GT Audio Works Launches Its New Reference 3 Speaker

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(January 26, 2021) I've had a notable sweet tooth for GT Audio Works' delicious take on sound for nearly seven years. Rather than spinning my wheels to conjure superlatives that describe the GT experience, I thought it would be fun to kick off this news piece by revisiting a "Best of" synopsis crafted after Capital Audio Fest 2017. So, please take a moment to chew on a few excerpts of my aged musings, and then we'll discuss the brand's latest exciting announcement.

"I'm feeling a tad impatient today, so I'm flipping the standard script and kicking things off with my favorite find at CAF 2017. Mind you, the word "best" is loaded with subjectivism and caveats, especially when it comes to sound. But for my money, GT Audio Works and its magnificent GTA3R Planar/Ribbon Speakers, which were matched with Sound Insight's dual SI 600 Open Baffle Subwoofers, graciously slid into home for the win.

I've had the pleasure of knowing GT Audio Works' Greg Takesh for several years, first meeting him as he demoed his GTA2.5 speakers at CAF several moons ago. Take one look into the man's eyes and you can see both audio passion and total sincerity. And take one listen to his handmade large-panel creations, and you'll be left stunned with amazement…

…The GTA3R is built to order, which means the speaker's wood and finish are all customizable. Considering that it essentially looks like a wood-framed cloth panel (high-quality craftsmanship, mind you), the speaker is somewhat unremarkable in its appearance. But its sound (oh that AMAZING sound) is what you're paying for. And let me tell you, they sound stunningly beautiful, presenting a massive and highly detailed soundstage that's punctuated by serious depth.

And clarity? It's all there, folks.

Clarity, balance, and natural tonality.

This speaker is, bar none, the best speaker you've never heard, and I challenge anyone to find another $12,000 speaker that can touch its class.

Bold words? Yes.


But my ears have fallen in love with GT Audio Work's creations, and this year's showing at CAF was simply spectacular…"

There you have it. My appreciation for Greg Takesh's handiwork was (and is) rather sizable. And after re-reading my own words, I can't say that I'd alter any of it.

With that, let’s leave the past in the past and jump forward to the now with GT Audio Works' latest announcement: its all-new Reference 3 Speaker.

Handcrafted in-house and devoid of OEM drivers, the Reference 3 is a true 2-way planar ribbon speaker. Its Wideband Planar Driver utilizes a proprietary membrane and pure copper conductors for output (50 to 5,000 Hz) with an ultra-low noise floor and total transparency. At the same time, the complementary Ribbon Tweeter operates in the 2.5 to 50 kHz range. And with a sensitivity of 93 dB (4 ohms), the speaker is straightforward to drive.

Externally, the Reference 3 features a polished stainless steel base, ISO Acoustics GAIA feet, and layered woods bonded and CNC-ed to a 2-inch one-piece frame. Not surprisingly, its custom nature allows for a range of finishes.

Much like older iterations, the speaker can be purchased with optional open-baffle 12-inch subs (servo operated, 1600 total watts), stacked in configurations of two, four, and six drivers per side. With playback down to 15 Hz, these subs can add sizable depth and thunder to an already potent system.

Pricing for the Reference 3 sits at $27,500, with the subwoofers (including servo amps, crossover, and balanced cables) costing $7,995 (two 12-inch woofers per side), $19500 (four 12-inch woofers per side), or $25,000 (six 12-inch woofers per side).

How will they perform? All past signs point to supremely well. Hopefully, we'll all have a chance to hear them in action later this year.

For purchasing information, call Steve Rabitz at Sound Insight (516.695.1798) or visit gtaudioworks.com. You can also join GT Audio Works in its Facebook Group by clicking here.
 
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allvinyl

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Hi Todd,
I was happy to read that you still have the GT3 speaker system on your radar. I really like the updated panel construction and cosmetics of the Reference model. Plus, I am sure that the upgraded stainless steel pedestal, versus aluminum, and the supplied IsoAcoustics Gaia Series loudspeaker isolation feet result in increased clarity and overall coherence of the system especially when paired with one of the subwoofer systems.

I can attest to the efficacy of stainless steel versus aluminum in these applications as my experience at Stillpoints included many hours testing various materials, especially aluminum versus stainless. Stainless steel is immediately recognizable as a superior material in the application of loudspeaker isolation. My own GT Audio 3.1r speakers were purpose-built with stainless steel pedestals for this reason.

I am still running the GTs with the SI-200 subwoofer system and hope to add another subwoofer driver to each side in the near future. I'd have to move to a larger space to accommodate additional drivers beyond 3 as I can now occasionally overload the room with the appropriate program material. ;-)

I am always happy to host interested listeners. I can be contacted at allvinyl@comcast.net.

Regards,
JohnIMG_0437.jpgP1010039.JPG
 

Todd Anderson

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Hi John,

Thanks for chiming in! This is one speaker that has stuck in my mind. Very memorable!
 

Greg Takesh

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Hi Todd,
Thanks for posting.
We, as everyone else in the industry were bummed out about cancelled audio shows due to Covid.
I guess the REF3 debut will hold till CAF in November.

Its been an evolution of the design thats come a long way since I built every part myself.
I now source out all the CNC woodwork, paint and metal work so I can concentrate on building drivers which allows me to build these things a bit faster with better strength, uniformity and cosmetics.
Also improved is the drivers themselves, the foil on my old style drivers was cut, laid down and soldered by hand..it was a very labor intensive process. Now I have the ability to make CNC cut foil conductors which gives better driver to driver uniformity and shorter build times. The main speakers now go lower than ever before with great dynamics and impact.
Adding the active OB subs increase the performance envelope of the system into the same league as stratospherically priced super systems.
For those who have the room and the deep pockets for a super system like the Infinity IRS V and later Genesis iterations, large Wilsons , Magicos etc. will find the new Reference 3 with OB subs will compete in the same performance arena at a fraction of their cost. The only difference being the GT REF3's are very much a bespoke product and will never reach the production numbers of these other well respected speakers.

As with my previous models I will warranty the drivers for life. The modular nature of the design allows for upgrading older models to Reference spec. or in the unlikely case of a driver failure, easy repair by removing the driver and shipping it back for a replacement.

Hoping all is well with you and your loved ones and we can get together for a drink and a chat at CAF 2021.

Regards,
Greg
.
 

Sonnie

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Anxious to hear these myself... they sure look nice.
 

Todd Anderson

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Hi Todd,
Thanks for posting.
We, as everyone else in the industry were bummed out about cancelled audio shows due to Covid.
I guess the REF3 debut will hold till CAF in November.

Its been an evolution of the design thats come a long way since I built every part myself.
I now source out all the CNC woodwork, paint and metal work so I can concentrate on building drivers which allows me to build these things a bit faster with better strength, uniformity and cosmetics.
Also improved is the drivers themselves, the foil on my old style drivers was cut, laid down and soldered by hand..it was a very labor intensive process. Now I have the ability to make CNC cut foil conductors which gives better driver to driver uniformity and shorter build times. The main speakers now go lower than ever before with great dynamics and impact.
Adding the active OB subs increase the performance envelope of the system into the same league as stratospherically priced super systems.
For those who have the room and the deep pockets for a super system like the Infinity IRS V and later Genesis iterations, large Wilsons , Magicos etc. will find the new Reference 3 with OB subs will compete in the same performance arena at a fraction of their cost. The only difference being the GT REF3's are very much a bespoke product and will never reach the production numbers of these other well respected speakers.

As with my previous models I will warranty the drivers for life. The modular nature of the design allows for upgrading older models to Reference spec. or in the unlikely case of a driver failure, easy repair by removing the driver and shipping it back for a replacement.

Hoping all is well with you and your loved ones and we can get together for a drink and a chat at CAF 2021.

Regards,
Greg
.
So, legacy owners can send their speakers back to you and you'll upgrade the drivers? Is there a fee associated with that?
 

KLH007

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I will be having Greg update the full range planar in my GTA 2.5s to Ref3 level this Summer, very comforting to have a manufacturer willing and able to bring your older speaker up to current performance levels.
 

Greg Takesh

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So, legacy owners can send their speakers back to you and you'll upgrade the drivers? Is there a fee associated with that?
Hi Todd,
Yes, a retrofit of a model 3 to Ref 3 will require removing the 6 planar drivers as well as the 6ft tall ribbon tweeters and shipping them to me to be stripped down and rebuilt.
The cost is $6k...Not a simple undertaking but financially more sense than selling your speakers at a big loss and buying new.
For example if you had a pair of Magnepan 20.1's you purchased new for $12k you could probably sell them for somewhere around $5k. Now, buy a pair of 20.7's at $15k which gives you a total speaker investment of $27k, minus the used sale @$5k..your total expenditure is $22k for the upgrade.
Of course, you dont get the benefit of new cosmetics with the upgrade, but you get the sound of the Ref3's, with a good chuck of change in your pocket.
 

Greg Takesh

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I will be having Greg update the full range planar in my GTA 2.5s to Ref3 level this Summer, very comforting to have a manufacturer willing and able to bring your older speaker up to current performance levels.
Hi Kemp,
We're going to have to go another route with your 2.5's as this is a completely different design than the model 3's.
They have built in subwoofers in the lower 1/3rd of the speaker so the drivers are 48" tall as opposed to the separate subs and 72" drivers in the Ref3.
I sure I can work something out to apply the Ref tech to your 2.5's but it will not have the driver area of the Ref3.
 
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