Country of Origin


IS-1000 Deluxe

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Sonnet Pasithea, Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB bridge; Preamp: icOn 4Pro S w. hi/lo-pass filter; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €5'000

Musical notes come in many flavors. Those from Maurizio Atterini's Florence factory come in champagne, silver or black. Either way they're always Gold Note but still can play all the blue notes. That's colorful no matter what skin tone.

When recent opportunity arose to acquire a factory-sealed silver IS-1000 Deluxe with upgraded Burr-Brown DAC for a good price, I succumbed. Joël Chevassus reviewed it for us four years ago. That mostly closed that book. But with the curse of gab in our Irish drinking water, I'll have a few more words once I've become truly intimate with my unit. The first thing to do will be pulling its WiFi chip at the end of that flying lead to the antenna terminal. I don't want a microwave transmitter in our digs when this one goes active if one doesn't plug into its Ethernet port. I won't. This Gold Note will labor offline. So I'll pluck to not play. Bad tooth. Pulled. WiFi gives our household headaches in case you wondered. Our ancient brains are still the old analog kind.

First of course I must figure out how to crack into this case. From past Gold Note encounters I faintly remember this not being entirely straightforward. I can always ask my factory contacts Alice Zoppi or Tommaso Dolfi for help if I need a third left thumb. Perhaps two will suffice this time? Analog brains. They can be so behind the times. But you work with what you've got. Use the mouse-over loupe to inspect the guts. That's what we'll work with today. And never mind those Maglev fans. In normal use they'll never come on. In our crib, normal means low levels up to 55dB peaks, medium 10dB higher, high another 10dB. The latter rarely happen. Listening loud isn't required when system resolution is high enough to hear it all far sooner. And, with music of proper recorded dynamic range—30dB or more—median listening levels fall a good 10 decibels below the occasional peak if not more. If speakers are 90dB/1W/1m sensitive and we sit 3 meters removed to equate 80dB sensitivity, even our dig's average loud levels get by with the first watt. Peaks could use a bit more particularly in the bass. None will stress the IS-1000 into spinning its wig – er, fans. It's good to apply common sense. THX levels aren't!

The Fletcher-Munson curves from the analog era remind us. As SPL drop, human hearing starts to go soft in the frequency extremes. With Gold Note's 2-stage analog booster, full whisper satisfaction can restore disappearing bass; or compensate speakers generally short on bass. Napoleon Dynamite. Adjustable damping factor—lower or higher output Ω—is another non-standard feature on this Italian menu. Pick what makes your speakers sound best. Chianti or Super Tuscan? And that concludes my marginal intro when Joël already covered the lot. Chin-chin. On the chin.