Goldmund is a company that’s nothing if not individual. But this isn’t a case of different for difference sake. The distinctive visual identity of its products reflects their conceptual coherence, a philosophical identity that’s just as clearly defined as their stand-apart aesthetics. So much so that, units that look off-beat, even odd-ball when seen in isolation, make perfect sense when assembled together, underlining the fact that this, more than almost any other range I know, constitutes a system approach. Here, form clearly follows function.
Beyond the instantly identifiable appearance, the one other thing that most people know about Goldmund is that their products don’t come cheap. The system assembled here is no exception, and despite being drawn from what they term their High-End Series, represents one step up from entry level in the Company’s product line. What does that mean in financial terms? Think of these units as costing £8K a box and you won’t be far off, yet they are smaller and simpler in appearance than most of the competition. Just what is it you are paying for?
To answer that question you first have to appreciate the Goldmund agenda. C.E.O. Michel Reverchon (interviewed back in Issue 51) describes them as a “fundamental research” company, pointing to their investigation of both human hearing response and the high-tech solutions they’ve developed in response to their discoveries. For Goldmund, hi-fi performance rests on several basic performance parameters – parameters that are woefully inadequate in most products on the market. First and foremost is wide bandwidth, which in Goldmund speak means not just passing signal from DC to 3MHz, but developing amps that deliver full power across that bandwidth. Then there’s phase coherence and minimizing group delay, followed closely by mechanical grounding designed to that end. Finally comes dynamic range. These priorities are of course, inextricably linked, but their importance informs every aspect of Goldmund product design and development. Look ahead to their recently revealed Project Leonardo and you see the use of DSP to correct phase inaccuracies in passive crossovers – which might sound simple, but believe me, it isn’t! The results are also shockingly audible, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
To really understand the depth to which conceptual thinking informs Goldmund system designs, the easiest place to start is the speaker. The Logos 1/2 combination supplied for review is a modular set-up, consisting of a smallish two-way, reflex loaded head unit and a pair of active sub-woofers. The elements can be bought separately, allowing the speakers to be assembled over time, but it is in their full, final form as seen here that they best reveal their nature. Rather than a sub-sat system, this is a dedicated three-way design, mounted in a purpose built stand. Having said that, all is not as it seems. Whilst the stand serves to lift the bass unit 42cm off the floor, perching it at a visually incongruous height, and fixes the head unit around 5cm above that, supporting those elements is its sole function. The speaker cabinets themselves are constructed from aluminium plates, close coupled by solid alloy rods that ground mechanical energy directly into the floor. Look around the back and you’ll be in for another surprise. As well as the expected inputs and controls on the back of the Logos 2 bass units (level, roll-off and an RCA analogue socket) there’s a pair of digital inputs too. Yep, inside each sub there’s a DAC. You can buy an active version of the Logos 1 as well, and that has a digital input option as well. In fact, every power amp in the Goldmund range offers the option of digital inputs, allowing the company to institute digital signal transfer within the system, eliminating the losses associated with analogue cabling, as well as harnessing DSP to provide phase coherent active crossovers. Of course, digital signal transfer and DSP don’t exactly have the best of reputations in high-end audio circles, where practitioners have been all too willing to accept theoretical performance standards in place of the real thing, but like just about everything else in audio, it’s not just about what you do, but how you do it that matters, and Goldmund are very, very serious about their DAC and DSP technology. How serious? Serious enough to give the new Reference record player a digital output!
Another thing you’ll notice about the Logos 2 bass units is that despite the relatively compact dimensions of their sealed, 35cm cubic cabinets, each one contains two horizontally opposed, 305mm drivers. This “force-canceling” arrangement is clearly in line with the concept of good mechanical grounding, but the use of such large drivers and their removal from the benefits of boundary reinforcement demands the use of a high-quality, high-powered amplifier to deliver good linearity and bass depth. The electronics package in the Logos delivers 300 Watts with an unusually low output impedance to guarantee excellent linearity and control. The twin drivers help to maintain the sense of scale and wide dynamic range, while the carefully chosen pulp-coned midrange driver and soft-dome tweeter in the Logos 1 were selected to maintain microdynamic detail and instrumental texture: Dynamics cut both ways and you need to be able to do the smallest changes in level just as convincingly as the widest ones – at high and low frequencies.