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REVIEW: gamut d200 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: d200
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $5500.00
Description: ss 200 watt per channel 8 ohms
Manufacturer URL: Not Available
Manufacturer URL: Not Available

Review by hinduclient ( A ) on April 12, 2003 at 09:02:35
IP Address: 63.227.113.65
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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.

THE CONTENDERS
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 – $ 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.

Didn’t 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

Didn’t demo due to: No XLR inputs:
Rogue 120
CJ 2250, 2500
McCormack 225
Van Alstine Fet valve 350

Didn’t 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

Try -14dB.

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.

(on burn-in)
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.

FINALLY
Props to inmates: Abe Collins, Rafe, Audiojudge, Diatonic Cluster, Otari, RHL and the other inmates whose names I’ve 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




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Topic - REVIEW: gamut d200 Amplifier (SS) - hinduclient 09:02:35 04/12/03 ( 8)