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The output stage is obviously class A and fully balanced; free of op amps to be fully discrete mostly via SMD types to shorten the signal path; and DC coupled to eliminate coupling capacitors. Inspecting the business end, something—cough—seems to be missing however. Møller explained the absence of RCAs with a "preference for the sound of the balanced outputs". While he’s correct that XLR connectors can easily be fitted to asymmetrical cables, I found this stance somewhat cavalier. Ditto for showing those clients a bright-red stop sign who might entertain notions of sooner or later wanting to stream files which needs a digital input.

I was told that such a socket could negatively impact the clocks to compromise the player’s overall performance. The Danes are thus hardliners. Their Scorpio is a pure Redbook machine without SACD compatibility or separate DAC access. Not that the €14.000 Mikado Signature flagship player adds to it. Radical minimalism? If so, could somebody please explain what an €8.000 spinner does with a digital output? Then I’d be fresh out of questions.

The front-panel user interface is free of surprises except that most owners will likely make two initial mistakes – touching the writing rather than the point above; and with insufficient finger pressure because it’s all so luxuriously shiny. The touch sensor needs a firmer contact to recognize commands. To combat unavoidable fingerprints, Gryphon includes a micro fiber cloth. To avoid marring the mirror-smooth fascia, the power mains switch sits next to the right front footer on the belly.

The Atilla integrated adopts the same cosmetics including the surprisingly tall footers. Those improve air flow, which both machines appreciate (amusingly, for once the spinner’s idle dissipation is higher than the amplifier’s). The amp offers five line-level inputs including a tape loop and one XLR. The centrally mounted umbilical port is for the soon-to-be-available optional MM/MC module. The rear panel’s layout alone suggests a dual-mono layout with its mirror-imaged sockets that as expected in this price class are mounted solidly as though welded. Inside the mirror-imaged theme mostly continues. The fat-boy power toroid in the middle weighs in at 1.200VA and while two units would have taken dual mono all the way, Gryphon points at discrete secondaries for each channel, which also get 60.000µF storage capacitance. A separate small transformer supplies the display and control logic circuits.

This smallest of Gryphon’s amps still conforms to the firm’s focus on circuit-board build with minimal flying leads for the shortest possible signal path; discrete parts and DC coupling; dual-mono dual-differential architecture; high bandwidth (here 250kHz @ -3dB); and avoidance of global feedback. Class A bias here is factual only up to the output stage which turns class A/B push/pull with a pair of Sanken transistors per channel for 100 watts into 8 ohms and a nearly text-book doubling into 4. Volume control is via microprocessor-steered precision resistor network. It’s available of course also from the nicely compact, ergonomically friendly remote wand which covers the player too.

Sound: I’ll break down performance in three parts – CD player, amp and combo. It took no endless A/Bs over three days to acknowledge that music over the black Scorpio took off a lot more than my recently added Luxman D-05 workhorse. Took off is shorthand for very high dynamics both micro and macro. There the Dane plainly outclassed the Japanese who merely shrugged it off by costing half, playing SACDs, offering XLR and RCA sockets and an S/PDIF input, all niceties which the radically minimalist Gryphon considers irrelevant.

Far from irrelevant was its handling of bass drums however - and I’m not yet referring to bass mass but suddenness. Such percussive attacks simply showed up instantaneously. This immediacy wasn’t limited to a particular frequency band and generally very obvious with high voltage swings. It benefited symphonic works just as it did Nine Inch Nails. Your politely reserved reviewer armed with notebook in the sweet spot involuntarily gasped more than once as there suddenly was more life in his digs. Hola! Personally even more impressive than such massive attacks was the finely nuanced tracking of micro flutters. A drastic music change from Trent Reznor to Bavarian dude Ringsgwandl with his guitar demonstrated this. His album Staffabruck is clearly no dynamic mine field yet how realistically he took form in front of me! Strings were plucked more vigorously than usual, the vocals more unplugged and immediate – essentially all microdynamic advances the Dane contributed. The Scorpio clearly was a very lively performer.

On tonal balance—imagine a scale with the bass and treble on either end—the latter had a bit more on its ribs. This lent the player a fresher rather than sonorous character. The evidence of Ringsgewandl’s locked-in voice was due not only to microdynamic virtues but also the Gryphon’s trim brisk balance. This exhibited just a minor presence-region bump for greater lively directness than warm full power. Slightly fuzzy recordings gained in energy and commitment, plastic jobs with higher innate brightness could tweak the nerves at higher levels. But this did not equate to brightness per se, which would have necessitated a high-lit treble. That band however evidenced rather more long-term friendliness than a shot of extra gloss. Put differently, the designer sacrificed a degree of resolution and airiness to remain pleasingly natural. Now add fully extended powerful rhythmically taut bass that was neither too dry nor too soft, neither shy nor hesitant but balanced and very dynamic (I really liked this bass).