Gato Audio AMP-150 Integrated Amplifier and CDD-1 Compact Disc Player

Class To Burn

Equipment report
Integrated amplifiers,
Disc players
Gato Audio AMP-150,
Gato Audio CDD-1
Gato Audio AMP-150 Integrated Amplifier and CDD-1 Compact Disc Player

Playing the classic EMI recording of Barbirolli’s Mahler Fifth Symphony only underlined the obvious. Brass choirs sounded rich and throaty, strings wonderfully rich and resinous, and percussion explosive while still retaining the entire range of available timbre. Dynamic range cruised from nearly hushed whispers to full-on, seemingly limitless orchestral climaxes. And here one can argue that, at least power-wise, more is indeed better. These Gato designs made these well-known passages thrilling.

As to soundstaging and depth layering, unlike some components, which seem to add their own layers to most every recording—which, can, I realize, be a neat and enjoyable trick—the Gato designs morph from disc to disc. Big, rich, engulfing as a wave with Barbirolli’s Mahler, less tall, more spread out, leaner, yet with great air on the Argerich/Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic recording of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 [DG].

This naturally extends to all types of music, from the intimacy of the Stills demo tapes to the raucous, grinding, distortion-laden party of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill [Reprise], where the sound crushes you like a steamroller. I must admit that I had the Maggies rocking harder than I once imagined possible.

I hope it’s clear, but with all this talk of the Gato’s impressively controlled power let me emphasize that these components are equally capable of great delicacy and beauty. Favorites from my oft-cited Argerich Gaspard de la nuit [DG] to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” [Columbia/Legacy] to Sinatra’s Only The Lonely [MoFi] displayed great expressiveness, lilt of phrase, and emotional impact.

No gear is perfect, and I don’t want to imply that Gato’s is. There are far costlier components that may elicit higher resolution, throw larger stages with greater depth, deliver greater tonal richness, or place more air around individual players than these products do. But the overall balance of strengths heard from the Amp-150 and CCD-1—their exceptional musicality and ability to draw listeners into the music played combined with an exceptional beauty of design and delightful operation—makes it hard for me to imagine anyone, excepting the most diehard lover from the romantic school of music reproduction, who wouldn’t be delighted by what Gato has achieved. I’m excited to see what’s next from this still-young company.


Power output: 150Wpc into 8 ohms, 250Wpc into 4 ohms
Inputs: Four pairs RCA (unbalanced), one pair XLR (balanced)
Outputs: One pair RCA (unbalanced), one pair XLR (balanced), two pairs 5-way binding posts
Dimensions: 12.8" x 4.3" x 14.8"
Weight: 30.4 lbs.
Price: $7990

Inputs: Digital, RCA, USB type B
Outputs: Analog, one pair RCA (unbalanced), one pair XLR (balanced); digital, one RCA
Dimensions: 12.8" x 4.3" x 14.8"
Weight: 22 lbs.
Price: $7990 

Aerial Acoustics (U.S. Distributor)
100 Research Drive
Wilmington, MA 01887
(978) 988-1600

Associated Equipment
TW-Acustic Raven One turntable; Tri-Planar Ultimate VII arm; Benz Gullwing and Transfiguration Phoenix moving-coil cartridges; Sutherland 20/20 and Simaudio Moon 310LP phonostages; Audio Research VS 160 integrated amplifier; Magnepan 1.7 loudspeakers, Tara Labs Zero interconnects, Omega speaker cables, The One power cords, and BP-10 Power Screen; Finite Elemente Spider equipment racks