Gato Audio PM-6 loudspeakers | Listening test

13.11.2012..

 

To the article on the measurements

 

I intended to start this review with some technical and scientific considerations just to disguise my irrational attraction towards the Gato Audio PM-6 speakers. Hence, I must admit that the perfect and sinuous lines of these monitors have irreparably carried me away….

 

Gato Audio takes life in 2007 as an ensemble of great mentors, perfectionists, designers, developers, etc., in short, a skilful and well-measured merger of competent people.

The promoter is Paul Rossing, a name not new in the Hi-End world. In fact, he is the man who ideated what would have been, in the course of time, the Danish technology in its most expressive form. The 1950 is the year that brings fortune to his choices with a subsequent growth of several companies like Thule Audio, Gamut and first Rossing Electronics.

Today, the Danish Gato Audio has a young and ambitious team and, as its MD Frederik Johansen claims, its main goal – fully achieved, I would say – is to gather young brains motivated by the research in several fields of Hi-End and pro. Kresten Dinesen, designer and creative director, has wanted and created, under the Gato Audio’s brand, a design that responds to the needs of the Hi-End market - as far as technique and beauty are concerned - with the best available materials. He has also remarked how it is possible to combine art and science in an ideal union of perfection and musicality.

 

Gato Audio makes a line of electronic devices and loudspeakers that are purely Hi-End with a peculiar design. The AMP-150 is a 150 watt RMS amp with a rounded shape, the CDD-1 CD player/DAC with Philips CD PRO2 transport has very interesting features and, last but not least, the RC-1 remote control. The latter, object of desire, has a metallic make and Gato Audio’s logo on the front.

Concerning the loudspeakers, there are the PM and FM series, respectively marked with the number 2 and 6, hence two series of bookshelf speakers and two of floorstanding speakers.

The FM series is more accurate in some details and mounts drivers that are different from the PM series. Obviously, the FM 2 and 6 series represent the top of the catalogue, but Gato Audio has optimized all its loudspeakers. Each one is made with extreme care and has been optimized to perform at best in any condition.

 

The Gato Audio PM-6 – object of this review – are fine bass reflex floorstanding speakers. They are 10.20 cm high, 20 wide and 37 deep. The cabinet is, at the same time, fine and interesting. Its studied lines, got by bending the MDF sheet, are lacquered in glossy black piano, a painting that leaves no doubts on the manual ability of the company as regards the finish and the quality control.

The front baffle is quite narrow in order to avoid the first uncontrolled diffractions, whereas the rest of the cabinet has a drop-shape or mandolin-shape to avoid standing waves inside the cabinet. The PM-6 are a 2 ½-way speaker system covered by a almost retro-style anti-dust grill, one for each driver.

The metal base is very accurate both in the manufacture and care of details: beautiful and stable with its four adjustable earthquake-proof feet that allow a perfect isolation from the floor and a great absorption from spurious vibrations.

The cabinet shows sinuous, natural, simple and, at the same time, refined lines. Gato Audio’s studio put together style and sustainability, continuing to seek for materials and workmanship methods that are not affecting the environment and can guarantee the quality of the products. Maybe am I falling in love?

Canada is the land of the forests and, in this cold and wonderful country, there are many companies that put in first place the research of the design. Gato Audio’s design philosophy is a refined manufacturing style, beauty and selection of the materials in consideration of a small but very good catalogue.

Back to our speakers. In the rear, there are WBT connectors for bi-wiring that can accommodate also big cables. The shape of the speakers, traditional in the front side, is drop-shaped in the back.

The difference with the top series - the more refined and expensive FM6 - lies in the back, where there is a profile in aluminium extruse, capable of nullifying the resonances and optimizing the dynamic performance while preserving a continuum with the design of the company’s audio equipment.

The speakers slants backwards with an angle of 2,5 degrees to ensure that the emanations of the three drivers joint together in temporal phase, in correspondence with the suggested listening position.

Inside the cabinet, there are some reinforcements in MDF, with the same drop-shape as the cabinet itself. This is to provide rigidity and to keep the structure acoustically dull. Two are the bass-reflex via rear-firing ports, probably for two different acoustic chambers.

 

The choice of the 2½ -way is always more common in the speakers that want to get high performances in the low range of the frequency response. However, there are some listening criticisms related to the quite accentuated loudness effects that force the use of muscular amplifications capable of controlling tricky impedances.

 

We will see if this is also the case of the Gato Audio PM-6 speakers.

They are beautiful indeed and the appearance is important too. But inside? And how do they perform, which is their character?

White gloves, and I remove the socket head screws that secure the drivers. I peer into the holes left by the midwoofers and I notice with pleasure the huge amount of acrylic soundproof material and the care in putting it inside.

This shows Gato Audio’s professionality in terms of both measurements and listening.

The drivers that handle the mid and low frequencies are two 17cm papercone midwoofers. The first handles the mid frequency conveniently cut by the crossover and the second, aesthetically the same, handles the part that makes the speaker able to go down to 34 Hz.

 

And now, let us do the listening test.

I suggest treating the walls and the floor of your listening room. Also a simple carpet sometimes helps acoustically.

 

During the test, a warm fall sun pierces through my windows, weaving into my room. In front of me the two glossy Gato speakers tower over in the best possible position in order to obtain a perfect triangle.

I remove the anti-dust grilles to avoid any obstacle between my ears and the speakers. I do not know if this is a ritual or a fetish but I love to see the midwoofers treated badly by my power amps. The first listening configuration is as follows: Krell KSA 300 power amp, Schiavon DIY tube preamp, Ramm Audio DIY signal cables and YYA power cables. The CD player is a Sony 559ES, an old strong suit but always at the top, capable of very good performances.

 

I start with Diana Krall’s Quiet nights album. The first track is conveyed by the two Gatos with surprising easiness. Maybe it is a bit glossier, nearly mirrored, and Krall’s piano ties with the wooden lines of the Gatos giving a more coherent image.

The drums mark time and the snare drum has all its fundamentals. Maybe it goes a bit too down, this loudness effect sometimes makes losing its coherence and correctness in the emission as the sound message goes down, stretching out the whole.

Ms Krall is never hesitating with her rich voice, sometimes hoarse, and the Gatos follow her melodic line. A fine record, maybe turning gray, but I think this was a desired effect. The Gato Audio speakers are more composed than my reference, which, in comparison, is more sparkling and with a more present mid range. The singer says that this work is “the more sensual, intimist and erotic record of her musical history”. Besides her historical quartet, besides the producers’ team headed by Tommy LiPuma, the arranger Claus Ogerman, already collaborator of the multifaceted artist in the first ten years of her discographic career, has added up.

The music is lively, the notes of the piano are reproduced till the lowest octave, giving to it body and materiality; the contour of the instrument is perfectly defined on the different stages. The more is the completeness of the instruments, the more you feel like turning up the volume. What to say? Great record and great reproduction.

 

I would like to underline how the hybrid configuration, with the tube preamp and the mosfet power amp, gives more warmth to the recordings and in many cases moves forward also the mid frequencies. That frequency range where the voice is predominant.

It is time for rock with the great sound of Marillion’s Live from Cadogan Hall: a good acoustic work that deserves all my appreciation, in terms of both scenic construction and ambience. Also the recording is very accurate, quite audiophile I would say, Hearing is believing!

Steve Hoghart - he replaced Fish who marked four amazing albums with the Marillion -, completely changes the colours of the group along the lines of Genesis and Pink Floyd. He mixes the colours with a romantic rock a la Coldplay to a scenery acoustic that I would define indie rock, and it is just here that the Gato Audio speakers are at ease.

The acoustic guitars have the right brightness, as for the guitar arpeggios that space out on a real sound front. It is like being on the stage and stay in time with them.

Dry drum set, sometimes too deep to my taste, although the power handling leaves no doubts about credibility. Diana Krall does it well and harnesses the soul of the Gatos.

 

I decide however to change the power amp and pass to a whole tube configuration to have more presence on the mid range.

A fine TDY power amp with the KT88, well known tube for its consistence and power, even if a bit bombastic in the low range. I confirm the DIY Ramm Audio for the signal and the Mit MH 750 Shotgun for the power, while as main cables I chose the Furutech FP 314, good cables made in Japan.

 

The Ride of the Valkyries starts the dance and every time I listen to it, I remember Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now: great acting and a right dose of adrenaline for a track that has marked an era. The Gatos love classical music and appreciate low volumes since in this way the depth and scene can be stable and involving.

Trumpets and brasses are spruced up. The tube is less quick but more suave on the mid frequencies, giving more sweetness to the sound message. Let us say that it polishes the roughness of many solid-state power amps.

Modest Petrovič Mussorgsky, great Russian composer, with his very famous A night on Montecalvo, puts to the test the Gatos which seem to follow a virtual tortuous path but without loosing grip, without trudging or cracking up.

The big orchestra finds here a rich soil although the Gatos require a very good current amplification. Nevertheless the pliability of the suspensions makes enjoy at low volumes the low frequencies that appear enough protrusive.

 

Danish do it better, we could say, but it is just a thought that reminds me Madonna’s slogan on the t-shirts, even if referred to the Italians. The lands of the North Europe have surely handed down to these Gato speakers all their knowledge in terms of passion and musicality that go well with the timbric of the two ladies elegant dressed in black. The hard and biting weather seems to influence the typical sound of North Europe, which sees the desire of second the warm and cosy domestic environment with a warm and fascinating sound, like a reassuring fireplace.

A remark to the Gatos is their sensitivity to the environment. The 2 ½-way does not help a lot in this, as sometimes it starts codas in the low frequencies. So I recommend to treat the room very well with Tube Traps, maybe. But I think it will be a hard work.

A good absorption, besides limiting the insurgence of spurious frequencies, limits the pollution of the sound message and helps in getting better performances, aiding the perception of all those details that, sometimes, could loose themselves in a very reverberating room.

At this point, I am swept away by the music. The Gato Audio PM-6 speakers rock me and do it well. The piano, as I said before, is reproduced in all its size and the sound of the pedal is so clear that you can hear the foot while pushing it.

The pipe organ, very difficult instrument for the deepest octaves, is reproduced at quite high volumes, without any hardening of the scene, leaving a clear image of the instrument on a three-dimensional background. The scene is at the right height, giving to the instrument the right proportions and distances between listener and composer.

 

Final considerations.

A great loudspeaker that I suggest to whom, in the winter nights, needs the warmth of a piano or the voice of a jazz singer caressing his/her thoughts. Great performances with classical music that has a still and spacious image in the three dimensions. A good amp is the conditio sine qua non, with skills of power, velocity and dryness. The vacuum tubes are helped by 90 dB of efficiency.

Gato Audio does not leave any doubts on its Hi-End certification: created by great designers, sees that nothing goes off in the course of time and comes to our ears like the first day. Good listening and stay tuned.

Suggested.

 

 

Official technical specifications:

Type: 2½-way floorstanding speaker

Frequency response: 34Hz-25kHz -6dB

Sensitivity (2,83V): 90dB

Recommended power amplifier: 50 to 300W

Nominal impedance: 4ohm

Connectors: Gold plated 4mm Plugs, bi-wire

Drivers:

High frequencies 38mm Ring Radiator, powerful ferrite motor and optimised chamber

Mid & Low frequencies 170mm papercone, low loss suspension, motor with shorting rings and optimised voice coil

Low frequencies 170mm papercone, low loss suspension, motor with shorting rings

Dimensions: 200x1020x370mm (WxHxD)

Weight: 28kg, 61.73lb

Official Italian dealer: to Il Tempio Esoterico website

Official current price in Italy: 2,990.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to Mauro "OutliNero" Simolo system

 
by Mauro Simolo
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