iFi Gryphon portable Amp/DAC impressions and discussion

Discussion in 'IEMs and Portable Gear' started by jexby, Feb 11, 2022.

  1. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    [​IMG]


    Product announcement with more info here

    I remain mightily impressed with the iFi Gryphon so far, especially the power it can deliver to the 7hz Timeless IEM which brings more alive than the RU6 (no battery) dongle.

    More impressions will be forthcoming especially with Solaris 2020.
    regarding the iEMatch being engaged to eliminate hiss from Gryphon and Solaris 2020, received this from iFi Tech Support:

    1. The Gryphon iEMatch switch attenuates by 12dB. (12dB for 3.5 skt on 3.5 setting, and 12dB for 4.4 skt on 4.4 setting.)
    The iDSD Signature attenuates by 12dB on the high sensitivity setting and 24dB on the ultra sensitivity setting.


    2. Output impedance on Gryphon is < 1 ohm with iEMatch off and 3.6 ohms with it on.
    Output impedance of iDSD Signature is < 1 ohm with iEMatch off, 4 ohms on high sensitivity, and 0.94 ohms on ultra sensitivity.

    3. No kind of filtering, purely resistive attenuation.

    4. The reduction in hiss is due to the attenuation characteristic - either 12dB or 24dB as above.

    5. It places resistors in the signal path on the output of the headphone amp section.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2022
  2. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    some more Gryphon tidbits:

    - really enjoying a satisfying neutral with smidge of warm presentation on this unit with IEMs like Timeless 7z, Solaris 2020.
    resolution is very good, and Gryphon allows the large (for IEMs) soundstage of Solaris 2020 to shine through.
    To me, this is the baby brother of the iFi Diablo. looks to be some tech overlap in the amp section between the two models.

    - Gryphon by default has good layering allowing a couple steps back in presentation and not "at your nose" levels.
    the XSpace feature does immediately bring things closer in however.

    - The blackness, layering and detail retrieval by Gryphon is much more resolving than I heard from RU6.
    power from the battery in Gryphon IMO is better for Timeless 7z than dongles.

    - this is the first iFi device where I find the XBass (now shown as XBassII) and Xspace don't completely wonk out vocals or completely mess up the mix. for XBass II maybe this is the addition of the "Presence" feature switch on the back.

    - don't like the IEMatch switch on the bottom. thought this location would be a lesson learned from earlier iDSD models. alas, space is tight I suppose.

    - don't like the small "thump" that can happen when XBass II is enabled.
    usually this happens only once after powering on.

    - Love that Gryphon auto powers off after about 15-20min of no audio playing. a good battery saver for night time listening.

    - Love that a (short or long) USB-C to USB-C cable allows high res playing from an iPad Pro using Roon or similar software.

    - the included iFi Lightning to USB-C cable works great, but is short. Puzzled why I can't find a longer Apple Lightning to USB-C cable that works for direct USB connectivity with iPhone 13 Pro.
    every cable tried (even Audioquest) has been returned.
    a similar short cable seems to be:
    https://oeaudio.shop/products/oeotg-digital-cable?variant=40577134624821

    - new firmware features improved and can be enabled / disabled: Volume Sync with device, Volume Limits, Screen Brightness (or off).

    - wish Apple devices weren't limited with such crap low res bluetooth options. seems Gryphon supports all higher end BT modes.

    - if one doesn't need the power from iDSD Signature, IMO the Gryphon is the unit to buy with seemingly improved XBassII/XSpace, usb-c connectivity, screen display, smaller footprint.
    tempted to try Gryphon with Hifiman Arya Stealth and balanced 4.4 cable.

    In short, Gryphon is by far my favorite portable DAC/Amp due to great sonic delivery and usable feature set.
    it shall double as an office rig. if i ever go into an office again.
     
  3. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Thanks for taking the time and sharing. Did you feel that the Diablo has this upper mid characteristic yourself, and if so do you think the Gryphon shares it?

    I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts here as the form factor and versatility are strongly preferable next to the higher powered Signature and Diablo.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2022
  4. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    xDSD Gryphon of course wasn't designed to compete against its transportable siblings and is the only one from this lineup that features a wireless input, but some users rate its performance roughly in the ballpark of micro iDSD Signature and noticeably above xDSD for example.
     
  5. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    Disclaimers and purpose of my purchase: I am greying about the muzzle and don't hear a whole lot over 12 KHz. I picked up the Gryphon because I wanted a portable amplifier that could fill several use cases should I have to return to a traditional office. My home gear is in my profile, but I will mentioned that I prefer IEM with a V-shaped or dark tilt, and a more neutral desktop headphone system with considerable synergy. Shout-out to @Bloom for helping out with the purchase.

    I wanted a device that offered more than the various DAC dongles I've tried (Headroom Total Bithead, Lootoo Paw S1, or Dragonfly Red). I had problems getting the Paw S1 or Dragonfly Red to pair with my iPhone and iPad, regardless of whether I used the camera USB adapter or provided lighting to USB cables. These dongle DACS also lacked the power to drive full sized headphones to their full potential. My idevices magically recognize the Gryphon with the included cables and I have successfully used the USB camera adapter with a longer USB cable at home. The battery likely helps with this as the Gryphon isn't relying on the i-device for power.

    Minor gripes:

    Jexby did a great job summarizing some of the features and use cases. I agree with him about this:

    - I added an aftermarket case which makes it easier for me to distinguish the two rear USB ports. Otherwise I couldn't plug in the charging cable just by feel.

    - hiss without IEmatch on sensitive Campfire IEM. I guess that's why IEmatch exists.

    Now for things I like, in no particular order:

    - The Gryphon is an audio Swiss army knife. I can use IEmatch to eliminate the hiss on sensitive IEMs with a slight loss of fidelity. (If I'm on a train or in a noise environment, I leave IEmatch off. The hiss is barely noticeable in a normally noisy office environment). I can use the onboard filters (Bit Perfect, Standard, and GTO) to shape the sound just as I often do with Roon and/or HQPlayer DSP on my home system. I can use Bluetooth, USB, or optical inputs to use the Gryphon with my home setup fed from either my Roon Core or embedded HQPlayer.

    - The unit seems sturdy, the controls are intuitive, and for my aging eyes I can read it without my reading glasses.

    - The unit can drive sensitive IEM or headphones up to my 600 ohm Beyer DT880. I haven't tried it with my HE560 and doubt I would enjoy the pairing because the HE560 love power. I also haven't tried it yet with my Auteur. If others are interested, please ask but know I'm not great at describing what I'm hearing beyond what I like.

    - The battery life is long enough that I have no doubt I could reasonably recharge it at work and never have to worry about having enough battery life to cover a commute to or from the office on the train.

    - Jexby also did a great job describing XSpace and XBassII. XBassII can enhance presence, bass, or both. I find that the XBassII presence setting works kinda like an EQ for the Campfire Vega and gives the appearance of adding back in some mids that I otherwise miss. The bass extension can add even more intensity to IEM such as the Timeless 7hz. Overall these two settings enhance what a particular IEM already has. The Vega remains my favorite bass canon for the quality, texture, and impact of the natural bass. The XSpace and presence settings don't bring the Vega up to the same mid-range sound signature as the Timelss 7hz, but the settings do make the Vega listening experience more pleasant for me. XbassII adds intensity to the bass on the Timeless 7hz, but they will never sound the same as the Vega's superior bass texture.

    - I can feed it Qobuz at the office with USB from my iPad, local iPhone files while on the train, or bypass the onboard DAC with a line in at home.

    - Portable ability to drive full size headphones really sells the Gryphon for me. Sure, a desktop amp offers a better solution for full size cans, but the Gryphon is smaller than a paperback book and I can easily throw it in my bag. Whether I'm commuting, at the office, or traveling for work, I will gladly take the Gryphon with me.

    If you've read this far, I hope you have found my ramblings helpful. What the Gryphon offers in one product suits my use cases. The Gryphon isn't perfect, as Jexby and I highlighted, but what it does offer in a multi-use portable platform is remarkable.

    (edited to add) My strongest endorsement is that if I were to lose the Gryphon, I would immediately buy another. It just works for me and allows me to take most of the capabilities of my desktop system on the road.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2022
  6. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Thank you very much! I shall pass on your feedback, I hope that you won't lose your Gryphon and may it serve you well :)
     
  7. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    Thanks for posting. If you can find the time to share your thoughts on how it handles driving the HE560, and the Auteur too if possible, it would be greatly helpful and appreciated.

    I'm currently trying to ascertain how much I can get away with with a Gryphon, as it's size and wireless input make it ideal for my use-case.

    I think @Merrick was eager too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2022
  8. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    If the Gryphon can do justice to the ETA Gen G and Mini, both with 300 ohm drivers, I'm definitely interested in it. It seems like the sweet spot in the ifi portable lineup.
     
  9. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    I can’t be certain as I don’t know the differences between the Beyer DT880 600 ohm and ETA as far as efficiency. I can say the Gryphon drives the Beyers loud enough with room to spare. I generally listen around 80db and the volume was set around -20 (and I seem to recall the Gryphon can go to +6, 10?).

    I’ll try the Auteur as well and report back.
     
  10. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    @Cryptowolf Though an amp may reach a certain volume it may not have the ability to drive it effectively. For example when I had the Verité loaner the Fulla 2 could get volume but sound separation was poor, bass flabby, stage constrained, with poorer slam, flatter dynamics, and extension worse at both ends. Similar to how various non-sensitive headphones can sound out of a USB DAC dongle vs a desktop amp. Then going back to a desktop amp everything opens up.

    How much do those qualities suffer with the Gryphon vs your other amps?
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2022
  11. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Yes, +6dB is the upper limit!
     
  12. Cryptowolf

    Cryptowolf Repping Chi Town - Friend

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    I roughly volume matched my Pete MIllet FET-A Headphone amp with the Gryphon using a sound level meter (so around .1 db). My chain was:

    Roon -> HQ Embedded on Pi2AES -> I2S - Holo Spring 3 KTE -> FET-A -> Beyer or
    Roon -> HQ Embedded on Pi2AES -> SPDIF -> Gryphon -> 4.4 mm balanced jack -> Beyer

    I turned on the bit perfect (no filtering) filter choice with volume at -17 db.

    (And yes, it's likely not quite fair to compare the Gryphon at $600 to the Holo Spring and FET-A at around $4000, but these are the systems I have around for comparison sake).

    My notes indicate that the Beyer DT880 600 ohm edition has an efficiency of 96db.

    I have a standard playlist I perform gear evaluation with that includes a mix of Tool, Lyndsey Stirling, Apocalyptica, Anna von Hausswolff, and Edgar Meyer.

    If I were not comparing the two amps, I would find the Gryphon quite pleasant and capable. The FET-A is a solid state amp that has plenty of power but a higher noise floor than the Gryphon. The FET-A is practically unlistenable with higher sensitivity IEM. I keep the FET-A around as it sounds great for tough to drive headphones such as the HE560.

    As you suggested BenjaminBore, the Gryphon lacks some control compared to the FET-A. With the volume levels roughly matched, I would prefer to listen to the FET-A for the Beyer. But by turning on the XBASSII Presence and Bass settings, I could still enjoy the Gryphon-Beyer chain. I might enjoy the Gryphon even more if I played around with the filtering options.

    Conclusion: The Gryphon would be sufficient for on the road use with the Beyer. If I'm at home and have a choice, I'll pick the Holo Spring 3 KTE -> FET-A for the Beyer, but I would flip this choice for any of the IEM I currently own.

    YMMV, HTH, #GoingBackToListeningForPleasure ;)
     
  13. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Thanks, this makes a lot fo sense. Using IEMs with a big desktop setup seems a bit of an overkill ;)
     
  14. paranoidroid

    paranoidroid Friend

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    Is the battery user replaceable when many years later the capacity is low?
     
  15. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Technically it is, but we make all battery replacements internally as sending these can be troublesome.
     
  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    How does the Gryphon compare to something like the Nano BL or Hip DAC? The Hip DAC has way less features so I assume it has more space for the DAC and AMP and I don't need bluetooth, or ieMatch. would be for driving not that senstitinve ortho iems. So I'm guessing the Hip Dac sounds better.

    @iFi audio any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2022
  17. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    I have thoughts, but didn’t have Timeless 7hz during my Hip Dac loaner time.
    do have them with Gryphon, and Timeless haven’t sounded better except with a Vali2+ and a Spring3 KTE.
    wasn’t wowed by Hip Dac in general at the time. they certainly do have hiss with sensitive Campfire IEMs.

    the Gryphon and Diablo are the best overall sounding transportable combo units in the iFi lineup, and not by a small margin.
    if the features and cost delta are issues, that’s completely understandable.
     
  18. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    So, I found that I really like running the Fiio FD7 out of the rear 4.4mm (line out) instead of the front 4.4 mm (HP out). It is brighter and there's a little more midbass than there should be, but the improvement in clarity and plankton is remarkable.

    If the front HP outs are too powerful, there's always the line out lol.
     
  19. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Are you saying you like the Gryphon more than the Micro BL or Micro Signature? That would be impressive!
     
  20. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    indeed i do for IEMs, didn’t have Gryphon side by side with the Signature however just at different times.
    Gryphon sounds a bit more neutral than micros warmth, still open and detailed, and the newer Xbass II and Xspace implementations i can use now as they don’t lead to wonkiness in mid range or spatial blowouts. 4.4 on Gryphon is also truly balanced, not S-Balance like on micros.

    Diablo and Gryphon feel / sound like a newer genetic makeup of iFi products, for the better.
     

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