Comparing the Grandioso stack to my reference gear proved instructive. My Goldmund electronics are slightly faster and airier, thanks to their megahertz bandwidth and the speed that comes with it. The Goldmund gear also more accurately follows the shapes of notes. By comparison, these rise and fall a bit too quickly on the Grandioso stack; this is my one real complaint. On the other hand, the Grandioso series is more neutral than my reference electronics. And in other areas, such as dynamics and resolution, the Grandioso stack is among the scant few components I’ve encountered that can go head-to-head with Goldmund gear.
Yet the biggest difference between the Grandioso stack and my reference system, which currently also includes a dCS Rossini player/DAC, has less to do with sonic checklists and more to do with musical emphasis. The Esoteric components excel at deconstructing the elements that make up the musical whole. In contrast, the reference system presents a more organic picture, but the elements comprising it are less evident. Both systems draw you in: The Esoteric does it by delineating each musical “tree” with spellbinding clarity, while the reference system’s presentation emphasizes the scope and colors of the forest.
Given these characteristics, it’s no surprise that the Grandioso stack’s presentation is more forward than that of my reference system. It’s also more forward than components I’ve heard from other Japanese manufacturers such as Technics, Luxman, and Accuphase. In this respect, the Grandioso stack differs from the more laid-back style common to other Japanese gear. Neither is “right”; it’s simply a matter of preference between front orchestra and rear orchestra seating. If you like your music up close and personal, you’ll be riveted by the Grandioso’s perspective. In a way, that sums up what the Grandioso stack delivers: consummate Japanese purity and quality, coupled with a more overtly American sonic style.
Esoteric’s answer to the question of how to achieve sonic purity, which here manifests itself as an absence of anything that would distract from immersive musical detail, was to rethink and refine every element of the audio stack. It’s no exaggeration to say that the resulting components are a design and implementation tour de force. Consequently, with a couple of provisos regarding sonic preferences, they’re well worth the attention of those fortunate enough to be able to afford them.
Specs & Pricing
Grandioso P1 Super Audio CD/CD Transport
Disc types: CD, CD-R, CD-RW, SACD
Digital outputs: ES-Link, XLR, iLink, RCA
Dimensions: 17 1/2" x 6 3/8" x 17 5/8"
Weight: 59.4 lbs.
Power supply dimensions: 17 1/2" x 5 1/4" x 17 3/4"
Power supply weight: 53 lbs.
Grandioso D1 Monoblock DAC
Outputs: XLR, RCA, Clock
Inputs: ES-LINK, XLR, RCA, TosLink, iLink, USB
Input formats: PCM up to 384kHz/48 bits, DSD
Maximum output level: 5.0Vrms
Output impedance: 100 ohms (XLR)/47 ohms (RCA)
Frequency response: 5Hz–55kHz (-3dB)
Distortion: .0007% at 1kHz
Dimensions: 17 1/2" x 6 3/8" x 17 5/8"
Weight: 53 lbs.
Grandioso C1 Linestage Preamplifier
Inputs: RCA x 2, XLR x 3
Outputs: RCA x 2, XLR x 2
THD: .0008% (RCA), .0004% (XLR)
Frequency response: 1–200kHz (-3dB)
Dimensions: 17 5/8" x 5 1/4" x 18"
Weight: 46 3/8 lbs.
Power supply dimensions: 17 5/8" x 5 1/4" x 17 7/8"
Power supply weight: 64 lbs.
Grandioso M1 Monoblock Power Amplifier
Inputs: RCA, XLR
Input impedance: 1M ohms
Rated output: 300W (8 ohms), 600W (4 ohms), 1200W (2 ohms)
Frequency response: 5Hz–100kHz (+0/-3 dB)
THD: .006% at full power
Damping factor: 1000
Dimensions: 19 3/8" x 8 3/4" x 21 1/8"
Weight: 136 lbs.
18 Park Way
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Turntable: Goldmund Studietto
Tonearm: Graham 2.2
Cartridge: Lyra Etna
Phonostage: Goldmund PH-01
CD Player/DAC/streamer: dCS Rossini
Analog preamplifier: Goldmund Mimesis 22
Power amplifier: Goldmund Mimesis 8
Speakers: Metaphor 1
Cables and power cords: Empirical Design