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Suncoast Audio Premier of the LampizatOr Pacific DAC

10-18-2017 | By Mark Pearson | Issue 94

Mike Bovaird, the owner of Suncoast Audio in Sarasota Florida, held an event at his store on October 14, 2017 to provide a premier demo of the new Pacific flagship DAC from LampizatOr for his Sarasota customers. I flew in on 'lucky' Friday the 13th to Sarasota in order to cover the event.

Suncoast Audio is a "destination" type of stereo store according to Mike because it is located in a nondescript business district that you are not going to stumble onto unexpectedly. This actually is a good thing for Mike because he runs Suncoast Audio as an "appointment only" store. Mike takes great pains with his customers who setup appointments by ensuring that he will have the gear they are interested in hearing installed and warmed up prior to their appointment. You can visit the Suncoast Audio website https://suncoastaudio.com/ and see all of the high-end lines that Mike represents and sells.  

Suncoast Audio LampizatOr Pacific DAC

Mike met me at the airport and drove me to my hotel so I could check in. After that, we were off to Mike's house to listen to his personal system.

After a few hours of listening in Mike's beautiful room, it was time to head out to a local restaurant to meet up with Lukasz Fikus, his son Franek, Fred Ainsley, and Rob Reich. Lukasz and his son made a cross-country journey by car from Denver to Sarasota in order to attend the event at Suncoast Audio and had just arrived in Sarasota on Friday. Fred and Rob are the North American distributors for LampizatOr.

For those who have never met Lukasz and had a chance to talk to him, he is highly intelligent and has a great sense of humor which I personally find an endearing trait. We had a lovely dinner with lots of great conversations and plenty of laughs. During dinner I had a chance to ask Lukasz about the new Pacific DAC and what made it stand out from his previous body of work. If you spend any time talking to Lukasz or reading his prolific blogging posts, it quickly becomes apparent that he is highly opinionated about what makes products sound the way they do and why he chooses the components he does for his LampizatOr designs. The bottom line is that Lukasz has distilled everything he has learned about designing and building DACs into the Pacific with a no-holds barred approach in order to bring to market a new flagship DAC from LampizatOr.

Part of the secret sauce for the new Pacific DAC is the DAC chip itself. It is a brand new chip from a manufacturer well known to Lukasz and for the here and now, Lukasz is the first DAC manufacturer to have this new chip available for production. Lukasz was very tight lipped about the manufacturer of the chip as he is trying to maintain a competitive advantage. Lukasz told everyone who attended Mike's event on Saturday that he felt he had at least a year before other competitors could bring a DAC to market with this new chip, but I'm getting ahead of myself…

After the dinner on Friday, we all drove over to Suncoast Audio so that Lukasz, Rob, and Fred could setup the Pacific DAC into the system that Mike had carefully setup in preparation for Saturday's event. Lukasz had brought both the Pacific DAC and the latest and greatest iteration of his Super Komputer. Between Fred and Rob, they had brought around 12TBs of digital music so there would be no shortage of files to choose from. After the Super Komputer and the Pacific DAC were hooked up, the system was fired up and was left on all night to let things settle in.

Suncoast Audio has three listening rooms and the Pacific DAC and Super Komputer were setup in the largest listening room. The associated equipment used for the event was a Pass Labs X350.8 which matched beautifully with the Magico M3 speakers that were also used.

Mike had the second of this three listening rooms setup with the balanced version of the LampizatOr Golden Atlantic with volume control, LampizatOr 211 balanced amps, and the Avantgarde Uno XD speakers fed from the Aurender N100H music server. There were more than a few people at the event who were glued to their seats in this listening room as the Avantgarde Uno XD speakers provided a different sound and listening experience than the Magico M3 speakers. And let's face it, the LampizatOr balanced Golden Atlantic DAC is a damn good sounding DAC in its own right.

The smallest of Suncoast Audio's three listening rooms was re-purposed for the event as a room for the catered food, desserts, and drinks. Outside of the main listening room, this was the most popular room during the event as audiophiles love to eat, drink, and socialize!

The Pacific DAC event was scheduled to start at 12:00 PM, but people started arriving at 11:30 AM because they were excited to be part of the event and they wanted to take advantage of the time they had to hear the Pacific DAC. As I mentioned before, the system had been playing music since the night before so it was fully warmed up before the guests arrived.

Everyone at the event was considerate enough to take turns sitting in the sweet spot seat and I think all requests for different music to be played were met. I can tell you that hearing the music being played over this system during the Suncoast Audio event was an ear opener for me with regards to how good PCM can sound. There were no shortage of heads bopping and feet tapping during the scheduled four hour event which actually ran past the designated ending time.

The highlight of the event for me and I think others was when Lukasz took center stage in the main listening room and talked about what drove him to create the Pacific DAC and what made it different from his past DAC efforts. Lukasz also provided plenty of insight into how he runs LampizatOr and how he solely determines what designs are going to make it to the market place. There was ample opportunity for questions from the crowd and people took advantage of the opportunity and Lukasz answered all questions with his characteristic sense of humor.

At one point someone in the crowd asked Lukasz about certain design choices of other DACs and whether Lukasz had considered them for use in his designs. A classic response from Lukasz (and I'm paraphrasing here) was he would rather implement his design choices which had a much reduced circuit part count and complexity which resulted in a far more pure signal path vice having an extra circuit board stuffed with "shit." Prior to saying that, Lukasz asked, "Is it OK to say shit?" That got a big laugh from the crowd and was indicative of the amount of fun people were having at the event.

To be clear, the Pacific DAC that Lukasz used at RMAF the week prior and at the Suncoast Audio event is a prototype and not the finished version which is currently in production. The finish of the casework will be slightly different, the feet will be different, and the exposed screws on the top plate will be replaced in the actual production version. According to Lukasz, the first production run of 20 Pacific DACs has already been sold.

After Lukasz finished his talk and answered all questions from those in attendance, it was back to the music, noshing, drinking, and socializing. The event was scheduled to end at 4:00 PM, but it went on well past that time as many people wanted to stay and continue the fun and listen to the Pacific DAC. I call it the "relatives in the driveway" syndrome. You know how it is after you have had relatives visiting your house and it's time for them to leave. They load up in the car, but then the goodbye conversation goes on for hours in the driveway before the car finally gets put in reverse and you're actually waving goodbye.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mike had put together a first class system in his main listening room for the Pacific event and it was able to get out of the way and let the Pacific DAC strut its stuff. I thought the system and the well-treated room sounded amazing during the event and based on conversations I heard, others did too. LampizatOr has come a long way since I first reviewed their Level 4 DAC for Positive Feedback.

For numerous reasons, I am not going to comment extensively on what I heard at Suncoast Audio other than to say I was impressed with the system that Mike had carefully put together and the quality of sound from his main listening room. I have never personally heard PCM sound better than it did during the 4+ hour LampizatOr Pacific event. I believe our own David Robinson will be reviewing the Pacific DAC as soon as it becomes available. What David will have to say in his review will be far more meaningful than comments made from someone who was hearing an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room with the Pacific DAC. The only thing I will say is that if you are shopping for a new DAC at the price range of the Pacific DAC or above, I would definitely put the Pacific on the "must hear" list before you plunk down your money.

In closing, I want to say thanks to Mike Bovaird for inviting me to cover the event and being such a gracious host. I had a great time, and I think everyone who attended did too.