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Particularly with single-ended valve amps it's well known how the choice of driver tube has a very significant impact. Whilst sex appeal and undivided attention are say on a 300B, a 6SN7 driver will make that direct-heated triode sound very different than a 5687, EL34, C3m pentode wired as triode or a direct-heated high-gain 20A. Lumping all 300B SETs together as though shared output glass predicated anything is foolish though common. The same has long since been established for ICEpower® too. Bel Canto Design, Wyred4Sound and April Music/Eximus for just three have shown how customized driver boards affect the performance of the Bang & Olufsen modules. Peachtree is understandably tight-lipped about theirs but the next page has more details.

The Grand Integrated's shared dimensions with the Grand Pre are possible because the 250ASX2 boards are no larger than 21 x 8 x 4cm ( 8.3 x 3.1 x 1.6"). They neatly occupy the space the preamp so thoughtfully left empty [right].

B&O. "Our ICEpower® supply section includes a key innovation of new zero-voltage/zero-current-switching SMPS topology with fully integrated adaptive supply pump cancellation. The result is significantly improved quality of the power supply as well as virtual elimination of the well-known power supply pumping phenomenon and the need for large secondary buffering capacitors. The ASX2 Series employs the third generation of ICEpower’s proprietary HCOM modulator topology, which in combination with the MECCi (multi-variable enhanced cascade control) feedback architecture enhances critical performance parameters."

Peachtree. "Another significant breakthrough with the Grand Pre and Integrated for us was the decision not to use a typical analog volume pot. Both machines use a VCA voltage-controlled amplifier gain control*1 that's conceptually related to PS Audio's Gaincell but implemented in far simpler fashion to maintain signal purity. The motorized pot is merely used to send a reference voltage to the VCA which then adjusts the current in the preamp stage rather than have the audio signal pass through the pot like it does in most other products. This gives us a wider dynamic range, excellent channel matching and little to no coloration to the audio. Channel-to-channel tracking is better than 1/300th of a dB! We couldn’t find an analog or digital volume control at any price that would match this performance. As a result you’ll notice better microdynamics. And because the VCA makes the unit so phase coherent, sound projects well beyond the speaker boundaries."   

*1 This link gives some data on an IC-based VCA from THAT Corp.

The back panel sports the master mains aka reset should the remote be displaced during mute. The frontal power switch is for standby. There's an international 115/230 voltage selector and i/o triggers. There are six digital inputs—BNC, 2 x coax, 2 x Toslink, USB—2 x line inputs (one configurable for HT bypass) and 3 outputs (1 fixed, 2 variable, one of the latter configurable as high-passed). All digital inputs are 24/192 ready. The XMOS*2-based USB input requires a small driver for PC but not Mac. That Windows firmware is installed via the provided link. The reconstruction filter can be set to fast (better measuring) or slow (usually preferred sonically).

*2 Peachtree Audio originally had specified the Tenor TE8802L which supported all sampling rates from 44.1kHz - 192KHz as well but required drivers for both Windows and Mac and was very overdue delivering stable 64-bit Windows 7 firmware. This prompted a running design change to the well-proven super stable XMOS solution which is also found in machines from Ayre to Eximus to PS Audio. 

Samuel Jackson staring at the Grand Integrated's ass through that black eye patch of his would put it plain. "Is there anything you won't do for me, sugar?"

This unit redefines being all things to all people. It's only the cultivated disease of the high-end which believes that implies a tart because merely specialized components aka separates are any good. Can't something be a truly specialized all'rounder? GI Peachy would salute quite snappily. "Yessir!"

(To see the entire back panel, click here.)

Can we handle the truth? Now that the machine got inadvertently christened GI Peachy, colonel Nathan R. Jessep was just around the corner. But the question is relevant. Will high-enders be prepared to grant this integrated at least the potential to be as good as it claims to be? It's gutsy that, whilst they have separates, this team decided on a product hierarchy where a do-everything integrated sits at the very top. It flies in the face of hifi conventions but lives the Apple credo of doing more with less. And that's certainly a timely proposition. Which is cue for finally getting under the sheets.