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GamuT D3 Preamp and D200 MKIII Amplifier
The better performer

 

August 2007

 

     



Continuing along the path
I recently reported on my time with the wonderful GamuT L7 loudspeakers. I found them to be not only beautifully built but sonically, a revelation. Two of the components in my system during that review were also from GamuT: the D200 MKIII amplifier and D3 preamplifier. I originally sought to do an entire GamuT system review, but felt it would be more informative to you dear readers to share the merits of GamuT’s electronic alone so that I could expound a little bit more.

Prior to the L7 speaker review, my only knowledge of GamuT equipment had been from what I read in magazine reviews and from GamuT owners in the usual places on the web. I always get a kick out of reading some on-line message board fodder about a piece of equipment and then seeing just how wrong or right they were when I actually get that piece of gear in for review. With the GamuT electronics, they were mostly right, or at least heading in the right direction.


      

Like brother and sister
The GamuT D200 MKIII amplifier (henceforth D200) and the D3 preamplifier (henceforth D3) are both handsomely made, with pleasant aesthetics and solid build quality. Both amplifier and preamplifier are housed in black anodized chassis with silver aluminum faceplates (a black faceplate is optional). During their time with me, both performed flawlessly, in spite of me doing quite a bit of cable and equipment swapping.

Next, I’ll give you a brief technological description of each before delving into the more important matters like sound.

Gamut D200 MKIII amplifier: The D200 is a 200-watt per channel, dual-mono design having two power transformers, rectifiers and two pairs of large power supply capacitors. The D200 does not have a particularly large footprint measuring roughly 17” wide by 17” deep and about 6” tall. However, the D200 does weigh in at about 68lbs. This amplifier is very, very solid, and since it does not have handles, you must be careful when it comes to lifting it up and moving it around. Those pounds can sneak up on you if you don’t use good technique. Aesthetically, the front panel of the D200 is, for lack of a better word, “quiet”. Don’t get me wrong, the D200 isn’t unattractive. It has a distinctive 1” vertical notch that contains the name of the amplifier, a blue LED to let you know the amplifier is on, and a black rocker AC switch for on and off. The side panel’s heat sinks are neither sharp nor pointy but rather sport a smooth feel to them. The rear panel is a little busier. Here we have single-ended and XLR inputs, two pairs of WBT outputs, and there are output fuses for each channel, with an IEC power cord receptacle in the middle of it all. A nice touch that I appreciated was the output connector orientation. Since there are two pairs of connectors on each side of the amplifier, to help keep the speaker cable runs neat, the WBT connector guides on the left face left and the pair adjacent to those face the right. They are setup that way on the other channel as well. One of the key design aspects of the D200 centers around the use of a single mosfet in the output. Rather than spend a great deal of time looking for the ultimate output devices, and then trying to match them, GamuT chose to use a single Mosfet with truly staggering capabilities. Each of these Mosfets is capable of handling 500 watts, with peak current of 300 amps and 100 amps long term. That’s close to arc welding capability folks. If any of you need more power than that, I’m going to assume that you’re doing something else other than listening to music, like thrill seeking or something. The D200 can handle speaker loads down to 1.5 Ohms and never ran into trouble driving their L7 speakers, nor my Martin-Logans, both being 4 Ohm loads.

        

D3 preamplifier: The D3 is a full functioned unit with remote control that has a Russian gymnastics team worth of flexibility. The D3 has four pairs of single-ended inputs, 1 pair of XLR inputs, 2 pairs of XLR outputs, 1 pair of single-ended outputs and one pair of single-ended tape outputs. Note that there is an input for MM/MC but the D3 does not house a phono board. The remote control can also be used to handle GamuT’s CD3 CD player as well. The volume control is an ALPS dual logarithmic potentiometer. One thing to note here is that when you turn the volume all the way down, you will still get a little residual sound to come through. Gamut recommends using the mute switch if you require complete silence. The D3 boasts some awfully fine stats that include signal to noise ratio of 110dB, and output impedance that is capable of driving long runs of interconnect cable. The stated output impedance of the D3 is 75 Ohms (single ended) or 150 Ohms (balanced). I never had any difficulty driving the short or long cable runs that I experimented with for this review.

So what did they sound like?
The D3 and D200 continue GamuT’s run of well built, wonderful performing products. They both performed flawlessly without any glitches or startling noises or pops. The D200 does make two relay clicks upon turn on letting you know that it is ready to go, and two soft relay clicks letting you know when you’ve shut the unit off. Remember, those are 200 serious watts you’re controlling there and these small clicks, never loud or obtrusive, simply let you know that everything is okay.

The D3 is a good sounding piece with good functionality and flexibility. It has enough inputs and outputs to handle all of your audio and video needs. Sonically, the D3 is a good performer with a nice amount of detail, extension and soundstage width and depth. Though it’s not quite to the level of best tube preamps in this facet of audio reproduction, the D3 comes very close with its ability to portray images on the stage with good focus. Then again, partnered with the D200 it’s still a very easy unit to enjoy.

The D200 on the other hand is a flat out monster. In fact, it reminds me of a mythical dragon. It has all the power and energy you could reasonably want in an amplifier but combines that strength with musical finesse and dexterity. The D200 can play extremely loud, without sounding hard, while at the same time, it deftly reproduces subtle nuances in chamber music or a vocalist’s solo. It can drive your speakers to produce prodigious amounts of air moving bass, but doesn’t cheat you when it comes to replicating the sweet decay of the triangle or the guttural utterances of a singer who’s trying to convey that last bit emotion. The performance of the D200 sounded exceptionally accurate and natural, sounding neither like solid-state nor tubes, rather, conforming to the electronics and interconnect before it. The D200 is easily one of the most neutral amplifiers that I have heard, anywhere. Just about everyone that came by my house to listen to the amplifier had the same thing to say; that they had heard of the GamuT D200 amplifier before but had no idea it was as neutral as what they were actually hearing. It was as easy to identify the sound when I had a vacuum tube source or preamplifier in front of it as it was to identify a solid state piece. The 200 MKIII is detailed but never sounded hard or bright. Bass performance is deep and tight, but could drive speakers to pound you in the chest on some bass heavy material. With the D200 the upper frequency performance is detailed and airy with good extension. Treble could be rendered from being soft and airy to having brass instruments with a touch of bite and brassiness. The midrange portrays performers with dimensionality and made them feel as though they were present in my room. All this, the D200 did with a large degree of focus as it was easy to pinpoint images of performers, and their instruments, across the stage Brass instruments have a touch of bite and brassiness without making you cringe or want to back down off of the volume.

From the first notes of Freddie Washington's driving bass line, on Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat [Reprise], you couldn't help but to pick up your  air-bass, slap at the imaginary cords and sway to the very real melody. The D200 plays music with deep, pulsating bass with panache and verve, and allows you to experience the fun in the music as well. This was the case with St. Germain's Tourist CD. This disc is an amalgam of “acid jazz” and techno-pop that really is high in “jump factor.” The D200 really allows you turn the volume up and get lost in the listening experience as your mind boogies through the entire disc. I have been listening to a lot of jazz guitar of late and one of the artists that I have been really getting into is Nels Cline. I can now say that I have heard a guitar player that experiments with the possibilities of what the stringed instrument can do when the musician stretches out his imagination.

On Nels’ CD, The Inkling [Cryptogramophone], he has some very interesting arrangements on such tracks as “Alstromeria” and “Queen of Angels.” With the D200, the music is so focused and coherent and not just a bunch of instrumentalists mindlessly groping for sound. Every track holds a new discovery. The D200 also handles vocals flawlessly. Diana Krall's From This Moment On [Verve] was presented in my listening room with a palpable presence and three-dimensionality that caused me to open my eyes and make sure no one else was in the room on several occasions. Alexander Scriabin's Symphony No.2 in C minor [Decca], with Vladamir Ashkenazy conducting the Berlin Radio-Symphonie-Orchestra, the 1st movement is like a vast roller coaster ride where the strings pull you up higher and higher and the brass attacks plunge you headlong back to earth. With the D200 the horns had detail and definition without sounding harsh.

Winding things up
On their own, the GamuT’s D3 preamplifier is a very good performer but the D200 MKIII amplifier is great. Together, they make beautiful music. The D3 will provide its owner with plenty flexibility in supporting various pieces of electronics with both single ended and balanced inputs. Sonically, the D3 is musical and retrieves a lot of detail from your sources. The D200 amplifier is a stellar performer by all accounts. It sounded exceptional with my Klyne 7LX3.5 and phenomenal with the Conrad-Johnson ACT2 Series 2 (review in the works). I used quite a few cables from several different companies during this review and all performed well with the GamuT combo. For speaker cables however, the combination of Dynamic Design’s Nebula Series Bass Bi-wire speaker cables, driving the low end, and their Silver Series speaker cables driving the midrange and high frequencies provided the best combination with the D200, and therefore deserves special mention. In terms of the D200 being able to drive difficult loads, it had no difficulty at all driving my Martin-Logan Quests, which can dip down to 2 Ohms depending on the material being played, and the GamuT L7, which is a 6 Ohm speaker that dips down to 4 Ohms. Not once was I able to make the D200 clip, shut down or even get a little more than lukewarm, and I was really trying. My wife would tell you I have never played music as much and as loud, in the past, as I did when I had the D200 in the system.

Another important performance aspect of the D200 is its reliability. When I do a review, I do a lot of changing of cables, power conditioners and electronics, so that when I’m writing about something I’m reviewing, I want to be able to tell you accurately how one piece of electronics or cables interfaced with another. Not once, with all the different equipment/cable swaps made, and all of the amplifier turning on and off, did this amp misfire, blow a fuse, make some loud pop or did anything that caused me to be concerned. I have full and total confidence in this amplifier’s ability to reliably perform its best day in and day out. For a reviewer, that is extremely important. For that reason, along with its sonic performance, I am giving this amp my highest recommendation. Great job GamuT!

                         _____________________



D3 Specifications:
Type: solid-state preamplifier
Frequency response: 20 ~ 22kHz ± 0.1dB (3 ~
27kHz + 0.1/-1dB)
Distortion THD+N (2V): < 0.0005%, mainly 2nd
harmonic
Noise: Better than 110dBA
Gain: 6dB
Inputs: 4-RCA, 1-XLR
Outputs: 2-RCA (Main, Record), 2-XLR,
Internal MM/MC board: N/A
Bypass functions: XLR direct, HTH direct
Power Supply: True dual mono
Remote Control: Input, mute and level
Dimensions: 17 x 4.5 x 16.8
Weight: 40lb
Price: $6,700.00

D200 Mk III Specifications:
Type: solid-state single MOSFET stereo power
amplifier
Power output (per channel, continuous):
200W/8Ω, 400W/4Ω
Frequency response: 5Hz ~ 100kHz
THD: ‹ 0.05%
Noise level: › 100dBA below 100W/8Ω
Input impedance: 40kΩ balanced, 20kΩ RCA
Sensitivity: 0.77V, 1.55V, 3.1V, 3.9V (full power)
Speaker loads: down to 1.5Ω
Idle power consumption: 100 W
Dimensions: 17.6 x 6.1 x 17
Weight: 68lb

Price: $8,750.00

Manufacturer
GamuT International
Oesterled 28 A – DK 4300 Holbaek, Denmark
Phone Int. +45 70 20 22 68
Fax Int. +45 59 43 97 26
http://www.gamutaudio.com
email: info@gamutaudio.com

Distributor
Rhythm Maketing, LLC
120 Avie Ct.
Brookfield, WI 53045
Phone: 262-784-7852
Fax: 262-364-2017
email: David@rhythm-marketing.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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