Gold Note

DS- 1000 DAC and Streamer

NOVO - - REVIEW -

Florence,

Italy based Gold Note pro­duces an im­pres­sive se­lec­tion of hi-fi prod­ucts rang­ing from turnta­bles to elec­tron­ics and loud­speak­ers. The com­pany is renowned for ac­cu­rate sound re­pro­duc­tion and ele­gant Ital­ian styling. Gold Note is also known for de­vel­op­ing re­ally in­no­va­tive prod­ucts such as the PH-10 phono stage, which is per­haps the most ad­vanced up­grade you can serve to your turntable. If you’re a reg­u­lar reader of NOVO, you’ve prob­a­bly seen a few pic­tures of Gold Note turnta­bles - they are drop dead gor­geous.

Since my in­tro­duc­tion to Gold Note about three years ago, I’ve had a chance to lis­ten to a few of the com­pany’s turnta­bles and hifi com­po­nents. In fact, last year, I found the Giglio turntable so ir­re­sistible that I ended up pur­chas­ing it af­ter writ­ing its review, which you can find at www.novo.press/gold-note­giglio-turntable-review. The Giglio now sits proudly atop the au­dio stack in my ref­er­ence sys­tem and its lux­u­ri­ous ap­pear­ance prompt a con­ver­sa­tion with just about ev­ery guest, even those not quite as pas­sion­ate about au­dio as my­self. With a price of $5,000 www.novo.press US, the Giglio (wood fin­ish) may not be for everyone, but the great thing about Gold Note is that it of­fers a range of five turnta­bles suit­able for just about everyone’s bud­get - from the $850 US Valore 425 Lite all the way to the $6,050 US Mediter­ra­neo (wood fin­ish).

DE­SIGN & FEA­TURES

Gold Note’s elec­tron­ics and loud­speak­ers on the other hand, are aimed at con­sumers with slightly deeper pock­ets. The sub­ject of this review is the Gold Note DS-1000 DAC (dig­i­tal-to-ana­log con­verter) / Streamer, priced at $5,000 US, de­signed to de­liver true au­dio­phile sound from dig­i­tal mu­sic sources. Housed in a large rec­tan­gu­lar alu­minium box, the DS-1000 has the di­men­sions of Gold Note’s other full-sized com­po­nents, like their preamps and amps. It comes avail­able in a brushed black or sil­ver fin­ish. The top plate is adorned with a carved Gold Note logo, while the front plate is out­fit­ted with a 3.5-inch color dis­play. Over­all, the DS-1000 is a very at­trac­tive look­ing com­po­nent, with a top-notch build qual­ity.

How­ever, it’s un­der the hood where things get even more in­ter­est­ing. The DS-1000 is a highly ad­vanced DAC and mu­sic streamer. Its DAC func­tion­al­ity al­lows it to de­code PCM au­dio files up to 24/192 and DSD files up to DSD256. As a net­work player it is ca­pa­ble of stream­ing mu­sic from online ser­vices such as TIDAL and QOBUZ, your home net­work, in­ter­net ra­dio and playback from USB flash drives and hard drives. The DS-1000 is built on Gold Note’s mod­u­lar de­sign, which al­low its func­tion­al­ity and per­for­mance to be up­graded. Op­tional up­grades in­clude: an in­ter­nal preamp stage card (equipped with a high-end PGA sin­gle re­sis­tor dual-mono vol­ume con­trol), ana­log bal­anced stereo in­puts, and for the ul­ti­mate per­for­mance, two dif­fer­ent ex­ter­nal bal­anced Class A tube out­put stages can be or­dered.

The rear panel of the DS-1000 of­fers all the con­nec­tions you would ex­pect from a com­po­nent in this class. Its dig­i­tal in­puts in­clude coax, op­ti­cal and asyn­chro­nous USB. Two ad­di­tional USB in­puts are lo­cated on the front panel. Out­put on the other hand in­clude bal­anced XLR and un­bal­anced RCA. The DS-

1000 is happy to con­nect to your home net­work via a wired or wire­less con­nec­tion, and can be con­trolled with the sin­gle con­trol knob on its front panel, the pro­vided re­mote or an IOS/AN­DROID app. Rather than re­peat­ing all the tech­ni­cal de­tails from the Gold Note web­site, I in­vite you to check out www. gold­note.it for the deeper de­tails. In­stead, let’s talk about func­tion­al­ity and mu­sic.

PER­FOR­MANCE

I tested the DS-1000 in two dif­fer­ent sys­tems: one with a Mod Wright In­stru­ments LS 100 preamp and KWA 100 amp; and the other with a Jeff Row­land Con­tin­uum S2 in­te­grated amp. I also tried it with Gold Note’s ex­cel­lent sound­ing P-1000 preamp (review com­ing soon). I also used two pairs of speak­ers for my tests: the highly mu­si­cal Totem Acous­tic Sig­na­ture One speak­ers as well as my prized Raidho C 1.1 speak­ers. Dur­ing my lis­ten­ing tests, I streamed mu­sic from my home net­work and con­nected a solid state hard drive, loaded with high-res and DSD mu­sic, di­rectly to the DS-1000.

I pre­ferred con­trol­ling mu­sic playback with the Gold Note app, rather than the re­mote or the front panel con­trol knob (both of th­ese worked well, but seemed rather cum­ber­some com­pared to the app). The Gold Note app of­fers a clean, easy to nav­i­gate in­ter­face that was a plea­sure to use and worked flaw­lessly. I’ve en­coun­tered many other high-end stream­ers were the na­tive app left a lot to be de­sired, but luck­ily that was not the case here. The DS-1000 is also com­pat­i­ble with 3rd-party apps con­trol/stream­ing apps which will give it some ad­di­tional fea­tures.

I’ll never for­get the day I in­te­grated a higher-end ex­ter­nal DAC into my sys­tem, it was an ex­pe­ri­ence that for­ever changed the way I en­joy mu­sic. A high per­for­mance DAC can take a dig­i­tal mu­sic sys­tem from sound­ing great to out­stand­ing, in just about ev­ery re­gard. Since the DS-1000 is a twoin-one DAC / streamer, I tested both its func­tions in tan­dem.

I started my lis­ten­ing ses­sion by serv­ing up mu­sic from a solid state hard drive loaded with high-res and DSD mu­sic files, con­nected to the DS-1000’s USB port. I place a lot of value on a sys­tem’s abil­ity to pro­duce a well de­fined sound­stage be­cause it’s one of the fac­tors that can make recorded mu­sic sound life-like. I’m happy to re­port that when lis­ten­ing to well recorded acous­tic tracks and clas­si­cal pieces, the DS1000 was ca­pa­ble of paint­ing a mas­sively ex­pan­sive sound­stage. The sound­stage stretched well be­yond the walls of my room, in width, depth and even height at times. Vo­cals and in­stru­ments were po­si­tioned with re­mark­able pre­ci­sion within this sonic im­age. All of th­ese improvements were not sur­pris­ing how­ever from a com­po­nent at this price point, but the DS-1000 turned out to be ca­pa­ble of so much more.

When you lis­ten to a DAC of this cal­iber, you re­al­ize how much more per­for­mance a high-end DAC can breathe into a sys­tem.

The DS-1000 was able to ren­der not just a three di­men­sional sound­stage, but a vir­tu­ally holo­graphic sound­stage. One of the rea­sons for this is that it’s ca­pa­ble of re­pro­duc­ing the air around in­stru­ments and artists, just as you would hear in a real life per­for­mance. This meant that I could clearly dis­tin­guish in­di­vid­ual in­stru­ments in a band or orches­tra, in the most com­plex record­ings, rather than sim­ply hear a blend of the lay­ers - some­thing you would ex­pect from a lesser DAC.

Ad­di­tional great strengths of the DS-1000 were de­tail re­trieval and trans­parency. This DAC ex­tracted ev­ery ounce of in­ner res­o­lu­tion from in­stru­ments and artists con­tained in the record­ings. It al­lowed me to tune into the finest de­tails in the voices, mak­ing them sound pal­pa­ble. Like­wise, string, wind and per­cus­sion in­stru­ments al­lowed me to peer deeper into their tex­tures, of­fer­ing a near real life in­stru­ment ex­pe­ri­ence. The at­tack of per­cus­sion in­stru­ments like the cym­bals was light­ning fast and the de­cay was nat­u­ral. The mid-bass and bass notes played with great def­i­ni­tion and tight­ness, and never dis­played any ex­ces­sive bloom. The DS- 1000 played ev­ery al­bum, from acous­tic to rock to clas­si­cal, with a re­mark­able clar­ity.

Dur­ing my tests, I also lis­tened to hun­dreds of CD qual­ity tracks streamed from my home net­work via a wire­less con­nec­tion. The re­sults here were equally im­pres­sive. Ev­ery song I played through the DS-1000 ben­e­fit­ted from an im­proved sound­stage and in­creased mu­si­cal de­tails. Not once did I de­tect any of the dig­i­tal harsh­ness that lesser qual­ity or older DACs pro­duce. The wire­less con­nec­tion was also rock solid, it didn’t fail me a sin­gle time.

What does all of this amount to? Lis­ten­ing to mu­sic through the Gold Note DS-1000 DAC / streamer pro­duced an highly im­mer­sive and mostly im­por­tantly mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence. On many oc­ca­sions, it cap­tured my at­ten­tion and got me lost in the mu­sic for hours at a time. The DS-1000 is a re­mark­ably great sound­ing DAC / streamer that is def­i­nitely worth your time to au­di­tion. Do even bet­ter DACs ex­ist? Of course they do. When it comes to high-end au­dio, the sky is the limit. How­ever, you’ll be happy to know that a DAC like the Gold Note DS-1000 will give you more than 90 per­cent of what the very best, most ex­pen­sive DACs are ca­pa­ble of, at a frac­tion of the price. At $5,000 US, the DS-1000 is sim­ply the best sound­ing and best equipped high-end DAC / streamer that I’ve had the plea­sure of au­di­tion­ing. It also of­fers one of the best graphic in­ter­faces on its front panel and in the Gold Note app, both very im­por­tant fac­tors in a streamer. And if you’re will­ing to spend a lit­tle ex­tra for some of the op­tional up­grades you can achieve even more flex­i­bil­ity and per­for­mance gains. Very well done Gold Note.

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