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|Suggested Retail Price:||$5500.00|
|Description:||ss 200 watt per channel 8 ohms|
|Manufacturer URL:||Not Available|
|Review by hinduclient (A) on April 12, 2003 at 09:02:35|
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
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for the d200
I listened to a lot of amps and read reviews from many sources when I first decided to consider replacing my Rotel 1080 200 w/c amp. I quickly decided that I preferred a balanced design, I wouldn't spend more than $5k, and that I really didn't want an amp that was over 100 pounds; too much brain and back damage to demo and arrange.
This review will consist of:
A) my observations of the GamuT d200 mk2
b) my observations of other contenders
c) helpful hints from the amp's designer Ole Lund Christensen
MY OBSERVATIONS OF THE GAMUT D200 mk2
The deciding factor to purchase this amp was that it compelled me to listen to music.
Treble and bass extension are excellent. Top to bottom coherence is excellent. Sound staging is the absolute best that I've heard. Imaging is good, but not as good as the Rowland Model 10 or the Krell 650.
This amp comes as close to absolute neutrality as I've heard yet. I believe that the GamuT allows me to really hear what the producer/engineer team intended. There are times that I'll question whether the bass is too lean or muddy. Placing different tracks on the CD, however, I find that the bass is extended deep,full, and well-defined on some recordings and leaner and muddier on others. I've taken these tracks down to my local dealer and listened on his reference system. It's the recording not the amp.
The same observation is also true with vocals and high end extension. The amp accurately reflects the recording. Due to this level of accuracy, I'm more inclined not to buy any more CDs made prior to the mid 1990's. For instance, The new Michael Tilson Thomas Mahler Symphony 1 sounds worlds better than the acclaimed Bernstein 1986 version.
Low-level detail retrieval terrific.
The imaging is bested by the Krell 650 and the Rowland Model 10 by a hair.
The amp is quiet. The unit itself is silent. The noise floor is among the best I heard.
The concern was raised by another inmate about how the D200 performed with tubed preamps. I don't know which model of the D200 he had. It sounds fabulous with the BAT 50SE. This may be a function of the variable input sensitivity. I prefer the -14db. The mk2 version also has increased input impedance.
The BAT front-end together with the GamuT amp creates a transparent and musical presentation. The Gamut D200 mk2 is a revelation of detail, bass extension, and bell-like clarity on top. It is very non-fatiguing. Combined with the Dynaudios, music glows from within flowing across a sound stage both wide and deep. Rock-solid imaging and layering are also spotlighted.
amp / new price / used price
Jeff Rowland Model 10 - $7300 / 3.6k - Demoed this in home. Great amp but a bit harsh in my system, and had a constricted soundstage
Classe CAM 350 - $7,000 / not seen used - Demoed in store. Great amp, great sound, too big for my preference
PS Audio HCA2 - $1,695 / 1.1k - Demoed in home. Great amp for the money. I found this one of the more compelling amps to actually listen to. The soundstage while wide was shallow. Also I found low-resolution detail lacking.
Classe 201 Ė $ 3,300 / 2k - Demoed in home. Good extension and imaging. Not the last word in top to bottom coherence, but not a bad choice for the money.
Rotel 1080 (incumbent) - $995 / .7k - Owned for 2 years. Great amp for the dough. Good sound stage and imaging. This amp provided more competition than I might have guessed to this battery of contenders.
Musical Fidelity - $3,000 Demoed the integrated in-store on the Dyn 1.8s. The dealer said I had the hear the MF sound. I found it dry and uninvolving. yawn
Bryston 4b sst - $2,800 / 1.4k Demoed this in store with the Dyn 1.8's. Lots of power, good extension; probably good for rock. I found this amp to be quite forward and harsh to the point of grating. Just my observation, no flames please.
Didnít in demo in-home due to: too big / too heavy
BAT 6200 $5,000 - Demoed at dealer, OK, not great, good for HT
Krell 650 $13,000 - Demoed at dealer. Liked this amp a lot, but too heavy, too big & way too expensive
Not available in Denver to demo:
Rotel 1090 $2,000 / 1.5k
Plinius 250 mark IV $8500 / 4k
Pass 250 $6,000 / 4k
Didnít demo due to: No XLR inputs:
CJ 2250, 2500
Van Alstine Fet valve 350
Didnít demo due to : dealer too lazy to demo
Proceed 200 w/c - $3,200
TIPS FROM Ole Lund Christensen:
The following are excerpts from emails with Mr. Christensen.
(on adjustable gain dip switch settings)
I recommend using as much gain reduction as possible, while still being able to play loud enough.
Both 1 and 2 on is -14db, 1 on 2 off is -12dB, 1 off 2 on is -6dB and 1 off
2 off is 0dB
Reducing gain also reduces noise from preamp and RFI in interconnects, and
the preamp level control operates at a better point.
(on which speaker outputs to use)
The difference between Direct and Normal loudspeaker terminals is minor, and for some loudspeakers not relevant. If the crossover uses a resistor to reduce level of midrange /tweeter; Direct does not offer a difference.
I would try the Direct output for the tweeters. But it depends on room
acoustics too. It might become too bright.
I hear a lot of improvement after a week, and slight improvement during the first months.
(on preferred connection hardware)
I actually prefer the Gold-plated WBT bananas. I like naked copper wire better than spades. Spades are difficult to get tightly connected. Also, avoiding spades is one fewer part, but only for a permanent installation. Spades are practical when you change. Silver wire need spades due to corrosion of silver.
Props to inmates: Abe Collins, Rafe, Audiojudge, Diatonic Cluster, Otari, RHL and the other inmates whose names Iíve forgotten but whose assistance was a tremendous help in this demo and review process.
|Product Weakness:||see above|
|Product Strengths:||see above|
|Associated Equipment for this Review:|
|Amplifier:||GamuT D 200 mk2|
|Preamplifier (or None if Integrated):||BAT 50 SE|
|Sources (CDP/Turntable):||BAT D5 w/ 6H23 Rocket tubes|
|Speakers:||Dynaudio Contour 1.8 mkII, 87 db sensitivity|
|Cables/Interconnects:||Harmonic Tech Magic Links ICs, Synergistic Research alpha quad speaker cables|
|Music Used (Genre/Selections):||Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Neo-classical, Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Latin jazz, Acoustic guitar|
|Room Size (LxWxH):||15 x x 12|
|Time Period/Length of Audition:||2 months|
|Type of Audition/Review:||Product Owner|
To expensive: Jeff Rowland Model 10.
To expensive but good: Classe CAM 350
To expensive and not good enough for the price: Large Krell FPB amps.
To coloured, not neutral and transparent enough, and I prefer the cheaper Rotel 1080 any day of the week: PS Audio HCA2.
Good, but a little bit lacking in bass and bite: Classe 201.
Good, but no balanced connectors: Musical Fidelity.
This leaves me with the Gamut and the Bryston 4B SST. Both very good amps, but I would pick the Bryston. Itís cheaper, has more power, 20 years of warranty, very neutral, less distortion and great bass. Acctually, I would pick the Bryston even if the price was the same, but I can understand that other would pick the Gamut.
I donít have a Bryston yet, but it will probably be my next amp. The other components are not final yet as well. Besides the Gamut, there are still some other alternatives to the Bryston that I do consider, namely Dynamic Precision and Meridians new 559 amp (have not heard the last one thou). My only concern with the Gamut, which is a great amp in many ways, is its bass response, since I often listen to rock.
Excellent review of the GamuT D200 Mark III. I especially liked your comparison analysis; it was very useful.
Like you, I, too, am looking for an amplifier in the $5,000 range, but I am willing to spend up to $7,000. And I am also interested in avoiding amps weighing more than 125 pounds.
I auditioned the GamuT D200 Mark II using a pair of Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III Special Edition loudspeakers, an Electrocompaniet EMC1 CD player, a Herron VTSP 1A preamp, and JPS interconnects and cables.
The music used was classical and jazz.
The sound of the Electrocompaniet is smooth, well-balanced, and sweet, and the Herron VTSP 1A is also well-balanced, smooth, sweet, and airy. Both units are relatively neutral and reasonably dynamic.
I concur with your findings concerning the GamuT's bottom and top end. The bass in particular was tight, fast, very dynamic, and articulate. With the VR4 Gen III, drum beats exploded from the loudspeaker's double eight-inch woofers, which could play very low and very loud. (With the VR4 Gen III, a subwoofer is not needed, even in reasonably large rooms.) The GamuT controlled the VR4's woofers very well indeed, giving great impact and drive to low organ passages, such as the opening movement of Joseph Jongen's Symphonie Concertante (Telarc: 80096; Michael Murray organist). Murray holds a 25 Hz cord for about seven seconds! The GamuT/VR4 combination played this cord very well, matching some of the best sound I have heard from a pair of Entec subwoofers accompanied by a pair of Crosby-modified Quad ELS-63 loudspeakers. Standup bass was also rendered well. I could easily hear the bow being drawn across the bass strings, and each note was easily discernible, which is not always the case with lesser amplifiers.
The top end was extend, well-balanced, never harsh, and somewhat airy. The GamuT did not have the upper octave bloom and air of a Audio Research D-250 Servo (the very best I have heard at any price) or a Krell FPB 350MC, but it held its own within its price class.
The midrange was full-bodied, nicely layered, well-balanced, relatively neutral, and very dynamic. Voices were done very well, but did not quite have the same three-dimensional, lit-from-within-quality of a VTL MB750 or a Conrad-Johnson Premier 4.
Macrodynamics were, perhaps, the strongest suit of the GamuT D200. It played with convincing vigor and excitement the first movement of Mozart's Symphony 40 with upmost panache. The massed violins were reproduced with beautiful attack and quick decay, and there was excellent pace and rhythm to the music that kept my foot tapping.
Soundstaging was very good, but not the best I have heard. There was plenty of soundstage depth, width, and height. However, both the VTL MB750 and the Krell FPB 350MC did a better job, but of course with very different loudspeakers in much better rooms. It could very well be that the GamuT would do better in regards to soundstaging if it had been connected to an Aerial 10T or a Magnepan 3.6/R. But for $5,500, it will be difficult, indeed, to find something better.
I did not find the GamuT D200 to be harsh, bright, clinical, or analytical. It does, however, have a yang-like personality that gave a relentless quality to the midrange and upper-midrange that caused me to have listening fatigue after 90 minutes of play. This relentless quality could also be the fault of the VR4 Gen IIIs, but I doubt the fault lies with the other electronic components in the signal path. When I switched systems (Plinius 8200 integrated amp, Jolida CD player, and Meadowlark Shearwater Hotrod loudspeakers), this relentless quality went away. In its place was a supremely sweet, detailed, and musical soound that I could listen to for hours.
Here are my comments to some of the contenders you have listed:
Jeff Rowland Model 10. I am surprised you found this amp to be a "bit harsh." Jeff Rowland equipment tends to have a warm sound.
Classe CAM 350. Yes, this is an excellent amp, and it's on my short list.
Classe CA 201. You would have had better luck with the CA 301, which costs $5,000. It would have been a better match for the GamuT amp.
Rotel 1080. It's good to hear good things about the Rotel amp. My super sounding amp for very little money, especially used, is the Adcom GFA 5500.
Bryston 4B-SST. I'm not surprised about your findings. In the past, I have found Bryston amps to sound a tad forward and bright for my tastes, but they do sound reasonably good with Magnepans.
BAT VK6200. I was a little surprised to learn of your findings. This amp has been hyped in TAS. But thanks for the rundown on this unit. You have saved me the trouble of auditioning it.
Pass X250. I am sorry you didn't get to hear this amp. It's also on my short list.
Proceed HPA2. It's an excellent amp for home theater; I have the AMP 5, which I like very well. I think you would be happier with the GamuT D200, but the Proceed is better made and is very reliable. I have had my AMP 5 for nearly five years, and it's a workhorse. I just turn it on and forget about it. Also, proceed gear, like Mark Levinson equipment, takes a very long time to brake in. My Proceed equipment finally broke in after 1,000 hours (and that's not a typo). The Proceed amp, when properly broken in has a smooth, slightly dark, liquid personality that's very reminiscent of tubed gear. Very nice sounding indeed, but not as dynamic as the GamuT D200.
Van Alstine Fet Valve 350. This unit looks cheaply made. I know that I will get flamed for that comment.
The amps I have under evaluation are as follows:
1. Classe Audio CAM 350 $7,000
2. Parasound Halo JC-1 $6,000
3. PS Audio Classic 250 $5,000
4. Nelson Pass X250 $6,000
5. Theta Dreadnaught II $4,2000 (Two-channel configuration)
6. BAT VK500 $5,800 (With BAT-pack option)
7. McIntosh MC 402 $5,000
8. Classe Audio CA 301 $5,000
9. Monarchy Audio SE-160 $4,000
10. Coda Technologies Amplifier 30 $6,000 (Made by the company who manufactures the Innersound ESL amp)
11. SimAudio Moon W6 Monoblocks $6,5000
12. Belles 350A $3,500
13. Proceed HPA3 $4,800
It's a baker's dozen for sure and far too many amps to audition, but I want to be thorough. The next amp I buy will have to last me about 20 years.
Nice review.. I've been curious about the Gamut amps. Your experience with the Bryston vs Classe pretty much echos mine.... I've always said that I would take Classe over Bryston.
You have an interesting combination with the VK-50se up front and Gamut SS power amp. If you ever get a chance, it would be interesting to hear how your amp sounds driven directly from a CDP variable output or a passive linestage.
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