You might try to reach Chris Redmond over at 6 Moons. I believe he is familiar with Lukasz' work.
I have recently auditioned the most basic version of this dac and found it quite good. Organic, transparent and good dynamics.
I compared it with two other, more expensive, tube based dacs I own....the Exemplar Extant and 3-Dimension audio 18SE....both are excellent and are a bit more refined than the Lampizator but still sharing similar qualities.
Keep in mind this is comparing $5k+ retail dacs to a $1200 retail dac.
I am using the dacs with an RME fireface digital interface (firewire from my MAC) and am using an isochrone masterclock so my application is probably different than most but does not render the dac any less important.
I was impressed enough with this most basic Lampizator that I oredered the top 2-box version with a few upgrades.
Based on my audition, in my system and with my tastes, I think it is a winner and a real nice value.
I have an enhanced Level 1 Lampizator DAC with the SRPP differential summator configuration and the 6h6p tube. I think it also has the 100va power supply. It really is a level 1.5. LoL. Level 4 must be out of this world, though level 2 probably represents the best compromise.
I can only compare it to my 15 year old Cambridge Audio DacMagic1.
The LZ DAC has better bass and sounds less compressed. As its new and I have not yet listened much and I suspect I need more break-in time, I can be more forthcoming yet. It is very liquid and analog and raises redbook close to the level of SACD.
Having spoken extensively with Lukasz about the design philosophy and implementation of the DAC, I am confident that this is a first class product. I bought without even auditioning and was certain I would love it.
For more anecdotal reviews, go to his Facebook page; Lampizator by-Fikus
I thought you would be interested in a quick update regarding a milestone achieved with the 4-tube LZ3. The unit I have has been burning in 24/7 since Lukasz left it with me 10 days ago. It has sounded poor to simply o. k. - nothing really special.
On the back of the 2-tube silver unit, Lukasz installed a reset switch, explaining that sometimes the dac gets "confused" much like a computer. On a hunch, I turned off the LZ3 for about 3 hours. I then restarted the entire system. Yikes! The dac
has completely transformed itself, and it now sounds like what one should expect from a Level 3 LZ! I know the unit still has more break-in time to go, but it sounds absolutely amazing. Go, figure. I can't explain any of this, but the 4-tube LZ3 is now
producing some of the best digital music I have ever heard. I would be pleased if the LZ stayed at its current level of performance, but I know better times are coming. Truly magical. Best regards
(Note: In my system, the LZ3 likes a balanced digital interconnect. There may be technical reasons why an rca cable should be better, but a quality balanced digital link (Stealth Varidig) simply sounds better)
I received the LZ DAC (level 2, generation 2.5, balance, 4 output tubes, analog volume control) over the new year, and it is still breaking in at the moment, but it is definitely special. I'm a DAC nut, and was on a quest to find the best DAC in the world (err...that I can afford).
I divide "good" DACs into two camps. 1)Ultra modern with super detail and frequency extension 2)Organic, warm and liquid.
I have never really found the ultimate middle ground - a DAC that is excellent at both. But I think the LZ is close.
Workmanship and assembly quality could be better, but hey it's significantly cheaper than similar performing DACs.
Will post a detail review, after i really settle in with it.
Some pics here:
Only some of the latest builds have a reset switch, but for all the rest, the same can be accomplished by unplugging the DAC for several minutes at least and then replugging the power cable and starting fresh. Similar to (hard) rebooting a PC. Remeber, this is digital and chips do go awry some times. You would do this if the unit does not sound as good as you expect.
As for break-in, I expect that 4-5 days on continuous cycle should be enough. I dont do it, I just play when I want and eventually it will get there...I am patient enough.
Yes, though it is possible to have other tubes. Apparently other exotic NOS tubes may become available that may even best the E80Fs.
Level 4 is a semi-custom job. Level 5 is full on customized.
Please, I invite you to ask such questions at the Owner's forum. You will be able to get feedback from the widest possible knowledge base.
I wasn't too crazy about it...2 things that come to mind is lack of soundstage depth and it is a bit upfront sounding so system matching is important, as always. The rest of the audiophile checklist was fine, but I couldn't get over the relatively flat presentation...but your impressions might be different.
Several months ago I compared a latest L4 with volume control and XLR outputs options against my MW Transporter for a week at home. I use my Transporter for a transport into the L4.
1. L4 sounds very good direct to the amp but it's much much better through my VAC Sig MKIIa preamp. More air, 3D ... NO contest! With all the hype and expectations, I was a bit disappointed.
2 I found the aes/ebu digital input interface much superior to RCA. It was quieter, more coherent, better bass ...
3. L4 is very sensitive to PCs. After trying 4, I settled on the Elrod Statement II. Shunyata Python CX is also very good but my friend took it home with him so couldn't do a back to back comparison.
Overall I like the L4 and found it sounds similar to my MW Transporter. L4 has a slight edge in resolution but on some material, it can be too aggressive and forward. I think L4 has potential and if I have time to tweak, it will beat the MW Transporter but NOT enough for me to change.
With this exercise, my friends and I were very surprised how well my tweaked up MW Transporter held up against the L4. Nothing beats a demo in your own system.
I had a MW Transporter and i found it was just Ok as a transport to another DAC and not that great. I thought that the Mw as a transport made any dac sound very similar to the analog outs of the MW. But when I tried the same DAC with a better transport (Bryston bdp-1), it was no contest and was a league above the MW analog outputs. So I wouldnt make any final conclusions on a DAC if your using a Mw Transporter as the transport. That's been my experience at least... I've never tried a lampizator though so I can't comment on that.
Actually, with the HUGE recent audio show in Poland, completion and shipment was delayed until yesterday via DHL. I was expecting it today, but customs paperwork apparently preceded it to Ohio and it should be arriving on Monday.
Unfortunately, neither my wife nor I will be there to accept delivery, so I'll probably pick it up from DHL's warehouse on Tuesday after work. I can hardly wait!
I heard a level 7 Lampizator at length at the NY audio show. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. IMHO, this ranked right up there with the best DCS stack, MSB stack, Esoteric stack, Reimyo, CH Precision, Zanden, Playback Designs and other high end exotics. Can't say its better---all different players and all different flavors. But I do think it sounded among the most natural of the above brands with no discernible weaknesses. If I had the dough, I would have bought it outright that day. Congrats. i look forward to your review.
Just a little update: I really enjoyed listening to the Amber DAC this weekend. It does high res really nicely, and beautiful recordings sound simply beautiful. Lesser recordings, like MP3 played on Pandora via the Roku, are pleasant and well-defined, but don't hold a candle to better resolution sources. The same goes for HD TV broadcasts: Great resolution movies sound terrific, but lesser fare can be on the bright -- and sometimes -- harsh side.
That's not unusual for high quality DACs. And, mark my words, this is a wonderful DAC!
I will be working on a formal report, and will be scheduling the pick up and comparison of a couple other DACs with it very soon.
My take on your query:
The Amber is a very good DAC.
The Lampi Level 4 is a great DAC.
Cliched, but the L4 is just in another league.
I liked the Amber.
I love the G5 L4.
It's easily worth what it takes to get there.
The L4 could do well as an ultimate destination- if there is
such a thing in this avocation/obsession. Without going into
any of the audiophile minutia, this DAC really does sound
like music. I can and often do listen through it all day
I've been a die-hard vinylphile and digital-derider for the
last 20 years. I repeatedly ended up disappointed in digital
despite expending quite a bit of time, money and effort in
the attempt to get it to make music. I'd revisit
periodically to give it another go, then get back to analog
to get my music fix.
This time it's been very different. Since I'll be relocating
in the next year to slightly smaller digs, I've actually
allowed myself to consider the possibility of doing it
without the turntable, phono pre and about a thousand pounds
of LPs. I'd have considered the thought heresy on top of
blasphemy just months ago.
I've been an active audiophile for about 40 years. My
Audiogon feedback of 1155, among other things, backs that
up. Ha! Just to say, I take this stuff fairly seriously and
have acquired substantial knowledge and skill along the way.
After too many DACs to count (5 in the last 2 years) I've
found one that does the elusive "IT" for me.