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Before moving to the listening section, a few more points of practical information regarding the GR360. The binding posts are Eichmann CablePods, which allow for easy connection of spades or banana plugs (bare wire is not recommended by Genesis). The use of bananas may require to remove the little plastic plugs atop the posts. Those posts are the easiest to tighten by hand I have encountered so far on an amplifier and the use of a wrench is clearly not recommended as it would risk causing damage to the posts for no real benefit.


Genesis also advises in no ambiguous terms and large, bold red letters that you do not short the terminals together and do not ground the loudspeaker terminals. Unlike most other Class D amplifiers, the speaker output terminals of the GR amp do not 'float' at a significant voltage above ground potential - which makes the GR amp usable with all loudspeakers, including those with built-in powered subwoofers and electrostatic designs. However, this does not mean that one can ground the negative terminal of the speaker outputs. Do this at your own peril and expense.


Finally all Genesis reference amplifiers are fully balanced differential amplifiers (as mentioned before, a version accepting single-ended connections is under development) and hence, a true-balanced source is desirable for top performance.

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If you do not have a balanced preamplifier, Genesis recommends using a single-ended to balanced converter such as the FM Acoustics FM 214 between your single-ended preamplifier and the GR amp. The GR amp uses the standard configuration for the XLR input of pin 2 hot. The use of inexpensive single-ended to balanced converters that simply short pin 3 to ground is not recommended.


But moving now to what matters most, let's talk about music. Since I do not own a balanced preamplifier, I did all the listening driving the GR360 directly from the variable output of the Esoteric P05/D05 (and for short episodes from the variable output of my Accuphase DP55) which is probably responsible in no small part for some of my findings - but more on this further. All balanced connections were left to the good care of the Zu Varial interconnects and since the GR360 came with an IsoTek power cable, I used it for this review instead of my customary Zu Mother.


Right out of the box the GR360 sounded sharp and in control, a true representative of the high-power solid-state breed, completely devoid of distortion that I could hear. Although those qualities never went away, the true surprise came over the first two to three weeks of operation as the amplifier developed a fully credible tonal range and fleshed out in the best sense of the expression while at the same time spreading music far beyond the boundaries determined by either the speakers or the room.


But what certainly remained after hundred of hours of listening was a deep sense of ease without any stress; a sense of relaxed power that gets completely out of the way of the music, serving it without any concession but without adding or subtracting anything. As I first introduced the GR360 in my system, I noticed differences against the amplifiers in house but nothing dramatic - a little more refinement in the tonal rendition of a double bass here, a sweeter flute there, deeper bass and more hall ambiance in a third one but no big wow, no big "in your face obnoxious demand about this detail in the background that you didn't even know existed". No such thing. Just an amplifier getting out of the way in every way possible to let more of the music flow. More veracity, more ambiance, more space.


The GR360 though was a sneaky little piece of kit and despite its absolute reluctance at being defined or noticed, it slowly grows on you, allowing you to relax more deeply to better penetrate the recorded event. What I have noticed over time is that if your subconscious doesn't expect the music to turn hard or shrill at any time, then you progressively let your defenses down. Your shoulders relax and you allow yourself to be washed over by the music, trusting your system to never bore into your ear drums with a dentist drill. Only in those conditions can you get fully immersed into the intent of the musicians - and the GR360 allows it without restrictions.


It is not a very frequent quality among hifi kit and not an easy one to describe yet the tonally rich and completely undistorted sound of the GR360 progressively wears down your mental defenses and gets you closer to the music. Yet unless you pay attention and listen analytically, you may never notice this change consciously. Instead, your spouse may notice that you are now spending far more time on the couch listening to music. Consider yourselves warned.


Today I am still at a loss to accurately describe what the GR360 sounds like. I am actually not even sure it has a sound as every time I changed a component in my system, I was exposed to the sonic signature of the component I just introduced more intensively than I had experienced before. If anything, the GR360 reveals the true nature of other components and if I can't describe exactly what it does beyond enabling a musical connection more powerful than what I am used to, I can certainly describe other components and amplifiers relative to the GR360. And in almost all cases, it will highlight what those amplifiers don't do as well. The MA2275 can't soundstage as broadly and deeply or recreate the same bass depth or even sound as effortless. The A5 integrated is far less tonally diverse, accurate or transparent and its top end is no as sweet and refined. I know this is not enough to describe what the GR360 reallydoess but it certainly starts defining a frame that I will progressively fill out as we go through a number of discs and musical styles.


If you are visually inclined as I am and like to see and feel the music in front and around you, then the GR360 is an instant winner. Its ability to soundstage broadly and deeply is second to none (or at least none I have heard) but it goes beyond the best push-pull tube electronics in a couple of subtle ways. First and foremost, the GR360 reinforces the holographic feeling that I described in the review of the Esoteric P05/D05; the impression that you are not standing in front of carton cut-outs but individuals of flesh and blood in three dimensions. To that it adds a meticulous placement of the musicians on stage. There is no more ambiguity on whether the harpsichord sits in front of or behind the string section. To finish off this spatial reconstruction of the event, the GR360 adds deep, alive, detailed and enveloping bass which contributes almost magically to recreating the ambiance and dimensions of the recording venue. If your speakers can paint this picture, the GR360 will tell them how to.


The GR360 does not have the deepest and tightest bass I've ever heard. That privilege belongs to the Musical Fidelity KW monos. But the GR360 strikes back with far more spacious and engulfing bass. Actually, I really had no idea that the Nomad Audio RPDs had it in them to produce this level of quality bass. None of the amplifiers I have driven them with so far had been able to create such a credible foundation, be it be double bass, organ or the deepest harmonics of a piano. If at times the echoes of percussion in a church seem to come from behind you, it's just an illusion but a wonderfully recreated illusion.

One of the most challenging sets of pieces for a system to reproduce accurately are the Concerti con Molti Strumenti by Vivaldi. Whether you enjoy the version by Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante [Virgin 7243 5 45527 2 4] or the far more complex instrumental colors of Jean-Christophe Spinosi and the Ensemble Matheus [Verany PV796023], your system will be challenged with extension from the deep rumble of the organ to the most metallic overtones of the mandolin. Add to this the necessity to reproduce all the tonal differences between oboe, clarinet and chalumeau; or violin, viola and cello; or mandolin and theorbos; or again between flute and recorder; and you will get an idea of the complexity of the task.


To put it simply, most systems can't. Mine can't. At least my usual Musical Fidelity A5 CD player, McIntosh MA2275 and RPD speakers can't. But the P05/D05, GR360 and RPDs pulled it together with a level of credibility that exceeded that of more costly systems I have been exposed to in the past. What these discs revealed, in addition to the depth of the 3-string bass or of the portable organ, was all the tonal range those miniature orchestras are capable of. "Con Molti Strumenti" (with multiple instruments) only takes its full meaning if one can hear the various instruments Vivaldi included in the score (or sometimes just hinted at, leaving the ultimate choice of instruments to the musicians). The GR360 allowed this tonal diversity to come through, from the aerial recorder to the metallic twang of the harpsichord.


And each instrument found its rightful place on stage; even more remarkably, its rightful size as well. How many systems have you heard that could pinpoint the location of each player with GPS accuracy yet sized a harpsichord like a Steinway? I have. Many. And if this type of imaging can be attractive early on, it quickly spoils the fun when one realizes that most instruments end up looking the same. No such risk with the GR360. If the source and record provide the right information, the GR360 will amplify it -- to bombastic levels if your heart and ears desire -- without changing any of the musical attributes. Utter truthfulness.