General Information

xDSD Gryphon: birth of a ‘head-fi’ legend

Delivering remarkable versatility, state-of-the art technology, and class-leading sound quality with digital and analogue sources, iFi’s latest DAC/headphone amp is a portable marvel


Southport, England – Launched in 2018, the xDSD is among the most popular portable DAC/headphone amps in iFi’s range – a feature-packed model that has earned a stellar reputation and a plethora of awards thanks to its supremely judged blend of convenience, versatility and performance.

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Soon after its launch, the xDSD was joined by the xCAN to complete iFi’s mid-level ‘x-series’ of portable devices. Housed in the same distinctive contoured case with ‘dark titanium’ finish, the xDSD and xCAN perform differing functions – the former is a portable DAC/headphone amp for digital sources, with USB, S/PDIF and Bluetooth connectivity; the latter is a headphone amp with purely analogue inputs, plus the added convenience of Bluetooth reception for smartphones and so on. The xCAN also includes a balanced output stage – the smallest iFi amp to do so at the time of its launch.

This autumn, iFi launches its next-generation x-series device, the xDSD Gryphon – iFi’s most ambitious portable DAC/amp yet. It replaces not only the xDSD but also the xCAN, combining the functionality of both with redesigned circuitry that elevates performance to another level. In the world of portable DACs, headphone amps and ‘head-fi’ in general, the xDSD Gryphon is destined to become a legend.

Latest reviews

Ichos

Reviewer at hxosplus
Mythical
Pros: + Neutral, transparent and accurate
+ Natural and musical sounding timbre
+ Dead silent
+ Great technicalities
+ Clear and resolving
+ Plenty of power for a portable device
+ Various sound enhancements
+ OLED screen
+ Multitude of inputs and outputs
+ Excellent Bluetooth implementation with minimal sound loss
+ Separate USB charging port
+ Compact and lightweight
Cons: - Average battery life
- A protective case is missing
- Some buttons feel loose
The Gryphon was kindly loaned to me in exchange for a honest review.
The review was originally featured in hxosplus printed edition and website.
This is the translated and adapted version for Head-Fi.

iFi Gryphon

Griffin, the legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion but the head and wings of an eagle.
Yes, you read that right, this is still an audio review, the subject is the new iFi portable DAC / amp with the emblematic name xDSD Gryphon, which aspires to combine the best elements of the two previous models xDSD and xCan in a slightly only larger chassis.
It is a compact, lightweight battery-powered device that combines a high resolution digital converter with a powerful balanced topology headphone amplifier.

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Technical highlights

IFi uses a Burr-Brown Hybrid MultiBit chip, the same one found on the flagship Pro iDSD Signature, which acts both as a digital converter and a signal receiver.
A global master clock is used to greatly minimize jitter.
Thanks to the Burr-Brown chip's four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD follow separate paths.
The xDSD Gryphon uses an amplification circuit called PureWave, it is a balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topology with short, direct signal paths.
Maximum power output is 1,000mW at 32 Ohms and a whopping max 6.7v output to drive high impedance headphones with ease.
The automatic "turbo" function adds +6dB in addition to the maximum output level, greatly increasing Gryphon's ability to drive difficult loads, making it one of the most powerful, battery powered, DAC/amps in the market.
Furthermore iFi engineers recognised that different parts of a circuit benefit from specifically optimised feedback loops and have developed a negative feedback system that is much more accurate than the usual approach.
This incorporates multiple feedback paths instead of a global loop, each path optimised for a particular function and working synergistically with the others to deliver optimal overall performance.
The amplifier section is essentially the same as the one found in iFi's portable flagship, the Diablo, with the only difference being the lower output power due to the smaller size of the power supply.

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The volume control

A multifunction button is used to adjust the volume and navigate through the various menus.
iFi uses for the first time a software-driven volume control, called CyberSync, that operates in the analogue domain and the way it synchronises with any digital source to which the xDSD Gryphon is connected is very different.
It provides perfect volume synchronisation between the source and the DAC.
It detects which operating system (OS) the DAC is connected to – iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS or Linux – and instructs the source’s OS to bypass its software volume control. Whether volume is adjusted using the xDSD Gryphon’s rotary control or on the source device, CyberSync ensures the change is performed purely by the Gryphon’s superior analogue control chip, while also displaying the adjustment on the source device’s screen.
Volume curves differ between operating systems and apps, but CyberSync ensures perfect synchronisation between the source device and the DAC every time.
A very handy feature is that the multifunction button is illuminated by a LED that changes color depending on volume level so you can instantly know the setting in order to protect more sensitive earphones from accidents.

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OLED screen

The Gryphon is the first portable DAC/amp from iFi, to use an OLED screen for easier navigation through the system menus.
This is not a simple OLED screen though, it is a SilentLine design which ensures that there is no electrical noise to interfere with the audio signal.
The way its switches between settings has been engineered to ensure sonic transparency – FET-based switching is handled by a microcontroller, which only ‘wakes up’ when the user changes a setting, thus eradicating any sonically deleterious interference.

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Tailor your sound

The Gryphon incorporates the following, exclusive iFi technologies that offer fine tuning to the sound.

XSpace adds back the cavernous sound stage of recordings.
XBass II reinstates the missing bass from open-backed headphones or for recordings that you hanker for bass slam.
You can select these two options by the means of a button that is located in front of the unit.
Under XBass II you can select ‘Bass’ and/or ‘Presence’ so that the upper midrange frequencies are correctly added back into your favourite recording.
This is done with a handy switch that is located at the back corner of the chassis.
iEMatch – is a proprietary tech which reduces the annoying hiss from high-sensitivity headphones without losing any dynamic range.
The option is available for both the headphone outputs and can be selected through a switch that lies underneath the chassis.
With digital sources, users can choose between three bespoke digital filters via the on-screen menu: Bit-Perfect without signal processing, Standard which is a simple low pass filter and GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised) that does upsampling to 384/352kHz, each having a fine-tuning effect on sound.

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I/O interface

Gryphon is a swiss army knife with a variety of inputs and outputs both analog and digital.
The user can choose between the wired USB type C and S/PDIF digital inputs or go wireless thanks for the Bluetooth 5.1 Qualcomm QCC5100 chip that supports all known codecs, from the legacy SBC to the high resolution aptX Adaptive, aptX HD,
LDAC and HWA/LHDC as well as multipoint coupling.
All digital inputs are housed in the back of the chassis together with the USB type C charging port.
The Gryphon has a separate USB type C port exclusively for charging its battery which allows it to be connected via USB while charging at the same time to accommodate for long term desktop use.
The USB digital input is compatible both with PCs and all types of tablets and mobile phones.
Sampling rates up to 768kHz / 32bit, DSD512, DXD768 are supported with full MQA decoding, while Bluetooth reaches up to 96kHz.
The Gryphon can also be used as a dedicated headphone amplifier to amplify signals through the two analog inputs (4.4mm and 3.5mm) that are located in the back of the chassis.
Input selection is done with a button that is located in the right corner of the front face.
At the left of the front face there are the balanced (4.4mm) and single ended (3.5mm) headphone outputs that can also be configured to act as dedicated line outputs with variable level.
The 3.5mm headphone output is supported by iFi's unique S-Balanced technology which delivers the benefits of the balanced connection to single-ended headphones.

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Build quality and appearance

iFi has managed to accommodate all that tech inside a chassis that is just slightly longer and thicker than the xDSD and the xCAN, a pretty novel achievement.
The compact body measures 123x75x19mm and weighs only 215g making the Gryphon your perfect travel companion while you can also accommodate it in a larger pocket.
The chassis fits in the palm of your hand and operation can be done one handed, thanks to the handy function shortcuts that can be performed by the means of the two press buttons and the rotary switch.
The all metal body has a beautiful and modern looking wave pattern while build quality is excellent.

Accessories

The Gryphon comes bundled with three beautiful looking, good quality but rather short cables, a USB type C to C, a USB type C to type A and a USB type C to lighting connector.
A nice carrying pouch completes the package but a protective case should have been a nice addition.

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Listening impressions

As per usual practice, the unit was left playing music for 150 hours before listening to music.
iFi was generous enough to allow for an extended loan so I was able to have my time with Gryphon rather than doing a hasty review.
Various earphones and headphones where used, like the FiiO FD7, FiiO FH9, Focal Clear Mg, Sennheiser HD8XX, Sennheiser HD660S, HiFiMan Sundara and many others.

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The Gryphon is dead silent and with the aid of the iEMatch is especially suitable for use with sensitive earphones while at the same time there is enough power for driving the majority of the full sized headphones without any distortion.
This makes the Gryphon extremely flexible and can be used both as your high end portable source and a desktop replacement at home.

As expected, the powerful amplifier and all the advanced electronic circuits have an impact on the battery life, which due to its small size has a rather limited capacity, thus offering an operating time of about six hours.

The sound is, without a single trace of exaggeration, excellent as it lacks absolutely nothing and it really became impossible to find anything negative of blame, considering of course the type of device and the price point.
A unique combination of transparency, precision and fidelity with an involving and highly musical imprint with the usual iFi naturalness of timbre and a diverse range of harmonic richness.
Visceral, deep and impactful bass with excellent layering, absolute control and great dynamic antithesis.
Rich and emotionally engaging mid-range with the most realistic tonality, instruments and voices sound lifelike and tonally correct.
Crystalline, sparkling and extended treble presentation without a hint of brightness or aggressiveness , the Gryphon is highly resolving without sounding analytical or artificial.
What is remarkable for a battery powered device is the supreme recreation of the soundstage which is extended, spacious, layered, with pinpoint imaging and great proportions, especially from the balanced output.
So if you have an earphone with good soundstaging properties then with the aid of Gryphon you are going to experience an utterly holographic sound with great ambience as I did when listening to the following French baroque album.

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After trying all three digital filters, "bit perfect" became my favorite one.
The least intrusive of the three, lets the sound, without any digital manipulation, transform into wonderful music that evokes the senses and rewards the listener with great moments of pleasure.

The Gryphon may not reach the absolute technical perfection and driving ability of the Diablo but it manages to be very close while having the advantages of the smaller size and weight, much lower price and extra functions such as the bluetooth connectivity and the handy OLED screen.

Bluetooth performance

Speaking of bluetooth, it's probably the best implementation I have come across so far, in a portable device, with minimal sound quality losses.
The Bluetooth mode on the Gryphon is absolutely stellar and while the wired connection is definitely better and should be preferred when possible, the wireless performance is so good that you are not going to miss much when you need it, just make sure to use LDAC.
The Bluetooth is one of the strongest selling points of the Gryphon and it would have been just fine even if it was only wireless.

In the end

Eventually the iFi experiment was a successful one.
The xDSD and xCan were merged into one, the mighty Gryphon which is not the Frankenstein but instead a divine and majestic creature that commands the powers of music.
With the Gryphon, iFi is writing the story from the beginning, redefining the portable DAC/amp category and putting itself at the top of the list with a price to performance ratio that its competitors will have to work very hard in order to overcome.

Test playlist

Copyright - Petros Laskis 2022.
HansBarbarossa
HansBarbarossa
Nice review mate!
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Ichos
Ichos
Thank you Alexey!

Another Audiophile

500+ Head-Fier
The Benchmark.
Pros: Versatility, Connectivity, Power,
Cons: I need to think of any Cons and probably invent some. So what's the point?
The @iFi audio XDSD Gryphon Vs the Chord Mojo 2 is the most anticipated and requested review. I bought the chord Mojo 2, Poly and the original Mojo at full retail price. The gryphon was sent to me for review by Ifi Audio. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

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To begin with, the Gryphon is well packaged and is more luxurious compared to the the mojo 2 packaging. The Gryphon comes with all essential accessories and especially cables. You get a carrying bag, which I’ve been using a lot, and 3 cables for iPhone, android and computer. The cables are on the stiff side but better than nothing. The Mojo 2 comes with a short micro USB cable. Fro iphone,desktop computer and USB-C devices you will need extra cables and/or extensions.



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I would like to approach this comparison and review by sharing my experience with the units rather a robotic progression with bass, mids, treble, stage etc. After all, and in my experience, this kind of devices will not give you a “day and night” difference. I truly believe that features are equally, and sometimes more important. If you are interested on specs, battery life and other public information please visit the company’s website.


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In terms of features the Ifi Gryphon is not just a winner. Is on a different level, but the price is also different with the Gryphon at £599 and the Mojo 2 at £450. So what do you get for almost £150 more? Well, a bit more than a lot. The mojo 2 offers 3.5 coax input, usb-c and micro data port, along with the usb micro for charging and an optical input. For analog out the mojo has 2x3.5mm headphone jacks that can be used simultaneously and at certain volume level it can be used to feed integrated amplifiers or a preamp. From the other hand the Gryphon offers 3.5mm and 4.4mm balanced headphone output, SPDIF 3.5mm Coaxial/optical inputs, USB-C data and separate USB-C charging port, 3.5mm input/output and 4.4mm balanced input/output. I can finally have one connector which is the 4.4mm balanced. In my opinion that should be the one and only universal connection for headphones. Along with several sound and matching adjustments, it comes with a screen for playback, battery, and menu info. Last but not least the gryphon has bluetooth and we will come to that. To put it mildly, the gryphon is the most versatile portable, transportable DAC and headphone amplifier I’ve ever came across. It can be a DAC, a headphone amp, a preamp for active speakers, an amplifier only for headphones or speakers and all these conditions in a small package that you can easily put in your pocket. The only issue I came across with the Gryphon’s features was the way the volume was controlled. The Volume was in sync with the mobile’s volume buttons. That meant the volume would go up and down either by using the volume knob or the mobile’s buttons. You understand that the first thing I did was to turn up the volume in my mobile and adjust the volume from the Gryphon. That was a big mistake… nevertheless the issue has been fixed with the latest firmware uptake and now you have the option to have the volume in sync or only controlled by the Gryphon’s rotary knob. That’s what I have been doing with the mobile at max and adjusting the volume with the Gryphon’s knob. The problem I came across when using the Mojo 2 was interference when bundled with my mobile. Every time my mobile would connect or change from 3G to 4G network I would get clicks and pops. I am not an expert but that killed the mojo2 as a portable device and is not a faulty device. I owned 3 original Mojos and all had the same issue. My conclusion on that front is that if you want the mojo 2 then you might consider the poly as an essential part.I own the poly and would never take the mojo 2 out and about without it. With the poly the price doubles.

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Build quality also is distinctively different. The Gryphon feels solid with enough weight to hold on your desk but light enough to carry it around. Assembly, fit and finish are exceptional. The Chord Mojo 2 has a smaller form factor which makes it more manageable. Nevertheless, the Mojo 2 rattles and the finish is not as good as the Gryphon. The assembly gaps are large enough to see the lights and the board inside the mojo. From that front it looks objectively that Ifi has payed more attention to quality control.


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But how it sounds? Well, first of all it in NOT a day and night difference. After extensive listening with both units on the go and at home I came across the simplest way to put it forward. The Gryphon sounds like the mojo 2 with crossfeed two clicks up. Is not a question of better but different. I am sorry but to my ears it is not a huge difference and certainly not a difference you will realise if you are using the equipment to listen to music rather than comparing one to each other. The difference is minimal and the mojo 2 might come across with instruments placed more accurately in the soundstage while the gryphon has more focused and centred image which makes it for slightly more relaxed and intimate presentation. Personally I like more the presentation from the Gryphon but I can see why some might prefer the mojo 2. The X-bass had too much bass for me and didn’t use it a lot.

From the other hand X-space adds perceived clarity and defines better the space between interments and vocals. In contrast, it Sounds like the mojo with reduced corssfeed. I used several headphones and IEMs which will be listed at the end. The Gryphon is more versatile in terms of headphones and IEMs it can drive. The higher output voltage made it a better match for high impedance headphones and the impedance adjustment made it an excellent fit for IEMs. In comparison the mojo 2 didn’t offer the power and authority the Gryphon had over high impedance headphones. Consequently, the gryphon is not just a great portable device but a device that can be used as a desktop unit with ease. When the units are used as DACs on my main system then there was a clear difference between the two. The Chord mojo 2 offered a deeper perceived soundstage. What I mean is that the image had better defined depth. The Gryphon had depth but it was blurry in comparison. For example if the singer was recorded two meters from the guitar then this distance will be easier perceived with the Mojo in a two-channel system. From the other hand it didn’t mind so much if at all when used as a portable devices with headphones. That was the clear difference between the two and again not a day and night difference especially with modern recording where “depth” is not part of the mixing, or at least not a top priority.

I believe the most underrated feature from both sound quality and usability is the bluetooth offered by the Gryphon. I was on my way to the office with the mobile bundled. All good and nice without any complain. At the office I had to charge my iPhone and had to disconnect the usb cable. I thought, lets use the bluetooth instead. Not only I was able to use the device, unlike the mojo 2, but I was happily surprised with the sound quality coming out of the bluetooth connection. I know that some, me included, would think the bluetooth as the anti-christ. But really, I dint get the glare or harshness i experienced from past bluetooth devices. It is actually so good that the compromise, if any, is so minimal that it take an effort to realise the difference. Personally I prefer to listen music instead of comparing equipment. As a result I really didn’t feel that my music enjoyment is compromised by using the bluetooth connection. That happened 2 weeks on my review and have been using the bluetooth connection exclusively when out and about. After all is what makes me listen to music and the Gryphon perfectly gets out of the way. My comparison with the mojo as a portable device can be done only when paired with the poly due to the mentioned interference issues with 3G and 4G. If you need a portable device when you are out and you are between the Mojo 2 and the Ifi Gryphon then i don’t think there is a comparison. One works and the other kind of works.

To give Mojo 2 some credit and to be fair I would say the most underrated feature for the Mojo 2 is the EQ adjustments. This is not a review for the Mojo 2 but the Original mojo was one sounding device and the Mojo 2 is a sounding chameleon. The gryphon is more conservative with limited number of options in terms of tailoring the sound signature. As a desktop unit I have been using both with my active speakers. From my experience the difference in sound quality is not significant to justify buying one over the other. Again are not exactly the same but slightly different. The Gryphon offers more centred image with a bit warmer tone. The mojo is sharper and brighter in comparison. Not day and night but there are slight differences which you have to pay attention if you want to pin them down. From features again the gryphon is a more versatile device. Can do all the things the Mojo 2 can do and more. I found again the availability of bluetooth really useful especially when I am using the devise to watch movies, TV shows and Youtube videos. I used it also with an external DAC but didn’t make a difference. Nevertheless, the option is there. In comparison, the Mojo 2 has a great feature. Once fully charged it goes to desktop mode which preserves and protects the battery. Basically you can leave it connected forever and you don’t have to worry about it.


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My Conclusion is simple. Today I need a device that I will actually use and will do the job. I want to enjoy music and make the most out of a device. If you are after a portable device the Gryphon wins in any front and the perceived sound difference is not a question of better but slightly different. To be frank and honest the only use case I can think of the Mojo 2, without the poly, is as a desktop DAC in a main 2-channel stereo system. Not so much because of the sound quality but the “desktop mode” powering feature. I admit though that the soundstage depth offered by the mojo 2 is something to comment upon. The Gryphon is a powerful device with the versatility you would expect from a modern device. The Mojo 2 is a good device but nonetheless a device from yesterday. The Gryphon is a device for audiophiles, like myself, and normal people. You know, most of my friends didn’t even understand what the Mojo 2 is and why they should be using it. All of them said the same thing “you need cables?”. The Gryphon was easier to understand and even my mother could use it. Just bluetooth an play. My point is that the Gryphon has the potential to bring more people into the hobby and we shouldn’t underestimate this quality. The Mojo 2 is a more intimidating device and I can’t see how this unit will bring more people. As a closing though, and in comparison, the Ifi Gryphon is a device from tomorrow made today. The Benchmark.

Thank you for Reading

AA

Equipment used

Headphones:
Sennheiser/Drop HD6XX (My Reference)
Sennheiser HD800S (Classical, Acoustic, Jazz)
Sennheiser HD25(On the go, undistractable, great Isolation with punchy sound)
Grado SR80e (Used for calls, video conferences and podcasts)
ZMF Aeolus Cocobolo (Hot chocolate kind of headphones)
Audeze LCD-MX4 (Dynamic, Powerful and Visceral sound. Pop, EDM, Electronica, Techno)
Audeze LCD-X (2020) (I am still figuring this out)

IEMs:
Sony IER-Z1R (My Reference)
Fiio FH5 (it works with nice bass)
Blon BL-03 (it works)

Comparisons:

Chord Mojo
Chord Mojo 2
Both used alone and with the Chord Poly streamer.

Music Used:
  1. Melanie De Biasio - Your Freedom is the End of Me
  2. Hans Zimmer - Mountains
  3. Gillian Welch - The Way it Goes
  4. Florence & The Machine - Ship to Wreck
  5. Dire Straits - Water of Love
  6. Antonio Vivaldi - Winter Concerto in F minor
  7. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake, Swan Theme
  8. Biig Piig - Roses and Gold
  9. Amber Rubarth - Hold On
  10. Billie Eilish - Everything I wanted
  11. Metallica - Enter Sandman
  12. Led Zeppelin - Ramble on
  13. Beyonce - Daddy Lessons
  14. Kenny Burrell - Chitlins Con Carne
  15. Dave Brubeck - Take Five
  16. Air - Talisman
  17. Bombino - Iyat Na Hay
  18. GoGo Penguin - Totem
  19. Hans Theessink - St. James Infirmary

Attachments

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Another Audiophile
Another Audiophile
@Edyeded86 other than power I didn't observe any difference in the sound. The 3.5 from the mojo 2 is more powerful compared to the Gryphon's 3.5 power.
Simple Man
Simple Man
Very nice review. Thanks. I’m not sure if you can help me: is it serious better than a Fiio BTR5?
used with a Campfire Andromeda.
Another Audiophile
Another Audiophile
@Simple Man I have the BTR5 and is different use case all together. As a purely bluetooth device I wouldn't call it better but slightly different. If you just want a portable device to connect your mobile and use the Andromeda on the go then the BTR5 is a better solution.

ufospls2

Headphoneus Supremus
iFi xDSD Gryphon
Pros: Vast functionality
Sound
Cons: Not much really, in the context of a complete portable.
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Hey Guys,

Today we are talking about a new piece of gear from iFi Audio. Its no secret I enjoy iFi’s gear, but the XDSD line (original XDSD and XCAN) are two pieces I have never heard. The “X” series is iFi’s more portable line of source equipment and amps, vs the regular iDSD series (which I have heard and reviewed in the past.) The original XDSD was an all in one portable DAC/Amp combo, and the XCAN was primarily an amp for use with the XDSD, but it also had DAC/Amp capabilities, but only via bluetooth. The XDSD, whilst being slightly larger than the original XDSD line, aims to combine the two previous products, whilst also adding a few features and increasing the sound quality. Whilst the $600USD retail price of the new XDSD Gryphon is not insignificant, I think it is reasonable given the feature set, and sound quality.

The first thing we have to talk about are the capabilities of the Gryphon. I will do my best not to forget anything, as it is extensive. First off, inputs. The Gryphon can take USB-C, either separated into power and data inputs, or used combined on one input. It can also take SPDIF via a 3.5mm mini connector, and I think this also takes a mini optical input as a dual use input. The third digital input is the bluetooth input, which is capable of taking all current popular codecs. Lastly, there are both 4.4mm balanced and 3.5mm single ended analog inputs to use the XDSD as an amp only.

Secondly are the outputs. On the front of the device there are 3.5mm “S-Balanced” and 4.4mm balanced outputs. The 3.5mm and 4.4mm inputs on the rear of the device are also dual use, to be used as line outputs as a DAC into whichever amp you please.

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On the right hand side of the front of the Gryphon are the bluetooth/input selector, and the “Xspace” and “XBASS” selectors. This button can also be used to access the main menu of the device for setting your preference of filter etc…There are three settings for the Xspace and XBass features, either on, or both on. On the rear of the device, you can also choose if you want to bass setting to only boost bass, the 3000Khz “presence” region, or both. On the bottom of the unit is iFi’s “IEMatch” option, for easy to drive IEM’s, reducing hiss.

The feature set is the most extensive I have seen or tried on any piece of portable gear thus far. The fact the Gryphon manages this, whilst also providing a solid max power output, and decent battery life, whilst also not being huge, is honestly pretty remarkable. Now, all of that doesn’t matter if the Gryphon doesn’t sound good. Thankfully, it does.

In terms of overall tonal balance and “sound” I would say the Gryphon tends to be more similar to the iDSD Diablo flagship portable from iFi vs perhaps the iDSD Black label, or the original silver Micro series gear from iFi. This means the tonal balance is a bit less warm and smooth, and more focused on detail and a neutral sonic performance. I have no problems with this, and although years ago I tended to prefer warmer gear, I have slowly moved towards preferring more neutral gear. Sonic preferences, like most things, can change with time.

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Now, as a pure DAC, using either the 3.5mm or 4.4mm output, the Gryphon performed in a solid manner. I don’t think it was as good as the iDSD Diablo, trailing slightly in terms of technical performance and resolution, but it was also a step up from the ZenDAC I reviewed about a year ago. In terms of using the Gryphon single ended or balanced, if you can, I would go balanced. The Gryphon does seem to perform better from its balanced outputs, either the headphone amp section or the DAC section. I never found the Gryphon bright or sharp sounding, which is something I notice fairly quickly usually if it is present. The overall detail levels, both micro and macro, whilst not groundbreaking, are totally in line with the price point.

Used as an all in one DAC/Amp is where the Gryphon shines in my opinion. It has a fairly healthy Max output of 1W at 32 ohms from the 4.4mm output, and can drive easy to medium difficulty headphones well. For hard to drive headphones I would recommend iFi’s iDSD Signature, and iDSD Diablo, as they will drive them in a much more convincing manner. Again, overall tonal balance is fairly neutral but I do think the amp section is perhaps adding a tiny bit warmth and overall fullness vs the DAC only section. I could be wrong in that thought, but that was what I felt I was hearing a few times. The Xspace setting is similar to the 3D crossfeed on other iFi pieces of gear, and I feel it works great on some tracks, less so on others. It will be entirely personal preference, so experiment with it and see what you personally enjoy. A word of caution, it can increase the upper mids and highs somewhat, so will make things a bit brighter. The Xbass setting is a tasteful boost, and if I wasn’t using software EQ on my computer would use it with a lot of headphones. I like a robust low end however, so again, try it out and see how you feel about it personally. Again, overall detail levels, both micro and macro are entirely in line with the asking price for the Gryphon, but nothing groundbreaking. The amp seemed to do soundstaging quite well and portrayed a nice sense of depth and width. Dynamic swings were handled in a convincing and capable manner. I do think with something like the Susvara it was running out of juice and didn’t have a convincing low end performance, but one can hardly expect the Gryphon to do so, that’s not what it is designed and built to do.

I never ended up using the Gryphon as an AMP only, as I didn’t feel I had a DAC that would be worth trying out in that capacity.

For input choice I usually ended up using the USB C input combined into one input for Data and charging. This made things a lot simpler and easy for connecting my laptop. If you are a purist, I could certainly understanding using the separate inputs, or the SPDIF input if your source has a SPIDIF output. I also used the bluetooth input extensively from my phone and laptop. Both performed well using APTXHD, and AAC. I do think the overall sound quality is still better wired, but the bluetooth was entirely usable and I would recommend it if you need less clutter and cables. Battery life was always a solid 6 hours or more, depending on what you were doing. If you are driving hard to drive headphones loudly, it will be shorter. DAC only mode will likely get about 8 hours, perhaps slightly less.

In terms of direct comparison as a DAC/Amp, I had a Fiio Q3mk2 on hand, which is much more comparable to the iFi Hip DAC V2. However, I figured it would provide a useful A/B test so gave it a go. The Fiio was a bit sharper in the highs, and sounded sort of claustrophobic in comparison. The Gryphon was an overall much more enjoyable listen in terms of tonal balance (less bright) and also had much more accomplished sound staging abilities in particular. The Fiio sounded sort of flat and lacking depth, and the Gryphon definitely improved on those areas. With that being said, it is still a $600USD piece of gear, so won’t compete with more expensive desktop gear, but that’s not what it is built to do.

xdg-sli-5-1024x633-2.jpg
The screen and menu are easy to navigate
In terms of negatives, I think the release of the Gryphon may have been rushed slightly. I didn’t personally have any firmware problems, but in following the discussions on forums, some people were having issues like the volume jumping to the maximum setting if the sample rate of the file changed, blowing their ears off. Not good. There were also some other little problems people were having with the firmware, but thankfully most seem to have been rectified with subsequent updates which are easy to install. If you end up purchasing a Gryphon I would recommend just checking out your firmware quickly and making sure you have the most recently upgraded option. It will make for a smoother experience hopefully.

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The front also displays the sample rate of the current sing, via colour.
Overall the Gryphon seems like the logical evolution of the “X” Series from iFi. It takes two pieces of gear, makes them sound better, puts them both in one chassis, and even adds some functionality, whilst not massively increasing the units size. If you don’t need the power and features of the iDSD Diablo/Signature, the Gryphon is iFi’s most complete and comprehensive portable unit yet. It’s like a Hip DAC V2 on steroids mixed with the iDSD Diablo. If you need a portable unit, the Gryphon might be the best option on the market currently, as long as it has enough power for your needs. If you are driving a wide variety IEMs and headphones, or just want a real Swiss Army knife of a source, the Gryphon might be worth a look!
iFi audio
iFi audio
Marvelous, than you very much :)
J
Jimmyblues1959
Thanks for the informative review! 😀

Comments

Edon

New Head-Fier
Yes. I use it all the time while plugged in charging when I travel.

Thanks! Is battery charging when you use it? Or it just stay in same %? Some time ago I had xDuoo XD-05 Plus but it has a problem with charging and listening at same time. That's why I'm asking :)
 

ColSaulTigh

500+ Head-Fier
Thanks! Is battery charging when you use it? Or it just stay in same %? Some time ago I had xDuoo XD-05 Plus but it has a problem with charging and listening at same time. That's why I'm asking :)
That's going to depend on the adapter you're using to charge it. Get a higher output charger to have it charge while you listen.
 
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Luke Skywalker

500+ Head-Fier
Hey so I’ve had a little ringing in my ears today and I’m thinking of setting up some little speakers on my desk and cutting back on IEM use. I wonder if the Grypon could directly drive a speaker system. Or perhaps I’d want to get Bluetooth speakers.
 
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