Gryphon Atilla review

Gryphon Atilla caught my attention and interest from the moment it was released. I had pleasure of hearing quite some Gryphon components during the years of my high-end quest and there is something different about them. Mystical appeal?

Flemming E. Rasmussen ability to shape his intuition for industrial design and no compromise audio electronic manufacturing into objet d'art high-end products is one of the kinds.

Few years back I already tested Gryphon Diablo integrated amplifier. This was a monstrous powerful machine capable of driving even most demanding speakers with ease. Dibalo is transparent window to the music and its unique appearance takes your attention at once.

Gryphon Atilla

Gryphon Atilla continue to carve the successful path of previous Gryphon integrated amplifiers, that found happy home in highend audio systems of many audiophiles. Even when they pop up in the used high-end audio market, those amps are quickly sought. Self-explanatory.

Atilla takes the “leit-motiv” recognizable Gryphon front panel command center. Both futuristic “touch controls” and display are still as state of the art and mesmerizing as were when they were presented for the first time few years back. Whole appearance of Atilla is strikingly elegant and it touches some of my black/dark aesthetic DNA. Wholeness of Atilla proportions and refined appearance makes it one of the best looking integrated amps along the Burmester 082 and DartZeel CTH 8550.

Gryphon Atilla is both classical and contemporary with its aura. Flemming unmistakably unique vision is very sharp and recognizable at once. These goes for sound and appearance. You can read more about it in my interview Mr. Rasmussen.

Interaction and connectivity

Danish by design and origin Atilla offers timeless sense of simplicity and beauty.

Front panel is reserved for understated display, which shows the status of selected input and volume level and you can actually program input names with up to 8 characters by your desire.

Custom Gryphon Atilla remote. Fits perfectly in the hand

Back panel offers for four line inputs with an optional MM/MC module, classical tape/record loop and a one balanced input. You cannot miss huge gold plated speaker connectors that you’ll find on every present line of Gryphon amplifiers. Everything is laid out in easy to reach almost minimalistic way.

Guts’N Glory

Gryphon Atilla might look as a light feather comparing to Gryphon Mephisto, but the minute you pick it up, you’ll be struck by the shear mass, weight and sturdy feeling of it. Atilla is designed in true dual mono mirrored fashion, with custom made 1.200VA transformer, that add a substantial weight. Transformer have discrete seondaries for left and right channel and there is additional transformer for display and logic circuits. Each channel is feed by 60.000µF storage capacitance. Atilla is DC coupled incorporate dual differential architecture and in absence of global feedback.

Basically this is class A/B push/pull design that is working way up in the class A before switching to A/B. Input gain stages are working in pure Class A and one can easily feel the presence of Class A in the musical reproduction.

With its 100 watts into 8 ohms and two pairs of Sanken transistors Atilla gives healthy power to drive speakers even below 87db.

First encounter

Knowing the sound of Diablo and Gryphon past integrated, I wasn't really prepared for what was bound to happen. When I first connected Lampizator Level 4 DAC into Atilla combination presented a warm almost analog like experience. Lampizator is the closest thing to analog when it comes digital to analog conversion. In synergy with Atilla Lampizator DAC connected audial experience in more then symbiotically fashion.

Getz-Jobim Girl From Ipanema is a track, which always comes handy to compare vinyl and high-res digital audio files. With fast and transparent ZYX Omega cartridge in my phono system, Atilla stayed harmonically rich and if I can describe it as such; transparently warm. This warmness is in the realms of natural timbre and feeling of music. What exactly does it mean? I

When using digital reply; bass, mid and the highs were even more close to my vinyl setup, then from what I could recall from my past test and connecting Lampizator with other solid state amplifiers.

Synergy is everything that matters in high-end audio system. It can be a thing of a luck occasionally, but more likely it’s the result of hard work, try and error, logical connectivity of like branded components and nevertheless the embodying of a true passion. This takes time, efforts and funds and it can easily end up in a frustration.

Music, analog and digital

Lately I’m restoring my faith in the importance of digital playback. Things really moved forward in past two or three years. I’ll never abandon my vinyl collection as I feel, that some of the soul searching and musical interaction with the even itself is heavily biased towards analog. Digital come close, but so far something humanly right still beholds the vinyl reply. It’s hard do describe as it’s a matter of inner feeling. It just feels more right. How ever, there is no logic in this earth that would stop me from enjoying the music not available in vinyl on digital formats. As said, some of late re releases in high-resolution digital formats are crazily good.

Atilla managed to blend both analog and digital reproduction in a one box ready to go solution. I’m not sure how extensively Flemming and his team worked on this integrated, but what intrigues me most is it’s ability to jointly present all genres of music with a delight.

Crawling thorough my classical LP’s from the golden era of 50’s and embracing the path of testing, with Coltrane, Miles, Muddy Watters and later legendary releases, my listening notes were starting to build a pattern. All my digital source gathered listening remarks just level with the ones from vinyl sessions. Music, timbre and warm darkness that I associate with natural color and imprint of the music were simply right. I cannot recall how many times I had to practically demonstrate the artificial transparency of some products claiming their perfect ultra and high-end audio status. My presentation is simple and direct; guitar and my vocal. There are enough great recordings of acoustical vocal and guitar live music. After singing along few verses and playing some chords there is no sane reason to doubt experienced experiment and no further explanation needed.

In last time willingly I’m getting out of standard high-end cliché and labeling. What interests me is the pure musical reproduction across all genres. I’m in love with classical music, but so am I with pop, rock, blues etc. There is no such a thing as an amplifier for specific genre. It might seems sometimes simply because specific audio designer might prefer a certain genre and this normally affects the sound. Yet, my vision of high end and ultra high end audio is one of seamless performance of any music. I had pleasure of hearing few of the components, that are able to perform this simple and then again complex task of balanced and transparent reproduction of music. Gryphon Atilla DNA is such. An unmistakably refined musical box, that works great within it’s own limitation. And that’s the mastery of design. Nothing seems to be perfect in this dual world. What works is a harmonically balanced set of rules and guidance’s. Those form the object of failure of completeness. I feel strongly about Atilla message being conveyed avidly.

Joint conclusion

Let me sum up with bold statement that Atilla is a machine for true enjoyment of your musical collection and a potent reviewer tool. Not only because Atilla adds much useful functions as operating firmware, adjustable start-up volume level and maximum gain level etc, as those can be only seen as cosmetics, but because Atilla can be implemented as power amplifier with its fixed-level output (with bypassing internal preamplifier section). Having both integrated and power amp under one hood opens up the great opportunites for careful system matching and having versatile testing equipment.

Once in the past I had a same impact from company so called “entry” level amplifier. It was with Burmester 051 amplifier. Déjà vu happened again with Gryphon Atilla. Many audiophiles, which I trust dearly confirmed my conclusion. As a Burmester 051, Gryphon Atilla represent a unique and stand out amplifier, that perhaps beholds even more close connection into the soul of the music, then the bigger brothers in a dedicated, versed and balanced system.

This might comes as surprising and bold statement, but do take a chance to listen to Gryphon Atilla in the right conditions and you’ll be more then moved with its capability of gazing into the inner universe of music. We often find too much “watering down” in products lines of many high-end companies when it comes to their entry-level products. I don’t even feel that Atilla is an entry level integrated amplifier. O.K. It’s not cheap by any means, but it’s affordable comparing to upper echelon of Gryphon. Vladimir Lamm and his products come to mind when comparing Atilla to in-house bigger brothers. You don’t feel that anything was left out. Gryphon Atilla is still a Lamborgini of high-end audio, but simply comes in a package of less power and in smaller size. Not everything is in size David would say to Goliath :).

As already written Gryphon Atilla is not running completely in pure A class, that Gryphon is so recognised for, but it uses same approac. First and foremost watts are getting whole A class impact and Gryphon audio team managed to design and amplifier, that is not far away frome the satisfactory curves of whole Gryphon range.

Atilla is not only a remarkable successor of Gryphon past legends, but it brings something new to the audiophiles and music lovers at large. It is integrated amplifier for high-end audio domestic realms. Grace, power and sense of music of its ability to involve and seduce will keep the interest of many happy owner in years to come.

As already written, Atilla is among few of the best solid state integrated I had pleasure of hearing in my 25 some years venture trough high-end audio society. It is a product worth keeping and more then serious component for both surgical audio reviewing/testing and late night escapes into enjoyment of music.

With Gryphon Audio products ownership you’re getting same sense of privilege and proud feeling, as you would cherish with high-end horology. Gryphon Atilla is an instrument of music that is designed right, correct and ready to go.

I’m rarely give out any special awards, but Gryphon Atilla is a beholder of Mono & Stereo award for it’s completeness and ability to resolve the hardest audiophile and musical dilemma; how to combine and high-end industrial art with seamless music reproduction. Gryphon Atilla blend with pace and grace the path to the music across all the genres with great involving act. There is no such a thing as perfect amplifiers. As noted, Gryphon Atilla transcendent the basic failures of it own limitations that lead many of the highend audio designers in failure of brining complete musical message to the listener. Isn’t this what supposed to matter the most!?

Many thanks to Gryphon Audio German Distributor TAD-Audiovertrieb GmbH and especially Martin Koch for kindly organising for a review sample.

Product features

True Dual Mono configuration

Zero negative feedback

Microprocessor-controlled 50-step relay volume attenuator for best sonic performance

Ultra-short signal path

Minimal internal wiring

Military spec. double-sided up to 70µ copper printed circuit boards

Dual Mono Holmgren toroidal transformer

PCB-mounted sockets eliminate wiring and shorten signal path

Gold-plated Swiss Neutric XLR sockets for one balanced source

Gold-plated phono sockets with Teflon insulation for 4 inputs and one output

Fixed-level AV throughput for uncompromising integration with surround preamplifier

Vacuum Fluorescent Display with 2 lines and 50 characters

Adjustable display lighting (100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, Off)

Ready for installation of optional MM/MC phonostage module

Flash memory upgrades via PC

Non-invasive protection system

Infrared remote control

EU CE approval

Designed and built in Denmark

Matej Isak Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine All rights reserved, 2012 None of the original text, pictures, links or files can be re-pritend or used in any way without prior permission!