodies,FYI) 

Great DAC and Streamers will cost with the desired better audible results. 

Here’s a Lumin X1 Stermer/DAC. The T3 or used T2 great too.  Aurender and many others also great. The choices are many with SQ matched. 





This month’s Sterophile raves and raves about the iFi Audio NEO Stream. It’s $1300! 


@john1629 The Aurender A200 is a great value unit in its price range, and you will get what you pay for - a decent streamer and DAC combined. That said, if you can swing for separates, you will get much greater sonic performance in the N200 as a streamer-only solution with a better-quality DAC separate. The power supply, isolation, and clocking in the N200 is much improved, resulting in a wider, deeper, more holographic soundstage with a lower noise floor. I have auditioned all Aurender units, and if you are interested in one with an analog output, given your McIntosh unit, I'd be looking at the A15. That said, based on what other users have mentioned, there is a significant benefit in going with a separate streamer and DAC if you can.

Compared to the Lumin, I have in the past preferred Aurender at their respective pricepoints. I even preferred the N200 over the pricier Lumin U1, which a fellow audiophile that lives a mile away from me owns. The U1 sounds smaller, more brittle in comparison. I don't know much about the new U2, but given its lower price point, I would be cautious.

Regarding Roon - Roon is working to be certified on Aurender units. Last I heard is that they are targeting end for later this year. If Roon as an interface is important, it's helpful to know that Aurender may support it soon.

I am an authorized Aurender dealer and would be happy to chat with you if you have any other questions. Feel free to PM me if you'd like!

Aurender support is excellent.  That is worth something to me.  I flipped some equipment and that plus $800 out of pocket put me into the N200.   I never thought I would buy such a pricey streamer but that deal was a huge value proposition for me.   

I’m glad I picked it up.  It , along with my LAB 12 DAC 1 Ref is a great sounding combo.   Sounds fantastic.  I am done chasing good digital sound….  

Post removed 

@vonhelmholtz Great thought on the upgrade path. My thought is @john1629 could avoid a double hit on purchasing both a DAC and a streamer now, and as he improves his system he may want to move up the line on an even better DAC or streamer. Buying a used A200 gives him a significantly improved experience for less money. Allowing more money for other tweaks in the shortrun. The good and bad news is, John has so many choices. So many toys so little time.

I’m open to Innuos.  I’ve considered that Zen Mk3.  Anyone with any experience with this product?  

I'm currently using a Lumin U2 (not mini) + Rockna Wavedream XLR Signature DAC and I'm very, very happy. The Lumin U2 replaced my DIY audioPC for about $3500.

The new Lumin models with the new processing engine is a big step forward from the older models.

I have a U2 mini running off linear power supply and it’s so good I’ve never even thought of upgrading.

Just  upgraded from my Lumin U1 Mini with Sbooster Linear Power supply to the Lumin U2.  You can't go wrong with the Lumin products.  

Lumin accept fibre optic input, Aurender don't.

Lumin don't have internal storage, Aurender do.

Lumin rear connections are under a plate, a major PITA.

Aurender have an picture display, Lumin don't.

Lumin are an excellent product and so are Aurender.

I demoed several models of both and preferred Aurender.


You forgot one….😊

Aurender higher end models have word/master clock input, a huge performance advantage over many streamers if you have the cash to pair it with a high quality external master clock.


I have an Innuos Pulse feeding the DA2 in my McIntosh C2700. Also, the Pulse feeds my Aries Certat Helene DAC via USB. The Innuos software is easy to use and extremely reliable. 

Regarding sound quality, the DA2 is incredible from a cost/performance ratio. I think it can compete with anything up to $3.5K. However, as others have cautioned, I would not spend a mint on a streamer until you have a DAC commensurate in performance. The sound quality improvement you question will come from a better DAC, not a streamer. 

Lumin dealer disclaimer.....

I've had a few Lumin U2s come through so far and have been throughly impressed with the unit.  Unlike mentioned above, the Lumin sound is in no way "brittle".  

I've never heard your Dac, so can't really say how that combo would sound.  But I love the U2 with the Bel Canto and Line Mag dacs that I have here. 

@lalitk +1 Absolutely, yes. I really couldn't imagine listening to a digital system without a master clock.

I just purchased the Lumin U2 mini. So far, I’ve been pretty impressed - replaced a Bryston. It’s definitely worth an audition. Like others, I wanted a separate streamer and the Lumin U2 was at the top of my list. That said, I don’t have as nice of a system as many members on this site. I’m only running a Conrad Johnson ET3SE preamp, CJ MV60SE amp, and Lampizator Amber 3 DAC. I recently added a pair of B&W 805 D3 speakers to the system. 

@wsrrsw wrote: P.S.

This month’s Sterophile raves and raves about the iFi Audio NEO Stream. It’s $1300! 

Once again, a reason to not trust everything that you read. Especially by a professional reviewer.  I demoed a NEO Stream and ended up returning it because it sounded no better than the (noisy) PS Audio Bridge II card. Then when the Lumin U2 released, I wanted to see if I had gotten to the best possible digital SQ with my fiber optic LAN. The U2 proved that a streamer can make a massive difference in SQ when compared against one another. It was a larger impact to overall SQ than when I upgraded to the current Ayre KX-5 Twenty preamp. That says a lot and I'm certainly a believer now that streamers matter. A lot. 


I have not listened to the Aurender units, but understand them to be high quality. My Mac MB100 was decent, but continually a source of issues.  I gave up on it and purchased a new Lumin U2 (not a mini).  The external power supply makes a significant difference in SQ. My DAC is an Aesthetix Romulus Ecplise with Telefunken NOS tubes which produces a nice analog sound (my preference). The quality of the DAC will make or break the SQ of any new streamer, IMO. A high-quality USB connection made a noticeable difference in SQ over single ended and digital coax.

Other observations- yes @lordmelton - the plate above interconnects is a PITA. The Lumin remote app takes some practice, although I don't know how it compares to the Aurender interface. Lumin has timely firmware updates, which install seamlessly.  I connect with both Tidal & Quboz, SQ between the two on my Lumin is comparable.

Good luck



@papafrgog wrote: I have not listened to the Aurender units, but understand them to be high quality. My Mac MB100 was decent, but continually a source of issues.  I gave up on it and purchased a new Lumin U2 (not a mini).  The external power supply makes a significant difference in SQ. 

The U2 doesn't have an external PSU.  It has a built-in linear PSU.


@audiom3 The U2 doesn't have an external PSU.  It has a built-in linear PSU.


Right you are.  My unit is the Lumin U1.  

Had a Lumin U1 Mini. Upgraded with an Sbooster linear power supply. Great unit and excellent sound stage. So good , I was curios about the new Lumin U2 (not a mini) and just upgraded. As good as the mini was, the U2 sounds more natural and palpable. It will bring you one step closer to the music.