So I went out to UPS to pick these up today. I was having them delivered to my parent's house since my Mom usually works from home. Unfortunately, this is the one week in months that she had to travel, so I had to make other arrangements. I've been anticipating their arrival for so long that I just couldn't let them sit there any longer than necessary. I popped them open at UPS for a quick overview and everything looked OK. I was excited that absolutely all shipping costs were covered by Grant Fidelity. I expected to at least pay duty/broker fees, but to my surprise nothing! This makes the purchase that much more of a bargain in my eyes as I'd expect shipping three heavy packages across the borders would easily run 2 bills. That's 10% of the current sales price. When I got home, I took 'em out and gave them a better one-over. As far as packaging goes, everything was great to me except for the tube packing. I'm sure it was fine (obviously it was since they all work), but there was no padding between them and the side of the inside box. The amps were double boxed and the tubes had good padding in their own boxes, but still surprised me a bit. The amps/preamp themselves seemed to be packed well enough.
This is the first time I've seen 845 tubes. Holy **** is the first thing that comes to mind. These things are massive! They make el34's look like preamp tubes and even dwarf the 300b tube, a rather large tube itself. The light that tube puts off is incredible. It's so much that I'm going to have to find a solution to prevent the light from interfering with the projector's performance.
Right now I'm on a break from studying and powered down the unit for the first time. First impressions have me liking this upgrade quite a bit. The units look better (and bigger) than they do in pictures and seem to have solid build quality. They are definitely hefty units, weighing in at about 50 lbs. per amp. I'm still running all stock tubes (including preamp tubes) just to get a feel for the unit first. I can tell it needs to burn in but there are already significant improvements in soundstage width and imaging, exactly what I was hoping for. It seems the soundstage is between the speakers, where with the Jolida it was in front of them. I think this will take a bit of getting used to since I've been listening to that forward sound for over a year now.
I don't really know how to describe the tonal differences at this point. I do know that the bass is much more refined than before. It still gives the Usher's a workout, but they have much more finesse. It feels like the bass is creeping towards you at times with Depeche Mode's new album, something I didn't experience with the Jolida, and something I've never experienced before on any track on any system. It's actually a very weird sensation. There is some air to the music that wasn't there before, but it still feels like the amp is telling me to give it more time. It definitely shows glimpses of what I hope to be the final product.
Pics will follow as I get better ones available. Expect to see some this weekend after the test is done.