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Even so pace timing and internal pulses weren’t slowed down or blurred. To verify this I used club remixes from the Depeche Mode max single Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension and Yoko Ono’s Yes, I’m A Witch. PRaT itself was fantastic. Yet when I played Laurie Anderson’s Homeland that which I mentioned earlier was apparent – the very low bass wasn’t as taut and its transient textures were slightly bloomier.

Instrumental definition was brilliant however, with space in front, behind, to the sides or wherever else the producer and sound engineer wanted them to be. Gahan’s voice from the maxi single appeared from a sort of dome above me whose precise origin I couldn’t pinpoint. I had the impression of attending some ceremony in a large church. I had similar impressions with "A Love Again" from the Savage disc Tonight. I found it incredible how this apparently simple music was in fact crafted from tremendous deliberation.

It’s why many modern productions sound like plastic. Two people involved in this recording, Rafał Lachmirowicz and Damian Lipiński, told me that to make a drum kick sound as it should they needed to overlay eight bass drum kicks. The Gato showed this well and reproduced the unnaturally huge dynamics of such a recording as Savage probably envisioned it. Regarding perspective the instruments were transported into my acoustic. Rather than a window onto another venue, the events appeared in front of me in my room. Output could be tremendously high but remained well separated. The scale of Norah Jones’ Featuring was appropriately smaller while Savage and Byrd were far more expansive.

The AMP-150 is both physically beautiful and sonically uncompromised. Evaluation with specific speakers is mandatory. Besides the earlier mentions I’d recommend models by Spendor, Harbeth and Sonus Faber. Gato Audio of course also has beautiful loudspeakers in their own catalog. Those ought to be tailor made for this amplifier. Key traits here are openness, freedom from distortion, cleanliness and very high dynamics. It tracks what the source delivers very well and performs clearly better from the unbalanced inputs. There is thus no need to worry about a CD player, file player or phono stage with XLR outputs.

Description: The Gato Audio AMP-150 is supremely attractive. Besides Franco Serblin’s Ktêma speakers this has been the only audio arrival of late which impressed my family. The Dane's obvious assets are the modest external dimensions and brilliant industrial design. The front presents to the eye a very thick slab of aluminum. Its shapely contours are a welcome break from the typical rectangular plates. The two big metal knobs control inputs selection and volume. The dominant visual signature becomes the round window in the middle with its milky-white background and input icons which are backlit red when active. The volume indicator is a needle to faintly recall Avantgarde Acoustics’ Model 5 and strongly suggest a car’s speedometer. Only the heater function lights up in green when selected. Light intensity is adjustable via a potentiometer on the back. The mute button has the selected input icon flashing when engaged. The back sports wonderful Neutrik/WBT-level socketry with four RCA inputs, 1 XLR input and single RCA/XLR outputs.

The ‘tape’ input can be converted to ‘direct’ by selecting it whilst depressing the mute button for over two seconds. The central IEC power inlet is accompanied by a mechanical mains switch and bracketed by WBT0765 Safety Line single speaker terminals. The top cover is a wooden insert available in a variety of colors. The cheeks are semi-circular heatsink extrusions running the full length of the unit. How they're shaped means that carrying the amp around won’t cut your hands.

The remote wand deserves special mention as it is designed as carefully and beautifully as the amp. It’s made of metal, not unduly heavy and has a sloped front and back. The control buttons are small and operate both the amp and forthcoming player while the volume control is a small wheel with rubber ring that operates like a chassis-mounted rotary control for tactile pleasure and convenience.

The circuit covers a few boards. The input PCB sits near the back plate and sports NEC relays and an analog BB PGA2320 resistor-ladder IC. As a single-ended circuit, the XLR i/o ports are convenience items de/symmetrized by a TL07a chip. The high-quality socketry is soldered directly to the board. From there a short shielded cable carries the signal to the amplification stage which combines surface-mount and thru-hole parts. The control transistors are bipolar and mount to the same heat sink as the metal-clamped PolarHT HiPerFET output Mosfets with terrific specifications that are operated in push/pull class AB. The lateral heatsinks are milled semi cylinders with maximal surface cooling to explain the high weight of the compact enclosure.

The power supply occupies most of the internal real estate. The center is taken up by a Nortel toroid with four secondaries for the preamplifier stage, control section, digital circuitry and output stage. All voltages except for the power section are stabilized. The latter’s supply filtering benefits from two enormous capacitors with bolted contacts covered by a shield.

This is a quite simple but extremely well executed construction without undue excess related to overly expensive boutique parts but an overspec’d power supply in a gorgeous enclosure. Beauty in simplicity!

Technical data (according to the manufacturer):
Output power: 2 x 150W RMS (8Ω) / 2 x 250W RMS (4Ω)
Input impedance: 20kΩ (RCA) / 40kΩ (XLR)
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz at ±0.5dB, 2Hz-100kHz at ±3dB
Preamplifier output impedance: 100Ω RCA and 200Ω XLR
THD: <0.05%
S/N ration (weighted ‘A’): >100dB
Gain: 27dB (+10dB headroom)
Recommended amplifier load: 4Ω -16Ω
Short circuit protection: <1.5Ω
Power consumption: standby <1W, no signal < 40W, in heat mode <200W, max 600W
Weight: 13.8kg
Complete specs
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