Twenty thousand dollars is a substantial amount of money to spend on a pair of compact speakers at first blush. But after spending a few years with GamuT Audio’s past flagship speaker, the one hundred and twenty thousand dollar S9 and now the new Zodiac, the question begs, “how did they do it?” Granted, a small speaker like the RS3i can only move so much air in a room, but the amount of high quality bass that these compact monitors generate is staggering; you keep looking for the subwoofer. At a recent demo of these little jewels at Audio Vision San Francisco, the assembled crowd was spellbound. And with good reason.
While the GamuT “sound” may not be for you, if it is, nothing else will do. As GamuT designer Benno and I, musing about automobiles made the comparison, a few of the other speakers, a bit better known for razor sharp resolution come off more like a Ferrari, communicating every pebble in the road. Exciting, yes, but exhausting on anything less than a racetrack, and even then only in small doses.
The magic that GamuT brings to the table is to offer up nearly as much detail as those other, more surgical speakers, yet offering a tonality that is lush, engaging and saturated, without ever sounding dull or slow. They aren’t just making an easy to listen speaker by rounding off all of the musical details. I use the larger RS5i as one of my two main reference speakers at TONEAudio magazine and like my former S9s, I have listened to them from sunrise to sunset and beyond with zero fatigue. I never tire of GamuT speakers.
When comparing the stand mounted RS3i to the floorstanding RS5i, the sound is nearly identical at most volume levels as long as the RS3i’s aren’t called upon to reproduce super low bass notes. While the woofer driver is different, the tweeters are the same as is the cabinet construction, made out of 21 layers of pressed and glued wood to achieve a perfect balance of tone, while neutralizing cabinet induced distortions.
These speakers will benefit from a few hours of careful fine adjustment, and in particular, they respond to the rearward tilt of the speakers to make sure that the sound from the tweeters hits your ears at precisely the right time. However, those with less than Jedi Master skills will find that getting the RS3i a couple of feet from the back wall, about 6-8 feet apart, and positioning your listening chair or couch about the same distance back will achieve excellent results.
In the context of The Audiophile Apartment, where we don’t have a massive listening room, the RS3i does an incredible job of disappearing in the room, producing a holographic, three dimensional soundfield that feels as if you’re sitting inbetween the earcups of a massive pair of headphones. It only takes about 15 sec of your favorite track to become immersed in the music, even more so if you happen to have GamuT’s Lobster chair and footstool. (We’ll report more about that in the future.)
Spinning Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock (GamuT USA’s director Michael Vamos’ all time favorite album), this record gently comes to life in a sparse, yet expansive way. The delicate vocals of “Myrrhman” just hang in my living room/listening room, as if peeking around the corner from the bedroom, punctuated with bits of percussion and synth. When the pace picks up on the next track, “Ascension Day,” the soundfield dramatically swells to the occasion, with lead vocals leaping out in front of the speakers, with drums hanging back gently, while the guitars and keyboards race in and out of the mix with a harmonica coming out of hiding every now and then. No matter what the program material; rock, jazz, classical, solo vocalists – the RS3i doesn’t discriminate.
Granted, these are aesthetically beautiful speakers, but the true beauty of the GamuT RS3i is that once they are powered up you never see them again – you simply ease back and forget the rest of the world. If I didn’t already own a pair of RS5i’s, I’d be writing a check for these. Highly recommended.