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The Audio Note Goldmund Effect

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On November 1, 2003, I auditioned a Goldmund system driving a pair of speakers identical to the $20,000 Audio Note AN-E SEC Silvers I reviewed in February, 2003.

Joe Cutrufelli of JC Audio recently became Goldmund of Switzerland’s Northern California dealer, and invited my wife and me to his place for a private auditioning of a Goldmund system consisted of:

“Ultimate Series” Eidos 38 CD Turntable ($16,390)
“Ultimate Series” Mimesis 29M Millennium Stereo Power Amplifier ($20,350)
“High End Series” Mimesis 21+ DAC ($11,770)
“High End Series” Mimesis 27+ Analogue Line Preamplifier ($11,770) plus digital cable, interconnects, peaker cables and power cords

Joe played hours of beautiful music from the flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook’s 1996 Gravity (Narada Equinox ND63037), Jennifer Warnes’ The Well hybrid SACD (Cisco SCD 2034), among others.

While I was drooling over his $14k pair of Audio Note’s Quest Silver Signature 300B monoblocks that was sitting dormant on their own amp stands, the AN speakers/ Goldmund combination produced a dimensionality, dynamics and frequency extensions of such magnitude that was the most remarkable in my experience among all systems and speakers ever demonstrated to me.

Placing the AN’s at corners of the front wall as recommended by Audio Note, the speakers were measured at 11 feet apart at the tweeters with 9 feet of perpendicular space from the wall to the couch. During the 2-hour session, whether it was playing the flamenco guitar and the accompanying instrumentations, or Jennifer Warnes’ magnetic vocalization with her big band, the AN speakers consistently created a dimensionality that was acutely holographic in depth of soundstage, and pinpointing in lateral instrument arrangement. Vertical image placement was most astounding, as guest vocalist, Doyle Bramhall’s voice in track 8, “You Don’t Know Me”, from Jennfier Warnes’ The Well, was startlingly heard as standing a foot taller to the left of Jennifer Warnes.

On top of our delight at the aforementioned marvels the transducers were able to impart within the confines of the room, Joe took out another new CD before our departure that he just bought, clueless of what we were about to bear witness to. Playing track 5, “Beloved”, of Jesse Cook’s latest CD, Nomad (Narada World 90797), as propelled by the $20k+ Goldmund 29M, the AN-E SEC Silver induced a sustained, floor rumbling synthesizer bass line that we never assumed was possible. The Audio Note’s 8-inch Alnico woofer convinced us of the supremacy of Peter Qvortrup’s (AN owner) 2-way loudspeaker. And then I got a hostile stare from my wife.

Joe followed Peter’s exact prescription of the corner, optimal speaker placement and listening distance, and I had no doubt that the AN’s performance would never be surpassed by any other measure with any appreciable margins. Yet, I also have no doubt that the $14k pair of Audio Note’s Quest Silver Signature 300B monoblocks was meant for a sonic festivity altogether different from the Goldmund’s contribution as achieved with the AN speakers.

In my household, arbitrary furniture relocation, such as moving the couch closer to the front wall to complement a cornered pair of ANs, will create domestic disturbance. Therefore, my pair of AN-E SEC Silver’s are happily positioned well into the room for an optimized soundstaging and benign speaker/room interaction. Ruling out the possibility of drastic couch relocation, I nevertheless find the thought of driving the AN’s with Goldmund amplification persistently enticing.

For the time being, to augment my pair of the AN –E SEC Silver’s bottom-end performance, I have to run a 2nd digital signal from my 47 Laboratory PiTracer (review to come) to an AN One 1.1x Signature DAC, patching the signal through my Z-system RDP-1 Reference Digital Preamplifier at 31Hz, then sending it to my Genesis VI loudspeaker system’s dedicated subwoofer amplifier for powering the trio of 7-inch subwoofers per channel.

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