Well...i am now listening to a Gryphon Mephisto at home which I acquired 2nd hand over the holidays (totally unexpectedly). Thanks to a member here in fact, who knew the owner and kindly made an introduction.
I have listened in my system or a very similar systems in-store (where i have been going for over 10 years) to the following amps:
- Naim Statement
- D'Agostino Momentum Monos/Stereo
- Constellation Centaur Monos
- MBL Reference Monos
- Dartzeel 108 amp
- Soulution 510
- Gryphon Antileon Original
- Gryphon Colosseum
- Boulder 2060
- Krell Evo Ones
- Krell FPB600
I have also heard but not in systems I know well Tidal Reference Monos, Electrocompaniet Nemo and a few others.
Personally, i have my biases and preferences which lean towards the Gryphon voice which I describe very much in the SOTA quality today (providing you look at the above as SOTA today). (I have not heard these newer amps which have received remarkable acclaim: Vitus Masterpience Reference, Boulder 3050, 3060, new D'Agostino Relentless, CH Precision M monos...and no doubt there are others.)
Overall, the voice has some hallmarks i admire:
- Density/Purity of tone and note: when a single violin soars, you really feel, hear deep into the note and it is truly sonorous into the 'meat' of the note.
- Tremendously powerful in a way that is entirely effortless: large scale orchestral to solo voices both seem effortless, unimpeded by dynamic scale, range or peak...and it enables even soaring crashing crescendos to be organic rather than just a stressed extreme of a passage
- Incredibly easy way with LOTS of detail. I now have explored many passages of words in choral music which the Mephisto is allowing me to hear without thinking about it...which i strained to understand with the Colosseum let alone some of the above list
- Bass. Everyone talks about Gryphon bass...earthquake, foundational...but super fast reflexes. I was surprised about how well it handles electronic music even in comparison with the Colosseum. That combination is FUN...to get a punch in the chest, while also being able to hear that bass note decay with the last bit of organic-like detail.
- Full extension incl treble purity. The treble is where the last 15 years have been great at Gryphon. With the birth of the Colosseum, Gyphon's traditionally slightly dark character (which i never minded) became quite illuminated in the treble and high treble but in a way that felt entirely pure...cannot speak with SETs which are renowned for purity...but certainly pure to my ears and in comparison to the above
- Ability to really set a realistic soundstage: this is a funny one...until an amp so powerful comes along, the boundaries of the jazz club always seem to come in a bit or collapse slightly. With the Gryphon they not only are very solid boundaries, but they dont waver. That ability to hold the boundary effortlessly creates a lifelike sense of soundstage and realism that i really missed when i had a loaner in recently (an extremely good amp...60 watt class A Sugden) while i had my old Colosseum being demo'd for sale...and before the Mephisto came in.
Hope that helps.