Granite Audio amps

Anyone here have any experience with any of the Granite audio tube amps? Particularly the 860.1, but would welcome feedback in general about their products.

I communicated with one owner of these amplifiers a couple of yrs ago. He said he loved his. He also said the only caveat was the terrible resale value..this is good for the used buyer though. ;-)
Wish I could hear them also..maybe you could pick a pair up and I could come up for a listen.LOL
Then maybe I could talk you out of the modified Music Reference RM9.
They are really well built amps that are capable of accepting your CD source direct, they have their own gain adjustments, have user adjustable feedback, play 30 wpc in triode with KT88 or 60 watts in pentode again just flip a switch. They sound more powerful than they are rated at and have a nice lush sound sound especially for KT88s but do benefit from rolling the drivers (6SN7s). I like them except the MRSP is pretty steep. Used they are a bargain but Gmood is absolutely right the resale is tough, I don't know why except they should probably compete with amps that retail for no more than 3K to begin with, but they are a small production hand made U.S. product. Don Hoglund is the owner of the company and he is a very responsive and nice guy to deal with. I listened to them many many times both at a dealer and at a good friend's. That same friend has the 657 CD player which is a really excellent CD player and nearly knocked my all time favorite off its perch. It is very detailed yet musical and has variable output through a tube stage . The only thing that you might find troubling is that it can only, yes only, be operated using the remote. Its face and case are pure Corian with a draw and the connections in the back. Resale on the CD is not a problem finding one that someone is willing to sell is.
Thanks for the responses guys. Anybody ever heard their speaker cables? That might end up being part of the deal too.


I guess if I submitted this post two weeks ago, one could accuse me of trying to sell my pair Granite 860.1 amps. But, since I have already sold mine and have no relationship to the company, I think I can speak about the amps from a unique perspective.

First things first - they are WONDERFUL tube amplifiers. About as good a pair of two tube per side, transformer coupled tube monoblocks you will encounter. They have just have SO many positives that it's hard to choose where to begin in describing them.

Perhaps, cosmetics? OK, they are not going to be for everyone, as no product is, but I happen to find them most attractive. They look even better at night when the soothing blue Granite logo and tube glow is all that is in the room. Secondly, they are small, compact, and though relatively heavy, easy enough to handle. You can site them easily in myriad configurations, probably more than most any other amplifiers I can think of.

Build quality is outstanding, over the years that I used mine, all I can say is that I was never unimpressed with the way the amps performed. The only nit I will pick is that if the gauge of steel used in the chassis was the next size up, I would be even happier. If I pushed on the transformers, I could get the chassis to flex a bit.

The amplifiers always performed flawlessly for me, apart from one issue which caused some noise, which was related to using some of the newer junk Sovtek 6SN7, which would have produced the same issue in any other amplifier as well. It was easy enough to remedy, which Don Hoglund, owner of Granite, guided me through. Not wanting to cause any alarm here, some of the newer tubes have solder on their pins which cause the contacts in the tube sockets to open more than they do normally. This then produces noise, as there is not tight contact on a more typical tube pin. After having Don personally look at the amp when he was out this way, he suggested I try pushing the contacts in a bit when I got home as we couldn't find an appropriate tool at the time, and that worked like a charm! Like I said, this would have afflicted ANY tube amp in likewise fashion. The difference is that, apart from Kevin Hayes of VAC, I doubt you'd have the owner of the company solving the problem for you.

The volume control on each amplifier allows one to run things without a preamp, which helps tremendously in terms of sound. I consider this feature to be one of the biggest winning factors of the Granites. Over time, I tried a few very good preamps, the Blue Circle BC3, Cary (forget which), Joule Electra LA150, as well as Endler Attenuators (passive) - none came close to using the amplifiers by themselves. Running CD direct always produced the most natural, immediate, dynamic sound, with lowest noise and blackest backgrounds.

While we're talking about sonics, I had tried the AES SixPacs (unrefined), ARC VS55 (uninspiring), BAT VK75 (REALLY nice), Cary Rocket 88 (sluggish) and V12 (very good), Conrad Johnson MV60 (not very good) and Premier 140 (overpriced), Quicksilver Silver 60 (OK), Rogue 88/120 (noisy), and VAC Auricle (good, but not so powerful) and 90/90 (very good) along the way. Along with the BAT, the Granites sounded best to me, though in different ways. The BAT has a wonderful, rich, warm, holistic sound. The Granites were probably more insightful, clear, and open sounding. Both have strong mid/upper bass performance, though ultimate deep bass, being traditional tube amps, gives way to solid state and OTL designs. Treble of each was airy and easy to listen to. Which is better? That's really a subjective thing...

I can think of no other tube amplifiers beyond the Quicksilvers which accept the wide variety of tubes the Granites do. You can run basically any non - SET tube you wish, whatever flavor you like best - 5881, 6L6, KT66, EL34, 6CA7, KT77, 6550, KT88, or KT90. Beyond that, you can run the tubes in either triode or pentode, with four feedback settings. I personally ran JJ KT88 and Blue Glass E34L, the KT88, running in triode, with zero feedback was the way the amplifier sounded best to me. Also, tube rolling the two 6SN7s had significant effect on the sonics. Basically, they are as flexible as things get. You try different tubes and settings, find the sound you like best, and sit back and enjoy.

Over the time I had mine, I really, really had a great time listening to music through them. In most cases, music always sounded enjoyable with the Granites. Even poor sounding CDs once again entered the rotation, which was a terrific thing. I rediscovered a whole lot of my music collection, staying up VERY late over a three month period of time. And to those who pooh pooh that as not being "accurate" (whatever that means), so be it. But, if listening to music is a hobby of yours because it is a pleasurable experience, the Granites are your kind of amplifiers.

The Granites do seem most conservatively rated from a power standpoint. Even the supposedly 30 wpc in triode with the KT88, I was able to drive a fair variety of loudspeakers without issue. Running EL34 tubes, pentode was definitely needed most of the time. For amplifiers with two tubes per side, I think they were as powerful an amplifier as I've encountered. Though, for difficult to drive loudspeakers, an amp with four tubes per side might be called for.

Now, the obvious question is, why did I sell them??? Well, to be honest, I was using them in my wife's system, with no preamp, having her and my daughter switch cables between sources, and adjust the volume on each amplifier. Let's just say that as the number of sources my wife had in her system grew, then burning her hand one too many times on a KT88 (I had these sited on each side of her tv, which she had to reach around), she demanded I get her a remote controlled integrated. Were it up to me, I'd keep my Granites forever, but after I got her a Jadis DA60 integrated (no remote...), I was told to make some decisions, and sell whatever extra components I had. So, the DA30 and the Granites went on the block, and the DA60 and AtmaSphere M60 MKII.3 stayed. Again, were it up to me, and I could just keep an extra pair of amps, I'd NEVER sell my Granites...

OK, I also own the 657 CD player. I am not going to claim it's the best CD player out there, but it is very, very good. Certainly up there with the players that are at the top of the heap outside of going crazy from a price stadpoint. By that I mean it's at least as good as anything one would encounter with moving to an exotic piece. The feature I like most is the ability to use the solid state or tube (variable) output. Solid state is more rich, weighty, warm, and relaxed sounding, with excellent low frequencies. The tube output, being variable, also alleviates the need to use a preamp in the chain, with the benefits already discussed. The tube sound is more open, clear, and forward, and also tunable, as the 6922 is a most ubuiquitous tube.

Good luck!

Thanks for the detailed and insightful response. I am very much looking forward to hearing the Granites in my system this weekend.

Oz, congratulations on the new babies! I predict you will really love them.

Oh, and another couple of nits to pick on the Granite 657. The remote is absolute crap, but that seems to be the way of high end CD players. WHY can't high end audio companies build $3000 CD players with better remotes than my $129 1987 Pioneer PD5100 or the $99 Samsung HD850 universal I picked up last year. Building on that remote complaint is the fact that the CDP itself contains no onboard controls - no buttons, nothing. I'm sure a universal remote can work the player, but again...

Still, as I said, the sonics are as good as you can find in a CD player.
Ozzy62, so do you have them, and if so, how do you like them???
Hi Joe,

Yes I got them and I like them very much. Very transparent and detailed, while still being quite musical. Not etched or hyper detailed at all. But I think they aren't going to have enough power for the volumes I listen to in my fairly large room. My Music Reference RM9, while not quite as refined and transparent, has more balls and is slightly more dynamic. For listening at more sane levels, this wouldn't be an issue. But when I want to crank it, I REALLY want to crank it. I should probably keep them and wait until I am in my new listening room, which may be smaller, but I will probably pass them on. I might regret it in the long run however, but the RM9 is such a well balanced performer that it's hard to beat it.

I've been very impressed with the Granite sound at CES shows (where most of the rooms had failed to impress me : - )
Oz, I can surely relate to your statement about when it comes time to put the hammer down, you want the oomph to be there.

Personally, I thought the Granites were quite strong, but it very well may be the other amps outdo them here. One thing you may want to do is to check the bias, it may well be off. After retubing, I noticed that even when they were biased at 10 mV, well short of the 40 mV, the sonics did not change much when I actually then adjusted them to spec.

You could also try talking with Don Hoglund, owner of Granite, to see if biasing the amps higher does anything for you powerwise. From my own experience, he may be babying the tubes, as after about 4 years, I measured the JJ KT88, and they just about measured new. I was more than surprised at that. Of course, these may not be the amplifiers for you due to the power requirements. In which case, maybe something like the Quicksilver V4, with double the output tubes, would more fit the bill?