Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive and OSX Yosemite), PureMusic 2.04, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Fore Audio DAISy 1 [on review], S.A. Lab Lilt [on review], Metrum Acoustics Pavane [on review], Lindemann Audio music:book 15 [on review]
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, COS Engineering D1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan]; Lindemann Audio music:book 55 x 2 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer; Crystal Cable Minissimo [on review]; soundkaos SK16 [on review]; Kaiser Acoustics Kawero! Classic [on review]
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub]
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces (pictorial tour here)
Review component retail in Switzerland: CHF 39'950/pr

The stacked pairs of AURALiC Merak and Lindemann music:book 55 monos behind the Telos 360 have equivalent power ratings but are class D and very much more compact.

In ancient Greek, telos was τέλος. It signified goal or aim. In philosophy, rhetoric and law, it still implies ultimate purpose and rationale. Finally, Telos in modern Swiss is an amplifier range within Goldmund's catalogue. The Telos 360 replaces the Telos 250+ and 350+. Both were 300-watt monaural power amp models with a ±3dB bandwidth of 0Hz to 3MHz. This thematic of mid-frequency RF reach is central to Goldmund's philosophy. It's their key to banish time distortion aka phase shift in the audible band*. Based on a 30+-year old Tektronix scope circuit, Goldmund have constantly refined their take on it over many successive generations. Even their direct-sales budget Job amps benefit from it. Those are simply at least three generations removed. The mighty twin peaks of Mount Telos used to be the 5000 monos shown. In a strictly limited collector's edition, only 20 pairs of those were made and duly pre-sold. The subsequent 3500+ replacement is still current. It commands just shy of €300'000/pr and outputs a Herculean 3'500 watts into 2Ω. That's fronted by a massive 12-transformer power supply. At 180kg, those beasts then have the gall to break your designer bath-room scales, both his and hers. But play these leagues and you can certainly afford new scales; or equivalent amps from Boulder, FM Acoustics, Kondo, Naim and Wavac. That's the only excuse at snarky we'll allow ourselves. At ~€40'000/pr, today's assignment still covers luxury turf if not quite as extreme. The Telos 360 twins are dedicated to a few more of the fortunate few who have the means and necessary desire to pursue such elite gear when there's one less zero squeezing the wallet and one less zero pegging the 8Ω power meter. South Korea is Goldmund's #1 export market. Many prospective Telos 360 owners will thus make their homes there. Hwanho!

First whispers of Telos 360 gravitas reached me from Rainer Weber and Jürgen Kaiser, designer and owner of Kaiser Acoustics respectively. They'd stopped by after having departed Goldmund's Geneva facility for their trip back to Germany. Particularly Rainer was still giving off a veritable glow after having heard their top speaker on the new Swiss amps. Being scheduled to eventually review the very demonstrator pair of Kawero! Classics they'd left in Geneva, I was set to hear the same combo when Goldmund's Rodolphe Boulanger announced joint car delivery of amps and speakers. I faintly remembered a Japanese poem. It had a gnarly very stiff tree. That stubborn creature resisted bending to a powerful storm god and snapped. Be ye most supple, grasshopper. Figuring better safe than sorry, I took a sly swig of freshly squeezed Supple juice. Done. Now I was ready to play the luxury leagues for a few weeks before coming back down to familiar terra firma. But as the Borg did say, resistance is futile!

Telos 250 and 350.

* Herein hides the reason why at least for the foreseeable future, there won't be any Goldmund class D circuits. It's about lack of HF bandwidth.

The peanut galleries luv to boo reviews of expensive kit. More or less explicitly, their displeasure insinuates that its punters are nothing but fleeced ignorants, their writers evil shills. Or perhaps that it makes the booers themselves feel like lower-class consumers who must vent their ego's pain. And it's true. When coverage of such gear dominates any publication not titled 'Ultimate Audio' or 'The Robb Report', its core readership might feel abused - titillated without ever getting any.

Yet when such coverage is a mere part of a broader mix of price points and interest angles, it's in many ways incumbent upon the reviewing team to learn what's possible. Many booers accept that. Their real issue is with exclusivity for exclusivity's sake (bling as weight, size and gold-plated details); and how one can't extricate the majority of bling bits from the performance equation. Minus the shiny plaque, would the same circuit perform likewise in a far more basic casing? With a less overkill power supply?

Only the original engineers know. That's a problem for real men. They can't trust anyone. If they won't know for sure from the comfort of their cushy armchairs (and they can't!), it all turns into license to speculate ill-mannered on the forums where it is duly misrepresented as well-informed fact.
Discontinued Telos 500 whose mechanically decoupled heat sink still occupied the rear panel.

Green = power, orange = signal lock, red = error (not shown)
Alas, the more expensive hifi becomes, the fewer are the folks who've actually heard it. Those with the requisite incomes neither have the time nor inclination to hit up message boards and bitch about feeling fleeced by exclusive purveyors of posh gear. They're far too busy enjoying it. That triggers the ol' proverb: Living well is your best revenge. Ouch!

On that peculiar note, we'll stop kowtowing to this basest of matters. My rationale for this assignment was simple. I hoped to learn what high-power transistor monos of the non-switching sort could do when their engineers weren't shackled by the usual price constraints. Whilst my personal focus on and exclusive ownership of simple two-way speakers makes my power needs less extreme than macho towers of power—though two of my speakers do operate at 85dB sensitivity, Albedo's Aptica at left and EnigmaAcoustics Mythology M1 at right—the timely arrival of Kaiser Acoustics' top three-way provided me with an ideal playmate.

To suss out the class D versus A/AB angle, I had switching pairs of AURALiC Merak (Hypex UcD) and Lindemann Audio music:book 55 monos (Helios) with equivalent power ratings on hand. I also had the 30wpc pure class A Pass Labs XA30.8 with 20 x Mosfets per channel which, if biased to just 5 watts of class A before transitioning into class AB, would actually produce 300wpc from the very same power supply, heat sinks and output stage. In short, synchronicity had gifted me with a hand of aces. With that comparative scene set, it's time to inspect the Telos 360 up close and personal. Pressing the visiting Rodolphe to spill all, he said he'd have to get back. So hot out of the oven was this model, he had to consult with engineering first. But even then specs would be sparse he warned. That's because Goldmund don't cater to nosy audiophiles who must know what transistors are used and how many microns of gold protect the circuit traces. What Rodolphe did know? Over its predecessors, the 360 runs a lot cooler. Goldmund have revised the internal layout to create more thermal breathing room.