ROSEMONT, IL, April 22, 2017 -- He’d gained notoriety with the Do-It-Yourself audiophile community with his blog on vacuum tube based projects, and after leaving his position of Poland General Manager in a multinational corporation, Lukasz Fikus founded LampizatOr, a company that gained notoriety in the industry building amazing sounding Digital to Analog Converters (which convert digital music stored as 0s and 1s to analog for playback).
Of slender build, Fikus, 52, talks just outside the Dearborn Room at the Westin O’Hare, where his $15,400 Golden Gate DAC is one of the select components sourcing the massive, 7 ½’ tall Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11 loudspeakers in their debut at Audio Expo North America (AXPONA).
On being at AXPONA 2017:
I am extremely happy to be in Chicago. This is my third time and by far the most successful and enjoyable. It’s a great show this year -- especially since I’m going to see Patricia Barber on Monday night! Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without ‘Blues Brothers’ and Patricia Barber!
On his Golden Gate DAC being featured in arguably the best in the show’s, ‘cost is no object’ Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11 loudspeaker ($295,000) demonstration system:
We just heard for the first time our DAC in Von Schweikert’s factory demonstration room and in our history, it’s an achievement that is unmatched because for the manufacturer, for the maker, it’s one thing to make something, or produce, or invent, or design, but it’s absolutely another thing to see that somebody else liked it and applied it in a system say ten times bigger and more expensive than we’ve ever imagined! So, in the context of this unbelievable, monumental system, our DAC shows what it can do -- and even me as a maker, I never realized that. So, you can imagine that this is an extremely, extremely important moment and day in my life.
On the debut of his new Golden Atlantic DAC:
We try to apply the trickle down process from the flagship Golden Gate DAC to be more accessible and more available with a lower price. There are certain things that we can do to make the DAC more accessible, and that line is called Atlantic. It’s a debut in the AXPONA show of our Golden Atlantic (which start at $8,800), which is the best of the Atlantic family. And you can hear it in our room. We believe it’s the best ‘bang for buck’ you can have because all the important elements, like R2R technology, which is the chipless discrete resistor ladder conversion technology, combined with the old type of DAC with heated triodes and a very simple circuit -- and the best materials, best capacitors -- gives us the sound that is impossible to achieve any other way, in our opinion.
So, by making the Atlantic, we made Golden Gate type of experience accessible to the middle class income people. And I’m very proud of it. I don’t want to be perceived as an expensive manufacturer.
On what’s coming down the pipeline at LampizatOr:
The pipeline is always busy. We have our staff always developing things. Mainly now, we will focus on the third level for the DAC. So, we are developing the line below Atlantic to be even more accessible especially in Europe and in markets less wealthy than the United States so that the Amber project is getting a new second generation, and it’s going to bring everything we know about making good DACs to the sub-$3,000 level. So, it’s going to be a major step in our strategic development.
Also, we just launched speakers, which is something new, but not for me as a person. I consider myself a speaker guy. I’ve been doing speakers for 25 years and the DACs for only seven years. I brought back my best designs, and now I’m trying to market them as a sellable product. And so far, the earliest buyers are raving about them. I hope that this will again be very accessible. For less than $5,000, you get amazing three-way speakers -- nothing like Von Schweikert, but something that actually people can relate to and have room.
On their speaker:
It’s a P-17. It’s an iteration of Project P-17 (from his old DIY speaker pages -- see http://lampizator.eu/SPEAKERS/Loudspeakers.html ). As a student, I used to make these projects that took roughly one year to complete. I chose number 17 as the most easily manufacturable and also the best sounding one. After this number 17, I started complicating things too much, throwing four-ways, five-ways and so on. So, the simplicity of the three-way, open baffle, paper drivers technology and ribbon tweeters -- this is something that is my statement, this is my sound. And I want people to experience it with my electronics. I don’t want to give my electronics to work with speakers that I don’t know and I can’t control. I would be extremely happy if people had the whole system from us obviously not only for financial reasons, but also for the coherence.
I’m glad we have a chance to take part in AXPONA because nothing is more exciting than meeting your own customers in person at a show like this, shaking lots of hands, hearing their feedback, and getting motivation for the next year developments. So, without shows, we wouldn’t be able to grow.