Gold Note IS-1000 Integrated Amplifier
Gold Note Valore 425 Plus Turntable with Gold Note Vasari Gold Cartridge, Advance Acoustics X1000 valve CD player, Titan Audio Styx interconnect and speaker cables, Audiovector R3 Arette speakers, Heco Direkt speakers, Titan Audio Chimera and Eros mains cables and Eros distribution block.
Gold Note is an Italian audio company, based in Florence who originally started out manufacturing chassis for a number of high end audio companies but then decided to start manufacturing their own ranges. The company is unusual in a number off ways, obviously they manufacturer everything in house (even the chassis) but they also have a complete system right down to their own turntables, arms and cartridges, a full electronics range and they even manufacture speakers. Interestingly their cabinets are made in the same factory who make the cabinets for Sonus Faber so you see Gold Note don’t do anything by half. They are passionate about the looks, the sound and of course music. Their MD and founder Maurizio Aterini is not only very focused but he also treads his own path, not following the crowd but creating a brand which links the future and the past by manufacturing cutting edge avant grade products but also keeping traditional links with the past with emphasis to their Tuscan roots. He says he is inspired by the City of Florence where they are based and its Renaissance.
The I-1000 integrated amp is essentially a high end one box system in a beautiful chassis and is available in three finishes, Gold (obviously), black and silver. The amplifier features a built in high quality phono stage mm and mc, a DAC and a streamer so is a true one box solution to those who can’t accommodate multiple boxes but don’t want to compromise on sound quality. The I-1000 is essentially a one box version of their highly acclaimed P-1000 preamp and the P-1175 power amplifier. There are two versions of the I-1000 a standard version with a less expensive DAC at £3999 and a Deluxe version with a better DAC at £4718. It is the higher spec version I have reviewed.
As I mentioned in the last paragraph the I-1000 is very well specified with a phono stage, a DAC and a streamer. The amplifier itself can drive 125 watts into 8ohms and 250 watts in 4 ohms so can pretty drive any speaker to decent levels without breaking sweat. The unit is also Room ready ( in other words you can use Room software with this unit), Gold Note also have their own app so you can stream music from your phone or tablet and the unit works with Tidal, Quboz, Deezer and Spotify. There is a colour screen on the front of the unit so you can see exactly what is going on. You can also use Airplay to stream. There are also a number of analogue and digital inputs so you can connect a number of other devices. Unusually the amplifier also features an adjustable damping factor which means it can be set for small monitors or high efficiency speakers and well as larger less efficient ones. There are a total of six digital and three analogue inputs ( one balanced) so this is very much an amplifier for 2019 and reflects what audiophiles want in terms of a modern hi fi product.
As I mentioned at the start of this review Gold Note don’t compromise or do things by half. Having already reviewed the Gold Note PH10 phono stage I was expecting this to be a good amplifier however what I was not expecting was to say that this is not only one of the best integrated amplifiers I have heard under £5,000 but it puts many of its competitors to shame. It is one of the best equipped models on the market but it has a musicality reminiscent of brands like YBA and an effortlessness which only the best amplifiers can achieve.
No matter what you throw at this amplifier it simply takes it in its stride. Excellent detail retrieval good three dimensional sound staging and depth, great dynamics and it works with a variety of speakers. The phono stage is simply excellent and I tried it with both mm and mc cartridges, this is one of the best built in phono stages I have come across and is certainly no compromise regardless of how good your analogue front end is. The DAC also is excellent and very musical, with decent power supplies and output stage so again no compromise with any digital source. Finally the streaming which you can do both with airplay and via the app which will allow streaming of both Tidal MQA and Quboz high resolution files, again the quality is first class and while the app is not the slickest on the market it is perfectly acceptable and fairly user friendly.
Overall this is a spectacularly good amplifier for the price, with great sound, great features and will put many pre power amplifiers to shame.
This is quite simply a superb modern amplifier with exceptional build and sound quality. It looks and sounds great and is very much an integrated amplifier for the current hi fi enthusiast. It is very hard to find fault with especially at its price point and while there are less expensive amplifiers like the Moon Neo Ace, The Primare i-15 and i-35, Gato DIA250S, Hegel, Naim Unity etc none of them have the same features or sound quality as the Gold Note. This amplifier works with a wide range of speakers and sources and if you are looking for a one box solution and the Gold Note is within your budget then look no further. It’s that good.