Gallo Reference 3.1 questions...


Just toying with the idea of owning some Gallo Ref 3.1s...


The sub amp is described by some as mandatory, while others describe the speakers as bass rich even without it. Shall I merely infer from this that those who think it mandatory are big ol' bass fiends? Certainly with a 10" driver, I can't imagine it sounding at all anemic.

If a sub amp really is neccessary, does it HAVE to be the Gallo? Couldn't I just use any old amp to run the woofs? Not for nothing, but they need to have their speaker designers take 10 minutes off and help the amp dudes come up with a nicer looking amp. It looks like a DIY kit.

What would be smokin IMO, looks wise, is a Jeff Rowland Concerto integrated running the speakers and a pair of 201s running the subs.

Next Q... I have a tiny joint. Actually I stopped smoking. I have a small apartment. If I placed the Gallos in the hallowed 1.5 foot squares of floorspace I have allocated for speakers, with woofers facing each other, the left one would be inches away from my TV/audio stand, woofer pointing at the rack. The stand is open sided, not solid sided, but I wonder if this could pose a problem.

If I set them up with woofers facing away from each other, the right one would point into my kitchen area, but the left one would face a window about 2-3 ft away, with a big fat AC in it. In the summer the AC runs quite a bit.

OTOH, reviews seem to indicate that the staging on these is very wide (but short, I know), so I wonder just how critical placement is anyway.

Any insights?


Low frequency room acoustics varies enormously from room to room (and even within the same room). I think the difference of opinion regarding the necessity of the subwoofer amp that you see among Gallo Ref 3 owners is mostly due to variations in room acoustics.

I agree with Duke. Re the Gallo SA (subwoofer amp), I have one but it's not essential. The bass of the Reference 3 (3.0 or 3.1) is certainly ample to my taste (anemic it's not) but the SA puts a nice foundation down there if there's anything on the disc to warrant it. Certainly you can use other amps as long as you can cross them over around 40-45 hz.

The Gallos are not plop 'n' play speakers but I've heard them sound great in small rooms as well as large (mine is 18 x 40'). Experimentation is key. They have a lot to offer. Suggestion: Pick up a used pair here on Agon for $1500 or less and flip 'em if you don't like 'em. Good luck, Dave
I agree with the prior two opinions. When I first received the amp., I used it to generate relatively flat response to about 25hz. Which sounds great on paper, but actually had little effect on most music and films. Then, after some playing around, I discovered that my room has a big suckout from about 50hz to up 90 hz. I then used the bass amp in order to fill in, as best I could without really goosing up the low bass around 28hz too far that it sounded ponderous.

The differences are now significant. I would let your room be your guide.
Thanks guys. 1 last you think 100W would be enough for the speaker?
I'm driving mine with SET monoblocks producing 12 wpc in an 18x40' room. Plus the Gallo SA amp on the bottom octave only. Does that answer your question?

I have Gallo Ref3 speakers driven by C-J Premier 12 amps. These amps provide WAY more power than I need, and I like music loud. 100W should be plenty for a small room. The Ref3's are actually much easier to drive than you would think based on their sensitivity. Because they use a serial crossover between woofer and midrange, and no crossover between mid and tweeter, the impedance curve is very benign. I would suggest you feed them with tube amplification. At least a tube preamp.

I also own a Gallo subamp but never use it. Yes it delivers strong fast bass, but it is too dry for my taste. What works really well for me is to use a REL Storm sub driven by the C-J's. With the REL placed near my listening position, I get better bass integration than with the Gallo subamp. The bass is a bit richer and fatter this way, reflecting the low-end signature of the C-J's. I have tried the Ref3's with the woofers firing inside and outside. I settled on outside, but you should experiment. Inside firing may be better for your small listening room.

The Gallo Ref3's are very special speakers. With good upstream components, I am not sure you can do better and any price.
I auditioned a pair of Gallo Ref 3s last night. System was a Musical Fidelity 5.5 CD player, Rogue Audio Metis pre, Arcam amplifier. In most respects, I was extremely impressed - huge soundstage, good imaging, excellent definition, detail and timbre. Some of the smoothest highs (without loss of detail) I've heard for less than $6K/pr. The bass was very extended and powerful, highs extended, with some (but not lots) of air. I did not find them to be "dry" at all, as some have described them. On the contrary, there were numerous occassions of the hair on the back of my neck standing up during vocal selections. Dynamics were impressive for a small speaker, too. So far, it is on a very short list of potential upgrades from my Vandy 1C/2Wq speakers. Note - the demo was without the bass amp, and I will retain the Vandy 2Wq subwoofers rather than get the Gallo amp.

My question to owners (past and present) and others familiar with the Ref 3s, is regarding the upper bass range. I noticed a pronounced plumbiness in the upper bass region. So much so that it gave the Ref 3s a box resonance-like sound (of course, there is no box, so it is just way it sounded, not a cabinet resonance). Is this a flaw in the speaker? Perhaps the room? They were fairly close to the back wall, aimed straight out, about 6' apart, and 15" from the side walls. Perhaps the proximity to the walls was emphasizing this region? Please let me know what your experience is with the Ref 3s in this range, visa-vis positioning, associated gear, etc.

Sounds like a serious case of inept positioning. There is no "plumminess in the upper bass region" in my system or in the system of a friend I sorta browbeat into trying (and subsequently buying) the Ref3s. On the other hand, I've heard them sound bad when they were (1) not broken in and/or (2) plopped near the back wall. Mine, and my friend's, are out 6' from the back wall and well away from the side walls too, with the woofers aimed outward. Experimentation with toeing them in, just a little, can make a pleasant difference too. Dave
I agree. In my room, they are incredibly flat from about 120 hz on up. As I previously wrote, my room has a suckout beginning about 90 hz. I suggest that what you are hearing is either the upstream components, more likely the room, set up, or a combination of all three.
I own the gallo 3.1's on mapleshade stands. driven by YBA PASSION 1000, 250 watt
amp. I was using the passion 1000 pre amp. Now using Promitheus reference tvc. the Gallo requires very good electronics. palcement is critical. I don't use the sub amp. I was using a JM LAB Utopia Be sub with an internal 1000 watt bash digital amp. Many have been astound at the sound from this system. Some state they've not herd these speakers sound like this befoe. Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade records set them up for me. My listening romm is 40x27 ft. From your distances, they're a bit too close to the rear wall and much too close to the side walls. My set up is 4" from rear wall about 6" from side wall at 10" apart. Pointing woofers in or out is effected by room size. I sit about 3" from the speakers. Toed in so that I can see both sides of the paper cones. I like deep bass. It deliveres deep articulate bass. soundstaging, detal,and all are there in spades.
This is an inch sign -- "
This is a foot sign -- '

Repeat after me :-)

Actually it doesn't make much sense even in feet. If you sit three feet from the speakers and the speakers are ten feet apart, even if you're right between them, it wouldn't work out. Sorry, but you have to admit this is kinda funny.
Oh, I've tried near field listening, but tell me again how you sit 3 feet from each speaker and the speakers are 10 feet apart. Won't work even if you sit BETWEEN them.
You're right Dopoque. I set three feet back from the center point of the two speakers that are ten feet apart. Thanks Dopoque!

I heard the 3.1's and I may get a pair. I do not think you have to get the amp. You could always get a sub and hook it up at less cost. You would need to get the correct Gallo amp to go with the speakers though. Unless you are hell bent on thumping bass, skip the amp. The speakers sound great without it. Good luck. polk432
I auditioned these recently. I am looking to upgrade from Vandy 1Cs (other Vandys are either too large or too expensive). What I liked was their very smooth presentation in the upper-mid/lower-treble range, hu-normous soundstage, and their freedom from box-like resonances (something I am sensitive to thanks to the 1Cs). My only complaint was that there seemed to be an upper-bass hump, with this range overshadowing lower mids and lower bass notes. This was without the sub amp. To those who are familiar with the 3.1s, does your impression match mine? TIA.
No upper bass hump that I can hear. I would judge that a placement issue, but I've never experienced it and I've had mine positioned all over the place :-)
The bass hump or lack thereof depends on both the room and the orientation of the speaker. In my room, I use a long wall placement and have the woofers firing outwards and they are spaced very wide apart--maybe as much as 10 feet apart. This gives me the best results in MY room. I've also tried placing them closer together and within a certain range--about 6 feet apart or so, I have to orient the woofers so that they are firing inwards to get the best response. Again, exprimentation is key.
I think the response very much depends on the room. My room has a big suckout from about 50 hz to 90 or 100 hz. A hump would be a good thing in my room. I use the Gallo Reference amplifier to fill in, as best I can, that portion of the range.

Another possibility, which, although I've only heard the 1Cs briefly in less than optimal conditions, I doubt, is that the 1C is lean in that area, and your ears have been conditioned to that leaness, and the Gallo sounds like it has a hump. I doubt this because I did not hear any such leaness in the 1C in my brief listen.
I have a few useful hints on how to properly set-up Gallo 3.1s.
- do not point them straight ahead. The tweeters have excellent dispersion and really do not need toe-in, however, to achieve proper focus on the midrange you will need to adjust toe-in, paying attention to well-centered and fleshed-out vocals. I prefer a slight toe-in, so that i can see the speaker grille's internal sides.

-To avoid plummy bass (not a Gallo problem BTW), toe-in at least 20 degrees, to avoid paralell room boundaries and adjust the distance to the back wall until there is the right amount of bass. The woofers work only up to 150 Hz, so do not worry about reflections on your rack...

There are two options to further adjust bass:
-woofers facing each other: more bass.
-woofers facing away from each other: less bass. Season to taste.

-Also, adjust the front spikes/feet to achieve good midrange focus at the listening height and a slightly elevated soundstage.
In summary, there are 3 ways to adjust bass weight and evenness and two ways to adjust midrange focus, making this a very flexible speaker.
Do not worry about treble focus, the Gallo tweeter is good for 300 degrees dispersion, you will hear great soundstaging even if you sit way off-center.

-100W is plenty of power to drive them, though the best sound I got from them was from a Mac Mc402 amp (between 10 and 40W on McIntosh's calibrated VU/power meters). They also love high-power tube amps with 4 ohm taps.

-Lastly, if you do not listen to movie soundtracks and have a smal to medium-sized room, there is no need for the SA amplifier (I bought one to experiment). It sure looks utilitarian but it has an auto-on feature (powers up 10 seconds after receiving an input signal), therefore you can hide it if you want.

I hope this helps
I purchased 2 pair of gallo 3.1's. First speakers Ive sold within 2 months of buying. What a disapointment. They wouldnt be bad for a office, but just dont cut it in a med to large room for me. I didnt find the tweeter as smooth as others, maybe I had the wrong equipment at the time(all bryston with ayre cx-7 cd player.)

I moved to a pair of legacy focus 20/20's and the difference was huge. But as usual for me, big speaker ends up as better sound. At least the speakers Ive had this has been the case.
If you sold them within 2 months, they were probably not even broken in at that time. I was unimpressed with the Gallos when I first bought them. They were nasilly and constrained on the top end and mid-range. The bottom end was too lean. I thought, how can these be the same speakers I heard at the dealers? Approx 200 hours later of powerful break in (Krell), they are wonderful. A different speaker. I do not think you gave them enough time. All positive reviews are usually post break in, negatives I find are from people who sell the Gallos in the first few months.
I would have agreed with the break in, but one of the pairs I bought used and they were a few years old. I thought they were better then the new pair but still just didnt do it for me. As I mentioned, I just tend to like big speakers that throw big sound. The gallos to me sounded small although they did image nicely and had a decent wide soundstage. I did feel like the soundstage height seamed low. This could have just been in my head from looking at the low to the floor speakers.
The Gallo's do image wide but not very high. I use Sound Anchor stands with mine to get the image at the right height. The extra mass also helps the bass tighten. They may just not have been for you. I find that they tend to put the image behind them more than previous B&W's that were forward. That may be the weakness you could not live with. Or your room. Only you can decide as we cannot listen to your room.
I thought they had a great look. Something different. I will say they seam to be made with great quality and construction. My only little gripe would be the screws that hold the giant grille on. The holes didnt seam to line up with the screw holes and thus seamed to bend the metal grille framing a little, a little differently every time. Other then this small conn, I thought they were very solid built speakers. Nice spike/ feet system on these.
We all know that listening to speakers before buying is a must, but getting that out of the way I would like to ask a couple of questions to those who have listened to these speakers, and have placed them in different settings.

My room is 11' wide and 17'long. The room is carpeted and it serves as a theater as well as my music room, I do not enjoy the economic benefit or the extra room for separate systems, for that reason I have to make compromises in order to accommodate both movies and listening to music into a single room in order to enjoy my hobby as best as I possibly can.

I currently own the Arcam 350 receiver which I use as a pre-amp in analog direct in conjunction with a bi-amped Bel Canto evo4 version II which produces 400 watts per channel at 8 ohms, and 600 watts at 6 ohms just for music, the receiver's amplification only kicks in when I watch movies to power the center and surround channels.

I think that the speakers that I now have in my set up (Paradigm 100v3) are very good speakers, but I have a tendency to listen to music 70% of the time against 30% movie watching. I also have to place the Paradigms too close to the walls because of the room size as well as the screen size as they will get in the way when watching a movie. I do not know how good the Paradigm will compare against the Gallos in a large room where there's plenty of breathing room for them to shine, but in my situation with limited space and based on some of your experiences, Will the Gallos give me a less congested sound than the Paradigms?, which seem to be too big for my room? (I also have 2 rows of 3 recliners seats each for movie watching)

And the toughest question of them all, and this question is posted with all honesty, as I am always searching for better sound to enjoy the music that I love. Are the Gallos simply a more refined and sophisticated speaker for critical music listening than the paradigms?

Your educated help will make my decision a more pleasant one.

I own the Gallo Ref 3.1's and I have heard the Paradigm's in a store. So I am much more familiar with the Gallos. To my ears the Gallos come a lot closer to the musical sound I'm looking for. Particularly in the mid range where they really shine. I have never heard the Gallos sound congested once I finally got my room properly set up. I have my Gallos about 5.5 feet from the back wall and about 6 feet apart but my room is strictly for music. Although my room has similar dimensions, approx 9 feet wide and 22 feet long. Hope that helps a bit. The Gallos have a very distinctive sound so I really feel an audition would be necessary. They don't sound like a box and the don't sound like Planars or anything else I have ever heard. The go down very low but it isn't the hit in you chest low some people are looking for. It's what bass is like if you are listening to a baritone vocalist, cello, tuba etc live without amps. They are an amazing speaker but like everything else they are not for everyone.
Thank you for your response. I'm looking for effortless and open sound. I feel that The Paradigms in my room sound congested, They may be too big for my room, but something is not right with the overall sound. The Gallos may be the answer.
I had a pair of Paradigm Monitor 11's and Paradigm monitor center for 5 years and now have the Gallo's 3.1's and an AV center. So I can compare the monitors with the Gallo's fairly well.

I like the Monitor 11's but in comparison the Monitors had a bright and narrow soundstage while the Gallo's have a huge soundstage and sound very natural and neutral while still being very detailed.

The Gallo's do have a distinct sound but one that is very natural, very open and very effortless. To me they are quite musical.

The tweeters on the Gallo's are quite amazing where the Paradigms you could hone in on exactly where the tweeters were on the Gallo's they tend to disappear and just throw a huge sound image.

I'm very happy with my upgrade and will be sticking to the Gallo line of speakers for a LONG time.
Well, I finally got the Gallos 2 days ago, and with about 12 hours burn in they are already sounding better than the Paradigm studios ever did. Actually they sounded better than the Paradigms from the get go, specially the highs but the base still needs time to sound its best (I'm hoping)

If these speakers take as long as people claim to break in and indeed they get that much better with time, then they will walk all over the digms, and the 100s are not bad speakers at all.
Yeah the Gallo's are said to compete with speakers in the $10,000 price range, they've been said to be legit giant killers so it's not to often they wouldn't walk all over speakerrs that are around the same price.

I truly love mine and I really liked my Paradigms at one time as well.
Congratulations! Make sure you follow the directions regarding break-in. Play music with a predominant low frequency at a high volume. If you happen to have Sirius radio there is a Trance/Progressive station that plays music that is perfect for break-in.

It took my speakers around 50-60 hours of this type of break-in to open up into magical territory.
I didn't do any hard break ins like most people and just played it when I can. It seems like it took about a year for me to make it really shine. I would say that might be about 400-500 hrs. I'm thinking that a hard break in over days might be more advantageous and really stretch out the parts permanently as oppose to long term break in which migh revert back to it's original state. But be careful not to play it too loud, someone at AA blew his drivers out during a hard break in.
Is there a review on Stereophile magazine on these speakers? One would think that a speaker with this kind of buzz would be a priority.
Don't know about Stereophile but check out the 6moons website. They have 2-3 very in-depth reviews in the archive section. These guys mostly review high end equipment and they love these speakers.
The 6moons in depth reviews were key in my decision to buy these speakers, and I have read several very positive reviews on the Gallo reference speakers from other publications as well. 6moons seems to pretty much say what they really think about a product, but still wonder why would a big magazine name like Stereophile would miss the opportunity to review them, not that what they say would make a difference to any of us, but still interesting.
The Ref 3 was named Product of the Year in 2004 by The Absolute Sound. That's product of the year, not just speaker of the year. This followed quite a glowing review in TAS.
The Gallos are too cheap for Stereophile. If you added a zero onto the price of them, Stereophile would be all over it. They were on the cover of The Absolute Sound in 2004 as speaker of the year.
So basically putting a $3,000 speaker on their "A" list would not look good next to the $30,000 one. I guess it's strictly business. I'm sure some dealers would feel the same way.

To me changing from the Paradigm 100v3 to the Gallos was like buying my whole CD collection on SACD and more. How is it possible for these speakers to make cds sound better than SACDs were on the Paradigms? I'm impressed.
Well, Im glad you liked the Gallo's. I really wanted to. I think the Legacy focus 20/20's have just spoiled me over the years.
I am surprised you thought it was a world of a difference from the paradigms. I owned the studio 100v.2's years ago and found them to sound nice. Maybe they wouldnt sound the same to me after years of better equipment. Anyway, hope the gallo's serve you well.
I see from a previous post that you did not like the Gallos, I guess it all depends on what you have compared it to. The reference 3.1 have made a significant difference in my system, specially the highs, the tweeters on the Paradigm have nothing to do with these. I never thought I could hear musical violins coming out of a cd, well I was mistaken, it was all in the speakers and the whole notion of looking for a better cd player has disappeared. No cd player can make up for the difference in sound quality with the paradigms against what I have experienced with this speaker change.

I have about 65 hours on them and everything sounds much better when compared to the Paradigms which I still have.

I think the Paradigms are very good speakers, specially what they give you for the money, I also believe that a bigger room would have given them a chance to perform better within my system. The Gallos are priced a little higher than the digms but the sound gap in favor of the reference is much bigger. The Gallos are so musical, it's just hard to put into words.
Luigy39, You will find after further break-in that the Gallo's will take on added warmth. I'm guessing that maybe one of the issues with the Gallo's is how they sound when new. I actually liked mine when they were new but the speakers they replaced were satellites so no great shakes there. But I think I can understand how a brand new Gallo from the factory may sound a little "harsh" when compared to a new "box" speaker.

The Gallo's definitely need to go through a proper break-in period in order to reach their full potential.
Bostonbean, I don't know if you misunderstood my thread or I misunderstood your answer, I am extremely happy with the way the gallos handle the highs, compared to the Paradigm they are much better, if they get better later on that will be just icing on the cake.

My sister and brother in law came the other day, and to say that they have square ears is to minimize their lack of sensibility about anything resembling sound. they were amazed at the sound these speakers reproduced, and they had been listening to the paradigms for a while and never said a word.
I was just saying that the Gallo's will sound even better over time than what you are hearing now. My other remarks were somewhat gratuitous and aimed at other posters who don't like the way Gallo's sound when testing them at a showroom or store.
I just bought a pair of these last week. Overall, I am very happy with them. I do notice them improving as they break-in (love you Sade :)

These are replacing my beloved KEF 104/2s. These are fantastic speakers in their own right with great imaging, crystal clear highs, and a very detailed and forward midgange. Bass is actually port loaded - a unique feature for these venerable loudspeakers. As far as musicality, pace, rhythm, these speakers have it in spades. They are just getting old so I was looking for something special to replace them.

The Gallos are a very different speaker with many of the same qualities. Imaging and sound staging are as good or even better than the KEFs. The bass is certainly tighter already, and I'm sure has a ways to go. The highs are silky smooth, but not as detailed as the KEFs. I've notice some improvement in the highs, just tonight in fact. So I think this will come along with time. The mids are a concern for me. And it's not that the mid are bad, just very different than the "in your face" 104/2s. The Gallos present more of a laid back blended in midrange. When I focus on it, it sounds very good... I'm just not used to having to focus on the mids. This too seems to be slowly improving (or I'm getting used to it :). Ditto on musicality. right out of the box, they didn't have "it" - the reason you listen to music. Tonight, they definitely did. I'd rate them as semi or sometimes engaging compared to the KEFs.

My placement is about 18" out from the wall and only 7' apart. The room is very large and well damped with only a section of it being used for listening. These speakers have no problems filling it.

Like I said, overall very happy with these speakers. They have many of the qualities I was looking for and sound pretty darn good right out of the box. I can certainly see, er, hear the potential these speakers have to offer.

Follow-up in a couple of weeks.
I have heard the Gallos in a friends house and liked the a great deal. I am looking to upgrade from 20 year old OhmC2s. I live in Hawaii so the room sizes here are small vs the Mainland. I am setup in a 10 x14 foot living room with an arched ceiling. I can put the speakers about 7-8 feet apart and 18 inches from the wall out. I have a Mcintosh MA 5100 integrated and SAE separates. Both solid state with 45w and 100w respectively. Does that sound like either will drive these speakers enough? I listen to lost of acosutic jazz, female jazz vocals, acoustic guitar, signer songwriter, 70-80s rock. I figure it would be an easy year before I could afford to add on a new am setup.
Danmeyers, sounds like things are progressing with your Gallos as expected. Along with heavy break-in I did quite a bit of experimenting with placement and the rake of the speaker.

Joek, you should have enough power but the Gallos do like lots to reach their full potential. Most reviews point this out and even Mr. Gallo admits this. Read bottom of this review, I run mine of a Pioneer receiver at 140 watts per and will probably put in an external amp with more power in the future.
Danmyers, what amp are you using? I was using an early generation Adcom 555 for about a year with my 3.1s, and thought there a veiling to the mids, almost like someone placing a piece of paper over the cones. I upgraded to a Music Reference RM-200, and the mids came alive, and were much more transparent than with the Adcom. In addition, it became tonally more neutral - I think the Adcom added some glare as well. The lesson, I think, is that the 3.1 is very revealing of the upstream components.