Flemming E. Rasmussen strikes again. This time with the power of the Thor fist smacking with the Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifier.
The Gryphon Diablo 300, zero negative feedback, true Dual Mono configuration and microprocessor-controlled 43-step fully balanced relay volume attenuator implementing ultra-precision resistors comes in a package that is more reminiscent of the Mephisto power amplifier then the original Diablo. One quick grasp at the aesthetics unveils the ever continuing story of a living high-end audio legend, Flemming Rasmussen reveals again something that is rare in our industry. Product with aura and right DNA…
Flemming understood the importance of the stand out design from the ground up. Finally the high-end industry is slowly following up with the design orientation. Not all, but at least few brands found the right compass. For many this race might be already lost as they failed to understand the core general high-end industry principles, something that high-end watch and car business figured out decades ago. Design matter! More then any time in history aesthetics are of the key importance along with high performance. Especially now, that everything moved to the domain of the luxury realms.
High-end audio morphed into the luxurious lifestyle and without the refined design anyone not following the norms is instantly out of the game and two steps behind.
Gryphon Diablo 300 radiates with the aura and design DNA that follows the renowned and successful Gryphon story. Even more importantly, Diablo 300 stands on its own as a product. By implementing the updated larger front touch display (from upper echelon Gryphon range) and mightier size, Diablo is self sufficient and evident, capturing and captivating the sense of striking design narrative, being manifested throughout the the juncture of legendary Gryphon DNA and contemporary market demandings.
Gryphon Diablo 300 is 21st century ready via PCM/DSD DAC module with one USB, 2 x SPDIF, 1 AES and 1 optical input as well with the optional MM/MC module. All combined under the “hood” makes Diablo 300 the modern hub for multitude of sources and with the power potency capable of driving vast array of speakers. I was utterly surprised and impressed seeing the Gryphon Trident speakers being driven by it at the Portugal-Lisbon High-End Audio show. Performance still resonate with me and lingers in most positive way.
Gryphon Diablo 300 mighty size resemble more of the power amplifier proportions then your typical integrated. Packed with 2 x 300W (8 Ohm) and doubling into 2 x 600W (4 Ohm) it promises a lot from the beginning. Yes, side aluminum heatsinks are hot in operation. This most surely translates into heavily A Class biased circuit.
Here is the second part of ongoing review/preview of the Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifier. I've asked Flemming Erik Rasmussen to answer few question regarding the new Diablo and about the high-end audio workings in general. Very insightful and interesting reading...
Original Gryphon Diablo integrated amplifier was very popular and its probably one of the most sold high-end audio integrated amplifiers. First ones were released to the market in June 2005. That’s quite an upgrade interval telling its own story about what Gryphon stands for. People surely can easily decipher that Gryphon as a brand is doing their homework and protect customers investment.
Integrated amplifier as a concept is very appealing, especially if you do not mix a preamplifier and power amplifier one the same PCB and same compartments as many does. Diablo 300 volume control is truly and fully balanced where almost all others are converting the balanced input to single ended before it even reaches the volume control.
Original Gryphon Diablo was always actually a power amplifier with the addition of high gain. Derived and refined concept and Diablo 300 continues the legacy… “The road to performance is often the parts that you keep out, rather than the parts that you use. As Einstein said - keep it as simple as possible, but not more.” - Flemming
Q & A
I wanted to heard the Flemming inspirational cue and the logics behind the new Diablo 300 integrated. Here is the sum up of the interesting questionnaire…
Gryphon is well known for the integrated amplifiers. I guess was uber important to create something in the line of heritage?
The first Diablo is most likely the best selling integrated amplifier in that price class ever in High End. Despite that it was still going strong we found that we now had enough material to improve on it and the option of a internal DAC based on our flagship Kalliope could make it to an even stronger card.
What was the inspiration and goals behind the Diablo 300, is the Diablo 300 continuation of original Diablo circuit design or completely new platform and a derivate reflecting more to the Mephisto?
Diablo 300 runs quite hot. Heavily biased in Class A? What was the performance goal with the new Diablo?
The design process was a combination of evolution of the classic Diablo, with the addition of elements from the top products, such as the Volume control from our flagship preamplifier. All our power amplifiers are pure class A, the integrated amplifiers are Class A/B but with heavy bias towards class A. The goal was as always to provide maximum musical realism and preserve our in our opinion – the typical Gryphon signature, lots of power and headroom allowing it to “cruise” and sound unstressed because there are just enough juice all the time. Naturally our high bandwidth, no negative feedback, dual mono are well known Gryphon feature and is part of how to achieve this subjective performance.
Is the integrated amplifier still important in current market? How far do you think integrated amplifier can be pushed in performance vs the separate preamplifier and power amplifier system combination?
The integrated amplifier will seriously challenge separate solutions costing much more. The mere fact that making separates requires lots of extra cabinet work, and lots of components just to allow the signal transfer between cabinets – many parts not adding anything to performance – on the contrary. Biggest challenge is to overcome traditional thinking that separates are better, when we more or less pioneered the Hi End Integrated Tabu amplifier. We like to believe that we helped change the perception of the integrated amplifier and paved its way into serious High End. The proof is in the performance. For the absolute performance we still make our separates, but at the price and performance level of a Diablo we will not even try to make separates.
Diablo 300 can host a trickled down Kalliope DAC module. What kind of level one can expect from this combination compared to the stand alone flagship DAC? Can you tell us more about the optional installment?
Naturally the DAC module is not a Kalliope, it had to be smaller to be hosted by the Diablo, but as the specs are telling we managed to get so much Kalliope performance into it that people are more than happy.
The Phonomodule is the same as we used on the previous Diablo, it’s a really great performer with a all discrete topology, no IC or op amps.
Front control, touch screen panel seems to be the same as on your flagship models?
You strive hard to keep the Gryphon brand alive, focused and strong. What would you say is the secret of your continuing success?
A Brand name is a promise, by being consistent in 30 years people expect a certain quality in craftsmanship and performance. That is the promise we expect to keep. And we are committed to do that. We do not sway from side to side trying to make all happy, we make products that are meeting our own standards and we are grateful that there are enough people sharing our preferences. Thank you all.
High-End Audio clearly moved to the luxury market where all aspects matters. You’ve always a strong advocate for the design perfection. How do you see the connection of state of the art sonic performance and perfectly sculptured high-end audio products?
The design part was never something that we really advocated, it just came naturally. I am blessed with the gift that it comes quite easy to me. But I have strong views of what good design is. I have no respect for the design that does not serve it basic purpose. Such as chairs that look great but you cant sit in them. Designer lamps that do not provide any real light – a pen that do not sit in the hand… The examples are many. The cliché that design must follow function – is as right as ever.
There is a troubling tendency in newer high end products, where perhaps 80% of the money are spend on cosmetics and the rest on performance. Today, great finish and design is not as rare as it used to be, so you see really exotic speakers that from a acoustic point are not making any sense and the drivers are off the shelf and the choice are somewhat based on fashion of the month and there fashionable drivers are beaten to omission to play together against their will
But the end result looks fantastic. Often performance is average and after the honeymoon comes truth and the products moves on to the next owner.
Is High-End audio industry and market going through the positive transformation? Is it possible to blend the expectations of both audiophiles and music lover under one product? How do you see the future of high-end audio and Gryphon Audio role in it? Any last thoughts…
Its a shame that such a distinction exists, audiophiles and music lovers really should be the same. I know lots of music lovers with very average or even poor systems and I know audiophiles that plays the same 10 records all the time when friends arrive. Those are the two poles. There is also a new bread of audionerds that are obsessed with the downloads – that’s the new tweak. Now, we also see a vinyl revival, not only do people go back to turntables but they do not necessarily go back to the best turntables at the end of the vinyl era, but go further back to golden classics, such as Dynavector arms, Thorens TD 124´s. All of this indicates a search into retro for a period that is missed or just hip. People are reliving the high of searching for rare vinyl, if you are lucky you may even find your own vinyl that you practically gave away years ago, on the promise of “perfect sound forever” promised by Philips and Karajan.
In the end people buy High End audio for many different reasons and I believe that they have the right to, its their money, but naturally it makes our days when we are complimented for the virtues that are important to us.
Functionality was always a recognizable feature with all of the Gryphon gear and its non different with the new Diablo. Diablo 300 is feature packed and ready to serve on multiple fronts.
Unique, propriety front touch panel command center is of recognized Gryphon leitmotif. No one else in industry is using something similar and one can instantly see where the money went. With some products you really need to scratch your head around. The perfect blend of aluminum and acrylic speaks in grand volume with Diablo 300 front panel.
I did like the first version of this so called contemporary “command center ”and I love even more the latest up to date iteration. It gives this 21st century kind of sci-fi feeling to the tactical operations. And its stylish as anything. It feels sturdy, expensive, luxurious and ignites instant proud ownership.
All the primary controls are on the front panel and in this way its fully functional even in the absence of remote. Remote is another design story of its own. Once seen, you’ll won’t be able to erase if from your memory. Its a sculptural gem with its own aura. Ergonomic, practical to use beautiful to behold. All the main functionality is here; on/off button, up and down input selection, mute button and of course volume knobs to lower and raise the volume. It has a some of the Mirage design cues and DNA. Yes, Gryphon Mirage still hold a very dear spot in my book of high-end audio gems for many reasons…
On the back side there is a plenty of input/and outputs acting as an audiophile/music lover hub. There are two real balanced (XLR) inputs and four unbalanced (RCA). One of these acts as an input if optional MM/MC module board is being installed. Additionally input 3 can be used as as a pass through.
Diablo 300 comes as standard without phono and DAC modules. With optional dual mono class A DAC module one gets two SPDIF inputs, Toslink, AES/EBU and USB input. These should cover all the digital epicenter needs. Diablo DAC comes as a trickle down version of Gryphon Kalliope and its quite interesting and potent one. Along with typical PCM affairs being fully covered Diablo DAC module also run not only in dual DSD mode, but in quad and even octave DSD mode. Something that might be quickly overlooked into the specs, but its more then worthy to be noted and heard.
Of course this is not full blooded Kalliope and stand alone DAC, yet it will ensure an instant, potent lock in with you digital library without additional boxes and cabling. Integrated amplifier these days need to embrace a lot more of the demands then they used to. So for many digital board might come an mandatory and Gryphon is offering it as a simple upgrade, that do not add to the sizing or over complication. It is as simple as it gets and straightforward.
We all know how USB cables are driven from the PC by a voltage to run the receiver. Gryphon didn’t want to offer half solution even with USB cabling. To avoid noisy power supply in a PC Diablo 300 DAC - USB section is powered by Gryphon own dedicated internal power supply that, with a over 1 farad of capacitance is acting as a battery supply.
Diablo 300 also has a a full-range subwoofer output that helps with easy integration into the surround audio setup. This is a non compromised approach as it doesn’t affected the normal left and right channel performance. Diablo 300 AV throughput let use both of two main channels without without any need of additional wiring. Switching between surround and stereo also demand no further recalibration.
For years we’re accustom to Gryphon massive and beautiful custom speaker terminals. Two pairs of massive speakers binding posts can hold firmly bare wire and both banana plugs or spade lugs.
Last bot not least there is recognizable 12V DC link inputs and outputs for integration with a home automation system.
IEC connector is placed on the middle/center on the back panel. I do prefer such position as it really don’t mess much with the rest of the cabling galore. Integrated amplifier performs an important duties of the preamplifier and with multitude of inputs on the backside it can really get hectic and clumsy with all the cables. Keeping power cable straight in the center allows for much less confused state of the affairs.
Diablo 300 brings an interesting and useful configuration, that automatically levels the gain of all inputs and in this way protect both the components and precious ears when one switches among the sources, that usually carry different output levels. Volume control is directly connected with the mute control and in such way prevents any dangerous volume increase while mute circuit is in focus. In this way loudspeaker are protected from ay accidental overpowering and burning of the drivers are out of the loop.
But, thats not all. One can set up a fixed start level and maximum level via 300 setup menu and intelligent, non-invasive protection system is always monitoring operational status. If anything goes wrong this protective circuit instantly shuts down the complete device.
Yes, Gryphon Diablo 300 comes as protected, feature packed investment. At these pricing and level of sophistication any high-end product should follow such route…
UNDER THE HOOD
Is the new Diablo a step up in heritage of Gryphon Audio electronic design or something completely new? Its actually a combination of everything and Gryphon design team managed to join a lot of solutions from Gryphon Pandora preamplifier and Mephisto power amplifier within this new integrated amplifier. Yes, this makes Diablo 300 quite a special beast.
Derived from Gryphon Pandora preamplifier fully balanced volume attenuator topology fully works directly with the two balanced inputs and there is no overlaying of resistors in the signal path. As with few state of the art stand alone line preamplifiers only two of them are being used at the dedicated volume setting. A purist approach!
New Diablo 300 frequency range/response is highly impressive, going from 0.5 Hz to 350 kHz. As most of you’ve probably deciphered instantly, 300 stands for 300 Watts into the 8 Ohms. This is quite a step up from the original Diablo and it doubles into 600 Watts via 4 Ohm load, ending up with the mighty 950 Watts into 2 Ohms. Taking about the power…
Under the top plate you’ll find 68,000 microFarad banks, oversized power supplies, emitter diodes are now non-inductive types, heavily biased Class A/B biased circuit serves directly to the sound voicing, selected electronic components were chosen for the tailored in house sound, new power supplies were chosen for various amplification stages using only polypropylene coupling capacitors in parallel with high-grade electrolytic capacitors, local active shunt regulators helps in lowered noise floor and double to four layer military specced printed circuit boards are in the absence of any point-to-point wiring. Why? In this way Gryphon wanted to ensure the closest and fastest signal paths and signal flow.
Non surprisingly, Diablo 300 uses no negative feedback. There are quite few benefits of this approach and one of the major benefits is for sure a clever avoiding of the inherited time delay anomalies introduced usually with the output signal being sent to the comparator loop at the input, as mandatory causing intermodulation distortions.
Further on new Diablo 300 now implements low capacitance pre-driver transistors with increased current in the voltage amplification stage. This brings huge, extended frequency bandwidth as well as higher slew rate translating into the massive musical energy flow. This can be heard and spotted at once, even with the first notes!
Diablo 300 comes with the double sized heatsink compared to the original. Flemming managed to integrated heatsinks so seamlessly into the new chassis, that design language works in real organic way rather the utilitarian. Ask any high-end audio designer to carve something similar and I’m sure you’ll get more then a bunch of a surprising looks…
Flemming Rasmussen takes no prisoners when it comes to the design. He’s among few people in industry, that understood the importance of design decades ago and kept his pace unchanged over the years with a steady flow of remarkable, and most importantly recognizing product design. The hardest thing for any designer or even musician is continuity of quality over the time and this is something that is highly unique and worthy of highest praise with Gryphon Audio products.
Original Diablo integrated was distinctive on its own. Inspired by no other then Dart Wader (helmet), Diablo original looks were something you couldn’t put easily into any labeling. It was and still is instantly recognizable product with a strong design language. So, how do you step up to that?
All new Gryphon Diablo 300 has grown and morphed into something completely new, yet there are still some traces of the original Diablo design language. But time for a serous change… Diablo 300 now look up to the brand’s bigger brothers. One can at once spot the close resemblance to the Gryphon Mephisto flagship power amplifiers and the new Diablo 300 now stand even more proudly on its own. Its one of the most if not most striking integrated amplifiers on the market an its shows its mojo on the first randevú and eye glance. Remarkable!
Most important aspect of new Diablo is the glamours look being kept despite form follows function approach. This is the hardest aspect to bing home. Diablo 300 proudly shows its costly nature, being an elegant object ready to fully serve its owner with all the sensual pleasures.
And there is nothing wrong with this!!! This is something I really do miss in high-end audio. Combination and culmination of sense pleasures under one baton. Especially with the price tags we’re dealing in present times one should never double check the quality and luxurious feeling. These attributes hold come as mandatory and Gryphon Diablo 300 is non shy in this department. Its comes as a proud, beloved creation, showing it on each step of observation.
This is how 21st century high-end audio product should look like. Period! Live and learn competition!
What else matters then the sound in the end. All the perfected aesthetics hold little value or nov real value if high-end audio product is not capable of emotionally connection with the music.
Diablo 300 comes ready with unreserved power and recognizing Gryphon natural mid warmth, that closely relate to the real musical vibrancy. I guess we all expected a lot from this new Gryphon flagship integrated amplifier and as you’ll read below the 300 delivers it!
Karate - New Jerusalem legendary, but not so publicly know band’s track is one of the true “system killers”. This track can seriously put down any system and even burn your woofers if one is not careful with the volume gain. On top of it, this album and song is really good sounding record and belongs to my close arsenal of test tracks. Diablo 300 was not shy even a scent. Nothing was hold back. The sheer control and muscular power of Diablo 300 handled New Jerusalem with ease, vibrant flow and with tectonic attacks in absence of over achieving. One can pack enormous power into the amplifier. Taming that power to the level of refinement is completely different story. My listening notes highlighted exactly this. Controlled musical flow without unwanted and unnecessary accents.
Giving Gryphon Diablo 300 a bit of a electronic musical tension and run for the money brought up another legendary album and track. I Robot by Alan Parson Project! I really love the album and the way mastery production and mixing brings out the music is of perfected expertise. Its not an easy track to convey at its best. Its highly complex in its nature despite being masked with pop/electronic labeling. All the analog hidden gems dealings and expertly lay down track arrangements needs a highly potent and full scale amplifier that can resolve with all the subtleness and overlaying of decays, reverbs, delays and other smallest sonic particles. Diablo swayed away with warm, controlled pace resolving with spacious, controlled and via medium nature. Despite the enormous power reserve Diablo 300 reconstructed this track with benign and benevolent nature. Something not really expected at this price level and especially with an integrated amplifier.
Le Nozze Di Figaro conducted by Teodor Currentzis falls under hidden gems for demanding classical music lover or somebody just entering the “classical game.” Interplay of performers is captured so involvingly on recording, that can instantly drags one into the pure theatrical movement. Its not about audiophile pinpointing stage extravaganza. Its about core of human factor rather then so much pushed forward dissection, clinical nature of judging the music these days. Soulful rendition of emotional interplay with multitude layers of passionate happenings being unveiled is what really happens. On mediocre or even with some of the high praised separate (preamp + amp) high-end audio systems I’m to often being left untouched. When things are set right and balanced, then everything is aligned and subordinate to the purity of musical performance. Then, and only then so called magic might occur. Diablo 300 unveiled a hefty level of katharsis being both emotionally and technically charged. Quite an achievement. Actually a grand push forward!
I really hope more music lovers and audiophiles would learn about Anne Bisson’s September In Montreal album. Its one of those rare, honest records where you can instantly lock into the inner mind and emotional state of the singer. This is the gift not so often being so intimately given and revealed to the public. The level of emotional bond is closely connected with the capability of electronics to follow this unique music transcription. You’ll find all the needed audiophile triggers here, have no worries. On top of these attributes, this is a recording that really shows how any system or component under the scope can sing… There is no short paths with September In Montreal.
There are two extremes to the story being told and unveiled. We can talk about the true high-end audio reproduction or we can experience it. Period. Expertly, Gryphon Diablo 300 hit as hard as it can. No half baked nonsense. With control, rhythmical pace, higher involving factor and with the much needed flow. 300 is not your ordinary integrated amplifier on the steroids packing and screaming for the attention like these pumped up boys. Diablo 300 strikes with full mature high-end audio ruling criteria and with the king’s wisdom keep focused Gryphon signature performance being mighty noticed, but never pushed forward.
My biggest gripe with many high-end audio systems or for particular sake with integrated amplifiers is about the level of information being lost in translation. Combining preamplifier and power amplifier into a really potent one box solution is not an easy task and too many companies are taking this demanding quest to lightly.
It took more then a decade to release a worthy succeeder of the original Gryphon Diablo and Flemming Rasmussen really pushed himself and Gryphon Audio team to the max with Gryphon Diablo 300. This was not only a tour de force, but exploration of something being a matter of value, subordinate to the perfected design language and capable of invoking sonic pleasures beyond typical expectations. Both price considered and never being matter of discussion…
Diablo 300 follows great expectations and on top of it raises the bar much higher, putting a competition into a very nervous position. A healthy smack for the industry :).
We came far in high-end audio industry. As niche as it might be, the larger impact and recognition is slowly, but surely making its mark on the global scale of things and away from singularity labeling of high-end audio. One of the positive reasons are surely companies and people like Gryphon Audio and Flemming Rasmussen. He was always a strong advocate of his own brand and high-end audio and uberly protective of his creations.
Being strictly fatherly wise about his brainchilds and life’s effort there was never any space for narrow cut mentality allowed in his mindset and this is something, that helped establish Gryphon as a brand that is today. If you know high-end audio, you know about Gryphon Audio. If you don’t know about high-end audio you still might know about the Gryphon… This is how iconic it become.
Gryphon Diablo 300 stand out on so many grounds that its not even funny. Its appearance on the market hit everybody with the impact of the Thor’s fist. I’m sure that many of the competitive brands are still lingering from the initial smack, while Gryphon is taking the orders :).
Diablo 300 is not only important as the continuing brand legacy product, but as clear sobering fact showcase regarding the high-end audio business a wholesome concept. Diablo 300 shows how design and strong brand recognition is important along with everything else. In the 21st century where we shouldn’t even ask ourself if high-end audio is part of the luxury market, Diablo 300 answers this question loudly and proudly.
Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifier comes as another highly important brand milestone. As with original Diablo, that went into the history as one of the most sold true high-end audio integrated amplifiers, Diablo 300 has begun another not so quiet revolution for the brand and industry.
300 is bigger, mightier, more powered and refined then original and it shows proudly with each turn. It builds on the heritage rather then destroy it as its so fashionable these days. There is no second guessing, Diablo 300 already envisioned and carved strong path for Gryphon. It’s 21st century ready, packed with features, connections, of modular nature and most importantly ready to serve the music with intrinsic power that can actually deliver the music. This is not your boy toy integrated amplifier hidden in the shinny armour. Its a inner mighty as it looks on the outside.
For what it represent as sole product and for our high-end audio industry I’m wholeheartedly giving out the Mono and Stereo Highly Recommended award. Gryphon Diablo comes as a clear reminder for our industry; quality matters, heritage matters, expandability matters, aesthetics matters and most importantly music matters!
Diablo 300 comes as a prime example of what high-end audio should stand for. A factual, feature packed machine, not shy of its origin, nor price, nor love for the beauty and passion for the music. As a Gryphon customer one can feel how he’s investing his money into the company, brand and people, that have been behind the product and the brand.
Diablo 300 expertly blends two most important high-end audio components; the preamplifier and power amplifier into one uber package. Majestically joined fine brushed black aluminum and acrylic resolve in an object strikingly radiating luxury and interesting mystical appeal. Gryphon unique brand character is one of the kind and no other gear reflect brand aura so mysteriously. One natural seek out for the deeper story.
Its easy to make music sound as a complex sum of many parts or sound particles. Combing everything into the musical representation of something much more sublime and emotionally enriched belongs to a completely different camp. This is something that many of high end companies are falling to understand and bring with their products and this is where Gryphon audio Diablo comes with a grand "bitch" slap that will linger for the years to come.
Hats off Flemming. You’ve done it again, but this time with a massive message expertly embossed!