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Amp for Gale GS401A speakers

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Hi everyone. My goal at the moment is to find an amplifier to match a restored pair of Gale GS401A speakers — when they are happy so am I. Integrated or mono-blocks, budget $2000–$3000. I believe speakers can go down to near 3 Ohms, and are 87dB efficiency.

 

Possibilities in SNA classifieds: ATC SIA 2-150 Integrated, Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated, Parasound Halo Integrated. A Bryston B135-SST2 was also listed but although very suitable was over my budget. Benchmark Vortex Monoblocks are also listed. The Parasound is listed as local pick-up in Melbourne.

 

I am favouring the ATC as a comment was made regarding its suitability to hungry speakers and its overall characteristics. I have just noticed that the classified (by Cafad) for the ATC Integrated is now “expired”. 

 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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I had several people inquire as to the age and the postage cost of the ATC but it remains unsold.  So yes, it is definitely an option for you.

 

The Parasound Halo is also an excellent amp, I can't speak as to it's happiness at 3.5 Ohm loads but I'm sure someone somewhere will be able to.

 

I can't comment on the MF, have yet to hear one.

 

Legendary Amp Killer huh?  

http://0339436.netsolhost.com/WordPress/gs401-speaker/

 

Well the ATC SIA2-150 isn't just any old amp.  I'm confident it would be up to the task.

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Having owned 401's for many years, they deserve IMO dedicated power amps, and very transparent attenuation. 

 

The power amps must be capable of very low distortion, and Quad's many

current dumping models are suggested. Other alternatives of power amp

must offer THD below .03% or lower, and to match with suggested passive

attenuation, ( less is more ) power amp sensitivity should ideally be below

1.5v for full output. The Hypex range of amplifiers is another alternative 

 https://www.hypex.nl/

 

In my experience  anything after the Quad 405 ie Quad 606 , 707, or 909

- and preferably one of these per channel will get you possibly the best

sound possible, but worth looking at other alternatives too.  

 

I have used them with less volume capability with Quad 303 and 306,

and one per channel is the way to go. The 401's are a very good speaker. 

 

If contemplating a Quad 606 or 909, a hour or two installing good quality

thermal grease to the heatsink bracket on each circuit board so said

grease contacts the outer heatsink will be beneficial. 

 

The 401's when playing loud for extended periods will test any amplifiers

ability to dispense with excess heat. 

Edited by stereo coffee
tidied up paragraph spacing

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Pound for pound and dollar for dollar the Yamaha P2200 is the best amp I've heard to run Gale 401s.  It never breaks a sweat even when driven at high levels for a considerable time playing complex and challenging music.  It has considerable control in the bass and provides a real presence and low and high volumes.  I had my P2200 completely recapped with RIFA caps and it slayed 95% of all domestic audiophile amps without any effort.  

 

In reality I'd say the Gale 401's down to 2 Ohms!

 

 

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My Monarchy Audio's drive them well. Effortlessly in fact. I do have two dedicated 40 amp circuits though. I also prefer Monobloks.

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It depends what sort of sound you are wanting to achieve from your Gales.

You can get them sounding very good with any decent high current amp-in a "hi fi" sort of way and for many people that is what they want.Or you can get them sounding quite different,and for me far more sophisticated,by using amplifiers that can reveal more subtle things like timbral qualities,lilt,decay and general musical expressiveness.In that regard using a good valve preamp is also important.

You never know what amp is going to suit them until you give it a go though.They are a difficult speaker to drive which seems to magnify differences.One of the most surprising amps I tried was a Rotel 840BX integrated which was neither an expensive or powerful model but which seemed to drive them quite well and sounded surprisingly good.It is a high current design though.Certainly that would be a good stop-gap choice until you found something more serious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by THOMO

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I remember back in the days when these current hungry speakers were matched with an Accuphase integrated. I knew a friend who had one of these pairings and the sound was absolutely stunning with great dynamics and detail (when compared to my Advent speakers and Technics amp 😁).

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15 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

Having owned 401's for many years, they deserve IMO dedicated power amps, and very transparent attenuation. 

 

The power amps must be capable of very low distortion, and Quad's many

current dumping models are suggested. Other alternatives of power amp

must offer THD below .03% or lower, and to match with suggested passive

attenuation, ( less is more ) power amp sensitivity should ideally be below

1.5v for full output. The Hypex range of amplifiers is another alternative 

 https://www.hypex.nl/

 

In my experience  anything after the Quad 405 ie Quad 606 , 707, or 909

- and preferably one of these per channel will get you possibly the best

sound possible, but worth looking at other alternatives too.  

 

I have used them with less volume capability with Quad 303 and 306,

and one per channel is the way to go. The 401's are a very good speaker. 

 

If contemplating a Quad 606 or 909, a hour or two installing good quality

thermal grease to the heatsink bracket on each circuit board so said

grease contacts the outer heatsink will be beneficial. 

 

The 401's when playing loud for extended periods will test any amplifiers

ability to dispense with excess heat. 

My experience both in retail  and as a hobbyist is that the Quad amps have insuffcient current ability to control the Gales at anything beyond just above background levels. I consider this a shame as the sound quality is good but there is nowhere near enough current to play music at normal levels without that sound stage collapsing and the onset of clipping. I tried the 405 ,606 ,520 and a pair of 510's. The 606 sounded the best but still had the issues described above.

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Thanks, everyone for comments in reply to my dilemma and to see some Gale GS401 enthusiasts out there.

 

I am a bit hesitant to get something too vintage with potential issues down the track, and/or something as a gap measure for now sort of thing. Adjusting the budget up somewhat is always possible.

 

In the past a Yamaha AVX100 had been driving them (sort of) and then little used for some years, but now I want them to be driven as they deserve. I’m 70 years in March so my hearing is not the best, but the best hearing aid is surely turning the volume knob of an amplifier clockwise.

 

Yes, Peter_F they do seem to go down to 2 Ohm. I think thimmy118 was referring to the Accuphase E303x which I saw mentioned in a UK forum along with the Hegel 160 and Hafler amps. A brochure for the E303x mentioned that it can be connected to low impedance speakers and into 2 Ohms can deliver 250 Watts per channel.

 

The Gales haven’t come back from the speaker hospital yet.

 

EB23F941-D76E-4680-BE4B-7FB1458E187E.jpeg

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On 28/07/2019 at 9:28 PM, signal path said:

Hi everyone. My goal at the moment is to find an amplifier to match a restored pair of Gale GS401A speakers — when they are happy so am I. Integrated or mono-blocks, budget $2000–$3000. I believe speakers can go down to near 3 Ohms, and are 87dB efficiency.

 

Possibilities in SNA classifieds: ATC SIA 2-150 Integrated, Musical Fidelity A5 Integrated, Parasound Halo Integrated. A Bryston B135-SST2 was also listed but although very suitable was over my budget. Benchmark Vortex Monoblocks are also listed. The Parasound is listed as local pick-up in Melbourne.

 

I am favouring the ATC as a comment was made regarding its suitability to hungry speakers and its overall characteristics. I have just noticed that the classified (by Cafad) for the ATC Integrated is now “expired”. 

 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

The Benchmark Vortex's will absolutely annihilate the MF & Parasound. I'm not familiar with the ATC.

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3 hours ago, signal path said:

Yes, Peter_F they do seem to go down to 2 Ohm. I think thimmy118 was referring to the Accuphase E303x which I saw mentioned in a UK forum along with the Hegel 160 and Hafler amps. A brochure for the E303x mentioned that it can be connected to low impedance speakers and into 2 Ohms can deliver 250 Watts per channel.

 

I tried them with the E303X and found the sound congested and slow sounding for my tastes, and seemed to strangle the life out of the Gales.  But then I guess it depends on the type of music you listen to and the sound you like. 😎

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Well the Gales did indeed come back from the speaker hospital and I took the ATC SIA2-150 down to Brissy this morning to give them a run with it.

 

Ken is looking for a cd player so our source was his Lynn fed through a Schiit Mani. 

Picture 1 (just to prove to any doubters that it did indeed happen).

2052382718_gales1.thumb.jpg.2e6005e4ab75af308dd90209949d6b5c.jpg

 

And here's a picture of me taking a picture...731173564_gales2.thumb.jpg.f12922466af42fb9ccca9d3b58a631c9.jpg of a very reflective surface.  Nice chrome work on that speaker!

 

We fired up Tracy Chapman for starters, and my first impressions of the Gales sound was that they were very, very "English".  Very warm and a little fuzzy but with a good mid range and a fairly strong bass line.  This was of course completely incorrect, but more on that in another few lines.

 

Ken and I talked and swapped a few stories and spun up a record I have brought with me, Gary Moore's "After the War" (the first of my records to be played, ever, I feel like I should write that down somewhere).  Anyway, we listened a little more and talked a little more and Ken showed me some pics of the Gales before and after their restoration.  This sparked an idea and I asked him if they were set up with both tweeters closest to the inside (ie closer to each other) or on the outside (furthest from each other).  He wasn't sure as they aren't the easiest speakers to see in to as you can't just take off the fabric.  After moving side to side and bobbing up and down a bit I came to the conclusion that both the speakers were sitting with the tweeter on the left hand side.  I suggested turning the left hand speaker so that the tweeter was on the right hand side as this made sense to me.

 

So I turned the speaker over (putting far to many greasy finger prints onto the new chrome work in the process) and we spun up Gary Moore once again.

 

It took me 30 seconds or so but I finally realized what I was hearing the first time.  Because the left speaker had its woofers in between its tweeter and the speaker on the right the sound stage couldn't form and the bass was dominating the performance.  With both of the tweeters on the inside the sound stage could form and the mids and highs from both speakers could get together and make some magic.  

This new set up (so to speak) was very mid range focused.  I don't know what happened to the bass from the first time I heard it but I was definitely hearing more mid range and top end than I was bass now.  This is the sort of mid range I could understand becoming so popular that people rave on about it (as many Gale owners seem to enjoy doing, and why not?).

 

I can also understand how people could kill amps on this style of presentation.  Since there isn't a great deal of bass I can see in my minds eye so many "young-uns" just dialing the volume up and up and up in an effort to get the speakers to force you out of the room, and since they're so inefficient they never quite get there.  And then the amp decides that it needs a bit of a lie down.

 

The ATC was doing a fine job at about 12 o'clock on the volume dial and seemed just as happy at 2 o'clock as well.  It did heat up but only to the same level as I've experienced in my system in the past.  If Ken decides he want's to annoy his neighbours for a full album or two then it may struggle with heat dissipation in warmer weather but I don't see it having any trouble at more normal "moderate to loud" levels.

 

Nice to meet you Ken, hope you find a good cd player for your system.  Be sure to give the ATC a good serious product testing mate and if you do have any troubles let me know and we'll sort them out.

 

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The Gales should be used sideways with the tweeters at  the top on stands around 660mm high.They also have a sweet spot regarding distance out from the front wall for bass balance.

And used with a good valve preamp.

Edited by THOMO

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5 minutes ago, THOMO said:

The Gales should be used sideways with the tweeters at  the top on stands around 660mm high.They also have a sweet spot regarding distance out from the front wall for bass balance.

And used with a good valve preamp.

I second that too 😊😅😂👍

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Get those lovely girls well out into the room, backing them up into the walls does not increase bass but rather the opposite, they love having room to breath.

 

Then shove every last Watt and reserve of current you have up ‘em. They just eat power.......they ate up 600 Watts at Tony M’s the other day.

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On 28/07/2019 at 9:28 PM, signal path said:

Hi everyone. My goal at the moment is to find an amplifier to match a restored pair of Gale GS401A speakers — when they are happy so am I. Integrated or mono-blocks, budget $2000–$3000. I believe speakers can go down to near 3 Ohms, and are 87dB efficiency.

Quote

Then shove every last Watt and reserve of current you have up ‘em. They just eat power.......they ate up 600 Watts at Tony M’s the other day.

 

Gale 401's are a match made in heaven for an ME75 poweramp, just  perfect synergy.

And I believe after talking to him today that @Audionutz may have one he thinking of putting up in the classifieds, and maybe a ME preamp as well.

 

Cheers George

Edited by georgehifi

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Yes, yes . . . I do take note of all the must do’s for the Gales but this is the early stage of my set-up in an odd-shaped room — but in the meantime I need music to cope with the challenges!

 

Thanks Jeff for your time and help today, much appreciated.

 

 

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21 minutes ago, signal path said:

Yes, yes . . . I do take note of all the must do’s for the Gales but this is the early stage of my set-up in an odd-shaped room — but in the meantime I need music to cope with the challenges!

 

Thanks Jeff for your time and help today, much appreciated.

 

 

 

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ATC is one best amps I have heard on Gales as I had a ATC spa2-150 on Gale 401s before which was amazing sound so you should be happy but set up the Gales the way Thomo said as this is the right way to listen to them.Thomo is very experienced with Gales 

Edited by Conrad1970

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1 hour ago, Cafad said:

I don't know what happened to the bass.....

What work was done to the Gales?  New bass and midrange surrounds?  Any work to the crossovers?

 

The Gale in the picture appears to be missing the metal tweeter grill.  

 

 

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15674085944454192254628501872061.thumb.jpg.3c1469418739378683e0eaf61cfbe173.jpgThis amp has never sounded as good as it does with these Gales. 

Mccormack DNA-1. 50Amps capacity, 500w at 2 Ohms.  It was an old left over from driving my duntechs before the big ME1400 displaced it. 

 

I tried an attenuated signal straight from another dac and it was the most uninvolving sound I've had. Pop the single ended 6h30 high gain pre output from the Ayon cd5s in and it instantly sounded good.  

15674089649963996878723118780183.thumb.jpg.294cb8d3489bb6717f390601072162d6.jpg

Not as definitively  loud and solid as the big bryston  14bsst Hugh mentioned though but does has the fullness and dynamic snap. This is my second system so a budget high current power amp was required and this is definitely one. 

20190902_165748.thumb.jpg.8caa0d02d70eed67229c53d9028437ba.jpg

 

The problem is there aren't too many around in Australia but they are a pretty affordable way to get some current into the equation. 

 

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While the big Vincent SP-998 Mono Block's are unbeatable at anywhere near their price and would be ideal but over budget, you're not going to get anything near the Benchmark Vortex's for that sort of money. I just put my (upgraded) Benchmark Plexus into one of my set-ups, sounds absolutely gorgeous. High current, with just the right amount of "sweetness". Sounds great with a Good Tube Pre. I believe the seller has reduced the price further. Get a competent Tech to tweak them up and they'll compete with most Amps up to 10k.

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I'm the one with the BM Vortex monos listed in the classifieds.

I've had a few people now tell me how I'm going to regret selling but the decision has been made.

 

@signal path, let me know if you'd like to listen to them. FYI though, I'm going away for a couple of weeks on the 14th Sept. If they haven't sold by then, maybe you could have them for prolonged demo while I'm away? I won't be using them. Just a thought...

 

IMG_1450.jpg

Edited by Winno

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Hi Winno

 

I have purchased the ATC SIA 2-150 from Cafad but what I’m trying to do is get in touch with a fishing friend who could be interested in the Benchmark monoblocks. It is a long story but he is very difficult to get in contact with.

 

I just wanted to respond to your generous offer and hopefully organise something with him — fingers crossed.

 

Regards, Ken

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