That grasp on the musical landscape is just as relevant and obvious when it comes to other genres too, unearthing the angst and sadness to be found in songs by Janis Ian or Eleanor McEvoy, the barely-suppressed anger in Elvis Costello, or the sardonic humour in Joe Jackson. It bridges across the digital and analogue inputs too, although I have to say that there’s something special in the musical integrity, communication, and engagement to be found in the Telos 590’s internal DAC. This is digital disc replay (from the CEC TL-2 transport) with grace, fluidity, and sense of forward motion, a world away from the stuttering, hesitant, gutless, or sterile presentation of so much high-res digital these days. The USB input is similarly impressive, although the musical shape, colour, and substance of physical disc replay still wins out.
The end result is that rare thing indeed, an audio component that’s as impressive as it is entertaining. Whether it’s searing guitar, the deep bass detonations on some OTT movie soundtrack (or classical head-banger), the fragile intensity of solo violin or female vocal, or the convoluted horn meanderings of John Coltrane at his most obtuse, this is an amp that will never, ever leave you wondering. Despite its rated output, it’s more at home with speakers that let it stretch its legs, but I never reached its dynamic limits with models as diverse as the Wilson-Benesch Resolution, Raidho XT5, and Focal Maestro Utopia Evo, failing even to explore the outer limits of its comfort zone. Instead, the Telos 590 simply delivered whatever I demanded, without fuss or fanfare. It never lost control, but then it never lost its unflustered sense of musical enthusiasm either, always putting the performance front and centre. There are integrated amps that are bigger, heavier, and a lot more obvious, ones that offer far more facilities, balanced connection, network capabilities, and a host of configuration options. There are certainly amps that might seem equivalent on paper and that are available at far lower prices. But in the face of all that noisy competition, the Telos 590 simply does the things that matter and does them really well, more 8” Zwilling Henckels cook’s knife than Gerber multi-tool. Everything you actually need and only a TosLink input that you don’t, this Goldmund might just be the musical benchmark when it comes to high-end digital integrated amps.
High-prices and high-times in the high-end… A brief history of Goldmund
When it comes to the highest of high-end, solid-state electronics, it seems like few companies have been around as long, or aimed as high as Goldmund. In reality, Mark Levinson Audio Systems (founded in 1972) predated the French-Swiss company by six-years, while Goldmund’s first electronics, the Mimesis 2 and 3 pre-power amplifier, didn’t appear until 1987, previous efforts having been devoted to tonearms and turntables (including the legendary Reference record player, the product that along with the Apologue loudspeaker, has arguably come to define the brand). And therein lies a tale, for Goldmund products have never lacked extravagance or ambition, cutting-edge technology, or attention-grabbing price-tags. From the computer controlled, linear tracking T3 tonearm to digital inter-active loudspeakers, sophisticated room correction software to the feed-forward digital error corrected crossovers of Project Leonardo, Goldmund has ever been so cutting edge that occasionally it has cut itself! Based in Geneva, Goldmund’s proximity to Cerne is no coincidence, practically or philosophically. As iconoclastic in style and design as they are technologically aggressive, Goldmund products have an immediately identifiable look and sound. It is an identity that certainly polarises opinion, while the willingness to flirt with bleeding-edge technology has, over the years caused its own fair-share of reliability issues, a legacy that has left the company with its own Greek chorus of detractors, critics who accuse it of playing as fast and loose with its partners and customers as its products sound fast and tight. Yet amidst all of the pros and cons, hype and debate, one thing is undeniable: Goldmund the company is as resilient as its products are impressive – it keeps coming back and they keep getting better!
Type: Integrated amplifier with internal DAC
Inputs: 1x S/PDIF (RCA)
1×USB 2.0 (32bit/384 or DSD128)
5×line-level analogue (RCA)
Rated Output: 215W per channel into 8 Ohms
Output Connections: 1pr 5-way binding posts/channel
Dimensions (W×H×D): 440 ×163 ×410mm
Price: £24,000 (exchange rate dependent)
UK Distributor: Sonata Hi-Fi
Tel: +44 (0) 330 111 5653