Lampizator Horizon v. dCS Vivaldi Apex Listening Comparison

Sampajanna

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I have already started buying tubes to be here ready to play with when my Horizon arrives. I got some Sylvania metal base 6sn7, some VT-99 w/ adapters and will soon order the TS KT1170. Also waiting to hear about the Serbian tubes Lukas’s suggests… Horizon is a tube-rolling paradise. I think that counts for something vs. other dacs. As I said in another thread, many times “upgraditis” is often cured with a taste of something different as opposed to ”better,” which too often means more expensive. For me, tubes are fun…

Thanks for sharing your experience with Horizon and tubes used.
 

Ron Resnick

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Sorry to interrupt the philosophizing, rationalizations, and general banter; but if I may, I’ll add something about the subject matter of the thread title ;)

One month ago, I received the Horizon dac which was the unit auditioned by the OP and compared against the dcs unit. Included we’re the tubes used for the comparison. I can offer that 4 additional weeks of break in along with changes in the tube set have made significant improvement in the performance of the unit.

Upon receipt I inserted the supplied tubes and listened to this configuration for a couple days before rolling my own tubes in.

Supplied tubes:
EML 274b mesh rectifier
Psvane blue ball 6sn7
KR KT 88
Tung-Sol KT170

Rolling to either the csf 5687 or Tungsol VT-99 from the blue balls made an immediate improvement to resolution, depth, and naturalness. Each in its own way.

The EML274b is just fuzzy sounding, although dynamics were decent.
Replaced with the RK 5u4g to tighten things up. However, it can go too far. It is not a good pairing with the KT170. The additive result is a scream in the upper mids. Just too much. I suspect the Tak 274b will be better overall as the RK’s edginess can be a detriment.

Either KT’s can work for me, depending on the other tubes used.

Additional time has allowed the Horizon to open up and smooth out. Resolution and dynamics are first rate now.

So this is really just a young Horizon vs. mature Horizon comparison along with an opinion on tube choices.

Point is, the Horizon as auditioned by pk-LA was not in top form, but it is now.

Thank you, Tuckia, for this report. I think it is very interesting.

For the avoidance of doubt, and to avoid triggering MikeL, I state at the outset that these are solely my opinions, and that I am not speaking for pk_LA.

1) pk_LA has done his utmost to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison with every pairing of DACs in this survey.

The Horizon came from the factory with the four tubes you listed. If I understand your report correctly you replaced two of the four tubes in this particular Horizon.

I recommended to pk_LA that he treat each DAC candidate as a complete and finished product as it came from the factory. This means that Lampizator partisans don't get to include tube rolling and personal tube preferences to advantage their candidate.

I think it is very reasonable to audition a component as it comes from the factory. Lucasz is some sort of a genius, and I am confident that he knows how make his top-of-the-line product sound the way he wants it to straight from the factory.

Tube preferences are completely subjective. How do you know what are pk_LA's subjective sonic preferences? You are shooting in the dark to assume that he is seeking the sound you say you have now achieved with tube rolling. Especially during a comparative audition, only madness lies in the direction of trying to replicate a sound touted by a particular Horizon owner using particular tubes, when pk_LA's sonic preferences may not be the same as the sonic preferences of such owner.

The distributor of the least expensive solid-state DAC we auditioned initially insisted that pk_LA use a power conditioner preferred by this distributor. pk_LA declined.

Other manufacturers wanted to replace one or more of power conditioners and interconnects and digital cables and ethernet switches, etc. pk_LA declined, again, in an effort to make this as much of a factory product apples-to-apples comparison as possible.

2) It is completely legitimate as a policy decision to choose not to to tube roll -- either initially or ever -- and to stay with the tubes which come from the factory. I think this is especially true when the effort is an apples-to-apples audition.
 
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Steve Williams

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I recommended to pk_LA that he treat each DAC candidate as a complete and finished product as it came from the factory. This means that Lampizator partisans don't get to include tube rolling and personal tube preferences to advantage their candidate.
on this I completely disagree. This use for the Horizon is what it’s all about. It’s for personal preference and system improvement. To ignore this I would merely suggest that the Horizon is not a candidate for such a person
 

Tuckia

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Thank you, Tuckia, for this report. I think it is very interesting.

For the avoidance of doubt, and to avoid triggering MikeL, I state at the outset that these are solely my opinions, and that I am not speaking for pk_LA.

1) pk_LA has done his utmost to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison with every pairing of DACs in this survey.

The Horizon came from the factory with the four tubes you listed. If I understand your report correctly you replaced two of the four tubes in this particular Horizon.

I recommended to pk_LA that he treat each DAC candidate as a complete and finished product as it came from the factory. This means that Lampizator partisans don't get to include tube rolling and personal tube preferences to advantage their candidate.

I think it is very reasonable to audition a component as it comes from the factory. Lucasz is some sort of a genius, and I am confident that he knows how make his top-of-the-line product sound the way he wants it to straight from the factory.

Tube preferences are completely subjective. How do you know what are pk_LA's subjective sonic preferences? You are shooting in the dark to assume that he is seeking the sound you say you have now achieved with tube rolling. Especially during a comparative audition, only madness lies in the direction of trying to replicate a sound touted by a particular Horizon owner using particular tubes, when pk_LA's sonic preferences may not be the same as the sonic preferences of such owner.

The distributor of the least expensive solid-state DAC we auditioned initially insisted that pk_LA use a power conditioner preferred by this distributor. pk_LA declined.

Other manufacturers wanted to replace one or more of power conditioners and interconnects and digital cables and ethernet switches, etc. pk_LA declined, again, in an effort to make this as much of a factory product apples-to-apples comparison as possible.

2) It is completely legitimate as a policy decision to choose not to to tube roll -- either initially or ever -- and to stay with the tubes which come from the factory. I think this is especially true when the effort is an apples-to-apples audition.
I’m not offering any critique on comparison methodology, but am commenting that the duration did not allow the Horizon to fully break in. If the goal was to subscribe to the intent of the author, Lukasz, then a fully broken in unit should have been used, or the unit be allowed to run-in fully during the compare. But reality has constraints which result in compromises. Each new unit from different manufacturers has its own break in cycle or cycles and duration. This can factor into conclusions.

Yes, tube rolling is subjective. But some tubes are higher quality than others as gauged by the consensus of a larger tube rolling audience. Never with universal consensus, but statistically relevant nonetheless. Evidence vintage WE300b vs many others. Trends are developing among Horizon users as reported in the forum as well.

Tube rolling is a valid method to tune and increase quality of your systems sound. I have no issue with using supplied tubes for a comparison as they weren’t chosen at random. Except for low volume or bespoke production, you will always need to roll to optimize your system because of supply issues for manufacturers.
 

Steve Williams

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Tube rolling is a valid method to tune and increase quality of your systems sound. I have no issue with using supplied tubes for a comparison as they weren’t chosen at random. Except for low volume or bespoke production, you will always need to roll to optimize your system because of supply issues for manufacturers
precisely the reason I disagreed with Ron’s premise
 
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pk_LA

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Personally I think those who cannot/will not roll tubes, are the same as those who will not bother to adjust/tune/investigate any component in any system, should not be auditioning products but simply tell their dealer to install something and leave it at that.
What an arbitrary declarative
 
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bonzo75

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Thank you, Tuckia, for this report. I think it is very interesting.

For the avoidance of doubt, and to avoid triggering MikeL, I state at the outset that these are solely my opinions, and that I am not speaking for pk_LA.

1) pk_LA has done his utmost to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison with every pairing of DACs in this survey.

No he hasn't but you know that already. If you haven't been able to distil that after so many chats then you don't want to

I recommended to pk_LA that he treat each DAC candidate as a complete and finished product as it came from the factory. This means that Lampizator partisans don't get to include tube rolling and personal tube preferences to advantage their candidate.

Please top misrepresenting your recommendations. This was already clarified. There is no factory standard, Lukasz designed dacs where you are meant to roll to check what both matches your system and matches you taste


IHow do you know what are pk_LA's subjective sonic preferences?

Duh. We don't. He doesn't. That's why he rolls tubes to find out

Ps: Angela looked at the concentration on may face, looked over my shoulder and saw I was typing you a reply, and giggled and said "You tell Ron, darling, you tell him what's what!"
 
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Steve Williams

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What an arbitrary declarative
Hi Patrick

I hope all is well. As for a Ked’s remarks I feel there is some truth to this when it comes to you and tubes. Bottom line imho was you returned a DAC and tubes that by your own admission had only 15 hours on them. Tuckia is giving us a very reasonable follow up to that DAC and tubes. I think we just have to agree that you are not a tube individual , which is fine but the reality is any impressions derived by you and Ron were premature at best and cannot be in any way accurately compared to other DACS.
 

Mike Lavigne

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For the avoidance of doubt, and to avoid triggering MikeL, I state at the outset that these are solely my opinions, and that I am not speaking for pk_LA.......
Ron, my only reason for reacting before was to clarify who you were speaking for when you referred to perceptions from your sessions with PK. beyond that, i'm no part of this process.

i owned Lampi for 18 months, invested $4k+ in tubes to roll, rolled said tubes, and enjoyed it thoroughly. but even upgraded and tubed to the max preferred a different dac in my particular system as a better fit. yet to this day still am drawn to the Lampi sound.

tube rolling in and of itself is no guarantee of superior in-system performance verses another dac. yet for sure, it made a significant positive difference.
 
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Steve Williams

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tube rolling in and of itself is no guarantee of superior in-system performance verses another dac. yet for sure, it made a significant positive difference
not sure I agree with this. When I had my Pacific I couldn’t imagine anything better. When I got the Horizon and had opportunity to select a tube kit that fit my system and satisfied my ears there was clearly a superior in system performance than with the Pacific. There are users now all of whom have different tube kits yet still use the Horizon as there in lies the beauty that one can tailor it to suit their ears and system It’s a no brainer
 
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KeithR

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on this I completely disagree. This use for the Horizon is what it’s all about. It’s for personal preference and system improvement. To ignore this I would merely suggest that the Horizon is not a candidate for such a person
Sorry doc, this is such bs. There is no tube manufacturer on earth that sells product on nos tube rolling.

*every* tube piece is auditioned in stores with stock tubes and then at the whims of the new owner can be rolled to personal preference. Tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor. Some of us have been rolling tubes for decades and aren’t the neophytes the lampi cult thinks.

To claim that lampi auditions require rolling is silly, and even Fred says this. No tube gear reviews in stereophile are even allowed to roll - and these are professional reviewers.
 
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LampiNA

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Sorry doc, this is such bs. There is no tube manufacturer on earth that sells product on nos tube rolling.

*every* tube piece is auditioned in stores with stock tubes and then at the whims of the new owner can be rolled to personal preference. Tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor. Some of us have been rolling tubes for decades and aren’t the neophytes the lampi cult thinks.

To claim that lampi auditions require rolling is silly, and even Fred says this. No tube gear reviews in stereophile are even allowed to roll - and these are professional reviewers.
I wasn't going to comment in this thread, but if I'm referred to, I will. While I don't believe tube rolling is absolutely necessary to evaluate our products, a major reason for that is we supply very good tubes from the get go.

In fact, even the entry level Amber DAC frequently comes by default with NOS tubes. The DHT dacs come with some of the most expensive currently production tubes on the planet and when consulting with new customers I try to get a feel for what they like and are looking for to minimize rolling and increase probability of landing on the sound they're looking for off the bat.

In the current climate we're more limited by supply in this ability, but rolling is no less useful.

So in sum, it goes both ways. We've got many customers that never roll and are extremely happy, but we also literally have products called "Tube Rollers Paradise" lol
 

bonzo75

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Sorry doc, this is such bs. There is no tube manufacturer on earth that sells product on nos tube rolling.

*every* tube piece is auditioned in stores with stock tubes and then at the whims of the new owner can be rolled to personal preference. Tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor. Some of us have been rolling tubes for decades and aren’t the neophytes the lampi cult thinks.

To claim that lampi auditions require rolling is silly, and even Fred says this. No tube gear reviews in stereophile are even allowed to roll - and these are professional reviewers.

This post is total bs.

Here is Michael Fremer on 6C45PiEH vs C3G roll in Ypsilon while reviewing. Below is Peter B's post on the valves in the Ypsilon. 6 moons rolls on a regular basis because they do a lot of DHTs.


If you are not a neophyte to tube rolling and don't roll, that's worse. That Ron liked an inaccurate post simply because it lent credence to what incorrectly said, is worse. You don't like the Lampi crowd, I get it.

Yes in some reviews Stereophile have mentioned it is their job to review the stock product, but I don't think an audiophile auditioning a product has such a job.

Fred could never have said what you mentioned, that is gross misrepresentation like rest of the post
 

bonzo75

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When I heard the stock Allnic it was sh*t. I posted this on audionirvana and Myles replied you have to change the recti. I re-did that audition after a year and since then have experienced the Allnic phono on many occasions with recti roll. Look at the rolls on the Aesthetix threads. Ok, that is 25 valves so if someone feels intimidated, I understand. Read any 300b, 45w, 2a3 amp thread, all over audioasylum or any forum. Anyone who says tube rolling does not make a difference where tube rolling is possible...well. No one said tube rolling alone will make you buy the product but it is required for proper set up.
 

Steve Williams

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Sorry doc, this is such bs. There is no tube manufacturer on earth that sells product on nos tube rolling.

*every* tube piece is auditioned in stores with stock tubes and then at the whims of the new owner can be rolled to personal preference. Tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor. Some of us have been rolling tubes for decades and aren’t the neophytes the lampi cult thinks.

To claim that lampi auditions require rolling is silly, and even Fred says this. No tube gear reviews in stereophile are even allowed to roll - and these are professional reviewers.
We will have to agree to disagree. That’s ok. To me you’re being naive
 

bonzo75

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One senior reviewer had kept an older Lampi model for almost a year and given it a rave review without rotating a single valve. At that time, despite the rave review, I had said privately to my Lampi friends this is a total bs job if a reviewer cannot roll valves in the Lampi for a year. Ok, he liked the stock so what? He had not done his job if he had not recommended various set up possibilities. Why keep it for so long then?
 

microstrip

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(...) Tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor. (...)

I have no experience with Lampizator, but I have seen cases where tube rolling fundamentally changed the sound of a component - the VTL 7.5.mk2 I listened to the effect of rolling the 12AU7 for the 12AX7 and it become a very different preamplifier.

Tecnhically tube rolling can in some cases change dramatically the distortion spectra and the gain of gear. It would be very interesting to look at the spectral effects of such tube changes.
 

bonzo75

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I have no experience with Lampizator, but I have seen cases where tube rolling fundamentally changed the sound of a component - the VTL 7.5.mk2 I listened to the effect of rolling the 12AU7 for the 12AX7 and it become a very different preamplifier.

With DHTs the change is even bigger. And that is true with Big 7, GG, Pac. I don't know with the Horizon if it is the same extent as it is not DHT, others can say, but with any tube gear it is. Also with Lampi you don't need any biasing headache nor do you need to open the cover and reach in, it is just plug out, plug in. Anyone can do it. This is a pointless debate. By now they could have done all the tube rolls and provided a report, instead they are wasting time with philosophical debates.
 
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Ron Resnick

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When I heard the stock Allnic it was sh*t.

Anyone who says tube rolling does not make a difference where tube rolling is possible

Where did Keith write that "tube rolling does not make a difference"? Please cite that post.

I "liked" Keith's post because I think that "tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor." I totally agree with this.

If tube rolling in the Allnic made it go from "sh*t" to gold I do not believe it. I think you are assigning hyperbolically dramatic words to relatively small sonic changes.
 

bonzo75

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I "liked" Keith's post because I think that "tube rolling doesn’t fundamentally change the sound of any component, but rather the seasoning or flavor." I totally agree with this.

If tube rolling in the Allnic made it go from "sh*t" to gold I do not believe it. I think you are assigning hyperbolically dramatic words to relatively small sonic changes.

No, it can completely change gain match of the system. Much like a cart under driving a phono to matching the gain. The fact that you can also color or decolor it to your preference is another point.

Yes, Allnic 3000 was bettered by a half priced Zesto. After changing the recti, it bettered the Zesto in the same system, an almost twice priced tru life, and in another system did well against the ypsilon. You can just do a search on the forum on how many change their Allnic recti

Same with changing Lampi output valves to 242 that is one of the most impactful changes I get in hifi when it works correctly. It is a bit of work as it requires to match with preamp but I have seen it take systems I thought were meh to one of my favorites.
 

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