January
2020

Country of Origin

Italy

DS-10 & PA-10

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref as USB bridge/SD transport, Soundaware D100Pro and 280A, Questyle CAS192, Kinki Studio DAC-1
Headphone amplifiers: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50, Bakoon AMP-13R, Nagra Classic, COS Engineering H1, Kinki Studio THR-1
Headphones: HifiMan Susvara, Final D8000 & Sonorous X, Audeze LCD-XC, Raal Requisite SR1a, Meze Neo Classic, Raal Requisite SR1a
Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE 300B/VT52 or Elrog ER50/300B; Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, SIT3. F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos, Bakoon AMP-13R, SAG AIO
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Kroma Audio Mimí; EnigmAcoustics M1; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V, VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence; Fram Midi 150 & 120; Acelec Audio Model One; sound|kaos Vox 3f [on loan] Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL 3000; Zu Event; KingRex uArt double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub, Puritan Audio Labs PSM156 and PS106-DC
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: €2'490 DS-10; €1'390 PA-10

The multi-pin 'PSU in' port indicates an available upgrade path via external power supply.

Gold Note. Florence. Italy not US. One-stop hifi shop. Cables. Racks. Cartridges. Turntables. CD players. D/A converters. Streamers. Integrated amplifiers. Separates. Loudspeakers. They even do petite separates. Meet a DAC, streamer, preamp and head amp all inside the one-box DS-10. Greet its companion, a 75wpc/8Ω class A/B stereo amplifier called PA-10. It scales to 600 watts @ 4Ω in bridged mono. Pick from black, silver or champagne finishing. Throw in remote control, an app, adaptable damping factor and 192 DAC settings. Stir in Italian design. Season with serious in-house build quality. €3'900 squares if not squirrels away the twosome.

For the DS-10, this is a companion piece to Marja & Henk's feature review. In particular, I'll report on headfi which their focus on its many other features didn't. For doing the tango with the PA-10, it's our main event. When three isn't a crowd but sexy, a second amp will factor for mono power. For the fat DS-10 skinny, our first article already said it all so look there.

For the amp's entrails, Gold Note's own photo has the answers. Having reviewed many of their components, getting inside always presented a strangely stubborn mystery. Unless I could crack the PA-10's case—the photo suggested one particular route of ingress—this one shot would once again have to be the extent of it.

To keep its face clean—keeping its nose clean is assured by the many vents and slow-speed fan—the amp's 'DF' aka damping-factor switch to alter its output Ω by a factor of 10 is a small slider on the back. That's also where the mono switch and power mains live.

There is no standby control so simply don't crowd the PA-10 so badly that you can't reach around. If you've always wanted to get into Gold Note but couldn't swing their full-size kit, today's 10 Series compacts are your ticket.

To keep things sensible, my review speakers for stereo drive will stick to monitors which could jump off their stands onto a wall table to hug the DS/PA-10 on either side.That stands in for Gold Note's own mini system with their A3 Evo monitor at left.

For high-power mono, I'd use appropriately big 4-way jobs from Audio Physic. With the DS-10 WiFi and RJ45 ready, you can stream wired or wireless off the Interweb and control it with Gold Note's own smartphone app or through equivalent GUI from Tidal, Qobuz & Bros. Here Gold Note have an app's digital volume trigger their analog controller. Are you used to handling volume inside a player app? Continue to do so but now as non-lossy analog voltage trim.