Gryphon Diablo 300 Has Arrived: First Impressions.

After a very long and drawn out search for a new amplifier for my B&W 803 D2's, which included in-home demos of McIntosh (452/C2600), Bryston (4B3), SimAudio Integrated's, and others that I tested in-store, I finally landed on the Gryphon Diablo 300. With the optional DAC module and phono board.

I feel lucky to a short trip away from one of the seven Gryphon dealers in North America, or I would not have found my amp. Some who are familiar with the Diablo may see my list of other amps I tested and think, those brands are not in the same league as Gryphon. And, after having painstakingly scrutinizing every demo component, I would have to agree they would be right. Those other brands cannot even come within striking distance. But here's the thing: from a pricepoint perspective, I'd be spending the equivalent amount of cash with those lower end brands once you factor in a pre/power amp, power cables, and interconnects - and it wouldn't sound as good as the Diablo. So, while expensive - the value is tremendous with the Gryphon Diablo 300. Others on this board have confirmed their opinion that I'd need to spend double on seperates before I could better the Diablo's performance. Including Whitecamaross, OP of the well known and ongoing "long list of amplifiers..." thread. I recognize that my search did not include uber-integrates from T+A, Dartzeel, etc. No way to consider these were I live. But I think that the Diablo is likely better suited than these alternatives for my use-case, with the power, current, and ability to drive my speakers in a large open space with a vaulted ceiling.

So I picked up the Diablo and it came in a great wooden crate that is smaller than you'd think, and has very handy clips that allow each panel of the crate to come off one panel at a time. The DAC was not pre-installed, and came in a seperate box. The phono board was also seperate, and was sold to me at a discount as it was a pulled from the shop's demo Diablo 300. I had expressed interest in installing these modules myself, so the shop said they'd let me have the experience of opening the brand new Diablo. Having installed the module and board (without incident), it was a little tricky. I would not suggest others try this unless you have some experience working with electronic components, PCB's etc (I do). And for safety you definitely want to ensure the Gryphon's massive and many capacitors have fully discharged prior to working inside.

On to the sound, out of the box with 0 hours run-time. The Diablo was a bit of a gamble for two reasons: 1) The dealer does not do in-home demos, and 2) The closest speakers I could test with to my 803's were the B&W 802 D3's, and 3) No returns or exchanges. Having fired up the amp and connecting to my digital source, right off the bat the music was thoroughly engaging. And here's the thing: When purchasing new gear over the course of 20 years or so, I've not once purchased any equipment that I've loved in the first month. This is the first. On my 803 D2's (or Diamond, whatever B&W calls this generation), I found that for the first time in all my amp-testing I was not listening for things like "dynamics","timing", "linear response", "imaging", but rather listening to people playing music. All instruments and voices have this solid and real quality to them. An example: with the tambourine at the start of Reckoner by Radiohead, you can sense the impact of each strike of the tambourine against the musician's hand. The same effect is there for vocals, with backing harmonies having a texture to them I've never heard. Another way to describe this effect is that rather than simply hearing the instruments, you are aware the sound is caused by something physical happening. Like with snare drums, it is more tangible than with any other gear I've heard. I've always thought that trailing notes or chords at the very ends of songs are just there as musicians need to signify that the song is over. But now, there is a presence and drama and texture to these endings I've never heard before. Just as I said earlier, I'm no longer listening for things like "dynamics" and "timing", but rather hearing the musical manifestation of these things. The midrange is absolutely beguiling, as one pro-reviewer put it. I think this may be partially due to the DAC based on my in-store testing I did. So far I've only tried the USB input at home. I am quite sensitive to harsh mids and highs, especially on poorly recorded hard rock, and can find this type of music very grating on hifi equipment. But not on the Diablo. The mids and highs are smooth. There is no sign of any harshness at all. But counter-intuitively, at the same time, there is so, so much detail to the music. Everything is revealed, in a presentation that is paradoxically smooth and engaging. Is this an analytical amp, or a musical amp? It's both. Don't know how they pulled it off. The bass is one of the Diablo's most striking qualities. Just as with the other instruments, the base is tangible, highly detailed and deeply textured - it creates a groove in the music that is so satisfying. I didn't know my speakers could do this.

This amp absolutely has a voice to it - it is not a "just the facts" amp. So those who are looking for that sort of amp may not like the Gryphon. But for me, this is exactly the sound I was looking for. Some have said there is a slight "dark" quality to the presentation, and I thought that sounded negative. But I understand now and have come to realize that this dense, detailed, and rich smooth voice is exactly what I was looking for.

In terms of how it performs on my speakers vs with the 802 D3's in the store - there is quite a bit of detail, and soundstaging, that is not present now. But on the flip-side, I actually like the overall presentation at home even more, and the detail that is there is still incredible. And, I'd expect more detail to emerge through the burn-in period. Even now, I'd be totally happy if this is the best it gets. In the store, I found the high level of precision of the 802 D3's just a tad distracting. For example, in the store, if I turned my head slightly, I could hear the entire soundstage shift quite dramatically. My 803's at home don't have this issue.

I have not finished upgrading accessories yet: I am running this amp on inadequate sub $1K Van-den-hul D352 speaker wire, and my source is a Mac Mini with Audirvana/Tidal Hifi. I do have it running with a brand new AQ Hurricane power cord. My Mac will be replaced by an Innuous Zenith MKIII but it's on backorder. Might be a month or two wait. Don't know what I'm going to do about speaker wire quite yet. I'd like to try Valhalla 2 just to see if it is worth it!

Overall, extremely happy. Expect things to get even better with the dedicated music player, upgraded speaker wire, and some more hours of burn-in. One more thing - I don't think that Flemming Rasmussen designed this amp. Batman did. And just look at the remote - case closed.
If I were you I'd definitely just try it out, especially if I already had a sub!  But I agree in theory it won't help add slam to mid-bass or add warmth.
Krell is known for having a ton of bass, and from what I've read (and observed), Gryphon bass is very strong too.  I think I saw someone say they thought it was similar to Krell in terms of bass, but that Gryphon has better / smoother sound over the rest of the spectrum.  But I don't think I've seen anything that suggests Mark Levinson has this sort of bass.  Maybe it was the listening room at the dealer?  Maybe your processor / EQ is having an impact and reducing bass?  Also my entire mindset is thrown off when I am listening outside of my own space, so there is the psychological aspect too.  If you are using a power conditioner, try plugging directly into the wall.  I've heard of situations where bass is lost with the Diablo because conditioners can't provide enough current - with one story I saw where it happened at an audio show and the Diablo underwhelmed until it was plugged directly into the wall.  Also I assume you are not using the stock power cable?
Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" on my system at home is immense and feels like you are hit with a ton of bricks, repeatedly with the beat, when turned up.  But I have not tested this track with other equipment so I have no real reference.  I'll try your other song by Prince when I get home tonight, at a volume level of 23.
Listened to “The Chain” again. When you say the kick drum at the start of the track, do you mean before or after the bass kicks in?

Before the bass kicks in I’d say I can just start to “feel” the kick drum in the chest at a volume setting of 27. After the bass kicks in you can easily feel it at 25.

As for the Prince song, it sounds amazing but these sort of highly produced pop tracks don’t really impress me with any system. It is too easy for sound producers to include sonic pyrotechnics with big dynamics and transients when producing electronic pop and/or dance oriented music. My daughter was listening to Billy Eilish “You Should See Me in a Crown” on my system. Wow.... Try that track if you want to make your system put on a fireworks show while fully pressurizing your room to the max with crazy amounts of bass. Again not the sort of track I’d use to test HiFi gear. But, holy crap. And keep in mind my system is in a large open concept area with very high vaulted ceilings...

So I've tried a few things as you have suggested. 

The amp and all below is connected direct to the mains, no conditioner in its path.

1) Audyssey Pro processor.
2) Power cod- Wireworld Stratus 52.
3) Naim NDX2
4) Naim 555 PS DR

Room size 5.7m x 3.8m x 2.4m

Volume 27

If I stick to the "Chain" at the moment, when I play it through the processor- micro dynamics, strings definition and bite, bass layers, decay, separation and focus. Is all there clearly- three dimensional image. The string plucking has bite to it, you can hear it getting plucked clearly and the decaying notes too. If I remove the processor, the sound turns flat, it's like if it goes back into the speakers. It is all good with the processor in place, I'm loosing a lot without it. The bass is clearer with definition and notes are projects into the room.

Lets look at the bass

When the track starts the kick drum doesn't have authority, slam, chest hitting punch. I found that with the Mark Levinson 585, but not here. When that tish part ends then silence the impact is missing here. After that the bass comes in, there is bass there but not what I heard with the 585. Even if I turn it louder to 30, everything is clear and no strain or fatigue. But the bass never gives you that kick. it just gets louder, not in your face loudness, it's loud (just difficult to explain if you haven't experienced this before). Nyev you know what I mean when I say it gets loud but not compressed or anything. 

I've tried the DB1, it either is un- noticeable when it's integrated and balance with the 803D3 speakers. Or you start hearing it over taking the rest of the sound. It starts to unbalance the sound. It never gives the kick in the chest I heard from the 585.

From this I conclude that Diablo 300 outputs it's power in a different way to the 585. More natural and not in your face type, it doesn't create something that isn't there. The thing is I never got to listen to the 585 at home, even the Diablo 300 was a gamble as I've bought it blindly. As I mentioned in my previous post it could be that the dealers room had an emphasis of that bass region. I was impressed by the 585 amp, my question after a short listen was can I live with this? Then i started doing more research and found out about the Diablo 300, PassLab INT 250. These dealers and amps are so rare in my neck of the woods, I would not be able to listen to one of these amps with my speakers period. 
The other thing that could be going on is that the room is sucking my bass impact. I have measured the room and I could not see any 'suck outs' or dips. Maybe I just need more power and bigger drivers to physically move that air. I'm lost!

The Prince track was just to see what the system can do, I don't think this is the best. There is still a lot of potential to be explored and I haven't found a track that will bring out 100% from the system. It was merely for you to see the kind of layered bass that is going on in the background. I had a listen to Billy Eilish, it does pressurise the room. I bet the bass your speakers are producing is a lot different to mine. :-(  Your daughter has good taste, I can't believe you let her play music on your system. (:-

You should try this album which has great recording and dynamics-

Breaking Silence- Janis Ian
Sorry to hear you are disappointed in your system’s bass.  Just be careful not to overcompensate on the amp for a deficiency that is in all likelihood with your speakers.  Also I’m not sure you are actually supposed to “feel” that kick drum on The Chain...  You don’t want to add something that is not supposed to be there.  That said, your speakers are known to be light on bass.  Whitecamaross, OP of the “long list of amplifiers...” thread mentioned that to me about the 803’s, and he specifically suggested the Diablo to help with the bass.  Many others have said the Pass integrated doesn’t compare with the Diablo.  But maybe the Levinson would?  Maybe the Levinson pairs better with your speakers than the Diablo?  Is it possible to try the Levinson at home?  Or buy and return?  Beyond that, I’d be looking at new speakers.  I think that is likely your main problem as no one ever has said anything about the Diablo’s bass presence or slam being anything other than class leading.  But, I’d be interested in hearing if you could directly compare the Levinson at home!

One other thing - I really don’t think you need more power. More power will not give you more bass at the volumes you listen at and with your room size. And, the Diablo is known for supplying massive power especially at lower impedences.  It is often said that the Diablo has no problem driving any speakers.