This review first appeared in January 2018 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of Dawid Grzyb. - Ed.

Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
 Lampizator Golden Gate DAC (Psvane WE101D-L + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), Asus UX305LA laptop transport
Amplifiers: Trilogy 925
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, Gradient Evolution
USB cables: ordinary €1 printer throwaway, Forza AudioWorks Copper Series Twin USB
Speaker cables: Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept, Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Noir, Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
Power delivery: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence
Equipment rack: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Rack
Music: NativeDSD
Retail price of reviewed component in EU:€22'000 SE, €25'000 XLR, €25'000 SE + volume, €29'000 XLR + volume

An audio manufacturer can do any number of things to keep their buzz up.
New product announcements are surely one of the best. Once an already well established audio company teases those, things get even spicier. Of course to already be a successful audio manufacturer isn't easy. To have rolled out great product and gotten past infancy isn't sufficient if nobody knows. Not one but many commitments must be engaged to reach the intended target audience, then get it interested, then excited. Recognition and exposure are every newcomer's bread and butter. Generating them is usually a mix of show attendance, press coverage and customer feedback. Businesses already well-established of course operate in a safer zone yet still must promote themselves constantly. Brand awareness aside, how long can any one glory moment last? How long can a company remain in the spotlight and stay profitable if nothing new happens?

Not many can say that they've reached a point where this is no longer of concern. Thöress, Kondo/Japan and a handful of other legends craft goods in almost unchanged form for years but the vast majority must fan the fire not via small MkII alterations but entirely new products or the lights go out. The audio industry is most fickle, competition fierce and its audience subject to fads and audiophilia nervosa, hence on constant lookout for new toys. It goes rather without saying that it's a struggle to keep up. To properly grasp today's review subject, let's tackle the LampizatOr case from the beginning. CEO and owner of this local operation Łukasz Fikus started as self-taught DIYer. It all began in the '80s. He bought his first CD player, a huge thing back then in Poland, yet to his dismay the machine was DOA. No online or print tutorial was available to effect a repair. This didn't stop him but invoked curiosity instead. With good old-fashioned trial 'n' error, he repaired it and dozens of others later. Some people do gardening, some paint, some collect stamps. For Mr. Fikus, each new broken CD player was a disease desperately looking for a cure. To bring them back to life was his way of relaxation; a hobby if you will.

At a certain point he understood what these ailing digital decks needed to sound better: valves, the more vintage and obscure the better. Somewhere along the road, Łukasz met several glass virtuosos from the Ukraine and Russia who taught him about sundry NOS glass and its uses. Even today he retains a soft spot for these though he's also grown very impressed with what KR Audio do for current production. Their boutique bottles have become his daily drivers. Early on he tinkered with DACs and tubes as a hobbyist yet at some point realized that doing this for a living could become a career. This led to quitting a general marketing manager's position in a big corporation after 19 years of constant service. Many people wouldn't dream of giving up such well-paid steady security. Yet given his passionate and unstoppable mind, Łukasz recognized that he needed music and solder fumes to really live. Clearly he had sufficient confidence in his early products' performance that quitting his regular job became viable.

To turn pro meant launching a formal operation. The LampizatOr brand arose in 2010 with a proper workshop and several pairs of helping hands. For some, the allure of following their own heart outweighs the risks of potential failure. That's Łukasz and most who know him in person would probably agree. The unusual brand name combines the Polish lampa for vacuum tube and James Cameron's 1984 The Terminator flick. Today LampizatOr are neither a newcomer nor Kondo-like legend but well established. In Poland they in fact factor as one of our most successful hifi houses.

This means a worldwide distribution network, steady sales, a staff several people strong and a proper building to conduct business from. Clearly ongoing interest from reviewers and enthusiasts alike signs boldly on the 'recognizable & adopted' line. Still, since their early days LampizatOr have constantly fuelled the proverbial fire and for the past two years, more effectively than ever before. One might ask whether a fickle market enforced this or whether increased activity merely reflects the team's creativity and resourcefulness. Personally I see several reasons. The digital domain evolves constantly, shifts from one focus to another and so D/A converters remain the core of LampizatOr's portfolio. Purely from a marketing perspective, refreshing a catalogue makes good sense, especially with a firm known for unusual products where any announcement of pending releases creates curiosity over what might be next. These scenarios are both valid but beneath them I spot the restless nature of Łukasz himself. His R&D mode never sleeps. One can be sure that even during a casual chat, a part of him is preoccupied by product ideas. He's never 100% here. Over the years of knowing him, I've heard many audio-related utterly crazy ideas. Some actually came to pass. Some people would say that his head is in the clouds. Some would say that he's a very smart and savvy marketeer/CEO/engineer. Others would agree that the flagship position held by the Golden Gate DAC over three years meant that something upsetting was bound to happen. Pick what suits. I'll put this guesswork to bed and simply say that the LampizatOr Pacific has arrived.

How it came to be makes for quite the story. I was told that it wasn't formally scheduled. So let's travel to late 2015 when the Golden Gate was the best DAC Łukasz was able to deliver. Once available, the focus was on creating a steady supply of these machines. To make customers happy was the first order of business. Shortly after meeting demand, the inevitable tinkering phase on a seemingly finished product kicked in. It meant a somewhat different approach to handle both digital and analogue circuits. Then one major functionality was added. The enclosure changed during the process and the outcome turned out to be unexpected but very rewarding. All small steps combined netted the most desirable result, namely a device sonically different to the Golden Gate yet faithful to the core LampizatOr principles - and according to Łukasz, even better.