Gryphon Essence

Sep 22, 2018
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#41
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. :)

My experience absolutely matches yours in 1. Sound is just effortless and there is nothing to irritate the deeply relaxing Kharma wrought by suitable music. Will be interesting to hear your final estimation of the DAC module. On Class A - having experienced A, I just can't listen, at any volume, to the A/B option anymore. The greater depth, weight, density, smoothness etc is addictive. I'll check the blog and look forward to the next instalment :)
 
Sep 22, 2018
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#43
Ok, one more quickie... listening to the Zena DAC more and realizing I seriously underestimated it. Actually starting to wonder if I still need the PS Audio DAC... I'll leave you with that cliffhanger for now. ;)
Cliffhanger indeed! Look forward to a summary/conclusion once Zena DAC is run in, then :)
 
Jun 13, 2020
19
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New Jersey
taww.co
#44
So I’ve been using the stock power cable on the Essence amp as none of my others have a 20A IEC. The rest of my system, including the Essence pre, is wired with Furutech DPS-4.1 cable with their top NCF plugs which have really come into their own with the Essence in the system (their transparency tended to reveal a bit of grain in my other amps), so I ordered a DPS-4.1 with 20A plugs on both ends from Scot Markwell of Elite AV (Furutech’s US distributor). I don’t have a 20A circuit yet, but the Furutech power strip I’m using has their superb GTX-D NCF receptacles which are 20A.

I am really not one for hyperbole but vs the stock cord it is literally like a different amp. Of course I was expecting an upgrade over stock, but the amount of resolution it unlocks, listening to just a single track so far, is kind of mind-blowing. I put on a dense orchestral recording, Strauss Don Juan (Pittsburgh Symphony/Honeck/Reference Recordings), that my wife has been studying and I couldn’t believe how much more I could hear in complex passages. I could make out literally every instrument and line in the score, hearing all sorts of little woodwind fluttering figures and bass colors in even the most cacophonous sections, and the soundstage was rock solid behind the plane of the speakers, cavernous and precisely spaced all the way to the back corners of the stage. The bass also came alive, improving one of the only reservations I’ve had about the amp (the bottom end has been a bit polite on my speakers).

The best analogy is honestly being in the concert hall live, where there is just a sea of sound in front of you but you can pick and choose any instrument in the orchestra you want to zero in on and follow it without ever getting lost. The Essence amp with the DPS-4.1 has that sort of transcendental clarity and coherence. My wife commented that the performance of the famous oboe solo in the Strauss “sounded much better now that I can hear all the subtle things she (the principle oboist) is doing, there’s a lot of nuance I can appreciate that I couldn’t hear at all before.” Part of the challenge is that Reference Recording’s production has a very realistic mid-hall perspective that’s quite distant, and the oboe doesn’t benefit from any sort of spot-mic’ing, so you really need a system with tremendous resolution to retrieve all the nuance. The Furutech power cord unlocks this on the Essence in my system. The last time I heard this sort of resolution was at RMAF 2018, in the MSB Technology room with all their reference pieces and Magico M3 speakers. (Coincidentally I think it was also a Reference Recordings track they were playing.)

The DPS-4.1 is unique for a high-end cable in that you can buy it bulk and terminate it yourself, but I really recommend having Scot do it for you for a nominal fee - his terminations look and feel like a million bucks, and the total cost is quite reasonable for this level of performance. (I’m sure one could keep upgrading further but not sure I can convince myself to spend $2k+ on a power cord...)

@eagle3333 I believe you said you’re using Gryphon’s Headline cable which I’m sure is also an appreciable upgrade over stock so I’m probably just now hearing some of the things you’ve been enjoying. I had a sneaking suspicion the stock cord was holding the bass back given you find it even better than the Diablo - the Furutech seems to bring the bass, and so much more. Lots more running in and listening to do, and I have reviews of the Furutech power and speaker cables in the works. At some point I’ll have to try the preamp with a different cord, I’ve always had the Furutech on it... picture below is of that cable (15A plugs).
 

Attachments

Sep 22, 2018
40
11
13
#45
So I’ve been using the stock power cable on the Essence amp as none of my others have a 20A IEC. The rest of my system, including the Essence pre, is wired with Furutech DPS-4.1 cable with their top NCF plugs which have really come into their own with the Essence in the system (their transparency tended to reveal a bit of grain in my other amps), so I ordered a DPS-4.1 with 20A plugs on both ends from Scot Markwell of Elite AV (Furutech’s US distributor). I don’t have a 20A circuit yet, but the Furutech power strip I’m using has their superb GTX-D NCF receptacles which are 20A.

I am really not one for hyperbole but vs the stock cord it is literally like a different amp. Of course I was expecting an upgrade over stock, but the amount of resolution it unlocks, listening to just a single track so far, is kind of mind-blowing. I put on a dense orchestral recording, Strauss Don Juan (Pittsburgh Symphony/Honeck/Reference Recordings), that my wife has been studying and I couldn’t believe how much more I could hear in complex passages. I could make out literally every instrument and line in the score, hearing all sorts of little woodwind fluttering figures and bass colors in even the most cacophonous sections, and the soundstage was rock solid behind the plane of the speakers, cavernous and precisely spaced all the way to the back corners of the stage. The bass also came alive, improving one of the only reservations I’ve had about the amp (the bottom end has been a bit polite on my speakers).

The best analogy is honestly being in the concert hall live, where there is just a sea of sound in front of you but you can pick and choose any instrument in the orchestra you want to zero in on and follow it without ever getting lost. The Essence amp with the DPS-4.1 has that sort of transcendental clarity and coherence. My wife commented that the performance of the famous oboe solo in the Strauss “sounded much better now that I can hear all the subtle things she (the principle oboist) is doing, there’s a lot of nuance I can appreciate that I couldn’t hear at all before.” Part of the challenge is that Reference Recording’s production has a very realistic mid-hall perspective that’s quite distant, and the oboe doesn’t benefit from any sort of spot-mic’ing, so you really need a system with tremendous resolution to retrieve all the nuance. The Furutech power cord unlocks this on the Essence in my system. The last time I heard this sort of resolution was at RMAF 2018, in the MSB Technology room with all their reference pieces and Magico M3 speakers. (Coincidentally I think it was also a Reference Recordings track they were playing.)

The DPS-4.1 is unique for a high-end cable in that you can buy it bulk and terminate it yourself, but I really recommend having Scot do it for you for a nominal fee - his terminations look and feel like a million bucks, and the total cost is quite reasonable for this level of performance. (I’m sure one could keep upgrading further but not sure I can convince myself to spend $2k+ on a power cord...)

@eagle3333 I believe you said you’re using Gryphon’s Headline cable which I’m sure is also an appreciable upgrade over stock so I’m probably just now hearing some of the things you’ve been enjoying. I had a sneaking suspicion the stock cord was holding the bass back given you find it even better than the Diablo - the Furutech seems to bring the bass, and so much more. Lots more running in and listening to do, and I have reviews of the Furutech power and speaker cables in the works. At some point I’ll have to try the preamp with a different cord, I’ve always had the Furutech on it... picture below is of that cable (15A plugs).
Glad the Furutech has taken things to another level :) I never compared the Gryphon Headline with the standard cord but it has to be an improvement. I use AQ NRG-4's throughout, elsewhere - to me, they're more neutral than the higher range AQ's and seem to just get out of the way of the music. Great improvement over stock and, all bought used, they were, therefore, excellent value, too. I'd like to hear one of these Furutech's one day..

Yes the bass is just immense. Over at Audiogon, 'Mike', a dealer, moots that Essence' power is more like 120w as opposed to the official 50w, such is the capability of the amp at driving every speaker he has in the shop. I would absolutely agree that Essence does not perform like an amp with only 16% of the power of the Diablo 300. Would be interesting to measure..?
 

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