Graham Slee Product Reviews

Graham Slee Projects, Jazz Club Revelation, Era Gold Reflex, Era Gold V, Elevator EXP, Solo Monitor Class,Jazz Club, Gram Amp 2 SE, Fanfare

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Graham Slee

Era Gold MKV, Elevator EXP, Gram Amp 2 SE, Solo, Jazz Club, etc. ...we have a phono preamp stage or headphone amplifier to suit -  Click here

 

This webpage is for archival purposes only.

 

We no longer carry Graham Slee products.

 

GSP Audio / Graham Slee Projects

Product Reviews       

<< Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

In our own experience, Graham Slee's designs are indeed special. 

 

We have compared the previous flagship Era Gold MK V phono stage + Elevator EXP step-up MC head amplifier with some well-known phono stages, the who's who in modern stages:

 

Naim Prefix + Supercap, Linn Linto, FM Acoustics 222, FM Acoustics 111, Jeff Rowland Cadence, Audio Research PH3SE, Audio Research Reference, BAT VKP10 and VKP10-SE, Mark Levinson, Krell, Acoustech PH1, DACT CT-100, EAR 834P, Plinius M14, Plinius Jarrah, Tom Evans Groove, Pathos, Herron phono stage, 47 Labs, Lehmann, etc. and more recently Pass Labs XONO, Whest, Dynavector P-75, Basis Phonomena, and the new Audio Research PH5. 

 

Against such an array of brands, the relatively inexpensive wide bandwidth Graham Slee phono stages easily held their own and we can confidently affirm that these are definitely true reference equipment at their price and way beyond.

 

Based on the Graham Slee quality on offer, these will certainly serve users well as they upgrade their turntables, tonearms, or cartridges right up to the best out there, and will not be bottlenecks to serious upgrades. 

 

Graham  Slee phono stages serve music well, particularly in the areas of pace, rhythm, speed, transparency, tonal balance, timbre - and all this without losing the emotional factor, the 4th dimension

In fact, Listening to some of the others was like putting a thick veil on the music, and one even prompted us to check the turntable speed as the music suddenly seemed sluggish and slow, but the culprit turned out to be the other phono stage. 

 

Some could not even express the articulateness and timbral character of the acoustic bass or drums well, a serious misrepresentation of key instruments that is revealed when compared to what the Graham Slee stages produce.  These failings already reduces one's connection to the musical message the artists want to convey.

 

The Graham Slee phono stages may not be spectacular at first listen.  But as one lives with them longer, one realizes that the real strength is in simply reproducing and revealing the music as it was recorded.

 

In developing his products, Graham Slee has designed his products to be without a consistent sonic signature as much as possible:

 

"High Fidelity is about free-musical expression - giving you the true character of each musical work. Whether magnificent or mundane, it is not our place to judge." - Graham Slee

 

As such, the Graham Slee phono stages will thrive in a decent system, and their strengths revealed further as the system evolves in the future to an outstanding one.

 

Table Of Contents:

 

MM - Moving Magnet; HOMC - High-Output Moving Coil; LOMC - Low-Output Moving Coil

Phono Stages:

Headphone Amplifiers:

 

Era Gold MK V + Elevator EXP LOMC Phono Stage Reviews

All we can say is congratulations to electronics engineer Graham Slee for thinking out of the box by turning his back on traditional phono stage design, and in bringing us these wide bandwidth excellent products.  His achievements have been recognized in the market by both the press and consumers alike.

 

"Reviewed earlier this year by Andrew Harrison of HiFi News, we know it is now the reference phono stage for two of their staff writers. Hearing really is believing for these little silver beauties." - Hi-Audio, UK distributor

 

HiFi-News

Awards 2005 Issue

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

Hi-Fi News Awards 2005

 

 

Best Phono Stage

 

for the Era Gold MK V and Elevator EXP

 

 

The Graham Slee Era Gold MKV + Elevator EXP phono stage garners the top award for phono stages in Hi-Fi News magazine's 2005 Awards.

 

This is the 2nd time in a row.

"Still the combination to beat below •1000."

 

Stereo Times

Oct 2005

Paul Szabady

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

"This intense level of involvement in the music and its meaning is what I search for and demand in audio components: the ERA V Gold is at the state-of-the-art in phono reproduction in allowing this fundamental demand to be met. It is spell-binding."

"The music-making abilities of the Elevator EXP with moving coil cartridges was no less revelatory: I have never heard moving coils sound as good, and given the contemporary move in moving coil design toward more natural tonality, the Elevator opens up a genre of design for investigation that I have consistently found in the past to be both sonically and musically unconvincing.

The Era MKV Gold and the Elevator EXP are definite contenders for reference-quality performance."

 

Read more from the full review ...

 

Heathrow UK HiFi Show

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

Heathrow 2005 Award

The Era Gold V phono stage and the Elevator EXP head amplifier picked up this prestigious award at the show. Another 1st place!

 

What Hi*Fi?

Sound And Vision

Awards 2004 issue

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

Graham Slee What HiFi 2004 Award Winner

 

What Hi*Fi?

Sound And Vision

 

What HiFi Graham Slee Award Winner

 

"This two-box combination is one of the best phono stages we've ever heard - highly recommended."

 

Hi-Fi News

Awards 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

 

 

HiFi News Awards 2004 for Graham Slee

Graham Slee - Hi-Fi News Award 2004

Hi-Fi News

Awards 2004

 

Best Phono Stage

 

for the Era Gold MK V and Elevator EXP

 

From one of the UK's most respected and longest established Hi-Fi magazines.

 

"We feel that these units really do help you hear more of what's on the record.  Designer Graham Slee started by throwing away the conventional wisdom about how phono pre-amplifiers should be designed - especially ideas of curtailing frequency response at both ends of the spectrum.  Instead, in the interests of fast impulse response and accurate phono response, these GSP devices have a very wide bandwidth indeed."

 

Hi-Fi News

Andrew Harrison

Nov 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

 

*Excerpts*

Verdict:

"Two-box moving-coil phono stage for the enthusiast, one box for m-m, the other as an electronic step-up. Sound is stunningly fast and open, with vinyl noises largely ignored thanks to wideband circuitry."

 

"... I was looking forward to trying one of these phono amps that have acquired something of a cult following. Like many bits of British hi-fi before them, they have a 'music first' school of design ..."

 

"... addictive, valve like quality ... confirmed once again as something special ..."

 

"High frequency details were this combination's strength, being intricately rendered with uncommon ephemerality - that is, quick to appear and then decay, but not without a tenacious command of reverb tails as room acoustic details faded to zero. Strummed acoustic guitar could show the thwack and zing of transient impact, while ride and hi-hat cymbals insisted that when it comes to jazz and rock rhythm 'n' timing, we should be paying attention to more than just the bass lines."

 

"Well-recorded rock drums and their display in believable reality was certainly one aspect to benefit from the use of this phono amp combo. On another level, the quietness from the GSP effect was alarming ... Clicks and pops were relegated to inconsequence when they appeared."

 

Please email us for the full review.

 

Consumer Email

Reprinted with Permission

July 2004

 

SKR

email available on request

 

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

"I am right now in New Delhi, India. And I am listening to analogue music here with your Era Gold and Elevator express and I just cannot describe how good the sound is. I can literally feel the vocal chords of the singer. Also, the dynamics, imaging, soundstaging and clarity of sound is unbelievable.  It is a big big sound and it keeps me awake late in the nights. Most important the sound is very musical.

My system here is much better than the Bangkok systems as I have a much bigger room here. The system comprises of Avantgarde Duo speakers, Nagra VPA monoblocks tube amps with 845 tubes, Nagra PLL pre-amp, Capitol Aero CD player, Clearaudio turntable which I got from Bangkok this time with SME V tone arm and Lyra Helicon cartridge. The cabling is Cardas Golden Reference. I have set Elevator at 47K Ohms

Frankly I have never heard such good sound before. Surprisingly I have not heard my CD player since I came here. The sound in the beginning was quite good but not as good as today , mainly because the Elevator Express was new and needed time to burn-in. Right now, it is also not fully broken-in as I have been here for about 17 days only and I have been traveling as well. So I expect a little bit of further improvement.

Thanks once again for such a wonderful product. I tried to use my DACT phono stage in between but DACT is nowhere near.  Maybe I will need one more Elevator Express (for my other Era Gold) so that I don't have to carry when I go back to Bangkok.


Thanks once again for the best improvement in my music system in the last 20 years as an audiophile."

 

Geoff Husband

TNT Audio

Reviewed: July, 2002

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

"OK I'm going to nail my colours to the mast... (and I'm going to do the same with an arm next review...) Lucio has banned us from saying "best I've ever heard" "never heard anything as good" etc as it begs the question "compared to what?" and is often meaningless hype. But here I've listed the runners and riders, added the caveat "in my system and room" and finally "to my ears", so here goes. The Era Gold + Elevator EXP is the best phono combination for MC's I've ever heard - period...  So I suppose now I have to justify it..."

 

Phono stages used/compared:

Korato Reference valve stage (EUR 1500+)

Roksan Reference (EUR 1500+)

Black Cube SE (EUR 800+)

Trichord Dino (EUR 500+)

Phono stage of Audion valve pre-amp (EUR 2500)

Dynavector headamp (compared to Elevator EXP)

Read full review of the Era Gold V with the Elevator EXP

 

User Comment

Singapore

 

Vinyl Asylum

Era Gold MK V

Elevator EXP

 

phono stage /

electronic step-up

"To make things short, it is enough to say that if you like me thinks that the Linn Linto is good and value for money, you will be in for a big shock. And they are both similarly priced here in Singapore. And for those who owns the Lehman it is also time to upgrade - my Linto was used to replace my Lehman in the first place! I have already put up my Linto for sale! Period"

 

Read the review at the Vinyl Asylum review section

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 

Era Gold MK V MM/HOMC Phono Stage Reviews

 

Hi-Fi World

Awards 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

 

phono stage / electronic step-up

Hi-Fi World

 

Hi-Fi World

Awards 2004

Runner-Up

 

Well, can't win them all , but the award is definitely appreciated.  Anyway, the price difference between the Whest and the Era Gold MKV is •790 (approx. SGD 2528 difference in price).

 

At any rate, both were reviewed by different writers, and in different circumstances.  They have not yet heard the Era Gold MKV + Elevator EXP for playing low-output MC cartridges, like the competitor.  That would have been more interesting, preferably by the same writer.

 

Enjoy the Music.com

Phil Gold

Nov 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

 

phono stage

 

Phono Stage Shootout!

Rega Fono MC
Clearaudio Micro Basic
Pro-Ject Phono Box SE
Pro-Ject Tube Box

 

"Now to bring a joker into the pack, how does the Tube Box, our clear winner, compare to my reference phono stage, the Graham Slee Era Gold V? Is it worth paying close to twice the price for this high output only unit?"

 

"The Era Gold is simply out of this world."

 

"In this company, it seems to me you get what you pay for. The most expensive unit, the Pro-Ject Tube Box, performed best with both low and high output cartridges. It was no match for the more expensive and high output only reference Graham Slee Era Gold V, but I was well pleased with it, and it should prove inexpensive to re-tube using the ubiquitous 12AX7."

 

Read the full review.

 

Audio Asylum

RM, Australia

Sept 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

 

phono stage

"My greatest compliment to the quality and excellence of this phono stage was that it made my original Quad II's sound really dynamic, alive and well, powerful, and with great tuneful bass. What more can one want? IMHO you would be mad to spend more on a phono stage, no matter what your expectations and standards."

 

Read the full review.

 

HiFi World

Stewart Wennen

Aug 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

phono stage

 

*Excerpts*

Verdict: 5 Globes     (Music Maker MK2 cartridge used)

"Simply open and three dimensional sound allied to excellent detailing makes this one of the very best at its price."

"... I placed a copy of Beethoven's piano symphony No. 3 on the turntable, and was immediately disarmed by its detail retrieval.  I could instantly tell the piano was obviously not a Bosendorfer, so I checked the sleeve to find that it was a Yamaha - an impressive feat for any phono stage to perform."

 

" ... provided an enormous stereo image with what seemed unlimited stage depth.  Bass was extremely strong and full, without ever sounding overblown."

 

"If a relaxed, yet engagingly rhythmic presentation is what you seek, with smoothness and dimensionality - then look no further."

 

"The Era Gold V is a product that neither diminishes nor exaggerates the performance; rather, it displays the music even handedly, yet with great gusto.  Heartily recommended."

 

For the full review, email us.

 

Stereophile

Apr 2004

 

Era Gold MK V

phono stage

The Era Gold is now a Stereophile Class A Recommended Component - the cheapest in Class A $$$

"Its very plain looks had nothing to do with its performance, said MF: "It was amazingly dynamic, quiet, full-bodied, harmonically complete, supple, sensuous, and spectacular.  it had near full dynamic expression at both ends of the scale, and absolutely astonishing bass performance.  It made music sound almost as real as the really expensive stuff does, and it carried a 1000-lb tune with ease. "

 

What Hi-Fi?

Feb 2004

5-Star Test Winner

 

Era Gold MK V

phono stage

"... its sound has wings"

 

"This is something of a mixed group. The disappointments are Audio Analogue's Aria and Clearaudio's Basic Symmetry. The Aria has all the right ingredients: the firm has an enviable reputation for the quality of its phono stages, and build is simply beautiful - yet it doesn't impress.

Clearaudio's Basic Symmetry is good in certain areas, but hasn't the all-round talent to worry the best at the price. That's a shame because it's built to almost obsessive standards. GSP Audio could learn a lot from the Clearaudio when it comes to cosmetics - the Era Gold is ordinary to look at - however, sonic performance comes first and that's one area where the GSP Audio doesn't need lessons.
It's moving magnet only, but with such cartridges it delivers a killer performance that no price-comparable rival can match. That's why it comes our winner."

 

Stereophile

Michael Fremer - Analog Corner

Jan. 2004

 

 

Era Gold MK V

phono stage

"I recommend the GSP Audio Era Gold MK.V as enthusiastically, if not more so, as I've recommended any product I've reviewed and recommended in all the years I've been doing this. ..."

 

"Instead of dropping $1500 on a new cartridge to use with your less-than-outstanding phono stage, spend your $1500 on a Sumiko Blackbird and a Graham Slee GSP Audio Era Gold MK.V, and you could live happily ever after in analog land.  I think I could, and I've been playing with ridiculously expensive stuff for years."

 

Click Me! for the full review.

 

HiFi+

May - June 2003

 

Era Gold MK IV

Phono Stage

"The bass response is excellent and is easily the best of the MM bunch, with a tactile and forceful drum representation which really sounds like a stick hitting a tight membrane."

 

"The GSP Audio Era Gold is beyond a shadow of a doubt the best stage here for MM, almost making MC cartridges (at least low output ones!) seem unnecessary with its neutral yet dynamic sound."

 

Read full review of the Era Gold MK IV

 

 

Graham Slee Comments:

"And thanks to Hi-Fi Plus and reviewer Jason Hector who reviewed the Mk4 Era Gold.  Because of the sheer volume of reviews this magazine has to get through, they were unable to review the latest and much improved MKV version. The MKV has improved lower midrange performance giving extra richness and tonal cohesiveness. It also has much greater treble control. Overall, it lacks the grain and spit which so often spoils the pleasure of listening to vinyl. It's a question of balance and GSP Audio has listened to its customers and critics to bring you the best in vinyl listening."

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 

Jazz Club + Elevator EXP LOMC Phono Stage Reviews

 

Caroline Osborn

Gramophone, March 2003

 

Jazz Club + Elevator EXP

"The LPs, via the Jazz Club, were the clear winner, bringing a tonal depth and clarity to the piece that belied the age of the recording, and proving particularly impressive with vocal timbres ... This is a very fine phono stage indeed."

Read full review of Jazz Club with Elevator EXP phono stage.

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 

Jazz Club Adjustable EQ MM/HOMC Phono Stage Reviews

 

Tony Bolton

Hi-Fi News

May 2006

 

Jazz Club

Phono Stage

"...be prepared to question the concept of progress!"

 

"I enjoyed the air and space around the images, not to mention their three-dimensionality, and the colours and textures of sounds. I was also impressed by the speed and agility of the music. Timing had a greater sense of precision than either my faithful EAR 834P or the Michell Delphini; it wasn't rushed, but had a vibrancy and energy that made its pace seem more natural"

Tony Bolton in Hi-Fi News, June 2006

 

Michael Fremer

Stereophile

June 2002

 

Jazz Club

Phono Stage

Stereophile Recommended Component - "Mikey loved it!"

 

Read full review of Jazz Club phono stage

 

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 

Gram Amp 2 SE MM/HOMC Phono Stage Reviews

 

Michael Fremer

Stereophile

June 2002

 

Gram Amp 2 SE

Phono Stage

"...they•ll be amazed by its sound...the Gram delivered genuine solidity in the mid-band and mid-bass. It was quiet, and free from the thinness, edge, and grain you usually get at this price..."

 

"...I wouldn't spend the difference between the Gram and the Dino if I were going to use it solely for MM amplification... I'd be paying for stages I wouldn't be using, and I wouldn't enjoy the sound over extended listening even with the Dino+ power supply option..."


* The Trichord Dino is approx EUR 500 (approx. SGD 880)

 

Steve Davey

TNT Audio

June 2002

 

Gram Amp 2 SE

Phono Stage

"...the music the Gram Amp 2 SE produced was very well tonally balanced. It was easy to listen to but also imparted excitement without edginess. Amazingly, when partnered with quite expensive front-ends and 'speakers, the Gram SE was not left wanting, it just played highly enjoyable music."

 

Paul Seydor

Absolute Analog

The Absolute Sound

Feb / Mar 2002

 

Gram Amp 2 SE

Phono Stage

"...all the earmarks of a giant killer...the more you listen to this thing on its own, the more you•ll discover that you can play it for hours without fatigue...the presentation had a rare top to bottom cohesiveness, with a tonal balance unusually rich, lush, and, well, beautiful...It•s love at first sound between the Gram Amp and vocalists, while violins are marvelously silken..."

 

Neil Walker

Enjoy The Music.com

Issue 0402

 

Gram Amp 2 SE

Phono Stage

"...a startling little machine. In the price versus quality sweepstakes, it is a winner in every way that counts: musicality, definition, preservation of instrumental and human voice timbre, speed, fullness of sound and, finally, price..."

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 

Solo Monitor Class Headphone Amplifier

 

Enjoy The Music.com

Best of 2005 Awards

Amplification

 

Graham Slee

Solo MC

headphone amplifier

 

 

 

 

Following the earlier review in Jan 2005, the Solo MC headphone amplifier gets an award from Enjoy The Music.com.

 

Read more ...

 

Graham Slee Solo MC award

Click on picture for a larger view

 

Enjoy The Music.com

Jan 2005

 

Graham Slee

Solo MC

headphone amplifier

 

*Excerpts*

"The strengths of the Solo are in the extra high frequency extension, a superb transient response and an unsurpassed dynamic range. Percussion, flutes and bells all have an extra sparkle that breathes life in to the music. The wide dynamic range and transient response can make some recordings uncomfortable, for no flaws will remain unhidden under this spotlight. The soundstage is wide, but there is little evidence of the hole-in-the-middle syndrome that headphone listening can sometimes provide."

 

Read more ...

What Hi-Fi?

Oct 2004

 

Graham Slee

Solo headphone amplifier

 

*Excerpts*

For:

A sound that brims with refinement, dynamics and insight; great timing.

 

Against:

Needs a pretty weighty source and headphones to perform its best.

 

Verdict:

Five Stars Award for Graham Slee

If you are serious about headphones go and have a listen to the Solo - and be prepared to buy it there and then

 

"Up until now Graham Slee Projects (GSP Audio) has concentrated on phono stages, and a good job the company has done, too.  It's sub-•100 offerings soundly thrash most of the competition, while its pricier models such as the •400 Era Gold are talented enough to worry rivals at double the money.   These are high standards, and the Solo isn't about to let the side down."

 

"... it will communicate exactly what the artist intended - the music.  That's why this little silver box is so special: it digs up plenty of detail and combines it into a cohesive whole, so the artist's performance and message take priority1.  We ended up listening to complete discs when the first half of a track would have done for testing purposes."

 

"An example ? Tracy Chapman sounds awfully world-weary on Over You from her Let It Rain set, which is nothing abnormal from her, but the Solo also manages to pick out a little edge of hopefulness in her voice - something most other kit can't do.   That subtlety is enough to change the track's message."

 

For the full review, email us.

 

1Webmaster's Note: This is where the Era Gold MKV (or with the Elevator EXP) phono stages are known to excel at as well.  No spectacular artificial aerobics to impress, but rather conveys with high fidelity what  the musician intended.

 

Rock Grotto

a website run by one of the most trusted and prolific contributors in the  Head-Fi.org forum.

 

Graham Slee Solo

headphone amplifier

"The "Energy" the "speed" the "attack" and the sheer "musicality" brings the goose pimples up on the back of my neck on certain tracks and that's quite an achievement. Graham took constructive criticism on board and has addressed not only the issues regarding bass, he's totally transformed this amp into a truly musical wonder. This amp Rocks."

"It's a sonic diamond."

 

Click Me! for the full review.

 

TNT Audio

Sept. 2003

 

 

Graham Slee Solo MKII

Headphone Amplifier

"As my music memory has it, comparing the Solo to the Headroom, I'd say the Solo Mark III is probably the more musical of the two amps. That in itself is pretty surprising to me. Here we have a competing design that is less than • of the price of what many consider the do all - end all of headphone amps..."

 

"So, if you're in the market for a great sounding headphone amp and don't want to drop the kilo-bucks needed for "the other guys" amp, I'd seriously consider the Graham Slee's Solo. After listening to both, I'm not sure I'd the go extra grand (or so) for the "other" amp. That's not a bash against the competition because it's a great sounding amp too. It's just simple economics."

 

Read the full review.

  Back To Table Of Contents           << Back To Main Graham Slee page

 

 
 

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