GamuT L7 Loudspeaker
|GamuT L7 Loudspeaker|
|Denmark presents one of its finest|
Discovering the GamuT
Things never really start off the way you hope they would, especially when it comes to audio. I got my marching orders from Clement Perry to get in contact with the good folks at GamuT regarding a possible loudspeaker review opportunity. I thought this would be interesting because, other than being located in Denmark, I didn’t know very much about the company. Sure, I had heard of the brand, seen them at audio shows, and knew that they made some very good audio components. But as far as I knew, there was no GamuT dealer in the Chicago-area where I lived, so I hadn’t had a chance to do any extended listening. The operative phrase there is “as far as I knew.” Me being the “industry insider” that I am, figured I’d be one of the first to know if someone on my turf was suddenly bringing in GamuT. Then, like a cold slap in the face, Clement says, “there’s a GamuT dealership out near you in the town of Libertyville.” Now never mind the fact that Libertyville is more than an hour’s drive away from me. I was shocked that he knew something about the Chicago-area audio scene that I, a resident, did not. I guess that’s why he’s the boss. Initially, I tried to act like I didn’t know where Libertyville was because I’m not one for long drives, especially given our horrendous road construction gridlock. But hey, who was I to say no? Despite the fact that I was already working on two speaker reviews, I took the assignment.
I got in contact with Mike Kay, owner of the Libertyville store called Audio Archon, and agreed to come out to his place to see and hear a full GamuT system. I was immediately taken with the system’s sound and performance and quickly decided to do a review. The GamuT electronics were as good as advertised. I’ll have more to say on them in an upcoming review. But the speakers, the L7s, they exceeded my expectations in every way. I tried to play it cool by rather passively telling Mike Kay, “Yeah, I guess they sound good enough for me to review,” while deep down inside, I’m yelling like a 12-year-old-boy who’s just gotten a Play Station 3 on Christmas morning. I smiled all the way home thinking of all the fun I was going to have doing this review. Once home, I couldn’t wait to call our editor Dave Thomas, who had also coveted this fine gear and say, “Guess what I’ve got coming in for review?”
I could hardly wait to find out if all the high praised heaped on this speaker in numerous CES reports and word of mouth was warranted.
Can they make speakers too?
Right after the holidays were over, Mike Kay and his father delivered the L7s to my home. They were well packed in boxes and crates. The L7s are beautiful speakers. This is what was so surprising to me. Countless times, we have seen manufacturers of one kind of audio gear try to reproduce something different from what they’re known for. A good case in point would be Linn. They made one of the best sounding turntables available, but do you remember those early electronics they came out with? They just did not perform very well. Remember the great Sota turntable, followed by their foray into speakers? That too, did not work out so well. I have had far too many experiences with electronics companies “venturing” off into something that was not very successful, and did not have high expectations for the Gamut L7s. I felt the speakers might be decent but would wind up being just another failed attempt to have the same success in speaker building and they have in electronics. But I have to admit that I misjudged GamuT. The L7s look better than anything else I had seen from GamuT. Sure their electronics look fine, are well made and have exemplary performance. On the other hand, the speakers looked like fine furniture and would look right at home in the pages of Architectural Digest. The particular pair I had was beautifully finished in a rosewood veneer and had 11(!) coats of hand polished high-gloss lacquer. They looked too good to touch. I kept one of the wife’s “good” towels on hand as I wanted to make sure I didn’t get my finger prints on the finish. The speakers measure 50.4” tall X 7.9” wide X 16.9” deep and weigh in at nearly 100 lbs. The speakers are very solid and have smooth, seamless lines. A friend of mine who is very picky about speaker design and manufacturing marveled at the build quality and craftsmanship of the speaker and remarked that he could not tell where one piece of wood ended and another began.
The speaker’s excellent build quality extends to their use of drivers as well. The L7s use the very best drivers from Scanspeak. The high frequencies are handled by a 1.5” Ring Radiator tweeter. The midrange is handled by a 7” sliced paper cone driver and the low frequencies are handled by a two more 7” drivers. The crossover is an interlinked multi-order Non-Resonance Linked Impulse (NRLI), designed by GamuT, with an electromagnetic and circuit optimized, electrically separated board layout. The speakers have two sets of gold plated WBT binding posts with 4mm plugs for bi-wiring or bi-amping. The speakers rest on stainless steel spikes that attach to healthy, 1/2” thick stainless steel outriggers that attach to the speakers with 6 screws each. It would be best to find the spot that you want to place the speakers before putting the spikes on.
Setup of the speakers, for me, was easy. I found that spreading the speakers ten feet apart, with the rear of the speaker 6-7 feet from the front wall to the rear of the speaker, and a slight toe-in worked best in my room. When Mike Kay first delivered the speakers to my home, he set them up about 12 feet apart and 8 feet from the front wall with a minimum amount of toe-in. Actually, that didn’t sound bad either and it easily filled his room with music, but I felt the bass sounded a little too prominent like this and decided to pull them from the wall. Any of the GamuT dealers or distributors, and even GamuT themselves, if you email them, will be glad to make room setup recommendations.
So what did they sound like?
Having been used at this years CES, the GamuT L7s came to me already broken in and ready to begin the listening. The first thing that came to mind when I began listening to these speakers was how much more musical information was being revealed. I had not spent any meaningful amount of time with speakers, before this review, that had the ability to resolve this many layers of sound and emotion. I found myself awash in music. It was an ear-opening experience. All I could do was sit back, gaze upon the L7s and smile. This wasn’t just with jazz, blues, audiophile pressings, or classical music, but with all kinds of music I played through the L7s, whether it was rock, R&B, new age, funk, music of all genres. They are not a forward, in-your-face imaging speaker but nor are they laid back. The perspective you get of the music is at the mercy of how the recording engineer recorded the performance. Imaging capabilities of the L7s went beyond the boundaries of my listening room, throwing a stage that sounded wider and deeper than what I had heard in my room prior to their arrival. The L7s possess the least amount of speaker colorations that I have heard to this point, seemingly sounding neutral without any identifiable (by me) coloration. Also, of even more importance, these speakers will play as loud as you can stand it. Don’t let the good looks fool you. The L7s possess that rare combination of beauty, finesse and power that we look for in a full-range speaker. This was one review period where the wife actually approached me and asked why I was listening to music so loud. It’s not that I listened to music turned up loud every time I listened to the L7s because I didn’t, but I did, on occasion, let her rip. The L7s exhibited no signs of stress or breaking up. On the contrary, these speakers remained coherent, focused, and musical even while I was breaking the 110dB+ sound barrier in my listening room. The L7 speakers are capable of reproducing the “live” event, at realistic levels. Other times, if I was playing chamber music or something easy, like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or anything by Johnny Hartman, the L7s played just as easy, intimate, and mellow as what the music presented.
When listening to orchestral offerings, I like to feel that I’m being transported back in time, back to the original event. The L7s did the best job of taking me back to the recorded venue. Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.2 – Resurrection is a work that takes a lot out of you after you’ve finished listening to it with it’s nearly 90 minute length. Listening to this work through the L7s kept me focused because I felt I was hearing this performance for the first time. From the low end authority that this recording speaks with while portraying the dead, to the sonorous quality of the choir in the 5th movement, the L7 did an incredible job of making me feel like I had purchased a ticket and was sitting in the auditorium … accept with my pajamas on.
I like to listen to piano music to gain the measure of a speakers ability to reproduce timbre, attack and decay. A disc that the L7s helped me appreciate more is Keith Jarrett’s, At the Deer Head Inn [ECM]. I have albums of Keith Jarrett, purchased mainly because he seemed like a pianist that quite a few people mention when they speak of great jazz pianists. I used to just think he was boring. I have come to realize now that his pauses and refrains are to let the notes propagate and decay and reveal how he interprets the music he’s playing. The L7s revealed more about his sense of timing, and all of a sudden, it made sense. Another disc that really showed off the L7s ability to throw a wide, deep stage is the old stand-by, Jazz at the Pawn Shop [Proprius Records].Most of you know the album and you know what it sounds like. Just turn out all of the lights in your listening room and imagine having Arne Domnerus and friends magically appear in your room with more focus, more detail and more presence than what you have heard before and you’ll get an idea of the type of stage the L7s are capable of presenting. This is yet another of those performances where the L7s make you feel that you’re part of the audience, exchanging chatter with a friend while the waitress picks up the empty glasses from your table and clapping at the conclusion of each solo or each selection.
Vocals are another area the the L7s excel in. I have had experiences in my listening room with other speakers where I felt a vocalist sounded eerily present in the room, or being moved by the feeling with which the singer is able to connect with the listener. With the L7s, not only do the vocalists have an even greater degree of presence, but they express themselves with greater passion and verve. On James Ingram’s album Never Felt So Good [Qwest], when I listen to a track like “Love’s Been Here and Gone”, most speakers convey his disappointment with the way his romance wound up. Listening to the same track with the L7s in place, you can feel the heartache and pain, vividly, in Mr. Ingram’s voice. His words strike deep inside and you come to realize that he’s not singing about being disappointed, rather he’s sharing his heartache and devastation. The L7s allow you to experience the emotional content with which the vocalist or instrumentalist is expressing in a very realistic manner.
Winding things up
This has been a “reviewer” changing experience for me. Other than at CES or a few dealer/distributor showrooms, I had not been exposed to speakers of this magnitude and allowed to have an extended amount of listening time with. The speaker reviews I have done over the last several years were done on good affordable speakers that I felt provided good value to the listener at a certain price point. The GamuT L7s have opened up my consciousness to another level of performance all together. Now when I listen to music, instrumentalists are not just playing notes on a sheet but are conveying thoughts and emotions that now can be felt and experienced. A singers moan isn’t just a guttural utterance but and expression of something burning down deep that needs to be shared. I was even able to pull out recordings by avant-garde artists like Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman and Eight Bold Souls. Usually, I just don’t get the messages in their music no matter how hard I try. With the L7s I felt I was able to connect with them.
In my notes, I was continually bringing up points about nuances and information I hadn’t realized were in the recordings. This in itself is nothing new, but to the degree with which I was now experiencing music, was a quantum leap forward. The L7s ability to convey the emotional content of the music was especially noteworthy. With the L7s I felt I was able to connect with them. As usual, I did a lot of amp, preamp and cable changes during the L7 review period. The Krell KSA 100, Plinius SA102 and Soaring Audio SLC-A300 all performed extremely well with the L7s, but of those amplifiers, nothing came close to being able to drive them as well as the GamuT D200 MKIII. The GamuT D200 spoke with authority and control and drove the speakers any way I wanted it to go. Whether the music was loud, while trying to replicate real world sound levels, or if I was playing music softly because of the lateness of the hour, the L7s were always musical.
I have not had a speaker in my house that was as lively, dynamic and detailed as the L7s were. The L7s never sounded hard or under strain nor was there ever any hint of breakup or driver chatter. Of all of the cables I had on hand to evaluate the speakers with, they sounded best with cables from Sunny Cable Technology, Silversmith, and the Dyamic Design THB with their Nebula Series Bass Bi-wire cables driving the woofer. I’m sure a lot of you are asking, “What do you get for your money”, from a speaker like the GamuT L7. To start with, you get a speaker that’s extremely well made and built to last and look beautiful for a very long time. On top of that, you get a level of music reproduction and resolution that you have to hear and experience in your own listening room with your own music.
If you thought you were enjoying your music now, wait until you’re able to step up to a speaker like the GamuT L7, that’s capable of taking your listening experiences to a level or two higher than where you are now. Even if you’re not looking to step up to this level of speaker, the L7s are still definitely worth looking at and listening to. I am giving this speaker my highest recommendation. The GamuT L7 speakers are one of those few components that I will truly miss.
Frequency response: 27 – 60,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 90dB @ 2.83V
Nominal impedance: 4 Ohms
Minimum impedance: 2.6 Ohms @ 220Hz
Recommended power amplifier: 50 – 300 watts
Tweeter: 1.5” Ring Radiator, SD-2 neodyne motor, non-resonant aluminum chamber, multiple chamber, low compression design, machined aluminum faceplate with stainless steel phase plug
Midrange: 7” vented SD-1 motor, sliced paper cone, low loss linear suspension, low compression aerodynamic aluminum chassis that are, likewise, spike mounted in the cabinet
Woofers: (2) 7” vented SD-1 motor, sliced paper cone, low loss linear suspension, low compression aerodynamic aluminum chassis that are, likewise, spike mounted in the cabinet
Dimensions: 50.4” H X 7.9” W X 16.9” D
– $17,900 in Burl wood
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