Why add a preamp latter on if the CDP has a separate volume?
I've heard it said that one less interconnect is better.
I've heard it said that one less interconnect is better.
I actually bought a Granite Audio #657 Tube output CD Player the end of last year just after it came out. I originally passed on the opportunity to buy one of the first #650's, and I'm glad I did as the tube output stage is much much better. The #657 is intensively the #650 with an additional tube output stage. You can still listen to it via the SS electronics and bypass the tube section all together if you wanted to (it has two sets of RCA outputs.) The tube stage is basically an "add-on" to the original unit. (I'm told the #650 unit can be upgraded to #657 for a fee.)
I opened it up a while back, and it's very clean inside. It's looks are comparable, if not better than the BAT or Sonic Frontier gear from the inside. I'm surprised they don't show pictures of it on their website. The transport is mounted very securely inside the chassis. In addition, there are 2 toriodal transformers mounted in the rear of the unit - 1 for the tube output section and 1 for the rest of the electronics. The tube output stage consists of 2 - 6DJ8 dual triode tubes and 6X4 rectifier tube. In addition, all the resistors, capacitors, connectors, and internal wiring look to be of very high quality.
As for sound, it's an incredible player. It's ever so slightly on the warm/musical side without adding any "coloration" to the music. When I listen to it, the one feeling that comes to mind is pure "music". It has plenty of punch and rythm - nothing laid back about the sound at all.
In my opinion, it's comparable to the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 3D CD Player. They are both built like a tank. I feel the MF unit has a tiny bit more resolution/detail than the #657 but it tends to be a bit more analytical sounding when compared to the #657. I also feel the #657 in my opinion has better bass control. I think each has their own strengths which makes them both great players. I would be happy with either one of these players, but I did end up choosing the #657.
Even though the #657 does not have 24 bit - 96 KHz output, it does have 16 to 20 Bit (@ 96 KHz) upsampling which I feel only adds to the quality of the music. I won't preach on the virtues of upsampling as there are many articles already written on the subject, but I can tell you is that it works.
It's definitely overlooked as a serious CD player as there just haven't been enough real reviews on it (other than the one on the Granite Audio web site.) In addition, the few reviews there are just don't have enough merrit amongst the audio community.
Since the #657 has a very high-quality analog volume control and an enough gain, you can hook this directly into your amplifier without the need for a preamp. I'm told you won't loose any resolution if you decide to run it this way either unlike some of the lower quality volume controls found on some CD players. However, the usefulness of the rear mounted knob may be of some consideration for certain people who think of running it this way (I found it a little difficult to get at the knob in my rack due to the spacing between the shelves.)
As for sounding better than SACD - well "perhaps" the Sound SCD-777ES unit in some areas as one past reviewer mentioned (I think there are numerous tradeoffs on each player which considerably level the playing field, but I'm not going to try to rate them as I just don't have enough time with the 777 to provide an accurate comparison), but I would be really hard pressed to consider it better than some of the highend SACD units like the Accuphase, etc. However, you need to give careful consideration to the enormous price difference between the players for the performance difference.
I think what really shines the most about the Granite Audio products is the performance/price point. For $2900 (street price $2400), it's a absolute bargain. This also includes just about all of their cable line-up as well.
What's also nice is the In-home Demonstration Program Granite Audio offers. They basically allow you to try out the product for 30 days to audition it. If you don't like it you can send it back less shipping costs, and any credit card processing fees. It's a pretty nice/fair deal.
Some additional things I would consider when purchasing. Well, for starters that the #657 doesn't have balanced outputs. For me this was not a problem, but it could be for some.
Also the unit doesn't have front panel mounted buttons, which I personally don't like, but after talking with Granite Audio I seem to be part of the minority not the majority. I'm told most people like the look of the plain "granite" face plate without the additional clutter of the buttons.
After recently having a bit of upgrades to my unit at while it factory recently, I actually now consider near perfect for what I wanted out of a CD player. I can easily recommend this unit on sound quality alone. It's a lot of player for the money.
I think what really makes this player great is the techincal support/service you receive after you already bought the unit. If you ever had any questions or problems, Granite Audio is right there to back you up. Don Hoglund has been personally only a phone call or email away for me - he always takes the time out of his busy schedule to answer all of my questions no matter what. Truly top notch support.
Definitely a CD player to consider in the sub $5k price range. You can find out more details on their web site www.graniteaudio.com.
Finally, usualy disclaimers - I have no affiliation with Granite Audio or any audio dealer for that matter. I am just a consumer/audiophile like the rest of you. Happy listening!
I had considered the 650 prior to the intro of the 657. I also ran into the same problem of not enough info (reviews)to go on. I am glad to hear of Racer's positive experience. The biggest reason I did not audition the Granite was the lack of controls on the unit. It may look good without controls but I would like the flexability of having them in case somrthing happens to the remote. My experience is that remotes usually give out before the component. Another consideration is what happens if the company goes out of business and the remote goes bad. Can you find a universal remote that will operate a Granite cdp? I don't think so. I don't mean to rain on anyones parade but I am skeptical of this approach
I have personally heard the Granite 650 in Stephen's home. Related components were Granite monoblocks(with KT88 output tubes), Sunfire preamp(HT, I believe), and Osborn Eclipse(I think) loudspeakers.
It was a very musical player. I would agree with the assessment that the sound can be characterized as warm and forgiving, as opposed to analytical and detailed. I give it about as high a grade as it gets. In my opinion, this is what most people who are searching for an analog sounding player are in the market for.
At the time, he informed me about the upcoming(657). Tube output, and what we believed would be upsampling to 24 bits(it is actually 20). The price turned out to be higher than I anticipated, although still cheaper some of the competition.
As I have not auditioned it, I am obviously not certain of the level of improvement the 657 offers. However, based on my experience with the 650, and the extra development put in by this fine company, I would expect big things. As it is, I definitely recommend either player.
I do believe that if the statement above regarding that they are basically the same player, with the 657 incorporating a tube output stage, it would increase my need to audition the two against each other. If this is in fact the case, a question of value would arise. To the best of my understanding(please correct me if I am wrong), if an external DAC(very common as the technology moves forward, as we all know) was employed, a tube output in this type of player is bypassed, possibly mitigating what the increased cost of the circuit offers. Of course, as in any audio purchase, a careful audition can never be replaced.
Back to my impressions... Unlike the Rega Planet/Planet 2000, the Granite does not slow down or thicken the sound. I have been been around the Electrocompaniet CD player a good bit, and listened to the Audio Aero Capitole at NY HiFi 2001. Both of these players also give the type of sound that we have all been hoping for from the digital medium. I put the Granite 650 in the same boat. No, I have never A/B'd any of these players, but all three could make it into my system any day.
Give the #657 an audition, I feel it is in an entirely different league than the #650 that you need to re-audition it. I listened to the output stage for the #650 just for fun one day, and I quickly switched back. The difference is that dramatic, and I'm not saying that the #650 doesn't sound good. However, the difference in sound is so substantial that I now understand why there is a price difference between the two players.
I completely agree with the sentiments that the Granite Audio CD player is warm and forgiving, but not slow. Nothing bright or analytical sounding about it. Very much analog lover's CD player. It blends in well with the rest of my system.
Valid point, Racerx90.
I am not in the market for a CD player in the price range of the Granite 657. However, if the opportunity ever presented itself for me to audition the player, I would certainly take advantage of it.
My opinion is that over the past two years, it has been the fruition of the promise of CD that has been realized. Not the anticipated ascendance of either SACD or DVD-A. Players that I have mentioned in my previous post have demonstrated superior sound to me than SACD from Marantz, Philips, and Sony, as well as DVD-A from Toshiba and Technics I have come across. Further, as the DVD-A format requires a tv in the loop in order to program it, I think the audio world should turn its back on it in kind.
The point I am taking too long to make is that it appears upsampling offers much of what we have all sought out. To date, the lion's share of the upsampling equipment have been more upmarket in terms of price. But, technology always runs downhill. I am predicting that over the next two years, the "it" that makes these special players so special will be infused in the forthcoming generations of players in the sub - $1K price range.
In the meantime, the player at hand, the Granite 657. At the suggested price range Tweekerman is working in, this player definitely needs to be on the short list. In any system up to one that verges on the overly warm and sweet, I feel it would probably make its owner very happy. I would also include the Electrocompaniet. YBA players have also struck me as magical, although their current lineup is seriously long in the tooth, and is in need of an injection of all that has happened over the past 3 - 4 years.
I had the pleasure of going to the granite room at CES at Alexis Park in January and had the real please of meeting Don and his tube output stage CD player. I spent approx 45 min in the room comparing different CDs. He also had a pair of hand made granite tube amps which were simply beautiful.
The CD was connected to a preamp that had the ability to switch between the tubed and non tubed (digital I think) outputs of the CD player. And it was very clear when the tube output stage was on.. warmth is first and foremost in my discription as well as mid range bloom and detail. Top end was softned off, which is a very very good thing especially in a bright environment.
To my ears, the granite, in a perfect enviroment with a great pre-amp and proper ICs like the granite XLRs(which I own) and Granite Power cords (which I also own BTW)comes close to SACD.
Again, even though my gear is racked and behind a oak door
I would of liked to see a top ctrl panel..my logic is, Im there already, I poped in the disc, why not press play or select a track !
I think that would just add to an already superb product