Just like the T+A DAC, the LampizatOr uses two separate paths for PCM and DSD. For the latter, the FPGA is programmed as a simple analog low-pass filter whose output goes straight into the tube stage. There is no DSD to PCM conversion so the DSD signal bypasses the R-2R ladder altogether. This is not common MO for DSD DACs. Many handle DSD by first converting to PCM. The clearest description of what DSD is comes from Ted Smith, designer of PS Audio's Direct Stream DAC: "DSD is whatever bit stream gives you after running through a low-pass filter. A bit stream with a high signal results in a lot of high pulses, a bit stream with a low signal results in a lot of low pulses. Pulses represent energy, hence high pulses mean high energy." The LampizatOr processes PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to DSD256. All PCM data is converted with the OEM R-2R ladder.

This dual-path feature set offered us quite a few listening options. We could feed the Atlantic via S/PDIF from our PS Audio PWT CD transport; or from the Sound Gallery SGM2015 streamer we had on review loan. The software heart of the SGM2015 is Signalyst's HQPlayer. This software has two main output options, PCM or DSD. For each output format, the software offers a choice of filters/oversampling selections, a wealth of noise-shaping and dither selections and output sample rates. This meant plenty to play with to discover what we liked best in combination with the LampizatOr Atlantic.

Before the LampizatOr arrived, we had used the T+A DAC8 with the SGM2015. That handles up to DSD512 and we were by then accustomed to its sound character. With the LampizatOr we had to switch ASIO drivers and change the HQPlayer settings. We started with listening in DSD256 mode. From the T+A listening sessions we kept our preferred poly-sinc-shrt-mp filter setting in HQPlayer. With this minimum phase filter, transients in our opinion are the most life-like and perfect for our favorite musical styles that include world music and Jazz with lots of percussion. For noise-shaping we trialled and errored to ASDM7 or the adaptive 7th order one-bit delta-sigma modulator which offered the most realistic boundaries of individual instruments in most recordings. Other settings either isolated instruments or blurred them more together. A must for the LampizatOr is of course the 11'289'600 bit-rate setting representing DSD256.

Inside photos provided by LampizatOr

One of the first albums to play was the magnificent She's by Bernard L'Hoir which we streamed from Tidal. Thus the SGM2015 had some work to do. Loading the streaming input from the cloud in FLAC format, it was converted to 16/44.1 PCM by the Tidal client. From there the PCM stream was processed by HQPlayer before sending it to the ASIO driver. All this happened under the Roon umbrella which acted as the one interface to manage all.