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Visually even more obvious is the banded recess which divides the MDF enclosure into front and rear halves. Even though a speed stripe would suit the Phi5's temperament as we'll see shortly, this solution addresses cabinet talk resonances with material separation to reduce colorations. An easily accessible biwire terminal is supplied with metal bridges which we duly replaced with cable jumpers for the review.

My first exposure to these speakers was by way of Berlin dealer Max Schlundt Kultur Technik who fired me up a set with matching Gamut electronics in his studio one afternoon. I'm always ill at ease to judge hifi components in unfamiliar surroundings but certain traits like exceptionally involving, lively and rhythmic did quickly stand out and promptly got confirmed a few weeks later within my own four walls.

EST's 2006 release Tuesday Wonderline is a perennial fave (pianist Esbjörn Svensson sadly died of a diving accident last year) and this Jazz trio's energetic MO isn't merely fun, it demands things from hifi kit. Gamut's Phi5 was clearly talented with brisk agile attacks, rendering Svensson's impressively rapid piano runs particularly dynamic and percussive while remaining clearly intelligible in the midst of instrumental mayhem. The Phi5 detests blurriness and not being on time. This isn't restricted to the piano's mids (a concert grand spans from 30 to above 4.000Hz after all) but includes treble (cymbals and hi-hats) and bass (upright and bass drum) at high resolution.

The New York boys of the Oneida trio take more than six minutes before the cut "Preteen Weaponry Part II" introduces a voice as though out of deep fog. Before that, this solid tip for not just Krautrock fanatics offers the ears lightning-storm noise attacks and seemingly endless groove loops of guitar, bass and synth sound collages. Such involving, detail obsessed fare is unfit for casual sound fill. It demands intensive attention - and ideally, a transparent hifi. Not to suggest that such music is the end-all be-all resolution test. Far from it. But, pardon, it's simply the hammer when such an opulent, multi-layered micro cosmos becomes this inviting and unveiled in the listening room. What's more, the Gamut Phi5 is highly competent above room levels and performs without strain which particularly with this number doesn't hurt.

That such precision and sonic upfrontery don't end up in defensive reflexes is due also to the treble. I still remember the same album's first cut -- called, not surprisingly, "Preteen Weaponry Part I" -- and how drummer Kid Million's cymbal work over my Thiel CS2.4s began to strain my nerves. It was too lean, bleached and uncomfortably hard. The Gamut Phi5 caused instant relaxation; but not because things on top got mellow, round or soft.
This speaker knows more than plucking and ripping tones (which, as I mentioned, it does very well). It continues on with the full development of hall sound, the decay aura around a cymbal i.e. the sonic sustain in proper hifi parlance. It's precisely this lack of sound mass which often causes subjective impressions of desaturated sterility and analytical displeasure.

Gamut's Phi5 generally stays clear of such excess. Violins never become scalpels, voices don't go Twiggy and Western guitars exude plenty of proper woodiness and not just metalized blister. The midrange here is thus righteously color true but does adds an extra dose of liveliness. There's clearly no restraint going upwards which explains the Phi5's general affinity for jagged impulses, brio and directness rather than an outright silky flow or a laid-back posture.

This liveliness also connects with tone. The speaker sounds top to bottom highly trim and fit yet also just a bit disassociated from ultimate bass weight. LF extension is solid enough but gravitas compared to the remainder somewhat reduced. Down low there's no excess meat in sight. Hence Blaine L. Reiniger's commendable "Mystery and Confusion" (from this Tuxedomoon member's 1983 Night Air Plus album remastered in 2002) rests on a lesser low-bass foundation than the exceptionally balanced €5.600 Sehring S703SE. Simultaneously, Blaine's voice and the higher percussion registers gain a tick of dominance to appear more direct and immediate.