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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.87g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.5 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, TruLife Audio Athena, Wyred4Sound mPRE [on loan]
Integrated amplifier: Wyred4Sound mINT, Bakoon AMP-12R, Clones 25i [on loan], Crayon Audio CFA-102 [on review]
Power amplifier: Goldmund/Job 225, FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2, Wyred4Sound mAMP [on loan], AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio B10 with SwingBase, German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Submission, AudioSolutions 200, Gallo Acoustics Strada 2/TR-3D, Albedo Audio Aptica [on review]
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom, KingRex uArt split USB cable
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 and Vibex Two 1R DC filter on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Art: paintings by Ivette Ebaen,
Indian bronze musicians and other Rajasthani furnishings from with jewelry from
Music sources:,,,
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review component retail in Europe: €3.250
This is a companion review to Gato Audio's DIA-400. Cosmetically identical as well as featured, the only difference is the power rating. 8Ω figures reflect in the model names and double into 4Ω. The €4.250 amp runs modified Pascal M-PRO D-class modules with SMPS. The €3.250 version gets an equivalently modified S-PRO. The digital/active linestage board below is shared. So is the truly stunning case work with hot-swappable covers in three gloss lacquer options.

For more details on company and model tech, refer to the prior review. All of it applies to the 't' also to today's deck.

These output stage photos show how Gato have modified their Danish stock module with a surprising number of upgraded parts.

As my prior review chronicled, the DIA-250 and DIA-400 diverge sonically. Overdrawing for emphasis I'd pegged the former a twitchy Arabian stallion, the latter a feathered Ardennes draft horse. What had served as arbiter for that opinion? Albedo Audio's Aptica. That's a 1st-order time-aligned transmission-line 6" two-way with top Accuton drivers and very benign impedance curve.
The 400 had kicked into higher gear with my 5-driver 3-way Rhapsody 200 towers from AudioSolutions. Those run very underdamped twin ports and present a wildly fluctuating impedance curve. Different tools for different jobs. Alas I'd only had one job for which the DIA-400 was ideally qualified. That's because I view muscle-amp speakers as design aberrations. I don't keep more than one around. This clearly disadvantaged the big Gato. Here was my chance to make up for it with the sibling.

Given how well the DIA-250 had done on the Aptica, I popped it onto my work desk to drive Gallo's Strada II for a rerun. On base qualities those compact monitors are cut from the same cloth: tweaked for a very clean impulse response (this also means sealed bass), very articulated time keeping and ultra-steep magnification power as a sort of dynamified electrostatic gestalt. When the smaller gator aced this test as a plainly audible advance over my $1.495 Wyred4Sound mINT usually in its place—the DIA-400's slower reflexes hadn't gotten on with the nearfield Gallo—I felt sure that the DIA-250 needed/deserved this extra coverage. For my type speakers and taste it was the far more exciting performer. Literally. I felt lustful jingles in my empty wallet. The upstairs banker cautioned that it'd be gratuitous overkill for my office. The old fart's gone Swiss. Arch conservative. My wily inner audiophile of course knew better. Good man.

Time to install Gato's USB driver on my Windows XP Service Pack 3 work machine (earlier XP versions aren't supported). I wanted to run all three digital inputs: USB for Spotify+ (I don't store any music on my work machine); coax for my 160GB iPod Classic with AIFF/ALAC files tapped digitally via Cambridge Audio iD100 dock; and Toslink for my RWA-modified Astell & Kern AK100 with ALAC files up to 24/192. I'd then hop off the desktop and try this Gato on my new soundkaos Wave 40 widebanders. Those do swell on my 10wpc SIT1 single-stage SETransistor monos. This would usually suggest against a muscle amp of 250-into-8 caliber. No shame if this DIA didn't quite get it up and into first-watt mode with the Swiss eggs on sticks. I did have better speakers for it after all. Given the prior showings on the Albedo and Gallo however I felt that the soundkaos might just work unexpectedly well too.