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Jesus Christ, I opened the discussion tab hoping to find some objective discussions and I'm greeted with this wank-fest.
I wanted to know how this sounds 3x better then the m9xx. Instead I'm finding the specs copied over repeatedly with a "IT'S BETTER BECAUSE BECAUSE" tacked on, a competing product dismissed even though it has MUCH better specs, and the price being defended by.... a design award?
Is this a bloody joke? I'm trying to decide on a two thousand after taxes and shipping purchase and the discussion is "it's better because I own it and it won a design award".
Can you idiots figure your shit out and have a civil discourse.
Appears that the idiot would be whomever that believes it...civil discourse would be in the eye or ears of the affected...not the enlightened or amused by the silliness of it all. Really?
Ultimately it comes down to the sound and whatever other hardware features you might need or prefer. If it sounds good enough to you and you feel it's WORTH your money you'll be happy buying it. The trick then is hearing it beforehand or being someway accommodated an in-home listen in your system with the ability to return if you're not happy. If that can't be done via an internet retail merchant, then that's when hopefully either local merchants, a friend that has the unit or reviews can come in handy to help you with making your decision. (Of course this is where it seems you are in terms of garnering info.)
I'm a firm believer of ultimately letting your ears be the judge and then letting your budget issue the final verdict or 'penalty' in buying higher priced audio components like in this situation. The first time I went to buy a higher quality amp I got hit with a legitimate bait and switch but that was only because of my own curiosity, not from any push from the salesman. I went to a local shop in NYC where a Carver amp was advertised as being on sale at $600. I went with the full intention of buying that amp. I listened to it and was OK with the sound. For comparison I asked if I could hear an Audio Research amp that was being discontinued and on sale at that time for $1800.
After hearing the Audio Research amp and going from the OK sound of the Carver to being enthralled by the Audio Research I decided I'd go for the Audio Research amp. It hurt my wallet but I was in love with the sound. On top of this the Audio Research amp had a longer warranty than the Carver (which I've never had to use) and that amp has lasted me for over 20 years with great sound and no problems what so ever. I've since gone on to buy better sounding amps for my general listening tastes but I've retained the Audio Research amp for my practice room stereo as I'm a professional musician. (Ironically enough I realized later on that this same amp was used on several recording sessions I was on.)
I think with the more reputable Audiophile and Pro Audio companies you get these kind of good results. I don't know much about Grace Design sonically as I've never heard their products but they do strike me as being similar to Audio Research in that they take great care in their parts selection and manufacturing process as well building their products in the USA with a strong warranty. I'd also be willing to wager that if you ever were to need service it would be a better experience than a cheaper brand built by a larger more general corporation.