GamuT RS7 loudspeaker Page 2

Having determined the optimal placement of each speaker, Meldgaard then listened to both speakers, to determine the degree of toe-in to the listening position and the exact amount of backtilt for the baffle. The toe-in adjusts the high-frequency balance, GamuT recommending that its speakers be listened to 10–30° off-axis. In my room, the speakers ended up being toed in by 5°, which meant that my ears were about 15° off axis. With the degree of baffle backtilt Meldgaard had set, pink noise sounded a little hollow, the highs a little disconnected, when I sat with my ears level with the tweeters, which were 36" above the carpeted floor. Finding that slouching a little brought the low-treble region into better balance with the upper midrange, I later used the spikes to tilt each speaker back a little more.

Listening The RS7s had a very open sound with clean, grain-free highs and a smooth, uncolored balance. Stereo imaging was precise and stable; dual-mono pink noise produced a narrow central image, with no broadening or "splashing" of that image to the sides at some frequencies. There was also more image depth than I usually hear, especially with the Bel Canto Black amplification system. Carol Wincenc's flute and the string trio in my recording of Mozart's Flute Quartet in D, K.285, from Serenade: Live at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (CD, Stereophile STPH009-2), were unambiguously and stably positioned in space with a precision I usually associate with high-performance minimonitors.

The 1/3-octave, low-frequency warble tones on Editor's Choice (CD, Stereophile STPH016-2) were reproduced with full weight down to the 32Hz band, which, as always, was exaggerated by the lowest frequency mode in my room. However, both the 25 and 20Hz warble tones were audible at normal listening levels, suggesting that the RS7 has excellent bass extension. The half-step–spaced tonebursts on Editor's Choice were reproduced very cleanly from the midbass through the mid-treble, with good weight below 100Hz. My bass guitar in the channel-identification tracks on Editor's Choice was reproduced with impressive weight and attack, as was the bottom register of Bob Cranshaw's five-string electric bass on Sonny Rollins's Road Shows: Volume 3 (CD, Okeh 88843 04998 2). But though some bass instruments benefited from the boost supplied by the 32Hz mode in my room, it was too much of a good thing with Darek Oles' double bass on the Mike Garson Trio's Wild Out West, the instrument sounding too rich, too dominant in Jim Merod's mix (16/44.1 ALAC files ripped from CD, BluePort BP7022).

Even so, the RS7's persuasive way with electric bass had me reaching for an album I hadn't played in years: Peter Gabriel's Secret World Live (CD, Geffen 20642 47222). In the chorus of "Digging in the Dirt," bassist Tony Levin plummets from E-flat (39Hz fundamental) to a root-of-the-universe C (32Hz)—which the GamuT speakers, driven by the MBL Corona C15 monoblocks, handled without breaking a sweat. Inspired, I cued up this live album's version of "Solsbury Hill." I hadn't realized before how this song—surely the only song in 7/4 time to become a mainstream hit (footnote 1)—switches between measure fragments in 3, then 4, for the introduction, and 4, then 3, for the verse. How the heck did anyone dance to this track without falling over their feet? As well as cleanly decoding the time signature, the RS7s kept distinct the different voicings Levin used on his bass throughout this track, and kept them well differentiated from the similarly pitched kick drum.

But it was when I listened to "Don't Give Up" from this album, with Levin's double-stopped ostinato riff, that I became aware of just how much clarity the RS7s offered in the bass. The bass chording sounded clean and superbly well defined, with no ambiguity of pitch. In fact, it took me a while to cotton on to the GamuT RS7's capacity for wide dynamic range, and its concomitant ability to play loudly without strain, provided the amplifier could keep up with its demand for current. When I played—loud—"Straight No Chaser," from the Ginger Baker Trio's Going Back Home (ALAC file ripped from CD, Atlantic 82652-2), the RS7s again driven by MBL monoblocks, Baker's drums had enormous low-frequency impact, yet were well differentiated from the sound of the late Charlie Haden's double bass.

At the other end of the audioband, even after I'd tilted the baffles back a little more, the RS7's high treble was stronger than that of the KEF Blade Twos, which can sound a little mellow. This was a benefit with naturally miked recordings—Billy Drummond's cymbals in "The Mooche," from the Jerome Harris Quintet (16-bit/44.1kHz ALAC file from CD, originally released on Rendezvous, Stereophile STPH013-2, now available only on Editor's Choice) sounded exactly as I remembered them sounding in 1998, when I made this recording in Chad Kassem's Blue Heaven Studios, in Salina, Kansas. However, the RS7's forthright treble range could make the sound a touch relentless with modern, compressed recordings—such as River, a recent album from French-Cuban duo Ibeyi (Tidal stream from CD, XL Recordings). Like so much indie rock I hear these days, this album may be musically valid, but it sounds threadbare. Call me an old fart, but when I listen to Paula Cole's sympathetic answering vocal in "Don't Give Up," from Peter Gabriel's Secret World Live—well, that's how I want close-miked female rock singers to sound, especially with the sympathetic nature of the RS7's midrange and its clean highs.

I've done a lot of choral recording over the past decade, and with choirs heard live, there's a point where the sound starts to overload the acoustic of the performing space. There's little the recordist can do about this other than to use microphones and A/D converters that don't exaggerate the acoustic intermodulation. This is also true of the playback equipment: Many speakers add their own layer of nonlinear behavior to whatever already exists in the recording. Though its top octaves were present in full measure, the GamuT RS7 stepped neatly out of the way with choral recordings, the speakers refraining from editorializing in this or any other manner. That Scan-Speak ring-radiator tweeter is something special.

As I mentioned in my review of Ayre Acoustics' MX-R Twenty amplifier in August, I found myself listening to a lot of piano recordings with the GamuT RS7s in my system. When I was preparing Margaret Graham's review of engineer Peter McGrath's recording of Ivan Davis performing Schumann and Liszt (CD, Audiofon 72004), to be posted on the Stereophile website as one of our "Recordings of the Month" for September 1982, I was reminded that, some years back, McGrath had given me 24/96 WAV files of a Leonard Shure performance of Schubert's Piano Sonata in B-flat, D.960, which he'd digitized from the analog originals (CD, Audiofon CD 72010). The sound of these files through the RS7s had a glorious liquidity in the midrange that allowed both the lyricism and the power of Shure's playing to project. Such small details as the "alien" E-natural grace note at the start of the second complete measure were well resolved without sounding muddy.

McGrath had miked Shure relatively closely compared with my 1996 production of Robert Silverman's recording of Liszt's Piano Sonata in b on Sonata: Piano Works by Franz Liszt (CD, Stereophile STPH008-2). Liszt's piano writing for this monumental work asks for dynamic extremes; at times—especially following the prestissimo at the end of the last movement, where a quadruple-octave chromatic scale crashes down to the final statement of the big theme—Robert hammered the heck out of the Steinway D's lower registers. The RS7's combination of low-frequency clarity and dynamic range again kept the sound of the piano free from mud that would otherwise obscure the harmonic narrative.

GamuT Audio's RS7 is indeed a superior-sounding, superbly finished loudspeaker capable of offering clean, grain-free, uncolored, full-range sound of wide dynamic range, especially with piano recordings. It also offers exceptional clarity in the lower midrange and bass, where it outperforms Nola's Metro Grand Reference Gold loudspeaker ($33,000/pair), which I reviewed in November 2014. But at $39,900/pair, the RS7 is priced almost identically to Vivid Audio's Giya G3 ($39,990/pair), which I reviewed in April 2014, and is not far behind Wilson Audio Specialties' Alexia ($52,000/pair), which I reviewed in December 2013. Both of those speakers reach a little higher in ultimate sound quality than does the RS7, I feel. The RS7 is also significantly more expensive than the KEF Blade Two ($25,000/pair), which I reviewed in June 2015, and the Sony SS-AR1 ($27,000/pair), which Kal Rubinson reviewed in July 2011—both of which, I feel, come close in overall performance, if not quite achieving the same low-frequency extension.

Therefore, whether or not the GamuT RS7 will outperform those other four thoroughbreds in a specific room and system will more than usually depend on the listener's taste in music and sound quality. With that caveat, recommended.

Footnote 1: Since this review was published, several readers have emailed me to let me know that Pink Floyd's "Money" was a hit in 7/4 time. My face is red!!! Especially as I published a loudness analysis of "Money" back in 2003. But in my defense, while the main riff of "Money" is indeed in 7/4, the song does revert to 4/4 for the bridge section.—John Atkinson
GamuT Audio
US distributor: GamuT USA
(888) 252-2499

jmsent's picture

"The soft diaphragm is terminated with rubber roll surrounds not only at its circumference, as usual, but also at a central, stationary, sharp-pointed phase plug."

I don't understand this. Tweeters are generally not terminated with rubber rolls and this one is no exception. The picture shows a one piece coated textile dome assembly, just like every other ScanSpeak and Vifa ring radiator tweeter I've ever seen. Since the large rolls are designed to be the actual radiating surfaces , I think rubber would be the last material you'd want to use for this purpose.
As for the performance...I guess you're being "diplomatic" here..but I see a system with serious flaws in its design. The specs describe this as a 3 way speaker, but the individual driver curves reveal it to actually be a 2-1/2 way system. The so called "midrange driver"isn't really a midrange at all. It's a woofer/midrange, since it is being fed all the spectral energy right up to the tweeter crossover point, including all the bass. At least, the impedance curve gives no indication of an electrical crossover at 250Hz And what exactly is the deal with the huge response dip at the tweeter crossover? Did they run into the well known problem of using a ring radiator tweeter at too low a frequency? It's no secret that 2nd order distortion in this type of tweeter rises quickly under 2.5 kHz, which is why this tweeter performs best when crossed over at or above 3kHz. But then, there's the problem of trying to push a 7" bass/midrange beyond 3kHz. It seems to me this all could have been avoided by using a real midrange driver; e.g., 5" with a true bandpass filter, or choosing a different tweeter that could be crossed in at a lower frequency. To me, this speaker has major flaws, inexcusable at $39,000.

dcolak's picture

That can't be normal, specially for that kind of money?