LOL, OK. So, I guess there isnt much suspense in this brief review. I received my new Amber 3 with the latest 53 engine about 3 weeks ago, and I absolutely love it.
The LONG version:
My quest for a Lampizator actually started about six weeks ago, with making a purchase of a used Atlantic from CanuckAudioMart. I sent the seller the funds for the Atlantic via Paypal, and eagerly awaited my new DAC. Well, as fate would have it, that deal went South. The seller kept the "FOR SALE" listing up on CAM after receiving Paypal payment, and two days later refunded me my money, saying he was afraid to ship it. I didnt believe him for a second as he didnt take any of his other dozen of listings down. But anyway, I dont want to get into that whole story again. I was pretty upset at the time, as I really had my heart set on the Lampizator, but.... it all worked out in the end.
I emailed Lampizator NA and told them about the incident. I asked about any demo units they may have in the same price range. Rob got right back to me, and steered me instead to the latest version of the Amber III with the 53 engine. I was a bit hesitant at first, as it was a significant jump in price over the used Atlantic that I had "purchased." However, I ended up justifying the purchase of the Amber, by getting it with a volume control, allowing me to sell a Conrad Johnson preamp to make up the difference.
I had expected a long wait after I sent the funds, but that really wasnt the case. In about two weeks, my unit was built and shipped to me in Canada. Very nice!
When I first got it, I had issues with the connection dropping and my Sonore Signature Rendu SE. Rob was right back to me with some tips. In the end, however, I upgraded to Roon and the connection has been rock solid. It seems mconnect was not a robust application.
OK, the sound! It is incredible! Without going into all the usual audiophile terms, I will say that this DAC/preamp produces such an inviting, engaging experience with the music, that you get lost in it. Just for comparison, I hooked up a Topping D70 and a BorderPatrol SE that I have around. Both are good at their price points and have a good presentation. However, when I played the same song on the Amber III, it was just so amazing. It has detail and clarity, but still has a full bodied sound. The biggest thing I noticed was the timing of the music. It is hard to explain, but the Amber just nice crisp tempo to it, without being harsh. It seems to capture the essence of the music, and just really draws you in. I was trying to analyze the song on the Amber, but very quickly I was engaged in the music, and almost forgot about the analysis.
Now, comparing the Amber to those much cheaper DACs is not really fair. But, I will say, if I had just bought the Amber at the get go, before my first DAC (5 DACs ago and a PREAMP which I have all sold, or have to sell) then financially, the difference would not have been as great. Obviously, on every piece you buy and sell, you lose some money. But, I guess, that is kind of the journey that is often taken in this hobby.
Amber TIPS (from my experience - YMMV)
I listen almost exclusively to Tidal. First, Tidal through Roon sounds much better than Tidal through other sources. I had heard of this, but was quite surprised at the improvement. It has to do with the Tidal application not being as good as the Roon app for Tidal.
The Amber sounds much better in my system with upsampling done in Roon. I have the latest Nucleus i3, and it will upsample to DSD256 without hiccups. I tried DSD512, but sometimes it stutters. 256 is rock stable, and sounds amazing.
I upgraded the power cable with an Audio Sensibility Statement. I did my amp at the same time, and again, there was a significant difference in the sound. Much cleaner and dynamic. I was shocked myself, as even when I bought the cables, in the back of my mind Im still a skeptic. But, Im becoming a strong cable believer after my recent experiences.
I was running some very short Cardas Gold Reference interconnects orginally from the Amber to my SET amp. Then, I swapped over to Wywires Diamond II. Again, these made a very nice improvement in the sound. These are very expensive, but the great thing about the Amber with volume control, is that you only need one set of interconnects. I essentially sold my Conrad Johnson ET3 preamp to pay for the Wywires, and would do it again in a second. It made that much of a difference.
Fit and finish
The unit looks beautiful to me. But, I like the very minimal look. So, I guess that is up to your personal taste. If I could change one small thing, I would say remove the dot on the volume control knob. It doesnt really represent anything anyway, as there is no start and finish to the rotation.
The remote is small, heavy, and solid. It is very comfortable in use, and intuitive. Nice and simple, and very well designed.
Im really happy that the guy on CAM screwed me over, and I ended up with the Amber. It has become the core of my system, and for me will be my endgame DAC/preamp for the foreseeable future.
It was a very expensive purchase for me (over double the price of anything else in my system) but I feel was very well worth it. If it got destroyed tomorrow, I would buy another one. Despite the cost, I really feel like it is a bargain, and great value.
AMBER III - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!!