Finally, I turned to its digital inputs to see if what I happened on CD stays on CD. And the good news is the DAC is (perhaps understandably) just as good with other digital sources as it is with the disc. I did find myself flipping through the filters a little more when playing stored files (moving from my Naim Uniti Core into the DAC using a BNC-BNC connector), but even streaming Tidal via USB from my aging Mac Book Pro, you could hear the stereo separation, dynamic range and range extension of the Ethos coming through. I’d still maintain that given the choice here, I would prefer to play a CD through the Ethos than stream a higher-resolution file of dubious provenance from the internet, but that’s more a concern of the format in general than the Ethos in particular; it can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it makes fine pigskin.
I had heard the Gryphon Ethos at a number of international audio shows (in the before time, that is), so I thought I had a fairly good grasp of what it can do. Then I had the Essence pre/power amplifiers in for review, and they impressed me far more than I expected them to do, given what I’d also heard at shows. So, I was willing to suspend disbelieve in the performance of the Ethos; I knew it was going to be good, but how good? In truth, I didn’t expect it to be this good, I didn’t expect to put it among the top flight players, all of which cost around three to five times as much as the Ethos. More importantly, I didn’t expect the experience to be quite so entertaining, as sometimes the best in audio can get a little self-flagellating. Forget all the preamble; this is music played at its absolute best.
Type: Dual mono Red Book CD player
Analogue outputs: 1× unbalanced fixed RCA, 1× balanced fixed XLR
Digital input: 1× BNC 75ohm connection (S/PDIF), AES/EBU (XLR), USB-B
Digital Output: AES/EBU (XLR)
Resolution: to 32bit, 384kHz, DSD512
Distortion: Less than 0.007%
Dimensions (H×W×D): 11.2 × 45 × 38.5cm
Weight: 13.7kg (shipping weight)
Manufactured by: Gryphon Audio Designs