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B-283 Demonstration Reviews

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:11 am    Post subject: B-283 Demonstration Reviews Reply with quote

We have over the past few months been running a demonstration program with users at the CAM and Sound Thinking Forums. I have copied the reviews and comments unedited here.

Original CAM thread is here:

It was my pleasure to be the first to review this unit. I'm going RCA out of a sony 400 disk changer, and the sound is not terrible, but also it is not great.
I put the Buffer inline and let it run in for a good 60 - 100 hours of play time, and then set out to listen to a few songs.

My impressions of the buffer are that it really softens the sound. listening to tunes with it inline, I enjoyed the sound, and the music easily dissapeared. The other thing I noticed was a slightly wider soundstage, with good stereo seperation. this is probly a result of the wiring of the device, but the effect was pleasing. Physically the buffer looked pretty classy, and seemed to be solid and well constructed.

In switching back and forth and listening criticaly, my impressions of a "softer" sound were affirmed. It didn't seem to mask any notes or sounds in particular, but it was as tho you were listening thru a slight veil. Honestly, in switching back and forth I preferred the sound without the buffer inline. I think that this unit would be very suitable for someone who dislikes the "harshness" of digital sound and is looking for something more "analogue" sounding, but I am a specific fan of crisp clean digital sound.

I didn't try the buffer with any other playback devices, or between pre and amp, so cannot comment here. my goal was to hear it's effect on my 400 disk changer. As far as accesories go, I wonder if my money would be better spend on an innexpensive DAC. Simply for my system, and my specific goals and musical tastes.

Thanks again to Ian for letting me demo this unit. On to Hula it goes!

Soundemon (CAM)

just got the tube buffer today

first impressions:
build: excellent
ergonomics: very good but the power socket seems to be upside down (label for the power supply)
all wiring inside using solid cable or wire from the resistors.

overall build quality: very good
just a bit of picky comment... with stereo gears these days with bright blue lights, the tube buffer light appears very dimm, i can see the tube filament brighter than the grant fidelity name.

My aim is not to try with a high end cassette deck or turntable. Want to see how it changes the sound on a solid state amp and a tube amp setup.

1st system tried on:
Simaudio I7
Musical Fidelity 3.5
Focus Audio FS688
again using some cheap $10 RCA cables and $0.5 per foot speaker cables

using Stereophile Test CD

channel separation: very good
dynamics: appears to be slightly lower than direct CD to amplifier, using a sound db meter as measurement, i had to crank up the volume 3 notches up on the amplifier dial to get same 'volume'

will leave the tube buffer on for 24 hours and test tomorrow with system above

getting the 2nd system ready by leaving the amp and preamp on
kt88 amp
tube 6922 preamp and a passive preamp
Cambridge Audio 640C
Reference 3a Royal Virtuoso
again using some cheap $10 RCA cables and $0.5 per foot speaker cables

would love to see how it may perform with an Onkyo Integra M506 instead of the Rogue Audio above but won't get it until American Thanksgiving from my brother.

shsu (CAM)

Thanks shsu for your preview thoughts.

Are you comparing the gain to the digital outs of your CDP? The B-283 is unity gain as confirmed by many who patch it into their tape monitor loop and some who are using it in the studio. It is about 2 to 3db quiter when powered off (great fun to turn it on with music playing and hear the tubes come to life on the signal)

Having had too many pro audio and synth gear with grounded power cords I can tell you that their is no standard for which way the power plug is positioned

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First Impressions from the B-283 in the Western Zone Rotation:

I did a 48+ hour burn at work over the PA system.

The Setup:

Source: iMac Computer or Bell ExpressVu
Amp: Panasonic XR-57
Speakers: Sony APM-500

I did most of my listening via the iMac listening to MP3 that are encoded quite high. I did notice that the difference when turning the unit on and off while listening that you would lose some dB while doing this. I'm also a total newbie when it comes to Tubes cause one tube was brighter looking than the other which I wasn't sure about.

My overall impressions were that I liked the way my digital music sounded when the B-283 was on. I could listen longer with less fatigue than I would normally and it seemed to make my rather Bright sounding system less bright??? if that makes sense.

Thanks again to Grant and I hope to do business with him in the future.


Erik Jonker
Panasonic XR-57
Jamo E600
Sony SACD/DVD player
Sansui T-60 Tuner

slight coloration on female vocals with system 1 with the tube buffer, i don't know if with or without it is actually closer to the voice from the singer

the tuber buffer moved the music slightly back 'a few rows', felt more laid back. it did sound very close to the higher end sibling cd player to mine that has tubes built in but costing almost double.

with the system 1, this may be an alternative to some people who like to get a different prospective to music without adding or taking away the details of the music but yet have the perspective of the music change.
i believe this tube buffer can be a good fit for a solid state system.

other than that, i could not feel much difference.

note to next testers:
don't turn off the buffer unit and increase the amplifier volume to get the same sound level and then turn on the unit and decrease the amplifier volume. it gave me a sense that with the tube buffer, the sound coming from it is better. sometimes the louder sound may make one feel the sound is better.

shsu (CAM)

system 2:

the kt88 i have misbehaved with the passive preamp i had just obtained.
ended up using the tube buffer between the passive preamp and kt88.
the tube buffer did two jobs in this scenario....
1. help control the input resistance to the amplifier thus almost eliminated any feedback and noise
2. gave the cassette deck, tuner and the cd player fullness in the sound

initially i was only interested in testing the cd player with the tube buffer but presented with this scenario, i was able to test all equipments connected to this passive preamp.

i was surprised right away how my kt5200 tuner sounded with the tube buffer. like i said before fm wide mode had even more body in the mids, approaching music coming out of my dolby-s cassette deck.

"I have read stuff written from people more knowledgeable from me that the op-amp output stage of a typical CD player is not even capable of driving a 1 metre interconnect cable, let alone anything else. So there is a type of argument for using a buffer to provide a more substantial load-tolerant output from the CD player towards the amplifier.

with my cd player, i used the philosophy as stated above and written in this webpage

Original sound was crisp and detail from the cd player. Although i initially liked it, having the sound go through the tube buffer, it gave me a new perspective in the sound. With the tube buffer, the edges were rounded off, giving me slightly less bright sound. Again that is good for somebody who wants a more neutral tone and a less forward sound. I am one of those.

Unfortunately, i started the test a bit late and because of me, the next few people should not be penalized. I have sent the tube buffer to the next person. I wish I had more time to figure out why my tube preamp and the tube buffer did not work as well as i wish. Also would have been nice to test how my turntable which is connected to the solid state would have faired.

Although I had my doubts, I have to give credit where it is due. This product is reasonably well built. It delivered on providing clean sound, only adding what we all term 'the tube sound'. It did not tire my ears at all but gave a different perspective sonically which i welcome. It made the musical fidelity cd player sound so similar to its more expensive brother.

My only recommendations to the manufacturer are:
1. Isolating the power supply from the chassis and dampen the tubes would definitely make this tube buffer even quieter.
2. Just my opinion.... make the LED brighter for the unit to stand out
3. Giving buyers a choice of using a few different tubes. The 6J1 is ok but it should not take much to change the inside circuitry to accept other higher regarded tubes.
Having different tubes installed could make this unit a serious contender to the other more expensive units, although it is not too shabby right now!

Good job and good luck.

shsu (CAM)

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I've finally got the unit packed away and shipped to the next victim.

I did both extensive listening tests and some bench tests. Since the unit was set up in my shop system first, the bench tests were done alongside the first listening tests.

On the technical side, the B-283 is nothing more than a cathode follower buffer. The circuit comprises of a 6J1 pentode wired in triode mode. The tube is run a little on the lean side so tube life will be good, but distortion is a bit higher than quoted.
Due to the nature of the circuit, an input and an output coupling cap are used. This presented an issue which presented itself in the listening. More on that later. The quality of the caps is pretty good, but are polyester film. Not the best for signal path caps.
Construction on the whole is good. Typical of Chinese construction, when hardwiring is used. That is to say neat, but a little inconsistent. Some sloppy soldering. I would be interested in seeing what a more complicated circuit's construction is like.
A couple of people have commented the blue led. I liked it subdued, however it was hard to see in bright light.

The specs are as follows:
Frequency response -1.0db at 30hz to aprox 100Khz (limit of measurement). Distortion is quite visible above that on a scope.
Total distortion 1.0% max from 100 to 10khz
Noise is well below -60db
Gain 0.95
I could not get it to overload at my 10V rms max input.

As you can see the specs are pretty meaningless. The unit performs as promised, although it does not meet it's published specs in freq. response or distortion.

After that I hooked the B-283 into my shop system between my DVD player (modified Samsung) and custom tube preamp. This gave me the ability to compare it directly with the same player connected to my MSB DAC.

The first thing I noticed was a lack of bass. My shop speakers are very small and it was still quite noticable. Unfortunately it wasn't a tightening, but a roll off. The top end did manage to take quite a bit of the zip out of the DVD players analogue outputs though. Rendering this player reasonably listenable. In that respect the B-283 did what it was supposed to do. I did find the midrange, female vocal in particular, more rounded and a bit less sibilant. All in all not bad.
After that I decided to try it with a couple of CD players I had on hand. One, a two piece unit (Altis) comprising of a tube dac and transport, and a Krell CD player.
The Krell seemed to have very little difference. If anything a bit too laid back. I didn't like this player without the buffer, and liked it even less with it.
The Altis was a complete disaster with the buffer. The already lean bass, due to my speakers, disappeared. The mids were really laid back, and the top end was smooth, but rolled off. Without the bbuffer this DAC has a very solid foundation and a beautiful full midrange.
This is where the input caps on the buffer came into play. They are effectively in series with the DACs caps. Two caps in series are smaller than either. So that may explain the lack of bass.

I took the buffer in an hooked it into the tape loop of my main home system. This system comprises mostly of Linn equipment and JM lab Daline speakers.
Overall it was quite pleasent, adding a nice smoothness to CD's. Not particularly accurate, but pleasent and musical. The biggest complaint is soundstaging. Or rather lack of it. The image became very flat and two dimensional.
Using the DVD player that is here for movies, yielded similar results to the shop. It made the DVD listenable.

Conclusions - It doesn't work in all systems. Tube players are a definite no-no. Higher end players don't really seem to need it.
But if you have a relatively inexpensive source, or a multipurpose source such as a DVD player for music and movies, it can bring about some improvements. It can make these types of players less fatiguing.
If you're thinking of curing a problem with better interconnects this buffer may be a more cost effective solution. It certainly can take the edge off some CD or DVD players.

Dan Santoni

I just sent it to the next demo'er. I did one last listening session last night in a real setup system and not in near field like I have been doing. I've like to thank GrantFidelity for this awesome opportunity to evaluate something I truly was interested in, ie) the "tube" sound. The build quality on the unit seemed very solid. I would have liked a more prominent logo on the front but that's individualistic. I hope everyone who reads this review enjoys or takes something out of it.


At first I had trouble with a grounding problem where there was a buzz through both speakers. This was using the tube buffer straight out of my computer using a mini to RCA splitter. The sound was noticeably more diffuse after the buffer was added. Less image definition, and a sense of unforced sound. You could crank this up louder without feeling fatigued kind of a thing.

My setup in this case was: Chaintech AV710 to B-283 tube buffer to Trends Audio TA-10.1 to Dahlquist QX-5A. Cables were Belkin PCOCC interconnects and pioneer speaker wire (just dual run cheap wires).

This setup had a speaker buzz, so I proceeded a few days later to connect my LiTe Audio DAC60M into the chain as my DAC. This was connected via the TOSlink output on the Chaintech AV710 via Glass TOSlink cable. The buzz was gone. Alas I could evaluate this properly. I couldn't hear as much of a difference with the tubed DAC in the chain so I didn't evaluate much else here other than that there was no buzz and nothing really bad seemed to be happening to the sound.

Next up was the speakers in my living room.

Not Nearfield (farfield???)

Anyways, next I put the Dahlquist speakers onto speaker stands (26 inch dual pillared Skylan Stands) in my living room.

Playstation 3 -> Glass TOSlink cable -> LiTe Audio DAC-60M -> Belkin IC -> B-283 Tube Buffer -> Belkin IC -> Trends Audio TA-10.1 -> Pioneer Speaker cables -> Dahlquist QX-5A (on Skylan 26 inch speaker stands)

Unfortunately, the B-283 didn't gel well with this setup. The sound quality became something I was terribly disappointed in with my speakers. When I hear the sound coming out of my speakers, I couldn't believe that I had just sold my good speakers. The definition was gone. The highs were attenuated to not being really there, which caused the detail in the music to be muffled/unpresent. The soundstage collapsed into nothing, image shapes were no longer clearly cut and by this I mean it was "diffuse" was overly so that there didn't seem to be much imaging left.

I listened to around 5 songs that I had available on my Playstation 3 (Ayumi Hamasaki songs (j-pop)). And compared the sound of these five songs to the system without the tube buffer. I've been listening to these few songs a lot lately and that's how I normally evaluate sound systems, through the songs I have been listening to for like 30-50 times a day (more or less).

Something that I clearly listen for are how the vocals are situated in relation to the rest of the music as well as how the acoustic guitars sound. The vocals with the tube buffer sunk back into the soundstage and were no longer more forward. They also lost their leading edges on her female voice. The acoustic guitar as well as the electric guitar lost their "bite" and resonating properties.

After I took the tube buffer out of the system, I realized that my system actually sounded pretty good and that was the end of the tube buffer. I knew that I was ready to let it go to the next reviewer/demo'er without the feeling that I really wanted one in my system.


Maybe it's just a form of system "synergy" in terms of the buffer not working in my system. I think that it would possibly make a good addition into a non-tubed system and by having a tubed DAC in my chain, it ruined the added "benefits" from the tube buffer. It's too bad I didn't really notice the benefits to it but maybe that it's because of the sound signature I enjoy: Unattenuated highs, detailed, soundstaging, image outlines. All of which I noticed the tube buffer took away from.

Spyder187 (CAM)
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote: turn for a review of the Grant Fidelity B283 processor!

My findings: Works extremely well in some set-ups, and not as well in others. Let me explain.

My current system includes the following:
*NAD T743 AV Receiver
*NAD C660 CD Recorder
*BBE 362 Processor
*Wharfedale 9.5 Speakers
*Cables - Unity, Jinsanity, Audioquest.

Used in four different scenarios:

1/ Between my cdp and my receiver.
2/ Between my cdp, a processor and my receiver.
3/ In the tape loop.
4/ Used also within a friends vintage system in the tape loop.

Option #1 was truly great and the only option I will discuss at this point.

Though NAD AV receivers already have a traditional 'warm' sound, I found the tube processor to work very well in this specific combination. Through playing many different types of music, I found the tube processor truly brought out more definition and music in the mid-band notes of the music. (For the record, I won't even try to use 'audio terminology' in my descriptions as I always find they sound flowery and vague).

Oddly enough, I found myself wanting to listen to cd's within my collection that I had not spent much time listening to prior. Many of these cd's were male, female vocal, jazz, and instrumental based. I listent to a lot of Hawaiian music and found a new love for the ukelele when played through the buffer.

Rock still sounded quite good, but compex rock tracks did not fair well through the buffer. The sound was almost restrained, like the unit was trying to warm up sound that needed to stay raw and distorted. Metallica came to mind as I'm a closet Metallica freak! (but....that's for another day).

I found the soundstage fuller as I listend through this processor and when sitting with my eyes closed in my chair, found I could not quite pin-point where the speakers were located while listening to my music. When listening through my regular system, I felt the sound was more confined to an area right in front of me, versus spilling over the edges on the side (a couple of folks from another audio site will just love this statement! ). Without being able to explain this fully, the soundstage seemed shorter (from a height perspective), but definitely wider/fuller which I preferred.

This demo has lead me to want to experience new types of music, and in selling a piece of equipment this past weekend, I had a great experience while listening to the buyers demo cd (Michael Roberts - Utopia disk). I can truly say acoustic music with the demo set-up was just so much better than it was originally, and it was pretty damn good originally.

Not all music sounded better with this processor in place, but most of it sounded better to the point that I'm selling my BBE to replace with the tube buffer. In defense of the BBE, it's a great sounding piece, but definitely better suited to louder music, preferrably those looking for super tight bass and extended highs. As I approach old-fart status, I'm finding a more laid-back but musical presentation to my liking.

I enjoyed the sound offered from this little box, and am more interested in playing with tube sound than ever before.

The quality of this unit though simple, is quite impressive. It's solid, nice looking and the sonic benefits in my opinion for my specific set up, was very much to my liking.

Needless to say, I'm selling some of my equipment to move into the tube world!!

Hula Pie (CAM)

Grant Fidelity B-283 Demo Review

I'd like to thank Ian at Grant Fidelity for allow me to home demo this Tube Buffer.

My 2 channel system is all SS and after reviewing the info about the B-283 on the Grant Fidelity web site, it sounded like the B-283 was designed to work nicely with my current system. My SS equipment - Bryston 2B LP Pro, Bryston BP-4, Cambridge Audio azur 640C, also decided to test out an older Denon DCM-370 CDP. I was hoping to test the tube buffer with my DVD players but time did not permit.

Unfortunately I'm not one of these guys who knows how to conduct bench tests with various testing equipment, the only thing I rely on is my ears.

When I unpacked the B-283 I was nicely surprised at the build quality and I liked the simple looks.

I decided to start my testing by hooking up the buffer between the Cambridge C640 & Pre. I selecting one of my favorite CD's ( Dire Straits - Love Over Gold). After getting the Buffer hooked up and turned on I settled in for a good listen. By the way, being an SS guy, I did like the warm glow from the 2 little Tubes. There is definitely something really cool looking about Tube gear...... I listened carefully to Telegraph Road & then Private Investigations. My first impressions was that there was little difference but maybe a little less edge in the mid range and possibly a larger sound stage. I then decided to switch the Buffer off, listen for a while and then switch the Buffer back on mid song. Before I turned the Buffer on I really could notice that something was missing, then after switching the B-283 back on the music came to life....I did this on off switching a number of times and could not believe that my system sounded this poor without the buffer. I then realized that I had to take the Buffer out of the loop not just simply shut it off. After removing the Buffer, I was relieved to hear that my current set up was doing a nice job without the Buffer, as I've grown accustom too. After connecting and disconnecting the buffer several times and playing various CD's, I realized that for me there wasn't a real noticeable difference or significant improvement in what I was hearing. Over the next 3 days I left the B-283 hooked up in the system and just listened to various CD's.

On the last day I decided to hook the B-283 up to the Denon. I've had this Denon CDP for a few years and other then HDCD recordings, I found the Denon less then good especially with older CD's that I had purchased in the 80's. Some almost unlistenable. After hooking up the B-283 to the Denon, I started trying some of these old CD's. Well for what ever reason this combination ( B-283 & Denon CDP) made a huge improvement to the sound. In fact I couldn't believe how nice these older CD's were sounding. The sound stage was larger, that awful Digital harshness I used to get from the Denon was smoothed over and at medium volumes I could listen for long periods of time without the dreaded listening fatigue.

What I couldn't get over was the little difference I found when the Buffer was used with the Cambridge and yet the nice values the Buffer added to the sound when added to the Denon. I do believe the improvements I heard with the Denon would have kept me from getting the Cambridge CDP. I think for $200 the Tube Buffer would be a fun piece of equipment to experiment with and could help extend the life of some older CDP's and who knows what else. I'm planning on setting up a second 2 channel system in the Master Bedroom in the new year and the B-283 and the old Denon might find themselves working together again.

Thanks again Ian....That was fun!!

Cheers, Dave
2channelrules (CAM)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

a little late to the party, but i thought i should post my thoughts on this unit, originally posted on another site last November.

ok, i've had a week with the B-283 in my main rig and i've enjoyed it quite a bit.

i've had it paired with a Kenwood DV-4070 dvd player (used exclusively for cd playback) with excellent results. the Kenwood by itself sounds a bit thin overall and is lacking in the low end. in comparison, the Kenwood with the B-283 is a whole different world. the sound is rich and full, much more open, and definitely more smooth. despite the Kenwood, the low end does not suffer (which surprised me quite a bit), its taut, well defined with plenty of presence. dynamics are very good, impact and delicacy are presented equally well without one suffering at the expense of the other. sound stage is much more open and defined, which in turn improves clarity and detail. it really smooths out those digital edges that can be so troublesome with cd's and the overall presentation carries just a bit of tube lushness that i find very appealing.

i let my daughter hear it in her bedroom system today (Yamaha CR-2020, budget Toshiba dvd player, AR91's) and she wants to keep it. as soon as she heard it she sat upright and simply said "wow!". the improvement in this systems was even more dramatic than what i heard with the Kenwood player in my main rig.

i can point to every aspect of the sound and note a marked improvement with the B-283. for anyone on a budget looking for a way to improve their sound, this component will do it. at this price point it also deserves serious consideration as an alternative to a standalone DAC. for me the B-283 is a winner, i'll take one please.

Teledyne AR9, Yamaha B-2x, Yamaha M-2, Hafler DH-110, EAD DSP 1000, Wadia WT-3200.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice to see you here dingus Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:25 am    Post subject: B-283 subwoofer bas enhancer Reply with quote

Just another use for the little bug. Using a Pioneer VSX56 TXI elite receiver and a DBX 120X low frequency enhancer and DBX MPA 150 amp. for subwoofer out,I use the B-283 between the 120X and amp..What a difference in richness of bass notes that were a little harsh without.I find it gives a little more gain to the output which is fine, being a bass player.
I enjoy the replys to my questions and comments from Grant Fidelity.Also respect the info gained from people like me on the member list!
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject: Re: B-283 subwoofer bas enhancer Reply with quote

bryon52 wrote:
Just another use for the little bug. Using a Pioneer VSX56 TXI elite receiver and a DBX 120X low frequency enhancer and DBX MPA 150 amp. for subwoofer out,I use the B-283 between the 120X and amp..What a difference in richness of bass notes that were a little harsh without.I find it gives a little more gain to the output which is fine, being a bass player.

Nice to see you back Bryon, one of our very first customers Smile
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