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Model #860 Amp Review
By Bob Porto

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MODEL #860 MONOBLOCK AMP.
GRANITE AUDIO - ROCK SOLID MUSIC SYSTEMS:

By:  Bob Porto     zenithguy3@yahoo.com


This is a review of the Granite Audio Model 860 Power Amp.

It took me several months to save up for the amps.  But, I finally saved enough money and got a bargain on one of Granite Audio's promotional ads.  They asked if I would write a review and then left it up to me.

The other equipment in my system is:
Speakers - ProAc 3.8
Preamplifier - Cary SLP98
Cables - Kimber

I don't know anything about writing reviews.  I just know how much I like these amps.  I liked the sound of them at CES and they sound as good in my home with my components.  My only problem is the other Granite Audio components sound better to me more of the time than the Kimber, ProAc, and Cary.  These other brands are great to say the least.  But, they lack the synergy that the Granite Audio System has.  All the components sound good some of the time.  But, the Granite Audio System sounded good all the time and it sounded GREAT much of the time.  I believe the synergy of the system helped it adapt to, and perform more kinds of program material with quite stunning sound reproduction.  I listened to all sorts of music at their CES exhibit and it all sounded very live and dynamic.  Even the crappy recordings were full of life and emotion.  I found myself wanting to listen to everything for extended listening sessions.  I don't have to hunt for something "good" to listen to anymore.  I can enjoy all my music now.  And I can be thoroughly moved to tears by the awesome sound of my great audiophile quality CDs.

The 860 uses KT-88 power tubes in a push-pull arrangement and can be operated in a pentode or triode situation.  The triode setting gives more air, dynamics, and a better soundstage than the pentode setting, but at one half the power output.  The amp gives 60 watts in pentode and a strong 30 watts in triode.  I say it's a strong 30 watts because it drives the speakers so well and at high listening levels.  I was measuring 96 decibels and it sounded superb.

The amp is completely enclosed and isolated with the half inch thick granite that covers everything except the back which is open.  I auditioned this amp with and without the granite box.  The granite definitely does its job.  I didn't think power amps were sensitive to microphonic vibrations, but they are.  The Granite Audio 860 uses 6SN7 driver tubes, as does my Cary.  I like the open sound of the 6SN7 and it's not at all microphonic, unless you get a defective one.  However, things were cleaner sounding and the sound stage was fuller and more detailed with the granite enclosure in place.  I don't know what's in this stuff and the Granite Audio guys won't say anything more than "It's an acrylic based artificial granite,"  but, it works!

I first heard these awesome amps at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  I might not have paid much attention to the Granite Audio room except their poster outside their exhibit room caught my attention.  It showed a whole system in a unique granite material.  I don't know any other companies that are doing systems or granite.  The whole concept was so new I had to go in and see what they were doing.

I was impressed by their casual personal approach to me and to specialty audio.  Those guys do not dish out any hype.  I felt comfortable so I stayed for a demo in the back room.  Wow!  Jim, the long-haired guy with the boots played some really interesting demo tunes.  He played some of the standard audiophile type recordings, but he also played music that he liked personally.  He played stuff like Blood Sweat & Tears, Dire Straights, and the sound track from the movie Braveheart.  The battle drums on Braveheart were awesome!  The drums sounded so deep and dynamic that I could feel the fear that the warriors must have felt when they heard them coming at them in the battles.

Jim's demonstration was important to me because I don't just play audiophile recordings all the time.  There is a ton of music that I love that is recorded in, um, non-audiophile quality.  When I spend that much money for stereo equipment, I want to know what all my music will sound like; not just some of it.

I would give these amps a strong 5 star rating, even at full list price. 

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