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Graham Slee Solo SRG (with PSU1) Impressions

post #1 of 118
Thread Starter 
Just got my Graham Slee Solo SRG (I'll just call it the "SRG") with PSU1 this afternoon. Bought it as a bundle with the Alessandro MS-Pro. Here's some quick impressions (especially relevant to those who want to know how the SRG sounds with Grados/Alessandros). Hope to slowly add to this until it becomes a full review, so please forgive me if it is little scanty at the moment...

Well, I lost no time in setting up the SRG the minute I got home. Naturally, the RS1 had the honor of going first.

Straight out of the box, the SRG was already impressive. Bearing in mind that my unit was literally and figuratively cold (the shop was air-conditioned), I was not expecting the aural treat that would greet me the moment Skid Row's "In A Darkened Room" came on. The sheer musicality of this thing will floor you. What really defines the SRG is it's PRaT. This amp is fast, dynamic and adds a real snap to my music. And this is right out of the box. I ended up playing my rock CDs the whole afternoon, grateful that the bad weather forced me to stay home instead of bringing my kids to the zoo

After 4 hours of Skid Row, Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Poison, I needed a break from all that head bangin' and popped in Shelby Lynne's "Just A Little Lovin'" CD into my Marantz SA8003 to see if the SRG could do female vocals as well as rock...

Could it ever!!! The SRG brought out Shelby Lynne's vocals beautifully. Her voice was warm, smooth and liquid. Not a hint of edginess or graininess. The SRG was like my LD MKIV SE in this respect, only more forward in its vocal presentation. Post-dinner listening consisted of Diana Krall's "The Girl In The Other Room" album, Lydia Gray's "In My Eyes"... and more rock. I didn't stop listening to the SRG since I came back from the shop.

Notables:-

Bass was tight, and controlled - certainly tighter than my MKIV SE. The RS1's bass can get unruly if the amp can't control it, but the SRG took it by the scruff and told it who's boss. The SRG brought out the thump from the bass drums, and bass guitars sounded full without the bloat.

Mids - simply sensational. Smooth, very forward and clear. On the warm side of neutral. Not a hint of graininess/harshness. Female vocals never sounded so good.

Treble - you're in for a treat if you love treble. Cymbals had the sparkle and decay which I never got from my Heed CanAmp and MKIV SE. Yet, I felt no fatigue from playing my RS1 through the SRG for over 10 hours today.

Noise floor - completely silent, even with volume turned-up to the max with the CDP on (but not playing music of course).

Downsides - Well, the CanAmp has more weight to the bass and the LD MKIV SE has slightly warmer vocals, but this is still early days yet for the SRG. I can't imagine how much better it'll sound once it's fully burned-in.

Construction

The Solo SRG really is a very well constructed unit. The brushed aluminum casing is classy and sturdy, while the brushed aluminum knob is solid and turns smoothly. Volume control is accurate with both channels fully balanced even at barely audible volumes. The GS Novo uses an Alps pot, so I assume the higher range Solo uses one too. Noise floor is absolutely silent with the volume cranked all the way up. All in all, it's a handsome and well made little beast, except for one small niggle I have - the phone jack isn't mounted onto the face-plate. Consequently, the jack moves a bit with phones plugged-in, especially with the enormous Furutech FP704 jack of the Black Dragon cable. Just feels a little flimsy in this area.

It's now past 2 in the morning, Diana Krall is crooning "Cry Me A River" and I've got to wake up in 5 hours for a golf game...

Time for more rock! Cheers!

Kevin

And, if you haven't guessed by now, the SRG pairs very, very well with my RS1 and MS-Pro...


Boxes are no-frills plain white - looks kind of like Grado's... Could this hint at the impending synergy between the SRG and my beloved RS1?


Front panel switch functions as a source/tape switch - also allows you to monitor 2 different sources. Central "mute" position allows you to turn-off the signal to the headphones without having to disturb the volume control setting.


Green LED means it's the latest Studio Reference Green (SRG)


No power switch to be found anywhere. Seems like it was designed to be left permanently on and ready to rock.


It has 2 stereo inputs


It's sold in my neck of the woods with the PSU1 power supply as standard.


PSU1 almost as big as the SRG, and just as heavy.


My new toys. Wallet now in ICU.

Here are some useful links for those of you who want to find out more about the Solo SRG:-

GSPAudio Support Community: Graham Slee Headphone Amps

The Graham Slee Solo is here...

*Updates*

Input selector was a god-send for burn-in. Allowed me to connect my DAB radio to one input for continuous play and my CDP to the other. Whenever I got home, I could simply flick the switch and listen to my favourite tracks while switching it back to the radio for burning-in when I was going out. No mucking around with interconnects...

After 100 hours

Graham Slee himself recommends that the PSU1 be left on for at least 72 hours before critical listening. Well, after 100 hours of burn-in, it's time to see if any changes were immediately apparent. I listened to my favourite tracks again with my RS1 and, yes, changes were afoot. Treble was smoother and mids slightly more forward. Soundstage was also slightly wider. Differences were subtle but present. No noticeable change to the bass. My little SRG was coming of age nicely...

After 200 hours

Wow! Soundstage was certainly widening. Bass was becoming tighter and the thump from bass drums was more, erm... thumpy. Still no bass monster, however, although the bass was certainly adequate to anchor the music nicely without being overwhelming.

After 500 hours

My little SRG should be fully burned-in by now. I'll just complete my overall impressions on the SRG as well as how it pairs with the headphones in my stable. This isn't meant to be a headphone review, so I won't go into a detailed comparison of the different phones.

Associated Equipment:-

Marantz SA8003 SACD player
Van Den Hul "The Name RCA" interconnects
PS Audio Power Sonic Isolation Transformer

I used the following CDs to represent a wide genre of music:-

The Peter Malick Group featuring Nora Jones - New York City (SACD) (jazz/female vocals)
Diana Krall - The Girl In The Other Room (SACD) (jazz/female vocals)
Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream (CD) (electronica)
Skid Row - Slave to the Grind (CD) (metal/rock)
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (XRCD) (rock)
The Very Best of Mantovani (XRCD) (classical pop)

After being fully burned-in, the SRG's soundstage is superb, easily the best I've heard to-date - it surpasses the CanAmp in this area, even in depth i.e. 3-Dimensionality. This is very apparent when you play Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing", Mantovani's "Charmaine" and Diana Krall's "Temptation". You become fully immersed in the music, with the different instruments and vocals enveloping you at different distances - this is the "layers" experience that the CanAmp was so adept at producing.

Treble was noticeably smoother. It's a little hard to describe, but you get the cymbal sparkle, treble definition and air without the fatigue. Even mainstream rock recordings (which can be ear-piercingly bright) sound good.

I couldn't discern any changes to the mid-range. Out of the box, the SRG had a mid-range to die for. Forward, on the warm side of neutral and with very good definition. Vocals are clear and articulate. I'm just glad it didn't get worse with the burning-in...

Bass remained as tight and punchy as it was at the 200 hour mark. Nice deep thump with no bloat or boom. Bass had definition, but less mid-bass weight than I would have liked. Certainly less mid-bass emphasis than either the CanAmp or LD MK IV SE. Bass-heads should look elsewhere.

Detail pickup has become absolutely clinical. You will hear everything in the recording, including stuff you weren't supposed to hear. You will hear the editing cues, low-level "ticks" (as though there was a surge in current during the recording), intakes of breath... EVERYTHING. Just 2 examples:-
a) a "tick" sound at the 20 second mark of Peter Malick/Nora Jones' "Heart of Mine"
b) a sharp intake of breath at the 14 second mark of Empire of the Sun's "Walking on a Dream" just before the vocals kick in.

PRAT, musicality etc - no change. As breathtakingly musical as it sounded right out of the box.

Grado RS1

I personally love the RS1 with the SRG - the SRG's tight, controlled bass is perfectly suited to the RS1. The SRG's smooth treble rendition also tames the RS1's potentially sharp highs. Female vocals with the combo is magical and very intimate to my ears (like the singer's sitting on your lap... ) - but possibly too forward and in-your-face for some.


Grado RS1 #6969

MS-Pro

The slightly more neutral and balanced character of the MS-Pro (as opposed to the RS), plus slightly more soundstage, makes this the perfect combo for someone looking for a one-stop solution IMO i.e. 1 amp with 1 phone. You can enjoy all genres of music, safe in the knowledge that the SRG/MS-Pro combo does every thing very very well. You may feel a little less involved during classical pieces (due to the narrower soundstage as compared with the K701/702), for everything else, this is it.


Alessandro MS-Pro

K702 with Black Dragon cable

The SRG/K702 combo is the classical king. Unbelievable soundstage and as close to live music as you can get. For rock music though, the SRG/K702 just lacks the mid-range weight which I love so dearly. You can HEAR the bass.... your earlobes just can't FEEL it. For heavy electronica music, this combo is also the one I turn to.


AKG K702 with Black Dragon cable

DT990

The bass king in my stable. But, like all things, too much of a good thing is... erm, not good. That said, the SRG, with its very tight bass rendition, controls the DT990 the best of the amps I've owned i.e. CanAmp, LD MK IV SE. The very forward mids of the SRG also complement the polite mids of the DT990. If you like the Beyerdynamic signature, you won't go wrong with the SRG.


Beyerdynamic DT990 (2005) 250 ohms

Conclusion

Apart from the Beyers, all the phones I've owned are low-impedence (less than 62 ohms). No, it's not a conscious effort on my part, but it would seem that I just like the sound signature of low-impedence cans. Maybe they're faster and more PRaTty... No matter, the SRG drives all my low-impedence phones exceedingly well. In fact, I've found the amp to drive my beloved RS1 and MS-Pro.

The only downside of the SRG, for me, is the bass rendition - I'd just like a little more of it. But fans of tight, accurate bass will love the SRG.

Overall though, the SRG will be with me for a very long time. And if Graham Slee continues to refine the Solo, there'll always be a place for a Solo in my rig.

Cheers!

Kevin
post #2 of 118
Looks very nice! Curious to see internal shots.
post #3 of 118
How is the Solo with your K702?
post #4 of 118
Very nice, it's definitely a looker. I grabbed a pair of RS1s on ebay the other day in a moment of madness (still awaiting delivery on them), and this is one of the amps I plan on trying out when I get them. Thankfully there's a place in Birmingham that stock these and some other amps, so I look forward to giving it a listen myself.

Looking forward to your updates.
post #5 of 118
Thanks for the impressions, it really covers all bases for me:

Grados/Alessandros/low imp cans - check
Rock music - check
Nice photos - check

Btw you don't happen to come from Singapore do you? Think we're the only country in SE Asia that wears that "little red dot" tag like a badge of honor

If so, I'm guessing you picked it up from Jaben?
post #6 of 118
have you heard a naim headline? it would make for an interesting comparison.
post #7 of 118
Which have the largest and/or most "3d soundstage". I have a pair of 701s, and pro 900 and 650/JVC HX1000 on it´s way. I know the Solo is supposed to do well with the 650 and sounds like it does well with some low impedance headphones as well .

Anyway overall is it a good complement to the Canamp or do they replace eachother?
post #8 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by kds5000 View Post
Just got my Graham Slee Solo SRG (I'll just call it the "SRG") with PSU1 this afternoon. Bought it as a bundle with the Alessandro MS-Pro. Here's some quick impressions (especially relevant to those who want to know how the SRG sounds with Grados/Alessandros). Hope to slowly add to this until it becomes a full review, so please forgive me if it is little scanty at the moment...

Well, I lost no time in setting up the SRG the minute I got home. Naturally, the RS1 had the honor of going first.

Straight out of the box, the SRG was already impressive. Bearing in mind that my unit was literally and figuratively cold (the shop was air-conditioned), I was not expecting the aural treat that would greet me the moment Skid Row's "In A Darkened Room" came on. The sheer musicality of this thing will floor you. What really defines the SRG is it's PRaT. This amp is fast, dynamic and adds a real snap to my music. And this is right out of the box. I ended up playing my rock CDs the whole afternoon, grateful that the bad weather forced me to stay home instead of bringing my kids to the zoo

After 4 hours of Skid Row, Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Poison, I needed a break from all that head bangin' and popped in Shelby Lynne's "Just A Little Lovin'" CD into my Marantz SA8003 to see if the SRG could do female vocals as well as rock...

Could it ever!!! The SRG brought out Shelby Lynne's vocals beautifully. Her voice was warm, smooth and liquid. Not a hint of edginess or graininess. The SRG was like my LD MKIV SE in this respect, only more forward in its vocal presentation. Post-dinner listening consisted of Diana Krall's "The Girl In The Other Room" album, Lydia Gray's "In My Eyes"... and more rock. I didn't stop listening to the SRG since I came back from the shop.

Notables:-

Bass was tight, and controlled - certainly tighter than my MKIV SE. The RS1's bass can get unruly if the amp can't control it, but the SRG took it by the scruff and told it who's boss. The SRG brought out the thump from the bass drums, and bass guitars sounded full without the bloat.

Treble - you're in for a treat if you love treble. Cymbals had the sparkle and decay which I never got from my Heed CanAmp and MKIV SE. Yet, I felt no fatigue from playing my RS1 through the SRG for over 10 hours today.

Noise floor - completely silent, even with volume turned-up to the max with the CDP on (but not playing music of course).

Downsides - Well, the CanAmp has more weight to the bass and the LD MKIV SE has slightly warmer vocals, but this is still early days yet for the SRG. I can't imagine how much better it'll sound once it's fully burned-in.

It's now past 2 in the morning, Diana Krall is crooning "Cry Me A River" and I've got to wake up in 5 hours for a golf game...

Time for more rock! Cheers!

Kevin

And, if you haven't guessed by now, the SRG pairs very, very well with my RS1 and MS-Pro...


Boxes are no-frills plain white - looks kind of like Grado's... Could this hint at the impending synergy between the SRG and my beloved RS1?


Front panel switch functions as a source/tape switch - also allows you to monitor 2 different sources. Central "mute" position allows you to turn-off the signal to the headphones without having to disturb the volume control setting.


No power switch to be found anywhere. Seems like it was designed to be left permanently on and ready to rock.


It has 2 stereo inputs


It's sold in my neck of the woods with the PSU1 power supply as standard.


PSU1 almost as big as the SRG, and just as heavy.


My new toys. Wallet now in ICU.

Here are some useful links for those of you who want to find out more about the Solo SRG:-

GSPAudio Support Community: Graham Slee Headphone Amps

The Graham Slee Solo is here...

Nice impressions. I have the 2007 Solo with Cyrus CD8se as a source and I am very pleased with it. I don`t think there is much difference between 2007 and SRG versions apart from the fact that the SRG is supposed to drive low impedence headphones better, although my Solo drives my K701 extremely well
Nice to here your thoughts on the comparison with your Little Dot. I am thinking of picking up a cheap tube amp, having never heard one, out of curiosity. I listen to rock/metal and I am dubious about a tube amp with those genres. Was looking at the LD Mk4 or Mk3. Please let us know how you get on with the solo and any more thoughts on the comparison with the LD would be appreciated. If the SRG is anything like previous Solo`s expect a big improvement over the next 2 weeks and do not swith it off
post #9 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhinosaur View Post
Very nice, it's definitely a looker. I grabbed a pair of RS1s on ebay the other day in a moment of madness (still awaiting delivery on them), and this is one of the amps I plan on trying out when I get them. Thankfully there's a place in Birmingham that stock these and some other amps, so I look forward to giving it a listen myself.

Looking forward to your updates.
If you are serious and struggle to Audition one, give me a shout. I'm in Stourport WORCS you could bring your phones & check mine out.
post #10 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by kds5000 View Post
No power switch to be found anywhere. Seems like it was designed to be left permanently on and ready to rock.
Exactly! Leaving it permanently on ensures best performance: and you might have noticed that the SRG does NOT get hot even when playing, so it's actually safe to leave it on.

But give it time and report back in two weeks: mine improved considerably after that time... you will find that if it sounds good now, it will sound great then!
post #11 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpudHarris View Post
If you are serious and struggle to Audition one, give me a shout. I'm in Stourport WORCS you could bring your phones & check mine out.
That's great, thanks for the offer. I'll have to get in touch with the place (Audio Affair for any other locals that might be interested), and see if they'll let me have a listen.
post #12 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ztsen View Post
How is the Solo with your K702?
The SRG makes the K702 even faster and more transparent. The head-stage that the K702 is famous for is even more cavernous. All this is not necessarily a good thing, depending on your tastes.

Think of it as K702 on steroids. Which means that anyone who didn't like the K702 before will almost certainly not like the K702 driven by the SRG.

The K702 with the SRG is the most analytical combination I've heard to-date - brutally unforgiving with bad recordings. "Bright" recordings (Def Leppard's "Hysteria" and "Adrenalize" come to mind) will make your ears bleed.

Well-recorded female vocals played through this combo, however, will keep you up all night...
post #13 of 118
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by losconquistador View Post
Thanks for the impressions, it really covers all bases for me:

Grados/Alessandros/low imp cans - check
Rock music - check
Nice photos - check

Btw you don't happen to come from Singapore do you? Think we're the only country in SE Asia that wears that "little red dot" tag like a badge of honor

If so, I'm guessing you picked it up from Jaben?
Thanks for your compliment!

And yes to all your queries. Takes a Singaporean to recognize the "little red dot" tag
post #14 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by kds5000 View Post
The SRG makes the K702 even faster and more transparent. The head-stage that the K702 is famous for is even more cavernous. All this is not necessarily a good thing, depending on your tastes.

Think of it as K702 on steroids. Which means that anyone who didn't like the K702 before will almost certainly not like the K702 driven by the SRG.

The K702 with the SRG is the most analytical combination I've heard to-date - brutally unforgiving with bad recordings. "Bright" recordings (Def Leppard's "Hysteria" and "Adrenalize" come to mind) will make your ears bleed.

Well-recorded female vocals played through this combo, however, will keep you up all night...
Don´t forget the soundstage comparison with the Canamp . It sounds like it have less bass emphasis then the Heed am I right?
post #15 of 118
i'm certainly interested in following up on this thread - I have the older Solo (intro) - and am thinking (for now) to upgrade to the newer if a Raptor never comes my way.
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