The Lumin Network Player may seem high in price and apparently they ran a factory to consumer direct program from December 2012 to very early this year. From what I have been told and what I have read, that was done to test the waters and was never part of a long term plan to build a retail dealer base. Factory to consumer is very different from retail to consumer, especially from an overseas company. Many companies have done this over the years to determine the best way to really build a market and to determine if their products are viable beyond the test lab and in this case the "hobbyist." My employer has even done this in several commercial applications.
I could kick myself in the xxx that I did not buy back in January. I was not convinced until I read the 6moons review (and this new review by CA really confirms what I learned in that earlier review). By the time I was ready to buy, I was referred to a dealer who sold me a unit at the best price he could, (So he says), because I told him I had heard about the factory intro pricing of early this year. From more research I have recently learned that the Lumin, even at its current factory MSRP or retail price definitively outperforms the Chord, the Weiss, dCS and even Esoteric. 6moons mentioned hands down that it blows away the famous $12K-$13K Esoteric K-03. That means the Lumin is a good value and an outstanding engineering achievement even at $7K.
The best part of my buying experience was my dealer. He and his staff gave me personal support and in home set up guidance that was second to none. They came to my home and walked me through the entire process to integrate the Lumin into my audio system, set up and partitioned a new 4TB HDD and a new NAS. Then they configured into my wired and wireless home network. Set up was not an easy task (at least for me), and without my dealer’s help, I could never have had such a smooth operation. The Lumin app is also a joy to use and they even configured that for me and showed me how to use it. If I had to do all that on my own, I may have returned the unit out of frustration. For those of us who don’t know networks beyond a few PCs and printers, or a NAS and its operating software, a dealer who knows what they are doing was invaluable to me. I doubt the help I received could have ever been done from overseas.
I congratulate Lumin for setting a new standard, at a lower cost while outperforming several of their high end competitors. I now have a friend who is selling his Chord (paid $12K or something close to that) and as soon as he does, he will own a Lumin. We did a one on one comparison and the Lumin really shined. The analog output stage of the Lumin blows away anything else we have ever heard that plays back digital media. (My friends Chord can't even do native DSD as it converts to PCM). My dealer also sells the Weiss and that unit also came in a poor second. I told my Chord buddy that when is ready to use my retailer, and he will get the set up help he will need (and to ask for a discount). You don’t get what you never ask for! Thank you CA for reconfirming my opinion, and for such an outstanding product review.