Lampizator, HQ Player, Audiopax, Avante Garde: Digital Done Right.

"Do you have a favorite room at the show so far?" asked Geoff Armstrong as I sat in his room on the last day of the show. "Yea, this one." I replied.

Let's state the obvious—we listen to systems. We do not listen to DACs or cables or power supplies or speakers. Further, at shows, we listen to a very small sampling of music played through systems in unfamiliar rooms. Add these things together and you have to ask how can we talk about the sound of a DAC? Hint: we can't unless we're trying to impress.

The fact that I found this room, sponsored by Monaco's Sound Galleries, to be a few steps beyond most every other in terms of natural musicality speaks to all the parts that make up the whole. Rarely have I experience a similar sense of immediacy, flow, and effortlessness. You know like real music.

The team at Sound Galleries managed to deliver just that. And they did so from good old CD-quality files and streaming. Not to put too fine a point on it, this system completely obliterated the notion that CD-quality has sonic drawbacks. It just ain't audibly so. I will note, on the heels of MQA, that Jussi Laako the author of HQPlayer claims to employ his experience in sonar to detect and correct imperfections introduced by A/D converters.

This kind of performance, again in my experience, does not come cheap. The system we're looking at and I was listening to runs upward of €75,000. It also contains a custom Windows 10-based PC with SSD's running off battery power using HQ Player to convert everything to DSD and if you peak in behind the Lampizator Big 7 DAC (€6000 - €7000), you'll see the tiny Uptone Audio Regen USB ($175) filtering any noise coming in over USB. Details, details, and more details.

"Stunning clarity. Spark of life. Great control, delicate. Embodiment of singer. Lovely."

COMMENTS
soundgals's picture

Hello Michael,

Thank you so much for your very positive review of our room. For us this is proof that all the hard work and long hours put in by our team really paid off.

…and it definitely was very much a team effort.

I agree it was a system that demonstrated the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Nevertheless I would say a great degree of that "flow and effortlessness" you refer to was curtesy of the wonderful Audiopax L50 pre-amp and M50 mono-blocks. Silvio's tireless efforts to get these working at their best with the electrical supply at the MOC and with the Avantgarde Duo Omega's was a large percentage of the reason for the wonderful result we were getting.

Our unpaid computer hardware wizard, Edward Hsu also deserves a great deal of credit for fully tricking out that naked PC in the 3rd photo and suggesting the USB-Regen; but a lot of behind the scenes contributors made suggestions to Eddie for tweaking the PC and discovering that Win 10 Preview sounds better than any extant OS at this time.

It is my and Eddie's intention to build a version of this machine in a nice case as a plug 'n play solution.

Our goal is to achieve the best possible SQ together with the convenience that people expect from today's computer based systems.

Two small corrections:

It is actually Jussi Laako the author of HQPlayer that drew from his experience with sonar to create the DSP filters that allows us to improve ordinary Redbook sources to the extent that we were at the show.

NOTE: Those sources included streaming from Qobuz and Tidal which benefitted from exactly the same DSP and conversion to DSD128 as files on the internal SSD.

In the third paragraph from the bottom you refer to my company as "Sound Designs" rather than correctly as Sound Galleries as in the rest of the article.

Thanks once again Michael and we will welcome any suggestions you may have for our proposed music server and indeed suggestions from other members of Audio Stream.

Geoff Armstrong
Sound Galleries,

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Welcome and apologies for the errors. I've made the corrections in the text.

As far as your music server goes, I look forward to hearing one!

soundgals's picture

Hi Michael,
Thanks …and I promise you'll get a chance to hear it as soon as we have the first units ready.
Best,
Geoff

Alma's picture

We're Audiopax's US distributor, and we'll be showing a similar setup at Newport Beach next week, with Duo Mezzos (basshorns!) and MSB Select DAC!
Hopefully we'll have them sing as beautifully as they did in Munich!
Oh, Silvio from Audiopax will be at hand to answer any questions too.

Thanks,
Alma Music and Audio
La Jolla, CA

soundgals's picture

Hi Michael,

I just want to give you an update on where we are with our music sever:

Right now we have the latest version of this in pieces on our work-bench and it is sounding even better than the prototype in Munich.

With HQPlayer the sense of life, delicacy of the instruments and instrumental interplay is unsurpassed in my experience. It leaves everything else in the dust. I can't easily go back to listen to systems without using this as the source. Music that I thought I didn't like so much, now makes perfect sense. That for me is what all this is about. Discovering new (for me) music and giving my mind access to music I couldn't fully appreciate before.

Obviously I have a commercial interest in this, since it is our product. It's honestly got me more excited than I've ever been about audio though. This goes beyond the limitations of digital or analogue as we've known them.

Yesterday I ran Roon on this machine, which at this time can't work with HQPlayer. The closest I could get was using foo_asio as the output from Roon. This can convert PCM to DSD as HQPlayer can and it is the next best thing to HQPlayer.

As you already appreciate the experience of roon is something really special. Seamless integration of your library with Tidal is the best way currently to discover new music.

I understand Roon and Jussi are working together to integrate HQPlayer into Roon and that really will be the best of all worlds.

HQPlayer is essential for the sound quality I described above.

All the best,

Geoff

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