I’m a tube guy; not that there’s anything wrong with solid state at all. There is just something about tube amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, and DACs that move me when it comes to listening to music. I’m sure some people will chime in that tubes offer nothing more than unnecessary distortion and coloration to the sound. So be it.
Tubes are becoming more expensive due to shortages, supply chain issues, and demand and that’s something that both manufacturers and consumers have to contend with right now.
Most people forget that NATO bombed the Tesla factory in Serbia during the war and that Russian and Chinese manufacturers had to pick up the slack. Fast forward to 2022 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and consumers find themselves out of luck because tubes manufactured in Russia can’t be imported.
Another interesting wrinkle to our story is the growing importance of Eastern European high-end audio manufacturers and the growth of the middle class in Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Based in a suburb of Warsaw, Lampizator is a 12 year-old manufacturer with a strong following already. Lukasz Fikus started the brand in 2012 with a vision and a tiny workspace; the company has now grown to 13 employees that build each component by hand.
My first introduction to Lampizator was through a friend who purchased one of their pre-amplifiers for his system; finding a pre-amplifier in 2022 with both tube rectification and regulation is increasingly rare.
I have been fortunate to audition a number of their components but T.H.E. Show allowed me the opportunity to try one that had avoided my grasp for awhile.
When I wandered into the Pacific 1 Ballroom, there it was and I found myself staring at a gold plated Lampizator Pacific DAC with its KR tubes glowing softly.
If ever there was a piece of functional audio jewelry — the Lampizator Pacific is it. Until recently, the Pacific was the flagship model but has now been surpassed by the Horizon that slots in above it for a lot more money.
The second place Pacific still commands a hefty $30,000 asking price and available options can cause the price to climb rather substantially.
I’ve written many times that DACs are hard to discuss because how they impact the overall sonic signature is dependent on so many different factors; DAC chip, software, power supply, output stage, and which input one is using.
Lampizators’ advertisement for the Pacific touts it as “The invisible DAC” which is a pretty lofty target especially when it is tube affair and those generally add a degree of their own flavor to the mix.
The code 57 engine DAC circuit is what put Lampazitor on the map back in 2010 and they have improved on it ever since with ongoing work being visible in the new Horizon model and steady improvements to existing models.
The DAC engine supports 32-bit/768kHz PCM and DSD512 with a frequency response from 20Hz to 80kHz (digital side), and a 3V output. The tubes do consume a bit more power (40 watts average) than the standard chip DACs so plan your power system accordingly.
I stood in the back of the room and listened to several tracks and while it is difficult to judge a DAC in this environment, I did not hear anything I could attribute to the Pacific in overall sonic signature. What I heard was a very detailed, clean, and dynamic sound with great fluidity.
It amazes me that Lampizator has been able to combine the resolution of a chip DAC (and a very good one at that) with the soul and musicality of a tube design without coloring the sound in the process. It might not be totally invisible, or at least I’m not ready to say it is based on this experience, but it is something special all the same. If you think tubes offer obvious coloration and too much of a warm and organic edge to the music — you owe it to yourself to listen to the Lampizator Pacific DAC to hear just how wrong you are.
For more information: lampizator.com
Continue reading: Show Reports from T.H.E. Show 2022