Squared siblings. In combat sports, big stars get nicknames to glorify certain attributes like 'the devastator'. In such a context, Essence the pre would go into triplicate nick as bassman, velocitor and dynamo. Perhaps a true balanced circuit fronting another contributed? Whatever the cause, the result was obvious. Those lingering attributes of class A bias—call them more posh, portly and poncefied if you're from my side of the tracks—accelerated. Dynamics which previously felt reticent woke up. So did low-down kick and shove. Now the punctilious forward drive of Ilhan Ersahin's "Oriental Wind" with its rotary bass figure, drum cracks, cymbal fizz, trumpet gargle, platinum qanun and virtuoso clarinet came off without any excuses.

Likewise for unfolding dynamic headroom of bigger orchestral games; for maintaining insight when the wicked get going. So they do with the Sirba Orchestra's symphonic treatment of Klezmer/Russian repertoire where traditional folk dances hit overdrive. In our age of variable DACs going amp-direct with digital volume, it could read from unseemly to heretical. The Gryphon simply was from another age. It reset any reluctant 80:20 assumptions of amp:pre contributions well past 50:50. In fact, I'd go beyond 40:60 to stress how in this bit of sibling rivalry and in the context of our hardware, the preamp dominated. Says the opposition, "today a preamp is a redundant anachronism. More stuff in the signal path couldn't possibly be better!" Essence the preamp begs to differ. Very loudly!

In a baker's coup of having the savory cake and eating it, I now enjoyed the meatier/fatter aspects of class A bias and the more 'vegetarian' qualities of a fresh vitamin/enzyme-based diet because, as it were, the shepherd's pie was served with a big mixed salad. Without doubt, teaming up the two Gryphons had elevated the amp's solo show considerably. Now I had proper crunch, zing and pep.

Interlude. A week prior, a lateral Exicon Mosfet in one of our monos had given up the ghost. That caused its push/pull mate to overheat and fail which now took out two 16A relays. While the amp shipped out for repair, I replaced it with a stereo amp I really like upstairs but as it turned out, not so much downstairs. This prompted me to write a feature for Darko.audio which is relevant in this context. Finely tuned mature systems and listeners tuned into them live on a razor's edge. Very little will upset that carefully curated balance. It's why for this review, changing the amp to Gryphon necessitated a subsequent change of preamp to reset the balance for this listener. That didn't mean the sound was the same, only that it was artfully balanced again.

To describe the difference in simple terms, pay attention to my wording sequence for respective weighting. The Gryphon twins were saturated, potent and intense, the Rossi/LinnenberG set is lucid, colorful and intense. Now you appreciate how despite similar qualities, their relative dominance differed. Stating the obvious, the Gryphon aesthetic was what one typically wants from class A, just with a good dose of blood thinner thrown in to liven up the pace. Our usual aesthetic prioritizes speed and immediacy, then adds image density. It's far easier to put into words than making it happen with careful hardware curation which arrives at just the desired relative values.