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RMAF 2015: Abyss and Lampizator, clarity and finesse

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The hype around the LampizatOr products from Poland has also been building for a while, but my experience with that brand has been zip.

I got a chance to fix that when I ran across Bruce Brown early in the show –I’m a fan of Bruce’s mastering work — and he invited me up to hear the new Golden Gate DAC.

Bruce had paired the Golden Gate with the JPS Labs Abyss headphones — these use planar magnetic drivers of ultra-low mass and their reported frequency response is an astonishing 5hz to 28khz (reviewed here). In this setup, a computer served up the music files for listening. Headphone amplification was provided by the Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold, which seemed to be an excellent match for the Abyss headphones.

The Golden Gate is Lampizator’s attempt to an ultimate DAC using the best “boutique” parts. The parts list is impressive, to name a few:

  • Western Electric 101D Psvane vacuum tubes for music
  • Teflon tube sockets
  • Furutech IEC inlets and digital inputs
  • Mundorf electrolytes and capacitors
  • Emission Labs rectifier tubes
  • Atom Vishay capacitors
  • Chassis made of pure copper stamped and powder clear-coated

Lampizator’s designer Lukasz Fikus is an electrical engineer and he seems to have particular approach to designing DACs which goes beyond just chip selection.

The DAC which made us famous can be seen as a combination of four factors:

  1. Selection of chipset mix (DAC and RECEIVER) that sounds best

  2. Creation of immaculate tube analog stage that is an interface between the chip and the amplifier

  3. Creation of power supply which makes a huge difference – for both the analog stage as well as for the chips

  4. Selection of high-end parts like NOS tubes, silver wiring, copper foil PIO capacitors, iron core chokes and transformers made to our specs from Polish Copper.

The Golden Gate is similar to the Lampi top-of-the-line “Big 7” DAC … but on steroids.

CanJam had some amazing rigs this year, but I think Bruce and Joe may have had the Rocky Mountain reference system for headphones with this pairing. The Abyss always sound good, in my experience, but here the Golden Gate was as musical as it was resolving. Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” was spectacular.   Tremendous clarity, strong “pace”, and very musical, with an effortless, non-fatiguing sound. This was the best rig for cans that I heard this weekend!

Alas, quality does not come cheap at $5K for the Abyss headphones, $4K for the Cavalli Liquid Gold, and $20K for the Lampi Golden Gate.

But oh what sound!

RMAF 2015 coverage brought to you by Noble Audio! Click for more ….

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About Lee Scoggins (42 Articles)
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee is a serious music collector and his current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Magnepan speakers.

3 Comments on RMAF 2015: Abyss and Lampizator, clarity and finesse

  1. Thanks Lee for the great review. Lukasz has made an amazing DAC. Paired with the Abyss Headphones and Cavalli Liquid Gold amp, we too think it was the best headphone rig at RMAF!

  2. We are really honored, especially knowing Bruce’s high standards and sublime taste. I missed that room by an inch ! Damit !

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