four AKM Delta-Sigma D/A converters, each with an individually regulated power supply, four toroidal transformers and both single-ended and balanced outputs as well as a couple of digital outputs as well. I have often complained about the quality of remote control units supplied with expensive CD players and amplifiers but not here. The Mikado unit is a solid, felt-bottomed device that only adds to the pleasure of using the player. Don’t skimp on your power-cord either, as care here reaps rich rewards.
Although I have had limited experience of previous Gryphon products, they do seem characterised by a couple of things. Their physical appearance is always super-stylish, extremely distinctive and they are superbly built with a musical approach that is very involving and right to the point. This player is no shrinking violet. A well run-in Mikado puts you at the heart of the music and in the right system, will show you its innermost workings. It is extremely transparent with a broad, open soundstage and the ability to disengage the performers from the limitations of the speaker boundaries and almost float them in space before you.
But don’t get the impression that the pictures it paints are anything other than rock-solid. It is true that the Mikado never sounds as firmly grounded as my Naim CD 555, but it is endlessly dynamic in both big and small ways, and full of micro resolution that is not only instrumentally revealing, but also spatially. The Mikado makes extraordinary and ruthless demands of the system it is sourcing, as do all great products, but give it the right opportunities and you will be impressed at the sheer variaty of musical expression it is capable of. For me it soon becomes one of the player’s main attractions and the one that has endured. This is no ice-cold digital analysis and reconstruction of information. Although I would still describe the tonal balance as slightly cool, there is undoubted warmth and intimacy in the way that it brings the music into the room. David Sylvian’s Blemish remixes of "The Good Son vs. The Only Daughter" (Sound CD SIS 005) is both a very unusual recording and one of those discs that relies heavily on an open spacious soundstage for its dramatic effect. It is as if the music has been remixed in 3-dimensional space. I have never heard it sound starker than through the Mikado as the contrasts of scale and texture fill the room. It becomes so easy to hear the relative positioning and precise levels of everything in the mix and the mid-air materialisation of Sylvian’s quivering moody vocal is just plain spooky. Anyone who says that high levels of transparency, front-to-back depth and image are unimportant where hi-fi is concerned should hear just how critical they become here. This is a recording dripping in both atmosphere and