Review Gato DIA-250S integrated amplifier – DAC

Pros

  • Very attractive design
  • Very complete
  • Optional streaming module

Cons

  • DAC can be better implemented
  • Prijs: € 2500

    Build quality
    Usability
    Sound
    Price
    GATO DIA 250

    Conclusion

    With the DIA-250S, Gato offers a high-performance all-in-one. The price of 2,500 Euros is competitive. And you can add a network module for around 700 euros. A good deal. Certainly if you look at the finish of the device. It is simply sublime, just like the rest of the line-up.

    Now we do have to make a few comments. The presentation of the Gato DIA-250S is fast, open and a bit fresh. The DAC is not the most sophisticated we know. This does result in a slight edge here and there. Does it all have to be perfect in this price range? No, it does not. But pay attention to matching this GATO. Are you looking for an amplifier with a wow-factor? Then the AMP-150 is a better, but also more expensive choice.

    Listening

    Contents

    The Piega’s – as with the AMP-150 – are a great match for the Gato’s. It all sounds fine, yet the Gato DIA-250S does not draw us into the music as the AMP-150 did. This is compounded by the DAC, which frankly we find to sound a bit unsubtle. The sound is very forward which quickly makes it intrusive and tiring to listen to. Incidentally, that effect is stronger with the optical connection than with the coaxial; it is just a bit smoother than the optical input.

    When we play the Ambre through the Metrum DAC, we hear the difference quite clearly. The soundstage almost doubles, the sound goes between the speakers and much more detail is audible. It shows once again that the quality of a DAC stands or falls with the board layout and attention to detail: power supply, clock, separation of the analog and digital parts. The DAC chip itself does not say much; not even in this case because the Burr-Brown 1794 used by Gato is known as a musical sounding DAC chip without sharp edges. This is where the gentlemen from Scandinavia can improve.

    Less Is More

    With two amplifiers of the same brand that do not differ that much in price, but do in properties, comparison is very obvious. And that’s what we like to do. The Gato DIA-250S is a very versatile integrated amplifier that has analog and digital connections and offers an optional streaming card. For € 2,500 and € 3,000 respectively, with the NPM version you have a complete system where you only need to add speakers and you’re done. It’s a bit similar to the Hegel H190, both in quality and price. Only then the Gato is clearly a nicer design.

    With the Metrum/Pavane combination as a source, we really prefer the Gato AMP-150. We think this is a better sounding amplifier than the Class D amplifier that is on board the DIA-250S. In any case, the Piegas fare better on the former amplifier; read the review to describe our impressions.

    The Gato DIA-250S certainly performs well, but not as outstandingly as the AMP-150. The difference is in the refinement and the way of transferring detail. You can think of it as a difference between a 7.5 and a 9.5; it’s a matter of “OK, definitely nice” and “wowww”. There is also a logic behind this conclusion, because the AMP-150 is exclusively an amplifier. “Just amps,” as Nelson Pass would say. The DIA-250S is an amplifier with DAC and possibly a streamer, where the amplifier has a completely different architecture than the AMP-150.

    And that also reflects in the price: 4000 euros for an amplifier and 2500 euros for an all-rounder. So yes… is it allowed?

    For whom?

    That brings us to the question for whom this Gato DIA-250S is intended. If you are looking for an integrated amplifier that has everything on board and you want a unit that is beautifully designed, this is a great choice. The beautiful design sets the Gato apart from the competition. Choose speakers with it that take the sharp edges off the DAC, for example with a slightly warmer signature. You will then have a beautiful set with which eyes and ears will be more than satisfied. If you want to step up to high end, try the AMP-150. You have been warned.

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