Review: Granite Audio 650 CD Player
Granite Audio 650 CD Player: Review
I just love discovering new audio products that defy the price/performance relationship. The model 650 CD player is just such a product. Granite Audio may not have the name recognition of some of the big boys in high end audio, but if the model 650 is any indication, they will have before long.
This is a very sleek design. Granite calls it a stealth design. The front of the unit is half inch Acrylic Granite (which looks similar to Corian). It has no controls on the front of the player. All functions are performed off the supplied remote control. Getting used to this took a little time, but it was no big deal and the unit looks very unique. The back of the unit sports a pair of single end outputs and a digital output. The power cord is detachable and I highly recommend the Granite Audio 555 Power Cord (more on that later). The remote has many functions on it that do not pertain to the model 650 player. The reason for this according to Don Hoglund, the owner of Granite audio is that they plan on using the remote as a universal remote for other Granite units such as preamps, power amps, and such. I found the remote to be very easy to operate. As I understand, some of the original CD players had a slight problem with the remote having to be directly in front of the player to work properly. This has been corrected. The reason had to do with the thickness of the Acrylic Granite face of the player.
Alright, but how does it sound:
Let me say right away, this is the closest to analog sound that I have ever heard from a CD player. I would characterize the sound as smooth and seamless. No one frequency is over emphasized. The all important midrange is smooth as silk. Every tonal inflection of vocals comes through in spades. This is demonstrated in both female and male vocals. I played Dire Straits Brothers in Arms on both LP and CD. First I would start the LP and about 6 seconds later begin the CD. In this way I could switch back and forth between the two formats (allowing for volume difference) and hear the same passages. I have to tell you, I have never heard a CD player come this close to the sound of my VPI mk4 TT, JMW Memorial Tonearm and Benz Glider cartridge. I can’t say the 650 was better than the analog setup, but we are getting into hair splitting territory. Mark Knopfler’s voice has a very distinct, raspy sound, and the model 650 brings it across in all it’s glory. Highs, to my ear have the right amount of sheen and shimmer on cymbals. Drums are very percussive. You can almost hear the size of the drum being struck. Brass has good bite, but is not bright or glaring. Bass is solid as a rock and goes quite deep. With acoustic guitar, you can hear the wood body of the instrument and the fingers against the strings. The Granite 650 will also convey to you the size of the room that the recording was made in (assuming the it is a well recorded piece of music).
This unit, as with any other piece of equipment that I have come across, will benefit from some tweaking. My audio stand is a SolidSteel five shelf rack. Each shelf is isolated by three cones. I first placed the Granite 650 on a set of Black Diamond Racing mk3 cones. The bass became muddy and the focus of the soundstage smeared. Next, I placed a set of mk4 cones under the player and dynamics increased, focus became crystal clear, soundstage was both wide and deep. Instruments were placed precisely within the sound stage. I than added a bag of lead shot to the top on the player for additional dampening and all of the above got even better. Bass, although still balanced with the rest of the frequencies, had the power of a sledge hammer hitting you square in the chest! The added benefits of the tweaking also came from adding the Granite Audio 555 power cord. If you want to get the full extent of what this player is capable of, I suggest you spring for this power cord. The 555 power cord makes the excellent sounding Granite 650 sound even better.
The price/performance ratio of this player is off the scale, in my opinion. Give it a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed. I believe that the Granite website states that you can try the player on a 30 money back basis.
Audio Research 100.2 Amp
Supratek Syrah Preamp
VPI mk4 TT
JMW Memorial Tonearm
Benz Glider Cartridge
Gallo Nucleus Reference Speakers
MIT speaker cable and ic's