Goldmund Telos 590 integrated amplifier/digital audio hub

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Goldmund Telos 590

Having said that, on first switch on, that speed is hard to miss. The sound of a stone-cold Telos 590 is as fast as it is lean, as stark as it is immediate. Cool, verging on clinical it’s incredibly impressive but less than inviting. Fortunately that changes as the amp warms up and runs in, putting flesh on the bones and colour in its cheeks. But the neat trick is that whilst it loses that etched, spot-lit quality, it loses none of its speed or transparency. Instead, the extra weight and colour bring even greater impact and an almost physical presence. The more it beds in the more the Telos 590’s performance attributes allow it to hide behind the musical performance itself, performances it imbues with impressive immediacy, directness of communication, and a real sense of purpose. There’s no missing which direction the music is pointing in – or why…

A small baroque ensemble might not seem like the obvious material to demonstrate the Goldmund’s qualities, but then Amandine Beyer and Gli Incogniti’s disc of Vivaldi’s violin concertos [Zig Zag Territoires] is hardly a study in cool restraint. Instead, it is full of life, colour, attack, explosive dynamic contrasts, and vivid musical vitality – aspects of the performance that the Telos 590 seizes on with gusto to match the playing. This is a presentation full of clarity and presence, the space around and between the players are as clearly defined as the musicians themselves; the seated band in an arc around their standing soloist, the harpsichord in the back. But this is no simple exercise in precise stereo placement. The opening to RV297 (‘Winter’ from the ubiquitous ‘Four Seasons’) is incredibly taut and directed, its rising dynamic graduations giving it pace and momentum and making the most of the band’s impressive verve and attitude, the perfect foil to the quicksilver precision of Beyer’s lightning bow work. Likewise, the rounded notes of the pizzicatoelements in the second movement are softer and clearly shaped, in stark contrast to the texture and attack of the bowed passages, the character and identity of the Theorbo bringing its own colour and body to the music. Playing even a baroque string concerto with half a dozen musicians and harpsichord continuo might seem like a stretch, until you experience the sheer energy and intensity that Gli Incogniti bring to the party – energy that the Goldmund amp fastens on and delivers direct to your speakers.

This combination of speed, clarity, and presence is clearly displayed in small, vivid, and intricate settings, but how about increasing the scale? The passacagliafrom the Shostakovich violin concerto [Lisa Batiashvili, Echoes Of Time, DG] takes the solo intensity of the Vivaldi but ramps up the difficulty and drama, the extended violin sections contrasted against deft yet powerful orchestral backing. It opens with massive, doom-laden percussion beats – yet the Goldmund manages to deliver not just the weight, pitch, and power of the timps and bass drum, it separates them in texture too, giving their contribution its correct shape, motion, and musical impact. These are subtleties lost on many systems, but are niceties essential to building the prevailing mood of this deeply emotional piece. In many ways it’s the perfect musical microcosm to encapsulate what sets the Telos 590 apart from the crowd. While this is an amp that excels in revealing the acoustic space around recorded instruments, its temporal accuracy and dynamic discrimination mean that it goes further than that, capturing the feel and atmosphere in the performance too, whether that’s Gli Incogniti’s sheer joie de vivre or the draining intensity of Lisa Batiashvili.

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