THE REAL ONES
Before jumping into the review, take time and read my personal interview with the man called "LampizatOr here as well as specific GM70 questions and answers regarding amps here. They both serve very nicely as prolonged introduction.
ONGAKU'R THE REST OF US?
After passing Lukasz Fikus Lampizator GM-70 amplifiers through the first week of torturing what to say? I was more then impressed with the result of Lukasz and his team work. GM70 amplifiers goes beyond of what we're use to experience with so called Japanese tube sound. These are the 21th wisdoms following the path of 20th century. It doesn't mean, that your not able to get that famous 'mellow' sound Kondo was talking about in his essays. It's there if needed, but it doesn't stop still down there.
With the adjustable bias you can practically tune the amps to the desired output. Starting with bias around 50 the effect will invite you to the instantly warm, lush and bubble like atmosphere, that we're used to and might expect. When turned to 100 the story of GM70 starting to reveals in its glory. Now we're entering the performance that moves the borders. It's becoming clear how Lampizator team really pushed things hard with these amplifiers. There is nothing ordinary about them as transparency starting to reveal.
THE CARBON AND GRAPHITE MYSTERY
To keep things even more interesting, Lukasz send me the additional pair of GM70 tubes. I've started with Carbon versions and connect the copper ones when they arrived. In my listening-testing period I went back and fort with exchanging them, yet my initial feeling about them stayed the same. They both suit they role intended well. I guess it will be a system specific in choosing them as well as personal preference, but here is the explanation...
Copper ones seems to suit a bit more to vocal and timbral correctness at first glance. After more listening hours I felt that they are even more musical. My listening notes confirmed this on many locations.
I wouldn't call the Carbon's dull ones, but perhaps a bit more fast on occasions. It all depended on the cables being used. I urge you to try both sets if you're going to purchase these machines. They'll instantly give you a peek into even more elaborated universe and let you tune in with your existing setup.
TRANSPARENCY AND MUSICALITY
Lukasz aimed for transparency and musicality from the initial GM70 amplifiers idea and he succeed. If you follow Mr. LampizatOr work you know his progression over the time. It a complex route. Slowly, but surely he adds product to his palette, that always goes beyond the price range, adds a unique solutions making his products specially unique. On top of this he's always try to think out of the box.
I believe his on the path of artisan. Not many of those around the globe, but I'm happy to see his venture following the route of dedication and passion. And all that combined in the package, that can be obtain by many people and not only a selected few who can write six figure checks without bouncing. These are the amps for all of those who dreamed about high-end 211, 845 etc. tube mono block amplifiers for their system, but failed to envision their dreams due the sky-high price tags. Lukasz bring both the performance and "healthy" price tag to the market. Not exactly an everyday high-end audio news right!?
FROM THE DARKNESS INTO THE LIGHT
My first listening session started at 22.00 hours and ended early in morning at 5.00. Getting back to listening went continuously day after day with much less sleeping, then usually. And I already sleep much less then most of the people :) (by the comments of my dear wife).
When there is something special in the loop, it's hard for me to pull back from the passion. These means late night hours or the dark time of the day becoming my fortress being defended by the army of music. And I love this trips. It keep my machines of writing and reviewing in perpetum mobile.
THE GUT FEELING
I've recently discussed the special inner feeling when listening to the exemplary high-end or ultra high-end gear with many friends and people I respect. It's more an energy or inner mood, that evoke this subtle energy. For some this might be on the edge of science, for me is simply about clicking and connecting or not. The warmness of it feels right instantly with certain gear. As proved with Robert Koda Takumi K-10 preamplifier, it doesn't have to be an impact of the whole system, but single component can add this.
Same happened with Lampizator GM70 amplifiers. The seductive warmness of music just kicked in without delays or stops. I'm actually very happy for this to happen as I expected much from Lukasz and he proved his determination and vision with GM70's worthy of waiting. It took him quite some time to made it into a final version, but the wait repaid in all its musical glory.
NOT FOR ROOKIES
This are the amplifiers, that (as said in video above) makes all the sense from many view points. They are milestones in Lampizator book of hihg-end audio.
But! These are no amplifiers for the starters. It takes some knowledge and mileage to respect their workings and performance. With all the tubes, bias, heating these are no machines for rookies or 'new borns." These are the amplifiers, that rivals upper echelon and bigger brothers with boldness and calmness, yet they demand the understanding and right setting up.
Lukasz so to speak dream was to bring down the performance of the high-end industry giants to the budget of much more music lovers. Yes, Lukasz is music lover first and this reflects in his products. As with my feelings regarding Lampizator Level 4 DAC. His views are different and much to my liking.
Kondo San introduced a holistic approach to the music reproduction. Few of the designers understood his true motivation and see through the "bling", that fool blinded the most. For those not being struck by the affects of envy and lack of understanding the profound use of materials, Kondo San out of the box energy could affect the open minds and hearts of few.
As I've encountered through the years a respective nature opens the doors trough the humanistic approach into a different kind of music reproduction. Respect to the paths taken ensure the right attitude when trying to embrace the heritage and create something unique. It creates the language of music being present.
As mentioned above Lukasz on the route of artisan path and it's my joy see him taken the efforts and energy to keep the track on the right road. Few of contemporary audio designers gain my respect at full and Lukasz is among them for a good reasons.
I love the outlook of GM70 Lampizator amplifiers. They might not have the cosmetics and bling of some amps, but there is a no nonsense design that works and still feels elegant. GM70's carry their understated beauty and stand on their own as sculptures of tube art. With wooden side panels and brushed aluminium the design works as both contemporary and classical statement. With the amplifiers of such design, there is not even a slight question of not showing all the tube glory and let me assure you Lampizator GM70 is a tube galore sculpture :). There is something special when tubes are used in the listening room. Not only the atmosphere, but the whole perception. It might be romanticised to an extend, but the feeling that many people share is recognised. It's about going into the mood and feeling special about it. And those mood places are the beloved musical events of ours. The art of the music.
GM70 tube glow like anything. You'll wont need any additional ambient lighting :). They set the pleasant energy in all their glory. GM70 must be one of the brightest tubes I've come around.
SOLE AND IN CHAIN
Lampizator GM70 stands on its own as power amplifier with built in volume attenuator. So basically you can count them as integrated amplifiers, but in two separated chassis. A true dual mono setup.
When used directly without the amplifier GM70 performed flawlessly and with enough gain to give a music the needed impact and three dimensionality. There were no lacking of air, bloom or dynamic impact. In this scenario as intended you'll only need a capable front end and you're set to go into a full musical bliss. A quick and safe way!
But as a reviewer I didn't stop there. With both Thrax Audio Dionysos preamplifier and Robert Koda Takumi K-10 preamplifier on hands it was hard for me to set still and not trying the Lampizator GM70's as power amplifiers.
Like with Kondo Ongaku, you have the option to go alternate with separate preamplifier. To get the best of Ongaku, a little modification is needed as the gain doesn't match properly. With Lampizator GM70's the volume attenuators input gain is lower and I had no problem with both Takumi and Dionysos.
Everything that thrilled me with the standalone version was lifted further with additions of preamps. With volume set at somewhere 8 o clock, or around 4-7 clicks of turning the volume potentiometers gain structure were right.
Why I highlighted this option? Many of audiophiles are closely attached to the performance of their preamplifiers. I didn't want to blindly suggest the GM70 without trying them as true mono blocks. And thanks God for the urge of exploring.
Lampizator GM70 are great performers with or without preamplifier. You can rest assure that musical impact is without constraints on both accounts and that your preamplifiers investments are future proof no matter if you're attached emotionally or performance wise.
Most important issue of every review should be the music. Of course combined with the sound, but primally goal is the music, that gives a joy and unforgettable moments of endless listening hours.
Lampizator GM70 posses the hidden ability to connect one with musical core. To often we hear the accolades of such. Many prepaid reviews cherish and put on the altar the glorious performance of such and such product. I beg to differ. For me the certain high-end component either have or don't the implemented role and power to bring the music to life. And my pockets are in an non extended bumped size :).
THE LESSLOSS EFFECT
The LessLoss products have become through-and-through stunners for many audiophiles and music lovers across the globe.
Whatever components come in to and out of my systems for review, they are always combined with LessLoss DFPC power cables and Firewall, their Blackbody ambient field conditioners, and the rest of the line.
I therefore had no doubts about mating the DFPC power cables to the Lampizator GM70 amplifiers. Though the impact was expected, nevertheless my listening notes accentuate quite some highlights in this configuration. The speed, focus, and sense of ambience and most importantly the general flow of music were undeniable.
Lately I had another discovery of the year, namely the S.I.N. Audio PSD power distributor, which I highlighted on these pages. This has to do with the LessLoss Firewall in conjunction. I already raved about the combination of the LessLoss Firewall with the Furutech eTP-609E, but when both Lampizator GM70 amplifiers were connected through LessLoss DFPC power cords into the S.I.N., and with with LessLoss Firewall before the S.I.N, things got even more serious. The musicality stayed unharmed, but the performance was just enriched with focus and flow.
If you're serious about the GM70 performance, do not forget capable power cables and power strip. A power conditioner like the LessLoss Firewall is a final and evident touch, but do start with cables and power distributor.
How to conclude this review? Lampizator GM70 amplifiers not only made an lasting impact on me, but change my perception about tube power amplifiers in general. While still not cheap Lukasz Fikus GM70 amps are still reachable. Try to compare this pricing scheme with some other upper echelon amplifiers. You'll be grounded instantly. With latest sky-high pricing one wonders where high-end audio is really gone. Perhaps into luxury market, that have a little to do with actual performance. As my good friend always say, high-end is the way of thinking. I'll add "and executing".
Lampizator GM70 amplifiers brings so much tube like enjoyment, that you forget about the gear and just slide into the musical world. It's clear, that this amps are made for music lovers by music lover. Lukasz emphasis were on music first with everything followed. I cannot argue with his vision and end result.
If you're a music lover in need for series addition to your sound and performance that will go genre-less, then look no further. As proven with Robert Koda Takumi K-10, if components are designed in a manner of music, there is a universal way to build such machine. But, it's not as easy as it might be seen. To often we stumble on high-end gear, that was designed with specific interest in mind. That could be a specific genre, type of music or even worst guided by audiophile discs. Those products are like pictures being saturated or put through some filters like sephia,
For the ultimate impact I want and need the components, that transcend the musical genres and work within musical universal language. Lampizator GM70 when connected in a well designed and balanced system can bring such a true musical luxury.
If you follow my work you know I don't give accolades to something not worthy. I do skip a gear that doesn't move me and even don't write up a review if I don't feel to be justified in performance and musicality regardless of price.
In this manner I'm awarding the Lampizator GM70 amplifiers with Mono & Stereo HIGH-END AUDIO award.
Do yourself a favour when upgrading to tube based mono blocks and try to audition these amps. If you embraced my feelings towards the gear and music as written above you'll won't be disappointed.
Thumbs up Lukasz!
Specification of STANDARD version:
- Single Ended triode mono block integrated amp (no need for a preamp)
- dimensions WHD : 450 x 140 (250 with tubes) x 600 mm
- weight: net 27 kg per each mono before packing (29,5 kg packed)
- Gross shipping weight of a pair: 77 kg (170 lbs)
- Power: 22 WPC single ended class A
- Power consumption: 195 WPC on idle,
- 95 W on pre-heating (per each block)
- Power Tube: GM70 triode, graphite type
- Driver: doubled 6N6P (at 30 mA) - NOS
- Input tube 6N2P - NOS
- Rectifier tube 5C8S - the giant derived from 6S33S triode
- Input impedance: 47 K
- Output impedance (speakers recommended) 8 Ohm
- Output transformer: OGONOWSKI / Lampizator
- High Voltage transformer: Ogonowski (using audio output transformer core )
- Biasing: manual (with exposed pot and meter)
- Volume: Stepped input ladder switch (24 SMD resistor pairs)
- Power transformers total capacity: 700 VA. 3 transformers in total
- Rectification: two separate tube rectifiers for High Voltage- one for 900 V and one for 400 V
- Anode supply: 900 V DC
- Available front colors: black or silver (top always silver
- Input topology: one RCA SE
- Biasing range: -60 to -140 V DC (covers both copper and graphite GM70s
- Caps: Soviet military PIO
PRICE 4900 EURO per pair (Plus 23% VAT only for EU customers)
Shipping inside EU cost 180 Euro by a 3 day land courier.
Special Edition version
Driver signal capacitors: V-Cap CUTF or Jensen PIO or Duelund Cast Copper
Power Tube: Copper Version GM70
Driver: ECC182 NOS
Input tube: Ecc 88 NOS or ECC40 NOS
Small tube section rectifier: 6X5 USA NOS or 5R4 or 5c3s
Chokes: Ogonowski type high end chokes
PRICE of SPECIAL EDITION version is 5900 EURO per pair. (Plus 23% VAT only for EU customers)
Shipping inside EU cost 180 Euro by a 3 day land courier.
REMOTE CONTROLLED VOLUME addss 800 Euro to the pair price.
Packing: two independent 5 ply cartons per each block (box in box) plus one for all tubes)
Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..