Streamer Comparison (sort of) Lumin T3 vs. HiFi Rose RS150b

I've been looking for any reviews that specifically compare the Lumin T3 and the HiFi Rose RS150B networks streamer/DACs. Though they are about $5000 USD each, they have rather different approaches in design and function. The focused approach of the Lumin appeals, but so does the fun and easy to use factor of the Rose. Either cpuld have suit my needs depending on sound quality and UX. I went the in-home trial route so I could audition them in my listening space.

My intent was to do a side-by-side comparison over the course of a few weeks and determine which would become my primary digital source. But - I hit some snags along the way, so this will not be the comparison I expected it to be. I will cut to the chase. HiFi Rose has some QA/manufacturing issues to sort out. I have now received 2 defective units, so the RS150B is out of contention. 

The first RS150b was open-box and was DOA. I never had a chance to evaluate the sonic characteristics before it went back on a UPS truck. The second one at least gave me 90 minutes of listening before I put it in standby to do a few other things. When I cam back the next morning, it also crapped out. Each went into a cannot connect to DAC error loop and would not send signal to my pre-amp through the balanced XLR outputs. Both sets of analog outs were no longer active in the UI and could not be configured after this issue occured. Factory resets and all updates did not help. OEM support is aware of this error and has no fix. Bummer. I was actually hoping this would come out on top - it's a badass unit with a lot going for it. 

The very short period I had with the 150B, a few things were immediately noticeable in terms of the overall presentation. There wasn't a lack of top end energy I expected to hear based on other reviews mentioning lots of "body" and "richness". While I certainly heard that, and enjoyed the mid-range presence, there was still good layering of the upper frequency ranges. I also noticed that in one specific case, the imaging was very small and almost mono in contrast to the T3. In other cases, it just sounded really nice and had no major sins. For some songs, I could see the Rose being more enjoyable to listen to than the T3 and vice versa. The T3 has it in terms of resolution, especially in bass reproduction. Where the RS150B would resolve a kick drum nicely, with impact and decay, the T3 would tell you what the head of that kick drum was doing, how it was settling. Cool.  


Yes - this unit had no time to burn/break in, whereas the T3 had almost 2 weeks of sporradic use so not really a fair comparison. I do think the Rose would be great to live with and potentially upgrade down the road with an ext DAC. But not for me with the 100% failure rate I have seen. It's odd because the hardware feels very solid and well built. Even the remote now is a nice, simple metal unit which was a plus for me because I'm old school and I like pointing things with buttons at other things without buttons sometimes. I have placed the order for Lumin's IR remote.      


UX - I will briefly cover this as well. This is superior to the T3 in every way except speed. It's a tad slower to execute track changes (skip, pause, etc.). But the layout is better without question and worth the tradeoff. 


T3 quick notes - I am impressed with the T3. To me, it's more audiophile focused and it fixates more on the details, resolution, and imaging than the Rose. It just sounds really good, not overly laid back, not too forward, it really doesn't stand out in any way until you hear a comparable streamer. That's when some of the finer differences come through. It does a great job of reproducing the buzz of guitar strings on frets. Example - How Low by Jose Ganzalez. T3 in my system nailed it. I've heard this song without that detail in very high end systems, not ok.  


Happy to answer questions about my experience to the best of my ability as time allows. 


Final note - Even though this didn't work out as planned, it was still a good time in the end and I feel I will be happy with the Lumin, at least until the itch returns... Now it's time to go build more playlists!


Last final note to the online merchants offering us the ability to do these in-home trials - thank you. Keep doing what you're doing and I will remain a loyal customer.


Hi. I liked the narrative of your experience with both streamer/dacs. I was thinking in upgrading from the Node-Ares II combo and i am considering the same hardware. I think I’ll follow your route and go for the T3. Thank you again.

I sell both Lumin and Rose.....bummer you had the issue with the 150b.  It's a great unit (I've not experienced the issue you noted on any of the ones I've had on hand).

Both the T3 and 150b are very good and you summation of the 2 is pretty much spot on.  The T3 does lean toward the detail and resolution side, with the Rose on the slightly warmish side.

chemarcelo - glad this was helpful and I know you'll be really happy with the selection. Especially now that Lumin has upgraded the firmware to recognize the Tidal move away from MQA and to higher res FLAC. At least I was excited about it :)

goldprintaudio - If I could have received a working 150b and kept both I would have.  have. I had extremely high hopes for the Rose, but ended up trusting my ears to the decision in spite of quality issues.