Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amplifier review part 2

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.

MM/MC module?

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?

Its identical.

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.

Continuing in part three. Stay tuned...

Text: Matej Isak