GOLD NOTE GIGLIO turntable
+ Reminiscent of great belt-driven decks from the 1980s. Stability akin to a direct-drive unit. Gorgeous looks and solidly built. You are likely to spend more time listening to your record collection, given its musicality.
– Limited anti-skate adjustment. Stubby tonearm finger lift.
OVER the years, I have had great experience with Gold Note (formerly Blue Note), an innovative Italian company making equipment that is euphonic to my ears. I recall the lush moments spent with the Stibbert tubed CD player that I owned for the longest time before it made way for a SACD player a decade later. When you buy a Gold Note product, you not only get what you pay for but also excellent support from the team lead by CEO and founder Maurizio Aterini; the company is very responsive in attending to your queries.
The Giglio turntable recalled images of Monica Bellucci in one of my favourite movies, Malèna; it looks simply Bellissima, with its hourglass belt pulley and shapely bottom, and finished in Italian walnut sitting on Bruno Magli-like stilettos footers. The thick black platter made of acoustically dead Sustarin is set snugly on a glossy triple-layer sandwich black plinth. The plinth comprises a 20mm polished acrylic top with a 3mm stainless steel plate in the middle that’s supported by a 50mm walnut wooden base – the last can ordered in black or natural walnut finish which lends a contrasted organic naked bottom feel to the total package.
AC-reshaping circuitry hidden inside the plinth provides consistent power supply to drive the DC motor. If you dislike wall warts, two new large dedicated PST-10 and PST-10 Deluxe external power supply units are being finalised, which will improve the sound quality from the standard unit.
The static balance nine-inch B-5.1 tonearm, mounted with a Vasari Red MM cartridge, looks elegant with its slender aluminium arm wand leading towards a double counterweight system which allows you to mount most cartridges in the market. The retro-looking string-and-barrel weight anti-skate provides a small 0.5-1.0g adjustment range but can be retrofitted with the newer broader range scale available on the newer tonearms but which will require a taller dust cover. It even offers azimuth adjustments – rarely seen nowadays. The stubby finger-lift requires you to pinch it gently to lift as it is too flimsy to rest on your index finger.
So let’s see how the music unfolds…
The Giglio first brushed my senses at the recent hi-fi show when I was lured by a very analogue tune playing that reminded me very much of my old Linn Sondek LP12 from the 1980s. Without looking, I asked if they were using a vintage turntable as they are so in vogue nowadays. To my surprise, it was a modern current production Gold Note turntable with a tonally rich and melodious signature.
There is something about how music comes alive with the Giglio. If it could speak to you, it would say that the instrument’s diction is poised, with each phrase well-tailored, recalling that nostalgic analogue recording accent. You will get none of that steely harmonics from strings nor brashness with brass or percussions that makes your hair stand on end. Instruments have that airy organic flow with a tonal richness and musical weight that are somewhat lacking from not only digital sources but also most modern turntables that appear to be clinically “accurate-sounding”, like a digital file recording.
The effects of the AC regenerating circuitry and a torquey DC motor quietly spinning at a consistent pace are immediately apparent when you listen to vocal tracks with minimal instrumentation. The lower noise floor is quickly obvious when you listen to vocals with sparsely populated instruments. Subtle micro details flourish across the soundstage, revealing nuances that draw you into the moment. The soundstage is wide, and I don’t have to share with you how a solo piano sounds on the Giglio, as you can already imagine it now. All these contribute much to the overall natural analogue feel – just enough and never overpowering the main draw.
Large-scale jazz and rock music will happily co-exist alongside full-blown classical ensembles – there is no lack of drama when push comes to shove as the Giglio easily handles quiet solo passages morphing into a humongous presentation without losing its tonal character, coming alive with real impact.
How did Gold Note pull this off? I asked Aterini and he said: “I have been assigned turntables for various audio companies for nearly 30 years. When I designed the Giglio, I wanted to make the most compact turntable on the market that could perform at high-end audio level at a very decent asking price.”
To me, the Giglio is part instrument and part equipment. What do I mean? I believe that Gold Note has a strong understanding of material resonance and harmonic signature, apart from the engineering competency. Melding carefully chosen materials is where the magic lies. It’s part instrument when you utilise organic materials such as wood to achieve a natural tone, and balancing it with the resonance signature of steel for a touch of liveness and immediacy. Acrylic and Sustarin give it the required dampening alongside the electronic engineering aspects that go into the equipment.
I was initially sceptical using the low compliance Vasari (10×10-6cm/dyne) with a relatively lower medium effective mass tonearm (10g) but my fears were later allayed – resonance only kicked in at about 11Hz with the Hi-Fi News test record.
The bulk of my listening was done with Gold Note’s excellent entry-level Vasari Red MM cartridge but I also used a Koetsu Rosewood Signature, Top Wing Blue Dragon, Grado The Reference, Miyajima Madake Snakewood, ZYX Ultimate Omega as well as a Denon DL-103SA to determine how much of the magic could be attributed to the Vasari. I can conclude that the different cartridges brought onboard their own dimensions, only possible if the underlying character of the Giglio remains intact.
Aterini said that the platter was designed to be used naked but since customers had been asking for a mat, the company is now offering one. This was not available to me, hence I played the Giglio mostly naked but experimented with a Micro Seiki Cu-180 copper mat as well as a rubber mat. But for the copper mat that rounded up the notes beautifully, Aterini was correct to say the platter works very well naked.
THE LAST WORD
The Giglio is an excellent turntable for music enthusiasts, given its melodious nature, with excellent control and musical depth. It’s not a turntable for the modern audiophile. Listening to the Giglio wakes the better inner self, making one want to move away from everything ranging from perceived “accuracy”, crystalline detail and breakneck pace to a more organic experience.
The only quibble I have is with the limited anti-skate adjustments of the demo unit as some of my cartridges require a higher amount of anti-skate. I do not see many contenders at the Giglio’s pricing in the middle market but options are aplenty from cheaper alternatives with extra cash thrown for a better cartridge. But will they sound like a Giglio? If Monica Bellucci at 54 is good for Agent 007, you have to have a listen and let the truth be told.
It is by choice that I am not sharing my musical selection for this review as I am now solely enjoying the music with a broad smile and truly understand the meaning of living la dolce vita.
Malaysian price: RM20,700 (black), add 15% for natural walnut bottom finish
Malaysian distributor: Audio Perfectionist (+603-9954-2818).
Turntables: Micro Seiki RX-5000/SAEC 506/30 tonearm/Koetsu Rosewood Signature Cartridge/Fidelity Research FR-64FX tonearm/Miyajima Zero Cartridge/Denon Columbia DA-308/Denon DL-103SA Cartridge, Technics SL-1200GAE/Miyajima Madake Snakewood cartridge, Yamaha GT-750/ZYX Ultimate Omega / Amplification: Vitus Audio SS-103, Cary Audio CAD300SEI, Cary Audio PH302 MkII, Audio Note MM-1 RIAA, Gold Note PH-10, Miyajima and Peerless SUTs / Pre-Amplifier: Simonte Passive Transformer Attenuator V1 / Speakers: Sonus Faber Extrema, Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage / Wires: Custom Simonte power chords and interconnects.