I just got one of the refurb Peachtree Grands about a week ago, so just getting used to it. I'm a long-time lurker, but first time poster, wanted to chime in because I was in your shoes recently and there isn't that much out there about the GI...a few good reviews, but not a ton of user comments. So I thought I'd join and contribute.
I bought the GI to pair with a set of B&W PM1 monitors. I first paired the PM1 with a Marantz PM8004, and that was a poor marriage. At anything above 12 on the dial it seemed like the sound compressed and got very unpleasant. It's hard to explain, except to say that loud music passages didn't play loud - they played as if someone briefly turned the volume down, then back up. And the music didn't stay defined and distinct - it just sounded like a mess. My guess is that the PM8004's 70wpc weren't enough for the PM1, as they dip to 5.1 ohms and have a sensitivity measurement of 84dB.
I just recently picked up a pre-owned Audio Research VSi55, which sounds fantastic with the PM1. But that was earmarked for another listening room, with a set of Proacs, so I still needed an amp for the PM1 after I sold the Marantz. I mention all this so you understand my perspective and recent equipment pairings, so you know where I'm coming from.
While listening to the Marantz, and even the ARC, I kept wondering "what would the PM1 sound like if I fed them a ton of clean power". I looked at pre-owned Bel Canto S300iu, W4S integrateds, and almost pulled the trigger on the Peachtree Novapre + 220 combo. But seeing that Peachtree paired the Grand with B&W 802D for show demos sort of kept me thinking that if they felt it was good enough for the 802D, it would surely answer any questions I had about powering the PM1. So I ordered one.
I don't think it's appropriate to give a review of the sound, because the way it sounds with my speakers in my room with my carpet and furniture and paintings and my music really has no bearing on how it will sound in your room with your speakers etc. etc. But here are some thoughts after 1 week:
- Build quality is superb, far exceeded my expectations. It's GORGEOUS to touch and look at. I read about the "half-inch thick steel faceplate" but didn't give it much though until I saw it in person. It really is half an inch thick, and the whole unit is built well and feels great. I'm not rich, so when I spend some money I want to feel like I'm getting something of substance and quality, and the GI is impressive and so nice to look at.
- My fiance says she could hear a difference with the tubes on vs. SS, I struggled to hear a difference, but it's possible I should have let it break in longer than 70 or so hours. Either way, I picked up a set of Cifte 1962 12AU7 tubes, and they make more of a difference (to my ears) than the original tubes, and they do change the sound - on recordings that are a little too edgy, turning on the tubes adds some warmth and a bit of depth to the sound. Best way to describe it is to say that it sounds like going from a nightclub to a chamber hall - the music sounds like it's coming from a larger space. I don't use the tubes with everything, but they help on lots of older recordings that need some taming.
- Changing the tubes was easy - just removed some hex screws on top and lifted the top lid, which is another chance to admire the build quality. The top lid is solid steel, with a large rubber pad underneath for damping. I've owned some "cheap" feeling stuff in my life - this feels the opposite of cheap.
- As far as sound goes, I can now turn up the PM1 very loud and the sound stays clear and defined no matter how much pain I want to subject my ears to. The real difference though is the bass response - going from the Marantz to the ARC was surprising, as I didn't know the PM1 could produce that much bass from such a small cabinet. Well, going from the ARC to the Peachtree is even more dramatic - I can't believe how much bass can come out of a little speaker. When I first got the PM1 I had some regret that I should have gotten floor standers, and the Marantz didn't help. That's no longer a concern. With the GI, the PM1 sound MUCH bigger than their size, shockingly so. Is that because of the power in the Peachtree? Or the quality of the DAC? I don't know. But the marriage seems to work - they play clean, they play loud, they sound sweet, and they are imaging beautifully.
- Finally, I read a lot of comments about class D amps being overly cold, or sterile, or ice-picky, or a bunch of terms that seemed scary. Again, I can't say how the Peachtree will sound in your room with your speakers, but in my room with my B&W PM1 the sound is warm, and sweet, and easy on the ears, and I enjoy it. So it looks good, it feels good when playing with the buttons and stuff, and good music seems to come out of it. That's the happy ending I was aiming for. It isn't inexpensive, at least by my standards, but I think trying to cut corners with the amp source for the PM1 was a mistake, and I needed to correct it, and for me personally I'd rather spend a little extra and not have to think about it anymore, rather than save a little and wonder why the sound isn't what I thought it should be.
Lastly, I read a lot of reviews on the PM1, both good and bad. Lots of comments about "can't play loud", "no bass", "sound small", "harsh top end", etc. Now that I've had my little journey from the Marantz to the Peachtree, I have to wonder how many of these people heard the PM1 hooked up to the wrong amp. If you heard the PM1 connected to the Marantz, you'd never buy them. But if B&W demo'ed the PM1 with the Peachtree Grand (maybe they do in some shops?), I don't think people would hesitate to pull out their credit cards. People told me, and maybe I didn't get it, but it really is about pairing the right speakers with the right amp/source - synergy matters. Hope all this rambling helps.