If you happily drop €24K on a CD-only transport, you ought to read the Robb Report not us. Yes you could dumb down Ethos to just spin discs and spit out digits over its solitary AES/EBU output. But reporting on such use to promote it feels perverse. It'd bypass half the machine to freeze half your investment. Why? For a pure CD-Pro8 transport, look at an Accustic Arts Drive II for top cash, a ProJect RS2T for a lot less. Ethos is a CD player + DAC. Ideally you'll use it across all its functionality. At minimum, exploit it as a disc player with premium analog outputs. Do you still insist on turning Ethos into just a transport? I—who is about to die I reckon—salutes your expense account. But do read about it someplace else.

There. I just got stabbed in the heart.

CD:USB? Comparing physical carriers to files ripped from them rewarded CD for sticking around, not self destruct as the pundits predicted. In fact, to achieve sonic parity with the silvery coasters, I had to route the iMac's Audirvana-fed USB signal through our upscale USB bridge for extra reclocking, then enter Ethos on AES/EBU with an Allnic 110Ω digital link. I'd still give upsampled CD the lead but now by the merest of whiskers. The moral of that detour won't matter to inveterate streamers who've never owned a single disc. But it might assure proud owners of active disc libraries that with Ethos, you won't miss a thing if you never use any of its digital inputs. (If you wanted to feed a second system off its AES/EBU output, Canare call the longest recorded run of their 110Ω digital cable in a pro-sound application 360 meters! So a few rooms over in a domestic install should present zero challenge. Routing such a cable could.)

Each of the three Atlas footers has a very long threaded shaft to accommodate even the crookedest supports.

For those who still bark at investing this much into a digital machine, the bard has this reminder: "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." Until streaming exceeds native 384kHz or DSD512, Ethos remains up to date. And do we really believe that no matter eventual G7 speeds, recording engineers at large will bother mastering PCM at 768kHz? Anything higher than 96kHz seems a stretch. For which Ethos is eternally set. So stop barking and banking. Face the music. If you can afford to listen to a Gryphon Ethos, be happy. Don't worry about the naysayers.

The support foot reaching beyond the display's confines is my Photoshop tribute to exceptionally strong bass which does anchor the music in a greater sense of realism.

If we go audiophile bean countering, I²S as an input is absent. In the next breath we remember. There's no standard for external I²S. Unless makers do a Denafrips to provide not only three ports for said purpose but configurable ports to adapt pin assignments as needed, single-flavor I²S is bound to miss. Given the paucity of Ethos real estate on the staggered back panels, three more connectors just wouldn't have fit. Aside from this one miss, I can't see what else anyone could realistically want for features. This isn't a toaster even if half a bagel would fit perfectly beneath the lid. And unless you were a classical music and/or Jazz freak, physical SACD outside of Japan are pretty much their own miss. Catering to them would be too then. So, the quad DSD support of Ethos should suffice.

Whilst stewardship of the brand passed into the safe hands of Jakob Odgaard, retired founder Flemming Rasmussen's imprimatur on the styling of Ethos is unmistakable. To my eyes, it's the handsomest Gryphon yet. The gentle giant hasn't lost his touch even living out in his remote cabin now by the lake in the woods. I found Ethos elegantly modernist, sleek without baroque excesses, sufficiently curvy to avoid angular machismo and structurally simple enough to shun those oil-rig pretensions. Fit'n'finish were immaculate as befits such luxury positioning. Build quality felt pristine. Far beyond any reviewer's loaner period, it's here where this brand's longevity and reputation step in to promise solid reliability and sterling support when needed.

True, very good digital sound these days can be had for a lot less. But in the (never end) game of narrow percentages which at the very top sing their siren song of disproportionate expense, overbuilt construction, premium specifications and extremist details like 12.5 Farad virtual battery power for USB or a hydraulically actuated lid still make those smaller differences to nudge a system upward. With Gryphon's Ethos, the salient small differences relative to our domestic alternates were twitchier dynamics, sharper transients and a greater sense of forward propulsion/projection. Combined, these attributes led to more intense communication of musical energy.

So in my book, vivid and vibrant are the names of the two lines where the 'V' of today's victory intersects.

Or as Hamlet once said, "listen to many, speak to a few… but then pick one." Okay, old Will did miss that last bit. But we just fixed that.

Finally, what's in a name? In its original Greek, ethos meant "character". Wikipedia says that it was used "to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation (audio company?) or ideology (design philosophy?)." But according to Wikipedia, it gets even more interesting. "The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence emotions, behaviors, even morals."

That's a ton of meaning in just five letters. I'd say mission accomplished.