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GOLD NOTE DS-10 D/A processor

GOLD NOTE DS-10

GOLD NOTE DS-10 D/A processor

I felt like I’d just been offered a choice of 31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream topped with up to 57 varieties of Heinz ketchup, 57 condiments, and 47 brands of coddled cream. My head began to spin, my stomach churned, and my mouth grew very dry as I read that Gold Note’s DS-10 ($2995) was a “chameleon DAC” with 192 setup options that enable it to “completely blend in with different music genres, giving the listener the opportunity to adapt the behavior of the unit to the music playing, to one’s stereo system and, most of all, to the listener’s taste.”
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Gold Note offers three streaming DACs: the DS-10, based on AKM Japan’s AK4493 DAC chip, which was released in August 2019; the almost-twice-as-expensive DS-1000 ($5599), which was released five years ago and uses the Burr-Brown PCM1792 DAC; and the DS-10 Plus ($3495), available later this year, which adds to the DS-10 a 3.5mm minijack analog input, internal Bluetooth antenna, and “better” internal power supply. Barring the simultaneous arrival of all 10 plagues, the DS-1000 will cede to the DS-1000 EVO in 2021.
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The volume-control potentiometer, made by ALPS in Japan, is optical-encoded and, according to company head and mechanical engineer Maurizio Aterini, “guarantees highest resolution and strict tolerance.” It has a logarithmic run, with approximately 1dB steps at the beginning and smaller steps in the middle “where the ear is most sensitive.”
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“Whoa!” I exclaimed just minutes after my first listen to the DS-10 (without the PSU-10 EVO, which wasn’t here yet). “Is this thing really sounding as good as I think it is?”
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As for the intrepid DS-10/PSU-10 EVO combo, lines were a bit smudged and less differentiated than through the other units. Colors were less saturated, and soundstage boundaries nowhere near as refined as with the dCS gear. However, solo instrumental passages were better integrated into the musical whole than through the PS Audio. The dCS Rossini DAC/Clock may have produced the most organic, refined, dynamic-yet-relaxed presentation of the three, but when it came to musical enjoyment, Gold Note’s DS-10/PSU-10 EVO wasn’t far behind. Both beckoned me to the “Ode to Joy” yet to come.
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My reference system hasn’t hosted many DACs in the Gold Note DS-10’s price range. I was delighted with what I heard. This little baby sounded so good—so musical—with its optional, identically dimensioned PSU-10 EVO power supply that I’d urge anyone who can shell out $4300 to try them together. I’m not going to tell you that you should consider what you can’t afford, but do keep in mind that we read Stereophile because we care about the music. Music makes a difference in our lives; it helps make us whole. Sitting on a single shelf, powered by a single power cable, Gold Note’s DS-10/PSU-10 EVO has the potential to fulfill and heal in ways that extend far beyond words. It’s a stellar achievement from engineers who understand what musical deliverance is all about.

– Jason Victor Serinus | July 31, 2020 | Stereophile

 

Link to product: Gold Note DS-10
Lint to review: Stereophile

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