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This review first appeared in the October 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Gamut pre/power combo in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Gamut- Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Sources: Fonel Simplicité, Archos 7 with docking station
Amplification: Integrated - Fonel Emotion; pre/power - Accuphase P5000, Fonel Renaissance, Audionet Pre1 G3 incl. EPS; Audionet Amp1 V2, Belles 21A
Loudspeakers: Thiel CS 3.7, Sehring S 703SE
Cables: Low-level - Straight Wire Virtuoso; high-level - HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350, Straight Wire Rhapsody, Ortofon SPK 50
Review component retails: €5.898 preamp, € 9.098 power amp
I really can’t put it differently. High-end audio pricing is a stranger unto itself and most others. Granted, those who are already deep into hifi have grown a thick skin. Still I find it funny whenever visiting bystanders make wild guesses (which excludes my girlfriend by now who should be considered a hard-boiled pro). Guessing routinely nets responses like "geezus, those look expensive, surely they are two or three-thousand euros!" Per pair mind you. The object of that particular guess? My Thiel CS3.7. Their cosmetics admittedly polarize but should spell quality regardless. That guess was off by a factor of five – waaay off the reservation.

The inverse happens too. I pointed a visiting friend at today’s Gamut loaners of D3i preamp and D200i power amp in my rack, then asked him to tack a price on the amp. "Hmm… I’d say perhaps €8 or 9K." Don’t ask me how he pretty much nailed that since to my eyes and despite solid build quality, these Danes seem unpretentious poster children for low-ball guesses. They’ll likely find themselves more often underestimated than not. But superficialities aside and to nip misapprehensions in the bud, Gamut’s combo lacked neither substance nor worthiness.

The preamp’s connectivity proved quite generous with five line-level inputs of which the one marked CD was fitted with XLRs. Line-level duty included the MM/MC which is confirmed as RIAA in the display. The internal mouse piano of dip switches remains deactivated unless the optional phono module is fitted. The HTH home theater input circumvents the volume control to couple to a surround sound processor via a small rear panel switch. A similar bypass is available for the XLR/CD input to present the purest shortest signal path for variable sources like my Fonel Simplicité. This too is activated with a rear-panel switch. How about the ‘bypass’ button beneath the display upfront? To trigger bypass requires double trouble on the switches to prevent accidents. Remembering the mayhem I inadvertently set off when hitting the direct function of the NAD M2 with my CD player set to full tilt, I applauded this thoughtfulness.

For outputs, the D3i offers one pair of RCAs, two pairs of XLRs and one fixed pair of RCAs. Those who cannot bother with owner’s manuals might wonder why the bloody thing won’t power up by just fiddling with the left source selector and right volume control. Aha. The power mains happens to hide on the belly behind the right front corner. The D200i too can be fed RCA or XLR but omits switches save for the frontal power button.

The speaker terminals are a bit different though. Eight of them will delight bi-wire fanatics but the two pairs per channel are segregated into direct and normal. Direct omits the series inductors of the normal outputs. Those protect against highly capacitive loads like certain electrostats and/or wacky cables. In single-wire mode, I preferred the somewhat more open transparent treble of the outer direct terminals. In general Gamut follows suit. They recommend the direct links for single-wire hook-up or as the treble/mid terminals for bi-wire applications. Should you suspect that your speakers or cables present any unduly challenging load to perhaps mandate the inductively coupled outputs, consult with your dealer to be sure. (Incidentally, on matters of tight seams and heat-sink attachment, certain perfectionists could wish for a tad higher assembly precision.)