Lampizator Valve / Tube Rolling Review Thread

User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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#1


I've raised this thread as Lampi valve / tube reviews are scattered all over the place.

From now on it'd be great if everyone can use this thread for valve / tube reviews. I'm not sure they will, but it is worth a try.

So basically I have been comparing Emission Labs AD1 valve with the RK 300B. The DAC is an extensively modified B7 - one of the very first hardwired Lampizator BIg 7 DACs which originally used 6X5 rectifiers and had a clever noise reducing 'preamp' section that really reduced valve microphony over later produced DACs.

It now uses 5U4G, active triode loading (6N6P) and has dual capacitor outputs (Dueland 0.47uF copper foil and Jupiter 2.2uF copper foil), Audio Note silver tantalum film resistors (seriously expensive for resistors), Audio Note silver UX4 sockets, silver WBT Topline RCA sockets (two pairs, one for each capacitor type) etc etc. So it doesn't really match up with any currently prcduced Lampizator DAC anymore. It is currently sounding very, very good indeed, by my own personal estimates, which is all that counts in my book:)

So here are the review notes I promised a week or so back. From a 4 hour session comparing KR RK 300B to Emission Labs AD1 fitted with UX4 sockets (custom order).

Speakers are Apogee Duettas - a hot rodded custom version thereof. Amps are some huge 211 monoblocks in this case.

Cornelius - For The Love Of You (TIDAL)

RK 300B - Good control, tight bass, average imaging, architecturally strong. The control aspect is slightly weird, it feels like the valve is trying too hard to achieve it.

In this sense it is slightly unnatural.

AD1 - More dynamic, unchoked, natural, brighter, more exciting, more 3D, more engaging, better air/space in top end, feeling of "that's awesome". Bass feels like it isn't being controlled (rather it is just really fast and seems like it is tracking the source, not imposing its own character on it).

Orbital - Tiny Foldable Cities

RK 300B - Imaging very 2D, tight, controlled, dry.

AD1 - Same traits again. There's just no contest. AD1 is obviously superior. Even the bass, an RK strong point when compared to other valves, is more extended. Switching between Dueland and Jupiter caps seems to remove the lowest bass but the Duelands are clearer overall. This valve definitely likes Dueland output caps. It is marginal, but it is definitely there and noticeable.

B52s - Planet Claire

RK 300B - RK wins here. It just presents the track more calmly. Welcome on this particular track.

AD1 - just overwhelmingly energetic. Awesome, but a bit hard to handle. A bit "too much".

Trentemoller - Rykettid

RK 300B - Clean, clear, boring? This is a very dynamic track it should be more exciting. Still a feeling it is being "clamped down" or overly controlled. Overall it is very good, just too calm on this one.

Some sign of 3D dimensionality appearing at the end of the track, where the soundstage shot past the left and right ears.

AD1 - Deeper and stronger bass than RK, or possibly just more of it. A bit more raucous. Is this the reason for the excitement? Bass is massive. Panel filling. Worthy of an Apogee. Soundscape fleshed out to the full. Superb sense of vertical bass i.e. really even output from the top to the bottom of the bass panel. Excellent 3D imaging from the speaker plane to well behind my ears.

Trentemoller - Physical Fraction

RK 300B - Sense of filtering out excitement in favour of control. But the again this track sounds awesome in a way that makes sense.

AD1 - F^&k. Massive dynamics. Crazy sense of all the signal getting through. Unfiltered. Free. Huge imaging. Wrapped in sound. Who made these things? Respect.

Stevie Ray - Little Wing

RK 300B - Filtered, less real sounding.

AD! - Raucous, fantastic amp distortion. Brilliant.

A few other selections were from Nirvana, Santana. Nancy Sinatra (bang Bang), Anita Ward (Ring My Bell), Daft Punk (RAM - really not as good via RK).

The comparisons end as I just give up with RK and get into a load of Barry Gray with AD1 - Joe 90, Captain Scarlet, UFO, Thnderbirds, Space 1999, Esso, Fireball XL5 etc:)

 
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marslo

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May 2, 2014
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#2
Interesting, did you buy those AD1 with JAC Music?
Another question - would it be the same with Pacific DAC which is imho voiced more toward transparency and control than B7 and GG series.
With PAC I changed my ic Acro 2090 Speciale for DA 6300 , clearly more precise and less saturated but in my system it’s a better match showing the enormous potential of PAC.
I love my PAC as much as I loved B7, imho PAC is a big leap foreward to neutrality and control without losing musicality .
 

User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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#3
I did get them from JAC Music.

I will pass the AD1 valves on to Kedar, who wanted me to send them to him after I had them for only 1 day LOL:) But at least that way we can get a feel for how it performs in a GG with classical, versus say PX25, which worked best for classical in my system when we tried it.

It really is a good price and I would definitely say it is worth a try in the Pacific. It is a lot cheaper than RK. And very nicely made to boot.

But I hear reports that the Pacific is more forward and less warm than the GG, so it may be a bit much in it. I simply don't know, though.
 
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User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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#4
Just to add, I do have more notes but I didn't think they were worth typing up. The point is made in the first post. I prefer AD1. It has the best blend of positive attributes of all the contemporary valves in the picture at the beginning of the thread.

I can cross compare to PX4 and EML Globe Mesh 45 and may do so at some stage, but I already know AD1 wins. I also have quite a few NOS valves, but I think they are a different breed, really. They are all quite different to KR/EML house sounds.

One plus is AD1 has normal gain. So no 242/PX25 high gain issues here.
 

Golum

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Jun 7, 2018
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#6
Thanks for this thread - it really was needed in this form!
 
Sep 7, 2016
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#7
Nice write up!
Can you say something about noise/hum issues?
I have eml45mesh with hum and sensitive to emi etc.
 

Golum

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Jun 7, 2018
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#8
After chasing and reading many of the tube rolling reports bunch of "crazy" guys :cool: in form of @wisnon, @christoph, David and myself decided to do a quite big session of tube rolling of both rectifier and DHT tubes used in Lampi DACs.
As we had on hand three DACs (actually even 5) of top Lampi machines we also decided to find a best tube match per specific DAC model.
Of course some might say, you did not try this, you did not try that, but we tried tubes which are 'hot picks" at the moment and the tubes we managed to get.
In order for session to be as relevant as possible one by one DAC was at the main stage while other two were serving as tube heating stations (quite expensive ones). :rolleyes:
4 pair of ears were deployed at all time and results were consensus of all of us. In a nutshell these are the results and we hope those might serve to all Lampi users or hopefully future ones as kind of general instruction into which direction you might go to save you the time and money if you are not able to acquire tubes for home testing.
Of course everything, as always, is system and personal liking dependable.

PACIFIC DAC:

1) Ayon 5u4g, Eml Mesh 45 - Could have a bit more punch, rest OK, airy
2) Ayon 5u4g, RK 300b - more upper bass, full bodied, slightly colored in a positive way, more focus, bigger stage, dryer
3) Ayon 5u4g, KR PX25 - Air, weight, ideal tubey sound, lots of air, bloom, decay
4) Ayon 5u4g, KR 242 - more FW sounding, less tubey, less layered depth, very transparent, faster
5) Ayon 5u4g, EML Mesh 45 Ann Globe - Soft, tubey, less substance, laid back on the other hand very airy, not enough meat. Norm preferred it to 242 in vocals.
6) RK 5u4g, EML Mesh 45 Ann Globe - Crispier, cleaner, bigger stage, livelier, more body but still lacking substance and body
7) RK 5u4g, 101d - small stage, not the same league as the other ones
8) RK 5u4g, KR 242 - No major objection, fast, transparent, layering, great staging, more dynamic with this recti...noticeably better than Ayon recti
9) RK 5u4g, KR PX25 - Spaciousness, great overall performer, perfect match with RK recti, huge stage. Top combo in Pacific!
10) KR 5u4g white ceramic base, KR PX25 - very close as above, just maybe a bit less dynamic but all very close. Upon going back to RK recti it is better combo for sure!
11) RK 5u4g, RK 300b - A lot better than with Ayon, we find this combo close to PX25 combo, seems like more meat to PX25, combines virtues of 242 and PX25.

Top pic for PACIFIC was KR PX25 with RK 5u4g.

Golden Gate 1:

1) KR 5u4g white ceramic base, KR242 - Chris favourite combination in his GG. Vs. PAC different presentation type, more tubey sound, less detailed than PAC, less stage high, more treble with PAC.
2) RK 5u4g, KR242 - again massive difference with RK recti - very detailed, open sound. Big in all directions.
3) RK 5u4g, RK300b - excellent combination but 242 is doing things in this DAC just better in all terms - more punch, more resolution, staging...
4) RK 5u4g, KR PX25 - again great combo, more tubey sounding but still great details, punch, warm, very 3D and palpable
5) RK 5u4g, Elrog 300b - we like it, punch, detail, great vocals, overall great performer
6) RK 5u4g, EML Mesh 45 Globe Ann - not a great match for PAC but in GG a nice match. Good weight, spaciousness. Not enough weight with classical.

Consensus is that RK recti and KR PX25 works best.

Golden Gate 2.5:

1) RK 5u4g, KR242 - Fantastic speed, decay, bloom, tonality. Mellowness is just right, more treble extension.
2) RK 5u4g, KR PX25 - keeping the main character from 242 but adding additional tube sweetness in positive sense. Very natural sounding. Awesome instrument color of cello, brass,...
3) RK 5u4g, RK 300b - Very transparent, huge stage, detailed, punchy without losing control.

Could not draw a conclusion which tube was the favourite as they all performed exceptional but depending on the music 242 and PX25 stand out. With complex music 242 creates less congestion and PX25 creates more magic with 'easier music'.

DAC comparison:
Pacific is the most transparent & dynamic making several more tube choices play on exceptional level.
GG1 warmer sounding or tubey sounding doing everything right where 242 is the right choice giving additional kick and dynamic. GG2.5 is a perfect/great blend of both directions being dynamic and transparent but not lacking any tube magic.

Equipment used:
Speakers - hOrns Universum III
Amp - KR Kronzilla
Preamp - Aries Cerat Incito
Server - LampizatOr Superkomputer
DAC: LampizatOr Pacific SE, Golden Gate 2.5 SE, Golden Gate 1 SE

I would like to thank Chris for his always great hospitality!!!!
 
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bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#9
Great write-up, Goran
 
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wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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#10
Aries Cert Incito preamp.

One comment...in GG1, the EML mesh 45 AG kills all with female vocals and club jazz. Mid centric and "whimsical". Oscar wilde of tubes. LoL
 
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#11
Great report, thanks! Lots of info but still clear.
Like the short notes.
 
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marslo

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#12
I am happy to see that the combo KR 5u4g and RK 300 B on Pacific was one of two preferred. This is one I use and do not intend to change, cabling may also influence the final result.
 
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User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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#13
Interesting.

Would I be correct in asserting the program material had a classical music bias overall, Golum? In which case I totally understand the PX25 doing so well. Less so the RK 300B for classical, though.

Also, was the EML mesh anniv 45 the solid plate one i.e. not the EML Lampi Anniv 45?
 

Golum

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Jun 7, 2018
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#14
Hi Justin!
To be 100% frank there was no bias towards classical at all. Before we started we selected 3 tracks out of which one was classical and the results per tube were sum of our impressions from the entire track list we listened. In few comments I've noted where we had an impression that certain tube "performs better" with certain type of music and Norm also added his personal view/liking in his post above.

EML was Lampi Anniv 45 mesh (unobtainable anyhow)...
 
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Golum

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Jun 7, 2018
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#15
Some pictures.. CD772A8E-3C55-411B-881D-76C2377D150A.jpeg 6E8E40BC-1804-4C3C-850E-B64F379B7867.jpeg CDC3D724-8A0B-45B6-A5E1-B8A1798FE805.jpeg B48FE8ED-179A-4B35-819C-081B34D71C43.jpeg 5DD29ABC-238A-4767-B7EB-81F58B545F24.jpeg 0C173536-B911-40BE-B27D-2F01CE62C216.jpeg 9474480B-B35E-468E-BB22-DF36605C5DC6.jpeg
 
Sep 7, 2016
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#17
What a nice room Christoph!
How big is this room? Would think at least 6m wide?
 
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User211

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Jul 28, 2014
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#19
That's probably the best Lampi valve review conducted on the web so far. Excellent effort all.:)

Mysteriously, sales of KR PX25 will be seen to rise!

Personally, I wouldn't buy the PX25 for anything else but classical. So its a non-starter in my set up as I don't like it. But this consensus has to be better and a lot more useful than my opinion, especially since these are more recent and indeed standardish production DACs.

I'm still liking the AD1 with a NOS FIVRE 5U4G (better spatially than Chatham masher) and Dueland rather than Jupiter output caps as an unbeatable combination with energetic, high impact music.
 
May 30, 2010
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