GamuT's "No Compromise" Zodiac loudspeaker

GamuT designer Benno Baun Meldgaard, whose 41 years give the lie to those who suggest that the High End is populated solely by old fart engineers, joined Audio Skies distributor Michael Vamos (left in photo) for the press launch of GamuT's new "no-compromise" loudspeaker, the Zodiac ($139,000/pair). Featuring a cabinet composed of 27 layers of wood of different thicknesses, a new tweeter and companion drivers, and phase alignment between the crucial frequencies of 200 Hz—15 kHz, the Zodiac comes with a massive spiked stand adjustable according to listening distance. It is designed to have the agility and speed of a stand-mount. Only 12 pairs will be built a year, which to my way of thinking makes the point-to-point wired speaker an instant collector's item, and each pair will be fine-tuned at the buyer's home by Meldgaard.

The Zodiac's new tweeter, sourced from Denmark, has new neodymium magnets. Getting the timing right was crucial, especially in a speaker has an extended frequency response of 16Hz–60kHz.

Although the Zodiac was constrained by hotel room dimensions—it ideally wants to be 13' apart, and calls for a room at least 18' in width—and bass did not have enough room to bloom, the speaker, together with GamuT electronics, delivered wonderful color on piano. Hands down, the LP Soular Energy from the Ray Brown Trio provided the most swing and joy of any music I heard at the show (as long as I chose to ignore the mess the speakers in the too-small room made of some of Brown's bass notes).

Smiles continued with a track from Simon & Garfunkel's Live in Central Park album. The system's all-pervasive sweet warmth, however, proved far too much of a good thing when the terror and darkness of that classic and classically over-played audiophile LP showcase, Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, went for a hike.

How much of this pervasively sweet coloration was due to GamuT's electronics and cabling, rather than to either the Pear Audio Blue Kid Thomas/Cornet 2 table/arm combo ($9990) with Pear Audio Blue reference preamp ($6495) and Ortofon Cadenza Black MC cartridge ($2750), the Isotek Aquarius power conditioner, and/or set-up constraints that included, in addition to lack of width, "this shalt not be moved" furniture that pushed the speakers far too close to the glass windows behind them, could not be determined. Clearly an audition in more hospitable quarters is in order.