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Review - GamuT DI-150 Integrated

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Reviewed By: R. Ede

Handle: Kiwi_1282001

Audition date: December 2008

Source: Cary Audio Design (CAD) CD 306 SACD Professional version

Preamp/Integrated: Lamm Industries Inc LL2 Deluxe [on loan]; Unison Research Unico Secondo (Unico II), Abbingdon Music Research (AMR) AM-77 [on review]; Jeff Rowland Design Group Continuum Integrated Amplifier – 500 version [on review]; Gryphon Audio Designs ApS Diablo [on review]; GamuT International A/S DI 150 [on review]

Power amp: 2 x Bel Canto Design e.One Reference 1000 Mk II [on loan]

Speakers: Eminent Technology Inc LFT 8B Planar Magnetic Hybrid speakers mounted on Sound Anchor Inc purpose built stands for LFT8

Cables: Nordost Vishnu power cables; Nordost Hiemdall interconnect; Nordost Dreamcaster speaker cable (shotgun configuration) terminated with Oyaide SPYT palladium spades. Other cables include: Nordost Blue Heaven interconnect; Nordost Blue Heaven Rev II speaker cable; Cardas Golden Cross interconnect, Ecosse Chorus interconnect and Big Orange power cable.

Powerline Distribution:Coherence Audio Solid Power Strip with Hubbell 20A hospital grade receptacles.

Stand: Solid Tech Rack of Silence, ROS Reference 3

Accessories: Nordost Pulsar Points (Ti); Golden Sands DH squares, cones & pads; Coherence Audio acrylic shelves; Totem Acoustics resonance control beaks; Audimute room soundproofing solution.

Room size:7m length x 4m width, concrete walls, concrete floor with marble tiling and carpet. Sloping roof rising to 3.6m




Music reference


90580=2698-Kidjo CD.jpg


The following music was used during this review:



Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dance of the Tumblers, Eiji Oue/Minnisota Orchestra – RR 906CD


Diana Krall, Departure Bay & Temptation, Verve Records – B0001826-12


Angelique Kidjo, Summertime, Wrasse Records – CK 85758


Chris Jones, No Sanctuary Here, Stockfisch Records – SFR 357.4003.2


Stereophile, Test CD 2 – STPH 004-2


Roger Waters, Perfect Sense Part I, Columbia Records – COL 468761 2


Queen Latifah, I Put a Spell on You, Universal Records – b0003435-02


Rebecca Pidgeon, Spanish Harlem, Chesky – SACD 242


Hugo Audiophile CD 11, Mani Chant – Hugo 7252-2


Allan Taylor, Chimes At Midnight, Stockfisch Records – SFR 357.6047.2


Nils Lofgren, Keith Don’t Go, Vision Records – VMCD1005


Jhenna Lodwick, Promise Me, The Music Lab – MBVOC 1009


David Munyon, Four Wild Horses, Stockfisch – SFR 357.6032.2


Music from The Hunt for Red October, Hymn to Red October, MCA – MCAD-6428





GamuT DI-150 Integrated – NZD 18,000 (est*.)



90580=2695-GamuT Front.jpg


First impressions are always important and unlike some recently auditioned ‘brutes’ the GamuT DI-150 sports a visually pleasing clean shaven look – nicely avoiding the porny audio bling or other excesses that seem to be ever so common at higher price points. Personally, I love the symmetrically laid out facia panel with its purposeful centred volume control and bank of vertically aligned source selectors. The exterior is constructed of stainless steel and aluminium while internally it features a heavy non-magnetic chassis for stability. Per the usual de-rigour at this price point, this is a true dual-mono design with each of the two massive transformers having separate windings for pre and power amp circuitry. GamuT use a dual-FET hybrid input buffer, a single Power MOSFET output circuit and an extremely powerful power supply with claimed high bandwidth and low impedance. They also incorporate a fast-acting protection circuit to prevent damage either to the electronics or the speakers.



90580=2696-GamuT Internal.jpg


On the rear panel there is four unbalanced and two balanced inputs, the later being a welcome feature which is still regrettably unusual in integrated amps. Pin 2 is positive for the balanced connectors. Sadly there is no phono stage – nor provision for one; you'll have to roll your own if you like the sound of vinyl. In addition to the speaker terminals you'll find both balanced and unbalanced line out connectors, plus a HTH (Home Theatre) bypass input. An on/off rocker switch is located under the front panel. The Danes seem to have a thing about locating power switches here. Externally the GamuT’s dimensions are modest by big integrated standards being 155 x 431 x 410mm (height, width, depth) and it tips the scales at a convincing 30Kg.


90580=2697-GamuT Rear.jpg


Internally the GamuT is truly integrated in the sense that it marries together GamuT’s D200 Mark III stereo power amplifier (slightly detuned to fit the chassis) with the D3i linestage pre-amp. Both products are well established and highly thought of separates and so the prospect of combining them in a single chassis, at price point significantly less then purchasing the separates is an appealing one indeed. The specified power rating (continuous RMS, both channels driven) is truly impressive at 180 Watts into 8 Ohm, doubling all the way the 720 Watts into a two Ohm load.





The Sound


Turning to the sound, the GamuT proved to be hugely competent at demystifying complexity with stunning transparency which allows grandiose insight from the front to the back of the soundstage, even if the sound staging was not the widest or deepest on display in the test group. In Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite of Dance of the Tumblers’ – the GamuT produced a vivid soundstage which whilst lacking the depth of the Jeff Rowland [thread=7568]review here[/thread] and Gryphon amplifiers [thread=7956]review here[/thread] did offer wonderful instrument placement and separation albeit with an overall sound which seemed somewhat leaner and forward. Perhaps the leanness is the GamuT’s neutrality under spotlight and is what the artists, producer or mastering engineer had in mind? I can’t be sure. One senses that the GamuT offers a very clear glass window through which to view the music and not one that will impute its own frosting or hue. Treble extension is superb and executed in a manner that was well refined unlike my recent experience with the Plinius Hiato [thread=7269]review here[/thread]. Its transparency however that really is the GamuT’s watchword with all recordings laid bare – which is fine, outstanding even, when the recordings are up to mark, but awful when they are not so be warned!


Furthermore, the GamuT demonstrated quite astonishing sensitivity to response, coupled with great speed. Similar to the Jeff Rowland, musical notes seemed to possess a ‘now you see them, now you don’t’ quality to them which accentuated the impression of musical grip, timing and control. While the GamuT challenges (but does not surpass) the Jeff Rowland for blistering pace, the same can not be said for bass control – were both the Jeff Rowland and the Gryphon trump the somewhat shy GamuT. Sometimes a ‘slower’ or an ‘unnaturally weighted’ bass can seem more ‘musical’ but the GamuT is neither slow nor bloated – its’ bass is simply not as robust. In this arena the Gryphon showed the GamuT in Nils Lofgren’s speedy plucks during “Keith Don’t Go” how fast robust transient response can actually translate to more pleasurable musicality – not less.


I have always believed that resolution is important and that there really is no such thing as too much information at least not in terms of detail itself, but perhaps more in terms of what the amplifier can and can’t do with it – and just how obvious that becomes. To cut to the chase, the GamuT does not offer class leading resolution. In Taylor’s “Chimes at Midnight” [an outstanding Stockfisch recording] the GamuT lost a discernable amount of subtle reverberant and ambient detail when compared to some of the rival amplifiers – most notably the Jeff Rowland. The experience was very much the same with Pidgeon’s “Spanish Harlem” which lost some of its awesome spaciousness. Whether this is a show stopper for you will entirely depend on your musical priorities, but it left me disappointed and wondering whether my earlier observation on transparency still stood? One would think that transparency and resolution should walk hand in hand, although I would hasten to add by way of clarification that I’ve used the term transparent to note a perceived lack of coloration and/or veiling and whilst enhanced resolution may help observation; transparency and resolution in my experience are not necessarily mutually dependant.


If my secret harbouring for the GamuT was that it might be something of a Lavardin Model IT on steroids [hence highly musical and capable of driving my loudspeakers] then such aspiration was to be short-lived. Both the GamuT and the Lavardin are satisfyingly transparent but where things diverge is the mid range where the Lavardin seems more musically sympathetic. This was amply demonstrated in Krall’s “Departure Bay” where the GamuT joins the dots but lacked the warmth and emotional soul which is delicately woven into the musical message. Perhaps this should come as no surprise since by definition the GamuT’s neutrality means that this amplifier is not about warmth or cuddliness. The GamuT’s unashamed positioning is one of focus and precision and those looking for a euphonic experience would be best to shop elsewhere. In play I unanimously found the GamuT tended toward the ‘not quite cool’ portion of the audiophile lexicon and this frankly [my personal bias being where it is] did not gel well for me. In Jhenna Lodwick’s soulful “Promise Me” a version which I enjoy even more than Beverley Craven’s interpretation, I felt the GamuT did not come remotely close to transmitting the full yearning beauty of the vocals that other amplifiers, most notably the AMR AM-77 [thread=7509]review here[/thread] are capable of. It was not that the reproduction was not satisfying, just that some of the honeyed depths of Jhenna’s amazing voice were untapped and as a result the reproduction failed to draw me into the musical performance in a manner which the same track played through the AMR amplifier did.






In summary, the GamuT goes about its business in a remarkably neutral way and as a result of this one would think that the music has a better chance than usual of doing precisely what the artist, producer and mastering engineer had in mind. Whilst the theory has a delightful appeal, the resulting musical reproduction sadly did not! For much of the music I played I could not warm to this amplifier and its reproduction failed to draw me into the musical performance or evoke an emotional response to the same. The GamuT’s glass window is indeed pristinely clean and creditably does not impute its own frosting or hue – but I remained a spectator on the outside looking in. Allegorically in an ‘Elton-Johnesque’ manner beyond the window I saw nothing but an empty well kept garden by a brownstone door – and I knocked, and I called, but no one answered…


Of course, as in all things – one man’s guerrilla is another man’s freedom fighter and I could well imagine some listeners would be ‘blown away’ [pun intended] by the GamuT’s treble extension, its top to bottom linearity and its transparent truthfulness. Moreover, the GamuT would undoubtedly make a fine companion of any difficult to drive loudspeaker with a genetically predisposed abridged or rolled off treble. That said, within the context of the assembled system, not to mention the authors own bias, I came away with the overriding feeling that in the midst of the GamuT’s stark precision, neutrality and transparency – it had somehow cheerlessly omitted perhaps the most important thing of all – musical purpose.





* The price in NZD is estimated. At time of writing I am not aware of any New Zealand distributor.

Attached files 90580=2694-GamuT close up.jpg
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