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Gato Audio PRD-3 S Preamplifier

High End Integrated Preamplifier / DAC

"The Danish Gato Audio electronics stand out from the competition by the originality

of their aesthetics and of their circuit design"

 

DOMINIQUE MAFRAND, HAUTE FIDELITE

The PRD-3S is an essential part of Gato Audios reference system, the perfect partner for the PWR-222 mono block power amplifiers. The anchor point in our reference pre- and power amplifier system now offers the option of our NPM streaming module. It makes the preamplifier capable of wireless streaming from internet services and local networks.

S stands for "Super"
  The PRD-3S is anything else than the subtle makeover of the standard PRD-3. It is a highly improved and extremely high performing preamplifier designed and optimized to work with our brand new PWR-222 mono blocks. It now even features an aptX Bluetooth receiver circuit that enables high quality streaming from a computer, a phone or a tablet. We changed and improved the electrical circuits and layouts in more than twenty ways, the most significant being :

  • Optimized 'mains filter

  • Improved general and local power supplies

  • New input stage

  • Improved output stage

  • New analogue stages in the D/A converter

  • Improved digital signal routing

  • Updated firmware

  • Improved connectors

  • Incorporated aptX Bluetooth module

 

Don't miss the opportunity to give this preamplifier a listen – we are certain that it will impress with clean, smooth and detailed pre-amplification that does not only offer an excellent built-in D/A converter and aptX Bluetooth ...

... but also the ability to bring out the best in your setup!

 

Smooth analogue music
The analogue input stage is where everything begins. It not only connects external inputs and the built-in D/A converter with the output stage, it adapts impedances, adjusts levels and switches signals. A super-gentle embrace of the delicate analogue signals is important for the total performance of the preamplifier. At Gato Audio we have utilized our many years of experience in "voicing" analogue amplifiers to make this particular stage perform at its very best. We tuned the input stage to perform with a natural and lifelike sound, affecting the original signal as little as possible.

More than just a Preamp
The built-in D/A converter offers real high end performance, enabled by the use of a dedicated power supply, a balanced-drive Burr-Brown PCM1794 D/A converter, an optimized high bandwidth I/V converter, and an analogue stage with low-Q, low pass filters. All digital inputs are upsampled to 24bit/192kHz. This D/A converter will upgrade any digital source - such as wired or wireless streaming from your computer or CD drive - to a high end level of detail and musical performance.

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Versatility and Connectivity
 We had our eye on versatility and connectivity when designing this preamplifier. The PRD-3S offers not only a wide range of digital and analogue inputs, but also line outputs, a trigger signal for external power amplifiers, and a configurable home theater input. The HT input can turn the preamplifier into a fixed level preamplifier for use in a surround setup, without compromising the sonic performance.


Unlimited Digital Music Sources 
This preamplifier can be "bent" in more ways that you can imagine. With AptX Bluetooth, USB or Toslink input, you have direct access to all the music services the world has to offer.


Turn your PRD-3S into a High Performance Roon Ready Network Player 
Adding a Network Player Module to your PRD-3S is a powerful way of transforming your amplifier into a High Performance Roon Ready network streamer NPM - Network Player Module. It connects to the network by Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi, and is controlled by a smartphone or tablet app or as a Roon endpoint. The following services are supported:

Roon Ready
Tidal
Qobuz
Deezer
DLNA UpNP

 

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Summary of Main Features

Built in 24bit/192kHz D/A converter with upsampling
Coax and asynchronous USB digital input up to 24bit/192kHz, optical up to 24bit/96kHz
aptX Bluetooth receiver, supports 24bit/48kHz
Accepts digital streaming directly from Apple iPhone or iPad
Two unbalanced and one balanced inputs
Nonmagnetic enclosure
Direct function; enables use in home theater systems

Network Module Features :
Built in Roon Ready Network Player, App controlled with integrated Tidal,
Qobuz and Deezer
Network connection with Ethernet cable or WiFi (WPS supported)
Audio formats: MQA (Roon), AAC, AIFF, MP3, FLAC, WAV, WMA, Apple Lossless, OGG, Monkey's, Supports gapless playback

Designed, developed and built in Copenhagen, Denmark

Official US List - PRD 3 S - $2,700

Official US List - PRD 3 S NPM - $3,350

Contact us for Current Euro Price-to-Dollar Price Quote

In agreement with Gato Audio, we exactly match their online prices

Example of Atelier 13 Audio Price Match :

Gato Euro Price / Gato PRD-3 S - €1,995

Exchange rate @ 03/10/2022 is US$ 1.10 to €1.00

Atelier 13 Audio Price Quote at 03/10/2022 order date :

€1,995 x 1.10 = $2,195 + 2.85% Conversion fee = $2,260

 

Please Note :

The price quoted at the date of order includes free shipping

 

Gato Specifications


FREQUENCY RESPONSE    

20 Hz-100 kHz - 0.5 dB
TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION    

< 0,001% pre out
SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO

> 110 dB
INPUT IMPEDANCE

20 kΩ RCA or 40 kΩ Balanced
VOLTAGE GAIN

10 dB
LINE OUT MAXIMUM LEVEL

13V balanced, 6.5V unbalanced
     


CONNECTIVITY
 

BALANCED ANALOGUE INPUTS    

1 x gold plated XLR Neutrik
UNBALANCED ANALOGUE INPUTS

1 x gold plated RCA

DIGITAL INPUTS

1 x USB type B, 1 x Toslink, 1 x RCA, 1 x aptX Bluetooth

BALANCED ANALOGUE OUTPUTS

1 x gold plated XLR Neutrik

UNBALANCED ANALOGUE OUTPUTS

1 x gold plated RCA
TRIGGER

12 V    1 x mini jack
    
 

SIZE AND WEIGHT
 
POWER REQUIREMENTS

115 VAC/230 VAC, 50 Hz/60 Hz, 30W max
POWER CONSUMPTION

STANDBY / IDLE / MAX :  < 1W / 14W / 30W
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D)

325 x 105 x 420 mm / 12.8 x 4.1 x 16.5 in
WEIGHT

7 kg / 15.4 lb

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GATO PRD-3 S

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GATO PRD-3 S NPM

What they say ...

   "Savoureux Gato"

Gato ... an 'onomatopeia' for the French word 'Gateaux' ... or 'Cake' in English ... which transliterates to "Delectable, Delicious Cake"

"The Danish Gato Audio electronics stand out from the competition by the originality of their aesthetics and of their circuit design"

 

DOMINIQUE MAFRAND - Haute Fidélité

 

The standard of Gato manufacturing prowess is of a very high level. The materials used, and the internal assembly quality invite comparison to the most beautiful current competing achievements. All passive components are very carefully selected, in both objective as well as subjective terms.
 

 The Sound

Bass

The Gato PRD-3S and PWR-222 ensemble offers us an ample, powerful ad vigorous bass that conveys a sense of comfort in contours and in the timbre of the spectrum. The body is organic - a bit like tubes - but with noticeably firmer control. On the track “Use me” (Companion by Patricia Barber), the strings of the double bass resonate with a mixture of physical tension and agile elasticity, creating a sense of realism of the instrument that firmly occupies the stage.
 

Midrange

Each track played with the Gatos gives a sense of pleasure that is surprisingly different from that portrayed by a other powerful and balanced Class AB amplifiers, which is in fact the output class output of the PWR-222. We are experiencing here a sound that is more close associated to a sound specific to Class A ... in terms of the beauty of timbres, of the legato and of presence. We initially were expecting an essentially precise, analytical and academic listening experience, worthy of best of class AB. What we actually got, was all of the anticipated Class AB qualities, plus a more 'embodied', more carnal, more textured presentation. The voice of the soprano Simone Kermes on “Ha Vinto Amor” by composer Antonio Caldera seems to develop a harmonic texture closer to that of a real voice, and the notion of 'presence' takes on a dimension that will be very familiar to enthusiasts of triode tube amps . The emotion transmitted by the artist is really intense.


 

Treble

The extension of the Gato in the higher frequencies (like in the lower ones elsewhere) only calls for compliments. The Danish duo goes very high with a
'haute couture-like' silky-ness, and a particularly insightful analysis and rendition of harmonics. The Gatos "sing" this sound spectrum with complete ease, and with absolutely no trace of immaturity, aggressiveness or other dullness, traits often frequented (and in the long run, tiring) with output Mosfets in class AB. The treble 'fuses' with the midrange superbly, creating a musical message that really gives the impression of a seamless procession of uninterrupted notes.

 

Dynamics

Reading the technical specifications will probably comfort the potential buyer - the figures announced in particular in terms of power, bandwidth and distortion amounting to quite stunning values. But we know very well that the figures don't explain everything. They don't reflect that the visible and objective part of a iceberg -- whose real face, the subjective one to which the music lover will have to face during tapping -- is none other than its hidden part. The Gatos therefore risk destabilizing (pleasantly in this case) the listener because -- the watts, as many as they are -- never give the impression of "being in your face", or rather to overtly impress the ears. But caution is called for (especially for the speakers), because the watts are at the rendezvous, and they unfold according to listening level ... and to the modular palette of each partition. To illustrate what I mean : The introduction to “Say it” by Baz-Baz, which is representative of the 'atomic bombing' genre, or that of "Ha Vinto Amor" where the much more refined harpsichord scatters some of the most delicate notes, poses no 'interpretive' problem to the Gatos whose chameleon-like restitution adapt to each of these very different recordings. The dynamic range they offer seems limitless.
 

Transients - Leading Edge

These Danish electronics express themselves with a lot of flexibility, with an advanced sense of the harmonic exploration of each note, from its birth to its extinction. On the other hand, they do not seek to defy the 'timing clock' by imposing more attacks and dazzling transients than those that were actually recorded. And we need not even bring up the topic of 'slowness', because they know how to perfectly respect timing and pace, and they simply follow the rhythm of the music score as closely as possible without attempting to anticipate it. Mark Walker's drum solo on “Company” (CD Modern Cool by Patricia Barber) retains all the momentum and all the ardor that he is known for, and presents extremely fleshed out brass tonal acrobatics, blending variances in intensity and harmonics. Certainly, the 'decays' are not quite as good as those with triode tubes, but the Gatos are indisputably well ahead in this regard when compared to many of their top-tier transistor amp brethren.
 

Soundstage

The particularly rich harmonic palette that the Gato offers us 'highlights' a scene with pretty incredible amounts of detail ... one that presents the listener with an image of quite striking relief. The spatialization and geometric perspective of each performance are very close to one that we know, and enjoy listening to, with an excellent tube amplifier. The very clear focus on the different sound sources, and the very precise contours that emerge, infuse an impression of 'presence' ... the impression of "being there" that everyone tries to achieve for their own system. The stereo image deploys with great stability, and does not hesitate to go beyond the framework of the speakers if the recording dictates.
 

 

Transparency

This Gato pairing reduces the distance between real sound and reproduced sound. We appreciated the Gatos neutrality of restitution that provided a clear contrast to the diametrically opposite and more demonstrative performances of the vast majority of modern transistor components that are in fact colder than than they are actually transparent . Our "special mention" goes to the "tubesque" accents conveyed by the amazing PWR-222 monoblocks. Their bewitching sound alchemy produces a fascinating compromise between limitless energy and serene fluidity.
 

 

Value for Money

Firstly, the devices are very well made, and we invariably enjoy listening to them together with system chain components of the same quality.

Second, the PRD-3S preamplifier is very well designed and offers very satisfactory connectivity and  sound performance. As such, it unquestionably  has its place in a high level system. The third point concerns the PWR-222 monoblocks with their very original design and best-in-class sonic performance. Their power will suit 99% of the speakers on the market, and their musicality will touch any audiophile who is also a "mélomane" ... [ the French term for "music lover" ]. Finally, this Pre-Monoblock set is not cheap, but we feel compelled to stress that we have already heard numerous sets that are significantly less good ... and that are much more expensive.

VERDICT

It is always hard to conclude a review of a component in this price category, or in this case a 'component set' -- the Gatos -- without 'serving up' the usual clichés and banal platitudes ... such as : 

"These are exceptional devices” ... or ... “they place themselves from the outset at the top of the hierarchy”

And yet, such statements are nevertheless true for this Danish Duo that furthermore indulges itself with a certain sound authenticity ... a quality not always 'at the rendezvous' with the competition.

 

A brand, and two electronic components that absolutely deserve

to be in the Spotlight !

 

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AWARDS

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