Gryphon Diablo 300 vs McIntosh Mc601

Hi Alls (specially lrsky if you interested),

I have a dilemma wondering if anyone can help.

Recently Gryphon has released Diablo 300 (audited the one with DAC); and an distributor/dealer here in Sydney recommended me to change my Mc601 to it since I am needing a new DAC. Here is the my head-in context:

- Currently I have a McIntosh system (tube preamp, MC601 - 600 mono block) that run B&W 800 Diamond, quite happy with it as it is suited to music I listen to; and I do like the VU meter in front of McIntosh as well as the Space Alien look of B&W 800.....The sound is good, warm and lush; great mid/high range, real good for music with a lot of guitar playing. However, here is the down side: The MC601 is seem to be weak in punching the lower end of the 800 diamond (or just the speaker itself like that – I was using the set with few of Tannoy Prestige Series, sounds just great until the time I decided to try something different). I have tried to connect B&W 800 to 4ohm post, it sound better in lower range but less edge in high range and less sound stage, but acceptable good. To address the issue, I have added 2 new Rel Acoustic Sub System and it is the best coupling I tried (B&W DB1, Velodyne.....). I always strongly against using Sub to music listening but have to admitted that the Rel does make the different, deepening the sound to a great extension. I have been happy with it till my tube preamp is died couple of weeks ago.
- In hunting for new preamp/dac the have been introduced the new Diablo 300 with excellent Kalliope based DAC. I am using Media Center PC, and have spent countless hours to take out the noise, processing of OS....have rigged the computer registry to the point that I am happy and quite certain that it is closed or same to any high end player (have compared side by side with Moon/Goldmund...player). I have to stressed this point as I am working in IT, the media center is the must to me. Besides, I truly believe that good system will always sound good with acceptable sources not only reference one, enjoying music is totally different from picking super frequency noise....
- Auditing the Diablo 300 with 802 diamond (smaller than mine): I have spent time with this beautiful unit playing all the normal music I have been listening to every day..... I must say the Gryphon does great in re-producing the music in most re-fined way, natural, fast and warm enough. I do have a chance to listen to Gryphon top of the line speaker as well, I do like the dark romance they want to state so the vocal is just center and floating on top beautifully. The bass control is great, tight but smooth enough (way better than Krell and Classe...).
- Compare Gryphon Diablo 300 to MC601: First, I don’t know how this perform with my B&W 800 Diamond, as it is bigger speaker. The Diablo does better job in bass line but the mid range and sound stage is not adequate to McIntosh; and the lush factor of MAC sound that I like is not there. Overall the Diablo has finer control but it is not a “WOW” to me, it is better but not by an impressive gap.
- The dealer: I have read Larry (Irsky) comments about Gryphon’s selection of dealer in US; must say I have the similar situation here. As soon as I walked into their store and told them the system I have, the sales rep started to talk bad about Mac products and they are cheap comparing to others and discriminating about money driven market..blah blah...I came with the question that if they have a good DAC/Preamp, they make me feel that I am cheap to buy cheap product like McIntosh and how amateur it is in selecting the gears like I have, how great the gear that they have in store and all above level of my system. I had a hard time to tell them that I don’t have a budget, I buy what I like and love what I have (hifi, audio, music).....Then they started talking about computer is the worst thing ever as a source and which program to install, and just use their reference player and their music as the source during audition...Had to remind them again and again this is about me listing to my music at my home, and I had worked in AV industry as well as DSP experience...After another hour I can finally shut the discriminated speech all about money and class of audiophile off to listen to some real music....Must say it is annoying experience; and they are distributor/dealer of great Gryphon product: Sad.
- Struggling for solution: I have 3 choices now; A - McIntosh C2500 tube amp will do me great with existing current system (but not as fine as Gryphon Diablo). B- Buying Gryphon, something new, I have great future proof DAC/PRE as well as better, well-balanced natural music AMP (not sure how it behave with 800 diamond instead of 802); however will lose the sexy looking of McIntosh and warm fluidly sound plush annoying dealer. C – Buy the Gryphon and use in combine with McIntosh in bi-amp configuration, I am not too confident about this.

If you have any experience/thought/interest with this, please share with me, greatly appreciated.


(Please pardon me if you have trouble understanding my English)


Hello Daniel, I have dealt with this dealer for many years they have always gone out of their way to help me sorry you had a bad experience there. 

Can I suggest give them another chance but more importantly buy the best equipment you possibly can and currently Gryphon is the best.

I have previously owned big tubes Amps and I have heard McIntosh I like McIntosh but nothing controls a speaker (Bass, Mid and High Frequency) like Gryphon and in my opinion they sound very similar to Tubes with none of the downside. 

Forget the dealer experience and buy the best equipment, that for me is Gryphon!!!

Kind regards Bigpond


Hi Daniel,
I have been a HiFi enthusiast for over thirty years and have owned many amps and speakers over the years both valve and solid state. I also live in Sydney and in fact was the first audiophile in Australia to own a Gryphon amp, the wonderful DM100. 
I couldn't believe how much better it sounded than the two Krell KSA 250s I owned. The DM100 is now a classic and still outperforms many new products even today. A real testament to how good the original design was. I have great respect for the brand and for Flemming who
is passionate about the design, construction and sound quality of his products.
I have also owned a Diablo amp which I used with great success on Wilson Sasha speakers. And I have recently listened to the new Diablo 300 and have to say it is one of the best sounding amps I have heard in a long time. In fact you have to spend a lot more money to come close to it's performance. We compared it to a Goldmund system costing over five times the price and we all felt the Gryphon was at least as good if not superior to the Goldmund mono blocks. I also love the less is more integrated approach where you can have a great preamp, amp and dac based on the amazing Kalliope as well as a phono stage in one beautifully designed unit.
I am also familiar with your B&W 800 diamond speakers as well as the 802's you listened to. These are very nice speakers but are very dependant on the quality of the amplification to sound their best. They are very difficult to drive well and as a result very few people hear them at their best. I am confident that the Diablo 300 will be a great match for your 800's not only getting the best out of the bass potential but also achieving a great result with the mids and highs which can sound harsh on the diamond tweeter with a lot of other solid state amps.
I have a great respect for McIntosh gear but I can tell you now that it won't give you the same control and sound quality as the Diablo 300 will on your speakers. As you already noted the Gryphon is the logical choice if you are after a Great Future Proof solution with a wonderful natural sounding Preamp, Dac and Amplifier. 
As for your experience with the Gryphon Distributor/Dealer in Sydney, all I can say is that I and a number of other enthusiasts I know have only had very positive experiences every time we have dealt with them. They have provided a great customer experience and unbiased advice and stand behind all their products including Gryphon which is their flagship product. 

Kind Regards JZach.


Thanks for all of the answers, I don't mind to deal with the dealer as it may be just they tried too hard to marketing their product but not minding the side affect...All is left is how Gryphon Diablo perform side by side with my current system. It would be helpful if I can borrow the unit for couple of days at some cost. Otherwise, probably I will get C2500 for now. 

I will update how it goes later

Thanks a lot. 
Daniel, I have not heard the Gryphon stuff and I am sure it's terrific.  I have the cheap?($7,500) McIntosh C2500 and am very happy with it.  I used the internal DAC for a while until I went with an Ayre Codex.  The C2500's dac was pretty darn good.  I enjoy the sweet mac sound and it works for me.  Let your ears decide. Best of luck.
Too many variables starting from the rest of your system chain and finally your subjective taste...but not to kid ourselfs, Gryphon electronics is just made on a higher and more sophisticated level than Mac...I heard several Mac-s in many different systems ( MA6700, MA8000, MC 152, MC601, MA5200...etc.) and i would pick Gryphon in a aware of the price difference between some amps and Gryphon but nevertheless...FWIW, just the one mans taste...
I haven't heard the MacIntosh gear but I can tell you that I traded Audio Research separates for the original Diablo to drive my Wilson Audio Sashas , I had no complaint with the ARC gear , in fact it was a decision I did not take quickly but I found that i was getting too old for all the separate components and the idea of a ' one stop ' integrated appealed to me considerably , the ARC tube gear does have a bit more air up top but the Gryphon has , at least to me , more bass control , whatever differences there were , for my purposes , were negated by the convenience of one box . I also have been a customer of the Dealer you mentioned since 1985 , all my experiences have been positive and the owner goes out of his way to ensure a positive experience , including answering queries out of normal business hours .
Thanks Chris, 

What I care the most is the sound coming out of my system; I do really feel ichy when listening to the music in "not there yet" mode. Look like gryphon has a lot of fans here. Its new brand to me and i am keen to have a go with it, If it can do the job beautifully as it does with 802. 

I can tell that the dealer really tried to help, thats why i am still in very excited stage of getting the amp.....guess they have started in a wrong foot :-). 


I think the output transformers used in the Macs are degrading the bass just like what usually happens with tube amps. If you like the sound you are getting except for the bass I suggest you get a good powered sub.
Yes i agreed, as mentioned above, i am currently utilising 2 REL S5, fantastic subs compared to B&W DB 1 and velodyne DD 12 I have auctioned. However, the sound that Gryphone does have finer tonality control, more balanced mix....but less music instrumental sound. Anyways, i am waiting for in-home demo of the diablo 300. Hope it goes well..
The Gryphon should do a better job in every way than the Mac.
It will certainly drive AND control the bass on the B&W speakers.  
Both are fine products. The Gryphon is amazing.


As far as quality McIntosh is left in the dust. I have been involved with upgrades and what quality parts are. From Loudspeakers to preamp-amplifiers 
I sold Mcin tosh overseas usjng the red wima caps almost exclusively is a sin.
Especially on coupling. Even on small electrolytic Gryphon,uses                    Nichicon fine Gold , McIntosh uses standard grade.they take so many short cuts.
Their auto formers are good  but that too is lacking vs Gryphon.
Gryphon is  world class ,like FM acoustics,Goldman several from Denmark
McIntosh does sound good and look cool with the Meters .
Very dependable that is why many doctors, lawyers have bought in the past.
Gryphon is just a few steps better build quality does count. 

Thanks Lrsky, audioman58, rwwear,

I am waiting for the dealer to delivery a demo Diablo 300. Cant wait to see If the Diablo 300 can do what it did in audition with 802; if it can out perform the MC601 in driving 800 significantly.


Hi everyone,

I had 2 nites to hang around with Gryphon Diablo 300 and my current set of B&W800 Diamond/McIntosh MC601. Of course, the input is media center PC using JRiver 21. I have checked all the setting in Audio Setup section to make sure I do follow the setting recommended by Gryphon.


Audition: The Diablo 300 surprised me with deep and well controlled sound across all spectrums; it drove my B&W 800 diamond in very signature way of Gryphon. For those doesn’t like the dark sound, it’s actually even better. Since B&W 800 is quite bright and forward, IMHO, this pair actually help each other in balancing the sound. The music was reproduced again, I knew that I have said this, in very natural way, very refined and detail. I am not sure how to describe the unique sound of Gryphon amp, this happens when I was listening to other Gryphon Amp as well as Gryphon Amp powering different speaker; the way I can try is I can feel the distance between each tone , each node of music played as well as between vocal and music instrumental sound. In short, it’s just pleasure to listen to. When crank up to more than 38 steps of volume control on Diablo 300, I guess about 70% or more, it’s really loud but no distortion, not grainy at all. If anyone doubt about the ability of Diablo 300 in driving B&W 800 Diamond, please don’t worry, it punch the base out of my speaker in the way that I am more than satisfied. After 3 hours of listening none-stop, I really enjoy it. My ears are warmed up and so the Diablo 300.


Comparison: Having listening McIntosh MC601 and B&W800 diamond for long time, with all the daily albums, I don’t really need to do A/B listening to tell at all. The Diablo 300 outperformed McIntosh 601 in bass control especially at lower level of volume; and it does better job in sound imaging aspect, it please your ear more. The down side comparing to the big MAC are: sound of music seem to be smaller, shorter; especially for those made from flute, guitar and drum (I did pick these up when listening at the dealer place paring with 802 Diamond as well but not quite sure it’s the speaker differences or the amp). As I am not a musician so put it this way, the sound when powered by Diablo 300 is like produced from a guitar with too small box comparing to when Powered by MC601....When I changed to non-tube preamp, MC601 still sounds more tube alike than Diablo 300. Another point that I guess can take it as “Con” of Gryphone Diablo 300 is when the volume is rank up high, it has a bit of flare (not much at all) at the very end of the base sound while McIntosh MC601 still hold it tight and strong. Physically, the Diablo 300 have more than enough power to drive the B&W 800, but get really hot; while the MC601 is effortlessly powering the 800 diamond in just bit warm temperature, very relax.


Issue: While having near perfect sound re-production, I have found it very frustrated with Diablo 300 DAC. The problem only raises when turn off the amp and turn it on again. Please note that I use PC (I have 2 media centers) as input. After the first 3 hours listening to Diablo 300, I turn it off as had to go somewhere, when I turn it back on again (PC is still on all the time), the PC failed to register the Diablo 300, not showing at all in Device Management. I find it sometime have to re-scan of hardware change in USB node to make the Diablo appeared again or restart PC or have to turn off the PC, turn Amp on first then PC.....this happened throughout the 1st night results a lot frustration; then next day, I couldn’t make it work again with USB input from any PC; had to use analogue input after an external DAC. Another Issue I have came a crossed was the signal frequency handling: when change track in 6/24 Bit, 44.1khz CD Rip to MP3 format, the Diablo still display locked signal of 44.1 khz, 16 bit depth; it stopped intermittently after half of minute into the song then finally mute after few minutes playing. I have tried this for few times, same thing happened. Please note that this hasn’t happened before with my system when using NAD M51 DAC and PeachTree GrandPre Preamp using USB.

 I have seen this symptom before when auditioning all the NAD sound processor prior to their T187. I guess, the fact that Diablo 300 cut off all power to the DAC module - not even idle (this may different from Kalliope), may contribute the instability of the device to PC (nothing to do with frequency handling issue of course). However, I am not sure this may be just the particular DAC that given to me inside the Demo Diablo 300, or it is the issue with product line...


In conclusion, does the Diablo 300 sound wonderful with B&W 800 Diamond, well it does beautiful job; does it outperforms the McIntosh MC601 by much, not really; it does not have some good characteristics of the sound from big Mac (instrumental, airy and dynamic sound) ; does it attract me enough to buy, yes it is, since it came nicely as integrated box, it can be my next amplifier for next- on- the- list like Pantheon or similar Speaker from Gryphon. I would buy it and spare the MC601 for another set of speaker if it can take PC input smoothly enough. In my opinion, there will be more and more people like myself, who use PC alike as source for their HiFi system, in the future (if not a lot already). Guess that I will be with the McIntosh C2500 for now, and look at Gryphon as my next upgrade.

Thanks everyone!


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