I don’t think any Italian handheld audio company is as recognized across its product portfolio as Gold Note. Based in the heart of Tuscany, Gold Note has established itself as one of the most recognizable brands with an impressive product line that covers virtually all audio products from cartridges to speakers.
Maurizio, Aterini, and his team have put a lot of effort into launching products that not only offer a great, instantly recognizable design with a clearly defined Italian DNA but also high-performance products that are extremely refined, vibrant, and engaging when it comes to music playback.
Moreover, not too long ago they moved to a brand new facility that offers a complete company operation under one roof, starting from industrial design, technical R&D, production, plant, warehouse, office, accounting space, marketing, listening room and they even have an internal pool.
They work highly efficiently and thoughtfully using the latest software and most effective approaches that help them optimize and organize production so that when it’s time to build a particular product that’s been ordered, a single person can get all the components they need at the workbench and assemble the product more or less single-handedly.
This way the turnaround time is much shorter, there are fewer mistakes, there is one person behind the product and quality control and everything is as transparent as it can be.
For a long time Gold Note has also produced various speaker models and the Gold Note XS -85 represents the current flagship model.
Like the other products of the iconic Italian brand XS -85, this speaker stands out for its esthetics and curves inspired by the timeless Italian architecture, landscapes, and iconic shapes and curves of some of the most famous buildings, bridges, and surrounding landscapes.
The XS loudspeaker family was developed considering 3 models (XS -87, XS -85, XS -83) to give them a family character. Only the XS -85 went into production, while a pair of XS -87 was built as proof of concept.
XS-85 consists of two separate cabinets: the lower cabinet uses two 230 mm woofers tuned with two aluminum bass reflex ports and a special crossover.
The upper cabinet implements two 150 mm midrange drivers and a single 25 mm dome tweeter (sealed design) with a vented crossover.
All of the drivers were chosen for their power and musicality and the synergy they expressed when working together. Both the woofer and midrange are made of ultra-light treated paper (SEAS), a special design with metal phasors that prevent deformation of the diaphragm, and ultra-linear response.
The tweeter is custom-made by Ehmann, a specialty company that manufactures tweeters for the world’s most exotic speakers, and is capable of ultra-fast transients and extended linearity thanks to the special curved aluminum chamber that improves performance and cooling.
A curved cabinet design also benefits from several innovations, such as a multi-sandwich construction enclosure with recessed panels that ensure high rigidity while creating driver lenses that increase the efficiency of the speaker.ž
The front baffle is made of double-coupled curved panels with a total thickness of 45 mm, as are the side panels. The rear of the cabinet is reinforced with a vented 10mm metal baffle to improve the rigidity and cooling of the mid/high crossover. The top of the speaker has been designed to simulate an open baffle, with an extremely refined and intricate 100mm thick curved panel.
The base is reinforced with a 3 mm thick stainless steel platform.
The crossover is equipped with the best Mundorf and Clarity Caps components (metal oxide resistors, premium polyproline capacitors, high-quality coils) and has a double split 12 dB/octave.
All the wiring is made with original Gold Note cables and the damping material is specially made (natural fibers) guaranteeing a better, smoother effect that captures a larger volume of air than when using polyester fibers.
All the technical and material aspects are important, but everything only comes together when music is played, and the Gold Note XS -85 speakers have proven their vibrant nature and consistent quality in all genres of music.
As always, here are a few references that highlight the sonic and musical qualities of XS -85.
Lee Morgan The Rajah
Lee Morgan’s album The Rajah is a remarkable and enduring piece of jazz history, originally released in 1966. It is a monumental release that showcases and pinpoints Morgan’s extraordinary talent as a trumpeter and bandleader and demonstrates his ability to create music that is both musically complex and emotionally stirring.
The title track, “The Rajah,” is an exceptional piece that immediately enchants with its evocative, lyrical sweep.
In addition to Morgan’s exceptional trumpet playing, the album features several top-notch musicians, including legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Higgins.
Like many iconic jazz recordings, the sound quality of The Rajah has withstood the test of time. It captures the nuances of each instrument and ensures that every note and improvisation is vibrant and engaging, easily evoking an emotional connection.
XS-85 could easily take on the melancholy beauty of the ballads of “Is That So?” or the livelier up-tempo numbers of “Mogie”
This album requires a certain level of quality in both high-end audio systems and speakers in particular to get the most out of The Rajah. XS -the 85s have followed The Rajah’s haunting quality, which lingers in the memory long after the music is over, with surprising ease.
Gold Note XS -85 delivered an impressive reproduction of the ensemble, reproducing just the right flow of rhythm, spot-on timbre, and a unique, cohesive performance that allowed each musician to shine individually without breaking the collective brilliance of the album. A rare feature worth highlighting.
Double Image Dawn
Dawn is no ordinary jazz album, and even for the ECM portfolio, it’s something special: a thought-provoking jazz composition featuring the most unique synergy between Barry Altschul and Joe Locke.
Gold Note’s flagships not only rendered Dawn’s mystical canvas with much-needed palpable vibrancy but also effortlessly reproduced the enduring energy and spontaneity that should captivate and engage listeners continuously throughout the album when everything is set up properly in a high-end audio system and speakers.
With the XS -85 speakers, the duo’s seamless interplay and musical dialog, as well as harmonic progressions, were superbly propagated without imposing their own signature on the music, rewarding the listener with undisturbed, immersed listening.
Gold Note XS -85 also didn’t tinker with the acoustic atmosphere of Dawn, leaving the vibraphone and percussion to initiate an ethereal, soothing, and thought-provoking sonic mystique with an endless array of overtones and musical landscapes that evoke a sense of tranquility with layers of sound that extend far beyond the usual horizontal and vertical expanse, into the most impressive virtual vastness without losing the depth of the music.
The XS-85 speakers didn’t even flicker as they played through the vibrancy of the perpetual melancholic elevations.
With its various moods and sonic textures, Dawn is an excellent reference album to both evaluate any given product as well as enjoy the music. Gold Note XS -85 reproduced Double Image’s multi-dimensional sonic adventure, imbued with exceptional musical chemistry, faultlessly, with a sublime and most potent mojo.
Bernard Herrmann – Journey To The Center Of The Earth
Bernard Herrmann – Journey To The Center Of The Earth is another one of my favorite reference records and it immediately shows when the album’s complex soundtrack arrangements start to sound too kaleidoscopic, too gaudy, or too frantic.
It was very interesting to watch the Gold Note XS -85 speakers tuning into the fantasy world of Journey To The Center Of The Earth. Herrmann was a master at using music to tell a cinematic story, and XS -85 skillfully employed the album’s wide range of musical techniques, not only seamlessly connecting to the narrative, but positively enhancing it.
Rich in thematic material, with various motifs and leitmotifs representing characters, settings, and emotions, XS -85 resolves the album’s affluent thematic development with the necessary depth and fidelity to the score, acting as an integral part of the narrative rather than drawing attention to itself as an alienated part of the audio system.
Herrmann was known for pushing the boundaries of film music, and this score is no exception. The intricate orchestration requires balanced speakers capable of reproducing unconventional harmonies with confidence. Gold Note’s flagship speakers contributed immensely to creating a true sense of out-of-this-world adventure, making this fantastic and perilous aural journey something extraordinary.
From soaring strings to dramatic brass and woodwinds, the XS speakers reproduced orchestral colors and dynamics with authority and helped elevate the cinematic experience to a remarkable level, offering impressive depth even when placed closer to the side walls.
DJ HELL Teufelswerk
DJ Hell’s 2009 album Teufelswerk innovatory work embodies the boundary-pushing spirit of electronic music. The album is a compelling blend of different electronic styles and genres, featuring several guest collaborators and a number of innovative tracks. Among many standout tracks on the album “I Can Dance” featuring the legendary Roxy Music singer and sole artist Bryan Ferry deserves special attention.
Bryan Ferry’s soft, suave vocal adds an artful node to music. “I Can Dance”, is a meeting of two musical worlds – electronic and glam rock – resulting in a unique and exquisite fusion.
The combination of Bryan Ferry’s evocative vocals and DJ Hell’s skillful electronic production forms a track that is simultaneously nostalgic and forward-thinking.
Gold Note XS -85 speakers have reproduced and captured the essence of both artists’ styles, seamlessly blending Ferry’s classic crooner quality with the modern electronic beats and textures that DJ Hell is known for.
XS-85 kept the enticing pulsating intact, driving an irresistibly groovy rhythm without changing the tempo or altering refined and textured elements.
The Gold Note XS -85 speakers exuded genre-bending Teufelswerk remarkably, preserving the “I Can Dance” unique fusion with transforming the primary emotional space, allowing this track to embody both complicatedness and dancefloor appeal.
The Gold Note, XS -85 represents everything Maurizio Aterini and the Gold Note team have strived for over the years; products with a natural tendency for finesse, refinement, and perfection in providing the music.
The bespoke quality level made, fine-tuned speakers with ravishing Italian esthetics captivate with their slightly curved appearance, timeless appeal, and the feeling of a true Italian luxurious DNA that reflects with respect hundreds of years of the best virtues and qualities, which makes especially the Tuscany so recognizable.
Tuscany has always been an epicenter not only for banking but also for all kinds of specialized industries that date back hundreds of years in the past and have established themselves as the originators of so many technical fields.
Gold Note is proud to be inspired by them and to pass on their technical heritage. With such pedigree, the XS -85 speakers are distinctive and unmistakably Italian.
Just a few entrance notes can ignite the familiar aura of joie de vivre closely associated with what is commonly referred to as genuine Italian spirit. Gold Note flagship speakers embrace a different kind of sonic seductiveness that instantly and easily bypasses logical gatekeepers and transcends anything that can be remotely associated with analytical reasoning.
The music is simply presented as a harmonic whole, there are no frequency jumps, everything comes with unique completeness, and this is especially evident in classical music reproduction, where it is super important that an orchestra can be presented and set as a harmonic giant orb made up of many individual elements that are fundamental in creating the complete factual sonic illusion.
Aterini has vast knowledge and experience in the field of research and development and has left practically no stone unturned when it comes to different materials, electronic components, and different wood finishes.
Almost 30 years of know-how have been fused into a beautiful sonic beauty, designed from the ground up to offer a unique listening experience.
And the XS 85 speakers deliver music galore. Regardless of genre, from track to track, album to album, the music is presented as it is: with the necessary speed, a powerful focus, firm and controlled lower tones, a powerful upper midrange, and natural-sounding high frequencies.
Especially upper region any weakness is easily revealed, and when it comes to reproducing metallic drum chambers and guitars, there is no artificial, mechanical sheen, or signature, everything blends seamlessly with the rest of the frequencies with XS-85, seamlessly delivering the music.
Gold Note XS -85 channels the Italian spirit and focus of Aterini, who always seeks musical beauty and musicality. Aterini is a high-end audio boffin with exceptional perspicuity to put technology where technology belongs and in reflection, XS-85 brings back the art of listening! Something that cannot be said for many, far pricier speakers.
Gold Note products were invariably quality designed for seamless integration and catered to music lovers in the first place, and Gold Note flagships come with a unique momentum where the world of Italian art collides with the beauty of making speakers.
Silently Gold Note has always been at the forefront and it’s a proof of concept that in absolute consistency lies timelessness. XS-85 embodies the art of subtlety, employing proven technologies and principles that go far beyond any audiophile norm that might merely refer to the sound spectrum.
Don’t be mistaken. XS-85 is a full-blooded audiophile-grade speaker, but on top of it shines with music reproduction in a league of its own.
XS-85 speakers are the true heirs of the classical Italian raison d’etre, gargantuan in their presentation of music, they can shock, and evoke emotions, but also convey grandeur and spatiality without getting in the way. But above all, acting as proprietor of the music, XS -85 simply resonates with the gut feeling of music being what it is. Phenomena, that transcends time and space.
For what it represents, I wholeheartedly award the Gold Note XS -85 2023 Mono & Stereo Editors Choice Award. ❖
- €39.900,00 including 21% VAT (pair)
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE 30 – 30000 Hz
- SENSITIVITY 89dB SPL 2,83V/1m
- NOMINAL IMPEDANCE 4Ω semi-resistive
- CROSSOVER 200Hz and 2200Hz @ 12dB/Oct.
- SUGGESTED POWER AMPLIFIER min. 30W
- MAX. POWER HANDLING 300W RMS
- CONNECTORS Gold Note Rhodium binding posts
- DRIVERS: TWEETER 1“ silk dome driver, MIDRANGE
- 2 x 6“ Nextel treated paper cones, WOOFER, 2 x 9“ Nextel treated paper cones
- DIMENSIONS 357mm W | 1280mm H | 665mm D
- WEIGHT Kg. 180 (pair) – net
- FINISHES: CABINET Black, SIDE PANELS Gold leaf, Ultra glossy Italian walnut or Glossy gran piano black
Via Virginio 158