Any mention of Florentine hifi house Gold Note must start with Maurizio Atterini, their helmsman. Right after of course comes the team he's assembled around himself. For today's feature of remote viewing—not Russian efforts at psychic surveillance but a solution for travel restrictions during a global pandemic—I dispatched a series of email questions. That proved easier than Zoom. It didn't rely on real-time translations from Italian to English and back. To anchor my feature, I wanted to follow a product's genesis from concept to production. As consumers, we see the final product but hardly ever are privy to the long road it traveled before it hopped into a box and onto a truck. How does a new Gold Note model come about? What's the process?
My bilingual contact was marketing director Tommaso 'Tom' Dolfi. He is our tour guide, revealer of secrets, unlocker of doors, botherer of engineers, picture snapper and fly on the wall. Meanwhile company IP was the obvious force of resistance. That had to add pulling teeth so dentistry to Tom's skill set. No company invested this deep is prepared to give away the farm. Going in I had no idea of just how far Gold Note would be willing to let us look into their business. But, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Question #1. Using a current example you're working on to finalize for formal manufacture, how did this project start? Did you see a hole in your current portfolio you wanted to fill? Had a product run its course to require updating? Did you learn of a new part you wanted to use? Did you look at anything interesting competitors were doing that inspired you? Was new tech around the corner you wanted to exploit? Did dealers ask for it?
There are a number of reasons driving new product development. You already mentioned a few. For us there are three key factors: offering complete product lines, keeping products updated and developing products with new solutions. These are fundamental because of our of philosophy of the audio system. That requires a perfectly balanced signal chain in which each link affects all others. Looking at a new project in its early stage is a great way to illustrate the process. For those familiar with Gold Note, the project name IS-10 makes it easy to imagine an integrated amplifier with built-in streamer, DAC and headphone output so an all-in-one solution of compact size. Just add loudspeakers and start streaming.
We initially explored this concept with the IS-1000 back in 2017 when all-in-ones were marketed in the consumer segment already but only a handful of big names tried to pull it off in the high end. Think Naim, Linn, McIntosh, NAD and Devialet. Even for them it was no easy feat. Without naming names, it's easy to spot those that never struck success. Unlike consumer brands, our challenge is to deliver superb audio quality while integrating many separates into one box. That's an extremely difficult thing to do. It requires expertise to design an entire audio chain, then scale it down to fit into a single box while avoiding electromagnetic interference. The IS-1000 was a great success for us and ultimate proof that when done right, integrated one-box solutions can indeed deliver excellent audio quality.
We have two product lines in our electronics portfolio, the 10 Line and the 1000 Line. Over the last two years, we have launched more and more products in the compact 10 Line to offer a smaller high-end system which currently consists of the DS-10 (streaming DAC with preamp), PA-10 (bridgeable power amp) and PH-10 (phono stage). The idea with the IS-10 is to build the one-box solution of the 10 Line as a streaming integrated amplifier designed for audiophiles who want high-end sound from a very compact system.