Listening to Gershwin's Piano Concerto, dynamic contrasts were impressive, with the kind of vividness and urgency that kept me glued to and drawn into the music. Sometimes the brass section can sound a bit dull and lazy here to completely change the musical feel. Indeed, if the tempo is a bit asthmatic, the main attraction of Gershwin's music is lost. Now you're down to just organized sounds. That was definitely not the case for the Gold Note DS-1000. The web radio interface on the front panel or Gold Note app worked flawlessly, too. The Internet offers a huge selection of stations which stream their music up to 320kbps. This experience was very satisfying and I took pleasure listening to various versions of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition at the "Tribune des critiques de disques" presented by Jérémie Rousseau on France Musique; and three weeks later, to Ottorino Respighi's Feste Romane which I had never listened to before. I want to pay tribute here to Seiji Ozawa's 1977 outstanding version with the Boston Symphony for Deutsche Grammophon on SACD.

On Neeme Järvi conducts Offenbach (Chandos SACD), my Italian loaner felt completely at ease while delivering catchily infectious music. Acceleration, transients, impact… every little swing in rhythm and tempo was astutely rendered. Outstanding clarity provided a true sensation of having the required holographic depth for a live ambiance. This involving recording isn't easy fare. Offenbach's overtures require sufficient resolution and clarity to avoid compacting all the orchestral sections together; and enough speed and control to maintain propulsion and energy. That was quite easy for the Gold Note which came very close to what I experience with the Audiomat Maestro 3, simply within a slightly smaller holographic bubble. This was no issue however as it still was sufficiently wide to start slightly outside each speaker.

On choral works, the Italian network player maintained enough diversity and contrast between various singers. Listening to the Boys of St Paul's Choir School on Christmas in Harvard Square (Aim Higher), each voice was clearly focused and distinct from the others. At the same time, the choral mass appeared as a single homogenous entity. On the Oscar Motet Choir's Cantate Domino album for Proprius, the Gold Note succeeded in transporting me into a church. The precision of soundstage clarity and depth was outstanding. In comparison to my Lumin S1, the DS-1000's soundstage was slightly less extended whilst the contrast between each voice seemed even more accurate. Compared to the Audiomat Maestro 3 Reference, the DS-1000 provided me with a less extended and robust low end and a bit less depth. Clarity and tonal diversity were nevertheless on par.

Before summing up, I ought to stress that most of my auditions of the Gold Note's streaming operations occurred in LAN mode. I made very limited tests using my WIFI network because my Internet router isn't of sufficient quality to gauge sonics precisely. Activation of wireless mode reboots the DS-1000 automatically and a list of available sources displays on the TFT screen, indicating signal strength for each. It's always a bit tricky to move from LAN to WIFI without small troubles for the home network. It worked correctly in my case but the connection would have been more stable had I used an Apple Airport Express base inside my listening room since according to the DS-1000, my router's signal was at less than 50% .

At its price, the DS-1000 fears no competition. It is a very complete versatile machine with an unusually extensive upgrade path. Great ease of use and simplicity attract the widest possible audience, not just serial audio networkers. From a sonic standpoint, what else can be said than mission accomplished? Elegance, vividness, resolution, transparency and great dynamics honor the essence of music. My sole suggestion for future improvements are a preamp bypass; and a dedicated volume display like Ayon's S5 does it. But then, that Austrian streamer with built-in preamp sold for about twice what Gold Note ask and wasn't DSD ready. In short, if you want a true plug'n'play versatile network player, the Gold Note DS-1000 categorically deserves your attention. Highly recommended.


Gold Note replies: "The preamp stage function has been updated already. If you wish to exclude it without removing the PCB, it is enough to download the new firmware via the menu. Also, the unit will be Tidal/Qobuz and Roon ready shortly." - Maurizio Aterini

Gold Note website