Fezz Audio Gratia MM/MC Legacy phono preamplifier

For all vinyl lovers and others !
For as long as I’ve been writing in this magazine, say more than 25 years, I don’t remember testing a device from Poland. It is indeed from this country that this Gratia phono preamplifier from Fezz Audio comes to us. I still had a nice trip around the world, from Canada to the United States, France, England, Italy of course, but also Greece and many Asian countries. What a beautiful world tour… in audio! But never from Poland. Why? I can’t really explain it, except perhaps to see a similarity with what is happening in the automotive sector where I see, in Canada, the absence of brands like Peugeot, Renault or Citroën. And nobody will contest the qualities of these three brands as well as those of audio products coming from Eastern Europe, such as this phono preamplifier that we are going to examine together now.

It is called Gratia perhaps for graceful, because it is an adjective that suits it well. And discreet too, aesthetically speaking. Note that there is not much to present on a phono preamp, no knob to adjust while listening, no cooling vent to integrate in the look of the unit… so it must be simple and efficient!

So we will have a Fezz logo that will light up when turned on, with an On / Off switch placed on the right side of the device. The cabinet is elegant, black in the case of the Gratia I was entrusted with, also available in different colors – happy colors. Thank you Fezz Audio! The manufacturer extends its range to devices based on tube or transistor technologies, in preamplifiers or power amplifiers, but it is the tube units that are the most important in its catalog.

The section dedicated to phonos includes 3 devices that meet different needs and different customers too. For a first approach, the audiophile will be able to go to the Gaia Mini for the moving magnet (MM) cartridges; then to the Gaia EVO and, finally, to today’s competitor, the Gratia which is at the top of the current range. Considering the very affordable prices of all Fezz Audio devices, it is rather the percentage in use that should guide future customers. If vinyl represents only 10 % of their usage, they can go for the Gaia Mini or the Gaia EVO, but given the low price of the Gratia, nothing will prevent them from starting immediately with it!

Techniques and connections
The back of the unit is where it all happens, the main thing being there. Fezz Audio offers us 2 pairs of inputs, one for moving magnet (MM) cartridges and the other for moving coil (MC) cartridges. A third pair is devoted to the output and I must say that all are of very high quality.

As for the settings, you can choose the position according to your choice (MM or MC), establish whether or not you can do without the subsonic filter for your turntable, choose the gain corresponding to your cartridge and finally listen in mono, if your black record collection includes 78 rpm or 33 rpm mono records.

Even if this doesn’t spoil the contact, I would have preferred an easier link with the ground connection rather than the one proposed. Anyhow, once our ground wire is hooked to the Gratia, we don’t think about it anymore.

An IEC plug with incorporated fuse and an insulation provided by 4 conical rubber feet complete my external description.

It is by removing the lower cover – 14 screws hold it in place – that we access the inner parts of the graceful Gratia to discover a particularly careful work and high-quality components. From the stabilized power supply using an encapsulated toroidal transformer also made in Poland, to the Burson Audio Supreme V5i operational amplifier circuit, everything shows the care that will lead to a good and evident sound result. The empty space in the cabinet is cushioned by a dense, compact foam mat glued to the metal. The remaining space, unoccupied, and the upper part of the hood, once the Gratia is put back up on its rubber pads, are also provided with the compact foam. This attention to vibration suppression is quite commendable, because a phono circuit, more than any other audio device, is certainly more sensitive to electromechanical disturbances. Even if – as I said at the beginning of this article – I have never reviewed an audio device made in Poland, I don’t have a negative image concerning products coming from Eastern Europe, because I have often perceived a careful work and a certain artisanal touch where one feels a human hand to have signed a device. And this Gratia from Fezz Audio is a beautiful example.

I used my usual turntable with its usual cartridge. Tests were performed with interconnects identical in length and technology – same shielded cables and same origins for the RCA connectors. The length of the connections coming from the turntable and the one coming from the Fezz Audio Gratia phono preamp to my preamp are the same. My own cartridge is a moving magnet and I didn’t want to test the preamp in moving coil mode, as I didn’t want to do a cartridge comparison, but rather describe to you what this unit does with my own playback equipment. In terms of the settings of the Fezz Audio Gratia, I chose not to use the subsonic filter.

Let us first pay homage to the country of origin of this Gratia and offer it a composer of its country, Frederic Chopin for the occasion. Even if the wink is honorable, there is notable challenge in the piano solo. The performance of Samson François for these Fourteen Waltzes is quite admirable and the subtleties of the musician’s playing are immediately apparent. I know this record perfectly well, it has that warm je ne sais quoi in the interpretation which serves perfectly the presentation of a new device. Since the disc is an EMI disc, The Voice of its Master, one may wonder who will be the master of the ceremony, Chopin or Gratia? The notes are limpid and well detached, the attacks frank and dynamic, the interpretation that the Gratia gives us, remarkable, especially in the lightning-fast musical accelerations that Samson François masters perfectly.

And I can’t help but follow up with the usual Just a Poke from Sweet Smoke. I never got tired of this record, especially since it is, for me, attached to almost all my turntable and cartridge reviews. The A side and the B side are of equal artistic quality, with a sound recording that one keeps in memory, so much it marks the spirits. There is also the trap of this record which reveals to us a strong exaggeration of the stereophony and which is defined, most of the time, by a central hole in the music. Only the latest phono preamps can do the job, as does Fezz Audio’s Gratia, which passes music from left to right and right to left, without any center hole. Always disconcerting this musical performance of jazz-rock, which is here perfectly enhanced by the Gratia.

For my description, then follows the voices, one female and one male, both beautiful. In the case of Sade and her band with their album Promise, the title Is It a Crime? It gives an idea of the vocal complexity. It is really a piece that you don’t immediately hum because of its complexity. And humming is out of the question for the Gratia of Fezz Audio: it must sing this to me as it should be. Everything goes well, and I add another score of theirs, Jezebel. The singer is perfectly positioned in the center of the room, and here we are in full fidelity, because we can feel that Sade moves her head while singing and moves slightly away from the microphone. I don’t know what she’s doing exactly, I guess that, but that’s what I always imagined on this title, like a head movement that makes us see, virtually, the artist. The Gratia does not deny and attacks the trap set, it detects it and gives it back to us, well circumvented, in all its truth.

For the male voice of Jacques Bertin, I am delighted in the same way, without trap, this time. Carnet remains my reference for male voices, thanks to a warmth that cannot be described. The timbre is perfect, the intonation totally delights me. Once again, I congratulate this technological advance, the electronic chips, which have projected to another level the performance of vinyl records, whatever one may say. The warmth of what I hear and what is enhanced by this equipment is simply magical.

I then scrolled through a serious amount of LPs, just to familiarize myself with the new release of the month. All kinds of music, all kinds of genres, up to rather incongruous reunions, but always pleasant. Because it’s when you ask for more, when you listen again, that I know that the device being honored is the right one. It is this desire to do it again with another one of one’ records that makes this Gratia from Fezz Audio worth mentioning.

The company Fezz Audio’s tagline is Made of Music, and I concur! And I must first congratulate its designer, Lech Lachowski, for creating a super interesting range of devices that I am tempted to listen to. As for the Gratia phono preamp, I am already delighted. And even without having made my comment on the price yet. Because if we now factor in the price, we are in the presence of a notable event. I’m happy to tell you this, because I have, more often than not, been taken aback by the glaring disparity between the selling price of certain audio components and the enjoyment obtained from listening to them, especially having been around the materialized, vinyl, for a good part of my music-loving life. But our patience is now rewarded and so is our wallet. Let’s rejoice and shout to anyone who will listen that this Gratia from Fezz Audio is a total winner in the very crowded world of black disc preamplification. Let’s recognize the good grain and get rid of the chaff – permanently. Let’s wish a great success to this Polish company and to its Gratia preamplifier which, simply and discreetly, will make its place in the world of music. Let’s help them too and spread his good word.

Price : $960
Warranty: 3 years, parts and labor
Distributor: Tri-cell Enterprises, T.: 905.265.7870,

Frédéric Chopin, Les Quatorzes Valses, Samson François, EMI, C 069-10602
Sweet Smoke, Just a Poke, EMI Columbia, 2C 062 28 886
Sade, Promise, Epic, EPC 86318
Jacques Bertin, Domaine de joie, Le Chant du Monde, LDX, 74701