Gryphon Essence

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,506
480
628
#21
Likewise...we have some excellent writers here! I hope to be reporting a few updates soon...
 
Likes: taww
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#22
@eagle3333 you don't give yourself enough credit. :) Your review was excellent and extremely helpful given how few units are out there, much less reviewed, yet. I have some experience as a semi-pro reviewer, having written for Bound for Sound for a number of years and now running my own blog, which is where all of this will ultimately go (added the info to my sig for anyone curious).

Cheers,
TAWW
 
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#23
Here are some initial readings from my Poniie PN2000 meter, purchased on Amazon. No idea how accurate it is but the reviews compared favorably to Killawatt. My AC currently measures in the 124 to 125V RMS range @ 60Hz.

Standby: power draw read as zero on the meter, well within the < 0.5W specification.

Soft start: The amp starts at around 100W, and very gently ramps up. Note however this wasn’t a completely cold start - the amp had been powered down maybe 10 minutes after idling in low bias mode, and was slightly warm still.

Warmup in high bias: After half an hour, it was drawing around 220W and still rising, indicating bias and temperature still hadn’t settled. So I would not expect it to sound its best yet.

After 1 hour: things have stabilized around 277W, give or take a watt. This is considerably less than the rated 350W, and probably on par with a Pass XA30.8. Again, this wasn’t a fully cold start, but you can expect the amp to be fully warmed up at this point. Power factor is 66% (421VA), indicative of a pretty inductive load as expected (the transformer is a huge inductor after all). I haven’t measured PF before and will compare to some smaller amps, but it may be worthwhile investigating a conditioner with power factor correction (e.g. Furman Elite) to improve performance of other gear in your home, e.g. a home theater.

Green bias: switching to low bias immediately drops draw under 110W. After 3 minutes it is around 105W and seems stable there despite heat sink temperature taking a while to come down. So the bulk of power drop is immediate and while device temperature is a factor, I would expect the sound to largely reflect within a few seconds of switching.

Switching back to high bias: If done while the amp is still warm from prior high bias use, it quickly ramps back up to 275W within 20 seconds. I would have to perform this test after an extended cool down to see how much heat sink temperature factors.

So to summarize:
1. Give it at least half an hour warmup for high bias
2. It uses a lot of power in Class A, but not as bad as specified
3. Bias changes take effect pretty quickly, temperature stabilization not withstanding
4. Low bias cuts power by more than 60% to 105W, and heat is quite manageable. While still not a green practice, I would be ok leaving it on all day in this setting.

Depending on how bored I get, I may plot this over time more accurately and from a cold start... I’ll probably have to be really, really bored though...

FFFC6E2A-6299-4743-8C13-77060E76EDD8.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Likes: eagle3333
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#24
BTW: the act of measuring with the Poniie meter definitely influences things since it has to put a small inductance in series to make the measurement. This is also evident when listening to anything connected to the meter - it definitely doesn’t sound great. I‘m not sure how much to pad the ratings to compensate, but I’d guess it’s marginal and the amp is still well under 300W at high bias idle.
 
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#25
BTW: the act of measuring with the Poniie meter definitely influences things since it has to put a small inductance in series to make the measurement. This is also evident when listening to anything connected to the meter - it definitely doesn’t sound great. I‘m not sure how much to pad the ratings to compensate, but I’d guess it’s marginal and the amp is still well under 300W at high bias idle.
Absolutely brilliant and informative analysis, thanks Taww. That answers every question I had. Great to know that draw on idle in low bias is vaguely acceptable and that draw in high bias is less than anticipated. Also warm-up time to play of 30 mins compares to Gryphon’s suggested 45 mins when run in; no biggie.

On my review - thank you:) I’ll go check out your stuff. I find the way you write very succinct and to the point. Yes, I wrote mine precisely because I couldn’t find a single other review out there and I’ve tended to value the findings of grass roots customers above those of magazines. Though you have to be careful even with former.. I hope this thread will spur folks to discover what we’ve been fortunate enough to find.
 
Last edited:
Likes: taww
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#26
Ah I missed that Gryphon recommended 45 minutes. That lines up with my measurements perfectly - I think I checked around 40 min and it was right around 275W. So yes, listen to the manufacturer. :p

FWIW I checked the power factor for my Ayre AX7e, an 60W Class AB integrated that draws 50W at idle - just for comparison, it's 70%.
 
Likes: eagle3333
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#28
Just want to ask a quick question. Is essence or mephisto flagship of Gryphon?
Mephisto - see price difference :)
 
Last edited:
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#29
I installed the Zena DAC module last night. On first listen, it definitely has a warmer (or perhaps thicker) tonality than my PS Audio DirectStream or RME ADI-2 FS. My wife picked up on some very very subtle but somewhat unnatural detailing that has bothered me before with Sabre DACs, the exceptions being the Resonessence and Merging. It was only on an isolated passage on an older DSD recording. Otherwise it has a fairly relaxed, full quality to it, but perhaps lacking some transparency. I will give it a good 100-200 hours more play time before evaluating critically.

(Incidentally let me know if I’m digressing too much on the thread and I can move to a new one.)
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
11,506
480
628
#30
I installed the Zena DAC module last night. On first listen, it definitely has a warmer (or perhaps thicker) tonality than my PS Audio DirectStream or RME ADI-2 FS. My wife picked up on some very very subtle but somewhat unnatural detailing that has bothered me before with Sabre DACs, the exceptions being the Resonessence and Merging. It was only on an isolated passage on an older DSD recording. Otherwise it has a fairly relaxed, full quality to it, but perhaps lacking some transparency. I will give it a good 100-200 hours more play time before evaluating critically.

(Incidentally let me know if I’m digressing too much on the thread and I can move to a new one.)
On the contrary (for me anyway)...your feedback is great to read. And in addition, your wife is a professional oboist who has performed and studied with people who are on your recordings! That kind of feedback is also incredibly unique, and it must be a lot of fun for both of you to enjoy your system. Please keep posting!
 
Likes: taww
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#31
On the contrary (for me anyway)...your feedback is great to read. And in addition, your wife is a professional oboist who has performed and studied with people who are on your recordings! That kind of feedback is also incredibly unique, and it must be a lot of fun for both of you to enjoy your system. Please keep posting!
Yes I agree completely with LL21. Your findings with Zena will be really useful for anyone torn between reducing boxes and optimising the front end. Perfect to have a professional musician in the family. My daughter was a cellist and pianist and I would always ask her opinion, too. Once it’s safe for her to visit she’ll also be telling me how accurate sound the orchestral instruments. Much looking forward to the next instalment.

Incidentally, I’ve been unable to listen to my system for a week now. My partner returned from hospital following a procedure for a brain bleed last Monday and I gave her the lounge as part of her quarantine space. I got the kitchen so I can feed her. Greater love hath no man.. Hoping to be back in there on Wednesday evening. (When I’ll put the new Townsend isolation podiums, just arrived, under the Mojos and find out what they do. I’ll report in a new thread).
 
Likes: Rob181

Rob181

Well-Known Member
Oct 1, 2014
124
58
235
#32
Yes I agree completely with LL21. Your findings with Zena will be really useful for anyone torn between reducing boxes and optimising the front end. Perfect to have a professional musician in the family. My daughter was a cellist and pianist and I would always ask her opinion, too. Once it’s safe for her to visit she’ll also be telling me how accurate sound the orchestral instruments. Much looking forward to the next instalment.
I look forward to your daughters opinions as well. I have a similar spring setup to the Townshend's on my speakers - the make a significant improvement to the quality of the sound - especially mid bass & three dimensional presentation of the music...
 
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#33
I look forward to your daughters opinions as well. I have a similar spring setup to the Townshend's on my speakers - the make a significant improvement to the quality of the sound - especially mid bass & three dimensional presentation of the music...
Thanks Rob, that's great to hear. Given Mojo's are on stands I wasn't sure this was a worthwhile step; but decided it was worth a try. I'll link to a new thread when I have something to report. Claire thought the Diablo 300/Mojo rendition of piano and strings pretty good. I think she'll be 'blown away' by Essence. We'll see..
 
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#34
@eagle3333 wishing your partner a speedy recovery!

I‘m a violinist and was still playing pretty actively in an orchestra until everything went to hell, so between my wife and me we have the upper strings and winds pretty well covered. Unsurprisingly, neither of us are much of bass heads, so not the best judge of that.
 
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#35
Thanks Taww, very kind. Baby steps.

It must be terribly difficult for musicians under current circumstances. We must hope the boffins come to our rescue. I hope your playing lives return to something approximating normal asap. Meantime, let's see what you both make of Essence' rendition of those sections when you've had an extensive listen :)
 

taww

Member
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#36
Quick update with a couple pics from the current setup, also on my Instagram with some comments. The Essence are working quite nicely with the Furutech cables I have for review. I’m ordering a DPS-4.1 power cord with 20A plugs on both ends for the amp.

Re: the Zena DAC, it’s sounding better but I’m still not sure I like most Sabre-based DACs... I think I should give it a few hundred hours though as in my experience most digital gear takes an eternity to break in. Pandora and Philip did advise that realistically no built in DAC would be comparable to a high quality stand-alone unit and so far my experience aligns with that.

4FC9D93D-A108-49A4-83AB-A618F1525B1E.jpeg
74CE16B5-90C1-44D2-9DC2-2EC0C46888FF.jpeg
 
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#37
Lovely looking set-up, Taww. What are the speakers?

Yes, I would concur with your dac observation. If funds allowed, I'd love to try Ethos. As it is, I'm happy to stay put. But it's one of the very few areas I'm comfortable deviating from the brand. (New Vanta cable range launched this week. I'll try a pair of xlr's)..
 

taww

Member
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#38
Hi @eagle3333 - thanks, the speakers are Audiovector SR 6 Avantgarde Arreté ($25k), which I’ve had since early April (good timing with shelter-in-place). Initial review will be up on the blog soon; I have some listening notes posted from my dealer audition. Audiovector is a fellow Dane and they used to show with Naim a lot but allegedly with Naim now having the same EU distributor as Focal they were less keen to feature another speaker, so AV moved on to Gryphon. (I can’t remember if you or another Gryphon owner here was also formerly with Naim.) I believe they are currently use the Zena + Antileon EVO in their showroom.

I’m starting to get a sense of the individual character of the Essence pieces, having swapped amps once or twice. My other amps are both Class A, the Pass XA30.5 and Valvet A4 Mk.II, both lovely amps. I would say that the Essence pre holds the stronger “sound” of the two, not that it’s overtly colored but it has more of the recognizable Gryphon house sound which I can best describe as “chocolatey“ but pure, and is truly transformative vs. the Pass XP10 or Valvet Soulshine (tubes) which I had at one point. The upper frequencies are so pristine, it really opens up the presentation of all my amps.

The Essence amp, OTOH, strikes me as very, very neutral - I haven’t hooked it up to my Pass preamp but I suspect such a setup would have little to none of the chocolatey-ness. Instead you get a very true view of the signal, delivered in a natural vs. analytical way. While it’s been a while since I had the Bryston 4B Cubed, I think the Essence amp is potentially even more uncolored than that pro/studio-heritage gear, but with greater resolution and less electronic artifact. This might disappoint those seeking more rose-colored glasses, and I think speaker matching might be a little different from, say, the Diablo or Antileon. Similarly, bass heads might want for more overt LF energy - it’s very deep and controlled, but subtle. Similar to my Furutech cables, it has this “sneak up“ effect where it won’t call attention to itself until something like a piano left hand or trombone enters the picture with lifelike weight and resonance. I like it, but the Audiovectors seemed to have more bloom with the Diablo.

I’ll save further observations for my first-take review on the blog, stay tuned. :)
 
Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#39
Hi @eagle3333 - thanks, the speakers are Audiovector SR 6 Avantgarde Arreté ($25k), which I’ve had since early April (good timing with shelter-in-place). Initial review will be up on the blog soon; I have some listening notes posted from my dealer audition. Audiovector is a fellow Dane and they used to show with Naim a lot but allegedly with Naim now having the same EU distributor as Focal they were less keen to feature another speaker, so AV moved on to Gryphon. (I can’t remember if you or another Gryphon owner here was also formerly with Naim.) I believe they are currently use the Zena + Antileon EVO in their showroom.

I’m starting to get a sense of the individual character of the Essence pieces, having swapped amps once or twice. My other amps are both Class A, the Pass XA30.5 and Valvet A4 Mk.II, both lovely amps. I would say that the Essence pre holds the stronger “sound” of the two, not that it’s overtly colored but it has more of the recognizable Gryphon house sound which I can best describe as “chocolatey“ but pure, and is truly transformative vs. the Pass XP10 or Valvet Soulshine (tubes) which I had at one point. The upper frequencies are so pristine, it really opens up the presentation of all my amps.

The Essence amp, OTOH, strikes me as very, very neutral - I haven’t hooked it up to my Pass preamp but I suspect such a setup would have little to none of the chocolatey-ness. Instead you get a very true view of the signal, delivered in a natural vs. analytical way. While it’s been a while since I had the Bryston 4B Cubed, I think the Essence amp is potentially even more uncolored than that pro/studio-heritage gear, but with greater resolution and less electronic artifact. This might disappoint those seeking more rose-colored glasses, and I think speaker matching might be a little different from, say, the Diablo or Antileon. Similarly, bass heads might want for more overt LF energy - it’s very deep and controlled, but subtle. Similar to my Furutech cables, it has this “sneak up“ effect where it won’t call attention to itself until something like a piano left hand or trombone enters the picture with lifelike weight and resonance. I like it, but the Audiovectors seemed to have more bloom with the Diablo.

I’ll save further observations for my first-take review on the blog, stay tuned. :)
Excellent, thanks Taww. Yes, I was Naim in another life. Never heard Audiovector but very interesting that they should work happily with either brand. Dynaudio are also excellent with Naim but I found Contour and new Confidence lines to be too too slow with Gryphon. I’m staying tuned :)
 
Jun 13, 2020
19
9
5
43
New Jersey
taww.co
#40
Hi all, hope everyone is doing well and taking care. A few quick updates:

1. The Essence combo is sounding more open and relaxed as it breaks in, as one would expect. The frequency extremes are developing further and the overall sound is extremely natural and continuous. This may seems like a weird compliment, but at the end of a long day I find it extremely easy to relax to music late at night and fall asleep at the sofa - not because the sound is boring, but because the music flows so organically and free of irritating distortions that it's extremely soothing.

2. The Zena DAC module is also continuing to run in and is sounding better. For whatever reason, I'm finding it sounds better with DSD sources than PCM. Also note that I haven't done any optimization of the USB source, which is a Raspberry Pi 4B on an Apple USB-C power supply, running Ropieee and connected via a DH Labs Mirage USB. I'm sure with some effort I could get more out of the DAC.

3. As an aside, I wrote a short piece on the blog talking a bit about Class A operation and the other two amplifiers I had in-house, Pass Labs and Valvet. I only mention the Essence in passing, but it's setting the stage a bit for its own review.

I'm working through my publishing backlog now and the initial Essence review should be coming pretty soon - in the meantime, listening notes are being compiled but I must admit that I continue to find it much less interesting to talk about how it sounds vs. just enjoying the music through it. :)
 
Likes: Ron Resnick

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high-end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. A place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss existing and new audio products, music servers, music streamers and computer audio, digital to audio converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel to reel, speakers, headphones, tube amplifiers and solid state amplification. Founded in 2010 What's Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing