GamuT CD 1 CD player Page 3
The flute in the Mozart quartet was perhaps the best example of how the GamuT softened transients in the upper midrange. I grew up listening to my older sister practicing the flute. Live, the instrument has a slight metallic edge that's most evident at the note's initiation. It's a subtlety that, for me, always conjures up a mental image of the way a flute is played: of a metal edge cutting a moving column of air. Through the GamuT, Carol Wincenc's flute was beautiful, dense, flowing, and sweet, with a great sense of air moving through the instrument. But the metallic edge, the subtle character that evokes that distinct image in my mind, was increasingly absent as the instrument rose in pitch.
The GamuT's performance was excellent at the frequency extremes. Its bass was clean and powerful, with good articulation and excellent pitch definition. On top, it handled my favorite test well, clearly reproducing the subtle circular motions of Frank Gant's brushes against his cymbals on "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," from Never Make Your Move Too Soon. And although the softened upper-midrange transients did give it a slightly warm tonal balance, this didn't create a discontinuity in the GamuT's presentation. Instruments' harmonics always seemed firmly attached and coherent with their fundamentals.
The CD 1's soundstage was similar to that of other topnotch players in terms of size, but slightly inconsistent, again owing to its handling of transients. The upper bass through the midrange—Ray Brown's bass and Ernestine Anderson's vocals on Never Make Your Move Too Soon, for example—were slightly forward, contributing to the rich, vibrant character of the CD 1's sound. On the other hand, the upper midrange—in this case, Monty Alexander's piano—seemed a bit recessed, beginning slightly behind the plane of the speakers rather than at or in front of them. If not quite up to the standard set by the Simaudio Moon Eclipse, the GamuT's soundstage width was excellent, stretching to slightly outside both speakers. The overall depth, too, was excellent.
The GamuT's reproduction of dynamics was also excellent (with the previously discussed caveat about the slight softening of leading edges in the upper midrange). In terms of macrodynamics, the GamuT handled everything I threw at it, definitively swinging across large changes in volume with no uncertainty or edginess. On the soft, microdynamic end of the scale, it did an excellent job of reproducing subtle pitch and volume changes in Ernestine Andersen's vocals, for example. And its incredible ambience retrieval and wonderful inner detail confirmed its ability to sift and reproduce low-level information.
Lest you get lost among the nits I've picked: This is a great-sounding CD player. If I split the universe of players I've heard into lower and upper echelons, the GamuT CD 1 is definitely in the top group. It's a huge step up from the best $1500 players I've heard, and deserves to be compared with units costing well more than $2999.
The CD 1 does have a slightly warm, vibrant character. Along with the warmth is a slight soundstage effect of moving lower-register instruments slightly forward and upper-register ones slightly back. These effects are due more, I think, to a difference in how the CD 1 handles transients than a distinct frequency-response anomaly, but I could be wrong. Whatever the cause, it gives the GamuT a slight but distinct personality, but not necessarily a bad one. Quite the contrary—the CD 1 is very enjoyable to listen to. I think it will absolutely bowl over a lot of people.
I might prefer a different character and set of compromises—the $5495 Simaudio Moon Eclipse if I were feeling rich, or perhaps the $3650 Wadia 301 if I were trying to pinch pennies. But as finicky as I am, I could happily live with the GamuT CD 1. Its performance is excellent in nearly all regards, and, more significant, it's capable of imbuing a musical performance with a life and an energy that, for me, make the difference between sitting glued to my listening chair and finding something else to do. As I said, I've been spoiled. My standards are high, but the GamuT makes the grade.