xDSD Gryphon: birth of a ‘head-fi’ legend
Nov 28, 2021 at 9:35 AM Post #586 of 1,505

Skev

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I think the Gryphon pairs better with the IE900 than the L&P W2, it sounds fuller, probably because I hear a little more shift towards the bass/mids perhaps you could call it a warmer sound than when compared to the W2.
Excellent, I too also found the W2 a bit lacking in weight or drive, hard to pin point what it is, but I'm glad we're hearing the same sort of thing.

I appreciate your time and thoughts on this, thanks again.

I'll definitely look a bit deeper into to the Gryphon but the finger is already hovering over the button.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 9:48 AM Post #587 of 1,505

Johnfg465vd

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Certainly nothing wrong with the micro idsd Signature! I think it occupies a different niche—it’s more transportable than portable, and definitely beats the Gryphon in terms of wattage output for hungry cans. The chip seems the same, and it has more user customizable adjustments such as turbo mode and RCA outputs.

The only thing that I think truly puts the Gryphon ahead is that the micro iDSD Signature is not true balanced, whereas the Gryphon is. The micro iDSD uses their S-balanced technology exclusively for all headphone connections (including the 4.4mm pentaconn), while the Gryphon uses true balanced for the pentaconn and S-balanced for the 3.5mm jack.

S-balanced is a form of dual mono that offers some of the benefits of a true balanced circuit in terms of reduced crosstalk and ground noise, but does not offer the interleaving and output gains and separate amplification circuits a true balanced configuration offers. S-balanced isolates the ground from the signal path, and iFi purports that it reduces distortion and noise by not adding a separate amplifier to the mix, but I think it is mainly a nice solution for those with single-ended-only cans to achieve some of the benefits true balanced circuits offer.

I was a bit disappointed to learn that the micro iDSD’s 4.4mm pentaconn output—which is a Sony-derived “upgrade” to traditional 2.5mm balanced jacks and is explicitly designed to be balanced—was not actually a balanced connection at all. I thought including the 4.4 was leading folks into thinking they had a balanced connection when that wasn’t the case, and I know it fooled me. I was much pleased when I learned that the Gryphon wasn’t leading anyone on, and that its pentaconn was balanced as intended. This was one of my primary motivations for going with it over the micro iDSD. Whether this translates into any audible differences is another issue, and if stuff like this doesn’t matter or apply to you, I wouldn’t sweat it.
Functionality and Balanced aside, How does iDSD Signature compare to the Gryphon? Obviously, because of the higher power it will drive bigger headphones with authority but, what about the sound with easy to drive headphones & IEM's?

Could you please take some time and compare these 2 devices with IEM's and share your impressions?

If the Signature is still the better sounding device, then I'll keep it and get the Cayin RU6 for portable needs.

I've waited too long to make a decision and would like to make one and order a more portable DAC than the Signature by next week. So far, I've narrowed my decision down to Gryphon, RU6 & XD-05 BAL. If someone has heard the BAL and can compare it with other iFi devices, that would be great.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 10:44 AM Post #588 of 1,505

Voxata

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I've got loads of DAP's/DAC's/Dongles/Amps, frankly too many (is it possible to have too many?), I must have a clear-out one day. :wink:

Some thoughts when comparing Gryphon over USB from my PC with the R3 Pro connected to my Luxury & Precision W2 again over USB (cos R3/W2 is also on my desk at the moment). Take this with a pinch of salt because I'm really not very good at comparing high-end sources, they are all very good and sound close IMHO.

I loaded up Train - Calling All Angels for no reason other than it was the first track I had access to on my PC and also on the DAP/Dongle combo. OK here it is, I think the Gryphon pairs better with the IE900 than the L&P W2, it sounds fuller, probably because I hear a little more shift towards the bass/mids perhaps you could call it a warmer sound than when compared to the W2.

I was able to crank the volume higher when listening to the IE900 when driven by the Gryphon (I'm a lower volume listener usually) without the sound becoming harsh or shrill.

All this is how I hear it of course and this is with the Gryphon sound enhancements turned off.

I would recommend the pairing of Gryphon with IE900, 100%.

IMHO Gryphon is perfect, as long as you don't mind being deafened with bursts of "Turbo +6dB" or 1W into your ears and you don't listen to Tidal Masters from your Android phone, both of these issues have so far been ignored by iFi but I'm waiting for a direct response from them via email hopefully early next week.

What is the scenario for this blast? If you are listening to a sensitive IEM when this happens you could really have a problem.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 11:17 AM Post #589 of 1,505

Skev

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Im assuming this is a software glitch and will be fixed in firmware?

Does it only happen when initialising the device with the source or is it sporadic? Just wondering if leaving the IEM unplugged until the Gryphon has handshaked with the Source will prevent this in the meantime.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 11:27 AM Post #590 of 1,505

Voxata

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Im assuming this is a software glitch and will be fixed in firmware?

Does it only happen when initialising the device with the source or is it sporadic? Just wondering if leaving the IEM unplugged until the Gryphon has handshaked with the Source will prevent this in the meantime.
Not sure. I know I did not like the volume being bound on both devices in bluetooth mode despite it being a touted feature. Also for some reason there was considerable lag in BT mode. On my BTR5 I could game no problem but on the xDSD Gryphon the latency was too much. Doesn't impact those who just listen to music and can use USB anyways so it's not a big issue but worth niggling over.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 11:48 AM Post #591 of 1,505

MarkParity

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What is the scenario for this blast? If you are listening to a sensitive IEM when this happens you could really have a problem.
Its a USB issue.

If I use my phone, an LG V50, with something like the W2 I turn UAPP's volume to max and control the volume on the dongle (HID mode off), I also do this with the original xDSD with no issue, its my preference.

If UAPP's volume is turned up to full when using the Gryphon it controls what I call the "master system volume", Gryphon's output is increased to 100% or Turbo +6dB. There is now no volume limit controlled on the Gryphon it will easily, either in error or deliberately go very quickly to 1W output without warning.

Sometimes, seemingly randomly though when I plug my Gryphon into my phone I notice the volume dial is red and the display indicates "Turbo" mode. I've got used to it and always check the volume before playing music but also I always start playing music and then put the IEM or headphone on to avoid ear damage.

My Westone W80 did take a Turbo volume blast for a short while too for a couple of seconds , I could hear them loud and clear from 1 meter away but no harm seems to have been done, I hope.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 12:07 PM Post #592 of 1,505

Skev

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Hopefully Ifi can then introduce a master volume to zero when initialising/handshaking. It would seem an easy fix so hopefully they can sort it out asap as that is quite a worrying issue for both earphones and more importantly preventing irreversible hearing damage!
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 12:34 PM Post #593 of 1,505

Voxata

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Hopefully Ifi can then introduce a master volume to zero when initialising/handshaking. It would seem an easy fix so hopefully they can sort it out asap as that is quite a worrying issue for both earphones and more importantly preventing irreversible hearing damage!
This would be the ideal solution. When I used USB I did NOT use the official drivers so I was able to 100% OS and then adjust volume on the device. This is what I prefer over a USB connection. I want to avoid windows volume control or integration whenever possible.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 12:57 PM Post #594 of 1,505

Rhemz

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What do the official drivers actually provide that the generic usb-c audio does not?

I've had my gryphon for about a week now and am enjoying it with my IEMs. Once I get a 4.4mm interconnect I will see how well it drives my empyreans.
 
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Nov 28, 2021 at 1:45 PM Post #595 of 1,505

Voxata

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What do the official drivers actually provide that the generic usb-c audio does not?

I've had my gryphon for about a week now and am enjoying it with my IEMs. Once I get a 4.4mm interconnect I will see how well it drives my empyreans.
There is marketing that the Gryphon uses some unique bypass to allow system volume to be used as volume on the device without degradation in sound quality. It appears there are some problems with this implementation and sound boosting to 100% in the OS, though I'd like some clarification on what is being done to cause that 100%, during plugin or what exactly.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 2:44 PM Post #596 of 1,505

Johnfg465vd

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Its a USB issue.

If I use my phone, an LG V50, with something like the W2 I turn UAPP's volume to max and control the volume on the dongle (HID mode off), I also do this with the original xDSD with no issue, its my preference.

If UAPP's volume is turned up to full when using the Gryphon it controls what I call the "master system volume", Gryphon's output is increased to 100% or Turbo +6dB. There is now no volume limit controlled on the Gryphon it will easily, either in error or deliberately go very quickly to 1W output without warning.

Sometimes, seemingly randomly though when I plug my Gryphon into my phone I notice the volume dial is red and the display indicates "Turbo" mode. I've got used to it and always check the volume before playing music but also I always start playing music and then put the IEM or headphone on to avoid ear damage.

My Westone W80 did take a Turbo volume blast for a short while too for a couple of seconds , I could hear them loud and clear from 1 meter away but no harm seems to have been done, I hope.
If you are using an android device, goto bluetooth->Gryphon->Settings (Gear icon beside Gryphon) and disable "Media Volume Sync" option and see if that fixes your problem.

If you have an older device and don't see the above option, enable developer mode and disable "Absolute Volume Control" option.

I hava a KZ Aptx-HD Cable and faced a similar issue to yours. With the above setting, I can set the volume on my phone to Max and control volume on the KZ without it Syncing and messing with the phones volume control.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:27 PM Post #597 of 1,505

srkbear

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Functionality and Balanced aside, How does iDSD Signature compare to the Gryphon? Obviously, because of the higher power it will drive bigger headphones with authority but, what about the sound with easy to drive headphones & IEM's?

Could you please take some time and compare these 2 devices with IEM's and share your impressions?

If the Signature is still the better sounding device, then I'll keep it and get the Cayin RU6 for portable needs.

I've waited too long to make a decision and would like to make one and order a more portable DAC than the Signature by next week. So far, I've narrowed my decision down to Gryphon, RU6 & XD-05 BAL. If someone has heard the BAL and can compare it with other iFi devices, that would be great.
Sure. If you still have the chance to return the micro iDSD Signature, I prefer the Gryphon in every aspect, and here’s why.

The micro iDSD aims to straddle the lines between the desktop amp and the portable. It has dual Burr Brown chips and a bit more powerful amp compared to the Gryphon. But like all the micro iDSD iterations, I think it fails to satisfy either niche. It’s too bulky, heavy and clunky with cables to be an ergonomic portable, especially if you’re using it with an iPhone and all the CCK requirements involved to hook it up. It’s a mess of wires and isn’t really practical to use with a phone—it wants to sit still in a hardwired configuration.

And as an authoritative desktop unit it cuts corners with the faux-balanced circuitry and battery-dependent operation, and honestly I never got used to any of the PowerMatch and ieMatch tweaks—I felt overwhelmed with options and got lost in trying to decide which constellation of settings got me the best S/N ratio. It was a pain. And I definitely didn’t enjoy the accidental switch between modes that blew my ears out. Finally, I have always had issues with the channel imbalance problem that occurs at low volumes with the micro iDSD line—iFi offered explanations for why this occurs but the bottom line is that it isn’t an issue with other amp/DACs and they failed to solve it through a string of upgrades.

The Gryphon on the other hand is perfect as a portable but functions perfectly well in a desktop configuration. It has plenty (more than enough!) clean power for any IEM and for all but the most hungry over the ear headphones (such as a Hifiman Susvara). It’s exceptional measurements belie any need for dual DAC chips, and there are distinct advantages to a full balanced connection—my Focal Utopias and Sony Z1Rs sound powerful and authoritative connected to the Gryphon’s balanced pentaconn jack, and they sound nice and quiet through the 3.5mm S-balanced jack as well. And this time they simplified the ieMatch option very successfully—there’s a setting for 4.4mm balanced connections and one for 3.5mm S-balanced single-ended, with “off” in between. No guesswork involved and it works great.

The circuitry on the Gryphon is quite brilliant. There are separate USB C jacks on the rear for charging and data that isolate the two to keep noise contamination at zero—and they function simultaneously. There are not only 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone jacks on the front, but an ADDITIONAL set of 3.5mm and 4.4mm jacks on the rear that can act as both line outs OR line ins depending on whether you have a USB signal connected to the rear. If you have the unit in Bluetooth or S/PDIF mode for a signal input then the jacks act as line-ins; if you have the unit in USB mode connected to a phone, PC or streamer, then the rear S-E or balanced jacks act as analog line outs to run to a separate amp.

This is how it can perform brilliantly as a desktop option—you can connect a PC, phone or streamer to the USB port for your signal, then run the 3.5 or 4.4mm line out to a desktop amp (ifi’s own Zen Can and Pro iCAN Signature handily have a pentaconn input to facilitate this nicely), and use the unit as a top notch DAC with the benefits of the analog xBass II and X-Space options passed through to the amp—that’s a first as far as I know. The line out only functions in variable volume mode but at full volume the S/N ratio is equal to line so it doesn’t matter.

And, you can have the unit connected to the separate USB power at all times to negate battery woes—it still runs off the clean DC power at all times, but keeps its charge via the AC hookup. Another first in this category and price point.

The graphical interface on the Gryphon is also very well-done. You can switch between inputs, xBass and XSpace settings, see the signal sampling rate right in the window, MQA, etc. And the analog volume knob is also extremely satisfying; it has a wide range to avoid accidental jumps and its color tells you where you are in terms of gain. This is an enormous win for iFi compared to the original xDSD’s too-complicated volume potentiometer, which tried to do too many things and got confusing.

I also love the bimodal analog tone control they added with the xBass for added punch and the new “presence” option to push up the high mids subtly, and you can have either one or both active by a switch on the back. And it comes with a full complement of high-quality OTG cables for every imaginable phone or PC—no more Apple CCK kit necessary. It has a lightning to USB cable included that connects the two with no fuss, and a similar cable for Android along with a longer USB C cable for charging.

In terms of sound quality, the Gryphon sounds amazing—certainly no less immaculate than the micro iDSD and with far more versatility. The noise floor is zero—it’s deathly quiet even at full volumes, and the resolution and soundstage are as fine as iFi gets before you jump to their Pro iDSD/iCAN line.

And they solved the channel imbalance at low volumes!

Finally, if I had to choose between the two I’d go for the Gryphon—and I did. I can’t imagine you not being satisfied with it; it truly does it all and I think it’s the most innovative and feature-rich offering iFi has released to date. It’s built with military-grade precision and confidence yet feels weightless and effortless during use. They knocked it out of the park this time and I love the thing.

Hope that helps…
 
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Nov 28, 2021 at 4:37 PM Post #598 of 1,505

srkbear

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Could you please make a comparison of the xCan and Gryphon? Bt quality, sound signature, background noise etc etc
I think the Gryphon sounds significantly better than the Zen DAC/Zen CAN stack and has all of its features and more. It can function nicely as either a portable or desktop option. I posted a discussion of this recently on the thread.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:40 PM Post #599 of 1,505

gLer

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Sure. If you still have the chance to return the micro iDSD Signature, I think I prefer the Gryphon, and here’s why.

The micro iDSD aims to straddle the lines between the desktop amp and the portable. It has dual Burr Brown chips and a bit more powerful amp compared to the Gryphon. But like all the micro iDSD iterations, I think it fails to satisfy either niche. It’s too bulky and clunky with cables to be an ergonomic portable, especially if you’re using it with an iPhone and all the CCK requirements involved to hook it up.

And as an authoritative desktop unit it cuts corners with the faux-balanced circuitry and battery-dependent operation, and honestly I never used any of the PowerMatch and ieMatch tweaks—I felt overwhelmed with options and got lost in trying to decide which constellation of settings got me the best S/N ratio. It was a pain. And I definitely didn’t enjoy the accidental switch between modes that blew my ears out. Finally, I have always had issues with the channel imbalance problem that occurs at low volumes with the micro iDSD line—iFi offered explanations for why this occurs but the bottom line is that it isn’t an issue with other amp/DACs and they failed to solve it through a string of upgrades.

The Gryphon on the other hand is perfect as a portable but functions perfectly well in a desktop configuration. It has plenty (more than enough!) clean power for any IEM and for all but the most hungry over the ear headphones (such as a Hifiman Susvara). It’s exceptional measurements belie any need for dual DAC chips, and there are distinct advantages to a full balanced connection—my Focal Utopias and Z1Rs sound powerful and authoritative connected to the Gryphon’s balanced pentaconn jack, and they sound nice and quiet through the 3.5mm S-balanced jack as well.

The circuitry on the Gryphon is quite brilliant. There are separate USB C jacks on the rear for charging and data that isolate the two to keep noise contamination at zero. There are not only 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone jacks on the front, but an ADDITIONAL 3.5mm and 4.4mm jacks on the rear that can act as both line outs OR line ins depending on whether you have a USB signal connected to the rear. If you have the unit in Bluetooth or S/PDIF mode for a signal input then the jacks act as line-ins; if you have the unit in USB mode connected to a phone, PC or streamer, then the rear S-E or balanced jacks act as analog line outs to run to a separate amp.

This is how it can perform brilliantly as a desktop option—you can connect a PC, phone or streamer to the USB port for your signal, then run the 3.5 or 4.4mm line out to a desktop amp, and use the unit as a top notch DAC with the benefits of the analog xBass II and X-Space options passed through to the amp—that’s a first as far as I know. And you can have the unit connected to the separate USB power at all times to negate battery woes—it still runs off the clean DC power at all times, but keeps its charge via the AC hookup.

The graphical interface on the Gryphon is also very well-done. You can switch between inputs, xBass and XSpace settings, see the signal sampling rate right in the window, MQA, etc. and the analog volume knob is also extremely satisfying; it has a wide range to avoid accidental jumps and its color tells you where you are in terms of gain.

I also love the bimodal analog tone control they added with the xBass for added punch and “presence” to push up the high mids subtly, and you can have either one or both active by a switch on the back. And it comes with a full complement of high-quality OTG cables for every imaginable phone or PC—no more Apple CCK kit necessary. It has a lightning to USB cable included that connects the two with no fuss, and a similar cable for Android along with a longer USB C cable for charging.

In terms of sound quality, the Gryphon sounds amazing—certainly no less immaculate than the micro iDSD and with far more versatility. The noise floor is zero—it’s deathly quiet even at full volumes, and the resolution and soundstage are as fine as iFi gets before you jump to their Pro iDSD/iCAN line.

And they solved the channel imbalance at low volumes!

Finally, if I had to choose between the two I’d go for the Gryphon—and I did. I can’t imagine you not being satisfied with it; it truly does it all and I think it’s the most innovative and feature-rich offering iFi has released to date. I love the thing.

Hope that helps…
Brilliantly written. That deserves a...

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