For many years, audiophiles who had space constraints, WAF (wife acceptance factor) or other issues, were forced to contend with small stand mount or 'bookshelf' speakers. These speakers often were capable of good sound and usually had a superior ability to float a very good soundstage. On the other hand, one had to imagine how much bass there was in a recording since lack of it was the major sacrifice. But for those audiophiles who were determined to have more bass response, some would force the issue and shoehorn large full range floor-standers into a room that were typically too large for the space.
Fast forward to present day, many innovative speaker designers have striven to overcome the limitations of small speakers with a great deal of success. Companies such as KEF, Totem and Alta Audio, readily come to mind when thinking about high performance monitors that are capable of a sound that is closer to full range. Granted, many of these stand mounts have grown way past bookshelf in size but their sonic capabilities exceed their size by far. Now, you can add the GamuT Superior RS3i to this group. To get there, however, GamuT has done things quite a bit differently.
The Superior RS Series is the top of GamuT’s speaker lines. There are four entries in this series, going from the statement floor standing Zodiac ($135,000/pair and replacing the former top of the line RS9s) to the RS3i, the smallest. Price for our speaker including stands is US$19,900/pr.
With the purchase of any of the Superior speakers other than the Zodiacs, you send the dimensions of your room to GamuT and they will send you suggestions as to the best placement for your speakers. With the purchase of Zodiacs, GamuT’s chief designer, Benno Baun Meldgaard comes to your home to set up the speakers.
The RS3is are a room friendly pair of speakers measuring (H) 41.6” x (W) 8.8” x (D) 17.9” and weighing in at a hefty 46 kg, including the stand. As a company, GamuT can be thought of as having an obsession with attention to detail. While this holds true with the rest of their products, it is especially true of their Superior Series
Kivst Industries is a Danish company that designs and manufactures high-end furniture. They have their very own sustainable forest from which they take various woods to manufacture their furniture designs. Kivst is also a major partner in GamuT Audio. As a result of this relationship, GamuT has access to the various woods that are used in the construction of their speaker enclosures.
According to the manufacturer, the uniquely curved enclosures consist of 21 individual layers of real wood of varying thicknesses and types. These layers measure a total of 28mm (1.1”) in thickness. They are then pressed into the curved shape using a unique GamuT technique that melts the natural wood glue. This innovative method removes stress from the wood’s original structure, which would otherwise have created distortion in the cabinet. The new RS cabinets are phase-coherent and stiff. There is also a total absence of sonic peaks at certain frequencies as normally seen with other speaker cabinets. The manufacturer goes on to say that the new RS cabinets do not store energy but releases it instantly, delivering an in-phase and more pleasing harmonic structure, more capable of recreating the natural timbre and micro-dynamics of voices and instruments.
Months of extensive listening and testing of different internal components and cables ultimately led to the enhancing of both the internal cabling and damping. All internal cables are now Gamut’s own Wormhole Reference cable. This improvement led to the need for further fine-tuning, resulting in new strategically placed internal damping. This resulted in a reduction of over 50% in internal damping materials while maintaining an optimum damping level. In addition, there is strategically placed internal bracing. There are no parallel surfaces inside of the cabinet thereby eliminating internal standing waves. The overall effect is a dynamic, natural, detailed and lively reproduction of music with a bass response that is very refined, detailed and deep. I have listened to the RS3is often at very high levels. When I placed my hand on any part of the cabinet, the level of vibration coming from them was virtually imperceptible.
The crossover has been further redefined for better impulse control and phase behaviour over a wider bandwidth. The new RS3i crossover is a combination of a 1st and 4th order crossover, using the best of both designs. This results in accurate full bandwidth, in phase musical reproduction. At the same time the phase response between the drivers are perfectly aligned, not just an octave on each side of the point of crossover, which is the industry standard for other speakers. The phase response between the midrange and tweeter actually runs perfectly aligned from 700Hz to 8000Hz. This does not add any extra benefit to the speaker’s soundstage, but according to GamuT, it actually affects the whole timing of the system, adding immensely to the musical presentation. Sensitivity is 86.5 dB and they have a frequency range of 34Hz - 60 kHz.
The drivers are custom designed Scan-Speak. The tweeter is a 1.5" ring-radiator, silk cone neodymium magnet system. The mid/woofer is a 7" sliced, natural oil-impregnated paper cone. Both drivers are further customized by GamuT before they are installed in their respective enclosures. According to the manufacturer, a paper cone woofer will produce low level but audible chaffing sound due to the fibres in the cone rubbing together while playing music. By impregnating the cone with their proprietary oil, this effect is eliminated.
The rear-mounted ports are machined from brass and threaded directly into cabinet. This port is designed to eliminate resonance and to increase the accuracy of the cabinets tuning. It also minimizes port turbulence and noise. According to GamuT, 'most speaker manufacturers use ports to achieve deeper frequency response from their drivers. GamuT’s innovative cabinets in combination with the use excellent drivers means we naturally get a very deep and good frequency response, so our ports are used for impulse control instead.' Meaning they help the drivers respond faster, which is said to give the speaker better timing, because the drivers are faster to respond to any changes in the music.
GamuT’s attention to detail continues with the speaker binding posts of exceptionally high quality. They are designed and manufactured in house. The speakers can be bi-wired.
Everything about these speakers is bespoke, including the matching integral stands. They aren’t merely decorative; they are made in the same manner as the speaker enclosure. They are acoustically tuned to match the speaker enclosure. There is also a rear-mounted, routed channel for securing the speaker wire to the stand.
The bottom of the stand is made to effectively eliminate resonances between the floor and the speakers. Even the feet that are inserted into the bottom plate are manufactured by GamuT. The solid stainless steel spikes are mounted in a thread where a rubber tipped setscrew combination is tightened into the side of the spike eliminating any unwanted floor borne resonances from the spikes effectively. It certainly looks as though the folks at GamuT have put some serious thought into the design and execution of these speakers.
I spent many hours listening to the RS3is with primarily two power amplifiers, the Zesto Bia 60 watt class A tube amp and GamuT’s own D-200i transistor amplifier. The speakers readily revealed the differences between the two amps but that difference wasn’t as great as you might think. Of course, the D-200i had the advantage of synergy. Surprisingly, the Zesto Bia had a more forward and a bit cooler presentation overall. On the other hand, the D-200i was more laid back with a bit warmer, rounded sound. This is just the opposite of what one would expect given the Zesto is a tube amp.
The first thing that I noticed was the extraordinarily wide sound stage they are capable of presenting. While the sound stage is very wide depending on the recording, the images are precisely placed within the stage. Buddy and Julie’s 'Holding up the Sky' places the guitarist dead centre between the speakers with a transparency and presence that make it seem as though you are listening to a 3D image. The timbres of the guitars were spot on with the right amount of weight. The notes floated in the air and slowly diminished. While I could easily hear the fingers on string detail, it was presented very naturally, as opposed to being spotlighted.
The RS3is are equally adept at reproducing female voices. Christy Baron’s rendition of Spooky from her Steppin’ album comes across with an amazing amount of presence. Her voice is front and centre with just a delicate touch of breathiness.
Master Blaster from Jen Chapin’s reVisions album is a treat. Her sweet voice is full and clear against the sax and heavy bass accompaniment. All of the instrumental lines are clear and precise. These speakers handled the bass line very well. In order to push the issue, I tossed on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Flight of the Cosmic Hippo. The GamuTs were not fazed by the very heavy bass in this recording. The bass is not only deep but it is very tuneful as well. You can easily hear the difference between the upright double bass of Ray Brown and that of Ron Carter. In each case, I could clearly hear the roundness and body of the instrument. Along with the ability to reproduce the level of bass that you just wouldn’t expect from a speaker of this size, is the total coherency they consistently exhibit, two drivers, and one voice. That voice is very compelling with good source material such as high res files or well recorded CDs and vinyl. These speakers are truthful. They will not editorialize or cover for poorly recorded material, rather, they will ruthlessly reveal inferior recordings.
Large-scale works do not present any problems either. The GRP All-Star Big Band is a dynamic recording with a good deal of brass blowing full steam. The large sound stage of the RS3is suited this recording just fine. Not only is the stage wide and deep, the speakers have the uncanny ability to disappear. Put the lights out and you are left with only the music. You would think that you are listening to a pair of small full range speakers instead of stand mounts.
It’s easy to see that attention to detail is not just a slogan at GamuT. However, innovative design, bespoke parts and detailed execution are not only desirable but necessary in a high-end product that retails for 20k. At that price, a product must also be able to deliver a consistently excellent level of sonic performance as well.
Every area of this speaker’s design has been totally crafted for optimum performance where the design, parts selection and build quality come together to produce a remarkable product. Yes, these speakers are expensive but the end result justifies the purchase price.
If you have a small to medium sized room and are looking for a speaker that can deliver near full range sound, you really should seek out your nearest GamuT dealer to give the RS3is a serious listen. You will be amazed at what is possible these days in a small, stand mounted speaker.
Further information: GamuT A/S