Gryphon Integrated or Seperates for $20K Pre/Power budget?


I'm wondering if an Integrated like the Gryphon Diablo 300 would make a lot of sense at my budget level, vs other options I'm looking into like the McIntosh MC462, the Pass Labs X250.8, and the Bryston 4B3 (with corresponding preamps).
How would the Diablo stack up against the other options which are separates?  I am basing my candidate components on what I can test in my area.  My speakers are B&W 803 D2's, and my room is rather large, open concept that extends to kitchen and dining room.  The ceiling is also vaulted.

Thoughts on whether to go separates vs integrated given the options above?  Thanks!


nyev
The separates vs the uber integrated arguement an age old question.

The Gryphon Diablo is one of a class of uber integrated amplifiers the others being  products from Vitus, T+A, Dartzheel, D'agastino and a few others. 

We do not sell the Gryphon but have heard it before and it is excellent, it tends to sound a little dark for our tastes, but any of the uber integrated amplifiers can generally outperform most separates from lesser companies. 

If this is helpful our top intergrated a T+A PA 3100 HV has been compared by other members on this board to Pass Labs separates and the general consensus was the T+A gear was better so this is comparing an uber integrated amplifier to a separate power amp and preamp.

Many of the uber integrated amplifiers are based on their corresponding separates put into one chassis which saves on expensive case work.

Our PA 3100HV  integrated is nearly identical to the companies  $19k separate amplifier plus their separate preamplifier which is $16k, the underhood differences are a reduced preamplifier stage which has been simplified so you are talking about a 20% reduction in sound quality for 40% less cost.

For this reason many of the uber integrated amplifiers represent excellent value for this kind of purchase.

In the case of a Gryphon vs Mcintosh, most Mcintosh gear tends to be warm and punchy but most auto transformer based amplifiers lack the ultimate clarity of those which do not employ such a technique to load match.

Gear like the MC 452 will still give you greater dyanmic swings and increased volume, the Mc B&W pairing is a good one as the B&W Diamond tweeter tends to be a bit on the hot side and Mc gear tends to be on the warm side.

So it will all come down to a number of factors:

1: Sound quality
2: Upgradability separates are more flexible
3: Space an high end integrated amplifier takes up much less space
4: Cost remember a good set of separates will also require a good interconnect which will run $1k-? depending on the results you want to accheive.

Your best bet would be to try to get a demo of any of the products you are considering. 

In summation the uber integrated market has evolved to where these types of products may outperform separates from other companies.

There are tons of good separates too consider as well from other brands then Mcintosh. The Antem STR amp and preamp are awesome for $10k we just got in the new Krell gear their 300 watt per channel amp plus preamp dac is $18,500.00 and the sound is exceptional even compared to our reference T+A separates which are $35k without the power supply and $48k with and that is not including the very decent built in dac the Illusion 2 preamp can come with. 

So you may want to broaden your search either way you could not go wrong with either the Gryphon or the Mcintosh pairings with the B&W.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ




Thank you for the thorough explanation and characterizations of the Mac And Griffin sounds.

Based on what you are saying it seems like the “Uber-integrates” makes sense.  Losing flexibility of mixing and matching pre and power amps is not a big deal to me.

I would love to expand my consideration to the other brands of Uber Integrateds you mention, however as I said I am limited by what I can try before buying in my vicinity (Western Canada).  

Do you (or anyone else) know if there are any options to purchase on of these options (Vitus, T&A) with the ability to return them?  

Alternatively I might be willing to use my frequent flier points to travel to listen to other “Uber-Integrateds” with B&W speakers...  I am familiar with how the new D3’s sound so I think that would be okay.

I will be trialing the MC462 at home as I have not written this option off despite the lesser detail - I may find that I simply like the Mac house sound. 

Thanks again, and let me know if you can think of any ways to expand my consideration of Uber Integateds such that I can at least try them with B&W speakers before buying, or alternatively, buying with the ability to return.

You may need to fly to Montreal or Toronto or other large city in Canada.

In New York you can visit Stereo Exchange in NYC they sell Mcintosh and Gryphon and B&W. The only issue is you being in Canada I don't know if you liked for example the Gryphon if they could sell you one.

However, if you were honest with them they still might just accomodate your request. Their may also be other dealers also the Canadian importer of Gryphon might be able to assist you in a home demo. 

The T+A PA 3100 HV is absolutely killer integraed it is $23k so it does cost a bit more that the Gryphon  but it definatly is a buy once and keep forever kind of product, we are also digging the new Krell separates they are absoluely stunningly musical and are in that rich musical vein, don't think they are quite as transparent as the T+A gear but so far pretty amazing sounding, the Persona 9H are not laid back speakers so any combo that makes these speakers musically engaging is going to have a similar effect with the B&W Diamond series.

You may  want to check them out as well in your quest.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
@audiotroy, Thanks for the above information.  It is appreciated.  

The Absolute Sound reports the T&A PA 3000 HV increases its HV units to a “whooping” 360 volts. They also say that most solid state amps operate at about 100 volts internally. Do other similar solid state amps operate at 360 volts?  

Does the T&A 3100 HV also operate at 360 volts?  Is the unit hot to touch and does it require special cooling and Ventilation?    What impact does the 360 volts have on its sound quality? Is there a concern when using an amp that runs at 360 volts?  How does this high 360 voltage compare to tube amps?   Thanks. 
The T+A gear uses this technique to emulate the musicality of tubes by using speciallty designed high voltage devices and running at higher rail voltages it was discovered that transistors become more linear when run at these higher voltages similar to some very exotic tube amplifiers the company built.

The T+A amplifiers run warm but not super hot and are incredibily well built in a word they sound very natural with a huge soundstage, great dyanmics, superior resolution and they are  neither bright nor dull sounding.  

The PA 3100HV is an amazing piece if you can find one to audition you will be blown away by it.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ T+A, Krell dealers
Audiotroy, I’d be interested in auditioning T&A, but yes it’s a bit beyond my budget, which as is is already beyond what should be my budget :-)

You mentioned the Gryphon Diablo 300 sounds a bit “dark”.  Can you expand on what you mean by this?  Does it continually get warmer in tonal response as you move up in frequency?  How does it compare with Mac mc462 and others?

thanks!
I'm not sure where you are in western Canada but I'm In Victoria BC and there are quite a few really good dealers in Vancouver and Victoria then there is many more just south of the boarder in Seattle and surrounding areas. Also we have a small group of  audiophiles that meet regularly who may know more places then I do. contact me if you want to chat. 

glen 


My brothers owns the New Diablo and on his quest over 4 months set out  bringing his integrated to at least 8 different systems with amps preamps up to $26k not counting digital, and not one bettered it’s musicality and synergy , one 
less power cord, one less pair of interconnects ,
and the digital board which my brother has ,another $3500 is Excellent ,which eliminates anotherpower cord and digital cable a Ton less wiring ,which adds to the timing and musicianship of thisintegrated . It is Fantastic Period !!
Luxman 900U monos. Or stereo amp with matching pre. Excellent.
Do whatever it takes to demo a Bryston 14B cubed amp and a BP 17 cubed preamp. Under your budget and fantastic.
pass x350.8 + xp22 sounds great

paid $14k Sounds great - full, clear, fast, musical, clearly hear separate instruments, griping and powerful, and  sounds good with normal non-audiophile music. 

I haven't compared it to Gryphon. 
There is a Bryston thread which is current - every comment positive.