Granite Audio 770 Tube Pre-amp & its phono sec.

Currently own Supratek Chardonnay, Jas Array 1.1, TecT 2.0 and pre that belong to my boddy Cyber 222MK II. TacT is a RCS so it is not a real preamp. But the rest are.

My problem is this:
Love Supratek for its transparency, detail, speed (top end is to colored in my opinion - edgy)
Love Jas for emotional presentation and sweetness
Can not find a preamp that will give me both (under or around 2K used......or new). Does anyone know a baby " Frankenstein ".

At the time being, I ordered Granite Audio 770FP preamp to try it out. I would appreciate any opinion on that preamp. Keep in mind that I heard it many times - just not in my system. ( Consonance Cyber 800 mono block modded by B.Backert, Consonance Droplet 5.0 CDP, Quatro - vandersteen Spks. modded MMF7 Music Hall TT, Lenco (not finish - replinthed), TT "X" also home build turntable, Morch up-4/Denon 103R and Consonance Reference 40 phonostage. Cabling in 90% by Morrow Audio)
I would like to find out how its phono section compare to others etc. If non of these preamp will work - my only option would be to place it in hands of a tried and wonderful moder B.B to tweak it to my taste.

Thank You in advance
I have always wondered .....!why is Granite Audio always in the shadow. Yes, Don refuse to pay BIG BUCKS to top mags but so does M. of Supratek. Everyone that I know who owns Granite cables, loves it but very few own his amps or preamps.
I have heard 770fp more then few times but it was not in my budget at the time. Now, it looks like I will be getting a CES demo unite for a fair price.

I have met Don during 2008 CES and really enjoyed hearing about his point of view and take on building a good component and what it should/should not sound like.

Sure there are other fish in the Sea but it might be my
Mariusz, I share your enthusiasm for Granite Audio and Don Hoglund.

I previously owned the tube monoblocks, and was quite happy with them. To me, they sounded their best with the JJ KT88 tubes Don supplies them with, even if I normally prefer EL34 tubes. Only sold them to clear out some space to make my wife happy.

I still have my 657 CD player, and it's also a very nice component.

As I used my various CD players directly into the monoblocks (the volume control on them is a most wonderful feature), I can't comment on the preamplifier as I had no need for it, but I would expect it to be more than competent.
It is a real pleasure to hear from you Joe.

I wasn't aware that you have owned Granite amps and 657 cdp. I am sure that 657 is pretty nice. It is true what you said about volume is sweet....oh yes.
Same with 770fp preamp - realllly nice, quality volume and balance controls are Alps Black Beauties.

Joe, from your experience
how would you describe sound characteristics of Don's designs.
Listening to his stuff is a real pleasure, however my
lock of connection with associated equipment and speakers which were part of the whole system makes me uncertain of the signature sound of Granite Audio.

From what I've heard on more then few occasions is a music........yep.....I was looking for words to describe need. It was not in the way, very enjoyable, relaxed, very nicely balance and extremely quite.....especially true with its phono section (dual Vishay adj. resistors for loading
phono cartridges. They are easily adjustable to match any cartridge, which is big for me). I have spend almost 3 full days in Dons' company and I have to say that I like his way of thinking and admire his knowledge and attention to the way he deals with noise, components choice and implementation of ideas which are not new but often overlooked or ignored.

I did a little search and found out that there is not a lot of information about Granite products. Very few reviews, not to many listings on AgoN etc. Simply speaking, completely isolated, kept in the dark and unappreciated brand. And I feel it is a shame......Don is a really great, funny down to earth kind of guy.....and NO it is not endorsement. Matter of fact, he probably does not even know that I bought his CES piece. But that is not importent.

Preamp will be here next week and I will surely enjoy it.

Joe thank you again

Tomorrow ( Sunday ) I will have a Audiophile get together( that is bullsh....t - just 3 guys that love music) in my almost finished house. will try few preamps, cables, RCS, new Pioneer dedicaded cdp/SACD (not mine}, pizza, beer(mine) etc. (PM)
You are welcome to join Joe.

Mariusz, I'm sorry I was out today, and missed your post until now. But, thank you very much for the invite, it would have been really special to be there with you guys. 3 guys getting together is basically an audio club, isn't it?

I did a review here on Audiogon on the Granite 860.1 monoblocks that I owned. I was going to do one on the 657 as well, but didn't get around to it. I've always felt as you described, at a loss to define why Granite isn't more well known in the audiophile circles. A lot of people complain they cannot find a good made in the USA high-end audio brand offering good value, but that point seems difficult to justify to me with the likes of Cary, Manley, Quicksilver, Rogue, etc., and to that list I will add Granite.

The one word that would describe my overall impression about Don's designs is musical. He has the unique ability to skirt that hard to draw line between clinical sound and caramel colored euphony. A few years ago, when I first got the monoblocks, I'd been fighting a brightness problem in my smaller room, and had changed out every other component in the system. The monoblocks allowed me to finally overcome that, and sit down and enjoy the music. Later, the issue was straightened out by addressing the room, but I think that comment I just made speaks volumes about my experience with Granite products.

The 657 is a unique product in that it offers both solid state (fixed) and tube (variable) outputs, and each offers quite a different sonic presentation, while still maintaining that musicality I spoke of. The solid state is richer, more laid back, and offers much better low frequency performance. The tube output is more detailed and engaging, with a nice rosiness that tubes add in the best of circumstances. I'll probably sell the 657 soon, as I'm awash in CD players, and don't get much use out of it these days.

Reliability of both products was perfect. I had one issue with the monoblocks that was giving me a bit of a headache, but after speaking with Don, he instructed me on what it actually was (no problem with the amps), how to fix it, and within about 2 minutes of doing the procedure he laid to me, everything was perfect.

Don is a very upstanding person to work with. He cares about making his customers happy, and actively works at helping people get the most they can out of the products.
It is my fault, I should have ask you sooner.
But there is always onother time. I will let you know if or when (privately). It was great for few reasons. First of all, my old friend had a chance to hear my rig for the first time. Now, this will make it easier to talk to him without trying to paint the picture with "dry brush".
And create another tube believer from a totally SS guy. I thing and hope that he enjoy a little tuby taste of mine and the whole experience in general. Always happy to share with others and hopefully point them in the right direction (only principals - no preferences). So yes it was good. Next time - I would like to also see you to enrich the gathering with the wit like yourself Joe.

There wasn't a lot of equipment swapping, except one that went in for 1!!! minute flat, and we almost threw it out the window in disgust. After that disturbing incident we were just enjoying good music and talk about this crazy World.


Now about Granite Audio and American companies.

Yes Joe, I agree with you about some American brands that represent good value, make great products, are usually small/family owned and operated but continuously in the shade of the bigger more expose, better advertised brands.
I am ALWAYS going to support a brand with good product ( American, Chinese, EU or else) no matter who is behind it or what's the size. But smaller outfits always go against the wind and often struggle just to make it and continue what they love to do. I personally have a very good expirience with few American manufacturers of that not necessary struggling just unappreciated and uninvited by major magazines for a simple reason - no adds = no review.
And that is a shame....really. It's one of the reasons I read those mags as an entertainment and not as a source of valuable information and/or fallow their recommendations in any way, shape and form. At the end of the day they're all nicely stuck together and put away with the rest of the recycles.
What I like about these companies is that, they would go that extra mile to make their costumers happy/satisfy and guaranty the work with their name.....and you have to respect that.

Recent economy roller coaster, dollar power diminishing and companies from within and around the "Great Wall" flooding the market with capable and better and better components (not always - a lot of it is crap) creating a uncertain situation for the home grown brands big and small ( especially small).

Passionate people are all around us.
Audio nirvana is within reach without spending a fortune.


I think the 770fp preamp from Don will be OK for me......
if for whatever reason it will not sing with the rest of my system. No problem, will find home for it and make up with the old.....or something new. Who knows.
About Granite CDP....I have heard his mutant cousin. But still Granite Audio tube section and sound - also SS/tube + volume control. It sounds great. Like you said - music. Is it the best? I am not to judge, fault or praise it, but I would imagine its value to be excellent.

Thank you Joe and sorry for the last minute invite.
You are a wise man, Mariusz. Please don't apologize, I'm humbled by the invite, so a "thank you for asking me to join you" on my part is the only thing due from either of us.

In the words of someone a lot smarter than me, "buying American is unAmerican." While, I am personally as nationalistic as anyone, I feel that blind loyalty leads to long term misery. If we do not hold our domestic companies up to the highest standards, they will not meet them, and our competitiveness as a society will plummet.

Despite what most people see and regurgitate, China is not beginning to pave the streets with gold. Their fundamentals and implementation are shakier than we realize, and expect the next couple of years to see tremendous price increases on their products. The prices of things like steel, copper, plastic, labor, etc. are going through the roof, and of course, that is going to get passed along to us. It is already happening, and I expect to see some serious inflation in terms of Chinese audio over the next year or two. Hopefully, the people on this side of the ocean are thinking long-term, as opposed to the sky is falling mentality too many here are taking on, as they will miss a golden opportunity going forward.

All of this is strictly my opinion, and I realize it is definitely the minority/contrarian view...

The Granite 657 the best? No, it is not. I have several players that eclipse it, including your Droplet 5.0. But, the 657 is a very nice player.

Take care,
Thanks Joe.
And one more think.
What happend to those horn spks that you
were going/planing to show during CES.
I have not see them anywhere. Would like to hear them -
one day.

Mariusz, I have a pair of those M15 horns. You are more than welcome to give them a listen. They're probably best driven by something like your Cyber 800 monoblocks, so if you ever paid me a visit, please don't hesitate to bring them along.

I did CES with my buddy, Vytas, who is a loudspeaker manufacturer. He makes a really unique and good sounding (in my opinion) product that seemed to mate very well with the Cyber 800. I have some definite opinions on loudspeakers (series crossovers, powered woofers), and a lot of them are not represented in the marketplace with very little exception. The design of his speakers lines up very well with those opinions. We got really good feedback from some of the folks who gave us a listen, but what do I know?
Not M15 Joe.
The single driver one .

Maybe you are talking about the Lamhorns that Robert Lamarre of Tenor Audio manufactures, Mariusz?

I didn't bring them to CES2008, but we'll be sharing a room with Robert (he'll also have a Tenor room, obviously) in Montreal next month with these backloaded horns, with the AER drivers. The speakers are also available with Lowthers. We'll pair them with the Cyber 211 and 845 amplifiers. Of course, you lose the bottom octave or two with such a design, but for what they do well, a lot of people are more than willing to make that tradeoff. Personally, as much as I believe in the inherent superiority of the series crossover that Bud Fried pioneered, even it cannot hold a candle to using no crossover.

Interestingly enough, the typical push-pull tube amplifier doesn't put power into these loudspeakers very well. The SET models we offer bring the excitement and sense of scale to the music. It was kind of a surprise to me, but you can't argue with reality.

Perhaps, one day, we can give you a listen to the combination - we usually do so in the Northern NJ area which would be closer to you...
Yes Joe, those are the ones.
I can not make it to Montreal but I will try to schedule the visit to N.J.

As always, you have been a real gentelman.
I just briefly listen to Granit Audio 770fp on Friday.
Can't say much about its sound yet.....holidays rush.
It sure feels different in bass region and a bit darker on the top & a little cleaner more forgiving but in the same time slightly less different then Supratek ?
I will have to spend a little more time with it to answer that.
On top of everything it has to break-in for at least a week and the use of better NOS tubes might be in order (not questioning Dans' choice but I do understand his limitations to keep it within original budget). Morrow cables used as IC and Granit Audio 555 PC.
and happy holidays.
Drive safe.

Happy listining
& enjoy the music.
I have owned a Granite 770R since May 07 (also have Granite interconnects combined with Purist Audio,Granite headphone amp and a Granite power cord). It's good to see some response on Audiogon for it is truly in my opinion one of those sleepers. I previously put in a thread on tube rolling and got no response. Don is absolutely one of the finest - hope he is doing well with his personal following. I only use the preamp's line stage. I found using NOS or vintage tubes makes a dramatic difference (have a mix of Tungsols, Sylvania and Audio Research tubes). The Russian Tungsols may work well. My unit needed about a 150 - 200 hour burn in period. Also I just tried running my CDP through the tape in and I think this helps out. I have had many fine preamps over the years(one in the 10K plus price range) and the Granite holds it own.

Yes , Granite is/was in the shadows but it is a really nice preamp:
very neutral, not in the way, a little heavy in bass region but I wouldn't blame it on preamp , since it wasn't broken- in yet. Fine product if you can get a good deal.