Gryphon Diablo 300 Has Arrived: First Impressions.


After a very long and drawn out search for a new amplifier for my B&W 803 D2's, which included in-home demos of McIntosh (452/C2600), Bryston (4B3), SimAudio Integrated's, and others that I tested in-store, I finally landed on the Gryphon Diablo 300. With the optional DAC module and phono board.

I feel lucky to a short trip away from one of the seven Gryphon dealers in North America, or I would not have found my amp. Some who are familiar with the Diablo may see my list of other amps I tested and think, those brands are not in the same league as Gryphon. And, after having painstakingly scrutinizing every demo component, I would have to agree they would be right. Those other brands cannot even come within striking distance. But here's the thing: from a pricepoint perspective, I'd be spending the equivalent amount of cash with those lower end brands once you factor in a pre/power amp, power cables, and interconnects - and it wouldn't sound as good as the Diablo. So, while expensive - the value is tremendous with the Gryphon Diablo 300. Others on this board have confirmed their opinion that I'd need to spend double on seperates before I could better the Diablo's performance. Including Whitecamaross, OP of the well known and ongoing "long list of amplifiers..." thread. I recognize that my search did not include uber-integrates from T+A, Dartzeel, etc. No way to consider these were I live. But I think that the Diablo is likely better suited than these alternatives for my use-case, with the power, current, and ability to drive my speakers in a large open space with a vaulted ceiling.

So I picked up the Diablo and it came in a great wooden crate that is smaller than you'd think, and has very handy clips that allow each panel of the crate to come off one panel at a time. The DAC was not pre-installed, and came in a seperate box. The phono board was also seperate, and was sold to me at a discount as it was a pulled from the shop's demo Diablo 300. I had expressed interest in installing these modules myself, so the shop said they'd let me have the experience of opening the brand new Diablo. Having installed the module and board (without incident), it was a little tricky. I would not suggest others try this unless you have some experience working with electronic components, PCB's etc (I do). And for safety you definitely want to ensure the Gryphon's massive and many capacitors have fully discharged prior to working inside.

On to the sound, out of the box with 0 hours run-time. The Diablo was a bit of a gamble for two reasons: 1) The dealer does not do in-home demos, and 2) The closest speakers I could test with to my 803's were the B&W 802 D3's, and 3) No returns or exchanges. Having fired up the amp and connecting to my digital source, right off the bat the music was thoroughly engaging. And here's the thing: When purchasing new gear over the course of 20 years or so, I've not once purchased any equipment that I've loved in the first month. This is the first. On my 803 D2's (or Diamond, whatever B&W calls this generation), I found that for the first time in all my amp-testing I was not listening for things like "dynamics","timing", "linear response", "imaging", but rather listening to people playing music. All instruments and voices have this solid and real quality to them. An example: with the tambourine at the start of Reckoner by Radiohead, you can sense the impact of each strike of the tambourine against the musician's hand. The same effect is there for vocals, with backing harmonies having a texture to them I've never heard. Another way to describe this effect is that rather than simply hearing the instruments, you are aware the sound is caused by something physical happening. Like with snare drums, it is more tangible than with any other gear I've heard. I've always thought that trailing notes or chords at the very ends of songs are just there as musicians need to signify that the song is over. But now, there is a presence and drama and texture to these endings I've never heard before. Just as I said earlier, I'm no longer listening for things like "dynamics" and "timing", but rather hearing the musical manifestation of these things. The midrange is absolutely beguiling, as one pro-reviewer put it. I think this may be partially due to the DAC based on my in-store testing I did. So far I've only tried the USB input at home. I am quite sensitive to harsh mids and highs, especially on poorly recorded hard rock, and can find this type of music very grating on hifi equipment. But not on the Diablo. The mids and highs are smooth. There is no sign of any harshness at all. But counter-intuitively, at the same time, there is so, so much detail to the music. Everything is revealed, in a presentation that is paradoxically smooth and engaging. Is this an analytical amp, or a musical amp? It's both. Don't know how they pulled it off. The bass is one of the Diablo's most striking qualities. Just as with the other instruments, the base is tangible, highly detailed and deeply textured - it creates a groove in the music that is so satisfying. I didn't know my speakers could do this.

This amp absolutely has a voice to it - it is not a "just the facts" amp. So those who are looking for that sort of amp may not like the Gryphon. But for me, this is exactly the sound I was looking for. Some have said there is a slight "dark" quality to the presentation, and I thought that sounded negative. But I understand now and have come to realize that this dense, detailed, and rich smooth voice is exactly what I was looking for.

In terms of how it performs on my speakers vs with the 802 D3's in the store - there is quite a bit of detail, and soundstaging, that is not present now. But on the flip-side, I actually like the overall presentation at home even more, and the detail that is there is still incredible. And, I'd expect more detail to emerge through the burn-in period. Even now, I'd be totally happy if this is the best it gets. In the store, I found the high level of precision of the 802 D3's just a tad distracting. For example, in the store, if I turned my head slightly, I could hear the entire soundstage shift quite dramatically. My 803's at home don't have this issue.

I have not finished upgrading accessories yet: I am running this amp on inadequate sub $1K Van-den-hul D352 speaker wire, and my source is a Mac Mini with Audirvana/Tidal Hifi. I do have it running with a brand new AQ Hurricane power cord. My Mac will be replaced by an Innuous Zenith MKIII but it's on backorder. Might be a month or two wait. Don't know what I'm going to do about speaker wire quite yet. I'd like to try Valhalla 2 just to see if it is worth it!

Overall, extremely happy. Expect things to get even better with the dedicated music player, upgraded speaker wire, and some more hours of burn-in. One more thing - I don't think that Flemming Rasmussen designed this amp. Batman did. And just look at the remote - case closed.
nyev
Congratulations nyev!  Enjoy the new gear!
Thanks rshad.  How did you find the burn-in period with your Diablo?  How many hours in did the sound start to stabilize?

As I said, I’d be perfectly happy if this is as good as it is going to get, but I’m just wondering what to expect.  Thanks!
Nyev, each Diablo leaves the factory with about 80 hours on it. Make sure you can return or easily resell cables and cords that you try. I would think Gryphon and Purist Audio cables first, maybe Echole and Stage III as well. You like the sound with Van den Hull speaker cables, so maybe that too. A lot depends on available funds and amount of time and effort to compare. In any case, you can get something decent now and upgrade later. Cables and cords are so bloody expensive even used.
Thanks Inna, good advice.  My local dealer is really good about loaning demo cables.  Regarding Van den Hul, I've always liked them as they tended to smooth out rough edges of harshness in an even way while still being engaging.  However, with the Diablo, I don't think that I need to worry about the smoothing out part anymore.  I think I could probably shoot for the ultra-transparent cable approach which I know is the general advice on how one should approach cables (it even says this in the Diablo 300 manual).
I do have a question for you, as I know you are of the analogue persuasion.  My phono board that came from the dealer's demo Diablo 300 (at a large discounted price) is the PS2 model from Gryphon.  I noticed they now have a PS2-S model, released at the start of this year.  From what I can tell, the only difference in the new model is that it now supports quite a few different impedances for use with MC cartridges: 20/100/200/499/806 Ohms, or even a custom load, settable using jumpers that have a resistive load.  In comparison, my PS2 board only supports 20 and 200 Ohms.  I know very little about this stuff - how much should I care that my PS2 board doesn't have this flexibility?  And, do you know if that is all that changed between PS2 and PS2-S?
nyev, I really don’t remember how long it took to break in to be honest.  I had let it run for a good 4 days before I did any seriousness listening.  I felt after that it sounded great.  
nyev, sorry I can't answer your second question. As for the first one, it would depend on particular cartridge. Maybe someone else can be more specific, especially if you have in mind particular cartridges that you might be using in the future. It would probably be better to start a separate thread in analog part of the discussions. It would take quite an experience with many cartridges to answer your question fully.
You might also ask Gryphon dealer or distributor. I currently use MM cartridge and will continue doing it until I start building a completely new higher level system.
Forgot to mention. Unless you already have it, you need really good USB digital cable. I don't have personal experience, I heard that Purist Audio, higher Audioquest and Wywires are worth considering. There are others, of course. It is thought by some that digital cable should not be shorter than about 5 feet.
Thanks inna rshad. Inna, yes, I have an Audioquest Diamond USB cable and yes it definitely makes a noticeable difference over a standard cheap USB cable. It is 1.5m long. I’ve never heard that it is better to have a USB cable LONGER than 5ft. Are you sure about that? Mostly I’ve heard people say shorter USB cables are better due to reduced jitter. What would the rationale be to having the cable longer than 5ft?
On another note: my kids are even noticing huge differences in the songs they know. My daughter is noticing how "satisfying" specific sounds are and is constantly pointing out certain sounds. Some passages sound so different she is asking if they are remixes. She is noticing the thing I said about the ending of songs too - she swears these are different versions of the songs. Too cool. My wife on the other hand does not agree that the sound is "non-fatiguing", given that I’ve been running the system almost non-stop :) She doesn’t really care about sound quality and is not into music as much as the rest of us. She is looking forward to when I feel the system is burnt in. I’ve yet to tell her that my dedicated streamer (and corresponding Hurricane Source power cord) will need burning in when it eventually arrives.... One step at a time.



I just heard than digital cable should not be shorter than 5 feet, I have no idea how a longer cable would sound in comparison. 5 feet or so seems to be the standard.
Yeah, give the Diablo 100 -150 more hours. Do you use stock power cord for now ?
No, I have a new AudioQuest Hurricane Hi-Current power cord now. Rshad said he had trouble actually hearing much difference between power cords with the Diablo. Maybe because the power regulation is very good so the PC doesn’t seem to do much? I will try testing against the stock cord once the Hurricane is burnt in.

Oh, and my AudioQuest Diamond USB is 1.5m.
nyev, thanks for the review, very nicely done.
Enjoy the music and please keep us posted with any new observations.
Congratulations NYEV on your new Diablo 300, I am certain you will truly enjoy it.  I know I love mine.  My system consists of the amplifier, PS Audio DAC, Bridge II, and memory player, and Sonus Faber Amati Tradition Speakers on the digital side. I use an inexpensive phono preamp and vintage Dual 604 turntable on the newly set up analog side for now. I am just starting back into analog for the first time in over 30 years.

I agree with you that the sound is amazing and the ability of the amplifier to take control of my speakers is phenomenal.  It is big improvement over my previous integrated amp which was an older and much less expensive Plinius 9200(which I still consider to be a excellent amplifier).

 I have a slightly different opinion of the 300.  In my system and listening with my ears I find the amplifier not to be colored, but rather it gets out of the way and allows the music to happen. I enjoy listening to it for hours on end without any fatigue.

It appears that my dealer experience was light years ahead of yours.  I purchased mine from Scott Carpenter at Evolution Home Theater.  Evolution HT is the new Gryphon Dealer in Atlanta.  When I initially told him I was interested in the 300, I went into the dealership and he connected the amplifier to a pair of Sonus Faber Serafino Tradtion, so I could get an initial idea of what the amp might sound like with my speakers.  As my interest continued, he arranged for an in home demo. This was no easy task, since  it required 2 people to get the amplifier in the house and with a home theater and 2 channel  system side by side with 12 separate components the wiring took some time.  Scott personally delivered the demo amp and connected it to my system.  After listening to the Diablo for a short period of time I asked Scott to order one for me.  He initially told me it would take about a week to get it from the distributor in California.  Now comes the amazing part.  I still had his demo unit.  It seems that California did not have any of the units in stock. It had to be ordered from Denmark.  Although I never asked, Scott on his own allowed me to keep his only demo Diablo 300 unit until he was able to deliver and install my newly purchased unit.  It took close to a month for this to happen.  I asked him how he could leave his demo unit with me for so long and not have one to demonstrate in the store for potential customers.  His response was simple.  He said that I liked the unit too much to just take it away from me without leaving a replacement.  He also stated he had several customers waiting to hear the Diablo 300 and making them wait may not be a bad thing. Superb service on Scott’s part.

By the way, mine only took a few days to burn in.

I hope your dealer told you that he(she) was selling you a discontinued phono board before you purchased it.
Hi All,

At about 36 hours in, the Diablo sounds much as it did before, but definitely with a bit more detail and sound-staging.  So that I can detect the differences, I’ve been cycling through the same 25 tracks or so.

I didn’t mean to imply that the Gryphon’s sound is heavily coloured or anything, it’s not.  But I find its sound to have a certain indescribable “glow” to the music that is missing from some of the more analytical gear I tested, such as from SimAudio (which I found to be very incredibly  detailed with great sound-staging, but ultimately  sterile, dry, and uninteresting).  By the way my family still likes the chassis of the SimAudio the best, which I have to agree is extremely high quality.  But I like my Gryphon/bat-amp the best.

Hemoncdoc, you are lucky to live near a dealer like that!  And, nice system.  I’ve not done any serious listening with Sonus Fabers, but from what I’ve heard I’ve really liked them.  And it was the Amati’s that I actually heard at the dealer - connected to Naim equipment.

The dealer who I bought the Gryphon from doesn’t allow in-home demos period.  I even offered to pay a big sum of cash to facilitate an in-home demo.  Guessing they may have had bad experiences with damaged gear, etc.  One thing I noticed when I borrowed demo gear from my local shop, is that when I powered on the McIntosh MC452 it stunk like cigarette smoke and had the general smell of other people’s homes!  Because my local dealer has loaned me so much gear, and I’ve shopped there most of my life, I’m buying all cables and other things from them.

And no, unfortunately my dealer did not inform me that my demo Gryphon phono board was discontinued.  I still have not yet had a chance to  discuss this with them.  I am doubtful they even were aware of the new board to be honest, but I guess that’s not good either.  On the other hand, it appears the new board is almost identical save one new feature, which is support for multiple and custom impedance settings (which I really don’t know if I should care about or not).  I will discuss with my dealer this week.  Ultimately I’m not too concerned, seeing as my dealer says the demo board I had was not actually ever connected to a turntable, and I got it for a bit less than half the price of a new one.  The only thing that could come of this if I cared is that I pay more money, return this board and get a new one.  I doubt it is worth doing that.



The additional detail that is starting to come through is just adding to that “texture” effect to the sounds voices and instruments that I referred to.  Why this is so satisfying is that this detail is so fine-grained that it takes on a satin-smooth quality, as opposed to the detail being harsh and jarring like more analytical amps can be.  And, this effect applies to all tones from bass, mids, vocals, and high frequency.
Since the Diablo was already burned in at the factory, do not expect major additional changes.  Changes are subtle at best.  

‘I cannot say enough positive things about my local dealer.  He lent me the Diablo knowing that I was “owned” by 2 Great Pyrenees dogs that can’t go one day without some shedding!
Agreed, so far, changes are subtle, and as I said unlike most gear I've bought in the past, the Diablo sounded great from the moment I plugged it in and tried playing something.  It is not like the changes I am noticing are large, and if I wasn't playing the same 25 tracks on repeat I doubt I would have noticed.
One of the amps I tested was the Bryston 4B3, which I had purchased from a different dealer who said they don't do in-home demos but that I could return the amp within 30 days for a full refund.  I warned the salesguy at the time that I would almost certainly be returning the amp after trying it, but wanted to compare with others like McIntosh and Simaudio.  He said no problem at all!  I bring up the Bryston as I believe in the manual they stated that the amp was burned in for 100 hours or something like that (can't remember the exact amount but it was large).  However, I did actually notice very large improvements over 200 hours of burn-in time, despite the fact that it was significantly burned in at the factory.  I've heard some people say that even after burnin, Brystons take hours of use before they sound their best, and it appears that the length of burn-in period may be equipment-dependent.

Too bad I couldn't support these other dealers that have been so helpful loaning me demo equipment (or offering 30 day full refunds), they seemed only too happy to do that for me.  But they didn't offer Gryphon, so....  It was funny, one place had never heard of Gryphon and the other had, but didn't really know anything about the company or products.  My local shop (that didn't sell me the Gryphon) was admiring all the internal photos I took when I was installing the DAC and phono board, and noted how well-made everything looked.  They said they doubt I'd ever need service based on the pictures.  I brought in the remote to show them too.


Just an update:  sound has continued to develop (The Diablo is up to 50 hours now), albeit very subtly now.

I wonder if the large class A bias of the Diablo 300 integrated contributes to a shorter burn-in period.  My non-expert theory is that since the transistors never turn fully off in a class A biased system, current is always following through the system when it is on, regardless of whether there is an input audio signal or not.  This maybe contributes to a shorter burn-in?

nyev,
Have you tried different powercords yet or are you still burning in the Gryphon?  Everything still sounding good?
Hi Rshad, I am up to 100 hours and everything is continuing to sound fantastic. To be clear, it is not only the amp that is being burned in, but also the DAC module and the AQ Hurricane cord. I don’t know for certain whether I’m continuing to hear any improvement or not, but it doesn’t matter what I play, it just sounds engaging, satisfying, and highly detailed. The sound is incredibly welcoming and inviting. I will note two other cool things I’ve noticed. First, when leaving the “sweet spot” in my listening position (standing up or walking around) I’m fairly certain that the difference is smaller than with other amps I’ve tried before. In other words, with the Diablo the sound doesn’t really degrade as much when moving around. Another thing that is very unique: All the qualities in the sound that I mentioned are there regardless of the volume level. Even when playing music quietly, you can hear really full and highly detailed tones, including bass. I’ve never tried any amp before this that maintained all of its qualities at low volume.

The tiniest critique ever would be that I notice on occasion, when playing music that is quiet or during a quiet passage, and I adjust the volume up or down, I can hear a very subtle pop sound coming from my speakers. It is not really that noticeable and it only happens sometimes. Not really an issue for me but thought I’d mention. Could be related to Gryphon’s two-resistor volume control design? I believe that each volume setting switches to a different resistor or something like that.

Regarding power cords, I’m not planning to try out different brands of cords. Based on yours and others experience I’m just going to stick with the Hurricane. Which apparently requires 400 hours to properly burn in. So I’m only 25% there. When I’m there I will compare with the stock power cord to see what kind of difference there is. In a bit I will see if my dealer can bring in demo Valhalla 2 speaker wire; I am very interested in how these will sound. People describe this wire as similar to how I’d describe the Diablo’s sound - a hair on the warm side, musical, engaging, and loads of texture and detail.

When my Innuos streamer finally arrives (hopefully in early May), I may experiment with a lower end power conditioner to help manage any noise it may introduce on the AC line that is shared with the Diablo.

In short, I am enjoying this amp so much that I find myself wanting to buy another just in case something happens to it after it is eventually discontinued. Just craziness as I can’t afford that. But seriously, if I had to choose a different amp I have no clue what would even come close to the Diablo. Maybe the D’Agostino Momentum integrated but that is far more expensive.  But I have not even heard the Momentum and part of the reason I think I like the Diablo so much is that the sonic presentation and voicing matches my subjective tastes.  So maybe I do need to save up and buy another!  Flemming has retired so who knows if Gryphon can keep improving on the design or not....


nyev
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Good to learn that the new Audioquest Hurricane PC is to your liking. The Tornado model is excellent as well. If an opportunity to hear these power cords plugged into an AQ Niagara conditioner- go for it!  Keep assessing, evaluating and writing findings.
Happy Listening!
Thanks All.  One other really cool touch that is worth mentioning is the little blue flashing light that turns on for a few minutes if you have the DAC module and you haven’t powered the Diablo for a few hours.  This light signals that the DAC’s “super-cap” is charging up, which is essentially used as a battery to power the DAC’s USB from an isolated power supply.  At least I think that is what it is for.  Whatever it is, it’s cool!
Yeah, why not ? There is one for sale here for $11.5k, without phono or dac, though.
You have Audioquest usb cable and Audioquest power cord, perhaps it might make sense to try Audioquest speaker cables too. Just a thought. My set-up is very different but unless I were prepared to try dozens or more of possible combinations, I would not have different brands of the last interconnect in the chain and speaker cables. Power cords can be more complicated, you mostly match it to a particular piece of the equipment but still one brand everywhere. could add some additional synergy.
NYEV: glad to hear you are still enjoying your Diablo.  FYI mine has no “pop” at all when adjusting from a low volume.  Does it occur on all inputs?  Could it be the DAC or phono module?  I use an external DAC and phono preamplifier with my 300.

By the way, I heard the D’Agostino with different speakers.  I preferred the sound of my Diablo with the Sonus Faber’s. Mine is more musical.  Difficult to know the individual contribution of the amp, speakers, and room, though.
Thank hemondoc, and I will try adjusting the volume when using other inputs.  To be clear, it doesn’t just happen when adjusting from low volume, it happens when adjusting at high volumes too - on occasion.  What I meant was, the very soft and occasional pop sound when adjusting the volume will only occur if there is a signal with music playing, with the music being in a very quiet passage so you can actually hear the pop.  It does not happen when adjusting the volume with no music signal.  It could be DAC related.  Similarly, my previous system with an external DAC would make a similar sound when you turned off the source to the DAC (Actually this still happens with the Diablo).  For example when you turned off the TV while using the optical input.  Anyhow, I’ll play around with the other inputs.  Also I’ve been using the remote to adjust volume.  Could also be an AC electrical issue or even something to do with my speakers.  whatever it is, it is hardly noticeable and only happens sometimes, and in the particular circumstances I mentioned.  I’ll play with the other inputs and see what happens.
Hi Nyev
Guess I’m gonna have to give the Diablo 300 an audition.  I have tried to replace my tube setup multiple times with a variety of quality solid state candidates.  I have found only the class A bipolar output SS, such as Clayton S2000, upper level Gryphon class A amps, and the mosfet AB output amps like GamuT D200i to have most of the ‘meat on the bone’ character of tube amplifiers. Probably the high bias class AB which makes the Diablo 300 as you describe. Anyway, thank you for your excellent review and peaking my interest!


Audiobrian,

Glad to have peaked your interest.  Do you live near a Gryphon dealer?  There are not that many around...I have seen a pro-review that called the Diablo tube-like.  While not pure class A of course, the Diablo does give off more heat than other A/B amps I’ve tried, even if just sitting idle. It also has a light scent of heater/new electronics which is just great! :)
Just to follow up on the (extremely mild) pop sound when adjusting the volume, I’ve confirmed that it only occurs with the DAC module input.  In fact, it specifically only occurs when using the USB input.  If using the optical input, there is no pop sound when changing the volume.  This is really a non-issue - to give you an idea how quiet the pop noise is, you actually need to put your ear to the speaker to be sure that the click of the volume button on the remote does not drown it out.  Next, I will try seeing if it still does this when the DAC’s super-cap (which isolates the USB power from the Diablo) is charging after the Diablo has been off a while, as indicated by the blue flashing light on the front left of the amp.  In theory the DAC USB is NOT electrically isolated while the blue light is flashing, so who knows if this is related.

Just curious more than anything - again this is a barely noticeable nit in what is, overall, a phenomenal system that is everything I could have wanted, in particular I still can’t get over how the sonic presentation just works regardless of the type of material I throw at it.  It is spooky how it seems to find the particular musical phrasing of a variety of music, and knows to run with it.  I don’t think I’ve connected with music this much since I was a kid listening to vinyl and cassette tapes.

I cannot afford it, can you? Seems a few say they can.
I prioritize. For example, the car I drive is currently worth $3500 according to Auto trader!

Which is perfectly fine by me. Having a system like this gives me far more satisfaction than any car could.  Just realized my power cords are worth more than my car!
nyev and when your car breaks down to the point you need another what then? Credit, cash, or you’re phucked? Just thinking out loud.

There was a poll said 75% people in this country cannot come up with a $1K in cash without borrowing or taking out a loan. I find it interesting so many proclaim they have that expensive audio gear in here. I must be in the 1% forum...*grinz
I had that problem in my system, changed my expensive usb cable to a Blue Jeans cable and everything is fine! 
If I had to guess, I might be in the top 25% :)  If I was lucky enough to be in the 1% I’d have two Antileon monobloks lol!  Just a lowly Gryphon integrated amp for the likes of me....

I do do have an AQ diamond USB cable so don’t think that should be the issue.  Maybe the “problem” originates in my Mac Mini.
Yeah, I prioritize too, and my current yearly audiophile budget is $1200-$1500, not including records, and I no longer buy cds. This is not very little, though it won't get you new Diablo 300. There is, however previous generation Diablo 250 for sale for $6500 or less. So this would take up my 5 years audiophile budget. I will skip this opportunity because first I already have used up this year's budget, second I need new computer and modest outboard dac/headamp, and third I would still like to get Diablo 300.
While no doubt it is very expensive, especially with dac, many can afford it if determined and disciplined enough.
Inna, hope you don’t have to wait too long for your Diablo 300. In terms of all the cash you can blow on cables, conditioners, and other accessories, upgrading these can yield incremental improvements. Whereas with the Diablo, even if using just the stock power cord and cheap speaker wire, it still manages to make a major improvement in sound, even over similar priced gear connected with high grade cabling. The difference is way, way above the improvements you can get with cables and accessories. It doesn’t appear to let itself be “bottlenecked” when connected with inferior accessories the way other gear does. It really demands that it’s mark and signature are communicated, regardless of what you connect with it. The one exception the quality of the source, of course. I guess what I’m saying is, save your gear budget for the Diablo 300!  

@nyev, I was wondering if you by chance have heard any of the Luxman Integrated amps and how they might compare to your Diablo 300?
Lak, unfortunately I have not. But others who have owned both have nudged me towards the Diablo, for better bass control for my particular speakers and the power and current reserves to suit my large room. One forum member who had owned both told me he preferred the Diablo due to it being more engaging musically, whereas the Luxman sounded like he was listening to a HiFi system. Now if I had far more cash, I’d have wanted to test the Luxman 900u pre/power amp. Apparently that is a system that will beat the Diablo. But at double the cost.
nyev, you are  absolutely right. However, I am also about to start saving on Studer or Otari open reel tape deck and better phono stage. Which one will come first ? I don't know, we'll see.
Good for me that I already have Purist Neptune interconnects and Purist Dominus power cord that both would work splendidly with Diablo. Even my old Purist Colossus fluid speaker cables should be fine to begin with.
Family responsibility..I could get that $6k Diablo 250 right away. I hope this won't foster masochism in me..
Hi Nyev,

Great summation! I'm a fellow Gryphon Diablo 300 owner and can echo many of your same sentiments.  I am a little anal and so I did my research and demo'd quite a few amps including the D'Agistino Momentum here in Atlanta.  It sounded a bit over analytical for my taste.  
I've also heard the VAC tube amps and Macintosh SS amps (including Monoblocks).  None could compare to the Gryphon Diablo 300 in my humble opinion.  But, I would say it's also based on personal taste.  However, I have yet to have someone listen to a demo and come out unimpressed.

I purchased the DAC module for $6K and had it installed in Denmark (mine was back ordered for about 2 months).  But it was oh-so-worth the wait!  I recently decided to purchase the Chord M Scaler and Hugo TT2 after hearing it.  If you don't mind spending a bit more (retail is close to $11K for the pair and even though you have a DAC module, like me) you may find this combo extremely satisfying as it can upscale your digital sources in many cases from as low as 44.1kHz for CD's to as high as 705.kHz and other high res sources like streaming services from 96Hz to 768kHz!

As for my other components, I'm using a Torus Power RM 15 Plus Isolation Transformer which gives me gobs of clean power and an ultra-black background to all my music!  I was going to go with the Niagra 5000, but after researching I leaned a bit more towards Torus Power's concept of clean power slightly more than Garth Powell's design in the Niagra 5000.  (But you can't go wrong with either one).

As for PC's I love Triode Wire Labs offerings!  I'm using Peter Grzybowski's "Seven Plus" PC with a  Furutech FI-11M (Cu) mains and FI-11 (Cu) C13 IEC connectors which Pete graciously modified to an IEC (C-19) 20 amp to accommodate my Torus Power RM 15 Plus (which has a 20 amp input but runs on a 15 amp plug--more power and better sounding than their 15 amp plug version.  In addition, I'm running Pete's top of the line "Obsession NCF" power cord ($1,399).  I've had it running from my Diablo 300 into my RM 15 Plus and absolutely love the sound!  I've heard the AQ Hurricane too hooked up to an  Audio Research VT80SE Power Amplifier pushing some Vandersteen  Quatro Wood CT, and they sounded great using that PC.

As for speaker wires, I absolutely love Pete's fairly priced and over-delivering, "American Speaker Cables" (12 ft/$1,299). But, I recently purchased some different speaker cables that I love a bit more than Pete's SC and those are the Audience's Au24Sx Speaker Cables! that are slightly more refined without losing any of the bass or midrange and still gives nice transparent highs with a wider soundstage without being bright or fatiguing!  I think you will absolutely love either one of them!

For the money Pete's speaker cables are killer!  But for the refinement, you may like Audience's Au24Sx a bit better.  They retail for around $4K, but you may be able to catch them discounted at Usedcables.com which is a subsidiary of The Cable Company which may have them at a slightly discounted rate off the $4K

As for digital cables, I did my research and listened to quite a few before settling on Black Cat's SilverStar 75!  I'm fortunate because this is a small boutique cable and the owner and manufacturer lives in the metro Atlanta area!  For the money, you would probably be hard pressed to find anything in the $300 range that sounds even close and you'd probably have to pay 10 times more to get better!

I appreciate you ordering the Innuenos because I've heard great things from the dealer I purchased my Chord components from. Although I haven't heard it in person. Please let me know how it sounds when it gets in and you have some time to critically listen to it! Can't wait!

As for my speakers, I'm using Focal Sopra 2's which I love! I demo'd the B&W's 803's and heard the Sonus Faber Amatis and enjoyed them both. But the 803's didn't have the warmth and body of the Sopra No. 2's and the Amatis sound a bit to treble-heavy and fatiguing.

Happy listening and thanks for the review!
@mrc4u, have you tried the Isoacoustics Gaia's on your Focal Sopra 2's?
lak3, I have not. I’ll have to see if there’s a local dealer and give them a listen! Thank you!
mrc4u thanks for sharing; very interesting setup!  I will have to try Focal speakers at some point, as my Gryphon dealer also carries them.  Not sure which generation of 803’s you heard, but I also feel that the current B&W generation, while highly detailed and resolving, were not warm enough and didn’t have quite enough body.  That goes for the 804’s, 803’s and 802’s that I have heard before.  Thankfully my prior generation 803’s, while having noticeably less detail, sound much warmer and richer, and have more punch.  I’ll likely upgrade my speakers in a few years time, after I “complete” the rest of my system.  It’s great that you have found cables that provide you with the sound you want at a cost that is far more reasonable than the AudioQuests and Nordosts of the world.  I am now wondering if I need to be exploring other options to see if I can get similar performance at a lower price point.  With the money I save I can put towards a conditioner.  Do you know if I can demo either of those brands (Triode Wire Labs or Audience) from The Cable Co? Thanks!



Actually according to the Cable Co’s site the lending library is for domestic US customers (I am in Canada).  So looks like I am stuck with demo cables my dealer can source - the likes of Nordost and AudioQuest.  Many other brands too, but not ones I’m familiar with.
Nyev, good deal! I would love for you to audition the Audience if you can. If they don’t have the loaners perhaps you can contact the company directly and see if they have a suitable return policy. And I know Pete has one that’s a 30-day one with no questions asked! On his SC’s, PC’s and other products.

https://www.triodewirelabs.com/

I’ve auditioned the AQ Thunderbirds in their Mystical Creatures line (two down from their top of the line) and to be honest I told my dealer they were a bit too "shiny" which a lot of silver cables tend to be (very bright and analytical sounding). You sound like you have similar desires and taste for cables to be neutral but slightly warmer. So I would say whatever cables your purchase make sure you are not stuck with them if you don’t like their sound. Just some more of my experiences, I’ve heard the Nordost SC and they tend also to be a little "bright" in the upper frequencies. I think some folks mistake that for clarity. So, I would say make sure you don’t go by reputation, but an audition.

And, I also hear a "little" popping in my Diablo from time to time when I turn up the volume. It’s very slight, but after reading your post I noticed it. I’m not sure the reason for that being the case?

If you can call Usedcables.com (part of the Cable Company) and ask to speak to Ethan.  He's extremely knowledgable and may be able to facilitate you with getting either Audience or some other similar cable 1-800-328-9973.

Best Regards!
I agree it sounds like we have similar tastes.  I’ve always been fighting that shiny-ness and that is the reason I have my current van den Hul D-352 cables.  They nicely filter out harshness from lesser equipment that I had before the Diablo, whereas other brands like AudioQuest did not.  I do wonder what the added transparency of high end Nordost and AudioQuest cables will sound like with my Diablo.  However, I’d love it if those Audience cables would better suit my tastes given the much lower cost.  

AudioQuest has a 20% restocking fee for returns; I imagine that Nordost has something similar.  But, I believe my local dealer can order in loaner demo cables from these two brands.

So far, I’ll be looking for demos of the AudioQuest Firebird, Nordost Valhalla 2, and the Audience AU24sx.  

Logistics of getting a demo of the Audience may be difficult- I will try calling cableco and usedcables.com but demos across the border may be problematic.

In case you missed one of my posts, the slight popping only occurs with the USB input to the DAC module.


Anyone tried to put additional gain stage upstream, in between source and the Diablo ? I mean active preamp, either tube or transisto, not just phono stage. Match would be highly important in terms of impedances, gain and musicality. Diablo's preamp section is passive, basically it is a power amp. This idea is not, of course, if you only use onboard dac. I would give it a try with some excellent tube preamp.
Just a few days ago I bought Burson Audio Soloist headamp/preamp and I thought I would be using it for headphones listening only. But first I decided to put it in between my analog source and Redgum RGi120 integrated that also has passive preamp section.
So what do you know ? It improved the sound with no drawbacks. More weight, better dynamics and slightly better soundstage. Now, this Burson has three gain settings - low, medium and high - and everything sounds best on Medium, including Grado RS1 headphones.

nyev, 

I’ll be interested to see how your cable search goes as I’m looking for new speaker cables as well.  I had a dealer tell me to try out the new Shunyata ICs and SCs so you may consider putting those on your list.

mrc4u,   Our systems are very similar.  I have the gryphon diablo 300 with focal sopra 3s.  I also have a pair of jlaudio f112s that I have crossed over at 45hz which really work great.   I’ve never had the built in DAC, but I’ve always used a Chord Dave and have really never felt I needed a change.   I did try the m-scaler but I personally did not care for it, but I can certainly understand why some would.   I’ve been looking for a good looking for a good power condition so may have to give the Torus a try!


Yep, Shunyata is another high end brand worth trying. I’m hoping to find something I like as much as the high-end / insanely priced cables that is as good. I don’t know if it exists.

Another cable I came across on this forum was the Claris Crimson. A few on this thread were comparing it to the AQ Firebird which I believe is double the cost. Someone mentioned the difference with the Firebird, while a bit clearer, did not justify the cost. Also said the Claris was more 3 dimensional.

I found a Soundstage review of the Claris Crimson and they were saying how well designed and built they are, and how it is as neutral as you can get aside from playing at high volumes (which I don’t). The reviewer called them true reference cables.  Has anyone had experience with these cables?

Also found this elsewhere on the forum, which almost seems too good to be true:

“Old thread, but I can chime in here. The Clarus Crimson are extremely good and a bargain at their price point. I replaced a complete Nordost Valhalla and Odin setup with Clarus Crimson, and never looked back. The Clarus added better bass and a more three dimensional, relaxed and organic presentation, without compromising on resolution and micro details. Very musical. Highly recommended.”

There is also a review of the Clarus Crimsons at enjoythemusic.com where the reviewer is raving about them.
ricred1 on audiogon has Clarus crimson speaker cables and loves them.  I’ve spoke to him about them several times.  Maybe he can comment on them.
I would think that at this point upgrading the source could be more important than speaker cables. To Aurender streamer, perhaps.
Flemming strongly prefers pure silver or silver alloy cables, and he hardly ever thinks of bargains. 
nyev, you got a serious piece of equipment, value cables don't qualify really.