Antileon Evo stereo: Recommendation from a tube guy

Dthagerty@aol.com

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I love the sound of my tube amps, but am gradually getting weary of dealing with tubes. While I’ve been wanting to find a SS amp I could love, I had pretty much resigned myself to being a tube guy for life. As of 3 days ago, that has changed. Listened to the Antileon Evo stereo amp at my dealer’s store, and the Antileon Evo is a SS amp I could not only live with, I could love it. For those of you tube guys looking for a SS amp, I recommend giving Gryphon amps a listen.
 

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What do you mean by “dealing with tubes”?
 

Dthagerty@aol.com

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Haha. Just the usual tube stuff. Wondering, as I run to turn off the amp, if the amp is going to be damaged when I see a power tube “redlining”. Trying to figure out which tube is going bad when I start hearing intermittent noise. Wondering if the reason the balance seems shifted to 1 side is because a tube is getting weak. Wondering if I should go ahead and replace the power tube when the getter is almost gone. Wishing I had replaced that same power tube 2 weeks later when it redlines (although luckily it only took out a fuse).

I love my tube sound, and they’ve been worth it so far, but they can be a PITA.
 
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lesacre

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The Evo is an amplifier for tube lovers. Mind you, it does not sound like a tube amp but at the same time it has no negative attributes of SS sound that tube lovers refuse to accept. It is better than most tube amps since it doesn't have the negative attributes of tubes either.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Gentlemen: What differences in circuit design or in components or both account for these differences in sound among the Evo, the Colosseum and the Memphisto?
 

LL21

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Looking forward to reading this thread as it evolves. Its funny that many years i started a thread entitled 'Powerful Tube Amp for my SF Strads' because i was all tubed in the system (CJ) and wanted to go with something much more powerful that kept all of the magic of the tubes i was enjoying. Hundreds of suggestions, posts and lines later...i found the Gryphon Antileon 2nd hand. That was probably 10 years ago, and I have since gone to Colosseum and then to Mephisto (2nd hand as well).

I am not that experienced in tubes and tubed amps...but I have long ago stopped looking, and really enjoy the sound we've got.
 
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Vienna

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I don’t know the technical details behind, but when I had listened to Antileon I had loved the sound, however at the moment I had listened to the Mephisto I felt that there was no way back, it is the end in my opinion
 
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Dthagerty@aol.com

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The Evo is an amplifier for tube lovers. Mind you, it does not sound like a tube amp but at the same time it has no negative attributes of SS sound that tube lovers refuse to accept. It is better than most tube amps since it doesn't have the negative attributes of tubes either.

This is an insightful comment, at least for me, based upon my own personal experience.

I’ve been a “tube guy” and tried intermittently over the last 10 yrs or so to find a SS amp that I preferred. But I’d never found one that sounded musical to me, or that I could listen to without aural fatigue. Pass, Electrocompaniet, Boulder, Constellation (although the Centaur II came close), and a few others I can’t remember. I listened to the Antileon Evo with Magico M3’s recently and loved it. None of the “negative attributes” I had experienced with other SS amps. And I also agree, it didn’t sound like a tube amp to me but was at least equally good. Wouldn’t say “better than tubes”, though.
 

Ron Resnick

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So if I am a “tube” person I could buy the least expensive Gryphon mono amp and be the happiest with it?

LL21, What did you achieve sonically by going from the Antileon to the Colosseum, and then by going from the Colosseum to the Mephisto?

Andy Payor went from VTL Siegfrieds to Mephistos. If the Antileon is a little bit more tube-like than the Colosseum or the Mephisto I wonder why he didn’t stop at the Antileon.
 
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Ron Resnick

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This is an insightful comment, at least for me, based upon my own personal experience.

I’ve been a “tube guy” and tried intermittently over the last 10 yrs or so to find a SS amp that I preferred. But I’d never found one that sounded musical to me, or that I could listen to without aural fatigue. Pass, Electrocompaniet, Boulder, Constellation (although the Centaur II came close), and a few others I can’t remember. I listened to the Antileon Evo with Magico M3’s recently and loved it. None of the “negative attributes” I had experienced with other SS amps. And I also agree, it didn’t sound like a tube amp to me but was at least equally good. Wouldn’t say “better than tubes”, though.

Did you make a direct, apples-to-apples comparison between a Pass amplifier and a Gryphon amplifier?
 

Dthagerty@aol.com

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Did you make a direct, apples-to-apples comparison between a Pass amplifier and a Gryphon amplifier?

I owned the Pass XA30.5 for about 2 yrs, and used it with Magico Q3’s. I listened to the Antileon at my dealers with same cables (Synergistic Research) and speakers (Magico M3’s) that I now own but different sources and preamp. I haven’t listened to the Pass .8 series, nor have I tried D’Agostino, DartZeel or Vitus on M3’s.

I think we all hear things differently. In my case, it hasn’t been a matter that I liked and could enjoy SS, but preferred tube sound. My reaction to SS has not been subtle. I literally haven’t enjoyed SS and have found it fatiguing to the point of getting headaches and unenjoyable. My reaction to SS is probably more extreme than most. That’s why I’m still shocked at my experience with the Antileon. I don’t know what it is about SS that has made it so unenjoyable in the past, but whatever it is, the Antileon didn’t do it.

I also didn’t listen to the Coloseum or Mephisto. By all accounts they are more detailed than the Antileon.
 
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Ron Resnick

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I owned the Pass XA30.5 for about 2 yrs, and used it with Magico Q3’s. I listened to the Antileon at my dealers with same cables (Synergistic Research) and speakers (Magico M3’s) that I now own but different sources and preamp. I haven’t listened to the Pass .8 series, nor have I tried D’Agostino, DartZeel or Vitus on M3’s.

I think we all hear things differently. In my case, it hasn’t been a matter that I liked and could enjoy SS, but preferred tube sound. My reaction to SS has not been subtle. I literally haven’t enjoyed SS and have found it fatiguing to the point of getting headaches and unenjoyable. My reaction to SS is probably more extreme than most. That’s why I’m still shocked at my experience with the Antileon. I don’t know what it is about SS that has made it so unenjoyable in the past, but whatever it is, the Antileon didn’t do it.

I also didn’t listen to the Coloseum or Mephisto. By all accounts they are more detailed than the Antileon.

Very interesting. Except for darTZeel 458s and PeterA’s Pass Labs my reaction to solid-state has always been the same as yours. Thank you.
 

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I owned the Pass XA30.5 for about 2 yrs, and used it with Magico Q3’s. I listened to the Antileon at my dealers with same cables (Synergistic Research) and speakers (Magico M3’s) that I now own but different sources and preamp. I haven’t listened to the Pass .8 series, nor have I tried D’Agostino, DartZeel or Vitus on M3’s.

I think we all hear things differently. In my case, it hasn’t been a matter that I liked and could enjoy SS, but preferred tube sound. My reaction to SS has not been subtle. I literally haven’t enjoyed SS and have found it fatiguing to the point of getting headaches and unenjoyable. My reaction to SS is probably more extreme than most. That’s why I’m still shocked at my experience with the Antileon. I don’t know what it is about SS that has made it so unenjoyable in the past, but whatever it is, the Antileon didn’t do it.

I also didn’t listen to the Coloseum or Mephisto. By all accounts they are more detailed than the Antileon.

Fatiguing on SS usually has to do with incorrect set up or show demos. There are reasons to not like SS but fatiguing due to brightness is just incorrect set up.

Most class A amps are non fatiguing, like pass, Vitus, old Krell, etc. Dagostino, Dartzeel, spectral, and such AB amps are also non fatiguing when heard in their right set ups. There are various other reasons to differentiate between, and like/not like these amps, but fatigue is not one them. Many tube lovers have also moved from tubes to Luxman or Vitus.

To me the drawbacks of SS have more to do with can they sound transparent to recordings and real at the same time. Some SS amps to sound closer to tubes add a flowing class A like color. It sounds very pleasing but eventually sounds the same record to record. Also whether set up is digital or analog, and what recordings played can influence choice of amps greatly
 
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LL21

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So if I am a “tube” person I could buy the least expensive Gryphon mono amp and be the happiest with it?

LL21, What did you achieve sonically by going from the Antileon to the Colosseum, and then by going from the Colosseum to the Mephisto?

Andy Payor went from VTL Siegfrieds to Mephistos. If the Antileon is a little bit more tube-like than the Colosseum or the Mephisto I wonder why he didn’t stop at the Antileon.
Hi Ron,

Regarding the Evo, all products and designs evolve...the Evo is the most recent and I have heard it was a bit of a return to the voicing of the original Antileon but updated for 3 generations of amps (Antileon SE, Colosseum, Mephisto). There are a number of people who love that voicing, and it clearly has fans here who, by their own description of themselves, are fans of tubes and NOT generally fans of SS. In the end, all technology involves a compromise...none is truly perfect...and thus we are down to the base outcome of a series of imperfect choices/implementations. For some, the Evo is it.

Antileon original vs Colosseum:
- The biggest most apparent change was the treble
- Antileon was dark...i never minded it. It was not so much that it lacked resolution, but more that it was recessed presentationally relative to the mids and all-powerful bass which was tight, effortless and unshakeable.
- But the Colosseum illuminated that corner of the room beautifully, while also extending the treble up further as well
- It also did not strike me as in any way etched nor forced. I first had heard treble from SS that was very illuminated but not etched from an older Goldmund piece, and it recalibrated my ear in terms of how to listen to a balanced listening field including treble
- The Colosseum was also more detailed (I am not a detail freak)...in a way that was unforced, and i suspect more due to lower noise floor than due to anyone 'cranking up' the feedback or other such design element
- The bass was about the same though more resolved
- The only area where I always felt the Colosseum might have 'lost' something was just a hair, the finest ever hair, of midrange intensity of tone...the Antileon had some magic there where it 'might' have been less than a so-called 3% difference, but it was there for me.

Colosseum vs Mephisto:
- The Mephisto presents far more detail in a way i had not appreciated could be done
- It also seems much, much more resolved, capable than the Colosseum...resolute i suppose would be the word. I do not mean in this instance resolved as in detail...but in its ability to deliver scale, power, majesty, tiny nuances, inflections of fingering, breath...all at the same time without losing any sense of control. Resolute.
- The foundation of music is laid down in many respects via the amp...its ability to take the signal and really lay it out in your listening room with resolve, detail, power, soundstaging, placement, inflections/nuances, and yet also awesome scale, size, depth, etc...the Mephisto is much better at laying out this soundstage than even the mighty Colosseum
- I also found a return of just that extra bit of tonal purity, intensity but with no fat on it, no sense of smudge or halo which clouds the presentation's clarity

Just listening notes. Hope that helps.
 

Ron Resnick

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Hi Ron,

Regarding the Evo, all products and designs evolve...the Evo is the most recent and I have heard it was a bit of a return to the voicing of the original Antileon but updated for 3 generations of amps (Antileon SE, Colosseum, Mephisto). There are a number of people who love that voicing, and it clearly has fans here who, by their own description of themselves, are fans of tubes and NOT generally fans of SS. In the end, all technology involves a compromise...none is truly perfect...and thus we are down to the base outcome of a series of imperfect choices/implementations. For some, the Evo is it.

Antileon original vs Colosseum:
- The biggest most apparent change was the treble
- Antileon was dark...i never minded it. It was not so much that it lacked resolution, but more that it was recessed presentationally relative to the mids and all-powerful bass which was tight, effortless and unshakeable.
- But the Colosseum illuminated that corner of the room beautifully, while also extending the treble up further as well
- It also did not strike me as in any way etched nor forced. I first had heard treble from SS that was very illuminated but not etched from an older Goldmund piece, and it recalibrated my ear in terms of how to listen to a balanced listening field including treble
- The Colosseum was also more detailed (I am not a detail freak)...in a way that was unforced, and i suspect more due to lower noise floor than due to anyone 'cranking up' the feedback or other such design element
- The bass was about the same though more resolved
- The only area where I always felt the Colosseum might have 'lost' something was just a hair, the finest ever hair, of midrange intensity of tone...the Antileon had some magic there where it 'might' have been less than a so-called 3% difference, but it was there for me.

Colosseum vs Mephisto:
- The Mephisto presents far more detail in a way i had not appreciated could be done
- It also seems much, much more resolved, capable than the Colosseum...resolute i suppose would be the word. I do not mean in this instance resolved as in detail...but in its ability to deliver scale, power, majesty, tiny nuances, inflections of fingering, breath...all at the same time without losing any sense of control. Resolute.
- The foundation of music is laid down in many respects via the amp...its ability to take the signal and really lay it out in your listening room with resolve, detail, power, soundstaging, placement, inflections/nuances, and yet also awesome scale, size, depth, etc...the Mephisto is much better at laying out this soundstage than even the mighty Colosseum
- I also found a return of just that extra bit of tonal purity, intensity but with no fat on it, no sense of smudge or halo which clouds the presentation's clarity

Just listening notes. Hope that helps.

Thank you, LL21! Your post is exactly what I was hoping for!

Thank you for taking the time to so thoroughly recall and detail your comparative listening impressions of all three of these amps. I appreciate it!

I know better understand your progression from one to the next!

I always assumed that if I wanted to try a Gryphon amp on the Pendragons that I necessarily would have to go up to the Mephisto. (Flemming demo’ed the Pendragons with a Mephisto stereo amp.) But maybe I actually would prefer the sound of Antileon Evo. It seems from your post that the Evo may have bridged some of the gap between the original Antileon and the current Colosseum.

Do the Gryphon amp models utilize materially different underlying amplification circuits? Or do you mainly get bigger and better transformers, more capacitance capacity, lower noise power supplies and better components as you go up the amplifier line?

Someday I would like to figure out my preference ordering among CH, Gryphon, Vitus, Pass and Audia Flight, but it seems like such a daunting task. Antileon Evo could short circuit that process.
 
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LL21

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Ron,

Happy to share any notes if they are helpful to you and others. As for circuitry, i cannot say. I can only speak to what i hear.

The one techie point I note is that the capacitance of the amps has increased consistently over time...and in fact, the Evo has greater capacitance than the reference Mephisto. 670,000 microfarads for the Evo vs 500,000 microfarads for the Mephisto. (The Colosseum has 340,000 microfarads). The other techie point is that the Evo is listed by Gryphon has having some negative feedback...vs none for the Mephisto and the Colosseum.
 

Ron Resnick

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Very interesting on the capacitance. I wonder what component or circuit differences account for in the Mephisto the elimination of the slight haze you heard in the original Antileon?
 

LL21

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No idea...I do recall however that new-tech found its way successfully into other designs. I remember when CJ started using Teflon capacitors...and that was widely heralded as a big improvement to their sound which maintained its glorious purity of tone...but now without syrup.
 
Lloyd, thank you for your listening notes. That was also very similar to my personal experience. Here's a link to the specifications chart Gryphon put out: https://gryphon-audio.dk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Technical_Specifications.pdf. Ron, hope you are going to AXPONA. We have a large room with Trident II driven by Mephisto and our dealer Scott has Pandora with Antileon EVO driving his Magico's there. Obviously, we are local with you here. Our demo Antileon EVO should free up for a little bit after the show. Happy to connect with you on that personally. Should be a blast to hear it with your Pendragon.
 

Dthagerty@aol.com

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Lloyd, thank you for your listening notes. That was also very similar to my personal experience. Here's a link to the specifications chart Gryphon put out: https://gryphon-audio.dk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Technical_Specifications.pdf. Ron, hope you are going to AXPONA. We have a large room with Trident II driven by Mephisto and our dealer Scott has Pandora with Antileon EVO driving his Magico's there. Obviously, we are local with you here. Our demo Antileon EVO should free up for a little bit after the show. Happy to connect with you on that personally. Should be a blast to hear it with your Pendragon.

Scott is an outstanding, knowledgeable dealer, wonderful to work with, and GREAT person. My highest recommendation!
 

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