Now for the uninitiated, digital music is created by sampling an analog source and digitizing it. The more frequent the sampling rate per second (expressed in terms of hertz or “Hz"), these samples are converted into ones and zeros and expressed as “bits” — the higher the bits, the closer the sample sounds to the original source (http://discover.store.sony.com).
For comparison’s sake, MP3s run around 24 kHz and 32Kbps (don’t ask), while CDs run at 44.1kHz/16bit. That’s why CDs always sound better than MP3 recordings. Trumping them both are high resolution audio, which is associated with speeds of 96 kHz/24 bit and beyond.
For audiophiles -- or those who enjoy fine sound -- the "wow factor" DACs cost somewhere between $3,500 to $15,000. It's cost prohibitive for many, but thankfully, like computers, advances in technology is increasingly making previously inaccessible performance available for the masses.
This brings me to the Lampizator brand, whose handmade DACs favors vacuum tubes to transistors and their ilk and enjoy a cult-like niche in the audiophile community. From what I've gathered, their models range from roughly $3,500 to $12,000. Their Lampizator 4 at $6,000, for example, has enjoyed immense popularity and has compared favorably with DACs costing thousands of dollars more. Unfortunately, for your average stereo lover, that's just not feasible.
Enter the Amber Lampizator DAC, their new entry level model which is vastly more affordable, yet, according to its founder and president, Lucasz Ficus, is still surprisingly good sounding -- perhaps even too good for its price point, he frets.
Having just spoken with Mr. Ficus today, I am excited to announce that I will be reviewing their Amber DAC very soon. Stay tuned!