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12-07-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 1
Post ID: 22291
Reply to: 22291
Really Expensive DACs?
fiogf49gjkf0d
I was poking around like a dope when I noticed that Lampizator now makes some kind of DAC that "sells for" almost $20k. Then I saw that this is a "growing trend". Will someone please tell me what people do with these very expensive DACs? Sure, I have heard "impressive" digital "sound reinforcement" at "entertainment venues", but to date I have never heard anything for home audio that made me think of spending this sort of money on a digital converter. Maybe it "makes more sense" if this stuff is used mainly to "enhance" "sight and sound productions"? Anyone have ideas about what is enhanced enough to cost this much? If it is "just" sound, where can I hear it?


Paul S
12-08-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,283
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 2
Post ID: 22292
Reply to: 22291
What does it mean" the best DAC"?
fiogf49gjkf0d
Well, this is a big subject. Kind of. For sure a better DAC produce better sound. How much a better DAC shall cost? That is a complicated topic that has absolutely no relation to how the DAC sound. I remember a dealer that I know pick up a new speaker line that no one cared. He juts out of blue increased price from $3000 to $27.000 and the speaker begin to see like crazy. So, leaving prices aside the question would be: what expensive DAC would offer? The answer is complex. 
 
Yes, we presume that expensive DAC offers better sound but it practically never the case in respect to all sources. Some DACs do better at a specific sapling rate, or at specific resolution. Some DACS do better with one type of CD over another. Some do better with one time of connection and not so good with another. Some do belter with a giving clocking schema and ec, etc, etc….  There are many variables. I presume that a better DAC would be universally better result regardless of those variables but it never was my experience. Even the best DACs that I have seen did the best only one single thing. However, I do not monitor the DACs for many years and the situation might be changed nowadays. 
 
For sure it would be great if we have a universal “best” DAC that would do own topological beast regardless the conditions. I am sure many maker would insist that it is the case. I am no sure that they are right. 


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-09-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 3
Post ID: 22293
Reply to: 22292
A Good Example
fiogf49gjkf0d
Here is the expensive unit I saw first: 

http://www.lampizator.eu/Fikus/GOLDEN_GATE_DSD_DAC.html

Solid construction and fancy parts, for sure, but my uber question - of course - included the question, what - exactly - are people listening to with this DAC, and with what sort of a system, and how does this affect/improve the Music? At the last hi-fi show there were only headphones to listen to streaming sources converted by these DACs/DSDs. I know there will always be people who spend money on specs and hearsay because they can. My selfish reason for asking is to fish in case there's anything actually interesting going on. Usually a thread like this goes cold fast on this board, but you never know. Paul S
12-09-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
xandcg


Rio de Janeiro, BR.
Posts 113
Joined on 09-07-2014

Post #: 4
Post ID: 22294
Reply to: 22293
Headamp, ANUK.
fiogf49gjkf0d
I do not go to 'Audio Shows' but the fact of the people are using Lampizators on this fashion may be because they (Lampizator) are promoting the headamp version of their DACs. Seems almost all of theirs DACs have a headamp version now.

My experience with Lampizator (in general) tell me it is on the same customer metier of Audio Note UK. Maybe less expensive and more feature rich version (192/24, DSD etc.) alternative to the AN UK DACs. My personal view about Lampizator is a low cost alternative to the AN UK's top products.

I did a question about Lampizator vs AN UK DACs some time ago on hifiwigwam:

http://www.hifiwigwam.com/showthread.php?113383-Lampizator-vs-AN-UK-Top-DACs&highlight=audio+note+uk+lampizator

EDIT: but you can find Lampizators paired with almost anything. Since solo (directly from computer to headphone) to "exotic" things like in full MBL systems...



Think for yourself, do not be sheep.
12-11-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 5
Post ID: 22295
Reply to: 22294
A Basis for Comparison?
fiogf49gjkf0d
xandcg, while I accept the idea that one unit might be better than another one, or might be a better value, etc., what we seem to be lacking is any reasonable basis for comparison. It is not enough that they use tubes or high sampling rates, or boutique parts, and on and on. First they have to have program material worth listening to, and then they have to have some kind of idea what they are listening to. And then they have to figure out how to facilitate the listening with the gear. In fact, put those three things in any sequence you like, as long as they are all there. No matter the format, there have always been technical problems with recording and playback that made "reproduction" a systematic crap shoot. Adding the "Industry" only makes it more difficult. Now, with "digital", we seem to have entered pretty much of a chaotic state, where no one cares or even remembers what we were once doing with evolved hi-fi. I am not being nostalgic when I say, it used to be easier. Again, my idea for this thread was to try to get a response from someone who has found a way to make Music from at least some of the vast "digital library" that is "out there", and from there try to assess the level of demands that are "being met" by the gear under consideration. At this point, based on my own - admittedly limited - experience with digital, I can't "see the need" for expensive DACs, and this thread reflects my wish to update my knowledge on this subject.

Best regards,
Paul S
12-11-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
xandcg


Rio de Janeiro, BR.
Posts 113
Joined on 09-07-2014

Post #: 6
Post ID: 22296
Reply to: 22295
I do differently.
fiogf49gjkf0d
Paul S,

I usually do not compare source components (or amplifiers or cables or etc.) in this fashion, DAC vs DAC, CDT vs CDT etc. unless I feel two (or more) of then (may) be too similar, like Lampizator and AN UK DACs I like. I prefer to focus integrally on the sound it put out and compare them with what I think it should sound, or what I think is sounding right whenever what the source is.

I mean, I don't care (sound-wise) how much it cost or how fancy are the parts. We are talking about a market where the dealers usually buy the products from the maker with around 40% discount, so high margins everywhere, and the clients want to buy it more expensive yet. The Golden Gate as far I know had been created to full fit they client wishes. I never heard that model, so I can't talk anything about it but it may be a outstanding one, I don't know.

Otherwise I don't have technical knowledge to make statements about projects, but I think most of the expensive/fancy parts goes indeed to the analog stage and power supply. The AN UK Fifth Element/Force use the entire M9 phono stage in the analog stage, and that is the most expensive phono stage from AN UK, until the M10 come out.

Sorry, but IMHO I do not see the patch you are as proper way to find out what you want, at least this way not work for me. But at same time I do not follow the rules, mostly because the way I started in audio.

I will explain a bit in order you have a idea of how I think audio, from how was initiated:

I am from Brazil with 33yo, in my teenagers (90's) my country was complete close for imports, unless for national interest. The best audio products we was available was basically some old Quasar and Marantz electronics we can buy on used market and some well made national clones, also old at this point. The national market was very little and crap only, but those well made clones was very good compared of what we used to have in general, specially the JBL loudspeakers clones.

In 1994 (IIRC) we was allowed importing again but the things that entered in the market went to be ever more crappier, then I hold my old stuff. At some, point around the end of 90's those audio products become too ageing and dead in 2000. Still I couldn't find anything with at least a OK sound in the market and I was not aware a "audiophile" did exist until 5 years ago. In others worlds I lived around 10 years without listening to music at any form because I couldn't find anything with a at least a OK sound plus I was convinced there nothing good any more to listen to.

The interesting fact about that were when my audio still was working properly I did several discoveries, mostly by accident, of how I could make that thing sound better:

1 - one day I turned the system on and the sound was too dark, really dark. I thought it was a problem with the tweeters until a few days later I found my father behind the loudspeakers. I find out he was swapped the loudspeakers cables for unknown reason but now the sound come back to the 'normal'. At that point I found out that cables can make some differences and start to test almost any loudspeaker cable I was able to find. Needless to say only zip cable was in the market so I was looking around on my entire city (Rio de Janeiro) for different brands of loudspeaker cables, then interconnects, then plugs, then wall outlets etc. with no clue of what I was doing, of course.

2 - Later that, one day I come from school and turn the sound on. I was tons of coins in my pocket and just put that on the top of the receiver. Immediately the sound become better, with more clarity, and I failed to understand why, or what was responsible for that, until the time I leave. I take the coins back to my pocket and the sound become worse.

I didn't know why that happened, but now was in need to find out what I can place on the top of the electronics to make it sound better, again with no clue of what I was doing. So I tried almost anything I found. Coins, rocks, keys, kitchen utensils, ashtrays, unknown things I found on the streets etc.

At some point I had a suspended CD player on the celling, coins on the top of electronics. All the craziest experiments I could try I did.

Needless to say how was the situation when someone come to my audio room and ask why I had so many crazy stuff around the system, but ever worse was I trying to explain why, without any sort of real explanation to make.

At the end I become very sensible to any sort of audio. The system should sound exactly how I think is should sound (or better) or I can't listen to it, at least for an extended period of time.

The good is, I did all those experiments without any sort of influence, I was completely alone but with a good friend whom already is dead. There was no audiophile BS, no price tag, no brand, and several times ever a product didn't exist.

The reference I used for was live recordings where I was there in person. Garage bands from friends, some pirate recordings from shows etc.

What I mean, I have a sound in my mind and I think the system should sound like that (as possible), so I fail to see a point on treat the components as a DAC, as a turntable, as a CD player or how much it cost, or if it use fancy parts - I see all of then just as a source. It should sound like that one thing I have in mind whenever it is.

At this point I think there are need for everything, using everything, and costing anything, if it will help me to find the sound I think is the right one. The only way we can really know if the Golden Gate, any others DAC make sense will be testing it.

I do personally think the Lampizator is one of the more realistic DAC on the market. Ever the cheaper ones share the same qualities, but the bigger ones add more, go perfecting it according the level up.

If you know AN UK well, Lampizator works in a very similar way. Basically same sound on any level, and more the level up it become better. Again, the basic sound, or sound signature, don't change. They are very honest at this point I think.

Best Regards.
Alexandre.



Think for yourself, do not be sheep.
12-11-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 7
Post ID: 22297
Reply to: 22296
Not This Thread
fiogf49gjkf0d
Alexandre, thanks for that information, some of it takes me back to the 60's, but I'm not sure how it relates to my original or subsequent comments in this thread. In fact I am not comparing brands, rather I am hoping to gather information to "build a framework" for understanding if or when "an expensive DAC" might be of use these days, and for me this includes the hope of finding "worthy", untapped digital sources that feature accessible, high quality program. I see plenty of reasons why the latter is unlikely, but I don't try to keep up with trends, and there are plenty of readers here at GSC who do, and there seems always to be plenty of room for me to be out of the loop, or just plain caught napping.

Best regards,
Paul S
12-16-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
N-set
Gdansk, Poland
Posts 436
Joined on 01-07-2006

Post #: 8
Post ID: 22302
Reply to: 22293
Something
fiogf49gjkf0d
I briefly listened to this DAC but with a balanced stage using 101D at Fikus location in his listening room (we were testing
an anti-vibrational platform I and my partner have designed). The system was a complete unknown to me (Lampoizator own amps on 211,
CD I don't rememeber and self made speakers) and the music was not my choice, but since we were the guests we did not
complain and focused on the function of our own device. The only thing I can tell you is that the sound of the system
was very massive, with the bass like a steam hammer. This is reportedly "the Lampizator style" but as I said too many unknowns
to really comment.

Cheers
N-set



Cheers,
Jarek
12-16-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 9
Post ID: 22304
Reply to: 22302
Steam Hammer
fiogf49gjkf0d
N-Set, the Tesla AROs make much better mid/upper bass than Altec/JBL, etc. The "factory"/"theater" boxes for these are HUGE, with double walls, basically IBs, but they can indeed "pound" from a smaller enclosure, or even OB. I hoped Fikus would either bring his speakers or clone some in the US for the local audio show(s), but I can certainly understand why he would not do it. As it was, no way I could "evaluate" his gear well enough to take a chance on it, despite I like a lot of what he says, also how he says it, not to mention similar conclusions from similar experiences. It does amuse me that his DAC does not use a chip at all, but only "passive analog shaping", not to mention "proud" use of tubes. Well, the Devil is in the details, isn't he, though this in no way disqualifies anything from this guy either, since he is obviously smart enough to "pull it off", and that's all I care about, anyway.

Please share (in a new thread) about your new AntiVibration platform.


Best regards,
Paul S
12-16-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
N-set
Gdansk, Poland
Posts 436
Joined on 01-07-2006

Post #: 10
Post ID: 22305
Reply to: 22304
Fikus
fiogf49gjkf0d
Paul, the guy is intelligent for sure and has his strong views&opinions on the sound. The sound I heard there and the music 
of his choice was not my cup of tea, but I was there not so much for the sound per se but to chase some predictable differences that our device produces. We also had quite limited time. As for our platform,  we are just starting and still have no  English pages. Once they are done I'll drop some info. Anyway, I should be probably treated now as a  "manufacturer".
Cheers N-set


Cheers,
Jarek
12-17-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,283
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 11
Post ID: 22308
Reply to: 22293
I never heard it.
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Paul S wrote:
Here is the expensive unit I saw first: 

http://www.lampizator.eu/Fikus/GOLDEN_GATE_DSD_DAC.html

Solid construction and fancy parts, for sure.....

I usually do like how Lampizators  talks about what he does and I do mind if his best DAC cost $20K. I just do not know what does it mean "his best". It might be something good or it might be not. Lampizators does not sound that he is delusional but from another hand he is in business to please idiots-audiophiles  and they are a very primitive target market.


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-17-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 12
Post ID: 22309
Reply to: 22308
Sheepish
fiogf49gjkf0d
Funny, but Lukas Fikus actually introduces the "Golden Gate" as something he cooked up at the behest of prospective customers, and at some point he mentions it's his best seller. IMO, he "earned" his following with free advice, and now they are clamoring for expensive stuff from him. Who could say no to this? In this thread, the follow-up questions would be, what are the LF customers listening to and how are they listening to it? Nothing I heard at THE Show especially recommends any of this stuff, really, let alone the crazy-expensive stuff, so I am still trying to round up and connect the disparate bits into a bitstream. In other words, "sounding better" than other DACs only matters to me in the context of program. I have toyed with the idea of getting some headphones, but whenever I try some I am reminded of how weird it is, and at this point the "limits" of headphones do not encourage spending, any more than the limits of streaming audio I have heard so far. For anyone who still hasn't gotten it, the idea of "expensive DACs" is better, richer programing, and they would have no other justification. Of course this is always relative, depending on user expectations, and this is where dialog comes in, to try to get these things in the open.

N-set, what about LFs sound and music choices, and how does this vary from your own choices and expectations?


Paul S
12-17-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
xandcg


Rio de Janeiro, BR.
Posts 113
Joined on 09-07-2014

Post #: 13
Post ID: 22310
Reply to: 22308
Level 6.
fiogf49gjkf0d
I think if you find a way to put your hands on a old Level 6 (now merged with Big Five) you could possibly find the best DAC him made. The Level 6 was a R2R chip DAC, very minimalist, but 44/16. I think it got removed due to lack of interest of their customers, due to the lack of high sample rates etc.

He used to claim that one was the best sounding until it got removed and the Golden Gate appears - more or less at same time.

http://gpoint-audio.com/lampizator-introducing-yhe-level-6-dac/



Think for yourself, do not be sheep.
12-18-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 14
Post ID: 22312
Reply to: 22310
Digital Options vs. Solutions; Organized Chaos?
fiogf49gjkf0d
Actually, it says the Level 6 will process "anything" from 44 to 192, 16 to 24. If that means it could read "native 48" and other pro recording formats, then that MIGHT be nice, and it would certainly unclog this thread. As can be seen here, it's tough sledding to get relevant information from high-enders, even something as simple as bases for purchase decisions. My own bias says this is because there's not much to hear on available native formats, and nobody's home to hear it, and the Industry is as lost as the consumers.


Paul S
12-18-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
xandcg


Rio de Janeiro, BR.
Posts 113
Joined on 09-07-2014

Post #: 15
Post ID: 22313
Reply to: 22312
Yes.
fiogf49gjkf0d
Yes, it worked in the same way AN do in theirs DACs. They usually use AD1865N (18bit) but with 44.1/48/96KHz (locked at 96/18 IIRC) input capability and if the customer really wants they can make it read 192/24, but still locked at 18bit and always without up sampling. Now they (ANUK) are cooking the "DAC 6" a R2R DAC using theirs new "Ultimate Resistor", that one will be 44/16 IIRC but they can made it read ever 192/24 if the customer want to.

EDIT: You may find something relevant here:

http://audionote.co.uk/articles/Audionote_CDT6-Dac_5_complete.pdf
http://audionote.co.uk/downloads/manuals/Fifth%20Element%20Fifth%20Force%20Manual%20smaller.pdf

EDIT 2: They use it (AD1865) from DAC 1.1x (2125€). The DAC 0.1X use TDA1543 (1550€).



Think for yourself, do not be sheep.
12-19-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 16
Post ID: 22319
Reply to: 22313
"Reproduce" vs. "Reshape"
fiogf49gjkf0d
So, the 6 and - presumably - everything else do not really "direct stream" all the different formats but re-shape them with digital wizardry, in with whatever, out with a "locked" format? This reminds me of the laser-in-lieu-of-stylus TTs...

Personally, I would move on it if I was reasonably convinced I could get "CD Quality" sound from formats I was reasonably certain had program I want. It would have to sound better and generally offer more than what I have now before I would spend significant time and/or money on it. At this point I would not pay much even for good programming at the level I hear at shows or salons.


Best regards,
Paul S
12-19-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
xandcg


Rio de Janeiro, BR.
Posts 113
Joined on 09-07-2014

Post #: 17
Post ID: 22321
Reply to: 22319
Maybe you can find...
fiogf49gjkf0d
You eventually may find a Lampi 6 near you here: https://www.facebook.com/LampizatOr-BIG-7-tube-rollers-group-1527145964228079/?fref=ts

Alternatively you may test that type of design on a AN DAC. There are so many levels, with so many prices, most likely to find someone with a AN DAC than a Lampi 6.



Think for yourself, do not be sheep.
12-20-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
N-set
Gdansk, Poland
Posts 436
Joined on 01-07-2006

Post #: 18
Post ID: 22326
Reply to: 22309
Atomic bass
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Paul S wrote:

N-set, what about LFs sound and music choices, and how does this vary from your own choices and expectations?


Paul S

The bass was dominating very much the spectrum and thats +\- the only thingthat stayed in my memory. It was very powerfull, esp when vibration decoupledbecame sort of atomic. Perhaps that was a function of the music played-a female with electronics and few instruments. Melody Gardod or sth like that. I quietly hoppedfor some ambitious, multiinstrumental jazz or maybe even classics but we were not choosing the material. Perhaps the designer was most familiar with thatparticular record and used it as a "killer" for the test.


Cheers,
Jarek
12-20-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,051
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 19
Post ID: 22327
Reply to: 22326
"Show-off" (Digital) Music
fiogf49gjkf0d
Some of the DIY "Eastern European"/Slavic systems I "hear" on YouTube seem to have very amazing Tone on "selected cuts". Though this sound is not common, I have achieved and played with it myself, and it is "fragile" in the sense that it rarely (very rarely) holds up when it's pushed out of a certain "range". On the other hand, the driving bass sound is actually pretty common, and it will very rarely transform into more "content loaded" Sound/Music. And naturally, when you put otherwise-lost-to/through-system-vibration bass through to the speakers, it would further "enhance" the bass. Back to wide-ranging digital, it is "generally" accepted that digital bass is fantastic, but this is not my experience, and the "pile driver" bass is something I hope to avoid, not so much the "ability to do it" as being stuck with it. Of course, weird bass is not the only thing wrong with "re-processed" digital sound. To date, it's the near-total loss of life/content that turns me off to it, at least with the sort of Music I want from my "big system". What's worse than being stuck in a room with Bad Sound that's LOUD?


Best regards,
Paul S
12-20-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,283
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 20
Post ID: 22329
Reply to: 22327
Exelent!
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Paul S wrote:
Some of the DIY "Eastern European"/Slavic systems I "hear" on YouTube seem to have very amazing Tone on "selected cuts".
This is the best description I heard to date.


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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