Gryphon Diablo 300 Unchained


Hi folks,

I made a little effort and wrote up my observations after spending some time with this integrated and D/A converter combined. There is a review here and there but very low real user feedback so far...i am a Gryphon fanboy and i know this sport is very subjective but ill try to be as much objective as i can...

I will skip most part of technical characteristics because who is interested in this amp all ready knows it...
I had original Diablo driving Dynaudio Confidence C4 Mk2 speakers with Esoteric D-07X D/A converter, Kuzma reference Mk2 TT with Kuzma 4 Point arm,47 Labs MC Bee cartridge and phono cube. When i heard Gryphon releases new integrated (after 10 years!!) i knew something is serious about this. New thing was optional D/A converter based on their reference Kalliope and glance on that possibility played my mind. I also put an accent on "optional" because i don’t like the lately trend of some High end manufacturers practically forcing you to buy their D/A converter (and phono pre) when you wish to buy their all ready expensive amplification...maybe you got awesome dac or phono and don’t want to change...so i salute Gryphons decision to make this things as the optional...i will admit i bought D/A on blind...but i did not doubted about quality.In my case i wanted a bit of that much louded Kalliope performance, a very good converter who does DSD and PCM with up to date options and different samplings. I liked that it draws no power from any USB source component, generating instead its own pure power (12.5 farad SuperCap USB power supply) for maximum isolation from the PC to cut off "jitter" problems. I also liked idea to simplify things and throw away interconnects (Crystal cables Ultra XLR) and power cables for exterior unit and not to think about those things anymore...
Normaly i would allways opt to exterior units but on this price level i considered it a serious contender...
Its not card inserted in amp or something but a box inside box...by their words "module is fully isolated in an independent aluminium housing with grounded panels and is impervious to HF radiation, eliminating any risk
of interference with the amplifier stages or the optional Gryphon phono module" which was good enough for me...

Dac is 6K euros in my country.I guess exterior unit of similar performance made by Gryphon would cost a bit more because of bigger and more luxurious outside housing, front vacuum touch panel (dac is connected to Diablos panel),remote, XLR connectors and stuff like that.So while i could not audition dac my dealer guaranteed that if i had any dissatisfaction with unit he will help me in any way he can and gave me additional discount.Talk about the service...so i ordered the damn thing...

After two and half months of waiting because of great demand for this amplifier i finally got it.
Its a toe-crushing 40 kilos of bad ass design in every regard...stylistic or functional...you name it...true sophisticated 21 century design of integrated...as it should be.Diablo 300 is expensive product but i would say that all the good things in life are free or expensive

I installed Foobar drivers for dac and tuned foobar options as described in the manual.
They also pointing on DPC Latency Checker program to see if your streaming is compromised. If someone has problem with latency just download Fidelizer program and start audiophile optimizations. The program basically turn off all programs that don’t have anything with audio but interfere with quality of streaming. So that should do for now although there are ways to optimize it even more...but that is another story...
I turned unit up and on first it played ok but i was not impressed at all...few hours after when it got warm and stabilized it has showed the potential.It was started to sound very good and got better in next 2 days.About 50 hours is a burn in time for amp.
Folks at the Gryphon told me that D/A needs about 200 hours to fully burn in so i left the unit marinated playing it all the time for one whole week. It changed its character from time to time and then it finally settled so i could get a serious listening...

-LISTENING CHAPTER

...i noticed significantly better definition of instruments, soundstage and details at low level listening which is great, especially because Dynaudios sound best pushed louder.Now it sounds more "alive" at low levels.
I will ascribe that to greater power and resolution than my previous amp and D/A combo.
About resolution...
Diablo dac is detail retriever of the high order...you can hear every detail and sense every move of artist in front of microphone without any effort...every little shade...but what is fascinating everything sounds so natural,sound just flows, it is extremely balanced and nothing pop ups.If you want to dissect the sound everything is here, all that audiophile goodies but nothing is highlighted or sounding analythical.Diablo delivers unhyped naturalistic virtues...it has that desirable natural warmth.Combo sounds more like real event and less like recording.I can’t say that dac sounds just like my analog source but its one of least digital sounding dacs i had chance to hear...very very natural indeed...
Attack and decay are first rate...tones are sounding more rounded, especially the top...more lush and shaded...so listening through my Bill Evans,Bosko Petrovic, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley collections its not hard to notice that now the sound is more richer and fuller with trios, quartets or duos for that matter...Kenny Barron & Charlie Haden - Night and the city album even played by two artists sounding very rich and full...nothing is missing...overall tones are much better connected...very coherent presentation...
everything is more relaxed.Bass is in control at all levels, very detailed and has bit more meat on bones.It is tight, fast and goes deep.Does not punch you in the chest or shaking the room but its in the air and perfectly textured...it delivers viciously when asked but its not intrusive in any way.Percussion had more explosive dynamic and impact...when you listening good recorded song like Jazz Variants from O-Zone group this machine shows what it can do.It startles you every now and then...

Midrange is more seductive, richer and open, vocals are more "real" and focused...you will not get tube rich midrange but this definitely does not sound like everyday SS mid range...listening to Jarrett’s Koln concert, Rubinstein playing Chopin or Nojima plays Ravel solo piano recordings you can feel artists every move, whisper and feel the player touches piano button before the tone starts...there is more body in instruments.
There is more feeling of the wood and proportions of instrument...it all sounds more musical,smoother and swaying...images in the deep soundstage are more touchable, more present...space between instruments
is better percepted and there is more air...

Electronic music also sounds great...for example Trentemoller - Last resort album, soundstage is huge but not excessive and i could feel the ambient in the way i could not with my previous combo.All layers of music are on its places and everything sounding so refined...the sound was dead serious...
You don’t need to be audiophile to get that something extraordinarily is going on here.Not that the album did not sound mighty on previous setup but this is clearly a higher level or music reproduction.Similar results i got from B Tribe - The Ocean at dusk album, Spanish guitar flamenco elements mixed with electro music and very heavily produced Massive Attack Mezzanine album.It reproduced quality recorded electronic on par with acoustic music.Also metal albums of artists like Rammstein, Pantera or Slayer did sound very good and you could not feel hint of any softness or anything characterized with acoustic music records played before. It sounded like it should, hard, raw, with bite and heavy, yet refined and not beautified.Although Diablo 300 and Diablo dac can show what they really can on symphonic music and eats Mahler, Berlioz and Beethoven for breakfast its nice to know that combo is not one trick pony and when it comes to different genres of music they are true chameleon...Without a doubt it delivers in all fields as much as recording lets it...

On the other hand when i turn on my analog source things become more organic sounding...a bit softer, a bit more natural.Listening Mark Lanegan - Whiskey for the holy ghost LP or Eric Clapton - Unplugged LP sound have such purity and ease that it is magical.Presence of guitar and voice in the space is believable and has more body.Sound was less directed from the speakers.Top is extended and has so much energy, life but not to the point that it hurts your ears and is definitively better than on previous amp. Mid range and voices where a bit more natural and textured than on digital.Sound was bit more stable and bit less assailant at higher volume than dac.When listened to one of more mature albums of Nick Cave LP Boatmans Call 300 does it with better timbre, more involving, intimate and relaxed presentation than the original Diablo...not to confuse for romantic or too mellow sound...its also neutral, with more natural warmth and greater resolution than previous amp...

Analog source was more pleasantly to listen over a long haul but i must admit that dac at almost 4 times less cost than my analog does hell of a job, gives real high fidelity sound and represents a great value. Its so good that i could live with it without analog...i could...but i wont of course...i can assume that Kalliope rivals best analog and digital sources and i was playing with thought to maybe go on it but i have all ready great sounding analog and very good digital, good collection of records so why not enjoy in both...but who knows what future brings...im afraid that my future rings Gryphon...

Movies and series also sounding great and 3 dimensional...there is more feel for the ambient protagonists are talking in...Explosions and special effects are spectacular...not harsh for the ear even at loud levels...who needs home theater anyway...

-BRAG CHAPTER

Micro-macro dynamics are well known Gryphon’s trait and with 300 its one of characteristics this amp does beyond reproach.No matter the volume level quiet or loud there is no hint of dynamic constraints or alteration of sound ratios. Everything was even more articulated.It made the speakers more dramatically expressive, more involving and "right" sounding.It may sound weird but listening to my system with my eyes closed it was like the sound was being painted in front of me...it just never fail to impress...but there is a catch...Diablo is neutral component and by neutral i mean that it presents every recording different.In the way it was actually recorded.So that don’t means that 90% of music will sound like crap...no...it reveals shortcomings but not that they overshadow the musics qualities...all though better recordings will sound significantly better than average ones.Most of DSD-s sound very close to vinyl.You can bet that you wont get colored sound from this machine.Folks at the Gryphon are not trying to make a young girl from the old woman.You’ll get the truth depending from the rest of your chain...

Those who have original Diablo have every reason to get new 300 because you get machine that is not much expensive from old one but so much better that it greatly closes the gap of sound quality between extremely expensive gear up in the top of the food chain and gear also expensive but reachable to mortals.They will not lower market value of your second hand Gryphon amp because they are not making new ones every two or three years...so they simply make high end amps of great value that can push with competition over many years. At this price level it seriously questions the usefulness of separate components. Its multiple ability is like a Swiss army knife...you can adjust input source gain, max volume level option, has self diagnose program if something fails has enough power to push most speakers flawlessly, optional phono and D/A etc...has two XLR inputs and three RCA inputs so you can choose whatever you want without hassle while i have to admit its strange that i saw more than one integrated amp similarly or more expensive but not having XLR inputs!?

Did i mention how cool the remote is? Light but you can feel the quality with intuitive positions of buttons and gorgeous design in aluminium...the only thing i hate more than cheap plastic remotes are big 1 kilo weighted cold weapon remotes...this remote successfully dodges those two "solutions"...

I leave the mystification of the brand and gear to professional reviewers, im only interested to sound, functionality, durability and support...new Diablo 300 amp meets it all and when you add the bad ass design who screams quality and character you know you got something real special here...and while i was not excited like i had my first Gryphon amp i must say that im very satisfied and discovering potential of this great amp everyday on various music.Be sure that this amplifier wont be obsolete even for 20 years.

With additional room treatments, computer optimizing and tweaks like Stillpoints under the speakers i will try to enhance sound quality even more...i ordered Gryphon Black spikes ST under Diablo which are made of polymethylmethacrylate and steel to put the resonances at minimum which should benefit the sound quality...i will report...

I hope i answered few questions for those members interested in this machine and if i can help any further feel free to ask...
I also apologize on my grammar, English is not my first language and i was lazy to correct all the mistakes but i hope you caught the essence...
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128raindog031