Letting the audition of the GamuT Zodiac audio system start with the Beastie Boys “Groove Holmes” is a lot fun, I don’t even need the weed. The large, all-encompassing, psychedelic picture that these audio system paint is excellent.
Retaining the disco groove going with an extended playlist of basic Bee Gees tracks has me looking Amazon for a twinkly, glass ball for the ceiling. The bass line in “Nights on Broadway” has those super cool, see-through energy meters within the Audio Analysis REF160M amplifiers bouncing in between the glowing KT150s and it’s all good.
$179,000 is a lot of money to spend on a pair of speakers, however in case you’ve acquired that type of money, it’s not. Type of a weird paradox. As it is with tremendous high-end automobiles, bikes, watches, and the like, the uninitiated may assume that when you step up to this degree, stated product does every little thing. But it solely takes a fast experience around the block in a couple of mega automobiles to comprehend that whereas a Bentley is a very superb car, it’s a totally totally different experience than a Ferrari, a Porsche 911 GT3RS, or an Aston Martin. All wonderful to make certain, however nonetheless totally different, and very special. They may all get you to 200mph, but in their own method. Make no mistake, the GamuT Zodiacs are very special speakers and well worth the worth asked. And when you simply need the sound, you will get em in black for $159,000/pair. Such a deal.
So it goes with mega speakers. Do you have to dig the GamuT Zodiac, you in all probability won’t take pleasure in a similarly priced pair of Wilsons, the Focal Grande Utopias or a pair of Sonus faber Aidas quite as a lot. All four of these audio system are wonderful and undoubtedly have the identical density of thought of their design and development, but all strategy how sound is produced differently, with totally different design decisions made of their execution. In case you’re in search of me to inform you that the GamuTs rule and the others suck, or vice versa, you’ll need to go elsewhere.
However I willsay that the Zodiac is my private favorite for prime speaker at this moment. Having spent loads of time with the other contenders, these are the ones I’d fortunately write the examine for. The priorities that designer Benno Maun Meldgaard has chosen appeals to what I really like in a speaker most. First, and most importantly, they cross my principal crazy costly element requirement – they reveal a lot music, that they’ll take you to a degree of musical involvement that you simply gained’t get with lesser audio system. They usually do it with any type of music.
Equally, in case you’ve received almost 200 huge ones to spend on speakers, you’ve in all probability been at the hifi recreation lengthy sufficient to know what you don’t like. And I’m guessing you already have the room, system, and software program to wring probably the most performance from these speakers. The Zodiacs are as much as the task of partnering with the world’s best elements, revealing the whole lot they’ve to supply. They’ll by no means be the weak link in your audio chain, no matter how much you’ve invested in the rest of your elements.
What’s your sign?
One of the largest audio errors so many people make is to put huge speakers in a small room and anticipate good sound. The Zodiacs additionally deliver their most compelling efficiency in a medium to giant area, but they ship a better efficiency in a modest measurement room than another massive speaker I’ve used. This could be a plus if your Zodiacs arrive earlier than your fundamental listening room is completed being constructed, otherwise you’re anticipating a move in the close to future. The solely limit you’ll have in putting the Zodiacs in a small room, is that they’ll overdrive the room fairly shortly because they will transfer a lot air.
GamuT solely builds 12 of those yearly, one per thirty days to go together with the person signs of the zodiac. Horoscope.com says that Capricorns (me) and Taurus (the Zodiacs) are a great match most of the time, so I assume it simply is sensible that I’ve been having fun with these speakers so much. Although the signs of the zodiac are all very totally different, each of the 12 pairs of GamuT Zodiac’s are hand assembled with extreme care, and then fine-tuned by Mr. Meldgaard. Inside a yr of your purchase, additionally, you will receive a personal go to by him to positive tune the speaker’s setup in your listening room, regardless of where on the planet you may be. That’s a part of what you write the large examine for. If you’d like an off the rack go well with, this could be excess, but if you’d like something bespoke, and optimized by its creator, that is the best way to go – and also you don’t get this with any of the other mega speakers.
Whereas I’m certain that I’m suitable with the Zodiacs, after pairing them with a few dozen totally different amplifiers (tube and solid-state) from a wide range of producers, these are very gear friendly speakers. Every little thing from the 20-watt per channel Nagra 300 amplifier as much as the large Cross XA200.eight monos labored properly, but at the similar time providing a unique perspective on the music.
As a result of the Zodiac goes all the best way right down to 16hz, they may deliver probably the most convincing performance with an amplifier of the very best high quality and greatest bass management. The trio of 10-inch woofers sailed by means of each bass heavy monitor in my collection, providing a degree of element and dynamics that the majority speakers need exterior subwoofers to realize. Whether I was grinding by way of Aphex Twin, or gliding by way of Stanley Clark, the extent of bass element the Zodiac delivers is top notch.
Let’s get critical
The Zodiac’s biggest strengths is their capacity to stroll a effective line between resolving a excessive degree of element without being harsh, sterile or fatiguing. Like every different GamuT speaker I’ve owned or reviewed, the Zodiac is a speaker you’ll be able to take heed to all day and by no means need to depart the listening chair.
Most massive speakers with this type of footprint feelbig and overbearing, and in some situations solely play huge. My Magnepan Tympanis are well-known for this effect, and whereas it can be enjoyable, not all music is supposed to be introduced on the similar measurement. Listening to Eddie Van Halen play solo acoustic guitar on “316” via my Maggies sounds as if EVH is 14 ft extensive. Cool, but not lifelike. Enjoying the identical monitor on the Zodiacs seems like he’s sitting between the speakers on a footstool, as it will if he have been. But the second I mix it up and go together with “Atomic Punk,” the living room walls fall down and there’s a wall of speaker cabinets on an enormous stage behind me.
While the Zodiacs are implausible with tonality and coherence, additionally they excel when it comes to dynamics. They don’t lose their capability to interact on the lowest of quantity ranges – typically an space of rivalry with giant speakers. Enjoying properly under dialog degree, the Zodiacs reveal minute musical details, and have been in a position to draw multiple guest into the combination, requesting “to turn it up a bit more please…”
On the different finish of the spectrum, the sheer dynamic punch the Zodiacs ship might be limited by how a lot clean amplifier power you’ve at your disposal. Those wanting to realize live performance corridor ranges could have no drawback doing so, with loads of amplifier energy. My Cross XA200.8s clipped and ears began to buzz earlier than the Zodiacs reveal distortion of any variety. And that’s means louder than you have to be listening to music without ear injury. This potential to play nicely between loud and gentle reveals a level of linearity that is seldom skilled at any worth, and another one of many Zodiac’s strengths.
What you get at this worth is a healthy dose of magic along with technological and manufacturing excellence. This mix of artwork and science is what fools you into believing the music is unfolding in entrance of you. This doesn’t occur at $10okay or $20okay, and you don’t understand it till you expertise these. As I mentioned earlier, it’s virtually hallucinogenic. Absolute energy does certainly corrupt.
How do you describe what doesn’t exist?
Whereas different hifi writers have written volumes on the Zodiac, each in their listening rooms, and at numerous hifi exhibits all over the world, I maintain returning to my first expertise with GamuT. Present designer Benno Meldgaard has built on the inspiration of their unique designer, Lars Goller, but the magic continues to be there.
After days of listening to audio system at CES, I went offsite to the place GamuT had (then) the S7 and S9 set up in separate rooms and my perception of audio system was re-defined. The Zodiac is capable of this achievement, with much more refinement and determination.
What you don’t get with the GamuT Zodiac is distraction. All the distractions that come from distortion, part anomalies, and tonal inequities merely doesn’t exist with these audio system. They require no excuses in any way. When listening to many different speakers, my inside voice typically says “if only they had less of this, or more of that.” I’ve by no means had this dialog with myself, when listening to the Zodiacs, it doesn’t matter what music is enjoying. It’s a lot simpler to ramble on about speakers with shortcomings, but these really have none.
Wanting the half
When you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Denmark, you recognize that they’re masters of understated design, each elegant and practical on the similar time. Where most of the other six-figure speakers sport wealthy automotive paint finishes to command consideration, the Zodiac’s wooden cupboard is particularly curved to realize the specified acoustic effect, however GamuT takes a unique strategy. They use almost 30 layers of high-quality wooden, glued together and shaped beneath over a ton of strain to realize their shape. (It’s value noting that they used to make the cupboards for the B&W 800’s and developed this process)
The result’s an exquisite cupboard that solely needs an occasional oiling to look it’s greatest. And with no paper-thin veneer or extremely polished paint, a slight bump to the cabinet won’t mar the end of your speakers. Intelligent design at its best. These speakers simply look extra handsome as the years go by.
The intelligent design of the Zodiac goes past the speaker itself. These are by far the simplest giant speakers to arrange – period. Their wheeled crates permit almost anybody to get them within the neighborhood of where they must be. Tip the crate up, and remove two braces holding the speakers in place. Slide the crates back and you’re virtually there. These crates are pretty giant, so you will want space for storing!
The Zodiacs weigh about 420 pounds each, so get a good friend that will help you, two should you can, for effective tuning. A fast journey to Residence Depot for a custom pair of ¾-inch particle board sub platforms made wonderful tuning the front to rear and aspect to aspect alignment a breeze.
The two-part, five-layer steel bases are coated with an anti-vibration compound and the finely threaded ft permit precise tuning of the Zodiac’s rake. Straightforward as these audio system are to arrange, this is the essential bit – very similar to attaining good VTA when establishing a phono cartridge. That is probably the most crucial part of establishing any GamuT speaker. As soon as the rake is right, the time alignment is assured, and the whole lot falls properly into place.
Having owned the prior flagship S9 for quite a lot of years, as well as the smaller RS5i (Our managing editor, Rob Johnson also makes use of the RS3i as his reference) has given a number of perception into the refinement that goes into the Zodiacs. These speakers are a lot greater than just a “big speakers play big” expertise.
As hinted at earlier, the Zodiacs cannot solely play huge, however they will play at whatever scale the recording dictates – increasing and contracting as needed. They not only comply with the music, but mange to be mere conduits of the music – no small feat. Where the GamuT comes out a winner, is in its capability to carry out all the required audiophile duties at an equally high and balanced degree. Yes, the Grande Utopia is a touch more resolving, perhaps the large Wilsons have a couple of molecules extra bass grunt, and so forth, but for my cash the Zodiac does more at integrating all musical elements at a tremendously excessive degree than another I’ve but experienced. That’s their power to me. I by no means really feel like I’m listening to speakers when they are on.
In case you are shopping for audio system at this degree, it’s worthwhile to hear the GamuT Zodiacs. I have to confess a true bias for the presentation that they deliver – guilty as charged. However that’s why I’d buy an Aston Martin as an alternative of a Ferrari. That a part of the argument is immaterial, I applaud your selection, no matter it may be at this degree – you’re obviously an obsessed music lover.
But, you don’t need to spend 180 massive ones and never check drive these. Your largest questions might be “can my floor support them,” and “what color should I get?”
The GamuT Zodiac Speakers
MSRP: $159,000/pair and up, relying on finish
Analog Supply Luxman PD 171 w/Kiseki Purple Heart
Digital Supply dCS Vivaldi One
Preamplifier Move Labs INT-60 integrated
Energy Amplifier Move Labs XA200.8 mono blocks, Audio Analysis REF160 mono blocks
Cable Cardas Clear Beyond, Tellurium Q Black Diamond
Rack Grand Prix Audio Monaco