ReMusic visits Gold Note

16.01.2013..

The Renaissance is an artistic and cultural period of the European history that, spreading from Florence, evolved and marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. Why this introduction? Because recently, during a visit at Gold Note’s, a company based near Florence, that historical period, fundamental for the entire humankind, came into my mind. For two reasons. First, Gold Note is the new brand of the former BlueNote/Goldenote and that finally represents a clearer name, a more up-to-date logo, in a sense a "re-birth" of the logo of a company, which is prestigious abroad but, paradoxically, not very famous in Italy. Second, the technology I personally saw in their products, which goes from the first to the last link of the audio chain - stands excluded, but LPs included! - is an absolute cutting-edge audio technology. In my opinion, it embodies the beginning of a changing era in the Italian hi-fi panorama that has made me really thought at the Renaissance.

 

My question is: how many Italian audio companies do employ the concept of an always more improved modularity in the manufacture of amplifiers and digital players? How many do employ PCB multilayer with four, six or more layers with SMD technology in order to rationalize and shorten the signal path, to offer more reliability and constancy of performances in time and in order to guarantee a quicker maintenance or replacement with evident benefits as for efficacy and quick service? Moreover, how many companies, although with front rank machineries and technology, while listening a loudspeaker, do notice that a woofer performs better if hemmed with the old foam and therefore do they use it? Gold Note does it. Avantgarde, yes, but only when necessary to reach a given outcome. In hi-fi, it "seems" that a good performance is the ultimate goal of a device.


 

When I visited Gold Note's premises, I went through tens and tens of meters of workbenches of production lines. I saw hundreds of printed circuit boards to be completed and open amps and CD players ready to be assembled, with computerized machinery of which I was not aware, like cables machinery. I took pictures of shelves full of amplifiers ready to be packed in boxes. I appreciated also the packaging line, which I could not imagine so complex, well designed and so important. I dedicated a couple of hours to the listening room, where the well prepared and cordial Eng. Maurizio Aterini, sales manager and designer, made me hear some Gold Note products. In a photo, you can even see Maurizio's happy face while he was enjoying one of his preferred tracks. And if one of the designer engineers is a musicophile, well, this is a guarantee on the sound of the company's products. 

 

I stop here with my personal considerations. Now I want to report the objective data related to Gold Note, because an high fidelity enthusiast cannot ignore what lies behind an object of which he reads on a magazine or hears at a dealer's, and in particular an Italian enthusiast must know that there is a company representing the flagship of our audio industry. Gold Note's story originates in 1992, when under the BlueNote name starts the production of a very innovative line of audio accessories, which, first on the market, introduced the concept of resonator through vibrations control, like the Midas, a resonator damper for tubes, and then the Kymyas, treatment for vinyl records. Since 1994, the Tuscan company has been working in partnership with some of the most important international companies. In fact, the printed circuit boards used by the internationally known high-end companies, not mentionable for privacy reasons, are made here. Then they start to think of an own production of audio components. This happens in 2000. Provided that the collaborations were with companies of many other nations, it is more logic and simple - and I think economically more convenient - for the former BlueNote to aim to the foreigner markets and in fact the brand is more known abroad than in Italy. Currently, on the international press it is possible to find about 250 reviews on the BlueNote/Goldenote products. This last name has been adopted to avoid litigation with the famous recording label.


Another important step in the history of the company: In 2007, it joined as luxury brand the Akamai group, an Italian group notwithstanding the name, OEM manufacturer, among the first 50 global companies of the sector. I remind you again, just to avoid any confusion, that since 2013 its name has been Gold Note. Absolutely to take into account is the fact that four engineers form Gold Note’s supporting team. Electronic technicians form the entire staff in charge for development, tests and the most delicate stages of fabrication. In addition, there are about twenty people in charge for the assembly lines, storage and shipment. All the products are designed and manufactured in Italy. With a small exception: the cantilevers of the cartridges are made in Japan. Currently the product lines are three: Diamond, Classic and Micro, plus the lines: Loudspeakers, Arms and Cartridges, Accessories. Lately there has been also a vinyl records line, 180 grams single and double LPs, 45 RPM in 500 copies limited edition, very special for Maurizio Aterini as both enthusiast and engineer. Actually, there would be also the BlackNote line dedicated to digital audio networking, to pro, where I noticed that the new cutting-edge technologies, have already been thought and used by the Tuscan company a couple of years ago! But I do not want to talk about it to avoid making any confusion.

 

Let us stay in our favorite boundary, the hi-fi world. The product lines, as I told before, go from top entry level to high-end. A preview tidbit is that they are studying an ultra high-end line, mostly made to astonish and make better understand the potentialities of Gold Note. I stress the fact that the company designs everything by itself: from the screw to the package, from the connector to the foam used as a pad to protect from mistreatments during the delivery. Have a look at the website and then go to listen and "see" their products at the dealers' shops.

To see. Because it is a pleasure what is inside an amp like the Demidoff Diamond: one hundred watts for channel in two separate chassis. One dedicated only to high current power supply with eighteen (18!) handcrafted transformers, the other one with the proprietary Mirror-Amp circuitry, which uses three gain stages coupled in cascade without employing any capacitors in order to obtain a super-linear signal, and virtually eliminating any distortion. A circuitry also employed in the less expensive amps so to maintain the same family-sound of the range top products.

Gold Note XS-96

 

And to listen. Because it is a further pleasure to listen to a loudspeaker like the l’XS-96, three-way, 96 dB of sensitivity, pneumatic suspension. Nothing too complicate, in Maurizio's opinion, super selected crossover elements, drivers designed and chosen ad hoc, a specially tuned plywood cabinet fully treated with natural leather which provides a rational control of the frequency resonance. That is it. More complicate to me, indeed, to let you understand that from those loudspeakers comes out a sound that is more fluid, linear, controlled, coherent and musical than any other sound I could have ever heard, independently from the price.

 

In conclusion: the company sells about the 90% abroad. The very recent change of brand, now more effective, easier to pronounce everywhere and better memorable, has been chosen to finally aim to the Italian market, so far really disregarded. Many enthusiasts may own more famous products than Gold Note's, but whose technology is far from that of the Tuscan manufacture. Rather, these labels sometimes just assemble products designed and made by others. This is not a bad thing, of course, but in my opinion, it is very important to know who is the manufacturer of what we buy and listen. And how it does. And Gold Note does great.

Gold Note Favard CD player.
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Maurizio Aterini, Gold Note's Consulting Engineer, and Ulisse (editor's note
Maurizio Aterini, Gold Note's Consulting Engineer, and Ulisse (editor's note "Marron Glacé") Pisoni.
Gold Note's inner listening room, incredibly in order, for this occasion...
Gold Note's inner listening room, incredibly in order, for this occasion...
A part of the setting dedicated to Gold Note's handmade manufactures.
A part of the setting dedicated to Gold Note's handmade manufactures.
The plant assigned to the production lines.
The plant assigned to the production lines.
Assembly kit for the Stibbert CD player.
Assembly kit for the Stibbert CD player.
High definition electron microscope for the quality control of the SMD boards.
High definition electron microscope for the quality control of the SMD boards.
SMD Pick & Place machine with four-dimensional direction adjusting.
SMD Pick & Place machine with four-dimensional direction adjusting.
SMD reflow oven.
SMD reflow oven.
by Ulisse Pisoni
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