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Lampizator 5B + KGBH + SR-009

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

I am spending my first night with all the parts of the new rig in place, with everything functioning properly.  It took most of the day to sort out some problems, which eventually proved to be an issue with Audirvana Plus (in all fairness, it's likely operator error).

 

The Lampizator is a 4th Gen/Level 5B (which refers to the fact that it is in a single big box, versus the typical two box Level 5).  I had thought I was getting a gently used one from the Lampi North American distributor, but the distributor determined that it had an issue with one of its tubes.  So, the distributor offered his own personal unit (a 5B as well), which (in addition to DSD, volume control, Duelund Caps) had some upgraded tubes.  Let me say that the level of service, and their conscientiousness, was exenplary.  We spoke off and on all day about the issues I was having.  At one point, he even called the owner/founder of Lampizator (in Poland) to see if he had any suggestions (but, again, the problem had nothing at all to to do with the Lampi).  Extraordinary, caring personal service. 

 

The KGBH had arrived a few days earlier.  Stock tubes, but if the upgrade bug hits, I'll likely get a quad set of Psvane EL34s, which come highly recommended.  The final piece of the puzzle were the 009s, which I ordered from Elusive Disc, an authorized dealer.  Yes, I had to pay a bit of a premium over price japan, and a pretty significant premium over what Headamp sells them for, but I just couldn't stand waiting the 4 to 6 months it was anticipated to take.  Elusive Disc had them in stock, and they arrived 3 days after placement of the order.

 

I will not attempt a comprehensive review, because it would be pointless, given the impossibility of pinpointing where any sonic improvements are coming from.  I am coming from a decent quality amp/dac + Denon D7000s.

 

Instead, some more random observations might be in order.  Before I do so, thanks to all who posted their suggestions in this thread:  http://www.head-fi.org/t/709048/8-years-ago/.  I had originally thought that I wanted to move away from electrostatics (even though I am a confirmed 'stat fan in my speaker rig).  Eventually, I concluded that I was hopelessly addicted to the clarity, detail retrieval that could best be achieved through electrostatics.  Glad I did.

 

1.  I was frankly scared to death about the brightness issues I had read about with the 009s.  And, no, listening to them in the flesh, I cannot hear anything that sounds like sibilance, brightness, or tipped-up treble.  Of course, these are my ears, and they're unique in that regard.  What I do hear as compared to the 007 Mk. 1s I used to own?  Yes, the 009s lose a bit of a veil of darkness that I recall from the 007s (though, in all fairness, it WAS eight years ago).  What I believe I'm hearing from the 009s isn't brightness, but authenticity.  Of course, this isn't verifiable.  But, my gut tells me that I am merely hearing something closer to what the recording engineer heard when the song was originally performed.  But, what I am sure I am not hearing is an undue brightness.

 

2.  What I don't hear is glare, which I distinctly recall from my old rig, even with a reasonably capable Musical Fidelity DAC and, later, an Accustic Arts CD Player.  Of course, it has been 8 years ago, and one should anticipate a significant increase in what one should expect of digital gear in the ensuing years.  I suspect this absence of digital glare is due to the Lampizator working its magic.  The last time I heard this degree of naturalness and correct timbre was back in the 70s, when last I had a serious turntable.  How ironic that those audio memories should prove to be the gold standard against which future choices were judged.  But, damn, I'm listening to Jimmy Webb's "Ten Easy Pieces" and the piano (an instrument I've played for 50 (!) years, just sounds so amazingly accurate.  I know it's the combination of all my new components, but I have to give significant credit to the Lampi, for its exceptional ability to make a piano sound precisely like it should, without edginess, without glare, without even an ounce of harshness.  I have never heard a piano sound so perfect in my life.  Listening to the intro to "Wichita Lineman" is all the proof anyone could possibly need.

 

3.  I havne't been able to figure out the role of Justin's KGBH.  Sure, it isn't an SE, and it's a bit long in the tooth I suppose.  But, even with its age, it's performance is top notch.  Stock tubes, no fancy cabling, straight wire with gain . . . it drives the Stax with aplomb.  I'm sure the SE would be a step up, but it's a step I feel no present inclination to take.  It is dead quiet, with just a touch of warmth, but without coloring the sound otherwise.

 

Again, thanks for you kind advice, and apologies for my inability to fashion a proper review.  But I'm back to listening, and loving every minute of it.


Edited by bahamaman - 4/13/14 at 4:32am
post #2 of 37

Hello.

 

A very nice (and high-performance) platform as yours for the headphone listening. :)

 

Your feelings on 009 vs 007 is also mine.

 

Indeed, the 009 is one of the more neutral headphone that is, without shine or troublesome staining (with a neutral amplifier as the BHSE (or KGBH) or mine (RKV).

 

This neutrality and absence of staining, as well as its high transparency and the sense of detail put bare all the defects and qualities of records that are shown as very diversified, without being smoothed or standardized by systematic staining or loss of details.


It is simply right and indicative of the quality of the registration and the will of the artist and of the sound engineer to publish the sound in any way.

In either, this great diversity and discrimination brought by this headphone is both very revealing of the artwork and conditions of registration (with technical and artistic choices), and very rewarding.


Edited by eric65 - 4/13/14 at 12:36am
post #3 of 37

Subscribed - simply because I've started looking for an end-game DAC, for the dual purpose of improving my Nagra CDC and getting into the computer/streaming world, for which the Nagra has no options.

 

The Lampizator range sounds interesting, as does TotalDac and quite a few others. Nagra's own new DSD DAC is coming out shortly, but unfortunately they've priced it much higher than I'd like.

 

You mention the Psvane comes highly recommended. Is that from the BHSE thread (which I contributed to)? Or from outside of this forum?

 

Any chance of a picture? How does the Lampizator shape up on the looks front? Not too DIY?

post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 

Yes, my reference to the psvanes came straight from the BHSE thread.

 

I first became interested in the Lampi from the guy that sold me the KGBH.  We were talking on the phone and he began to describe his DAC journey, which included some really high-end units (in the 10K+ range).  Then, on a lark, he discovered and purchased the Lampi.  He hasn't considered upgrading since (well, except perhaps to a higher level Lampi).  His passion for the Lampi sent me searching to learn more.

 

That research eventually led me to two reviews, one in Stereo Mojo and the other in parttimeaudiophile.  If you haven't already done so, I might recommend you take a look at both.  The way both reviewers talk describe the Lampi, it genuinely seemed to be an utterly different beast.

 

Once I get home later this afternoon, I'll take some pics and try and post them. 

 

I will tell you that, while it isn't the most beautiful DAC on the planet, it still looks very nice, and definitely not DIY.  The 5B (which is what Lampizator calls its single box Level 5) has a Plexiglas top and wood side panels.  It is an unusually deep piece of audio gear . . . in the neighborhood of 24 inches.

 

Last night I finally installed Audivarna Plus, and I was nearly struck dumb by what I was hearing.  For the first time, I don't see any area that needs improvement, or upgrading.  The noise floor is astonishingly low, detail retrieval ridiculous (not surprising with the 009s, but I'm convinced the Lampi plays an important role as well).

post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bahamaman View Post
 

Yes, my reference to the psvanes came straight from the BHSE thread.

 

I first became interested in the Lampi from the guy that sold me the KGBH.  We were talking on the phone and he began to describe his DAC journey, which included some really high-end units (in the 10K+ range).  Then, on a lark, he discovered and purchased the Lampi.  He hasn't considered upgrading since (well, except perhaps to a higher level Lampi).  His passion for the Lampi sent me searching to learn more.

 

That research eventually led me to two reviews, one in Stereo Mojo and the other in parttimeaudiophile.  If you haven't already done so, I might recommend you take a look at both.  The way both reviewers talk describe the Lampi, it genuinely seemed to be an utterly different beast.

 

Once I get home later this afternoon, I'll take some pics and try and post them. 

 

I will tell you that, while it isn't the most beautiful DAC on the planet, it still looks very nice, and definitely not DIY.  The 5B (which is what Lampizator calls its single box Level 5) has a Plexiglas top and wood side panels.  It is an unusually deep piece of audio gear . . . in the neighborhood of 24 inches.

 

Last night I finally installed Audivarna Plus, and I was nearly struck dumb by what I was hearing.  For the first time, I don't see any area that needs improvement, or upgrading.  The noise floor is astonishingly low, detail retrieval ridiculous (not surprising with the 009s, but I'm convinced the Lampi plays an important role as well).

 

I love my 'Lampi'  as well. May I ask, what tubes do you use. They improve quite a bit, if you are willing to invest in tubes...

post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by playitloud View Post
 

 

I love my 'Lampi'  as well. May I ask, what tubes do you use. They improve quite a bit, if you are willing to invest in tubes...

 

As mentioned earlier, this L5 was owned by the Lampizator North American importer.  He had rolled quite a few tubes, and finally decided that his favorites were metal base tung sol 6x5 rectifiers and Phillips SQ (special quality) Ecc182 output tubes.

post #7 of 37

Still drooling over here.

 

Hoping to get a Lamp to test.  Would love to test against Chord Hugo and PS Audio DirectStream.  All three using non off the shelf DAC chips and different approaches.  Would love to get some of the other high high end exotic DACs to test, but my wife would shoot me if I did that.

post #8 of 37

Grats on your system Bahamaman !

 

My BHSE should be coming in a month or two. They are trickling out of the "factory".  I will be using a AudioNoteKits DAC4.1, with NOS DAC portion, and tube/transformer output section. I have watched the Lampi stuff over the years, and while some folks don't appreciate it, he seems to really have put together some good stuff.  He combines some "brute force" ideas, with a lot of trial and listening testing.  He has a lot of faithful thats for sure.  I have been enjoying build my stuff lately, including the DAC 4.1.  I am not keen on the high voltages of the electrostatic amps though, and figured I would buy that part.

post #9 of 37

Welcome to the Lampizator club!  We are growing in our numbers around here.

 

Amazing system, and glad you are loving it!

post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 

Here are some pictures, as earlier requested by TheAttorney.

 

 

 

 


Edited by bahamaman - 4/14/14 at 6:57pm
post #11 of 37

Wow!  You weren't kidding when you said it was huge!

 

Amazing setup!

post #12 of 37

He got the highest level of the dac before you get to the specialized models.  It usually comes in 2 boxes to separate out the power supplies.  But he got the Big Box version.   Boy does it look big.

post #13 of 37
Thread Starter 

I was wrong about the depth of the 5B.  Excluding the front knob, it's a touch under 19 and 3/4 inches.  Width is 17 and 1/4, height just a smidgeon over 5".  Not exactly lithe but, as Crashem indicated, there's a lot that has to be packed inside when you move from 2 boxes to 1. 

post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 

Just in case you might be interested, and can't find the reviews I referred to earlier in the thread, here they are:

 

http://www.stereomojo.com/Lampizator%20Level%204%20DAC%20Review.htm/LampizatorLevel4DAC.htm 

 

More recently, that same website reviewed Lampizator's DSD-only DAC:  

 

http://www.stereomojo.com/Lampizator%20DSD%20DAC%20Review/LampizatorDSDDACReview.htm

 

Finally, there is also a nice write-up here from Part time audiophile:

 

http://parttimeaudiophile.com/2012/01/03/some-final-thoughts-on-the-lampizator-level-4-dac/

post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bahamaman View Post
 

 

As mentioned earlier, this L5 was owned by the Lampizator North American importer.  He had rolled quite a few tubes, and finally decided that his favorites were metal base tung sol 6x5 rectifiers and Phillips SQ (special quality) Ecc182 output tubes.

 

Wow, these are top level NOS types. Very nice gesture of the importer to include these as well. If you are willing to experiment you can always try the Bendix 5852 rectifer. Very nice, and spacious sound. 


Edited by playitloud - 4/15/14 at 4:26am
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