Gold Note IS-1000 Super integrated amplifier review


It's not hard to like and appreciate the Gold Note. Maurizio Aterini and the Gold Note team are year after year pushing the boundaries with their painstaking endeavors to deliver the real high-end audio with audiophile quality at down to earth prices and most importantly without compromising the technical or sonic quality. I wouldn't say that Gold Note PH-10 phono preamplifier, that I've reviewed and happily awarded (link) started this trend for the brand, but it surely pushes it forward. 

Gold Note IS-1000 Super integrated amplifier follows the PH-10 logic and design, but this time even with even more features and impact.


MEET THE GOLDEN DRAGON


IS-1000 comes with the power output of 125W@8Ω per channel and a true audiophile DAC under the hood. The slightly costlier DELUXE version adds the BurrBrown PCM1796.


What will interest most is the IS-1000 being a Roon Ready device. It's fully compatible with multi-room systems and with a quick plug&play installation. You simply plug IS-1000 to the main A/C, connect it to your network (Wi-Fi or Ethernet) then to the speakers and start to explore the endless possibilities of music, streaming from Tidal & MQA via Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify & Spotify Connect and Deezer with Roon and dedicated App [available for iOS and Android] or browsing your collection of digital music stored locally on NAS and USB sticks. The DSD64 [.dsf] files are converted to high-resolution PCM over UPnP protocol on USB and LAN, PCM up to 24/192 with exclusive possible option to interchange the DAC converter PCB.


Gold Note proudly writes: "You don’t need anything else to experience at home the pleasure of high definition audio, just IS-1000 and your speakers. If you love vinyl records, connect your turntable directly into IS-1000 to use the Phono Preamp we designed and engineered, it’s really that simple." And as you'll read on their claim more than hold.

The new Class A/B amplifier with 125W@8Ω per channel guarantees the pure sound, vivid dynamics, and the finest detail, offering a wide range of digital and analog inputs to assure total control and freedom to upgrade, expand or connect more devices to IS-1000.

IDEA AND CONCEPT


As you know, Gold Note is a very special kind of company. Actually a quite unique one. Maurizio Aterini feels, that they've been lucky to have a great team of engineers able to design a complete line of audio gears.
The 25 years of experience in designing 100% in the house let them develop a unique amplifier capable of great sound. A lot of clever engineering IS-1000 offers a lot of user-friendly features. 

Below are the design goals of the IS-1000:

- be capable of delivering high-quality sound, the same top quality of Gold Note's premium hi-fi separate audio gears.
- be connected to the Internet to benefit HD streaming services and the large libraries of files today available on the web.
- be versatile and powerful in order to perfectly drive a large variety of loudspeakers: large high-power demanding speaker, mini monitors, high sensitivity ones; just by selecting the correct Damping Factor option for each.
- be flexible in order to be connected to every source, such as CD players, DAC, power amp, preamp, turntables, streamers, subwoofers and even devices such as TV, media centers, A/V receivers...
- be and quick to install and easy to use every day.

PHILOSOPHY & DESIGN


IS-1000 is a new generation device created to be a whole stereo system on its own. It can be matched with everything from the web as well as a turntable and a CD player, enjoying real "High-End Audio" as a new refreshing experience, hassle and cable free.

Unlike many other All-In-One products by brands mostly A/V oriented and built with consumer technology, IS-1000 is designed as a pure high-end audio premium amplifier.

Every component has been selected for this purpose making it able to cross the bridge between a traditional high-end audio integrated amp and a modern All-In-One unit.


That’s the reason why the Gold Note calls it The Super Integrated Amp!

The high performance is achieved with proper audio oriented technology and top quality audio grade components:

1. The125W or 150W high power per channel @8Ohm in Class A/B is achieved with a high-current MOSFET design to combine the musicality of class A with the power and dynamic of the premium class amplifiers.
2. The DF [Damping Factor] and the BOOSTER designs allow variable options to perfectly match a different kind of speakers and are derived directly from our flagship power amp PA-1175 and preamp P-1000.
3. The design of the phono stage comes from the multi-awarded PH-10 implemented by an optimized RIAA curve and a dedicated MM and MC cartridge setup.
4. IS-1000 power supply features a new custom toroidal transformer built in Italy. It is made with a special treated high-dampening core to cancel any possible vibration preserving the purity of the audio signal path. Besides, the 600VA ultra-low magnetic power guarantees great dynamic resolution.
5. The digital stage is driven by a super micro-controller Cortex-M4 core @32bit, extremely fast and stable: the microdrives the IS-1000 performing safety controls to guarantee the best performance, checking all the processes, including the internal temperature to activate cooling options only if strictly necessary.
6. The PCBs are ultra-thick and gold plated with double copper mass to preserve the purity of the audio signal path.
7. The aluminum tank design chassis increases the weight and rigidity to enhance mechanical stability and damping effect.

THE MUSIC


Holst/Dan Evans - Autumn Dance. Quite an unusual album, but full of great songs. It's an eclectic mix of folk songs like The Ellen Vannin Tragedy and fusion tracks (Waves). This album surely calls for quite some control and amplifier's ability to unfold a raw power and spatiality. IS-1000 easily follow up the guitars interplay. The spatial cues were of way greater density than expected at this price point. The same goes for the level of details. I never felt like the album's scintillating nature was comprised from track to track. IS-1000 managed to hold everything together with the authority of well establish separates (preamp, amp, DAC). That alone is quite a compliment!

The capability to render the "beauty of the sound" is easily examined with Jon Hassel' Fascinoma. The track Nature Boy solely adequate to delve deeper within the very nature of timbral correctness. The sonic tapestry of Fascinoma's sonic minimalism, inspired by a wide range of ethnic music attains the very essence of timbre without any distractions. IS-1000 retained its stand out momentum and vibrant heart, that is equipped for an objective portrayal of the trumpet essence. But, that's not all. The rarely achieved balancing act, where an instrument beholds the believability was another stand out feature.

Any amplifier ability to endure the orchestral completeness is easily challenged with the Herbert von Karajan Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta - Hindemith: Symphony (Mathis der Maler). The album moreover examines the audio system's (in our case integrated amplifier) integrity to expand both sonically and dynamically. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz. 106: II. Allegro exposes numerous variates within its seven minutes, that is rather perplexing even to take the listening notes. This surely makes it a potent reference track. 

Gold Note IS-1000 has exhibited a commanding authority, than it should for one box solution and nonetheless for its given price. While integrated amplifier will lessen the plethora of cabling needs, it's not actually easy to design a one box solution that can rival the separates and entice the high-enders to settle down with everything under one chassis. Expertly designed from the ground up and with a great matching of the IS-1000's complex innards result in a highly captivating performance, that can actually evoke sufficient drama to seduce the listener into prolonged and returning listenings of the classical music. 

Keeping everything together is not only a matter of orchestral music. There are simple and more complex challenges. The rendition of a complete frequency spectrum without unwanted overlaying of particular frequencies is one of these sonic quests that separate hi-fi from high-end. Carmen Gomes - Carmen Gomes Sings easily starts to become a collage of sounds rather than a seamless blend of instruments. IS-1000 ability to form a proper separation of the instruments without stepping too further into the designated frequency domain was quite remarkable. Carmen Gomes Sings quickly accelerates the lower register at forte masking everything else with its ubiquity. Gold Note's integrated amplifier gripped the needed frequency balance translating into the homogeneous dispersion of an entire spectrum in a linear fashion.

The poignant nature of David Sylvian's - Manafon can evoke quite an array of emotions, yet your's truly batteries are easily charged with this particular album. The melancholic pureness of Small Metal Gods requests a competent performer. Sylvian's vocal really starts to interact when the interlink between the music and the listener is vividly established. Gold Note IS-1000 evocative nature easily engages the listener into a fatigue-free aural transmission. Any amplifier, DAC, preamplifier, streamer etc. can be kitted with the best specs, but if it fails to bring up the emotional engaging during the listening it has little value to me. As with the high-end audio system, the integrated amplifier should also be a celebrated sum of perfectly matched parts. Then and only then the genuine magic of music's manifestation can take place and this is one of the main properties of IS-1000. It's never easy to voice properly any high-end audio product to become more than just an assembly of electronic components and parts. IS-1000 is an exemplary integrated amplifier that considering the price surely warrant it's given Super classification. 

CONCLUSION


"Are the high-end audio integrated amplifiers back in fashion?" This is the exact question I've been asked recently. Well, technology-wise it was never a better time to enjoy high-quality audio reproduction, including both digital and analog sources. 


No, the Italian Golden Dragon is not using Class D modules. It's full fletched AB amplifier that comes as the results of years of R & D and many iterations of a powerful concept. Most of you most probably never had a chance to hear a fantastic and iconic Demidoff Diamond, Demidoff Signature and Favard Anniversary electronics. I can assure you how these were surely something extraordinary. The IS-1000 amplifier comes from that extraordinary family and it's not hard to recognize the familiar traits of above ordinary music's playback. 

Gold Note IS-1000 is a pure Italian blooded machine and this reflects throughout the style, emotional engagement, and performance. 

The review sample's golden finish really outline a beautiful CNC crafted aluminum enclosure and a dedicated golden badge as well as two gold inserts on the left and right. This details side are instantly adding to the aura and luxurious appearance.  


Many audiophiles and music lovers are continually asking me to suggest a comprehensive, exceptional, easy to use and emotionally engaging high-end audio product, that can be used either in their dedicated listening room or as an addition to their main living environment without taking too much space and in making of the in your face presence. Make no mistake. The demands are on high-octane these days. 

Modern high-end audio lifestyle products need to be feature packed and offer a luxurious appeal without looking bland. They need to be aesthetically and aurally pleasing. 


Gold Note IS-1000 comes with all that and more. Its radiant core can really serve music properly; gently and with a grander dynamic impact when needed. IS-1000 is a chameleon-like, gentle giant, that can portray all the music's colors with a higher grade of essentials and dynamic shifts with quite remarkable.

Reviewing the gear and constant revisions are part of my daily job. But numerous audiophiles and music lover are looking for the high-end audio outputs that are technologically up-to-date, classically timeless in appearance and ready to be used at any moment in absence of cable clutter and additional components paraphernalia. With IS-1000 you only need an ethernet, power and speaker cables (and speakers of course) to start enjoying the music. 

The free iOS Gold Note IS-1000 app lets you fell up to the speed and taking full control of the inputs, network, streaming services like Tidal, Qobuz etc. Everything is there a the tip of your fingers and ready to let you immerse into the music. 

IS-10000 is an antidote to the push forward Class D based all in one boxes. With this particular Italian golden dragon the performance, easy handling, and connectivity were laid down expertly reflecting a high-level of the initial idea. In my constant encoutners, I've noticed how a lot of people simply want to own a capable and beautifully looking all in one system. The catch is in the appearance. They want high-end audio products to look like actual audio components and not a wildly imaginative exploration of half baked designs. 


Looking back over the past decades reflects and point to something very important. The audio system was always an important part of a home. Actually, it was a standard "muss sein" right after the home and a car. It was an affordable luxury (of various degrees) and a part of the cultural impact. 

Gold Note IS-1000 Super integrated amplifier encompasses and encapsulates exactly this. An actual 21st-century high-end audio music box, that truly deliver on its promises. This is the modern integrated amplifier executed right! It got style, a powerful inner core and a timeless Italian aura enriched by the powerful DNA. 


I'm not only highly recommending the IS-1000 but giving out the double-decker 2019 Mono and Stereo awards. Gold Note IS-1000 has already received the Best of 2018 accolade. In 2019  it's a more than worthy awardee of the Mono and Stereo Highly Recommended Product and Best Buy Product awards. 

Matej Isak

PRICE


- IS-1000 4.390 EUR
- IS-1000 DELUXE 5.190 EUR

MAIN TECHNICAL DETAILS


INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER
Class A/B High-Current Mosfet design: 125W@8Ω per channel
Dimensions: 430mm W | 135mm H | 375mm D Weight: 18kg
PHONO STAGE
Developed from the awarded PH-10: MM = 220pF capacitance, 45dB gain MC = 470Ω impedance, 65dB gain 
DIGITAL INPUTS
3 optical (TOS)
1 Coaxial (COAX)
1 USB type A (DSD64 via DoP) for FAT/NTFS formats 1 Ethernet LAN & Wi-Fi (DSD64 via DoP) Resolution: PCM up to 24bit/192kHz
ANALOG INPUTS
1 XLR balanced
1 RCA Line & Phono MM/MC
1 RCA Line & AV-Ind
ANALOG OUTPUTS
1 RCA variable
1 RCA fixed
Speakers
DAC
BurrBrown chipset PCM1796 - standard BurrBrown chipset PCM1792A - upgrade CONNECTIVITY
Supported streaming services:
Airplay
Roon Ready
TIDAL
MQA (via Tidal)
Qobuz
Spotify & Spotify Connect
Deezer
V-Tuner
SUPPORTED AUDIO FORMATS:
AIFF (.aif, .aiff, .aifc)
WAV (.wav)
FLAC
WMA Windows Media Audio 9
WAX Windows media audio metafiles
ASX Advanced Stream Redirector (.asx)
MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding File (AAC, M4A including Apple lossless) MP3
DSD 64 (.dsf format)
SUPPORTED MEDIA SERVERS:
Minim Server
Bubble UPnP

CONTACT


Gold Note
Via Della Gora 6
Montespertoli (Firenze), 
Italy 50025

Tel: + 39 0571 675005