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Gryphon Apex Stereo power amplifier Measurements (Stereophile)

noiseangel

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I think you are being too harsh on JA here. In one sense the methodology at Stereophile has been the reviewer reviews the gear. He uses it, describes it, gives a subjective review. Then JA measures it. Their policy was the reviewer recommends it or not. And that hearing a device is what is important and the final arbiter of what good sound and good product was. By doing the measurements afterward, and not revealing them to the reviewer his opinions weren't tainted by the measurements for good or ill.

Now obviously this methodology is not one most at ASR would think a good one. Yet it is the one Stereophile has chosen. I don't think you can fault JA for that. A discussion about whether he thinks it has weaknesses vs some other method might make sense. I think JA has on more than a few occasions said he sees no correlation between measurements and subjective sound quality. I think most here could agree with that in regards to subjective reviewing. The hypothesis as to why that is the case likely differs between JA and most regulars at ASR. I personally over years went from more of JA's view of that to one aligned with objective measurements and how subjective reviewing is flawed knowing basics of psycho-acoustics.
I take it from this that you side with JA on the PS Audio direct stream DAC "Measuring quite well" rather than Amir "Needless to say, I cannot in any shape or form recommend the PerfectWave DirectStream DAC." Or this may be too harsh as well you think "The sonic effects are there in my semi-formal tests. Perhaps the older audiophiles including the designer Ted Smith, have lost so much high frequency hearing that the harmonic distortion this DAC adds makes up for some of that and they think they are hearing more."

Or the terrible excuse about supply chain problems affecting the measurements? Or did Gryphon leave out components, on one channel only, due to supply chain problems and just hoped that no one would notice? Like BMW, bring your car back when we have chips to make your windows go up and down and we will put them in.
 

Blumlein 88

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I take it from this that you side with JA on the PS Audio direct stream DAC "Measuring quite well" rather than Amir "Needless to say, I cannot in any shape or form recommend the PerfectWave DirectStream DAC." Or this may be too harsh as well you think "The sonic effects are there in my semi-formal tests. Perhaps the older audiophiles including the designer Ted Smith, have lost so much high frequency hearing that the harmonic distortion this DAC adds makes up for some of that and they think they are hearing more."

Or the terrible excuse about supply chain problems affecting the measurements? Or did Gryphon leave out components, on one channel only, due to supply chain problems and just hoped that no one would notice? Like BMW, bring your car back when we have chips to make your windows go up and down and we will put them in.
You must be an attorney with the selective quoting. Amir generally gives an up or down and JA will often be diplomatic in criticism. Below is the entire paragraph which other than the leading sentence you quoted nothing other than a list of things that bothered him about the measured performance. So not really so different than Amir's results actually.

In many ways, PS Audio's DirectStream DAC measures superbly well. But I was somewhat bothered by its ultimate lack of resolution with data capable of higher-than-CD resolution, which I suspect lay behind AD's finding the processor to sound "a bit rounded off" and lacking in immediacy. Whether or not that will be an issue will depend on the listener's taste and the character of his or her other components. It is also fair to point out that the DirectStream's introduction of random noise at the 17-bit level will be sonically preferable to a processor whose errors consisted of enharmonic tones. But I was bothered by the PS Audio's poor linearity at low frequencies. Yes, some extra second- and third-harmonic content at low frequencies will add some "phatness" to the sounds of bass instruments; and as the nonlinear transfer function has been significantly improved in the midrange and above, that "phat" quality will not be accompanied by the high-frequency harshness of intermodulation. But the engineer in me doesn't like to see it.—John Atkinson

As for his excuses for the Gryphon I'd at least say he gives that benefit with other devices as well. I'd be less forgiving if it were me. But like some others have commented, it has been my experience you are much, much more likely to suffer QC issues with expensive hand made low production devices than well done bulk produced products. So much so one shouldn't be surprised. I suppose the main take away is the idea hand made by humans is good should have been unlearned by now. You'll no doubt see him as shilling for the industry. I think it is somewhere in between. I do think he has always shied away from damaging a company rather than supporting the industry. That approach has its own foibles vs being a merciless critic. I'd hope normal intelligent adults could take such things into account rather than flying into a child-like rage when everything is not perfectly kosher for them.
 

TimF

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Terrible analogy: what if I bought a Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 that wasn't delivering balanced power between the drive wheels? Is it all about the drive system, or about the pretty exterior?
 

Blumlein 88

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Terrible analogy: what if I bought a Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 that wasn't delivering balanced power between the drive wheels? Is it all about the drive system, or about the pretty exterior?
I suppose I sound like an apologist for this review and amp. I really am not. However it is like your Porsche is delivering 1500 lbs of drive at each of the wheels and they unfortunately differ by a 4 ounces (1/4 pound) instead of being truly balanced. Is that going to matter in the use of it?

The Porsche certainly seems like a much better value for the money by a factor of about 1000 to me.
 

noiseangel

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You must be an attorney with the selective quoting. Amir generally gives an up or down and JA will often be diplomatic in criticism. Below is the entire paragraph which other than the leading sentence you quoted nothing other than a list of things that bothered him about the measured performance. So not really so different than Amir's results actually.

In many ways, PS Audio's DirectStream DAC measures superbly well. But I was somewhat bothered by its ultimate lack of resolution with data capable of higher-than-CD resolution, which I suspect lay behind AD's finding the processor to sound "a bit rounded off" and lacking in immediacy. Whether or not that will be an issue will depend on the listener's taste and the character of his or her other components. It is also fair to point out that the DirectStream's introduction of random noise at the 17-bit level will be sonically preferable to a processor whose errors consisted of enharmonic tones. But I was bothered by the PS Audio's poor linearity at low frequencies. Yes, some extra second- and third-harmonic content at low frequencies will add some "phatness" to the sounds of bass instruments; and as the nonlinear transfer function has been significantly improved in the midrange and above, that "phat" quality will not be accompanied by the high-frequency harshness of intermodulation. But the engineer in me doesn't like to see it.—John Atkinson

As for his excuses for the Gryphon I'd at least say he gives that benefit with other devices as well. I'd be less forgiving if it were me. But like some others have commented, it has been my experience you are much, much more likely to suffer QC issues with expensive hand made low production devices than well done bulk produced products. So much so one shouldn't be surprised. I suppose the main take away is the idea hand made by humans is good should have been unlearned by now. You'll no doubt see him as shilling for the industry. I think it is somewhere in between. I do think he has always shied away from damaging a company rather than supporting the industry. That approach has its own foibles vs being a merciless critic. I'd hope normal intelligent adults could take such things into account rather than flying into a child-like rage when everything is not perfectly kosher for them.
Selective quoting can either get you into jail or out of it.

The amplifier costs 100k. What would one expect if they were to spend 100k on a single component? You have admitted that you would be less forgiving if it were you. Would you want your money back? Would you want Gryphon to fix the problem? (Not going to happen). Assuming you were a billionaire would you have bought this amplifier based on The Technical Editors measurements or the other two who did the listening tests? Same with the PS DAC. If you bought this and, after reading Amirs measurements, would you want your money back? PSA to fix it? And the PSA DAC does not measure superbly well at all. I read all of Amirs reviews and it is very rare for him to put into bold typeface his recommendation, "Needless to say, I cannot in any shape or form recommend the PerfectWave DirectStream DAC."

My bold typeface below

That my friend is not a component that measures "SUPERBLY WELL".

JA is diplomatic for a reason. These people pay his salary, feed his family, keep a roof over his head. And there is my problem with magazines that review products and then advertise them on the very next page.

I would hope that normal intelligent adults could see, by now, that magazines that review equipment as well as advertise it, no matter how bad it is, would select a component based on its performance and not on the excuses for its lack of it. Supply chain problems? Are you kidding me?
 

Tranquility Bass

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It is not within my purview as the person who provides the measurements to accompany Stereophile's reviews to comment on a component's value-for-money. That is the responsibility of the reviewer, Michael Fremer in this case, and/or editor Jim Austin.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile
Actually Stereophile could go one step further than any other reviewers and employ blind people to subjectively evaluate the equipment. They have much more acute hearing than a sighted person and are not easily fooled by make, appearance and price of equipment they are reviewing.

PS Don't give up the measurements. Apart from ASR nobody really does them and it's a good way to gauge the level of engineering in a product. I remember when Audio mag used to publish complete or simplified schematics of the gear and offered a description of the underlying technology and that gave further insight. Now most reviews are a lot of poetry about sound stage and imaging.

cheers
 

noiseangel

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I will thank JA for one thing though, regardless of his conclusion. His measurements have shown what a piece of 100k crap is. Kudos mate.
 

noiseangel

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Actually Stereophile could go one step further than any other reviewers and employ blind people to subjectively evaluate the equipment. They have much more acute hearing than a sighted person and are not easily fooled by make, appearance and price of equipment they are reviewing.

PS Don't give up the measurements. Apart from ASR nobody really does them and it's a good way to gauge the level of engineering in a product. I remember when Audio mag used to publish complete or simplified schematics of the gear and offered a description of the underlying technology and that gave further insight. Now most reviews are a lot of poetry about sound stage and imaging.

cheers
These companies need to hire trained listeners and perform a simple level matched test before spending so much money on engineering and producing subpar products. Our hobby deserves better. Much better.
 

Thomas savage

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Something that I don't think is widely appreciated is that samples that are submitted to a magazine for review are often much-traveled, especially in these days of supply chain problems. Before an amplifier or a pair of speakers arrives in the reviewer's listening room. they may well have been used at show, in dealer's showrooms, or even spent time in another reviewer's systems. I think it only fair, therefore, to give an amplifier that has worse measured performance in one channel the other the benefit of the doubt.

And with the Gryphon Apex Stereo, the higher levels of noise and distortion in the left channel compared with the right were still low enough in absolute terms not to give rise to audible problems: https://www.stereophile.com/content/gryphon-apex-stereo-power-amplifier-measurements

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile
Maybe , but then they should of communicated with you and got you another sample sent over if indeed they found no such issue back at the factory.

I'm assuming they didn't hence why these measurements were published as is , I'm assuming they don't have the resources and or equipment dig into this.

Your last paragraph is what's been wrong with high end audio for many years now and why I'm glad we have other less compromised enterprises analysing performance of these products.

Whats the opposite of ' damned with faint praise ' ...
 

noiseangel

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Not so much anymore.
 

Blumlein 88

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Selective quoting can either get you into jail or out of it.
Yes it can, but this isn't a court. The selective quote didn't give limited truth, it in fact gives an impression which isn't true. Or as others refer to it a lie.
The amplifier costs 100k. What would one expect if they were to spend 100k on a single component? You have admitted that you would be less forgiving if it were you. Would you want your money back? Would you want Gryphon to fix the problem? (Not going to happen). Assuming you were a billionaire would you have bought this amplifier based on The Technical Editors measurements or the other two who did the listening tests? Same with the PS DAC. If you bought this and, after reading Amirs measurements, would you want your money back? PSA to fix it? And the PSA DAC does not measure superbly well at all. I read all of Amirs reviews and it is very rare for him to put into bold typeface his recommendation, "Needless to say, I cannot in any shape or form recommend the PerfectWave DirectStream DAC."

My bold typeface below

That my friend is not a component that measures "SUPERBLY WELL".

JA is diplomatic for a reason. These people pay his salary, feed his family, keep a roof over his head. And there is my problem with magazines that review products and then advertise them on the very next page.

I would hope that normal intelligent adults could see, by now, that magazines that review equipment as well as advertise it, no matter how bad it is, would select a component based on its performance and not on the excuses for its lack of it. Supply chain problems? Are you kidding me?
Were I to have the Gryphon with this problem yes I would want it fixed. It is my opinion it likely isn't endemic to the design. My guess is a component is off. A wrong value resistor in some part of the circuit could explain it all. There are other possibilities. Gryphon should have addressed it and provided a corrected amp for testing, and even re-review if Stereophile were interested. Of course in truth I'd not buy the Gryphon knowing what I know just due to the price. Even if I were a billionaire. Of course if I were a billionaire I'd somehow be somebody different so who knows?

Well I'd certainly agree if you are in business and you primarily make money from ads you have to be diplomatic in handling such things. You are well advised to be diplomatic to your customers and I'd say currently the real customers are the people advertising. Money is usually a corrupting influence. Stereophile was started by JGH as subscriber supported without ads. As a business plan it didn't work out well enough. Harry Pearson did the same thing at TAS and it didn't work out either. I subscribed to both for about 20 years and no longer do. ASR has no ads and that allows Amir to let the chips fall where they may. That is very valuable even if Amir doesn't monetize it. I of course hope he never does.
 

noiseangel

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Yes it can, but this isn't a court. The selective quote didn't give limited truth, it in fact gives an impression which isn't true. Or as others refer to it a lie.

Were I to have the Gryphon with this problem yes I would want it fixed. It is my opinion it likely isn't endemic to the design. My guess is a component is off. A wrong value resistor in some part of the circuit could explain it all. There are other possibilities. Gryphon should have addressed it and provided a corrected amp for testing, and even re-review if Stereophile were interested. Of course in truth I'd not buy the Gryphon knowing what I know just due to the price. Even if I were a billionaire. Of course if I were a billionaire I'd somehow be somebody different so who knows?

Well I'd certainly agree if you are in business and you primarily make money from ads you have to be diplomatic in handling such things. You are well advised to be diplomatic to your customers and I'd say currently the real customers are the people advertising. Money is usually a corrupting influence. Stereophile was started by JGH as subscriber supported without ads. As a business plan it didn't work out well enough. Harry Pearson did the same thing at TAS and it didn't work out either. I subscribed to both for about 20 years and no longer do. ASR has no ads and that allows Amir to let the chips fall where they may. That is very valuable even if Amir doesn't monetize it. I of course hope he never does.

The problem is right here.
 

voodooless

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In many ways, PS Audio's DirectStream DAC measures superbly well. But I was somewhat bothered by its ultimate lack of resolution with data capable of higher-than-CD resolution, which I suspect lay behind AD's finding the processor to sound "a bit rounded off" and lacking in immediacy. Whether or not that will be an issue will depend on the listener's taste and the character of his or her other components. It is also fair to point out that the DirectStream's introduction of random noise at the 17-bit level will be sonically preferable to a processor whose errors consisted of enharmonic tones. But I was bothered by the PS Audio's poor linearity at low frequencies. Yes, some extra second- and third-harmonic content at low frequencies will add some "phatness" to the sounds of bass instruments; and as the nonlinear transfer function has been significantly improved in the midrange and above, that "phat" quality will not be accompanied by the high-frequency harshness of intermodulation. But the engineer in me doesn't like to see it.—John Atkinson
I don’t really know how this makes it any better? It’s a contradiction. Why say one thing, and then state basically the total opposite?
But like some others have commented, it has been my experience you are much, much more likely to suffer QC issues with expensive hand made low production devices than well done bulk produced products. So much so one shouldn't be surprised.
I don’t think anyone is surprised. That is not the point. The point is that this should be absolutely unacceptable at this price. Yet it is shrugged off as: oh well, you can’t hear it anyway. While probably true, we’re still talking about a $ 100k piece of electronics here, that isn’t already performing SOTA anyway. This is just the icing on the cake..

As long as it is acceptable that these kind of products show these kinds of QC problems, this will never change.
You'll no doubt see him as shilling for the industry. I think it is somewhere in between. I do think he has always shied away from damaging a company rather than supporting the industry.
What company? And why though? Stereophile mostly, surely.
That approach has its own foibles vs being a merciless critic. I'd hope normal intelligent adults could take such things into account rather than flying into a child-like rage when everything is not perfectly kosher for them.
Yeah, they have a business run… that doesn’t make it any more morally okay though. There is something in between being a merciless critic and a total shill. As it stands, Stereophile is lacking any amount of criticality.

That the trouble with these magazines. The readers are NOT the customer! The advertisers are. So what happens is that content gets tailored towards making advertisers happy. As long as the customer don’t find out, that probably works. Well, guess what…?
 

Blumlein 88

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The problem is right here.
I think the differences are too large to simply be a lack of feedback. Other no feedback designs don't mismatch channels this poorly. I'd guess it more likely is a bad adjustment if adjustments are in the design or a bad component value whether from poor QC or an out of spec component. You shouldn't have such issues with something costing $100 much less one thousand times that.
 

polmuaddib

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It's becoming pretty clear by now that High End audio equipment's goal isn't state of the art audio performance.
These huge amps with thick aluminum, luxurios materials, speakers with diamond tweeters, cables with 17th century silver and such exist to make a visual statement in the king's and qneen's castle. It is all about perception of wealth, power, extravagance...
And that's where the Gryphon's value is measured!
The Gryphon customer couldn't care less about measurements. They are probably gonna turn it on when guests arrive and not do critical listening.
And you can't fault them for not having SOTA audio performance. Gryphon's ability to amplify music signal is an added feauture! Not primary function!

I appreciate what Mr. Atkinson does as he usually leaves some subtle comment between the lines. And a carerful reader who cares about objective performance is gonna be alert for faults in tested equipment.
Of course, he is not free to do what Amir does and that can't be held against him. But I believe he is doing what he can. Without his measurements, Stereophile is worthless as all the rest subjective audio reviewers.

What is also becoming clear is that Amir and ASR is the top authority on audio reviewing whether anyone wants to admit it or not.
 

Blumlein 88

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That the trouble with these magazines. The readers are NOT the customer! The advertisers are. So what happens is that content gets tailored towards making advertisers happy. As long as the customer don’t find out, that probably works. Well, guess what…?
The last part I'm in total agreement with as I stated in my last post. Subscriptions are so cheap they don't cover any significant cost of running the magazine. My guess is the only reason not to give it away with ads is by charging around $1 an issue it lets them have solid data on how many readers they have, and hence how much they can charge advertisers. Circulation reached nearly 100k in the late 1990's and has mostly drifted between 70-80k since. Last reported as 71,000.

The arc of many outfits has been to grow from niche to non-niche by satisfying the actual customers. Upon which advertisers really want to reach that group. Only to end up with the outfit being so beholden to ads the advertisers become the customers. After which they try to herd the customers for advertisers without unduly upsetting customers. Works until another competitor not beholden to ad people comes along or until the herd finds out differently. And yes, plenty of sources of alternate information these days.

I think part of the success of subjective mags over the old Audio magazine is they were selling a better story. Not just fidelity, but better than fidelity, an almost mystic area where personal taste and experience meant something beyond just the numbers. I think the early purveyors of gear believed in it too. Some still do, but over the years too many are clearly just taking the sheep for the shearing because they are available. I'm not even sure you can say there are less sheep to shear than there used to be.
 

noiseangel

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I tried to find Gryphons own specifications for the amplifier.

Would it suprise anyone that on their own website there are none? It's very hard to prove the amplifier is below published specifications if you say, contacted me and wanted me to represent you to get your money back. Their defence is we never published anything so the measurements you obtained are of no value since we never promised you it would meet any stated standard.


If you bought it, you could hear what JA couldn't because you have young hearing and you hate it you are stuck with it.

What I did find is this.

Apex Stereo​

Gryphon Apex: The Pinnacle of Performance
It has always been Gryphon’s mission to achieve the highest possible audio performance. in terms of sheer musicality, transparency and realism. With Apex Mono and Apex Stereo, Gryphon Audio Designs elevates pure Class A power amplification a titanic leap above what was previously considered possible. Gryphon Apex takes us several crucial steps closer in the never-ending quest for a more natural and convincing musical illusion.
Years of experience developing Antileon EVO and Mephisto, as well as ongoing research in the fields of circuit topology, component quality and reliability have culminated in Apex: the new flagship amplifier of the Gryphon Audio Designs brand.

It's actually the best they can do.
 

Mnyb

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Another sample of a 100k$ amp ? :) the other sample built this quarter may already be spoken for , it's not like driving your forklift to the warehouse and get one out of the pile :D

They could however have repaired it and send it back for another test ? But they may miss the publication date and where happy anyway as none of the regular readers seems to understand what these measurements tells you and the subjective "review" was to their liking .

I'm glad that stereophile still does some measurement , i read the description and measurements and read between the lines in Johns comments ;) i skim the amateur prose in-between , it's sometimes contains tidbits of placement and other user aspects .

Sigthed reviews can per definition not contain information about the actual performance in cases like these ( your not even wrong ) It's just one persons internal experience using the thing.
 

Mnyb

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I tried to find Gryphons own specifications for the amplifier.

Would it suprise anyone that on their own website there are none? It's very hard to prove the amplifier is below published specifications if you say, contacted me and wanted me to represent you to get your money back. Their defence is we never published anything so the measurements you obtained are of no value since we never promised you it would meet any stated standard.


If you bought it, you could hear what JA couldn't because you have young hearing and you hate it you are stuck with it.

What I did find is this.

Apex Stereo​

Gryphon Apex: The Pinnacle of Performance
It has always been Gryphon’s mission to achieve the highest possible audio performance. in terms of sheer musicality, transparency and realism. With Apex Mono and Apex Stereo, Gryphon Audio Designs elevates pure Class A power amplification a titanic leap above what was previously considered possible. Gryphon Apex takes us several crucial steps closer in the never-ending quest for a more natural and convincing musical illusion.
Years of experience developing Antileon EVO and Mephisto, as well as ongoing research in the fields of circuit topology, component quality and reliability have culminated in Apex: the new flagship amplifier of the Gryphon Audio Designs brand.

It's actually the best they can do.
Wonderfull FUD of "never ending quest" :) thats what they like us to believe , that a god enough amp that can drive speakers and have errors below human abilities can never be built ?
 
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