The Telos 200 mono-blocs share many characteristics with the amps found in the Logos bass units, including their digital inputs. These are the smallest incarnation of Goldmund’s most advanced amplification circuit, yet are still capable of delivering 400 Watt peaks into an 8 Ohm load, their high power output reflecting the importance the company places on uncompressed dynamics. The problem is, that the ability to provide 400 Watts at 3MHz is potentially lethal to speakers if anything goes wrong. Thankfully, the Telos amps incorporate a parallel fault sensing circuit that clamps their output in a matter of nanoseconds – in itself no mean technical feat. Each chassis is densely packed, not least by the complex, multistage power supply, while the slab-sided construction is used to sink mechanical energy out of the components and circuit boards. The Telos 200s run noticeably warm to the touch, three colour coded LEDs on the front panel showing power and signal status (including digital lock) as well as a range of possible fault conditions. Chunky and solid, their compact dimensions make them quite manageable – but only because of their mono-bloc construction. I wouldn’t fancy lifting a stereo version!
In comparison to the maps and speakers, the Mimesis 27.3 analogue line-stage and Eidos 20 CD/SACD player seem quite conventional – although both are considerably heavier than their appearance suggests. The line-stage offers four line-level inputs, a tape loop and two sets of main outputs (essential to drive the hybrid active/passive speakers). There are also three digital inputs, which will feed an optional internal DAC, although this wasn’t fitted to the review unit. The large, central display offers numerical readouts for input and level, the massive red numerals easily legible from distance.
The CD player is similarly minimalist, with just the basic controls represented on the front-panel, and it is here that this system is open to criticism. Like all CD/SACD transports, the one used in the Eidos 20 is slow to react. What I don’t understand is why the display is just as lethargic. The screen stays resolutely blank until the transport actually reacts, leaving you wondering if the machine is even powered up. What’s more, the small green numerals clash horribly with the size, colour and style of the ones on the pre-amp; definitely a case of “should do better”. However, once the disc drawer finally opens, things start to look up. The normal plastic tray has been replaced with a beautifully CNCd alloy slab, much more in keeping with the inert chassis and surprising mass of the player. Round the back you get analogue outputs for stereo and discrete multichannel, as well as TosLink and SPDif digital. Remote is a nasty plastic item, although thankfully not over-populated with buttons. In the absence of any video connections the various on-screen menu options essential for full SACD functionality can’t be accessed, whilst the player has the disconcerting, DVDesque habit of returning to the last point played on any disc, even after its removal from the machine. Once again, the user interface is letting the side down; why no system remote and why no video output? Goldmund’s insistence that this is a CD player first, but one that also plays SACD, might just explain this, but if I was filling in a report card then the phrase “could do better” wouldn’t be far away…
In fairness, such operational issues are par for the course with much highend equipment, but in this case they do detract from what is otherwise an astonishingly accomplished system. Be in no doubt, this Goldmund system’s musical performance, it’s ability to sound real – especially on live material – can teach many a system more than a thing or two. If you want immediacy and clarity, look no further. This set up places musicians, solid and present, right in front of you, with credible scale and in a believable acoustic space. Start with something simple like voice and guitar and you’ll be astonished at just how impressive and convincing a good recording can sound. Whether it’s majoring on micro-dynamic acoustic detail or the kind of explosive, almost percussive pyrotechnics you hear so often from spot-lit electric instruments (and their players) this system doesn’t just rise to the challenge, it encompasses it without any noticeable effort or strain, no limits on soaring levels, tiny details or intimate textures.
Just one track is all it will take you to realise that this is one of the fastest systems you’ll ever have heard. It transits dynamic steps with ease, follows rhythmic twists and turns like a bobsleigh on a gold medal run, leaps giant buildings in a single bound… Because this isn’t just speed for speed’s sake; this is speed harnessed to a purpose, speed that’s been rooted to solid ground, giving it the sort of firm footing and traction that makes for both surefooted agility and giant steps. Just like a really good dancer, it combines delicacy with an explosive power and the ability to bridge gaps without apparent effort. And just like a dancer it’s all down to power to weight ratio. This isn’t the biggest system and it doesn’t have the deepest or heaviest bass, but it absolutely makes the most of what it has. Indeed, in many respects, the real secret of its performance lies in the way it delivers low frequencies.