Gallo reference /TAS vs Me

I spent a fair amount of time listening to the new reference speakers from Gallo a few months ago and dismissed them as closed in-particularly in the mids- and opaque in the soundstage and generally disapointing. Now TAS puts out a review which goes against everything I heard. Am I losing my hearing or are TAS and I listening to two different speakers? FYI the dealer used Musical Fidelity electronics with the Gallos and I listen with Maggie 3.5s and BAT electronics.
I heard the Gallo yesterday for 15 minutes on a Norah Jones CD, that I am familiar with, and liked them quite a bit. They were using a Rotel CD player, pre-amp and amp. I thought they were quite open and detailed and enjoyable to listen to especially for being driven by Rotel which I think is good but not great stuff.

If I was not so happy with my JMR Trentes I would think about a pair.

BTW, HI FI+ and Bound for Sound gave it rave reviews as well and when I read about them in TAS I decided to go listen.
It sounds like the pair you listened to were not fully broken in. The speakers improve remarkably after about 80-100 hours. I didn't believe it and now that i have the speakers over a month, they sound incredible. Check out the review at audioasylum and read the comments on the link. These speakers sound far better in my room that my Maggie 1.6's ever did. For the price, the Gallos are a steal. I waited over a month to get mine and I was getting pretty frustrated waiting but they were worth the wait. Incredible soundstage depth, width and imaging along with accurate midrange, well defined bass and great clarity . These speakers impress me more than any speakers I have owned so far- that includes Vortex Screens, ML Aerius and Magnepan 1.6's... YMMV but the Gallos far exceeded my expectations.
Rad, did you buy the subwoofer amp? If so, does adding it improve the bass extention as much as TAS said? How about that 'thickening' he/she mentioned?
Hmm, Guess I'll have to revisit my dealer. I wonder if the fact that we also heard Sonus Fabers and JM Labs in the same store colored my impressions?
I can tell you that the Gallo's are the best all around speaker I have ever owned (Maggie's, Proacs, Soliloqy's, Mission 770's, Sonus Faber's). The only speaker other speaker that challenges them is my pair of System Audio
SA2K's which is the best monitor sized speaker I have ever heard anywhere. The Gallo's have a great tweeter and if you set them up properly (away from the walls and well into the room and listen in the relative nearfield) they provide a transparent and spacious window into the performance. I have not noticed any colorations.....every source material shows it's own virtues with little interference from the speaker.
One concern I've read about is the low soundstaging due to the fact that they're rather short.

Did any of you who own the Gallos find that problem compared to your previous speakers?
I agree with Rad 21 -- you're describing a pair that is not broken in. The break-in period begins after they've been playing about 6 hours and lasts for about 100 hours, if my pair is typical. I was also worried about image size, since my speakers were 8-driver Gallo Ultimates, over 4 feet tall. the Ref 3s have at least as large an image with an incredible soundstage.

I'm using 12 wpc SET monoblocks to power them, plus a 100 wpc stereo SS amp, thru a HSU crossover set at 43 Hz, to power the woofers'second voice coils. The low bass is awesome this way, but it is very good even without the second amp. I'd like to at least try Gallo's subwoofer amp, but the current setup is going to be hard to beat.

These are fabulous speakers.
I share your impressions of the Gallo's. They were OK, but were not what TAS described. The mid-range was a bit vieled and the upper bass region was muddied. I went to the dealer expecting to purchase a pair of these speakers, but instead bought some Audio Note AN-Es (new AN-Es cost me $2,500). In my opinion, it wasn't even close. The Audio Note's simply outclassed the Gallo's and were far more musically engaging. I think your hearing is OK.

I have a small listening room and the bass extension is excellent without the subwoofer amp so I won't need to add that to the Gallos.
I auditioned Gallo's with MF gears .. they were better than Thiels, B&W 7 series, Joseph audio's and few others in that price range but found few others are better than Gallo's .. Monitor Audio Gold ref 60 ($4K), Odyssey Lorelei($2700), I ended up buying Usher 6781 and really Happy.

Yes, Banksfriend and I did auditioned the Nucleus 3 from Gallo, and have to agree that the pair in question did sound closed in. We both, after reading the TAS article, tried to recollect, and discussed, what we heard that day. The only solution is a trip back to that dealer, for another audition.
Here's something to ponder regarding dealer auditions, from Srajan Ebaen's follow-up (June) to his original review (April) at (Read these if you haven't already):

"As I've said before, pricing a $10,000/pr beater at $2,595/pr is asking for trouble. Say you were a dealer. Would YOU want such an upstart to undermine sales of your pricier spreads? Hell no. Say you did put it on the floor. Wouldn't you do everything in your power to MAKE it sound like a $2,595 speaker ..."

The dealer where I bought mine said he had sold zero other speakers more expensive than the Ref 3s since he started demonstrating them. On the other hand, he had sold 11 pairs of Ref 3s in something like six weeks.

Just something to think about. Dave
Dopogue, if YOU were a dealer, wouldn't you LOVE to have a product that sells LOTS more often per demo than the other alternative? The dealer makes more margin (necessary to stay in business) on 3 pairs of $2500 Gallos SOLD than one pair of $10,000 speakers NOT sold.
Jeffrey, that's great if you don't mind having your multi-megabuck speaker inventory sitting there unsold and gathering dust until you discount it enough to get rid of it. :-)
I too had the same experience with the Gallo's ounding "closed in" and dissapointing. After reading the sparkling review on Six Moons I thought that I should give them a go before I dropped the coins on new mains. However, after about 30 min. of listening I was underwhelmed. One of the most surprising factors was that physical size was much smaller than I expected...not a bad thing..just different than I imagined after looking at them in pictures. I must say though, that they seemed remarkably well built and are very eye catching indeed. I will invest a second listen...
I have not heard the Gallo refernce 3 yet, but have read the Absolute Sound. They did state that the amplifier was very important - "top shelf amplification may be needed". I plan on auditioning them. I hope I can find a dealer that has them set up properly.

The Gallos require some set-up experimentation for best results. I ended up with the woofers facing each other and the speakers toed-in to nearly directly face the listing position. This position puts the image height at about 5' to 6', which is similar to nearly every other speaker I've auditioned. I found that with the speakers facing directly ahead, the image height was far too low in my listening room, maybe only 2' or 3' from the floor.

After reading some of the comments above about the Gallo sounding closed in I feel compelled to write that something had to be wrong as the pair I heard were very open, detailed and immediate.

I really like the design of this speaker too because it has no crossover from 125 hz on up and is easy to drive.
I have been living with the Ref 3's for a couple of weeks now. 'Closed in' would be the farthest thing from my experience I could come up with to describe their sound. They are fantastically open and revealing in my system.

In fact, they sound too prominent in the upper mids/lower treble in my room. Because of a door and power sources, I have to place the speakers at the short wall and fire them along the long wall. This may cause a first reflection room interaction that accentuates the upper mids. The 300 degree-dispersion tweeter may need more "breathing room" than the 32 inches (to the side walls) I am giving them. Despite the open-celled, rippled foam I have placed at those reflection points, I still hear a fatiguing, forward, ("shouty") upper-mid prominence.

Does anybody else have a similar problem with the Gallos?

Putting the upper mid-prominence aside (which may be unique to my set up), the Nucleus Ref 3's open up a detailed, light, and airy window on the source material that surprised me---especially for their price. (My reference is the Coincident Super Eclipse.) Their sound stage height is not an issue with me. The sound stage height is in proportion with the whole picture; it is somewhat like listening from the first row, mezzanine or balcony at a symphony hall---where the sound is often best anyway--and looking down slightly at the stage. Lowering the listening position compensates for this--if you don't like it.

I would like to bring the Gallos to a dealer to test them against other speakers in a different room just to find out what happens. Maybe that upper-mid shouting will be proven to be in my setup only.

I am currently listening to the Gallos with a pair of 95-watt, triode, push-pull mono blocks (Cary SLAM-100s) and also inserted the Berning ZH-270 amp. Do folks out there have a take on whether the Gallo Ref 3's "like" solid state or tube amps?
Kalan, sounds like either a room problem or a defective pair of Ref 3s. Did your former speakers exhibit a similar upper-mid prominence? Re your last question, my Ref 3s love tubes; yours should sound great too -- can't understand why they don't. Does your dealer have a clue? Good luck, Dave
Dopogue, The speakers I've been using for 3 years do not have the upper-mid prominence (that I hear in the Gallos) at all. The Coincident Super Eclipses sound balanced through that range.

The time coherency of the Gallos seems better than the Coincidents, and the Gallos have more extended and revealing upper fr information with a life-like quality. If I can just get that upper-mid thing to integrate, I'd be happy.

I will contact my dealer. I also hope to bring the Gallos to a dealer with a much bigger room and then also try different amplifiers and compare with other speakers.
Kalan, which SE do you have? MK1 (ti tweater), mk2(with revelator tweater) or mk3 (ie the latest)?
Kalan, just a thought. Have you tried the speakers pointing straight -- no toe-in? In my room, they sound best that way. They're exactly 8' feet apart, with the woofers facing inward (after a solid day of placement experimentation). Dave
Divo: I have the Mk 1 Super Eclipses. Dopogue: I tried the Gallos pointing straight forward; woofer in, woofer out, etc. The upper mid forward thing is lessened by the toe-in. (Side wall reflection makes it worse, maybe¬Ö.?)

I think I figured out the problem. I re-tubed the Cary SLAM-100's and noticed the new KT-88's biased lower on their own than the previous set. When I brought the new tubes' bias up to the former level, the upper-mid forwardness came back (to some degree). When I backed off the biasing, it is greatly reduced. (I will have to check the Cary website to make sure I am biasing correctly.) Who's to say, at this point, whether the major difference comes from the new tubes themselves or the lower biasing? Perhaps both. Maybe lower biasing more will sound better yet.

Without this forwardness and with the greater integration, the result reminds me of a top-notch monitor with a bit of extra lower extension: open, detailed, images like crazy, engaging, etc. Now, if I could just fill in the bass more.... (The Super Eclipses have bass and dynamics that help lend impact and scale.)

Has anybody tried the Gallo sub-amp to co-drive the woofer vs. another separate sub from another manufacturer?
I just spoke to John at Gallo and the sub amp is not yet avaliable. They expect to get the latest prototype in the next couple of days. It seems that they decided to make a couple of changes at the last minute and this has slightly delayed release of the amp. John assured me that the 240 wpc amp running just the 2nd voice coil of the woofer makes for some VERY impressive bass. This with a good tube amp running the rest of the speaker should make this speaker sound fantastic. If anyone is able to get one soon, please be sure to post your impressions. It is also suggested that if you run the eq on the amp at +6, it will help to break the woofer in faster. If you are listening to music you might want to back that down as the bass will be too overpowering and not intigrate well (the +6 position is only for break in purposes).
Anyone of you guys bought the Ref IIIs to replace any Paradigm speakers? I currently have the Paradigm Active 40 and Active CC and am wondering if this setup would be an upgrade to what I have. Any comments will be appreciated.

Also had another question... .these spearks are available with black or stainless accents and black/cherry/maple bases. I have only seen pictures of the stainless accent with the maple bottom. Has anyone seen or have pictures of the black accents and the maple bottom?
Someone mentioned that a dealer once hooked up the Gallo Ref 3's incorrectly. The dealer did not notice that the binding posts have SINGLE wire hookups, NOT bi-wire, even though they look like bi-wire pairs of binding posts.

The top pair is the only pair you use from your main amplifier. The bottom pair is for the dedicated, sub amp input.

The dealer just hooked up the receiver's outputs to the lower binding posts (intended for the sub-amp in section).

Could this account for the "closed in" sound at the start of this thread?
I strongly believe that the Musical Fidelity amps were the culprits. The only MF amps that I've ever heard sound anything but harsh and shut in are the super-pricey TriVista line, and even then they're bettered by many components at half the price.

My last two (unfavorable) experiences with MF were with Dynaudio and B&W speakers. I wanted to hear the speakers, but instead the MF source components' weaknesses came through instead with a glaring high end and no soundstage. Switching the electronics in both cases actually gave me the demos I was looking for.

I advise you to go back to the dealer and see if they can switch something around for you to hear them again in a different light.

"I still hear a fatiguing, forward, ("shouty") upper-mid prominence. Does anybody else have a similar problem with the Gallos?"

Kalan, if you read the BFS review, it says the Gallos are very critical of backward-forward tilt. More backward tilt and the sound becomes warm; more forward tilt and the upper-midrange and treble comes forward. Experiment with the adjustable spikes.
That shouty quality usually occurs due to flutter echo, which comes from two parallel reflective surfaces in the room. If it is the side walls, or the ceiling/floor, then placing speakers in the room that have wider dispersion than previous speakers will fit with your experience. Obviously damping those surfaces or breaking them up, with a bookcase, a rug, a coffee table, etc can help. Also, moving a little closer to the speakers to get more direct sound can reduce the problem.
Vladimir, Thanks for your tip about the forward/back tilt. During the time when that extra forwardness came through with the Gallos, I had already tried tilting the speakers back with some improvement, but that did not address the heart of the issue.

I have solved the problem I was experiencing (and I think I mentioned re-tubing my amps and adjusting their bias differently making the biggest improvement in a post shortly afterwards.)

Since then, more break-in time has helped further--just as some posters said, and better placement in the room, etc. The 100-hour break-in recommendation is probably correct.

The Gallos two main strengths seem to be their ability to recreate a good approximation of the musicians' physical presence, and they have an engaging, musicality that focuses on the musical program's content rather than on HiFi.

Some of the Gallo reviews pretty much say that they are giant killers. I am not as sure as that. Unless I have not figured how to get the most of them---could be likely, I would say the Gallos are good at some things, but not everything. Like anything, listen carefully before you buy.
I purchased a pair about 2 weeks ago. They absolutely need braking in as everyone has said. Don't know how they sound with SS yet as I'm running tubes for now. Dissapointingly, someone at Gallo told me it will be until "at least" the end of the first quarter before the sub amps are available. Has anyone els had problems with the grill covers? One of mine was bent at the top lateral cross mount, I took it to the dealer and got one of his as a replacement and it too was slightlt deformed and difficult to apply.

Rolloff, if you mean by "... top lateral cross mount" the metal cross member that has a hole in it through which you secure the allan screw for the grill "cage," then I believe they are supposed to be bent.

Both of mine were curved or bent in a precise way to accommodate the distance difference between the cage and the curved main pillar. If you notice the middle back cross-member (for another allan screw) is also offset or slightly curved/bent. The bottom cross-member should be straight.

The top cross-member curve is much greater than the middle cross-member's curve. This all looks to be deliberate design to me. Unless, of course, I misunderstand your post. Wouldn't be the first time.....
Actually you illistarted my point, sort of. One of my speakers has the grill so that all of the lateral support cross memmbers are straight AND line up perfectly for inserting the threaded screws. The other, as described, did not. It seems the jig that they make these on is a little fickle, or, that the frames change shape once formed. I say the latter as after testing of one of my dealers grills that he assured me fit well when new, and had been placed asside for demo purposes, now does not fit well with the top cross member needing to be bent in to reach the column.

One of my speakers' grill frame top cross member was also bent, whereas the other was not. Hard to tell if the frame or the speaker are out of kilter. Didn't bother me too much, because I prefer the look without the grill frame.
Just an update back to the really important feature in the speaker, THE SOUND. The literature suggests a break in period of around 100 hours. I think it states that it should be with vigorous play. For those of us who generally listen at less than vigorous levels, I can say the breaking was closer to 200 hours. WOW, what a difference once the brek-in took place though. The sound, surprisingly opens up in the lower registers without an additional bass amp. I'm actually wondering about the need for an additional amp. I love these speakers. I spent last night just marvelling at how complete my system now sounds, and how much of the music I can hear on every recording.
Do they have a matching centre speaker for the Ref 3's yet?
I'm thinking of using them in a multi-channel system.

They do, but it's not released yet. Go to to take a look at it. It's a CDT tweeter with 4 spheres in a horizontal arrangement. I've heard Q1 2005 as the targeted release date.
Jcruse, just where on that site might I find that prospective center-channel speaker?
I recently auditioned the Gallo ref 3. I own the Hyperion 938s (I have a review posted here). Although the Gallos were not broken in, they did have very wide soundstage and good imaging and sounded very dynamic. It did sound "foggy" or veiled compared to my Hyperions, but the speakers were not broken in. Many speakers sound like this brand new, so I would advise those to make sure the Gallos have at least 100 hrs (preferably 200) before comming to any conclusions. I think they are promising speakers. If the Gallos are truly what TAS claims them to be, then we have another giant killer (the other being the Hyperions). I will have another listen to them in about 2 weeks, hopefully the dealer pair will be broken in by then.

WhatI found surprising was that people are ordering these speakers without even listening to them just because of the TAS review. Don't people learn? I never ever purchase anything based on a review - I've had too many let downs in the past. Let your ears be the decision maker. Sounds obvious but people forget.
Keep in mind Dracule1 that not everyone has the ability to hear gear personally.
Brian, point well taken, but you'd be surprised how many dealers and internet sellers are willing to ship a product to your home so u can evaluate them for 2 to 4 weeks. if u don't like, then you can return them for full refund less the shipping. this is how i bought all my equipment:) i do alot of research before ordering but in some cases it just doesn't work in your system so u regretably return them. but i find it hard to believe u can't find a Gallo dealer near u to have a listen. if your seriously interested, you'll find a way. but if your willing to risk several grand, it's your money but i wouldn't.
If anyone in the Ohio area would like to hear the Reference 3, go to Hansbarger Appliances in Greenville, Ohio (west of Springfield not far from Indiana border). I know it sounds crazy, but they have a pair on display. Ask for Josh, he is a good guy. One tip, you might want to take your own amp as the electronics they have don't really show what these speakers will do. I took a trip up there and hooked them up to by Berning ZH270 and WOW! they sounded great, and I don't they they are even fully broken in yet.
After reading so many different positive comments on the Ref. 3s, I had to hear them myself and did today at a local dealer. Driven with all Audio Research gear and of course w/o any bass amp, they sounded very nice but not much different than my modified Kindel PLS-As. When I asked if they were broken in, the dealer laughed a little and said yes.

I was surprised they were as short...small...tiny as they are. I had read all the reviews but I just wasn't prepared for These would make GREAT speakers for the 4 corners of a multichannel system in a small room! I think I'll be going back with a friend so I'll hear them again and get his opinion too. We'll see.

Also heard the big Quads (989s?) driven by Manley 250s(?) with the same music. DEEP soundstage, MUCH more bottom-octave astonishing (to me) amount. Wow!
to Jeffreybehr -

There aren't really ALL that many positive comments here if you read with a grain of salt. Check out the remarks above by Banksfriend, Troutki, Toudou, Vladimir, Kalan, and Zog.

I have listened to these (already "broken in") and they are overrated in my opinion. On the upside - they are "fast", image well under some circumstances, and produce transients very well. They pack plenty of punch for their small size. And they look pretty cool. However - I found them to be quite harsh/strident. They produce a lot of detail but in an "etched" manner to my ears. So they're exciting in the showroom, but potentially very fatiguing at home. Tube amplification would definitely help - but at 88db efficiency, the Ref III's are not super tube-friendly.

I found them to be acceptable with small groups and solo instruments, jazz vocals and the like, but with anything larger they were sub-par. As musical complexity and dynamic range increased, the tonal accuracy in the lower mids broke down significantly - your basic muddiness, and the soundstage became confused. So we've got mild harshness on top and substantial muddiness in the mids, combined with a good but limited low-end. Not Class A or B in my book.

$2400 isn't much for NEW speakers nowadays, so I suppose they're a decent "value", but, of course, you'll also want/need the additional Gallo Bass module amp - so you're starting to look at REAL money. Brilliant marketing, eh? You buy "cheap" speakers at $2600 + tax and then 6 months later come back and drop another $1000 + tax to make the bass "even better"...

We could have an entire thread on this issue also - but I don't buy the "they need to break in" argument. At $3800 to $3900 with bass amp and tax, I'll look elsewhere.

They might work better for your ears. But keep in mind that $3900 will buy some superb, mint condition, used speakers - with little depreciation risk, here on Audiogon if one is patient.
As an owner of these, I can say if you "don't buy" the they need to break in, idea, you shouldn't buy them. I did, and after their break in which I was present for, they sound terrific, and are a great value at their price, or even a grand or two more. They image fantastically, and I use them with tubes and find them to be very tube friendly in spite of the 88 db efficiency. The low end, while starting out rather bland, after break-in, sounds now to be more than adequate and deep, especially considering that I'm using tubes. I will get the bass amp in the future, for fun. There are hundreds of different speaker makers out there. Some people buy for looks, some for a particular way they like the sound to be presented. The bottom line is, many people including myself think these speakers are the real deal for an incredible price. Everyone should listen for themselves, but don't avoid them because one, or more people from a random forum tell you these don't measure up.
Some people will not\like a product no matter how good it sounds, to a few or many. Listen for yourself. But seriously, make sure the pair you hear is broken in, before you relegate them to the "harsh" scrap heap.
I agree with Rolloff 100%. I didn't think it possible to make them sound like Opalchip says they sound. After three months with mine, they just keep getting better and better. And yes, they are VERY tube-friendly. Dave
Well, I will be going back again to listen more with a friend. They never sounded harsh or strident to me, but they also didn't sound better in the treble than my modified Kindel PLS-As...but the trebles are my worst range of sound to hear well.

On break-in, I believe firmly that transducers definitely benefit from wearing in, a settling, of all the parts. What's still a question for me is if this pair is or is not broken in, since the shop owner sort of laughed when I asked him on the fone if they were broken in. I guess I'll have to hear them in my home with my equipment before I spend money on them.

I'm still inclined to believe they're excellent-quality reproducers and excellent values at $2600; we'll see.