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This review first appeared in the October 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Gryphon separates in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Gryphon Audio- Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: Analog – deck -
Acoustic Solid MPX; tone arms - Phonotools Vivid-Two, SME M2 12-inch; pickup - Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Zu Audio DL-103; phono pre - SAC Gamma Sym; digital – player - Audionet VIP G3, Fonel Simplicité, HIFIAkademie cdPlayer; Computer & Co -
Logitech Squeezebox 3, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP Notebook; D/A converter - Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Preamplifier - Octave HP300; power amp - Electrocompaniet AW180; integrated - Denon PMA-2010AE, Lua 4040 C
Loudspeaker: Ascendo System F, Thiel SCS4
Various accessories, cables & racks
Review component retail:

The hoary heraldic tradition of the winged lion makes for a chic statement also in the logo of high and ultra high-end firm Gryphon Audio Design. Right off such details confirm that it was no lab geek who handled branding and marketing here but rather an old fox at such matters.

And that seems fully the case with Flemming E. Rasmussen, Gryphon founder and mastermind. He studied Art and graphic design, which impressed itself firmly upon his electronics and their unmistakable cosmetics.

One suspects an interesting story in the transition from studies of Fine Arts to high-end audio design and manufacture. This and more are covered in the recently published 25-year anniversary Celebration, a quite voluminous and richly pictorial coffee table book that contains the occasionally amusing anecdote of the company’s history. That Herr Rasmussen launched his hifi career with cable connectors and put in time as an importer for Oehlbach was news to me for example...

Gryphon incidentally is no pure electronics firm. They also build loudspeakers for what has become nearly one-stop shopping, albeit positioned at a financially more liberated clientele. It’s well possible to part with a quarter million for a system from these Danes – but not necessary. Today’s Scorpio CD player and Atilla integrated are the most recent additions to their catalogue and the new entry into the world according to Gryphon. Relative to the portfolio’s remainder, it’s nearly hifi for the people.

Trim and tech: Relative is relative of course. For this pair of winged baby lions, one parts with €16.000, not exactly chicken feed. Given that, cosmetics are quite understated. Fit and weight are undoubtedly solid and reflect the house aesthetics but glam they ain’t. That’ll strike quite a few prospective shoppers as a virtue. Particularly for amplification, Gryphon champions a few core ideals. These include class A operation to eliminate zero crossing distortion and to run parts in their most linear range; no global feedback to follow Dr. Otala’s 1970’s research into transient intermodulation (also reference Nelson Pass’ article on the subject); dual-mono architectures for better stereo imaging; and wide bandwidth to eliminate phase shifts in the audible range.

It’s easy to make out three toroidal transformers beneath the Scorpio’s bonnet. The two on the circuit board feed left and right analog stages and are supported by 18.000µF of filter capacitance per side. The third tranny on the bottom plate supplies the transport and digital circuits. Extracted digital data are upsampled to 32-bit/192kHz, then processed by not one but four AKM AK4397 DACs to go beyond dual mono into dual differential. Each chip runs off its own power supply,  which our German importer explained has the Scorpio operate a bit warmer. “A bit” was further understatement. The Scorpio could have been called space heater for running warmer than any player I’ve encountered yet. As though to undermine such concern, the two Scorpio clocks (one for the transport, one for the quadruple conversion stage) are temperature-controlled 5ppm precision units which, so developer Tom Møller, allowed for the impulse-optimized slow roll-off setting he implemented.