We’re proud to announce that Audio Therapy is now an authorised Gold Note dealer!
This Italian brand was introduced to me over the Summer and I was sent a few different items from the range to have an extended listen/evaluation with a view to coming on board as a dealer. Needless to say I was very impressed with what I heard and it wasn’t a difficult decision to sign on the dotted line.
Gold Note are designed and manufactured in Florence and you can see more than a nod to Italian design and architecture in some of their models (the curved heatsinks and the underside of the beautiful Mediterreano turntable for example). They make an extensive range of products, from cartridges, turntables and CD players through to amplification and loudspeakers.
We will be keeping a decent selection of Gold Note pieces on demonstration, among them the brilliant DS-10 Streaming DAC.
Priced at £2370 the DS-10 is beautifully built in a compact ‘shoe box’, it covers a lot of ground. It is a DAC, a Preamp (working in the analogue domain), a network streamer, and a headphone amplifier, it also offers Bluetooth streaming as well.
There is a reasonably large (and informative) colour display on the front panel which tells what input you are on, the incoming sample rate, the volume. There is a single knob on the front for accessing all of the menus (it comes with a remote control as well) as well as a 1/4 inch headphone socket.
The design is simple and elegant, round the back there is a lot more going on.
Analogue outputs: RCA & XLR (fully balanced)
Optical Toslink x 2 (supports up to and including 24-bit, 192kHz PCM)
RCA Coaxial x 1 (supports up to and including 24-bit, 192kHz PCM)
AES-EBU x 1 (supports up to and including 24-bit, 192kHz PCM)
USB-B x 1 (supports up to and including 32-bit, 384kHz PCM and DSD512)
USB-A x 1 (for memory sticks only, supports up to and including 24-bit, 192kHz PCM and DSD64)
Network: Ethernet and Wi-Fi (supports up to and including 24-bit, 192kHz PCM and DSD64)
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes (Bluetooth 5)
As you can see in the image above there is also a ‘PSU In’ socket as well to connect the EVO-10 Power Supply to further enhance performance, I had a play with one of these over the summer and the addition of the power supply was obvious and instant, our demo unit is incoming.
There are no analogue inputs on the DS-10 but there is a version of available called the DS-10 Plus which offers a single analogue 3.5mm input on the rear.
As outlined above the DS-10 can be used in a number of ways, depending on you, your system and how you like to listen to music.
If you have an existing integrated amplifier you don’t want to change, there is nothing stopping you adding a DS-10 to your system and operating it as a standalone DAC in fixed output mode. You could connect a Melco or computer to the the USB-B input, or a CD transport connected to the digital RCA input. You could connect a TV, Sky box or games console to one of the optical sockets as well so plenty of flexibility or you could just simply stream Qobuz, Tidal or Spotify via the Ethernet input, controlled by an iPad or Android device.
You can also operate the DS-10 as a DAC and Preamp, this is the most common way to run a DS-10, usually with the matching Gold Note PA-10 stereo power amplifier. The pre-amp runs in the analogue domain to maximise performance, simply put the DS-10 into pre-amp mode via the remote or knob and the volume control becomes active.
Let’s not forget the headphone socket as well, it’s not just a token gesture either, Gold Note have put time and effort into making sure this really performs to a high standard, with adjustable sensitivity (1 or 5 watts) you can set it to get the best out of your headphones quite easily, there are very few headphones the DS-10 can’t drive effectively.
Also there is the Chameleon aspect to the DAC, lots of DACs these days provide you with adjustable filter options, so you can fine tune performance to your taste, 3 or 4 digital filters is quite commonplace these days. The DS-10 offers 192 different set-up options (yes, 192!). Excessive? Perhaps, but there is no mistaking the DS-10 can really let you get the best out of your music, there are 3 presets available so you can have 3 completely different set-ups stored in the memory for different genres of music for example. There are 6 different digital filters, 4 levels of pre-emphasis and 8 levels of adjustable current delivery to make up the 192 options.
In terms of set-up I used the DS-10 connected to a PA-10 power amplifier, using a Tellurium Q Ultra Silver XLR cable with Silver II loudspeaker cable, the speakers were a pair of Brigadier Mu2. I also connected a Melco N100 to the USB input of the DS-10 (using an Ultra Silver USB cable) and gave the DS-10 an internet connection as well.
A single PA-10 power amplifier is £1300 and offers a generous 75 watts per channel into 8 ohms and drives the Mu2 quite easily, but add another PA-10 and run them as mono the power output rises to 300 watts and the amount of control and grip increases dramatically. A second PA-10 is due on demo soon! I had here over the summer and they worked really well in mono.
With the Melco N100 connected up to the DS-10’s USB-B input I had music playing from it within seconds, likewise with Qobuz and Internet Radio coming via the Ethernet input. Using the popular MConnect control app the DS-10 was streaming in no time at all, nice and straightforward!
If you want to connect a computer to the USB-B input you can, a Mac will simply work like a Melco (with no drivers required), but if you are running Windows you will need to download drivers.
Given the price point (relatively modest compared to some of the equipment I have on demonstration) the performance from the DS-10 is really quite something. It’s musical, effortless and ever so easy to listen to. It paints a really big soundstage, it’s open, nice and transparent and sits just on the warmer side of neutral to my ears. It something you could have a long listening session with and never once feel the need to take a break.
The Mu2 are fast, agile and ever so articulate and can be quite a ruthlessly speaker when all is said and done, the combination of the DS-10 and PA-10 worked superbly with them, but this Gold Note combination will work brilliantly with all manner of different loudspeakers from the like of Bowers & Wilkins, KEF, Harbeth, Proac, PMC and suchlike.
If you are looking for a new DAC or a complete compact system the DS-10 and PA-10 are a brilliant combination and are on permanent demonstration now, a second PA-10 and the EVO-10 power supply with be on demonstration very soon as well.
Please get in touch for more info or to arrange a listen.