Reviewer:
Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1 & H1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVC module), COS Engineering D1, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics One SE Up NC500MB; Linnenberg Allego [on loan]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15m open floor plan with two-storey gabled ceiling, wood-sleeved steel trusses and stone-over-concrete flooring
Review component retail: €2'450/pr +€200 for optional leather, €1'250/pr for stands
 

Gold Note's A-3 XL is what happens
when you think just a bit different. Here it's not the 6" 2-way monitor thing. That's been done to death. Today it's the lipped front-firing aluminium port tubes resembling exhausts which start the d-for-difference deed. Usually ports fire out the back. That's for looks and to avoid unwanted interactions with the front wave. The A-3 reverses such thinking. To then earn its XL suffix, it goes more different with its resonator panels. Executed in wood, it's a concept piano houses Bösendorfer and Brodmann first promoted for their speakers as virtual sound boards. In kin fashion, the Swiss soundkaos Wave 40 uses instrument-grade Spruce aka tonewood for both its front and rear baffles like a guitar. That double-tasks as large micro oscillators for more scale and in-room projection. Even a tuning fork struck benefits audibly when its handle couples to tonewood rather than MDF or plastic. Not content to duplicate piano precedents whilst shifting the concept's focus, Gold Note actually go aluminium: "On each side, our cabinet is tuned with two large recessed vibrating aluminium panels. This guarantees bass extension far beyond what this size box would otherwise support. The panels affix with threaded tuned steel bars to work as 'virtual passive drivers'." D-igest that.


Being Italian, the Gold Note obviously was a predestined looker. Hence rather than contraptionalize its resonating detail, the A-3 dresses it up as brushed metal; as a Louis Vitton-esque GN motif; or in optional leather. The intro image showed the variants. Black can be matte/gloss, white just matte. For specs, this 19x28.5x35cm WxHxD box promises ±3dB bandwidth of 45-20'000Hz, 87dB sensitivity and 8Ω nominal impedance. There's a 12dB/octave 2'500Hz filter, proprietary Rhodium biwire post pair and 1" soft-dome tweeter with custom 6" paper/carbon 1-inch wave-guided mid/woofer sourced from Seas. There's power handling to 100Wrms. Naturally there's an optional very stylish stand.


Doing my own digesting, I had a few hiccups. Time to loop in Maurizio Aterini, Gold Note's main architect and owner. Front ports allow for closer front-wall placement, check. Alas, how do they avoid unwanted cancellation effects between front and rear waves at such close port proximity to the mid/woofer? The stated purpose for the resonator panels is bass extension. That's the usual remit of ports. Did theirs work in conjunction with the panels or were they all tuned to different frequencies? Finally for the leather option, didn't that damp the aluminium panels to undermine their intended effect?