Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier
The understated styling and forceful lines of the satin black, brushed aluminium chassis and gleaming black acrylic faceplate represent a superb level of fit and finish, exceptional audio finesse and a sense of unlimited power all on a single chassis.
The casework, consisting of interlocking blocks of flawless acrylic and deeply brushed and anodized aluminium, is true to the acclaimed Gryphon house style, a complex construct of contrasting angles and planes that is both reassuringly intricate and impressively solid.
Built entirely at Gryphon’s Danish research and development and manufacturing facility, the Diablo 120 inherits the dual-mono circuitry, ultra-short signal path, heavily gold-plated printed circuit boards, minimal internal wiring, high-quality gold-plated and PTFE-insulated sockets and proprietary binding posts employed in our flagship models. Only the finest audiophile grade components have been selected based on strenuous, extended auditioning for sound quality, thermal stability and long-term reliability. The wire-wound emitter resistors in the original Atilla output stage have been upgraded to non-inductive types for Diablo 120.
The meticulous attention to electrical and mechanical grounding, typical of our top of the line designs, is also equally in evidence here.
The Diablo 120 integrated amplifier is essentially two independent mono devices for reduced crosstalk and minimal interchannel interaction. The only things shared electrically between channels are the famed Holmgren toroidal transformer and AC power cable.
The custom made 1,200 VA transformer adds substantial heft with discrete secondary windings for left and right channels. Each channel is fed by its own 60,000 µF capacitor bank.
The output power of the Diablo 120 is 20% greater than that of the original Atilla: 2 x 120 W (8Ω), 2 x 240 W (4Ω), 2 x 440 W (2Ω). Consistent increases of output power as impedance is halved is a reliable indicator of exceptional high current capability, just as the extraordinary wide audio bandwidth, 0.1Hz to 250 kHz (-3 dB), is a sign of extreme stability. Heatsink surface area has also been increased to match the increase in output power.
With two pairs of Sanken transistors, Diablo 120 can easily drive difficult loudspeaker loads without the faintest hint of strain.
The Diablo 120 circuit employs zero global negative feedback and a unique microprocessor controlled passive attenuator for the most transparent volume control ever conceived. Regardless of the selected level, the 46-step relay attenuator places maximum six resistors in the signal path for ultimate sonic purity.
A large, graphical vacuum fluorescent display is employed instead of a more conventional LED character display to provide space for more information and a larger, more easily legible font. The lavish display and extensive control circuits are powered independently via a separate, isolated transformer in order to eliminate any risk of noise contamination. All front panel controls are touch sensitive (capacitive actuation.)
The Diablo 120 offers one balanced and four single-ended inputs, a comprehensive menu of configuration options (four levels of display brightness, user-defined start and maximum volume settings, individual source labelling with eight-character names and a dedicated and electrically isolated A/V bypass function for uncompromising integration with a multi-channel audio system.
Options — Digital or Analogue
At the time of original purchase or as the need arises at a later date, Gryphon Diablo 120 can be fitted with a specially designed Gryphon DAC PCM/DSD module based on the innovative, award-winning Gryphon Kalliope digital-to- analogue converter.
The module adds four digital inputs (USB, balanced AES/EBU 115 Ω, TOSLink optical and BNC S/PDIF 75 Ω). Via USB, the Diablo 120 DAC module can process PCM up to 32-bit/384 kHz as well as DSD (on Windows OS up to DSD512, on Mac OS up to DSD128, on Linux OS up to DSD128 DoP); via BNC S/PDIF and AES/EBU inputs up to192 kHz/32-bit PCM and via TOSLink up to 96 kHz/24-bit PCM. Format compatibility of the various inputs is subject to change without notice.
This future-proof digital module is ready for any current or foreseeable high resolution digital format.
In the finest Gryphon tradition, the Diablo 120 also offers the alternative of an exceptional MM/MC phonostage for the dedicated enthusiasts who continue to enjoy the musical treasures etched in the grooves of the long-playing, black vinyl disc.
Gryphon Diablo 120 conveys music with unusual poise and exceptional subtlety and definition. Lightning reflexes combine with harmonic richness, articulation and refinement to create a lush whole that is very comfortable to listen to over extended periods even at realistic levels.
Gryphon Diablo 120 offers a unique level of musical enthusiasm and energy that will satisfy and delight for many years to come.
2 x 120 W @ 8Ω, 2 x 240 W @ 4Ω, 2 x 440 W @ 2Ω
Output impedance: 0.030Ω
Bandwidth (-3 dB): 0.1 Hz to 250 kHz
Power Supply Capacity: 2 x 60,000 µF
Gain: +38 dB
Input Impedance, balanced (20-20,000 Hz): 20 kΩ
Input Impedance, single-ended (20-20,000 Hz): 8 kΩ
“The Diablo 120 is a categorically exceptional performer that just plays music in a way that motivates involvement and sweeps you into pure enjoyment, inhibiting dissection and analysis. Little brother to the Diablo 300 it may be but, as far as this writer is concerned, the superb Gryphon Audio Designs Diablo 120 integrated amplifier speaks with a powerful, musically immersive individual voice. To paraphrase, it proudly stands on its own rather beefy four feet. It will be missed. Devilishly good!”
“The Diablo 120 and the Mojo S is a combination capable of impressing on a musical level as readily as it will impress your non-audio friends. The appearance and operation of the amplifier is seriously classy, oozing understated quality, and isn’t going to date the way so many touch-screens do.. This is a system in every sense of the word, delivering all the performance benefits that single=brand systems should – but so rarely do. The fact that it looks a million dollars (while costing quite a bit less) is a serious bonus – as well as a lesson most of the audio industry should take on board. Instead the assumption seems to be hi-fi that looks this good can’t possibly be serious. Gryphon has been rewriting the rule for years, but with the Diablo 120 and Mojo S, it just got a lot more real.”
“Danish Devil Delivers Dynamics and Detail: Gryphon Audio Designs: Diablo 120 IntegratedAmplifier – Review from Stereopluss magazine, Norway, July 2017
Original in Norwegian here
Diablo 120 is the least expensive amplifier from Danish Gryphon, but there is no hint of compromise.
• Dynamics, details and musical pleasure
• Loads of power
• Extremely fine D/A converter
• Quality/Design 9/10
• User Friendliness/Flexibility 9/10
• Performance/Price 9/10
It is always exciting to audition products whose designers have not had price as the primary limiting factor during development. Not least because more affordable models from manufacturers in cost-no-object territory often borrow heavily from the development of their most expensive models. This is the case with Diablo 120, a direct replacement for the Gryphon Attila integrated amplifier which was in production until last year.
The number in the model designation indicates its 8 Ohm output power capability. That should be enough for the vast majority of systems and loudspeakers, especially when the output doubles each time the impedance is cut in half, so that it delivers a whopping 440 Watts into 2 Ohms.
Diablo 120 has been developed based on experience with the brand’s top amplification system, Pandora and Mephisto, and especially its integrated big brother, Diablo 300, which itself was a further refinement of the original Diablo amp.
Therefore, the amplifier is a dual mono design, meaning that you could basically cut it in half and have yourself two integrated monoblocks. Gryphon also strives for the shortest possible signal path with minimal internal wiring.
The standard version is a pure line amplifier with one balanced XLR input and four single-ended phono inputs. As an optional extra, it can be fitted with either an MM/MC phonostage or a digital to analogue converter. The phonostage is also a dual mono design based on the Legato Legacy.
The D/A converter module includes inputs for AES/EBU (XLR), TOSLink, S/PDIF (BNC) and USB and handles signals up to 32-bit/384 kHz PCM and DSD 512. Either module can also be installed after purchase.
I’d like to take a moment to praise the loudspeaker terminals. They accept banana plugs and spades, but what sets them apart from most terminals is that they are very sturdy and fitted with rubber rings that provide a good grip for tightening. Outstanding.
The remote is solid and controls volume, On/Standby, Mute and input selection. The buttons are very large and easy to use. For us aging users, it is a good thing that display text size can be adjusted.
Let’s make it clear up front: Gryphon Diablo 120 is an amazingly good amplifier. It exudes authority and maintains control of loudspeakers, with sufficient finesse to reveal even the slightest variations in chamber music or jazz recordings.
It is authority and ease in perfect symbiosis.
Perhaps the very best thing about this amplifier is its ability to unearth musical details that you hardly knew existed. This makes close listening to music very entertaining, because it almost feels like you are hearing familiar music for the first time. It allows you to discover treasures in your own collection that you had forgotten or overlooked.
It should be noted that Diablo is not just about detail. It never gets in the way of enjoyment of the big musical picture. Instead, it presents music against a black background, so that even the minutest details are rendered in a way that a huge number of other amplifiers cannot manage, because their microscopic background noise, which you don’t notice until it’s been removed, masks the very finest details.
Once you adjust to this surprise, you find yourself in the company of extraordinary music reproduction. Voices sound fantastic with nerve, body and a truly impressive tonal richness. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s stunningly beautiful “Mrs. Hemingway” is pure magic, as her voice simply floats between the loudspeakers.
But midrange reproduction is about more than vocals. Try “Trozee” from Hello, Troll by the Helge Lien Trio. Diablo reproduces the piano and string bass with extreme realism.
This is not just a result of tonality, but also dynamics. Gryphon holds nothing back in terms of macro- or micro-dynamics. Again, this a result of the amplifier’s ability to isolate microscopic noise from the music signal. Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s “Sing, Sang, Sung” displays these dynamic capabilities with perfect clarity. On this track, so many things are going on with great force, yet the 120 never loses control or power. It just keeps going, regardless of volume.
Feel free to try Paula Cole’s “Tiger,” too, but make sure your roofing tiles are firmly attached and that you don’t have any glassware that you are worried about, at least not if you want to experience deep bass that shakes more than your trouser legs. Diablo’s bass performance is simply superb. Firm, well-defined, with massive attack, yet never anaemic and sterile. Diablo puts meat on your musical bones in the bottom octaves. It is a pure demonstration of power.
In the upper region, there is little to complain about – if anything at all. Here. Things are so airy, so open, regardless of whether it is handling female vocals, guitar harmonics or cymbals. It just goes on and on upwards, without stopping.
The wealth of detail and fine handling of bass and high frequencies contribute to the amplifier’s ability to render the width and depth of a soundstage that approaches the finest tube amplifiers.
Instruments are placed with great precision and appropriate size. At least if the recording engineers made an effort.
The Gryphon D/A converter pours out sweet sound, in addition to possessing a fun factor that kept me listening to the onboard D/A module, instead of my own DAC. It is pure and simple a devilishly good converter.
Gryphon Diablo 120 is an amplifier that is you must not ignore if you are in the market for a top class integrated amplifier.
Haute Fidelite in France
“Gryphon Diablo 120 joins in a technical approach without concessions, because manufacturer never leaves something at random or simplify. Each choice, even the smallest, acts for final audible result. Powerful, efficient and very musical, Diablo 120 is one of the 3 or 4 best integrated in its price range. From now, you’ll have to take into account this jewel.”