Analog Corner #83 Graham Slee Projects Jazz Club

Sidebar 2: Graham Slee Projects Jazz Club: A Special Case

Own many pre-RIAA LPs? Interested in exploring Zanden-type EQ options but don't have $15,000? Want to play 78s properly and perhaps dub them to CD? For a very reasonable $639, Graham Slee Projects can build you a Jazz Club, based on Slee's more expensive Era Gold MM/RIAA phono stage. The Jazz Club offers outstanding sound as a standard RIAA phono section, plus you get the added EQ flexibility. It adds two switches to the basic Gram Amp design, which, depending on how they're set, allow you to select 15 different LP playback curves, including RIAA (with 50kHz cutterhead knee), NAB, ffrr, and EMI, plus several curves for proper 78rpm playback. Slee acknowledges that 78rpm fanatics will want some options he doesn't provide, such as vertical and lateral mono (some 78s were cut vertically), but his goal was to offer a basic multi-EQ phono section to keep the cost and complexity down.

The Adcom Crosscoil XC/LT and the Rega Exact cartridges sounded rock-solid, full-bodied, coherent, and authoritative through the Jazz Club, which was reminiscent of the more expensive Black Cube/PWX combo in MM mode but for more than $200 less. The Crosscoil was particularly well served by the Club. I'd forgotten what a ballsy, together cartridge the Crosscoil is, especially for rock. Four Men With Beards' 180gm mono reissue of The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads (4M105) positively rocked through this combo, and had me appreciating the big, chunky (some would say "old-fashioned"), powerful sound of a cartridge that knows how to lay out the voltage. That inspired me to audition Mushroom's recent Compared to What 12" remix EP on green vinyl (Weed) on the Rega. I lost MC detail and delicacy, but I was socked in the gut in exchange, and it felt great!

The most fun I had with the Jazz Club was with 78s. I'd been meaning to transfer an album of 12 Ella Fitzgerald 78s I'd bought at a garage sale many years before. Now I had the Jazz Club and the Alesis Masterlink 24/96 CD recorder on hand, so I inserted a Shure VN78E 78rpm conical stylus into a Shure V-15 Type III I had lying around and installed it in a Graham armtube. I set the Jazz Club for "US Decca," and, after a good vacuum cleaning, played "Lullaby of Birdland" on the Simon Yorke, which has a 78rpm pulley. I couldn't believe the presence of Ella's voice, or the lack of noise from the old shellac. Whether you just want a dedicated, high-quality MM phono section, or play or digitize 78s, or just want to hear what various LP EQ curves sound like, the Graham Slee Projects Jazz Club is well worth considering. Mikey loved it!—Michael Fremer

Tom L's picture

...of Who Came First was breathtaking when I first bought it in 1972. The acoustic guitars and the vocals were so clear and lifelike, with a nice sense of space. Quite amazing that it was recorded in Pete's home studio!

As for the "Dual" turntables...ouch!

audiof001's picture

I see the Gram Amp 2 SE for $410... not $215... must have gone up.

Andrew L's picture

Hi, you mentioned Richard Foster as contributor to the latest Mikrokosmos edition but perhaps have not heard that he recently passed away.