Anybody wanting proof of the burning phenomenon as applied to hi-fi equipment needs look no further than the gryphon Mikado. Listen to one with anything less than weeks on the clock (months would be better) and you will hear a bright, vibrant and undoubtedly dynamic performer but it will be so forward and in your face that, unless you just happen to like that sort of thing or are comatose, you will likely write it off as just another pretty, but expensive piece of equipment that swells the ranks of similarly flawed machines.
Straight from the box it delivers an intimidating, stiff and forthright musical message that grabbed my attention all right, but very soon had me feeling weary of its tense and rather brittle character. Now, I quite like a bold and forward sound, but this was a step way too far. I couldn’t get far enough away from the speakers. Yet, beneath this insistently obvious presentation I couldn’t help but notice micro-focus and sharp resolution – and that intrigued me. So I left it on repeat in a separate room for several weeks. Now, all equipment needs running in and over the years I had been here many times before, as have all reviewers. There have been some startling caterpillar to butterfly transformations but none quite as stark as the player that was emerging when I re-installed the Mikado, and it has continued to blossom over the passing weeks into something very interesting indeed.
This all-black, gloss-fronted player from Danish company Gryphon is a beautiful looking single-box design. Slim in profile it has a semi-detached, angled display that has its own power supply, completely isolated from those tasked with digital duties. An elegant circular, motorised door swings open with a rather unattractive wheezing noise to reveal the transport. It also offers a light-tight environment for the disc, which is instead bathed in blue light from several sources located around the disc tray.
As the lid opens these begin to flash, which also adds a bit of theatre to the whole operation. When you look at the design of the 40 gram clamp which secures the disc to the heavily modified floating Phillips CD PR0-2 transport and see those blue flashing lights, it is hard not to conclude that designer Flemming Rasmussen is a fan of 50’s American Sci-Fi movies (I’m thinking Forbidden Planet here). Gryphon have been a devotee of dual mono electronic design for years and the Mikado continues this trend. It has full-time up-sampling to 24/96 via