Bryston 4B3 vs Mac MC462 vs Pass Labs X250.8, OR... GRYPHON Diablo 300?


Hi,
Over the next few weeks I am organizing in-home demo of  three pre/power amps for my B&W 803D2's, and will purchase whichever sounds best.  I will be testing the following gear, which is based on what's available where live:
-Bryston B173 / 4B3-McIntosh C47 / MC462
-Pass Labs X250.8, if I can get my hands on one (will probably use the C47 pre-amp to test with this)
The Gryphon Diablo 300 is also a candidate.  I've seen some strong comments from others that Gryphon is in another league compared to the others.
My question is, barring what sounds best to me during my auditioning, in general to most people would the Diablo 300 really beat the others in my list?  And, are there any material disadvantages to sound quality considering the Diablo is an integrated vs the other choices?  I don't really care about having separates, but sound is obviously important.
Secondly related to the Gryphon, there is only one Gryphon dealer that is even remotely close to me.  Should that dealer cut ties down the road, or go out of business, does anyone know how I might go about getting service for the Diablo should I require it at some point?  Is that a valid concern?  There are multiple Mac dealers near me so that would not be so much of a concern.

Thanks in advance for any feedback....


nyev
I have a Bryston 4B3 and McIntosh 452.
I spent 90% of my listening time using the 452.
Soundstage, imaging, musicality I think is
better with the 452. Bryston sounds somewhat dry.
Still a very good amp.
Wow!  It's certainly nice that you're in a position to consider such a wonderful selection of amps.
IMO, the Bryston and the McIntosh are at opposite sides of the spectrum. I agree with ajpk1971 that the Bryston is more dry sounding yet has a somewhat "in your face" presentation. The new McIntosh MC462 provides a sound that is on the warmer side, typical of McIntosh products, nevertheless full and robust. I understand the new model provides better bass than the outgoing 452. There's very little listener fatigue with the Mac. You can listen to it seemingly endlessly and the result is you tend to hear and be involved in the music rather than the amp itself. Personally, I'd put the Pass Labs unit in the bottom half of your list. Diablo 300 is an outstanding audiophile integrated. I would place it between the Bryston and Mac in terms of sound reproduction but it seems to give you the best of both worlds. My personal preference is to stay with separates in your price range but it's really hard to fault the Diablo's quality sound regardless. It's great that you have the ability to demo all of these, hopefully at the same time. Make sure to try different preamps with each of the amps. You'd be amazed how much difference that can make to the sound. With the Bryston and the Pass Labs, might I suggest you try a tube preamp? This could "tame" these units into something quite wonderous. Given your speakers, the Mac and Diablo should be really good matches. For your 803 D2s, the Bryston or Pass Labs with a tube pre could also be magical. Depends on your sonic preference though and how they work in your particular room. I certainly envy your choices.
Thanks for the input!  I will have a Mac tube pre-amp on hand for my demo as well as a Bryston Pre-amp, so those will be good to mix and match.

To be honest I’m not sure where I fit on the spectrum of engaging/detailed vs warm and non-fatiguing.  Although to me being able to listen to music hours on end might mean that the music isn’t quite as engaging.  If it’s a little more fatiguing I don’t mind if the music is more engaging....

For this reason the Gryphon may be the perfect balance between the 4B3 and Mac  for me.  However I’ve now seen a couple  posters have mentioned that the Gryphon can be a tad “dark” sounding.   While warmth is okay, to me dark is not a positive quality as it means a consistently lesser tonal response as the frequency goes from low to high.




I have a Pass 250.8 + SimAudio 740P preamp combo which I really like.  About a year ago I changed speakers (switched from Magico to Spendor) and the 250.8 was chosen as it mated very well with the Magicos (e.g. lots of power and a little warm sounding).   Over the last summer the heat the 250.8 puts out into my listening room (with no AC) was getting me down so I thought about swapping amps since the Spendor D9s I now own are easy to drive and not as lean sounding as the Magicos.   I figured I could maybe save some $$$ and not have to deal with the excessive heat the big Pass puts out.   The Bryston 4B3 was my first choice to try as it is very well reviewed, bulletproof, and I'm a previous Bryston owner of multiple pieces and a big fan.

I purchased a used 4B3 and dropped it into my home system after disconnecting the 250.8.   It was everything I read about, great bass, fast, smooth, very revealing.   Compared to the Pass I found it had a more forward and detailed sound, but it was still smooth and not bright.   Just a different perspective.   With my D9s I think it even had better bass then the 250.8.   Side to side soundstage was about the same. 

Where I found the 250.8 beat it to my ears and tastes was in the front to back soundstage and the feeling that the instruments and people were more real or 3D like in my listening room.   The 4B3 sounded like an amazing 2D ultra detailed recording, the 250.8 sounded like the real thing because of the extra space and depth in and around all of the sounds.    I ended up keeping the 250.8; in my system its output with good recordings just sound so much like live music (maybe a handful of rows back though).

Good luck with your search...






Thanks for sharing your experience, and you comparison of the Bryston vs Pass.  

Will be be very interesting to see how the Gryphon Diablo 300 compares....

I just want to hear some Gryphon gear.  Looks cool, is very expensive apparently, and is considered ultra high end.
Gryphon is not dark sounding. It is deep dense articulate and powerful. No brightness and low distortion. This is top solid state level, and it should last for decades. I don't even consider any other transistor amps, makes little sense to me. I would probably be after older Gryphon separates, though, but very expensive and hard to find. Gryphon separates is an answer to audiophile's prayer.
Some Pass are very good, so what ? Bryston is not high end.
Keep in mind the MC462 makes 450watts into 2,4,8ohm, the Gryphon can output 950watts into 2ohm so with your more 4ohm ish speaker the Gryphon might have more control plus their Class A/AB biasing delivers tons of current. Because in my experience in the past with Wilson and Rockports which drop to 1.73 ohm for certain sections of the bass region that Mcintosh solid state doesn't sound as dynamic till you start looking at 601 monoblocks.  I am considering the Gryphon also since they are one of the manufactures that is used when voicing my Rockport Speakers, plus adding Phono and/or Dac saves the cost of 2 expensive cable per device and less potential for ground hums and issues if you are into vinyl.  I am considering Devialet 220 Expert Pro, 440 Expert Pro or higher also.   I can't speak on the latest pass or Bryston. Look forward to hearing your results and next steps.
ddafoeThank You for the Bryston 4B3 and Pass Labs 250.8 comparison.
Did you step up from a Pass Labs 150.8 ?
Happy Listening!
DDafoe inna and cytocycle, thank you as well, that was very descriptive and helpful!

My dealer offered me a 6 month old demo Gryphon including both DAC and phono modules, for $19K (converted from my Canadian price to USD). The unit is currently back at Gryphon for analysis as they thought the unit had a fault. Apparently in the shop they were limit testing (sounds fun...) and they found the Gryphon clips very suddenly and dramatically compared with most amps when maxed out. After the shop thought something was wrong, Gryphon say they have tested the unit and found nothing wrong with it.

So for $19K USD I could purchase this demo unit with modules, or for $17K I could have a brand new unit without modules. Seems the new unit price is $1K higher than list price in the US for me.

Thoughts? I will not proceed without auditioning this and other options, but the Diablo is firmly at the top of my list.
If it were my call I would get brand new Diablo 300. However, I would probably choose to have separate tube phono stage and I would have no need for dac. But even if I needed both Gryphon phono and dac I would pay more and get new piece. At this price level I would not try to save a few thousand dollars.
As a side note, I don't understand what happened with that particular Gryphon unit at the shop, that story is unclear.
Thanks inna I thought the story a bit odd too.  They said that amps have a standard behaviour when clipping and when they were driving the Diablo to the max for testing purposes in the shop the Diablo suddenly “fell off a cliff” unlike typical amps when they clip.  So they sent back for analysis and supposedly it is fine and working as intended.

Any Diablo 300 owners out there want to try independently reproducing this experiment?  Probably not, I’m guessing...

I was also leaning towards the brand new route.


Diablo's phono and dac are excellent, I just prefer tube phono stage, generally speaking. I also make recordings to tape from vinyl and like to go directly from phono to tape deck and not having to use tape outs, even Gryphon's, if I can help it.
Flemming Rasmussen, Gryphon chief designer, used to voice his equipment with master tape dubs of which he has a big collection. He knows how things should sound, oh yes he does.
I talked to couple of big time hard core tube audiophiles and they said that if they ever considered, as unlikely as it might be, transistor amp, that would almost certainly be Gryphon. This is a very high praise.
@ddafoe: Did you step up from a Pass Labs 150.8 ?

I went from a SimAudio 600i to the Pass 250.8 + XP10 stack.
The 600i was amazing and much better value than the Pass pair. 
After trying a couple preamps I ended up with the 250.8 + 740P combo and felt that was another level up from the 600i.   Since the 740P lists for the price of the 600i, I suppose that should not be a surprise...

I'm tempted to try a SimAudio 860a with the 740P to see how that compares with the 250.8, but they don't come up used very often.

@nyev, if you are in Canada, keep an eye out for good deals on SimAudio separates or the 700i integrated.   I've been extremely taken back by the sound quality and over-all quality of the two SimAudio pieces I've had in my system...  

ddafoeThank You for the follow up.  What other gear including cabling rounds out your system?  Happy Listening!
I'm currently using:

Roon on RaspPi, hifiberry digi+ pro,  iFi AUDIO iPower power supply
Shunyata ZTRON Anaconda Digital Cable
SimAudio Moon 380D DSD
Shunyata ZTRON Anaconda XLR
SimAudio 740P
Shunyata ZTRON Anaconda XLR
Pass 250.8
Shunyata ZTRON Anaconda Speaker Cable
Spendor D9s
and various Shunyata power cables

My Raspberry Pi based streamer seems out of place compared to the other components :)   Music still sounds amazing through it though and it works like a champ with Roon.

Cheers
ddafoeVery fine system.  Happy Listening!
So I’ve started step one of the process:  purchasing the Bryston 4B3 and breaking it in (at about 80 hours in now).  I have a 30-day return window which is very helpful.

Next weekend I will be borrowing a McIntosh C2600 and MC452 (they don’t have a demo 462 yet) to compare against the Bryston.

Have to say that so far I’m impressed with the Bryston 4B3, even though it’s not fully broken in.  It just does all of the basics very well, including having good dynamics, neutrality, and pace and timing.  Bass is also not lacking at all.  It’s amazing how much the transparency and soundstage have developed in 80 hours.

I see how others have said elsewhere, that this could be a fatiguing amp over extended listening periods.  It is not harsh at all, but there is definitely a forward presentation. But not bright.  More just in your face on the surface presentation, as others have put it.  But that no-fuss approach works for me.  I don’t mind it being possibly fatiguing since it is also very engaging musically.

I imagine the other candidates, especially The Gryphon Diablo 300, will beat the Bryston and Mac when I get to them, in more advanced areas such as 3D soundstaging.  But I have to say I’m getting attached to the Bryston 4B3 already!  And I can’t discount the highly supportive company and 20 year warranty.  Especially considering what it would cost to ship the Gryphon to Denmark for an out of warranty repair after Gryphon’s 3 year warranty period.....

Will provide updates after comparing the MC452 this weekend.  Until then my family is suffering the constant audio from breaking in the Bryston (at a lower volume, playing TV audio).

nyev
what other gear including cabling rounds out your system?
I am looking forward to the Bryston/McIntosh comparison. The B&W 803D2 is a very fine loudspeaker.

Happy Listening
Nyev,

You read my mind! I’ve been searching the web every few months for a quality, experienced review of the MC462 as I need an amp for my relatively new Martin Logan 15a’s. I even went so far as to send Mac an e-mail requesting they send a unit to my favorite reviewer, Christiaan Punter at Hifi-Advice... Who btw has an incredible review on the Bryson’s you might want to read for reference:

https://www.hifi-advice.com/blog/review/analog-reviews/amplifier-reviews/bryston-3b-4b-and-14b-cubed...

Look forward to your perspective on the Bryston vs Mac!

-marc



Hi Morg111, just to be clear unfortunately it is the mc452 I will be testing at home as my dealer doesn’t have the 462 as a demo yet.  My assumption is that the 462 may be slightly better than the 452 but not leaps and bounds, and if I did buy Mac I would of course go with the c2600/462.  Also as an aside, while I have 25 years experience testing swaths of “mid-fi” grade equipment (say < $10K for full system) and have been very careful with what equipment I choose, this is really the first time I’ve been testing equipment at a much higher level.  Just a disclaimer on my findings!  I do agree with the comments in the pro review of the Bryston cubed line you referenced, and actually had seen it before.  To me the Bryston seems like a no-brainer at its price-point.  We’ll see how it stacks up against the higher grade (or priced) gear.

Jafant I don’t really have higher level components currently but will be upgrading with the amp.  Here is what I currently have:
-Arcam A85 integrated amp, and matching P85 power amp (currently bi-amped)
-Arcam iRDAC 
-Van Den Hul D-352 speaker wire
-Audio Note Interconnects (can’t remember model offhand but they cost around $400)
-Mac Mini running Audirvana driving the DAC over USB.
-Exact Audio Copy is used to produce FLAC files stored on the Mac Mini.

So nothing fancy currently, but the Arcam A85 was a classic that punched way above its weight and had a ton of attention at the time.  But a far cry from the Diablo 300... The dealer that will be loaning me the Mac gear in the past has been VERY generous with borrowing much higher grade cables and interconnects, so I expect I will have options to test the Bryston and Mac gear with.

Nyev,
Missed your later post about not being able to get your hands on the 462. Well...alas, my search continues for a 462 review. There is one that Mac has attached as a marketing tag in their MC462 marketing from a Norwegian reviewer, though it is so bad, it sounds like the reviewer just read the marketing hype on the 462’s increased dynamic range and usual power, and then added a few more words to make it their own. Really, that bad, unless a whole lot is lost in google translation to English.

I’m still keenly interested in your comparison: 4B3 v MC452 as HiFi-Advice sent me a private email raving about the Bryston’s paired with my Martin Logans, however he admitted without hearing the Macs, that’s just a straight recommendation.
I will actually have the opportunity to test the 462, but not in my home.

In a few weeks, after my in-home audition of the Bryston 4B3 vs Mac c2600/452, I’ll be testing the 462 in a shop and comparing with the Gryphon Diablo 300 connected to B&W 803 D3’s (again I have the D2 which is not the same but that’s the closest I can get with my audition of the Gryphon vs c2600/462).

After that test, I hope to be able to make a decisive choice.

 


nyev
Thank You for citing your current set-up. After all shoot-outs have been completed, give a shout-out for your dealer/retailer!

Looking forward to your next report.
Happy Listening!
I have been using the Bryston 4B3 since 2016 and have since changed to tube preamp to drive and will say the soundstage produced is detailed, dynamic, transparent and neutral. The older iteration of the Bryston 4B has been known to be very forward sounding. I have pondered on trying to swap the Bryston with something more warm sounding like McIntosh or the Pass Labs but always find myself trying to replicate neutrality from solid state amp with a touch of warm from a tube pre for my next upgrade. 
A word of caution. Gryphon Diablo 300 will outclass any B&W speakers. It is not a bad thing but you will not hear the Gryphon's full potential with those speakers.
Thanks inna.  Not a surprise if my B&W 803 D2’s hold back the Diablo from reaching full potential.  Sets the stage for future upgrades right??

Interestingly there was a pro review where the reveiwer on a whim tried connecting the Diablo to a low end pair of speakers just to see what would happen.  The reviewer was amazed with the results and said the speakers sounded amazing.  I’m sure the speakers were still limiting the amp however, but that was probably the beat those speakers could ever sound...


Yes, I read that review too. It is sometimes unbelievable what a great amp can do with good but not great speakers. A number of people upgrade speakers prematurely instead of upgrading amps. Upgrade path is often not a simple thing except for turntable and reel to reel deck.
Here are my initial results of my head-to-head in-home test of the McIntosh MC452 vs Bryston 4B3, tested with McIntosh C2500 and Bryston BP26/MPS2 preamps:
Results:
-If I had to pick between the McIntosh and Bryston power amps, it would be the Bryston 4B3, by a small margin.
-The McIntosh 452 unsurprisingly did a better job at midrange, but unexpectedly (for me) had a more dominant mid than the Bryston 4B3.  The McIntosh's midrange was fully rounded out in the lower mids, with the Bryston's mids, including vocals, being "leaner".
-The Bryston 4B3 did a much better job at bass response, dynamics, pace and timing.  This resulted in a more musically engaging experience (for me at least).  There was a punch, attack, and engagement level that was missing from the MC452, and not just in the lower frequencies.  Even though the 4B3's vocals were not as fully developed as with the McIntosh, the 4B3's vocals seemed to pop out more and have more "air" around them.  Underneath that was a solid foundation of drums and bass which carried and exceptional rhythm and drive.  The 4B3's the overall presentation of the 4B3 seemed more cohesive as a result, and, unexpectedly, was more "musical".  For me at least.
-Soundstage was pretty much a draw.  But, I will say that the MC452's soundstage was more noticeable simply because there was more meat to the lower mids that simply was not there with the 4B3.
-Between the two preamps it was no contest - the C2500 beat the BP26 easily.  The BP26 was harsh and difficult to listen to.  Sibilant 'Sh" vocals were rough.  Could be just the difference between a tube preamp and solid state?
In summary, I do miss the MC452's fully developed mids in the Bryston 4B3, but ultimately the 4B3's pace, rhythm, drive, dynamics, and bass made for a more musically engaging experience. Not to mention the Bryston is half the cost, and of course comes with the 20 year warranty.  Another aside is that I really like the Bryston's speaker terminals which made for a rock solid locked-in connection, whereas I did not like the McIntosh's spring-loaded mushy feeling connectors which didn't feel as secure.  Another aside is that thinner or poor recordings sounded better with the MC452, since the mid was more fully-fleshed which provided a bit of balance to such recordings.  Overall, the result was not what I expected - I thought I'd like the McIntosh's sound more than I did.  Ideally, if I could combine the strengths of both amplifiers into one, that would be my perfect amp.  The dynamics, pace, attack, rhythm, drive, and bass of the 4B3 with the effortless fully developed mids of the MC452, in one single amp - that's what I need to find now that I've analyzed these two...  Based on everything I've read, I'm hoping I'll find what I'm looking for in the Gryphon Diablo 300 - which I will be testing (in a store) vs McIntosh C2600/MC462 next weekend.  The MC452 is definitely a great amplifier, but for anyone looking at the 4B3, to me it just seems an exceptional value with awesome build quality, with sound that at least for me, beats the MC452 sound by a small margin.  That said, I can absolutely see how someone else might prefer the MC452's sound for the effortless and more developed midrange.

Diablo needs at least 100 hours of burn-in time in addition to 80 I think factory hours. Make sure of that. Also, Gryphon matches well with Gryphon and better Purist Audio cables and cords, I suspect it does well with some others too but don't know it. Start by plugging the Gryphon in straight into the wall if possible, no conditioner, it's got one in it. Still it might sound better with some conditioners in certain situations, this part is tricky. Look forward to your report and final decision.
nyev
Excellent review! I am looking forward to your next installment w/ the Gryphon.  Happy Listening!
Diablo 300 is becoming quite popular because it represents great audiophile value. Sure, Gryphon separates would be much better, but excuse me, that kind of money is beyond the reach of 99% especially if you want top of the line. But even 'entry level ' separates are way too much for most. Used is possible but hard to find with North American voltage, and even with European not so easy, and is still expensive unless 25-30 years old.
Thanks inna for the tips.  The Diablo is a demo unit the shop is getting from Gryphon, so presumably it should have some miles on it.  Good point on avoiding power conditioning - I’ve seen stories of conditioning causing issues for the current-hungry Diablo at shows.  While I was aware of this I am pretty sure the shop has conditioning built into the walls of their listening room.  So I’ll have to ask how we can avoid this during my audition.  

And yes, from what others say, it seems I would need to spend a lot more than the cost of a Diablo 300 to get equivalent or better performance from separates.  That said, there is the issue of subjective taste.  An example is with a lot of high end cables I find to be very impressive, but often there is one small thing that ruins it for me in terms of balance, being too warm/cold etc.  I expect to recognize all the qualities of the Diablo that others mentioned after I test it on the weekend.  But it doesn’t there won’t be that one thing that makes it not work for me.  We’ll see.  If the Diablo doesn’t work out, to be honest I’ll be happy with the 4B3 and will need to move my search to a suitable preamp that’s a bit more lively and has more drive and excitement vs the McIntosh C2500 that I tested the 4B3 with.  The C2500 wasn’t bad at all, but I’m sure I could find a more involving preamp to go with the 4B3.  Maybe Simaudio 740p Or AR Ref 6.  Or even the Bryston BP-173, but it would need to be far superior to the terribly thin sounding BP-26.  I couldn’t believe how the BP-26 came from the same company that made the excellent 4B3 to be honest.
I would ask for all Gryphon Reference or Purist Audio Dominus cables and power cord, all burnt in for at least 300 hours. Cables can really ruin everything.
No surprise with Bryston, they are in fact pro amp company. Some in the know say that it is more difficult to make first rate active pre-amp than power amp. Maybe even Gryphon people would agree, I am not sure. Diablo has passive pre-amp section.
Nyve,

Thank you for the review. I said it earlier, the Bryston cubed series and Mac MC462 (452) are two of the amps in my list of 6 I’ve narrowed it down to. Thus it’s like I have a personal reviewer, lol.

Sounds like that recommendation I got on the Brystons was dead on. Keenly interested if you still feel the same after hearing the mc462. 
Morg111,

I should be auditioning the 462 on Tuesday if all goes as planned.  However I’m only able to test in-store and not in my home so it won’t be a fair comparison to the 452.  To make matters worse I will be hearing the 462 with B&W 803 D3’s, which are I believe a fair bit better (and more expensive) than my D2’s.

The main reason I’m testing the 462 is as a reference point for what I’m now most interested in testing, which I will also test on Tuesday- the Gryphon Diablo 300.

I have notes on what I found to be lacking with the 452, and if the Diablo can beat the 462 in these areas and do nothing else wrong, I think I will have found a winner.  If not, then I’ll have to start searching for a suitable preamp for the Bryston.

I don’t mean to steer you away from McIntosh too much as I can see how some would prefer its smooth and complete midrange, but another thing I was a bit disappointed by was build quality.  Not that it was bad. But up close, it just didn’t come close to the rock solid feel the other brands in the same price range had, despite the heavy weight.  Mcintosh preamps I thought on particular did not give an impression of sturdiness at all.  This was a surprise; I didn’t expect to have that reaction.

Nevertheless I will post an update on the 462, but all I will have to directly compare it against is the Gryphon, which probably won’t be a fair fight.
Nyve,

Understood on the different setups. It doesn’t matter as much as I’m looking at the Bryston 14b3. So if the 4b3 was nearly or in some areas better than the 452, it can be guaranteed that the 14b3 will be the clear winner as it has been reviewed as far better than the 3b or 4b combined. I doubt 462 is that much better than its previous model.


I was disappointed to hear about the Mac. To me, it's the best looking of the bunch. However, the sound is the most important thing in the end. 
Morg111,  totally thinking the same as you.  If I do go Bryston I too will actually go 14B3 for greater transparency vs 4B3.  However when you factor cost of 14B3 and suitable preamp, I can get the Gryphon Diablo 300 for the same $$$.  And consensus seems to be that the Diablo is “in another league”.  Will see how I think  the Gryphon compares shortly.  Also agree I expect 462 will only be marginally better than 452.
To be honest I’m not sure where I fit on the spectrum of engaging/detailed vs warm and non-fatiguing. Although to me being able to listen to music hours on end might mean that the music isn’t quite as engaging. If it’s a little more fatiguing I don’t mind if themusic is more engaging....
Really???  So, this is just awful!!! THIS!!! is what you give for us to go on???  THIS IS JUST A SONIC MESS!!!  To me, this means NOTHING!!!  EVERYBODY wants these things!!!  You need to share what YOUR SPECIFIC PRIORITIES ARE!!!  You are all over the place.  You're like a moving target.  Get your act together and get a better idea of what you're asking this crowd.  Otherwise, you're just a time-wasting moving target. 


LOL...  Yeah like you said in your quote of mine I’m still working on figuring that out..
nyev
Looking forward in reading about your audition today.  Happy Listening!
Looking forward to this review as I own a pair of B&W 803 D3 speakers. I’m looking to buy either the Mark Levinson 585 or the Diablo 300.

I found the 585 drove 803 D3 speakers with authority. I ended up turning the volume up on quite parts and was caught out with louder sections (kind of difficult to describe) (I used the track below). Which I liked, not something I’ve heard before. I hoping this amp is the same with a lot more than a 585...

It would be nice if you can listen to- Fleetwood Mac - The Chain

This is a good track to test dynamics.
My dealer said that the delivery of their Diablo demo unit to their shop has been delayed due to the unusual amount of snow we are dealing with on the west coast.  The shipping company currently shows it should be delivered this afternoon, but I’m sceptical of that and there probably won’t be enough time for an audition even if it did arrive today.  Since I’m travelling, my last chance to audition on this trip will be tomorrow afternoon, but I’m not sure they will even have got it in by then.  It’s a tiny amount of snow but we are not used to dealing with it on the west coast so all the roads are backed up.  It’s looking like I may need to come back for the audition after the snow is cleared, maybe this weekend.
I’ll listen to The Chain again (haven’t heard it for a while) and consider adding it to my audition playlist. Dealer said he prefers to use Tidal HiFi for auditioning.  So far my audition playlist contains songs that have very specific passages that have exposed other amplifiers as not quite doing well enough in particular areas, especially when A/B testing those same passages with a second amplifier.
Tested the Gryphon Diablo 300 today. It really is very confusing testing in-store instead of in-home. At this point I THINK I am proceeding with the Diablo. The shop had them connected to the B&W 802 D3’s (for reference I have the 803 D2’s so a much different speaker. Used Transparent Reference speaker wire. My first reaction was one of completely losing my bearings, due to the soundstaging. It was actually so distracting that I had trouble focusing on my usual areas of analysis. I am not a very good audiophile.... The vocals were so completely formed at pinpoint dead center it was spooky. It took some getting used to. When I shifted or turned my head it really messed with the soundstage which was even more distracting. Then I discovered if I leaned forward I found the soundstage was much less fragile when shifting or turning my head. I concluded the speakers were towed in too much. The experience for me was similar to using a very good pair of headphones. I now understand what others say about the Diablo being “muscular” and “controlled”. I’m not sure I enjoy this effect, vs a more relaxed and “free-flowing” effect. But I do think I’d get used to it. Transparency and detail was very good. Overall this is miles ahead of everything I’ve tried up to now. On the other hand I did have a bit of trouble engaging with the music - it was very controlled, a bit “uptight” vs relaxed and flowing. HOWEVER- I am 90% sure that the elements I found slightly unenjoyable could be attributed to the speakers. When I bought my 803 D2’s I compared them against the 804D3’s and concluded the D3’s midrange, while more detailed, was too forward and aggressive for me. So I am thinking this effect is likely present in the 802 D3 as well. Now I need to decide whether to take a chance and proceed with the Diablo 300. As I said, I was very impressed. Just think it was the B&W 802 D3’s that weren’t really my thing. I do need to travel to visit this shop so maybe I need to head there for one more session and maybe I’ll try a different set of speakers this time. Or maybe I’ll just take the plunge.... Need to think on this. Lastly I didn’t bother testing the McIntosh 462. I know the Diablo was not even comparable to the 452 so I knew the 462 wouldn’t have a hope. I just focused on the Diablo. As you can probably tell I left the audition impressed with the Diablo but also a bit confused.  Oh one more thing. I’m certain that Fleming subcontracted Batman to design the Diablo chassis. And the remote. Which doubles as a weapon.


No, Flemming is an industrial designer and painter. He worked with great engineers to make these pieces happen.
I think, that's my guess, that perhaps in addition to what you said about speakers, the Diablo was not really burned in. It needs 200 hours minimum initial burning in. I don't know how well Transparent Reference cables work with Gryphon and B&W speakers, and maybe they were not burnt in properly either. That's the problem with some dealers.
Nyev,

I know what you mean with the speakers, when i was going to buy a pair of 800 D3 series speakers. I listened to 800, 802 and 803 speakers, the 800 speakers
where excellent but you need the room size and equivalent electronics to drive them to get the best from them. The 800 was crossed off as my room couldn’t
accommodate them. Then I listened to the 802 D3 again due to the turbine head which is the same size as the 800 D3, they require careful placement, the dealer never
set them up correctly. I too had the same issue of focus / confusion etc as you have encountered, I think the speakers need quite a big room to breathe and focus. So they too
were crossed off. Then i listened to the 803 D3, they were just right, good focus, good midrange, good bass and generally a enjoyable speaker. I listened to various amps and ended up buying them.

"When I bought my 803 D2’s I compared them against the 804D3’s and concluded the D3’s midrange, while more detailed, was too forward and aggressive for me,"

There is a massive difference between the lesser 804, 805 in comparison to 803, 802 and 800. This is primarily in regards to the turbine head, I believe the 800 series really begins from the
803 speaker. As the midrange treble is night and day in comparison to the ones without the turbine head.

What do you mean by this-

"I now understand what others say about the Diablo being “muscular” and “controlled”."

Does it it have huge dynamics? Does it catch you out if you have the volume turned up and your listening to a quite passage then some loud music comes through? Does the music flow effortlessly?

Whats the strings like? The bass does it hit you hard like a Mike Tyson punch in the chest? Can you listen to it forever? Did you hear things you haven't heard before?

Did you get a chance to listen to the Chain?

I think it would be beneficial for you to go back for a second listen and listen through something you are kind of familiar with likes of 803 D3 speakers. There is no point you changing your speakers
to something else as you are not going to be familiar with them. You'll be even more confused!

nyev


Thank you for the Gryphon review. The B&W is a very fine speaker and Transparent cabling is a sonic match. As above, several factors contributed to the demo experience. First, all components must be properly burned-in. Second, system synergy must be there for the best aural outcome. Third, proper speaker placement and room accommodations are a must. Last not least, it would be interesting to learn which speaker manufacturers Gryphon supports with their gear.

Keep auditioning and writing.

Happy Listening!

Gryphon makes their own speakers and probably doesn't support anyone. Look up their discontinued Atlantis on ebay, as an example.