Lukasz Fikus – Lampizator

Lukasz is a true enthusiast who started, like many, in his cellar with a soldering iron and electronic components; but he pushed his passion very, very far.

Hello Lukasz. Can you introduce yourself in a few words? What is your background? How did you get into the audio world?

In the 70’s, when I was in a primary school, electronics was a common boy’s hobby. We didnt have TV, no internet, no playstation – we discussed diodes, and girls discussed dolls haircuts. That took me to DIY my first stereo from garbage parts. 

Can you tell the story of Lampizator? What is its original core business?

As a grown up engineer, I was very dissatisfied with the quality of stereo that I could actually adfford. So I dusted off my soldering iron and I returned to my childhood’s hobby. Over the years I became a sort of smartass specialist in loudspeakers, and my DIY activity became very serious. I made big projects of very high level of sophistication. I was able to sell the prototypes among friends to fund new ones and develop my skills. Soon – I added an interest in CD technology and I fanatically studied the CD on every level. When I decided to go pro and register a company – my first strategic decision was to abandon speakers, and take from CD only the electronic part and build a firewall separating me from ever breaking laser mechanisms (laughing). Thats how a DAC business was started. 

Famous Lampizator GOLDEN GATE 2 DAC

You have many, many kind of products in your catalog: amplifier, dac, “supercomputer”, cable, and even speakers … Do you ever sleep?

I sleep very well, thank you. The broad portfolio serves two purposes: to be able to offer a turnkey system of known, controlled quality and brand synergy, and also to diversify the risk of loosing the whole business due to some problem with one product. Also international dealers take us more seriously because we are not a one product brand. It is also more fun for everyone involved.  Also, one sale usually leads to another. When we build trust – people tend to go for the whole “Lapi system”.

As a grown up engineer, I was very dissatisfied with the quality of stereo that I could actually adfford. So I dusted off my soldering iron and I returned to my childhood’s hobby.

Tubes are vintage components but you explain you don’t love them in a nostalgic way. How to explain that an electronic component from another age continues to overtake much more contemporary components?

Well, I dont know if it “overtakes”, in 95% of parameters transistors are better, probably in 99 % of parameters – but the tubes enable me to design MUCH more simple circuits and that simplicity by far outweights the superiority of transistor as a part. 

Why did you wait a long time before offering an integrated amplifier?

Simply because of economics. It takes as much cost, time and effort to build an integrated amp and a pair of monoblocks. And labor is my scarse resource. Consequently, the revenue from monos is 2 x bigger than from an integrated. Also – with my cost structure, the integrated would be too expensive for the target market segment. People like 3000 Euro integrated amps, but for 12.000 they tend to go for the monos. And my integrated had to be a 12.000 one. 

New Lampizator KT150 integrated amplifier

How do you process when you develop a new product? 

We develop new products every day of the week. R&D is my passion, we prototype everything we can, every employee has free hand to prototype, I supervise that and give general direction. 19 out of 20 prototypes end up in the trash, but 1 is a gem that makes it to the finals. Over the years we developed a fascinating process of research, strongly based on BOTH measurements, and listening. Number one though is visiting of big time audiophiles around the world and using that experience as a motivator and market research. 

We develop new products every day of the week. R&D is my passion, we prototype everything we can, every employee has free hand to prototype

You say “We don’t like the way 90% of the products on the market sound.”. What are the 10% you love?

OMG, I love so many products, in recent years the bad products have no access to me, I am lucky to go to the world’s best shows and to visit world’s best audiophiles and I only listen to terrific products. If I could name a couple of exceptional products, I would start with Von Schweikert speakers, Audio Nec speakers, Casta speakers, VAC amplification, Genesis speakers, Legacy speakers, Acoustic Signature turntables, Audio Technica cartridges, VPI turntables, Audionote DACs and preamps, Verdier amplifiers, Nordost cables and some better Sennheiser headphones. DartZeel amps with Klipsh speakers recently blew me away on vinyl. 

Lampizator  Pacific Amp 211 Monoblock, beautifully crafted in Poland

Your test room seems to be very sophisticated. What are the last albums you have listened to there?

I like everything from Burnt Friedman, from Flanger to Nine Horses etc. I like Youn Sun Nah, Bill Frisell, Miles_Gurtu, Melody Gardot and of course – Roger Waters. Just to name exceptionally well recorded stuff. 

At the era of MP3 compression, compressed recordings, bluetooth speakers with 3cm drivers… Do you think that the public (outside audiophiles) has lost the capacity to enjoy music on a sound-friendly system?

It is hard to generalize, it is different from country to country, it is different in Vietnam (the most dynamic high end scene today) and different in California, houses are different, age is different, there is only on common thing – it is 99,99 % men.  But in general – I see stereo dead in 20 years. Meaning – I have a job for the rest of my life. 

Audiophiles are real obsessive people. Only their wallet can limit them in their obsession. At what point do you think a component is related to a placebo effect?

There is a lot of nonsense, a lot of ripoff out there, dishonest people prey on the naive audiophiles. It makes me mad, but also producing an extraordinary product is very expensive these days. You need to pay astronomic price for just having the business. As a consequence – high price doesn’t scare me, doesnt make me mad if I see genuine value. Materials, labor, R&D etc.  You have to realize, that to create the cheapest imaginable product like a one match or a 1 cent coin – just to give an example of “nothing”,  would cost in my price list around 70 Euro. This is pure excel excercise. Accounting slash financing. Thats why small companies make expensive products, but big companies make bad products. Answering precisely your question, I dont believe much in placebo – most of my customers make VERY VERY informed decisions, based on months of reading, joining discussion groups, visiting shows, borrowing many products for home audition and making endless tests. You cant fool my customers !

I dont believe much in placebo – most of my customers make VERY VERY informed decisions

How do you see the future of your business?

We are in a very very good place, symbolically speaking. We have a great company, great product and the whole world for a marketplace. I could not imagine myself in a better place. If I caught a golden fish, I would just ask her to save the oceans. Nothing for my business.

Do you have to be rich to be audiophile?

Absolutely not!  I can build you an eargasmic stereo system for 1-2 grand. 

Do you dream of tubes at night? If yes, from which tubes?

Yes, I dream of tubes, there are three tubes I like: 6900, VT99 and 6H8C MELZ. 

Would you rather buy a $300 Chinese tube amp on AliExpress or a $300 “big electronic brand” solid state amp?

Of course a tube amp, which is so easy to endlessly modify and improve, eventually ending up with a poor mans Ongaku a couple of years after, and having tons of fun and tons of experience in the process.

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