Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 12.2), PureMusic 2.04, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, SOtM dX-USB HD w. super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, S.A. Lab Lilt [on review]
Preamplifier: COS Engineering D1, Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X, Vinnie Rossi Lio (TVC)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8, FirstWatt S1, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Gato Audio DIA-250; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], SST Audio Son of Ampzilla II [on review]
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Sounddeco Sigma 2; Eversound Essence; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120, Gallo Strada II w. TR-3D subwoofer
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event MkI and MkII; KingRex uArt double-header USB; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s and subwoofer
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves and Krion or glass-based Exoteryc stand/s for amp/s
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan with additional 2nd-floor loft; wood-paneled sloping ceiling; parquet flooring; lots of non-parallel surfaces
Review component retail: €19'800
Becoming legendary and remaining so must marry quality with consistency. With any sufficient severity, a single error of judgment or execution can tarnish reputation and stature that were hard-earned over many decades. No matter your legerdemain then, the legend's legs begin to end. This could be a change of ownership. Krell without Dan D'Agostino, Thiel without Jim Thiel are mere shells of their former glory. Mark Levinson and Revox today are nothing like they once were. Nagra Audio have changed ownership but remain with and in the Kudelski family. Thus far this most iconic of Swiss hifi brands have managed their transition so well that they appear to be on an actual ascendant. That's rare. In Denmark, we've had names like ScanSpeak and Dynaudio migrate into Chinese ownership, leading original founders and key engineers to launch new and competing companies like Audio Technologies and SB Acoustics. Perhaps no other name in Danish hifi is as legendary—and long-lived at that level—as Gryphon Audio are under the literally tall and unchanged leadership of Flemming Rasmussen. Nobody disputes their standing. Nobody complains about their expense. It's par for the course whenever one deals with the best of the best. In hifi that must be based on real engineering and demonstrable performance, not runaway marketing and empty promises. Staying power is the true foundation upon which lasting legends are built.
With products, it's not only about undeniable quality though. Consistency and longevity are just as vital. Like old money, customer investments are honoured with very conservative product replacements. One doesn't refresh the catalogue annually with new models or MkII iterations. Neither does one cater to the nouveau riche's obsession with cosmetic bling; nor jumps onto the latest fashions just to keep up with the Joneses. Products gestate slowly to insure full maturity and completeness upon launch. Emerging industry trends are observed carefully and over a few years to assess their true relevance or lack thereof. It's only when PCfi with its reliance on external D/A conversion had proven itself here for the long haul that our Danes authored their first DAC. Until then and even now, they kept the faith with integrated high-end solutions for physical carriers of digital data. Fully cognizant that the PCfi scene won't ever enter a period of true stability—being tethered to computers, IT and telecom, changes occur rapidly every six months—for their first DAC they naturally insisted on modularity to insure future proofiness and peace of mind; and that both PCM and DSD were catered to. With the Gryphon name steeped deeply in myth, it's little surprise that their first DAC would be called Kalliope. That's from the Greek kallos and ops (καλλος and οψ) for 'beautiful voice', the name of an ancient goddess of epic poetry and eloquence and also one of the nine muses. A final ingredient of successful legendemaine is perfectionist branding. The best brands make all their owners feel as though they were an elite part of a very exclusive club. With two gorgeously produced coffee table books already, on their company's storied history which celebrates a 30th anniversary this year, Gryphon have presentation down pat as well. To illustrate the mind set of their founder who is a degreed painter and graphic artist from the Aarhus Art Academy, consider Benjamin Franklin's motto which is part of Flemming Rasmussen's email signature: "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Hint: luck, coincidence & Co. have little to do with it. A bit of fishiness just might.
Another hint, on what to expect from any of their products is, again, in the company name; that is, when rendered in full as Gryphon Audio Designs. It's not Gryphon Audio Laboratory aka men in white coats. It's designs, plural. That's because industrial design plays a big part in all of Gryphon's products. Hitting upon just the right mix of luxury and understatement is another key ingredient of playing it for longevity. It's called timelessness. And only the truly best have that. Without any debate whatsoever, Gryphon are one of those few have-its.
Which segues neatly into covering just what it is that the Kalliope has which DACs from competitors may not. It all begins with the Danish back panel on the next page; and a bit of silk screen on said panel, about something Kalliope doesn't have - negative feedback.
Despite very upscale positioning which lives far beyond curmudgeonly hairshirt appeal, Gryphon are true purists. Be it their non-feedback dual-mono fully balanced class A circuits or time-aligned minimum-phase loudspeakers, they'll talk shop with the most diehard audiophile extremists. It's this uncommon combination—of large-scale commercial success wrapped in slick presentation and professionalism still backed by that quintessential single-guy-in-a-garage fanatism—that's at the very heart of the Gryphon legend. To wit, the dual mono, no negative feedback declaration right below the model name on the Kalliope's business end. The absence of Toslink becomes further underwriter's guarantee of purism. So does the exclusive use of the superior 75Ω BNC format for all three galvanically isolated S/PDIF inputs (as well as the word clock i/o). An unexpected nicety is the 110Ω AES/EBU digital output. It forwards a dejittered version of inputs 1-4 (though not USB) to an external digital processor*. Two 12V trigger ports for whole-system integration, a ground post and RCA/XLR outputs complete the picture.
Not apparent to the eye, behind that de rigueur asynchronous USB 2.0 port sits a virtual battery 12.5F Supercap supply to relieve the computer's 5V buss power. It handles up to 32/384 PCM and DSD512. For user menu adjustments, there are slow/fast PCM filters and 50/60/70kHz DSD filters; upsampling off or on to 210kHz; phase inversion; time to standby (30-min default, 1/2/4 hours or infinite); word clock sync on/off; output adjust (0dB default, -6dB on); DSD 1st-order low-pass filter on/off; 5-stage display brightness; 8-character alphanumeric input naming; restore settings to factory default. Being a dual mono circuit on four-layer boards with 70µm copper traces, there's one 65VA toroidal power transformer per channel. Converter silicon of choice is one Sabre ES9018 8-channel chip per channel configured for dual-differential coupling.
The touch-screen display will confirm the incoming sample rate unless Kalliope's own upsampler is engaged. In that case, the display will read FS: 210kHz. Charging of the USB Supercap supply is confirmed by a blinking blue LED. For full details, download the owner's manual.
To learn a bit about the gestation of Gryphon's first USB-enabled outboard DAC, I asked R&D project leader Tom S. Møller for some developmental background. "At Gryphon, we never were adopters of technology for technology's sake. We always find technology intriguing and follow it closely yet many of our experiments remain in the lab until the time is right. Gryphon made their first appearance 30 years ago with a revolutionary headamp. This took moving-coil amplification to a whole new level. Today this product remains a very much sought-after Gryphon, fetching sky-high prices not only for its collectability but, remarkably, for still being a stellar performer 30 years later. With its list of all-star topologies such as fully discrete circuits, super dual mono, ultra-high bandwidth, no negative feedback and more, most designers would still call its topologies superior but also expensive and hard to realize. These choices weren't based on bragging rights. These technologies simply provided the musical performance that to us was more important than anything else.
"The development of this product would start a Gryphon tradition that is not widely known. We started exploring whether there existed parts outside traditional choices; or traditional choices that would surrender better performance when used in unconventional ways not described or perhaps even imagined by the part's actual maker. When we decided to enter digital with our Gryphon CDP 1, we did so much later than many other manufacturers. The price which the consumer paid at that point was an investment in technology which moved so fast that it would render that product obsolete and worthless in a short time. Perhaps that's acceptable for low-cost products but it isn't acceptable to us or our policy of providing ultra-high end products with sustainable value. Another and perhaps more important reason for not trying to be first in digital was that the software for the most part was far behind the hardware. Good recordings were hard to find. We were experimenting with parts and found a 'back door' in the PMD-100 HDCD decoder and digital filter. This allowed us to follow a different path. The CDP 1's AKM chips were stereo converters but by using a pair of them, we could not only make a typical Gryphon dual-mono circuit but perform conversion in balanced mode. We also implemented upsampling and created the world’s first upsampling CD player as a technology that, until then, was something only found in very expensive standalone D/A converters."
"The much more sophisticated Kalliope is the result of the same thinking and curiosity. They would lead us to follow alternative paths of implementing parts. At the same time we wanted to create a D/A converter with as much future potential as possible. Again we searched and found an alternate way to use the ES9018. Instead of traditional I/V conversion on the ES9018 current outputs, we use a refined high-speed discrete pure voltage amplifier based on our experience with discrete analog circuits. This allowed us to develop the analog section which this sophisticated converter deserves. Before choosing the ES9018, we put a lot of effort into listening to several other converters from the likes of Asahi Kasei and Analog Devices. In our CD players, from the CDP 1 on up to the Mikado Signature, we have used converters from AKM. At the time, we found those superior. However, comparing the sound quality from the different converters in our test setup now had us select the Sabre ES9018 32-bit converter for the Kalliope. By choosing the ES9018 programmable D/A converter, we also opened up the option of future software upgrades featuring custom digital filters.
"One of our core beliefs is to keep signal paths as short as possible and to not risk vital sound quality by converting PCM to DSD and vice versa. The ES9018 handles both PCM/DXD and DSD512. Our minimum-jitter asynchronous USB module supports 32/384 PCM and DSD512. For it we developed a unique power supply with a 12.5F SuperCap which, when fully charged, acts like a true battery supply. This approach really elevated the sound quality from USB. Like our Mikado and Mikado Signature CD players, the Kalliope is built with modular digital sections for possible future upgrades. An empty module slot inside leaves space for a future digital module like AVB audio over Ethernet. For analog, we went all out running pure Class A, no negative feedback and no capacitors in the signal path. The power supplies for the analog section are massive, with one toroidal transformer and 34.000µF power capacitor banks for each channel. Ultra-low noise +/- 25VDC regulated voltage supplies feature only top-notch components and comprehensive noise regulation on all digital circuits. All this R&D was fun and a lot of technical challenges had to be overcome. We achieved really impressive figures but overall, the real acid test was always whether we felt that it sounded 'right'. Again we learnt that there could be great differences between decent recordings, especially DSD files. However, great recordings shone and we never fell into the trap of using any 'makeup' or romantic 'hue' to cover up anything. We went for what we consider neutral because in our book, neutral is musical."
Beneath her bonnet, central cover removed as well, Kalliope shows off dual mono even to the uninitiated who'd clearly appreciate that for most of it, there's two of everything; and mostly mirror-imaged at that. With clearly high parts density, much is allocated to the power supply. There's no substitute for cubic inches. Or so they say on the drag strip.
Here is one channel's 32bit/384kHz DAC module centred on the 8-channel ESS ES9018S.
Gryphon's 32-bit sample-rate converter lives on its own board.
Here we see five top-quality digital isolation transformers in the TR1 through 5 positions; and two AKM AK4115VQ digital transceivers supporting up to 216kHz sample rates.
Between the two power toroids sit AC/DC converters and sundry power regulation bits.
Closing the lids back up (yes, plural, this is dual mono all the way) begged an important question. Which speakers to set up for the occasion?
Given that we had our own mini Gryphonians—concave baffle, time aligned SB Acoustics Satori drivers, impedance/phase-compensated 1st-order network—the choice of Sounddeco Sigma 2 from Poland was predestined. The amp would be our customary pure class A Pass Labs XA30.8.
Whilst less purist competitors driving ESS silicon think nothing of activating on-chip volume, Gryphon wouldn't dream of it. To complete an all-XLR signal path with analog volume control, I could pick between COS Engineering D1 for solid state, Nagra Audio Jazz for valves. I set up both to decide by ear.
My iMac instantly recognized the Gryphon as a 2ch-32bit integer 384'000Hz source. Where many such handshakes elicit an Amanero Combo384, XMOS USB 2.0, USB Audio or some such generic identifier anonymous like chicken forum posters, the Kalliope signed in with her own name. Experts sweat these little things.
The Kalliope's front panel didn't verify signal lock until I hit 'play' but sound was instantaneous. The auditions were afoot, our reference Fore Audio DAISy 1 DAC sitting idly by on the sidelines. Using dual-mono ES9018 as well, it'd be the obvious in-house comparator.Sex can be intense. So can sunsets. Or silence when it nearly suffocates with vastness. In fact, it may apply to anything in our experience. It's a heightened state of perception. Within in, whatever becomes the object and focus of our attention grows more intense.
So if a disgruntled genie granted you not the customary three but just the one wish for how to make your system sound better - what would you ask for? Would you go after soundstage depth, image focus, jump factor, tone density, separation, ambient recovery, colour saturation, airy treble, continuity (expand this list at your leisure; if you run out of options, consult reviews to be sure you don't miss out on anything). Think long and hard.
Be honest now. If you could have intensity... wouldn't all possible other audiophile-approved attributes pale by comparison? Wouldn't they taste like stale leftovers for losers? Why go mental when far more primal is on the table?
If the Kalliope had a human voice, that's what she'd ask you; very polite and lady-like as befits an ancient muse trapped for eons inside a magical lantern. The Gryphon in her would simply hiss with due menace: Why settle for a shaded dog when you could have a fire-breathing dragon?
Time out. It's not popular to bypass all the audiophile lingo and buzz words. It suggests that they don't matter. And in many ways, they really don't. If you look at career audiophiles and their turnover of hardware, these attributes are all passing fancies. They're phases one goes through; rites of initiation; momentary infatuations which one soon tires of to replace with others. For more lasting satisfaction, something far more fundamental is required; to, as it were, glue it all together so it won't fall apart. It's very much like good food. If it satiates your pangs, satisfies your taste buds, digests without issue and makes you feel vital and energetic, what type of cuisine it was is at best secondary; if not utterly irrelevant. Long after the specifics of tastes and textures have evaporated, the sense of core nourishment remains in your cells. That's key. All the rest of it is window dressing and table linens!
Game back on. With the irrelevant settled, we admit that everything, intensity included, is a matter of degrees. As a performance review, we still need to know to what degree the Kalliope succeeds at delivering this more fundamental satisfying primal intensity. Attentive readers will have already made the connection. Once before this year and during a DAC review, I'd arrived at this precise juncture. I'd talked of energy transmission then. With hindsight growing a fonder heart, it led me to acquire a unit as personal reference six months after forwarding the original to a German dealer: a Fore Audio DAISy 1. At €6'700 [incl. 20% VAT], it's costly but not like today's thrice-priced summit-fi contender. Having arrived a few weeks prior to the Gryphon, the timing couldn't have been more fortuitous. Exploiting the same converter silicon also in a custom configuration and fully balanced guise for the same file resolution, the key difference is the South Korean's 6922/E88CC tube buffer. It couples capacitively to constant-current output Jfets. The Kalliope is pure transistor and DC coupled.
Common-sense boilerplate. As is obvious with relay races, winning depends on whole-team excellence; and flawless baton swaps between mates. One lesser lap or handover and peak performance by the other three runners is overturned. As a full-time reviewer, I've invested myself into multiples for each component category. This nets many alternate approaches to system assembly. It also means that instead of pooling my available budget into one ultrafi box, over time it invariably breaks out into three, four or more flavour/tech samples (instead of one €40'000 speaker for example, I'll play with four ~€10'000 ones etc). A natural outcome thereof is a personal fiscal comfort zone; and going after review gear which remains reasonably matched to the ancillaries I can put up. An obvious limitation arises when the occasional piece of summit-fi shows up. This was brought home when I visited Nagra Audio in the wake of reviewing their €20'000 HD DAC. In my system, it had performed admirably if not with the clear lead its triple expense versus my usuals perhaps should have. At Nagra's, it interfaced with €70'000/pr HD monos and top-line Verity Audio 4-ways in a dedicated sound room. Whilst I couldn't suss out how much of their system performance was down to the DAC, it was clear as day that their setup performed in another league than mine. Common sense now predicted a repeat for the Kalliope. Rather than find itself in an all-Gryphon context—or something equivalent like Vitus electronics with Vivid speakers—it had to work inside my smaller comfort zone. Potential implications are obvious. So is that beyond articulating them in the abstract, I had no means of knowing whether and how they in fact asserted themselves. End of small print.
After comparing DAISy 1 and Kalliope in the above context, with the COS Engineering preamp the better choice to harvest top intensity, I had a second round of auditions with different speakers and another amplifier. Whilst in this scheme of things I'm not a summit-fi guy, I'd claw up that ruinous mountain as high as my hardware could manage.
In the ER. That's where the duel of the DACs ended up. Whilst cut from the same intensity cloth and essentially interchangeable on buzz-word compliance, the Kalliope played it bigger, warmer, robuster and even intenser. Imagine listening whilst someone next to you began talking. The most descriptive attempt to quantify the 'er' would ask just how far you'd have to attenuate the music to comprehend your insensitive talker. Lower than you might expect. This would not be a matter of otherwise not being able to make out their words. It'd be to care enough to want to. That's because music over the Kalliope commands all one's attention. Figuratively speaking—and practically with the volume control—you'd have to escape her siren's magnetism by getting far enough away. Ulysses all over again. It matters not whether it's a mediocre recording of a very powerful singer (Bülent Ersoy's "Yikilmam" is such an example) or a serious production of smaller more intimate pipes like Tanja Tzarovska's No Record of Wrong album. From Karim Baggili's Kali City to Jan Garbarek's In Praise of Dreams, even chamber-music settings exerted that immersive drowning gravity effect. With that in place, all the ordinary audiophile concerns are wiped out and off the board. Primacy trumps secondaries.
With an album like Franco-Serbian violonist Nemanja Radulovic's Carnets de Voyage which covers orchestral classics from Brahms to Prokofiev but also crosses over to Jazz Manouche tinges, Russian/Hungarian primas numbers, film scores and folk songs like "Zadji zadji jasno sonce", the Kalliope's greatest audiophile virtue were its dynamics. This Deutsche Grammophone production sticks the fat middle-finger salute at the loudness wars of red-lined hyper compression. It makes available a lot more range. If you set your volume according to the faint passages, hold on to your hat. As Nemanja's unruly mop shows, he got rid of his for the occasion altogether. Presumably this type fare really taps into Gryphon's overbuilt power supply scheme to show off. Some gear comes apart at the loudness seams to get brighter or harder, especially on big symphonica where missteps of timbre really stand out. Big swells under the Kalliope's authority didn't betray suspension of disbelief with disruptive reminders of electronic shortcomings. Give this disc a spin or stream it via Qobuz. Prepare to be enchanted. To extract the proper audiophile buzz words from this classicist excursion, we'll use dynamic linearity plus expanded dynamic range or head room. More important than ticking those off a list is that they serve our leitmotif of intensity as key ingredients and enablers.
Another way of pointing at the same attributes is to conjure up a premium aged strong spirit that is rightly described as "ultra smooth with righteous kick". It implies no prettifying effects, just honest strength and maturity so that when things get busy and aggressive, the component doesn't lose its composure or alters its taste like a storyteller who changes narrative style halfway through; or like a TV series which changes writers or producers and with it, the entire established feel of the show. No matter the kick(assing), here all remained smooth and unruffled.
For round N°2, I notched up subjective system resolution even more with the fully balanced class A/B SST Audio Son of Ampzilla II stereo amplifier. That is EJ Sarmento of Wyred4Sound's authorized reissue of a legacy James Bongiorno circuit scaled up for power over the original. That power house drove the ceramic-driver Italian Albedo Audio Aptica compact towers. Those load a 6" Accuton mid/woofer into a downward-narrowing transmission line which is fitted with two Helmholtz resonators to cancel out the primary organ-pipe resonances of any open line. For sub 35Hz assist, I had our Zu Submission set to a 10Hz low-pass and 6dB boost at 20Hz, its attenuator set low for just a bit of infrasonic assist. Now, nearly all experienced reviewers encounter the 'do me' phenom. It's when a component asserts mind control and selects specific genres or music types on your behalf. With the Kalliope, one could easily end up with a lot more classical than typical. Why? The reasons are as basic as they are illuminating.
First, dynamic range cuts two ways. The primitive macho end—how loud it'll go without sending up smoky distress signals—makes for rather dubious hifi show spectacles. Grown men act like adolescent cave dwellers and far more obnoxious on the throttle than they'd ever dare at home. Poseurs. The far more relevant end of dynamic range is pianissiminissimo. Exploded dynamic range from lower noise floors means improved resolution at the low end. You can play at modest levels without the real quiet passages hazing over or vanishing from view altogether. Because in general, classical music sports far higher recorded dynamic range than compressed mainstream Pop, an ultra-resolving source like the Gryphon makes such music far more attractive to spin up. You needn't play it at bombastic/fantastic levels at all to hear absolutely everything.
Second, nothing piles on as multitudinous a mix of verifiable timbres as big symphonica. Admit it. Few of us know what synths or drum machines really sound like. Or bass guitars which change stripes with the choice of bass amp. Or e-guitars in screeching overdrive which distort so heavily by their lonesome that it's anyone's guess as to how much distortion the hifi adds. Not so with unamplified instruments in the orchestral canon. Not only is their true timbre easily ascertained by concertgoers; it's obvious as day whether during climaxes, a hifi alters them because it compresses or distorts. When a system doesn't; when it doesn't cause sphincter clenches with the next approaching Bruckner brass block or a coloratura soprano's high notes because you know that nothing will get ugly; when each unique instrumental timbre sounds more like itself and distinctive than usual... then classical music suddenly becomes major fun and far more rewarding to visit (challenging period-instrument ensembles included). Whenever a hifi thus has you mysteriously pop a lot of vitamin C for classical, it's self-evident that it will excel at truth of timbres, low operational self noise and expansive/linear dynamic range. Breathy Jazz vocals sound good on anything. Challenging classics don't. That's exactly why they're challenging.
Now we return to the question of fish-outa-water appropriateness when bona-fide ultrafi gets assessed in a lesser hardware context. Consequently, it's about the delta of improvement this €20'000 converter could really make over my favourite €6'700 contender. Incidentally, I rate that Fore Audio DAISy 1 higher still than the Aqua Hifi LaScala II which very appropriately leads the pack of Aussie contributor John Darko's DAC index. On my first XA30.8/Sigma 2 setup, the gap was there—same flavour but a bit stronger—yet didn't feel anywhere near commensurate with the €12'300 surcharge. Applied atop the Sounddeco speaker budget for example to buy a Vivid Audio Giya 4 or KEF Blade 2, that sum would net more profound advances. In the second setup, resolution magnified and the gap increased accordingly. To call it commensurate, I'd still be happier if pricing doubled not tripled. But such banal math clashes with the fact that today's 'second tier' of converters has come down in price but simultaneously gone up in performance like a see-saw. It simply leaves less stuff for the top tier to do. The engineering and hardware required to retrieve that and outdo the best in today's second group is considerable. And to magnify that remaining gap should also require equivalent ancillaries. In short, the entire system should be ultrafi to run a relay race with four Usain Bolts.
To me, the most fascinating thing was that whilst slotting themselves above the DAISy 1 and LaScala MkII as two fabulous valve-buffered efforts and my two favourites in my personal comfort zone, Gryphon managed to harvest the same qualities at even higher potency using pure transistors. That should be fatty food for thought to certain prognosticians who believe that parts choices can predict sonic outcomes. Here it meant that despite cooler ancillaries including a complete loom of silver wiring, nothing got frosty or whitish by even a tick. Fascinating indeed. If we ask why or how—what does the Kalliope DAC have over most competing machines—we'd have to say, a more serious power supply and a more serious analogue output stage.
With completely mature fully considered products, the 'critics must criticize' aspect is at best dulled down to a 'critics must comment' mandate; if not blurred altogether to show nothing of note. Getting negative, the only two comments I could possibly raise have to do with appearance—black only so no options for John Silvers like yours truly—and the high-gloss finish which is a dust and fingerprint magnet sans pareil. It's why delivery duly includes white gloves, a polishing compound/cloth and that remote wand. Incidentally, I have the same reaction toward piano-gloss black speakers. I find such finishes impractical and high maintenance in the extreme. And, having to stoop this low to generate nits is just as extreme. Blessedly then, this paragraph concludes here.
Wrap. Not being a Gryphon client/owner myself, I can only speculate and extrapolate from my time with the Kalliope. If this company know how to mine the same intensity from all their gear—and being the same engineering team, why wouldn't they?—it'd be the perfect explanation about how their longevity and legendemain came about and keep sticking around. Capturing sonic intensity really does render all else superfluous and obsolete. Throw in reliability, stable investment value and timeless looks. It all adds up very elegantly; and in this world, not only in the mystical marketing realm of the Gryphon. Summit-fi indeed!