Gryphon Antileon EVO power amp

08.04.2016..

Ed. – Official introductory video of the Antileon EVO from Gryphon Audio Designs’ website


 

ReMusic Spark Award

Introduction

Scene: Rome, day. Auditorium Parco della Musica. Studios room. Introduction of Gryphon by Audio Reference's importer. A true act of force: muscular and palpable. The most important “big shots” by Gryphon, from the digital to the loudspeakers, lined up and with the possibility of listen to them in series.

At the end, I warmly say thanks to the organizer, Federico Licciardello, and propose a review of the piece that I prefer: the Gryphon Antileon EVO power amp. He answers me: “Why not?”

 

From that moment on, pure frenzy…

 

Apnea. I look again at the object of my desires. I realize that I have to be well organized. We are talking of eighty-four kilos of apparatus plus a wooden packaging: one hundred and ten thermonuclear kilos …

 

Design

We know very well Gryphon. In business since 1985, the Danish firm owes to his owner, Flemming E. Rasmussen, its strong mark. They began with the class A power amps. Then they start making digital gears and loudspeakers, although the core of the production is always amplification. Each product by Gryphon leaves its mark. Aesthetic and instrumental. Each product by Gryphon wants to “last” as a response to long-terms needs.

Rasmussens holds a degree in painting and graphic arts from the Danish Aarhus Art Academy and his choices are often “cultural”. In fact, the fabulous creature of Greek mythology with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion inspires Gryphon’s name, while Antileon is one of Ercules’ sons.

A source of pride for the company – rightfully – is avoiding introducing every year a new model, as many firms do.

On the contrary, they introduced the line Antileon in 2000 and improved it continuously. Hence, the Antileon EVO is the evolution of the first Gryphon Antileon, introduced in 2000 and now available in version mono.

 

Manufacture

At the end of the 80’s, I had the chance to test many amps in class A, like Classé Audio, Krell, Threshold. Also now, my reference amp, the integrated Audiosophia I-50jm is a MOSFET, about 25 watts in class A and 50 in AB. For this reason, I love the solidity of the sound fabric offered by the best class A. I love that feeling where the scene does not fluctuate without control at the varying of the dynamics.

 

But here, I am afraid, we are talking of something else. The Antileon EVO is a power amp with 150 watts in class A per channel, 40 high current bipolar output transistor, 670,000 µF power capacitor bank, ultrafast J-FET input stage, Mundorf RXF polypropylene capacitors for power supply decoupling, Takman REY precision resistors, flat frequency response to beyond 350 kHz, frequency-independent damping factor, double sealed, mil spec PCB with 105 µm copper traces.

 

Bluntly, it is a high current power amp. Gryphon states that the current marketing research on more efficient amplifications is motivated only by economic reasons, to cut the costs. The amplification par excellence is the class A. It does not matter if the steel, the copper, the big capacitors and the massive transformers are always more expensive. It is the matter of music: the mass. And it cannot be weak.

 

The Antileon confirms all that with a ‘muscular’ look. The panels are in black anodized aluminium machined to excruciatingly tight tolerances. The faceplate is machined out of a solid 40 mm black acrylic block. The cabinet suggests an internal ‘musculature’ thanks to a big and powerful transformer, the silos for the capacitors and the heat pump of its transistors and massive heatsinks.

 

The 1500 W transformers are mechanically isolated from the chassis and in suspension. They are coated with a special epoxy resin to avoid vibrations. The Antileon is one of the most silent amplifier I have ever tested, despite its dimensions and the dimensions of the transformers.

 

Apart from the shielded transformer housing, only non-magnetic materials are employed throughout the Gryphon Antileon EVO. In the signal path the placing of the driver stages and the bypass capacitors are not conventional. There is only a short length of Gryphon Guideline Reference gold-embedded silver wire. The multi-way proprietary golden terminals accept bare wire, spade lugs, banana connectors or any combination of these and are suitable for bi-wiring.

 

Two power cords, two IEC sockets, two switches, two transformers, two capacitors banks, two branches of amplification…the Antileon is a balanced dual mono stereo amplifier for real.

 

As already said, the bias is in pure class A, so to have immediately available all the current we need. The reason is simple: the dynamic bias switches to a higher level when it recognizes the presence of a more dynamic bias. Therefore, it follows the signal and responds when things are done. For Gryphon this kind of bias is not enough quick to track in real time the dynamic changes.

 

Although not an extremely demanding power amp, tending to the design integralism, the Antileon is a real “smart” amp. By selecting the value of the bias with the buttons on the front side, it can operate “out&out” at 150 watts per channel in class A or contain at 50 watts per channel in class A with the other 100 in AB. Besides, it can easily perform with 150 watts in class AB only.

Whit small listening rooms, music without dynamic peaks, background music or high efficiency loudspeakers, you can opt for the “L” position of the bias and get 150 watts in class AB, or “M” for the first 50 watts in class AB and up to 150 in AB. The “H” position is instead that of the pure 150 watts in class A. The different positions of the bias affect in parallel the electrical consumption. Lastly, when a Gryphon preamplifier is connected via Green Bias, the bias of the Antileon is automatically adjusted depending on the volume of the preamplifier.

On the signal path, there are no fuses or relays. The reason is avoiding altering it anyway. The security fuses are easy to reach from the central tower of the device. To start the diagnostic software there is a single button on the front side, where is also the Mute. Since the beginning, the software makes a complete check. Ad example, it tells us if the power chords are in phase. The microprocessors of the protection system are updatable via software, through authorized assistance.

 

Listening test

I have to confess that I have always found the sound of the Gryphon’s devices a bit “dark”. After some weeks with the Antileon, I have realized that the most part of such impression is due by other components of the Grayphon’s chain, firstly their loudspeakers.

 

For the test, I have employed my new loudspeakers Audiosophia E3R-GC. As you can infer from the initials GC this is a design especially realized for me. Well, yes. In my life of militant audiophile, I have bought and modified, made by myself and tweaked. Now the time has arrived for customized orders.

The original system of the loudspeakers is a three-way with carbon ceramic dipole tweeter, 175 mm midrange in pneumatic suspension, always in carbon ceramic, 275 mm floorstanding bass-reflex in polycarbonate graphite. The components are designed and handmade by Eng. Massimo “Max” Micelli. The frequency response is from 18 Hz to 25 kHz, impedance of 4 ohm with decrease at 0,7 ohm on the bass cross and sensitivity of 98 dB. The internal cabling is a hybrid Litz of OFC enameled copper with 120 0,7 wires and solid core in silver and platinum. The cabinet is in 34 mm high-density oak veneer hardwood.

Incidentally, this typology of loudspeakers that I define an electrical multiway with drivers with long excursion and complex crossover – initially at 24 dB! – has been recently replaced by the new Audiosophia’s designs, thanks to Rocchi’s incitements and mine. Now Max is at the third generation of electrical/mechanical multiway that employs drivers with short excursion and minimalist crossovers. I mean, he is been reinventing the high-efficiency! Find out here, on his Facebook’s page, some results and stay tuned…

 

Back to us. I listened to the Antileon EVO with my Mantra Sound Daiko and with the delicious Aerial Acoustics Model 6T, object of my next review.

 

This long digression on the loudspeakers is useful to understand what follows. In my reviews, I prefer to synthetize the constants and variables of the devices that I test, trying to define a true personal identity. I can therefore affirm that the Gryphon Antileon EVO is an authentic sound monument. After the run-in, the Antileon shows its confidence immediately. However, the house suggests always half an hour of warmup. It shows from the beginning confidence, simplicity in the emission, pure pleasure. It is like the All Blacks’ team that is capable of power in apparent simplicity or like who runs 100 meters in 11 seconds without shortness of breath.

 

But, but, but… there is a but… three, actually! This is because we are in front of an amp with a “multiple personality”. Depending on the selected bias, the emission changes a lot. On the other side, if the house prefers the pure class A, there will be a reason!

The bias L corresponds to the class AB up to full power. Do you want rock? Choose the bias L and you will remove the rust from your metal tracks. Undistorted dynamics a go-go. The amp is explosive and brutal, without being annoying. The scene is lesser palpable than with the high bias configurations, but the rate, the sense of surprise and the absolute dynamics of the music impose themselves as main performing characteristics.

The bias M is my favourite in the most part of my listening notes. The scene and the firmness of the musical message gain a bit. The dynamics is attenuated and also the sense of surprise, but the sound is more sustained, more persistent.

Switching from M to H what changes is the tone, the perspective, the scene. The sound becomes more defined, maybe “smaller”, confined within the speakers, bur more pleasant, more human, and closer to the music of the unplugged natural instruments. It is anyway a question of taste. The interpretation of the music in pure class A have to be listened, because peculiar, solid, concrete if compared to the pure dynamic swing.

 

I have mentioned before the Audiosophia E3R-GC because, concerning the drop in ohms of their module, are exigent loudspeakers notwithstanding their high sensitivity. Here the Antileon gushes over. Ask it for control and pleasantness. Strength and detail. It will give you everything.

With my Daiko I worried about the integrity of their delicate drivers, cells for Sony headphones and Supravox 165 GMF mid-woofer.

With the Aerial Acoustics it has given the best in every configuration, since these loudspeakers have enough efficiency and power handling.

 

The high range is present, defined and sustained without being drilling. So you can listen for hours. You can define them “tube-like” because you forget about them and this would be a great compliment.

The mid range has that warmth that make it “sexy”. That says it all!

The bass range is the best you can desire. The Antileon has highlighted with precision all the limits and the specific features of this frequency range of every matched loudspeaker.

 

Generally speaking and in conclusion, the Antileon has some grip. It remains stuck to the music and to its weaving without concessions or exhibitionisms.

 

Pro

A memorable amplifier, eternal, with an immediately perceptible personality. It can drive everything, without any problem. Suitable for “difficult” loudspeakers but extremely “civilized” with the easy ones. The Antileon is the amp in class A that has reconcile myself with the class A. A reference. Period.

 

Con

The front fascia is beautiful but, considering the mass, I feel the need of two handles, also removable.

Considering the electrical consumption, at full power and in class A you need more than a normal home consumption.

The heat is embarrassing: in full class A you do not need to heat the room and you cannot touch the device, believe me.

The weight of the performances has its counterbalance in the weight of the device. Do not move it often, you will not succeed.

The fact that it has three different personality is something positive not a weakness.

 

Maybe

Is it possible to have the same outcome with less money and weight of the device? I do not think so. I have compared the EVO with “sly” circuitries like NAD, Proton, Carver, or “cold” ones like several T-amps. Or ambitious and generous – on paper – like the powerful transistors Cary Audio in class AB. In all these cases, the blanket was short. In many cases, very short.

 

Quick metaphors and final recap

The Gryphon Antileon EVO is a legendary amplifier. An absolute reference. If available at Remusic’s it would be simply necessary.

If it was a car, it would be a Bentley, a powerful car, fast but with the souplesse, the aplomb, the comfort and the class of a gentleman that will walk but never run*…

 

*Sting, Englishman in New York, da Nothing Like the Sun, 1987

 

I have also appreciated what written in the manual: “In the best Gryphon tradition we have spent a huge amount of time with our prototypes before we release a new product. We are obsessed with what we do and consider ourselves to be open-minded and are fascinated by the "Grey area" between logical, technical facts and things we just hear that make no obvious technical sense. We will implement them as long as it does not sacrifice safety or reliability. In the Antileon design a number of tweaks can be found and the result is a fine balance that can easily be disturbed. We strongly advise against any alteration of the original design, it will void the warranty and most certainly only provide a diffence, not a real improvement of musical realism. We are fully aware of the fun of playing with AC conditioners, bricks, platforms, cables and so on. We appreciate much of it, but please listen to our intentions before you go ahead and if you do, do yourself (and us) the favor of now and then going back and listening to the "naked" design as it was intended by its creators”.

 

In which configuration does it “perform better”? Honestly, I do not know. Besides, seen that I can choose, I will choose what inspires me depending on the musical support, the track or genre, the integration between the devices. It is good being able to choose and have always more than one option, and always correct.

 

Is it suitable for high efficiency loudspeakers? Yes, it is, in M bias. The H bias is for “difficult” speakers like Avantgarde or Acapella. With low efficiency speakers, I would start from the L bias to exploit the dynamic skills.

Of course, these are rough advices. The combinations of number and typology of the drivers, module of the speaker – tall, low, flat or contorted – and the sensitivity bring to very different, if not contradictory, request for amplification. In this case, having at disposal a so integralist amp but also ductile to interface, has no price.

 

Who is it for?

The Antileon EVO is a war machine, a “big shot”, because it is a very important device and because it weighs ninety kilos!

If you buy it, you bring home three amplifiers in one: three stereo power amps at 12,000.00 euro each. Hence, you can have the luxury of having and choosing the amplification at your taste.

And the taste, at this level of price, is everything.

 

 

Tone | frequency extension, ability of reproducing faithfully the instrument and its harmonious build up

From the instrument at the highest frequency to the most exaggerated bass, the output is amazing: a caterpillar driven by a hummingbird.

 

Dynamics | micro (detail) and macro (absolute) extension and rate of the transients

The microdynamic is delicious, never fatiguing. Macrodynamic and rate depend on the class of bias, but never missing or excessive.

Image | ambiance, transparency, scene, soundstages, virtual stage, sense of presence, resolution

The ambience is matter, solid, very wide and distributed and always depending on the class of bias.

 

Tonality | general setting of the device, if present or characteristic: ad example warm, cold, toned, amber, shiny, opaque...

The first impression could be “warmth” and a veil of darkness. Then, everything comes out. Mainly, we can talk of “matter” tonality, and stamped sound.

 

Emotion | emotional involvement, strongly depending from the matches, an absolutely anarchic and personal parameter

Unshakable: the class A as I do not remember it. With the solidity of the image and the involvement that aims to administrate wisely instead of shocking with special effects. Great satisfaction, very depending on the personal tastes and on the output of the three operating classes.

 

Manufacture and Packaging | Unimpeachable the first, rightly solid the second. You need help to handle the device, to move it, dust it…

 

Price/quality ratio | Skyrocket price for a power amp with three distinct and separate voices. Consequently, the performances are very high.

 

Official technical specifications

Dual mono stereo amplifier

2 x 150 Watts Pure Class A

Fully balanced input and Voltage Amplifier Stage (VAS)

Output Power (RMS): 2x150W/8ohm, 1.200W/1ohm, 5.000W/1/4ohm

S/N Unweighted, 20-20000hz: <-78 dB

S/N Weighted, A-weighted: <-81 dB

Dynamic range: 111 dB

Distortion (THD+N): <1% 150W, <0,06% 50W

Input sensitivity: 0,975V

Gain: +31dB

Bandwidth: 0-350kHz -3dB

Channel separation: infinite

Input Impedance, balanced (20-20000Hz): 20kOhm

Output Impedance (20-20000Hz): <0,04ohm

Inputs: balanced XLR

Power consumption: <0,5W standby, 2x2.700W maximum, 2x500W idle

Power supply capacity: 2x335.000μF

Dimensions: 57x26x60cm WxHxD

Weight: 84kg netto, shipping weight 110kg

Annex: download here the manual

 

Official Italian dealer: to Audio Reference website

Official current price in Italy: 35,380.00 EUR

Associated equipment: to my system

 

 

6th May 2016, Munich High End: from left to right, Federico Licciardello, Audio Reference’ s Managing Director, and Gryphon’s distributor for Italy, Flemming E. Rasmussen,<br />CEO and Gryphon’s founder, and your editor at the delivery of Spark in the Dark ReMusic’s award.
6th May 2016, Munich High End: from left to right, Federico Licciardello, Audio Reference’ s Managing Director, and Gryphon’s distributor for Italy, Flemming E. Rasmussen,
CEO and Gryphon’s founder, and your editor at the delivery of Spark in the Dark ReMusic’s award.
Gryphon’s memorabilia: I own the Gryphon Exorcist demagnetizer for a long time. I got a memory pen with the shape of Antileon EVO not long ago: a Gryphon gadget, but…
Gryphon’s memorabilia: I own the Gryphon Exorcist demagnetizer for a long time. I got a memory pen with the shape of Antileon EVO not long ago: a Gryphon gadget, but…
Now we get serious… Ladies and Gentlemen, the Gryphon Antileon EVO – Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Now we get serious… Ladies and Gentlemen, the Gryphon Antileon EVO – Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Photo courtesy Gryphon Audio Designs
Only the packaging weights more than 25 kilos.
Only the packaging weights more than 25 kilos.
With these strong “clips”, you can open and close the packaging with safe and convenience.
With these strong “clips”, you can open and close the packaging with safe and convenience.
The equipment comprises two pairs of cotton gloves, user’s manual, and polish and microfiber cloth.
The equipment comprises two pairs of cotton gloves, user’s manual, and polish and microfiber cloth.
With the Antileon EVO all the components of my system become smaller.
With the Antileon EVO all the components of my system become smaller.
Under the single rounded top, there are two huge toroidal transformers.
Under the single rounded top, there are two huge toroidal transformers.
The Antileon EVO has left a great void in my room…
The Antileon EVO has left a great void in my room…
Drawing of the front fascia, with the specs of the control lights.
Drawing of the front fascia, with the specs of the control lights.
On the rear, you can notice the double IEC socket.
On the rear, you can notice the double IEC socket.
One of the most solid and tidy device we have ever tested.
One of the most solid and tidy device we have ever tested.
by Giuseppe Castelli
Read more articles

Torna su

Advertising

DiDiT banner
KingSound banner
 
Vermöuth Audio banner

Is this article available only in such a language?

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more articles in your language!

 

Questo articolo esiste solo in questa lingua?

Iscriviti alla newsletter per ricevere gli articoli nella tua lingua!

 

Sign up now!

Advertising

HighResAudio banner
Dream Streaming banner