I have had my pair about a week. They are open and transparent like no other speaker I have owned. I am still in break in mode, though.
Just something to think about--I bought mine used, and the Gallo company is being very tight about the warranty--no receipt/no warranty. You would think that the warranty would follow the product on something of this caliber, especially when I am going to drop a lot of money on their center and SA amp.
I have not powered the second voice coil, so I cannot comment on that.
I will say that I like these diminutive speakers better than the Mirage M3si I had before--and I loved my mirage.
If you are in the SOCAL area and can come by in the next couple days, you can listen to them--we are moving, so they will be packed up on Wednesday! Bummer.
I've audition the speakers and it sound is quite impressive especially the price as well as performance. I don't think you'll need an extra sub but it'll all depend on your taste.
I auditioned these speakers last week with a friend, and thought they sounded quite good, although for $2600 they should. The demo pair I heard was in a rather poor room (acostically), but despite that I thought they were well balanced. The only sonic quality that mildly concerned me was a tendency to sound just a bit hard in the upper registers when driven hard (they were connected to a NAD integrated amp).
The speakers are much smaller than I expected based on the advertising photos, so they'd be a good choice in a smaller listening room. They created a very nice, wide soundstage that imaged very well.
There are some very good speakers in this price range, such as the Vandersteen 3A, which I think is superior to the Gallo Reference 3 and only costs $200 more. The two speakers have different tonal characteristics, so you might want to audition both to see which speaker you like best.
A great speaker and a fantastic buy. I like my pair better every day.
I auditioned the Ref 3's at CES this past January; Anthony was kind enough to play my reference CD for me, Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms XRCD. Man I like those speakers plenty, I went back three times to his room to listen. I suspect they sound their best well away from walls and whatnot.. the footprint is awful small so they should be easy to dial in. I prefer the Gallos to the Vandys but please bear in mind that a set up at a show is nowhere near the same as what you'll hear at home. If I was in the mood for a change in transducers Gallo Ref 3's would be very high on my list. I know I'll own a pair at some point and that's saying plenty coming from a planar guy.
See the current issue of The Absolute Sound (front page)for a review of the Ref 3. Raves for the speaker but highly recommends the addition of the sub amplifier .
I just auditioned the Ref III's yesterday and have a mixed opinion. On the upside - they are "fast", image accurately, and produce transients quite well. They pack plenty of punch for their small size. And they look pretty cool, they will have a high Wife Acceptance Factor.
However - I found them to be a bit harsh/strident. They produce a lot of detail but in a somewhat "etched" manner to my ears. So they are exciting, though potentially very fatiguing. Drums were a standout. My main amp is a CJ 11a which I suspect would ameliorate some of this, compared to the solid state Integrated amps used for the demo - but at 88db efficiency, the Ref III's are not super tube-friendly either.
I found them to be acceptable with small groups and solo instruments, jazz vocals and the like, but with orchestral (i.e. the ubiquitous Fennell w/ Cleveland Symphonic Winds Holst on Telarc lp) - forgive me, but IMHO they were sub-par. As musical complexity and dynamic range increased I found the imaging and tonal accuracy in the lower mids breaking down significantly - your basic muddiness. It's always possible it was the room but this was in a high end shop with room treatments, etc. - so it couldn't have been that bad.
$2400 isn't much for new speakers nowadays, so I suppose they're a decent value, but, of course, with your tube set-up you'll also want/need the additional Gallo Bass module amp - so you're starting to look at REAL money. They might work well in your system and for your ears. But keep in mind that $3500 will buy some pretty nice mint used speakers, with little depreciation risk, here on Audiogon if one is patient.
My advice is - resist the marketing hype so prevalent in the audio media nowadays and make darn sure you audition in person before buying. Every new product is now the "greatest value" or the "most revealing", etc., etc. I have very good ears, and I keep listening to these wonder-speakers as proclaimed by the reviewers and then leave thinking, "Huh????"
The Ref 3s are VERY tube friendly (mine are powered by 12 wpc SET monoblocks). When you heard them they were either (1) in the middle of their hundred-hour break-in period or (2) partnered with pretty sad equipment. Your CJ 11A will make them sing. No kidding. Dave
I have to agree with Dopogue. I have been letting mine play for the eight hours a day that I am away from home. They are just getting better and better. When I heard them in the shop, I found them a bit "bright" too, but that is all gone now. I always had to cut the treble with my mirage M3si's, but not with these babies. I am running them with a panny digi-amp--great pairing to my ears. Clear, airy, transparent.
A home audition may be warranted, since what they do right - they do very well. The dealer is willing to let me borrow them for a weekend, but ultimately I doubt they're the right ones for me. Tubes would definitely help, too.
It's just a personal preference but the openness, snap, and clarity in the upper end (which IS spectacular) is less important to me than what I feel is lacking - an occasional muddiness in the low-mids and a harshness around 3-4khz. My guess is the root of the "problem" (for me) is here - From the 6moons review:
"the 3kHz transition between the twin hyperbolic 4-inch Carbon-fiber mids in their 5-inch spherical steel enclosures and the central omni tweeter is accomplished mechanically."
This is unusual - allowing the natural limits of the drivers' frequency responses to act as a crossover. It's an effort to eliminate the distortion that a crossover could introduce. I'm no expert in driver technology, but this means that a signal all the way up to 25khz is being pumped into these 4" drivers. That is not the "normal" way of doing things and perhaps this method doesn't quite work for my ears.
Which Panny amp are you using with the Gallo's? I've had mine for a couple months now, and I was tempted to give the XR50 a try (which would be kind of ridiculous, since my current pre/pro alone cost $3500, but what the heck!)
I have had a pair of gallos for a number of months. And here are a few things to be aware of. Remember, they get better with time. Also they will reveal up-stream flaws in your other components. No offense, but the Nad is a nice mid-fi unit, but is not at the top of the audio food chain. Also the Gallos are very sensitive to placement. You can fire the woofers out or facing in. The wrong way for your room will give you muddy results. Also I have found that components stacked between them hurt the soundstage and the bass response. You should also be aware that the guys at INsound, aka Omega Mikro, plan to offer mods to this speaker as they have to prior Gallo models. All in all, these speakers deserve serious attention and a little patience.
I am currently using an xr25, but I am eagerly anticipating the release of the xr70. I was planning to keep the xr25 and using it "digitally chained" to the xr70 to drive the second voice coil of the Gallos. Alas, I have not quite figured out how to do this using the panny's amps.
It does seem silly to run a pair of $2600 speaks with a $200 reciever, but it sure sounds good. You can get these things modded, but then your price increases tremendously. I am tempted to go that route, though.
Have a great day.
I must say, regarding the 100 hour break-in period, that for me,it wasn't nearly enough. I was concerned about needing to hook up my bass amp for the second voice coil, and now, after passing about the 200 hour mark the speakers have finally become smooth throughout their frequency range. Nice taught deep bass and highs that are no longer harsh. I much prefer them to anything in their price range. I used to covet the Vandy 3A's, but could never pull the trigger on buying them as they didn't seem to fullfill the full sound range in quite the way I was looking for it to be fullfilled, I think mainly I found the highs to be a bit layed back.
Love the Gallos though, and I use them with tubes.
My Reference 3s were very harsh right out of the box. After a week of moderate use, the trebble calmed down, the mids smoothed out and the bass became fuller and tighter. In fact I had to adjust the tweeter level from -2db out of the box to +/-0 as the harshness died down.
They're truely amazing, and can hardly wait for the sub amp to fill out the bottom. Anyone using another amp/crossover set-up? I'm intrigued by finding a good alternative.