Gato Audio AMP-150 AE Review : A few years back Gato Audio got rid of their distributor network. They say you get more for your money this way with prices tumbling by 40%. I’ve found this is certainly true against some amplifiers of brands I’ve tried who sell aboard into a price elevating dealer / distributor model with added transport costs.
The price of the AMP-150 AE (Anniversary Edition) is currently at time of press €4395, $4620 and £3810. If you go for a bespoke coloured top panel it will set you back another €400.
The most striking element of this Danish designed and made amp is its unique look – Gato Audio say it expresses an electromechanical design look and apparently is styled with submarines in mind. As I said in my video I like the anisotropic reflections from the front face of the big front dials, the front display dial, and all that aluminium and the polished wood actually sets it off contrary to my previous experiences.
On the design of using TwinFET technology or single output pair mosfet transistors at the output of the amp, Gato Audio say ;
Gato Audio’s Kresten Dinesen ;“We do believe a solution without paralleled output devices delivers a more ‘free, open and natural’ musical flow, this is our clear experience. Having many parallel output devices with each a set of specifications within an accepted production tolerances – will at the end have a fine and even out tolerance on paper, while the sound is more constrained, mechanical and lifeless as product.”
In another article it had been explained “you get a very close relationship with your speaker and power supply with few mosfets at the output” which I asked Gato Audio to explain in a lay sense and contextualised with sound quality. I was told:
On few mosfets at the output, Kresten says“What we mean is that basically the connected speaker is connected direct to the power supply rail through one single MosFet with an internal resistance of less the 15 milli ohm, that controls the output signal. Compare that to a number of parallel transistors on a large PCB rail, soldering and connections to make it all work. This allows, short signal paths, low internal resistance and a super simple circuit layout.”
The heating that happens when you turn this amp on is an interesting one. No longer do you have to wait the few hours needed to get the amp up to temperature and sonic performance. Essentially this is a biasing arrangement where a higher bias is run until the amp generates more heat and it reaches normal operating temperature, then the amp reverts to normal bias. This is not a timed arrangement in the AMP-150 AE but there is an inbuilt thermometer and the circuit is controlled by a microprocessor. In lay terms, this heating is allowed by an extension of the functioning principle of Class A/B amplifiers where for any given input signal the amp maintains an ‘always on’ Class A element to the output of the amp that generates heat through all amplifiers never being 100% efficient and some of the energy being converted to heat. By increasing the A element bias until the temperature is reached, the AMP-150 AE heats up. For a simple explanation of Class AB and A amps watch Paul McGowern – here
From exploring the tech, the AMP-150 AE drills down to sound tests as to why this amp has the character it does. Whilst amps like Hegel’s H390 or Kinki Studio’s EX-M1+ are tough nuts to crack, in DACless and STREAMINGless pure analogueNESS, matched to the balance and taste of your speakers, this Gato Audio’s delicate command of treble and resolution also pervades the presence and space regions that makes music so pleasing.
Both the Kinki and Hegel cannot muster this in quite the same way. Certainly the Kinki and Hegel sound more transiently dynamic, gutsier, and punch lower, plus a touch more toned in the mids, but they can’t pull as much out of a recording and keep it as separated and spacey. Also whilst the Hegel has more features with streaming and digital inputs and costs more, and the Kinki just ridiculously good price and value, neither are these amps the design piece that this Gato Audio is which is so important in the purchase of premium HiFi. The Hegel’s utilitarian styling designed to fit all rooms, and Kinki Studio’s cooling panel blingeyness might not match some tastes…..Anyway that’s me over and out for the slog that went into this one…..now I’m off to enjoy it some more…..
- 2x 150W@8ohm / 2x 250W@4ohm
- TwinFET technology output stage
- High bandwidth power supply
- Balanced and unbalanced inputs
- Analogue multi display, clear and informative
- Direct function; enables use in home theater systems
- Nonmagnetic enclosure
- Designed, developed and built in Copenhagen, Denmark
|2x 150 W RMS 8 Ω / 2x 250 W RMS 4 Ω
|20kΩ RCA or 40kΩ Balanced
|20 Hz – 20 kHz ± 0.5 dB, and 2 Hz – 100 kHz ± 3 dB
|PREAMPLIFIER OUTPUT IMPEDANCE
|100 Ω RCA and 200 Ω Balanced
|TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION
|< 0,05 % at rated power
|SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO A-WEIGHTED
|> 100 dB
|27 dB (+10 dB headroom)
|RECOMMENDED SPEAKER LOAD
|4 Ω – 16 Ω
|Speakers < 1.5Ω
Gato Audio website – here