Review: Gold Note Giglio Record player- Is there an audio topic that comes to mind even more clichés than Italian products? I do not think so. That is why “Il suono italiano”, the slogan of the Italian full-line hi-fi retailer Gold Note, could lead you on the wrong track. Because what one might associate with it does not apply to the Giglio turntable (price: 4,190 euros) at all. It’s not a romantic, but a very modern product.
“Another cliché”, Heinz Erhardt would have said, but again with a real background: Gold Note was also founded over 25 years ago out of dissatisfaction with the status quo of the audio scene. The engineering student Maurizio Aterini had modified hi-fi equipment early on, and now he began to develop his own turntable during his studies. Aterini’s impulse has grown into a truly remarkable company called Akamai over the past quarter century, which now offers every device you need to play music, even cables.
The lone fighter Aterini had initially developed for other companies and later offered his products under the name Blue Note, which he was forbidden for understandable reasons, namely the objection of the legendary jazz record company. Therefore, together with his wife and a partner, he founded the company in 2012, whose products we know today under the name Gold Note. In addition to the old hands, you can see a pleasing number of young employees on their website, which indicates a good amalgamation of experience, tradition and innovation.
Across the bridge
The design of the Gold Note devices is in the hands of the in-house designer Stefano Bonifazi – rather the exception in today’s audio world. And of course the pretty frame of the Giglio catches everyone’s eye first. But it not only looks elegant, it is also constructed according to special criteria and makes a decisive contribution to the overall performance.
The lower half of the frame is made of solid walnut and is reminiscent of the waves of the Mediterranean. In terms of construction, it follows the so-called catenary curves or chain lines, which were responsible, among other things, for the particular stability of medieval pillars. What may sound like local patriotism has a serious background. In the 16th century, Florence and Tuscany, where Aterini and his colleagues come from, were the melting pot of arts, crafts and technology in Europe. Michelangelo, her most famous protagonist, built, among other things, the Santa Trinita Bridge over the River Arno according to these mathematical principles because of the resulting structural quality. The frame of the Giglio gets its final shape from the upper part made of polished acrylic and a 3 mm thick stainless steel plate as a sandwich covering in between. The different resonance properties of the materials should absorb and dissipate unwanted vibrations particularly well.
Gold Note Giglio Record player – The No 2
The Giglio is the No 2 in the turntable portfolio of the Tuscans. All aspects of Florentine tradition flow together in it – aesthetics, design and high-tech. The most eye-catching thing is of course its design, which, as described, is not an end in itself. Behind the name Giglio hides the lily, the heraldic flower of Florence and the name of the second largest island in the seven Tuscan archipelagos. This is how a shoe from the Mediterranean wave comparison becomes.
In the Giglio product description, I stumbled across the term “Hourglass Design”. Aterini means the shape of the motor pulley, which is reminiscent of an hourglass. This should ensure a particularly stable rotation with minimal slip and ideal self-centering of the belt. Due to the flat pulley, the belt runs far down on the plate, which should be advantageous in terms of vibration and improve synchronization. Makes sense, because the higher the pulley, the longer the motor axis would have to be, which tends to be disadvantageous.
I wanted to know more precisely where the enormous drive of the Giglio comes from, because that seems to me to be its outstanding characteristic. Maurizio Aterini did not really want to look into his cards and replied diplomatically that it was due to the overall design of the Giglio. Yes, of course, it is clear, I would not have guessed – and of course he is (also) right. But he did reveal a few criteria to me: the fixed coupling of the turntable and the long bearing spindle; the plate material and the different resonance frequencies of the materials, which are ideally matched to one another; the powerful motor with its precise control and finally the frame design described, which ensures the maximum torsional rigidity of the entire unit.
Setting up the turntable is easy. I don’t particularly like spikes and would have replaced them with absorbers. But with the Giglio I was left with no choice, as the wave form of the wooden substructure on the front is also continued on the underside and there is therefore no flat support surface. Technically, it makes sense because standing waves and resonances can be broken.
In my opinion, the counterweight can only be pushed onto the rear stub of the arm, in spite of manual counter pressure, with far too much force on the sensitive bearings. To be honest, as with the somewhat bulky handling of the tonearm, it seems to me that the limit of Tuscan precision mechanics has been reached.
For my taste there is also room for improvement with the in-house, pre-assembled Donatello gold pickup (990 euros). Especially when I played the piano I noticed a certain roughness compared to my Lyra Delos. Bass reproduction and space were already right, but the suppleness was lacking, a typical case of insufficient break-in time. When the sales department confirmed this to me on request, I had already installed the Delos and it stayed that way. Sure, the Lyra Delos is significantly more expensive than the Donatello Gold at 1,600 euros, but I just liked the combination with it better. Before the renovation, I of course allowed the Donatello Gold to play a few more hours and I think I can say that the system appeals more to dynamism lovers than to the extreme fine spirit.
Gold Note Giglio: Sound impression and comparisons
Despite its pretty larva, the Gold Note Giglio is definitely not a superficial prettier. It sounds more tight than fat, wiry than soft and crisp than round. Together with the Lyra Delos I managed to forget that I was dealing with a playback device, I just started listening to music. You can’t want something like that, it just happens and I can tell by the fact that I put on record after record.
For example Roisin Murphy. The year before this recording, I had seen her live and once again confirmed my suspicion that she was the far better Madonna. Now it seems to be entering the music arena of the Munich Tollwood Festival again and moving across its entire breadth and depth. It really seldom happens that I close my eyes and then imagine myself in the real scene. With the Gold Note I can immerse myself again in this strange mixture of indie, electro, elf and disco and follow the partly seismically deep bass just as easily as Rosie Murphy’s vocals and the wobbling synth lines. My impression is that the bass capabilities are only limited here by my speakers.
At the other end of the frequency record I can enjoy a glittering high-frequency image, it looks silky and extremely extended – but neutral and not forced. And the most important thing: The resolution is stupendous and has features of master tape aesthetics, i.e. a decidedly analog, stress-free reproduction that looks extremely natural. This is exactly what I often miss with the Acoustic Solid or Transrotor lathe, which has excellent resolution and plays neutrally, but can still ignore the listener.
You can’t have enough records from the legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins and I wonder when an album title was the more program. The recording from the legendary recording engineer Rudy van Gelder’s first studio in his parents’ house sounds like it was made in a hot, smoky club. The Americans say “on fire” to a performance that anticipated free jazz in 1957. More attack is not possible, it’s like some kind of bop punk! “B. Quick “sounds like I’m playing it on 45, so much dynamic shakes the turntable with the Delos from 33 1/3 revolutions. That was Rollins’ last recording for the Prestige record company, and that’s exactly what it sounds like: With a kind of musical rocket, he’s breaking new ground here. The Giglio enables me to understand that – it does its rounds stoically and at the same time with involvement, with an almost unswerving dissolution through this ball of energy of music. My Pear Audio plays a bit warmer in comparison, has a rounder, more sonorous midrange reproduction and yes, that may not be entirely the lesson. There is the Italian – this may come as a surprise to some – even the more honest sound mediator.
I don’t feel any different with Eric Dolphy. It almost seems to me that I’ve never really heard this record that I’ve owned for so long. Where are Roy Haynes’ drums in the room? I almost get the impression that he is enthroned above the band and actually, when I look, I realize that this recording was made in Rudy van Gelder’s own studio in Engelwood Cliffs – a very high room that is reminiscent of a church nave. I find the sheer expansion into all spatial dimensions unheard of in the truest sense of the word.
And then this rhythm dance by Dolphy grabs me with his bass clarinet. Attack, dynamics and transient speed best describe the sound of Gold Note Giglio and Lyra Delos here. The keys of the instrument are very clearly perceptible in a fascinating way, I hear, so to speak, like with a good, involved, high-resolution transistor amplifier and not with a luxurious tube. The clap noises of Dolphy’s bass clarinet dance around my ears like silvery fireflies. The more time I spend with the Giglio, the more I appreciate its tonally neutral, honest rendering, which manifests itself in a kind of fatigue-free audibility; but which, like for example Roisin Murphy, can be enriched with a mercilessly dry bass at any time, if it is on the record.
When I finally listen to the Beatles (album: Let it be), the Giglio puts a big grin on my face: How wonderful do the steel strings of the guitar (s) sound and how hymnically the choirs rise behind them into an incredibly good and extreme deeply lit room? All layers of production from “Across the Universe” to Phil Spector’s final mix seem to reveal themselves to me. George Harrison’s “I me mine” rocks with his really dirty guitar straight from the middle, here the Giglio shows dissolution and at the same time the ability to integrate. Not even the strings on “The long and winding road” annoy me, even if I’ve been a fan of Let it be naked forever will stay, the record, which was released much later, without Phil Spector’s production share and thus without strings.
Market cry: a classification
I have to say a word about the price of the Giglio: Almost 4,200 euros for a turntable with a tonearm is of course not a stick-out, and the market in this segment is fiercely competitive. A little below that you will find turntables like the Acoustic Solid Wood Black, the Acoustic Signature Double X, the Transrotor Fat Bob TMD or the Dr. Feickert Volare – always with a tonearm. The Rega Planar 10 from the same distributor that Dr. Feickert Woodpecker or my Captain John Handy SE from Pear Audio.
Where’s the phrase pig? Forgive me, I can’t help it: the Gold Note Giglio is a beautiful turntable for lovers of a neutral, research, involving sound. With the choice of the right pickup, you can significantly expand your sonic performance and then reach limits that you might not have expected. Once there, you can actually stop upgrading and concentrate entirely on listening to music. Anyone who has a sense of aesthetics cannot ignore the Tuscan anyway.
The Gold Note Giglio …
- impresses with a design that really deserves its name.
- is characterized by its extremely smooth running, which enables a very stable sound image.
- has an enormously dynamic style of play that is more reminiscent of a direct drive or friction wheel than a belt-driven drive. Despite its extraordinary coarse dynamic capabilities, it also leaves a lot of space for fine dynamic resolution – that’s not always the case.
- enables a reproduction of great tonal neutrality and high precision, which nevertheless keeps an eye on the fun factor and the joy of listening to music.
- amazes with a crisp, very deep bass reproduction and precise, neutral, at least never opulent or warm mids.
- is a master of fatigue-free audibility, not least thanks to its stress-free and very neutral high frequency reproduction, which is not annoying despite all openness. Even for this price range, this is anything but standard.
- Can illuminate recording rooms very well, the depth graduation is surprising. A particular talent of the Gold Note is to make “real room sizes” (such as from live recordings) acoustically tangible in all dimensions.
Gold Note Giglio Record player Facts:
- Model: Gold Note Giglio with B5.1 tonearm
- Concept: record player with belt drive
- Price: 4,190 euros (without system)
- Version: walnut / black or pure black
- Other: 33 1/3 and 45 rpm, controlled synchronous motor
- Dimensions & weight: 425 x 200 x 360 mm (WxHxD); 15 kg
- Guarantee: 2 years