The Gryphon Essence Stereo Power Amplifier
In the year 2020, the Gryphon celebrated 35 years of exploration and innovation, widely acknowledged as one of the most influential high end brands in Scandinavia—and the world. The Gryphon name has long been established as a hallmark of excellence in every aspect of audio design, from amplification to loudspeakers to digital playback.
It all began with the very first Gryphon power amplifier, the Gryphon DM100: 100 Watts, pure Class A, selectable bias, dual mono, extreme wide bandwidth and so much more. Born a classic, the Gryphon DM100 immediately established itself in high end circles as one of the most acclaimed amplifiers of all time.
Done the Gryphon way from the very beginning in 1991, the Gryphon DM100 defined honest, involving and utterly musical performance, paving the way for our current flagship model, the Gryphon Mephisto.
Gryphon Essence possesses the same big heart as its top of the range predecessors, the Gryphon Colosseum and Mephisto. The name Essence was chosen because it is the embodiment of the virtues that formed the Gryphon DNA from its first amplifier.
Essence is your direct music conduit with sonic neutrality, textural purity and dynamic ease, defined as much by what The Gryphon have left out as by what they have included.
With an ultra-wide frequency bandwidth (0.5 Hz – 350 kHz, +0 dB, -3 dB), Gryphon Essence Stereo is conservatively rated at 50W (8Ω), 100W (4Ω), 200W (2Ω) in stereo, Class A.
These exceptional figures guarantee stability with any loudspeaker load. The dual mono design employs a custom-built shielded, high current toroidal transformer with dual windings for left and right channel. The output stage and driver stage employ separate power supplies for effective isolation of the output stage from the input stage. A separate transformer for control and display circuitry isolates them from the signal path.
Now, Gryphon Essence Stereo takes us all closer in the never-ending quest for a more natural and convincing musical illusion. Years of experimentation and extensive research in the fields of circuit topology and component quality and reliability have resulted in the development of an amplifier that impresses immediately with its ability to cruise effortlessly through even the most demanding musical passages, regardless of volume level. As a result of the constant high power reserves available at all times, the Essence simply does not “see” the speaker, so its reactive load cannot degrade amplifier performance. Unlike other high-power amplifiers, Gryphon’s no-compromise, pure Class A topology allows the Essence to offer extreme power reserves on demand, combined with refinement and delicacy in musical presentation.
It is The Gryphon’s fundamental philosophy that all electronics in the playback chain must ideally be neutral and not add or subtract anything from the recording, no matter how “attractive” such distortions may be. The Essence Mono is by nature a product for the fortunate few who can afford such a statement, just as it is a product for the increasing number of audiophiles who seek purity in the reproduction of music, a product for music lovers who respect both the musicians and recording engineers enough to refrain from adding or subtracting anything in relation to the original intention of the recording.
Gryphon Essence Stereo Circuit topology
Power is the name of the game and the Essence Stereo is equipped to take on even the most vicious and nightmarish of loudspeaker loads. The output section uses Sanken bipolar output devices which have demonstrated extreme reliability in addition to outstanding sonic performance. The Essence Stereo employs 10 transistors per channel. These transistors can be called upon to deliver massive amounts of momentary peak power without overload.
Fully symmetrical input- and gain stages improve transient response, soundstage, depth and ambience retrieval.
The separate driver section has its own power supply from individual windings on the custom-made toroidal transformers. Unique mechanical design ensures optimal thermal tracking between drivers and output devices. The driver section features its own generous bank of high quality capacitors.
The power capacitor bank in the Stereo version is an astounding 440,000 µF array of exceptional capacitors, bypassed by high quality polypropylene capacitors throughout the power supplies.
Global negative feedback is non-existent and DC coupling employs DC servo circuitry. Internal wiring in the signal path is kept to an absolute minimum.
Gryphon Essence utilizes a completely independent power supply for display and control circuits, effectively preventing digital noise generated by these circuits from reaching the amplifier circuits.
The unique, non-invasive protection system offers reliable, fuss-free protection without compromising signal purity and signal path simplicity.
The output signal is constantly compared to the input, so that, in the presence of a difference which exceeds predetermined limits, the amplifier mutes and enters standby mode until the error condition has been corrected.
Heatsink temperature is constantly monitored. In the event of overheating (temperature in excess of 90° C), the amplifier will shut down. Normal operation will resume when a safe operating temperature is reached.
True Class A operation has always been a Gryphon benchmark, simply because nothing in our experience can match the sonic glories of pure Class A.
Unfortunately, true Class A is even rarer today than when we originally introduced the DM100. Rising consumer awareness has forced some manufacturers to stop making outrageous, unsubstantiated claims of Class A power ratings that only exist in the fevered imagination of some marketing “expert”.
Still, there is a growing number of so-called “new” Class A topologies based on automatic biasing which somehow allows the amplifier to sense when the bias should increase to ensure constant Class A performance!
If such a thing were to work as claimed, it would be tantamount to a re-writing of the laws of physics. In order for an amplifier to be able to increase bias and stabilize thermally to instantaneously meet the dynamics of the input, it would have to be able to predict what is going to happen next on the recording. Auto-biasing can by nature only respond to something that has already happened and the bias will rush up and down in a desperate attempt to follow the last note.
Put bluntly, there is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to pure Class A, so we state with no apologies: True, pure CLASS A means heavy transformers, very large heatsinks, lots of heat, lots of electricity, expensive parts and costly assembly.
We appreciate and endorse every effort to conserve energy and preserve our global resources, but our research into efforts to obtain Class A performance from alternative amplifier topologies makes it clear that there simply is no substitute for the sheer magic of pure class A.
However, based on thorough analysis of typical listening situations, we have devised Gryphon Green Bias, a Gryphon invention (green for substantially reduced environmental impact). Green Bias offers true, pure CLASS A with considerably lower power consumption.
Any combination of Gryphon preamp and power amp with Green Bias control allows the user to select the amount of Class A required to run their speakers fully in Class A at any given time, taking into account such factors as speaker sensitivity, room size, musical dynamics and overall volume level. Programmable Class A bias is an efficient, convenient means of reducing power consumption without compromising Class A performance.
While Green Bias does not offer the extreme low power consumption of Class A/B, or even the low power consumption of “auto-biasing” systems, it does offer significantly lower power consumption without sacrifice or compromise of even a fraction of its pure CLASS A performance.
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