Upgrading form Pass integrated amplifier to a better one


Currently I have a PASS INT-250 integrated amplifier . The Pass INT-250 is a very good integrated (in my system it was overall better than Plinius Hiato, Gamut D150se, Mark Levinson 535, Vitus RI-100,  Accuphase E-470 and some others) but I can't get rid of the feeling that I miss some explosiveness (drum kicks for example) and micro details.

I know that its not the speakers. The new Sonus faber tradition I have are much more open, dynamic and airy than previous Guarneri Evos, Elipasas SE and Amati Anniversarious I used to own. And before buying them I auditioned the Serafinos with Audio Research separates and it was the amazing combo. But I really prefer not to go the separates road ( ICs, power cords and space contribute to financial constrains also) and even so I like the combo of Pass and Serafinos overall but from time to time looking for some better integrated on the market.

Currently I presented with a good opportunity to buy latest Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated or latest just released Accuphase E-650.  No possiblilty to demo them, so I am asking here on the forum if anybody can comment if Gryphon Diablo 300 or Accuphase E-650 will be better integrated than Pass INT250 overall and especially in terms of dynamics, micro details and harmonics.

Any advise and opinion would be very appreciated.

My system: Esoteric K-05x, Pass INT-250, Sonus Faber Serafinos, all cabling are the Shunyata Sigmas.

Room is 12" wide by 17" long. Listen mostly acoustic jazz and chamber classical on low to moderate levels.

Thank you.

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move up the Pass line...
I don't see anything about the Accuphase E-650. Isn't that a fairly low powered Class A integrated? Less power than the Pass? That doesn't make sense to go lower in power. I have an Accuphase A36, only 30wpc, and it's nice but resale is terrible. I can't give it away. Accuphase USA pricing is idiotic at best. 

You really don't have many options for a killer integrated. The Gryphon Diablo 300 makes the absolute most sense among those mentioned and with the internal dac, a true reference answer. 

I would  kindly ask don't post anything like increase a volume, check your connections or move up the pass separates.

I stated clearly that my interest related only to integrated amps and now specifically to Gryphon Diablo 300 since I offered a great deal on the new unit.

So if anybody owns Diablo 300 or had a chance to audition it and compare it to any pass gear, please provide your opinion.

Thank you.

I don’t have experience with Pass INT-250. But I have auditioned both Gryphon Diablo and Diablo 300. They both share the same Gryphon house sound but the 300 is more refined and more powerful. I currently own RI100 and use it on my main system. By comaparimg my experience between Vitus and Gryphon, I doubt whether Diablo 300 will give you the improvement that you’re looking for. It will give you a different flavor of sound for sure. But not sure whether that’s what you’re looking for or not. Besides Gryphon Dianlo 300, have you considered Dartzeel CTH-8550? 
jjue, thanks for the comments, as usual, it is all system and taste dependent. When I had Vitus RI-100 in my system for a demo, to my ears, it had some better resolution than pass but sounded more analytical (less musical) than my Pass Int-250. Based on what I'm reading on the net, the Gryphon delivers front rows presentation with outstanding refinement and musicality. If this is the case - this is what I am after. I did not find any negative review or opinion on the forums (yet) related to the Diablo 300. The Dartzeel (new) and others in this range out of my budget completely and I'm not after used units at this level of the equipment.
Denon1, what you read about Gryphon matches my impression. Both Diablo and Diablo 300 can deliver life like music in front of you with great dynamic and details. I was looking to buy a Diablo before I bought my RI100. Back out because of lack of importer/dealer at that time. I’d buy the Diablo 300 without hesitation if I were buying now.
Very interesting thread- denon1-
you have certainly owned some of the very finest integrated amps!
Keep writing about your listening thoughts and impressions.
Happy Listening!
Hello The Excellent Vitus  integrated amps are very refined and detailed
Check with Anthony at Perotta consulting he may have a demo or used one .
To buy on approval. Depending on budget  the 100wpc pure class A model 
Is over $20k retail  the main stresm model you can get for may be $12k new.
@denon1   may be helpful to reach out to @raindog031  He did a write up on the Diablo 300 a few months ago.
I think an Octave audio V80se or an V110se might float you boat. Give it a listen.
@denon1, very interesting thread. Please let us know what you end up purchasing.

Jafant Lak, thank you, I will. Not an easy decision. The pass INT-250 is very good. May be anybody will be interested in my experience with the integrated..So far in my system, I had these integrated  (mostly playing with Sonus Faber or Vienna Acoustics  models):

1. Plinius Hiato - great midrange and bass, highs are hot and digital noise persistent - as result lack of air and micro details.

2. Gamut D150SE - good airy sound silky highs, but lack of bass and poor build for the price.

3. Accuphase E-470. Great build. I guess prestige play part. But nothing special with the sound - overpriced in US.

4. Pass labs INT-60 - great one,  
beat all the above but when I had Guarneri Evos, I needed some more power to get that relaxed/effortless feel in the sound.

5. Mark Levinson 585 - balanced smooth sound, but I felt its not a best match with Sonus faber.

6. Viva Solista - very good 845 tube based amp. To my surprise has been a good match with Sonus faber Anniversarios. The tube swapping so drove my crazy and it obviously ran hot. On a higher volumes did not have enough power to get SF sing. But with efficient speakers will be outstanding.

7. Pass labs INT-250 bested all the above. Power, musicality, good details. But I know that my new Sonus faber Serafinos can exhibit even better sound - with more flash out micro details and dynamics.

So my only choice that I like to explore is Gryphon Diablo 300.

Even so I appreciate it, please don't offer your opinion on anything else, since I am only interested in Gryphon. Lack of availability to demo, makes me to ask assistance on the forums. So again please anybody with hands on or any experience with Gryphon Diablo and its sound and reliability please chime in.

Thank you.

There are two products from T+A of Germany that might fill the bill nicely.

The first is a $11k integrated amplifier from the R series.

Musicfx bought one of these and he had compared the T+A to a comparably priced Pass labs integrated and he ultimately purchased the T+A over the Pass Labs and another integrated amplifier he was also auditioning.

The R series use much of the technology of the more expensive HV series but uses a superb switch mode power supply to lower the cost. The PA 2500r was amazing sounding when we had one on display it has a very purcuasive and rhtymic quality coupled with a huge soundstage.


T+A is the largest electronics manufactuer in Germany and they have the resources and raw engineering talent to create some very interetesing and very high performing gear.

The more expensive HV series integrated was compared to $120k worth of Ch Precision gear, in TAS and the reviewer Allan Taffel was having a hard time telling the difference, so the $18k PA 3000 HV integrated is one fantastic ampliifer.

The HV concept which T+A created runs solid state devices at very high rail voltages the same as tube products and the incresed voltage enbles the transistors to become more linear amplification devices reducing distortion and creating a very tube like midrange.

The T+A stuff is very powerful, with a huge sound stage, excellent transparency, but without being sterile, and the bass  is very punchy build quality is fantastic, is the the styling and feature set.

The latest T+A integraed the HV 3100 which is an improved version of the original less expensive PA 3000 integrated was compared with a $45,000 Dagasitno and the less expensive Vitus. 

The reviewer found the 3100 to combine the best of both of those companies products and the $22k T+A integrated was considered to sound as good as the twice the price D'agasitno Momentum product.


So if you are looking at a destination level integrated this is one company I would look at strongly.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

I own an Accuphase E-600 and I am always questioning myself in terms of what would be the next step up. The new E-650 will be an improvement over my model. The first one is slated for delivery in December and will be available to hear in MA at Legend AV. I am considering tubes and have found that speaker cables can play more than a minor part in equipment synergy. I have come to the conclusion the amp selection/evaluation is only one part and that in many cases, other speaker cables must be evaluated as part of that process. I know that’s not what you wanted to hear but the issue is a real one, at least based on my experience.

I have auditioned or owned all the pieces you have tried other than the Viva Solista (which is something I would like to try). As for other brands, you might try contacting Philip O’Hanlon at On A Higher Note (US importer of Gryphon) to see if he can facilitate an in-home trial. 

Keep me posted as I am also on the "upgrade" path!
Greginnh, is E-600 really being class A really better than other integrated models in accuphase range? Did you had a chance to demo and compare? But still Accuphase is way overpriced here in US, so I doubt I will proceed looking at the new model.
denon1 - IMO - yes. I owned the E-470 and it was good but not great. It had plenty of power but lacked some finesse that only Class A can impart. You are correct, the Accuphase is grossly overpriced due to importer’s ridiculous mark up. I never pay retail for any of my gear anyway. You can always get a heftty discount off retail on Accuphase.

Where are you located?

Greginnh, so you are saying that E-600 is more refined than E-470?, what else, more 3d, more texture, micro details, how its bass?  I never buy retail and currently have a pretty good deal on coming E-650 since its supposed to be better according to a specs. But again no possibility to audition.

Thanks again.

Better in all aspects and nothing missing in the bass department. It's almost impossible to find an Accuphase dealer who has the item as a demo, available for in-home trial.
Greginnh, thank you for the valuable info. I may get back at considering Accupase E-650, especially since the Accuphase dealer is offering pretty good deal. This may explain the popularity of the Accuphase, because of the class A.
 cones domes in a small cab is the issue toss all the amp at that you like 
Spending $16k on an amp without auditioning it and having no idea how exactly it would sound in your system and whether or not you would like it? Think about it, it's nonsense. Gryphon Diablo will easily drive your speakers and most other speakers. So what ? You might not like what you hear just as you don't quite like the Pass.
Inna, I agree. But I never buy for full retail. 20% off at least.  As I said above I have been offered great deal that is not easy to pass. It’s still risky, but the dealer that I know for quite some time has both in his showroom and swears that gryphon in a different league. He is saying that to his ears it’s even better (more musically involving) than Vitus SIA-025. I heard that model of Vitus and it is terrific integrated. 
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denon1.  Can you tell me where I can audition the Diablo 300?   I am getting the itch for an upgrade!
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I am the first one in fact to recommend auditioning Gryphon to anyone who can make use of it and can afford it. Any Gryphon. As I heard from many sources, there is no better solid state equipment, just different, and not many can match Gryphon's performance, especially big Gryphon's. I don't think that Swiss integrateds could match the Diablo 300' dynamics, punch and possibly clarity as well. Swiss are also overpriced, like Accuphase. 20% off for Gryphon is indeed a great deal. Optional DAC is quite expensive, though. And generally speaking, Flemming Rasmussen of Gryphon is widely respected. Gryphons are very reliable and long lasting, as far as I know.
They are now establishing the limited dealership network in the US, so anyone interested can ask the distributor, On A Higher Note. 
If I remember right, Gryphons are burnt in at the factory for 75 hours. Flemming recommends to play them for additional 100 hours before critical listening. I think, he means just that - play time not stand-by time.
Gryphon makes their own mostly or pure silver cables, these should be the first ones to try. Of course, there might be an even better match depending on taste and speakers, probably more expensive if there is one too.

Inna, let me clarify, for a Gryphon deal, I am not getting a 20% off, but instead was offered outstanding trade in price quote for my pass int-250. Gryphon don't give 20% discounts.

Hi denon1 if you consider tube amp options also. I own Allnic T-2000 25th Anniversary integrated amp which it is newer version of old t-2000 . Using 4 KT150 output tubes put out 100 watts nice tube sound . I match with 89 db 4 drivers sealed enclosure design speaker. Allnic drive nicely and I think will be very good match with your S F speakers.  Allnic is amazing amp. I am very happy to say that Dont over look.


Have you heard a T+A  product? Gryphon and T+A are competitors in Europe and there are those who have acutally compared the T+A product to the Gryphon in the case of the battle of the uber intergrateds and have chosen the T+A product which has a few advantages over the Gryphon. and the Gryphon also has a few advantages as well so it come down to a whole number of factors.

These are two of the world's best products I have nothing but respect for Gryphon and I have heard their products and they are outstanding but to make the claim that Gryphon is the best is ridiculous, they are among the best but in the case of reference grade electronics it will all come down to what you prefer in terms of looks, features, sound quality, wattage, and how it mates with your gear.

If you read the TAS review Mr. Taffel compared an older HV series integrated to $120k worth of CH Precision gear and came away very impressed up to the point that he was having difficulty determining which was which and again, $45k D'agastino piece vs $21.5K T+A integrated and boom same thing so obviously this is a brand to be reckoned with also considering they are the single largest high end brand in Germany must mean that their equipment is also extremely good.

What I find ironic is with all the positive press rave reviews in TAS, Soundstage, Positive Feedback guys like Inna aren't saying hey what about this brand too?

I would never make a statement that T+A or Gryphon is better than Dartzeel, or Vitus, or CH or Goldmund it will all come down to what you value and what you like and of course what you are exposed to, but again, if T+A equipment wasn't absolutely world class they would hardly have grown to be the size of the company that they are. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 
Inna I would also add in our tests vs a big set of MBL, Krell MRA a $120k Krell Massive pure Class A monoblocks that were the magnum opus of Krell, a set of $90k Boulder Amps, Thrax gear and CJ gear, Devialet 400 watt Monos, the T+A also come out on top vs most of the other pieces and in some ways out performed the Boulder and in other ways the Boulder was better, but we were also comparing a $90k set of Boulder Mono blocks vs a T+A stereo amp and power supply for $32k so the T+A was at a major disadvantage.

So yes when you test T+A they are also pretty freaking amazing sounding pieces of equipment.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Dave and Troy, please don't use my thread to push your product. You recommended this once, there is no need to go into details again and again. At this point I'm interested only in the opinion of the people who actually heard Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated. All other options off the table.


Looking forward to your purchase decision -denon1

Happy Listening!

The Audionet WATT integrated is very good, and shouldn't be to hard to get an audition. Good luck with your purchase!
I understand that all other options seem to be off the table but I would urge you to consider a mint used Dartzeel CTH 8550 integrated amp. The road would stop here. Exudes Swiss uber build quality and sound competitive with very high end separates. Lots of power with great refinement. Read reviews in Tone Audio and a fairly recent Positive Feedback review. You can find used in the 12k range and they are constructed to outlast most of us. The designer Herve D is quite renowned, totally accessible and a gentleman. Contact Jonathan Tinn at Blue Light Audio if you have even a smidgeon of interest. I have no personal interest other than shedding light on one of the great pieces of audio gear that would absolutely light your fire. Oh, I love the color which kind of implies the rich but neutral sound. FWIW
People are trying to help you by sharing their experiences with products/models that you might not have heard. If you're set on a particular brand/model, then start a new thread with Gryphon 300 in the title. All that said, FWIW, I thought the Hegel360 sounded excellent with the SF Elipsa.
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Hey Denon 1, If you don't know what to buy, hire mariachi band. Great bass, transparency. 4D sound stage if you place them in all four corners. You can also regulate the warmth of the sound with the heater and the AC. For the micro details you can always use magnifying glass.
Plus, still money in the pockets since you don't need anaconda cables.
I almost forgot, great harmonics too. Especially after a case of beer.
Sorry Denon, the intent was not to push the product, but find out why a similar product that may be better for you is not on the discussion or even being considered?

As these two brands are more similar then dissimilar that was what is driving our curiousity. Each of these two companies is widly respected and each brings a little something else to the table.

As per trade in's many dealers give generous trade in deals. 

The Diablo 300 is definately one of the best products of its kind on the market, and you will be hard pressed to find anything which is better, different yes, better no. 

You should feel consident that you will enjoy the piece, as we said earlier these two brands are among the best sounding products on the market and both represent what we feel the best value for dollar for uber high performing gear.

Honestly if we didn't get T+A first and love the brand, we would have pursued a Gryphon dealership so if you are so convinced go get a Diablo you will not be unhappy with it it is a great piece.

We will clam up. Enjoy your Diablo.

I went theough a similar journey earlier this year and I think I understand the why’s behind your short list. In fact, you’ve shared the list of amps that you’ve auditioned along with your impression. What you’re looking for is a small group of ‘elite’ integrated amps. I saw a few suggestions for the alternatives and I don’t think you’d be interested those. In fact, I owned some of those brands myself and I ended up with upgrading to my current amp. Keep us posted on what you end up with purchasing and share your experience is.

Happy listening!  

+1.  I agree with kalali’s post above that you should start a new Audiogon tread on the Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amplifier.  This post is giving you MANY recommendations on other integrated amplifiers, that it seems, you are not interested in.  You stated above that "you are only interested in the Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amplifier”.  

I do not believe this tread is giving the information you need to make a decision.  A new Audiogon tread only on the Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amplifier might might result in getting the information you need.

Based on the large number of amplifier recommendation above, as you can see, there is no one integrated amplifier that is the best and recommended amplifier.  I suggest you locate your nearest Gryphon retailer and listen for your self.   I guarantee you that for every person that likes the Gryphon, an equal number will probably not.   I suggest you make your own decision based on what you hear and like and not what someone else recommends.

This is a very strange hobby because of the wide variety of opinions and recommendations on the many different products.  I have listened to amplifiers that other people love and I do not.   In addition, I sometimes agree with what my retailer recommends and sometimes not.  I read the reviews, sometimes, but they do not dictate what I buy.  I have learned to make my own decisions based on what sounds good.  Unfortunately, I sometimes make a mistake that is expensive but I sell the item and buy something else.  I hope this above helps.    


You are making a lot of sense. The real issue is that Gryphon has been unavailabe for years therefore trying to find a person who has actually heard one is nearly impossible at least in the States, in Europe it is another matter.

As per Vitus vs Gryphon the less expensive Vitus is not in the same class, while their uper end models are more expensive for less real power even though they have very high headroom.

Personally I have always thought Vitus to be a bit dark while the Gryphon is a more balanced product. 

If the deal is good, just go for it, you will be very happy they make excellent products. 
Philip O’Hanlon from On Higher Note is the new distributor for Gryphon audio products.  I suggest you call him for advice and for the name of a Gryphon retailer near you.  I know Philip and he is very consultive and helpful.  Please give him a call to discuss your options.  I also found these links below for your review:




Thanks.  Gryphon audio products are now being distributed in the USA by On Higher Note and Philip might be looking for new retailers.  Maybe the Audio Doctor NJ should contact him to be a Gryphon retailer.  I have never heard the Gryphon, the Vitus, the Hegle360, T+A products and have no interest in replacing my Mola Mola Kaluga Mono Block Power Amplifiers. 
@denon1, I found this link on Audiogon regarding the Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifeir:


Please do a Google search on the Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifier for additional reviews and comments.

I hope this helps........
Bel Canto Black Intergrated. $25000
Folks, thanks a lot for your help. Good advises on the starting a new thread, but no need for it , as AudioTroy said, , the deal is too good to pass, next week I’ll pull the trigger on Gryphon.
when I get it, I post my humble one on gryphon vs pass integrates. 
Based on the Gryphin dealer who’s opinion I learned to trust, 
the gryphon is richer, more detailed an dynamic with sweet highs and better bass. Considering that Pass Int-250 is no slouch either, the Diablo me be my last integrated to buy for a long time.

Why no one mention McIntosh, aren't they not good integrated amp anymore?