Lampizator Horizon v. dCS Vivaldi Apex Listening Comparison

XCop5089

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For me, adding a Mutec Ref 10 SE-120 10MHz reference clock to my dCS Vivaldi full stack, elevated the performance over the use of the dCS Master Word Clock by itself.

I would describe the sound as more palpable, with a lower system noise floor and greater musicality!

I am registered for the dCS Vivald DAC "Apex" upgrade and am excited by the prospect of an enhancement to system performance!
 

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LampiNA

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The other thing to consider is whether the Horizon has any tube artifacts that impart a sameness over the music. i did not hear that when i listened to the Horizon at Axpona, but 5 years ago, when i compared the Lampi GG 1.5 and the Aqua Formula dac directly in my system i found the Formula was more synergistic with my system, and allowed my system to be more truthful about the music. the tubes obscured information in some spots. i was reminded i was listening to tubes with the GG 1.5.
I am glad you don't detect this quality with the Horizon.

I would just gently mention that two generations of Lampizator DAC designs have happened in the 6-7 years since that build and the tube output stages of the entire line up do not portray this quality.
 

microstrip

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IMHO if you feel that the dCS stack sounds "thin" in your system you should get another DAC. The Vivaldi stack does not sound thin when in a system that matches it - friends have been listening to the APEX in my system and found it detailed, holographic and full bodied, but not fat, surely.

BTW, as should be expected Ron's digital list should sound better in a DAC that emulates vinyl sound. Sheffield direct cuts are known for poor performance in digital format editions.

When my system is not properly tuned or sometimes between hasty changes I put my old resident Audio Research CD8 tube CD player in service - much more forgiving than the dCS Vivaldi. This is happening today as the SoundLab's are still charging after being in storage for long months!
 
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Ron Resnick

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The Vivaldi stack does not sound thin when in a system that matches it - friends have been listening to the APEX in my system and found it detailed, holographic and full bodied, but not fat, surely.

BTW, as should be expected Ron's digital list should sound better in a DAC that emulates vinyl sound. Sheffield direct cuts are known for poor performance in digital format editions.

Dear Francisco,

I heard dSC products numerous times in the 1990s on various dealer systems. I consistently found the sound to be thin and sterile and "digital-ish."

Over two decades later I heard the same sonic signature from the Apex.

I am not sure what you mean about a "digital list." I played several of the same "test" tracks I always play. It seems spurious to now blame the analog-to-digital conversion of my test tracks for the sound I heard from the Apex. I did not play tracks unfavorable to the Apex in isolation. I played the same exact tracks on both DACs, in a direct A/B comparison, with the Apex having a streaming cable advantage, and I came to the sonic conclusions I reported.
 

microstrip

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Dear Francisco,

I heard dSC products numerous times in the 1990s on various dealer systems. I consistently found the sound to be thin and sterile and "digital-ish."

Yes, you have told it several times before. It is a question of preference. I also have listened to dCS several times sounding sterile and "digital-ish". However, since I and many others have listened to it sounding astonishingly good, with an absolute absence of "sterile and "digital-ish" sound we know its real capabilities.

Over two decades later I heard the same sonic signature from the Apex.

Ok. I congratulate you on your aural memory on negatives. Probably I would not also be happy with the sound you listened, who knows?

I am not sure what you mean about a "digital list." I played several of the same "test" tracks I always play. It seems spurious to now blame the analog-to-digital conversion of my test tracks for the sound I heard from the Apex. I did not play tracks unfavorable to the Apex in isolation. I played the same exact tracks on both DACs, in a direct A/B comparison, with the Apex having a streaming cable advantage, and I came to the sonic conclusions I reported.

I mean exactly what I wrote. IMHO the shown list in digital format will favor DAC's having some coloration. Surely IMMV. Probably my reference recordings would favor the dCS. Audiophile life is like that.
 

Lagonda

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Yes, you have told it several times before. It is a question of preference. I also have listened to dCS several times sounding sterile and "digital-ish". However, since I and many others have listened to it sounding astonishingly good, with an absolute absence of "sterile and "digital-ish" sound we know its real capabilities.



Ok. I congratulate you on your aural memory on negatives. Probably I would not also be happy with the sound you listened, who knows?



I mean exactly what I wrote. IMHO the shown list in digital format will favor DAC's having some coloration. Surely IMMV. Probably my reference recordings would favor the dCS. Audiophile life is like that.
And you have plenty tubes in your system adding a little warmt/holographic effect, Francisco ! A Boulder/ Wilson system could need the tubes in the Horizon desperately . ;)
 

microstrip

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And you have plenty tubes in your system adding a little warmt/holographic effect, Francisco ! A Boulder/ Wilson system could need the tubes in the Horizon desperately . ;)

I have no experience at all with Boulder, can't comment . But I can assure you that the D'Agostino Momentum HD and Relelentless did not need any tubes to sound magnificent with the dCS Vivaldi and the Wilson WAMM's. Holographic and liquid to a point that it sounded astonishingly realistic with redbook. In this aspect I would swear there was an OTL amplifier in the system.
 
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ashandger

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I am in the process of auditioning the Lampi Horizon and the Vivaldi Apex stack. Full system is as follows.
dacs: Lampi Horizon connected via USB to Roon Nuc + dCS Vivaldi Apex (clock/upsampler/dac) connected via ethernet cable
Pre: Boulder 3010
Power: Boulder 3060
Speakers: Wilson Alexx V
Cables: Transparent Opus Gen 6

I have been listening to tracks back-to-back since yesterday. My impressions thus far are below.

dCS/
- incredible precision and resolve.
- controlled and linear!
- very balanced top to bottom
- fuller sound than prior dCS
- less dry and more musical than prior dCS

Lampi/
- soundstage and presence are incredible - holographic
- musical like no dac I have ever heard
- mid-range is better than I have ever heard
- did I say silky smooth!
- very full and great cohesion across instruments and range

So far which do i prefer? With the exception of electronica/edm, the musicality of the Lampi is just beyond anything I have heard! And, it's not that the Vivaldi is bad - it is not, it's awesome. The dCS does ha ndle complex pieces with incredible accuracy and cohesion. But, by comparison to the Lampi it is just slightly thin and less musical. The one exception is electronic music - on such tracks the dCS has the edge over the Lampi. I find myself listening to the first half of a track on the dCS and then switching to the Lampi with the intention of listening to the same fraction and then I get pulled in and listen to the entire track. I really want to like the dCS more! It doesn't have the burden of tubes, it looks great and I know how overbuilt it is. But, alas, so far the Lampi is just...more enjoyable.

View attachment 93169
Many thanks for sharing your impressions. May I ask which cables are you using to connect the various DCS components to each other? Thanks
 

Alrainbow

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I have heard Wilson speakers many times and I’m a fan of dagastino
having said this
best I ever heard big wilsons
was not with dagastino amps
I think dcs is a top level dAC but seems a bit less musical to me
the H dac is very musical and has great speed and tone. Is this Coloration i can’t confirm or not.
I can say very few times there was magic in dcs
but this is audio
 

pk_LA

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Many thanks for sharing your impressions. May I ask which cables are you using to connect the various DCS components to each other? Thanks
Sorry. I typed too fast. I do not know. It is from the dealer. I know it is all Transparent and top of range but I do not know which ones. The stack is jammed into the cabinet or I would look.
 
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Ron Resnick

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UPDATE

I returned to pk_LA's house last night for a re-match of Lampizator Horizon versus dCS Apex. On a track I did not know I failed to identify correctly to which DAC we were listening two out of three times.

Last night it took a track I have heard hundreds of times ("Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes on Famous Blue Raincoat) to be able to tell the DACs apart.

pk_LA reported to me during the last week varying sound quality from the Horizon as the Horizon broke in since my last visit. Did the Lampizator change or did the dCS change?

Brian Berdan believes that, because the Vivaldi stack pk_LA is auditioning was just upgraded with the Apex circuit board, the Apex circuit board needed breaking in. This is a plausible theory. All I know is that the canyon-like gap in sonic attractiveness I heard between the Horizon and the Apex last week has narrowed very considerably. If I had to quantify it I would say the gap has narrowed by at least 75%, and maybe up to 90%.

I still hear directionally the impressions I reported originally, but the amplitude is much lower. I still hear the Horizon as being more resonant and harmonically rich, but by a much smaller extent. I still hear the Apex as having more treble energy, and the Horizon as being slightly more midrange-focused (which I find more natural and more "correct"). I still hear the Apex as being slightly drier-sounding than the Horizon.

Also there still is nothing sonically I can discern about the Apex which I prefer over the Horizon. (pk_LA told me that on some tracks he now prefers the sound of the Apex.)

I still easily prefer the Horizon over the Apex, but somehow the gaps in what I prefer about the Horizon have narrowed very considerably. And the fact that only a week later I had to dig deep and use a track I am extremely familiar just to tell the DACs apart is puzzling.

PS: Alcohol consumption was identical during both listening sessions.
 
Last edited:

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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UPDATE

I returned to pk_LA's house last night for a re-match of Lampizator Horizon versus dCS Apex. On a track I did not know I failed to identify correctly to which DAC we were listening two out of three times.

Last night it took a track I have heard hundreds of times ("Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes on Famous Blue Raincoat) to be able to tell the DACs apart.

If you can't tell any two sources apart easily, the cables or something is adding a constant color.
 

microstrip

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Ron,

Considering that in my system the dCS Vivaldi stack sounds more rich in the medium and with better treble when using the Taiko Audio Extreme server connected by USB to the upsampler than when connected through the RK45 net I think that adding a top server can reverse your preference! ;)
 

Whbgarrett

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Oct 8, 2019
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UPDATE

I returned to pk_LA's house last night for a re-match of Lampizator Horizon versus dCS Apex. On a track I did not know I failed to identify correctly to which DAC we were listening two out of three times.

Last night it took a track I have heard hundreds of times ("Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes on Famous Blue Raincoat) to be able to tell the DACs apart.

pk_LA reported to me during the last week varying sound quality from the Horizon as the Horizon broke in since my last visit. Did the Lampizator change or did the dCS change?

Brian Berdan believes that, because the Vivaldi stack pk_LA is auditioning was just upgraded with the Apex circuit board, the Apex circuit board needed breaking in. This is a plausible theory. All I know is that the canyon-like gap in sonic attractiveness I heard between the Horizon and the Apex last week has narrowed very considerably. If I had to quantify it I would say the gap has narrowed by at least 75%, and maybe up to 90%.

I still hear directionally the impressions I reported originally, but the amplitude is much lower. I still hear the Horizon as being more resonant and harmonically rich, but by a much smaller extent. I still hear the Apex as having more treble energy, and the Horizon as being slightly more midrange-focused (which I find more natural and more "correct"). I still hear the Apex as being slightly drier-sounding than the Horizon.

Also there still is nothing sonically I can discern about the Apex which I prefer over the Horizon. (pk_LA told me that on some tracks he now prefers the sound of the Apex.)

I still easily prefer the Horizon over the Apex, but somehow the gaps in what I prefer about the Horizon have narrowed very considerably. And the fact that only a week later I had to dig deep and use a track I am extremely familiar just to tell the DACs apart is puzzling.

PS: Alcohol consumption was identical during both listening sessions.
Apologies if this information has been provided and I missed it, but what is the tube complement being used in the Horizon?
 

Ron Resnick

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Apologies if this information has been provided and I missed it, but what is the tube complement being used in the Horizon?

I do not know.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Ron,

Considering that in my system the dCS Vivaldi stack sounds more rich in the medium and with better treble when using the Taiko Audio Extreme server connected by USB to the upsampler than when connected through the RK45 net I think that adding a top server can reverse your preference! ;)

I don't think so. I think I will always prefer the slightly greater liquidity and midrange richness afforded by the tubes.
 

ashandger

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Jun 15, 2013
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Sorry. I typed too fast. I do not know. It is from the dealer. I know it is all Transparent and top of range but I do not know which ones. The stack is jammed into the cabinet or I would look.
Many thanks for the feedback.
 

microstrip

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May 30, 2010
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Many thanks for the feedback.

Just to point that one of the largest improvements to my dCS Vivaldi stack was a complete loom of Transparent Audio XL digital cables (5 x BNC clock and 5 x AES/EBU). They are expensive and also very stiff, but made a lot of difference.

BTW, people looking for a more "tube like" sound in the dCS system can try using the dither option in the clock.
 

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