Country of Origin
Reviewer: Joël Chevassus
Sources: Esoteric K-03, Lumin U1, Audiomat Maestro 3 Référence, Apple Imac Osx El Capitan/ JRiver Media Center 21, MacBook Yosemite OSX, NAS Synology DS412+, Qobuz streaming, B.Audio Dac [on loan]
Preamplifier: SPL Volume2, Coincident Speaker Technology Statement Line Preamplifier, Audiomat Maestro 3 linestage, SPEC H-VC5, Leedh Processing
Power & integrated amplifiers: Luxman M800a x 2, Lumin M1, Red Dragon S500 x 2, RPA-W3 EX x 2
Loudspeakers: Vivid Audio G1, Vivid Audio G1 Spirit, Elipson Planet L, Lawrence Audio Penguin [on loan], Leedh E2 Glass
Cables: Coincident Speaker Technology Statement series (interconnects and speaker cables), Grimm TPM interconnects, Esprit Lumina USB, Esprit Lumina S/PDIF, Esprit Eterna USB, Skywire 2020 digital, Naturelle Audio Live 8 MK2 interconnects and speaker cables, Phi Audio speaker cables and interconnects.
Power delivery: Triode Wire Labs 10+, Sebkawire Western Ultimate, DIY and generics
Equipment rack: Music Tools
Room: 7 x 7.5 m with high beam ceiling, acoustically treated by Tecsart
Review component retail: €4'200 [price may vary with VAT]
After having reviewed their DS-1000, Tommaso Dolfi, Gold Note's young marketing manager, asked if I was interested in an assignment with their new super integrated amplifier called IS-1000. Since communications and collaboration with the Italians had been excellent during my previous assignment—an important fact with streaming devices which are never completely plug 'n' play when one needs to carefully address the home network, data source, related software and controller—there was no reason not to go for seconds with a brand new all-in-one Gold Note.
Many manufacturers resist suggestive feedback as though their product was already beyond potential further improvement; or because they think a customer's or reviewer's critical experience has no global value. Most of the time, this predetermines not wanting to revisit computing or ergonomic issues as though sound quality alone were their business. I think that's complete crap. Most audiophiles came to computer audio for reasons of utility, not initial sound improvement. That's why companies like Lumin who provide ongoing firmware and app updates have grown so rapidly. One cannot remain attached to a static design in so dynamic a sector.
For the old-fashioned CD player, it was very simple. It either worked or not. With a network player, if you are not ready to support customers and address their issues, your product remains in a limbo or grey zone of perhaps working as intended—or not!—depending on a customer's network and his/her ability to solve interface issues. My earlier DS-1000 experience had been very positive thanks to the Gold Note staff's very responsive and open attitude toward suggestions to improving the ongoing user-friendliness of their dedicated streamer.
Today, Gold Note propose an all-in-one box aka super integrated capable of 125/250wpc into 8/4Ω. It took some time before we this assignment was a go and I assume that after our initial contact, Gold Note's engineers worked hard to iron out final wrinkles. I finally received the loaner in April and it was a pleasure to see my earlier main suggestions taken into account. It was a lovely surprise to see a design improved based on personal feedback. Also, they sent me a silver loaner this time since for non-professional picture snappers, a starkly black product gathering dust and causing lighting and contrast challenges is always an issue. When I switched on the IS-1000, the display showed useful core information large enough to be clearly legible at five meters. The single knob control allowed very easy selection of the main settings via the TFT color display menu. Just scroll, select the desired setting, press to access available options. Definitely child's play. According to Gold Note, the requirements for this project were as follows:
• Be capable of delivering the same top quality as Gold Note's premium separates
• Connect to the Internet for HD streaming services and the large web libraries of music files
• Be versatile and powerful enough to perfectly drive a large variety of loudspeakers from power-demanding to very efficient loads via adaptable damping factor
• Flexibly connect to all sources such as a CD player, DAC, power amp, preamp, turntable, streamer, subwoofer, TV, media centre, A/V receiver
• Be truly plug 'n' play and easy to use.
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