For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
Upstairs. This is a ~4x6m bedroom where what this layout calls front wall follows the roof to slant plus sports built-in back-lit shelving. Between the legs of the foot stool sits a Soundaware D100Pro used purely as SD card transport for predominantly 16/44.1 .flac/.aiff files with the rare 24/96 exception. Those output via BNC to a Jay's Audio DAC-2 MkII. That feeds Bakoon's 25wpc lateral Mosfet AMP-13R whose variable output resistor on the patented current-mode gain stage creates a fluid amplification factor to enable precision remote volume. AC/DC power conditioning is by British Puritan Audio Labs PSM156. A Denafrips Artemis headphone amp in for review just then hitched a free break-in ride off the DAC's XLR outputs into HifiMan's HE-1000 planars. With my listening chair in the nearfield, both speakers toed in face on, room interference is minimized and soundstaging more enveloping. Standard SPL with the A-6-Evo hit the mid point on the volume display or remained below it. I had plenty of headroom on tap.
As promised, well-extended bass remained utterly non-problematic. It was attractively lithe and fleet of foot but could hit hard and accurate without ringing when called upon by the likes of the Bombay Dub Orchestra.
For the other end of the scale, "Sizi" from the Cafer Nazlibas album Feryad-i Kemane demonstrates a spiked fiddle with plenty of dirty flageolet which plays between the lines because skilful bow pressure triggers both fundamental and various overtones simultaneously. That makes for a constantly flickering somewhat ghostly 'on edge' effect. The better a tweeter, the more of those upper harmonics spray off the strings like fireflies to become an attraction in their own right.
In this discipline, Gold Note's chosen Audax TW025A0 tweeter with catenary profile like a Laurence Dickie dome for Vivid left nothing to be desired. It thus ranked higher on resolution than opponents of soft-dome tweeters claim possible for the breed and was equal on extension to the inverted ceramics in our Albedo Aptica but lacked their cool platinum edge with its occasional rust. It's only compared to the Raal true ribbons in the SR1a floating-baffle headphones on the other side of this room that all tweeters come second regardless of pedigree. By acting as our in-house reference freed from any room perturbations which due to proximity, lack of box colorations and energy storage is ultra dynamic and explicit, I knew that the bulging Audax dome in these speakers probably maxed out for remaining on the civil side.
For the meaty center of the range…
… a maximally exposed high human voice against piano tells all. Here the angelic Sœur Marie Keyrouz with "Ya Sayyida Hayati" from her Hymns to Hope album was the perfect test by fire. If anything fails, it has absolutely nowhere to hide.
Nothing did and I quickly learnt to relax that internal expector when she hit her high notes. Across my three easily 'curated' tracks—why has that become such a word du jour?—20 minutes would have sufficed for this general tour to tick off key boxes.
To wrap up with some denser fare, a personal go-to album is Jamshied Sharifi's One. "Di'vaneh" was track du jour. It features quick low bass, intricate poly-rhythmic percussion with talking drums, evocative synths, wailing sax, groovy clarinet, layered tribal vocals and a soundtrack feel like a grand desert spectacle. This is music one turns up like a David Lean widescreen battle scene and the A-6 Evo happily obliged without complaints. With an amp of Bakoon's extreme resolution and speed, separation and imaging precision operate at a high level. Despite the speakers' seemingly modest artillery of just two visible small midranges per side, bass bandwidth, dynamics and panoramic grandeur all scaled up in sync with the track's demands.
Divide and conquer was the motto of the paralleled mids. They combine the cone surface of a 21.2cm or 8.3" Ø single driver, albeit with two motors and reduced excursion requirements. So the qualities of tone density and dynamics were those of a bigger driver. It injects more richness into the vocal band yet unlike a bigger driver, remains more lucid into the presence region where the tweeter takes over. For this room of standard dimensions, Gold Note's smallest tower was just right, hence neither too much nor too little. That meant it neither dominated visually nor overloaded acoustically. By clustering its three frontal drivers, it also didn't require great distance to cohere so sitting up close came off without a hitch. In essence it said not to bring a pipe wrench to fix the tiny screw on a sun glass hinge. Right tool for the job and all that. How would that hold up in the bigger room with the posher front end?
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