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August 2023

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World Premiere Review!
Gold Note A6 Evo II Full-Range Loudspeaker Review
Setting the Gold Standard.
Review By Dr. Michael Bump

 

Gold Note A6 Evo II Full-Range Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review Setting the Gold Standard. Review By Dr. Michael Bump

 

"High-end audio should be the Formula 1 of the consumer audio market."
-- Maurizio Aterini, Founder and CEO, Gold Note Audio

 

The Sound Of Speed
The premium high-performance audio / exotic race car analogy is a more-than-common theme among audiophiles, industry, and media. There are even borrowings from open-wheel / Formula car racing designs that have found their way into premium audio designs (a.k.a. high-end audio). I recall Michael Borresen referencing speaker driver materials and build concepts borrowed from Formula 1 body materials for their strength, weight, and mobility. Luxurious premium audio and exotic racing sports are kindred spirits, I suspect largely in that they share a passion for high art in engineering precision, performance, and mechanical beauty (many audio shows are sure to exhibit this relationship in some form).

As a professional musician and professor of music, I find the thread of this kindred spirit interesting as it applies to Italian music history. After all, it was the rogue experiments of the Italian Futurists during the early 20th century that inspired a new artistic age of enlightenment in that country. Led by F.T. Marinetti, the Italian Futurists embraced modernism, industry, and radically-advanced thought in art, music, and literature, expanding the ideologies of Dada and Cubism:

"We declare... a new beauty, the beauty of speed. A racing motor car... is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace." (A celebrated ancient Greek sculpture in the Louvre Museum in Paris.)

With an intent to "enlarge and enrich the field of sound," the Futurist polymath waxed poetic about the modern Italian sonic landscape:

"Musical evolution is paralleled by the multiplication of machines, which collaborate with man on every front. Not only in the roaring atmosphere of major cities, but in the country too, which has been silent, the machine today has created such a variety and rivalry of noises that pure sound, in its exiguity and monotony, no longer arouses any feeling."

"If today, when we have perhaps a thousand different machines, we can distinguish a thousand different noises, tomorrow, as new machines multiply, we will be able to distinguish ten, twenty, or thirty thousand different noises, not merely in a simply imitative way, but to combine them according to our imagination."

 

 

Applying this new-found declaration of art, Italian musicians associated with the movement, such as Luigi Russolo and Francesco Pratella, invented intonarumori, or "noise intoners" –Mechanical boxes of various sizes with various internal membranes and sound actuators amplified with horn megaphones - In the creation of music replicating the industrial sounds of the modern world. Entire orchestras of these instruments were performed throughout Europe, albeit briefly, between approx. 1909-1914. Essentially serving as the first music synthesizers, they embraced the sounds and symbolism of machines, the "art of noise," as it were, and the acceleration of progress in Italian culture.

Today, the legacy of this Italian kindred spirit belongs to the likes of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Pagani, inspiring and sharing the stage with the best of Italian high-end audio, for which music enthusiasts worldwide are continually grateful.

 

 

Introductions
I first became familiar with Gold Note a few years ago while researching an upgrade path for my turntable. Though ultimately going another direction, Gold Note's Mediterraneo was among those that had my attention, and found myself spending copious amounts of listening time in the Rutherford Audio room at AXPONA 2019. Many will agree that fine Italian audio designs are in a class by themselves - a feast for both the ears and eyes of the connoisseur. Innovative examples from the likes of Rosso Fiorentino, Sonus Faber, IO, Pathos, and Zingali, among others, continue to offer beautiful artwork coupled with outstanding attention to sonic detail at the highest levels. It is here that Gold Note continues its well-deserved placing among the finest Italian audio artisans.

Since their founding in 2012 by CEO, Maurizio Aterini, Gold Note has developed a comprehensive portfolio of exceptional high-end speakers, amplification, turntables, cartridges, digital sources, cabling, and even component racks, that nicely accommodate the most discerning levels of audiophile listening. They are considered Italy's largest full-catalogue high-end manufacturer.

 

 

I am as impressed with Gold Note's savvy one-stop business paradigm as I am with the top-shelf quality of their audio products. Avoiding a big box approach, they offer a complete representation of statement Italian craftsmanship in a cottage-like manner, yet with state-of-the-art technical sophistication and processes. Research and manufacture of all Gold Note products is done exclusively in Florence, Tuscany, Italy. International sales, distribution, and marketing/advertising to over 50 countries continue to grow.

 

Il Suono Italiano
Nationalistic musical labelings are always challenging, particularly in our amalgamated times. Commonly, European-centric musicians use such terms as Germanic, French, Italian, and American, to describe historically understood sonic characteristics, e.g. heavy / light, dark/bright, thick/thin, harmonically complex/translucent, etc. Composers, genres, even performance techniques, tend to be subjected to such descriptors. Their inherent vagueness, however, can leave much to interpretation. It goes without saying that, though certain sonic parameters are universally ascribed to, high-end audio designers/manufacturers codify their respective definitions as to what constitutes a refined presentation of recorded music. It is what makes the market relevant and vibrant.

To this end, Gold Note is uniquely specific in defining their house sound as "The Italian Sound: "Vivid realism, precise imaging, accurate separation of instruments, speed, clarity of detail – all qualities emphasized in the development and creation of each Gold Note component, with the intent of delivering an accurate reproduction of the recorded musical event in as natural means possible. A balanced musicality that is neither wholly analytical nor sentimental."

"Gold Note aims to deliver the emotion of music through innovative technology, beautiful materials, and Italian design. We strive to find the perfect musicality with every product we make, with impeccable imaging and dynamics. The result is a full-bodied sound where every instrument and voice is defined and precisely placed in space."

This house sound in each component is represented through a "systems thinking" objective; a holistic approach that focuses on the sum of the parts versus a single component outcome. Clearly, the "Italian Sound" is best served in a cumulative audio system consisting entirely of Gold Note audio pieces. Synergistically speaking, however, even the contributions of a single Gold Note piece within the audio 'village' can be an incredible asset to the music it helps recreate.

 

 

Function And Form
The Gold Note A6 EVO II serves in the introductory position among a family of 3 full-range floor standing speaker models (the A3 EVO II representing their sole bookshelf design). It replaces the original A6 EVO first introduced in 2018. The A6 EVO II is a three-way bass reflex design, dual-ported, utilizing a catenary profile silk dome tweeter, two treated paper cone mid-drivers, and an internally-mounted, double suspension downward-firing treated paper woofer, located near the plinth.

As for the improvements offered in this updated version introduced in 2022, Gold Note Founder and CEO, Maurizio Aterini, provided me with the following response:

"The new A6 EVO II is a totally renovated loudspeaker compared to the original A6 EVO model. The EVO II is able to sound much more powerful and detailed, with wider incredible bandwidth extension, producing an amazing natural 3D performance.

Replacing the former SEAS drivers, the EVO II drivers are 100% custom-made in Italy to achieve the best performance of their category, designed to our specifications by the SICA company.

 

 

The tweeter is a bigger 25mm silk dome model having much greater power and extension ability compared to the smaller one used before, allowing a new crossover network designed to help the two new mid-woofers work in a more precise range of frequencies, achieving crisper, more detailed, more powerful sound. 

The internal subwoofer is a 160mm driver - 25% larger than the previous model, featuring a larger solid aluminum die-cast gasket and paper cone with a double suspension to enhance power handling and bass extension.

The front baffle is inspired by our XS-85 full-range floorstander, featuring a large sophisticated acoustic lens. This design enables better efficiency and more power to the sound. The cabinet is also completely redesigned to handle the larger, high-quality drivers, making the entire structure more rigid."

 

 

The internal subwoofer features a custom-made injection molded metal chassis that is sealed and separated from the upper cabinet. It is positioned approximately 6" from the bottom of the cabinet, directed downward, and out a rear port molded within the plinth. Years ago in my audiophile journey, I enjoyed a similar full-range design in the NHT Super Two, which housed a 6.5" long-throw mid-woofer (rear-firing port), directed downward out the bottom of the cabinet. This was another over-achiever for its time, providing a presentation well beyond its price point.

 

 

 

The A6 EVO II boasts a frequency range of 40 Hz to 20kHz, with an efficiency of 88dB/W/m. Impedance measures in at 4 ohms. Crossover points operate at 60 Hz and 2000 Hz, respectively. All crossover components are exclusively made by Mundorf and Clarity.

 

 

A true standout, the craftsmanship of the A6 EVO II (indeed, every piece I have personally witnessed in Gold Note's portfolio) is a work of beauty, impeccable in every detail. Nothing is a product of mass manufacturing, but rather a reflection of individual attention and care of assembly, down to the hefty gold-plated, nickel-free binding posts. Measuring 42.25" x 9" x 11.175 (HxWxD), the solid inert cabinet conveys a slim, handsome profile, the matte black sculptured front baffle offset with diamond-shaped walnut side panels to control resonance feedback. For those that favor, Gold Note also includes an attractive front baffle grill that fastens magnetically.

Summatively, the reader may enjoy this informative "How It's Made" YouTube of the A6 EVO II, created by Gold Note.

 

 

Lastly, I would be remiss in overlooking the informative owner's manual. I found it to be clearly written and helpful. In addition to specific information directly related to speaker assembly, placement, and troubleshooting, helpful advice was also included regarding room acoustics, managing reflective surfaces, and acoustical treatment options. A recommended period and process for speaker acclimation/break-in was lacking however, which I sense would be appreciated by new owners.

 

 

Performance
The A6 EVO II arrived as-new/zero hours, thus requiring some run-in time, which I allowed for approximately 100 hrs. Being exceptionally room-friendly, the A6 EVO II allowed me to spend a generous amount of time experimenting with placement. These are indeed unimposing, beautiful centerpieces, their visual tenor slipping easily into essentially any listening space without compromise. For reference, my listening environment is a dedicated one, the room dimensions being 14' x 17' with the speakers ultimately placed 29" off the long wall, with slight toe-in, and an 8' 2" separation (center-to-center). The stationary listening point was 9' 10" at the triangle, with ear level at the tweeter axis.

Though I did not find the low frequencies necessarily anemic or loose, I did experiment with placing a 16" x 20" oak platform underneath each cabinet to observe any contrasts in low-frequency focus vs my thick-pile carpeting. The boards did, in fact, provide a noticeable tautness in low frequencies, and at the same time, provide for enhanced definition of organic bass instrumental sources.

 

 

Listening Notes
There were many aspects of the A6 EVO II listening experience I was pleasantly surprised with, and not the least of which was a sense of authority, particularly with lower frequencies. They can go big when others go home with convincing command and authenticity. Their modest appearance may suggest otherwise, however, make no mistake – they indeed punch above their weight, yet remain well-balanced. At the same time, they can comfortably seat you at the center table at Smalls in NYC, providing wonderful intimacy through a bounty of micro detail, natural transient articulation, and imaging. They retain an impressive sense of authenticity to both musical source and venue, regardless of amplitude.

 

 

Selected Examples
Brenda Navarrete - Mi Mundo. (CD/Alma)
This debut solo project from contemporary Cuban singer/percussionist (bata virtuoso), Brenda Navarrete, surely should be in every audiophile's listening arsenal. The corporeal transients within this percussive party are pure joy, only equaled by the gripping quartal vocal harmonies that move through time symbiotically – a singular organism of musical life. Navarrete's eclectic amalgam of traditional Cuban dance style, smooth jazz, and a dash of pop, make this recording difficult to categorize, inviting the listener to many parts of the world, completely comfortable and adaptive to any culture, yet never allowing the feet to remain planted in any one geography.

Also featuring percussionists, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Rodney Barreto, Jose Carlos, and Adonis Panter, along with a host of A-list special guest musicians, the project gives stage to some of the finest and authentic performances anywhere.

From the laid-back jazz of "Drume Negrita," to the traditional folkloric, "Rumbero Como Yo," Mi Mundo offers an audio feast to any deep listener. Friends, you have to be comatose to not find your body and soul moved through this music.

In this reference, it is about deciphering complex sonic information and layering it correctly, which the A6 EVO II rendered exceptionally well. The recording venue was a small studio room, no more than the size of my listening room. The A6 EVO II presentation remained faithful to the actual dimensions of the performance. Micro-dynamic shading from all sources was truthful and engaging. Spatial cues were clear and well-defined. Organic faithfulness to acoustic instrumental sources were a shade smeared, but distinguished all the same.

It should be made clear that a significant forte of the musical presentation the A6 EVO II afforded was energy! It was an awakening of musical color – vibrant, visceral – colors that define character and naturalness, compelling sound sources to come to life! The A6 EVO II offered excitement and involvement befitting the spirit of the recorded moment – a memory remaining with the listener long after the recording had finished.

 

 

Herbie Hancock - River: the joni letters. (180 gram vinyl LP by Verve)
I originally acquired this recording in CD format shortly after it was released in 2007 (In addition to the recent 180 gram vinyl release, there is also a 10th Anniversary/Deluxe Edition CD as well as a 96kHz/24-bit stream). Being a lover of Joni's continuous breath of fresh air, one ignoring the genre boundaries between folk, pop, and jazz, I found an instant attraction to Herbie Hancock's tribute project, weaving through/to/around genres in its own unique way, gathering a brilliant collection of vocal colors and stylistic renditions for some of Joni's most celebrated songs. Indeed, I hear this recording project as a love letter from Herbie to Joni, swooning over the musical freedom that her music has represented, installing new and fresh visions that would appeal to so many.

It's no surprise that the project won "Best Album" at the 2007 Grammys and reached #5 on the Billboard charts. I mean, what's not to love from the diversity represented through featured artists such as Luciana Souza, Tina Turner, Nora Jones, and the guest of honor herself, Joni Mitchell? In my opinion, River: the joni letters is one of Herbie Hancock's crown jewels. A masterfully-woven musical exploration of an iconic poet-artist, applying fresh and uniquely creative fonts from fellow poet-artists.

This reference has always proven to be one of my favorite low-amplitude listening pleasures. Late-night, low-light, a glass of red wine, you get the picture... It will reveal the level of frequency balance, imagery, stage width and depth, and transient consistency a fine audio system is capable of presenting across all amplitudes, beginning al niente. While reviewing various fine audio pieces, I always listen (deeply) for that threshold when the artist(s) first enter and accurately place themselves in my listening room. From here, it is left to ascertain the visceralness of that presence – the PRAT of their being. Through the mouthpiece of my current reference Von Schweikert Endeavor Special Editions, I continually smile at my system's ability to reveal the performances on this recording.

Allowing the A6 EVO II an opportunity to serve in their stead, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they were up to the task. Instrumental sources were perfectly placed in space. Though perhaps not as deep or tall a stage as the ESEs, the horizontal dispersion was very impressive – Well beyond their stature. Air and separation within a distinct three-dimensional landscape were omnipresent and convincingly live. Though they may have lacked that penultimate brilliance and sparkle the ESEs offer, the upper-frequency transient articulations were nevertheless amazing, with beautiful clarity and speed.

 

 

Rachelle Ferrell - First Instrument. (CD / Blue Note)
Man, what a beautiful recording project! A reissue of her 1990 debut studio project, Somethin' Else, First Instrument is an audiophile's dream in both system/equipment evaluation and just simple listening enjoyment. Given a similar repertoire of standards, there is some natural comparative interest with many other female jazz artist recordings, where one can quickly hear how Ferrell's unique and versatile treatment of her "instrument" stands alone. Alas, I only wish she had continued to pursue this genre more thoroughly/experimentally rather than crossing over to R&B. One of my favs on the First Instrument recording is also one of the shortest (literally and figuratively!), "Inchworm" (Just for kicks, I enjoyed running back/forth between hers and Patricia Barber's rendition!). Lenny and Rachelle create a fantastic call/response scat intro that was completely palpable via the A6 EVO II's energy.

The subsequent synthesis be it human voice and instrument is wonderfully represented when Shorter and Ferrell cut loose. Instrumental mids between them were a tad recessed at times, however still very present in the fabric. The raw talent and versatility of Ferrell's craft come to bear in the live version of "Autumn Leaves," the A6 EVO II enhancing a realistic stage and reflection of venue. Add a knock-out lineup of first-call musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White, and this track sends chills from beginning to end. Overall, this reference demonstrated so convincingly the level of engagement and depth of listening without fatigue that the Gold Note A6 EVO II offers. I simply did not want to call it a night throughout my review experience. 

Finally, it should be noted that, with a frequency response extending down to 40 Hz, and an efficiency of 88dB/W/m behind them, I found the A6 EVO II to be exceptionally fast and articulate with plenty of balanced reach into the lowest frequencies during most listening sessions. Throughout the review, I did tease the presentation with my Velodyne DD10+, experimenting with various crossover and amplitude points. Ultimately, I found the preference for the Velodyne contributions was minimal, leaving the sub out of the picture for all but a few examples.

 

 

Closing Credits
As a professional musician whose primary objective in developing a dedicated high-end premium audio system is towards focused listening and critical evaluation, my highest priority is the most realistic reproduction possible of the live musical event (within budget). If components also happen to look good, it is a fortunate, but unintentional consequence. Frankly, when I'm listening, my eyes are closed. Yet, I acknowledge that many listen with their eyes open, and some even still will listen only with their eyes! To each their own, and as it should be. After all, that is the beauty of our art. Our passion for high art in recorded music reproduction is, by nature, subjective and personal. Just as it is with music itself.

In the Gold Note A6 EVO II, I feel Gold Note has truly synthesized a wonderful blending of visual and sonic Italian beauty, a centerpiece representing the highest standards in the audio arts. I would be hard-pressed to identify another market-competitive, full-range speaker at this price point that captures as many of the musical attributes of the A6 EVO II. They offer absolute musical and visual satisfaction, complimenting and accentuating any amalgam of components feeding them.

 

 

Above all, Gold Note's A6 EVO II will generate tremendous pride of ownership, worthy as an end-game speaker for anyone's audio system. Gold Note is indeed poised among the finest of Italian high-end audio, for which music enthusiasts worldwide are continually grateful. My sincere appreciation to Steve Jain at Fidelity Imports and Maurizio Aterini of Gold Note for the privilege of this review. For those in the market, I strongly encourage your serious consideration!

 

 

Reference System
Preamplifier: VAC Signature mkII SE (with phono stage)
Amplifier: VAC Statement 450S iQ
Digital Source: Esoteric K-03
Analog Source: Kronos Sparta / Kronoscope RS arm (with Dynavector XV-1s cartridge)
Speakers: Von Schweikert Audio Endeavor Special Edition
Subwoofer: Velodyne DD10+

Cables: Silversmith Fidelium Speaker cables, JPS Aluminata power cords & interconnects (XLR & RCA), and WyWires Platinum (phono)

Power Conditioning: Audience adeptResponse aR6-T4 (w/ Audience frontRow power cord)

Vibration Control, et al: Critical Mass Systems CenterStage 2M footers and Butcher Block Acoustics

Isolation Platform, Furutech NCF Cable Boosters, and Nitty Gritty 2.5Fi LP Cleaner

 

 

 

Tonality

Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)

Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise
Emotionally Engaging

Value For The Money

 

 

 

Specifications
Type: Full-range floorstanding loudspeaker
Tweeter: 1.1" Custom treated silk dome
Mid-Woofer: Two 5.5" custom treated paper double suspension cones
Subwoofer: 6" custom treated paper double suspension cone
Crossover: 70Hz and 2000Hz @ 12dB/Oct
Connectors: Gold Note gold plated nickel-free
Dimensions: 230 x 1080 x 285mm (WxHxD)
Stand dimensions 288 x 441mm (WxD)
Weight: 132 lbs pair
Finishes On Side Panels: Glossy Italian Walnut or Matt Italian Walnut 
Price: $8,399 to $8,999 depending on finish

 

 

 

Company Information
Gold Note 
Via Virginio 158
Montespertoli (Florence) Tuscany
50025 Italy

Voice: +39 0571675005
E-mail: support@goldnote.it 
Website: Goldnote.it

 

 

USA Distributor
Fidelity Imports
7 Crown Ct.
Manalapan Township, NJ 07726

Voice: (609) 369-9240
E-mail: info@fidelityimports.com 
Web: FidelityImports.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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