Munich Preview Exclusive: Gryphon Diablo 120 Amplifier and Mojo S Loudspeaker system

Integrated amplifiers
Gryphon Audio Designs Diablo 120,
Gryphon Audio Designs Mojo S

Gryphon’s Mojo S loudspeaker is an evolution of the Cantata model we reviewed back in Issue 27. Along with the striking, high-coloured cheeks and the fluted stand, the simple D’Appolito design has gained power handling, significant dynamic range and a Mundorf AMT tweeter. What it retains are the low-mass drivers, concave, time-aligned baffle and constant phase crossover of the original. The heavily braced cabinet is resistively ported by a pair of giant apertures on the rear baffle, which also features external precision resistors that allow users to tune the high frequency output to their own acoustic environment. At first glance the Mojo S looks heavy and a little dumpy, but that quickly evolves into solid and substantial as you get used to its looks and the impressive -3dB point at 44Hz, reflecting the fact that the cabinet is actually much larger than it looks. Either way, there’s certainly no escaping the new Mojo’s visual statement – those side cheeks come in a whole host of different colours and finishes.

Alongside the ‘loud’ speakers, the new Diablo 120 looks almost shy. Shorter and more compact than the established (and frighteningly powerful) Diablo 300, beneath the contrasting angles, planes, and surfaces of Gryphon’s familiar touch screen fascia, the company’s smallest amplifier is no shrinking violet. A dual mono design, all the way back to independent secondary windings on the massive toroidal transformer, the Diablo 120 puts out a not exactly surprising 120 Watts into eight Ohms. What is surprising is that it doubles that output into four Ohms and then virtually doubles it again, delivering 440 serious Watts into a two Ohm load. People talk about tube Watts as opposed to solid-state: I’m introducing a third category – Gryphon Watts – ‘cos there’s definitely watts and Watts, but the Gryphon amps deliver WATTS. Of course, all that power is no good unless you feed it a decent signal and here the Diablo excels. You get a choice of one balanced or three single-ended inputs, along with a tape loop – sufficient for most requirements. You also get the choice of adding either an internal DAC or phono-stage. The review sample arrived with the DAC installed, but given that Gryphon’s first ever product was an MC head-amp and the company has maintained a stellar reputation for its record replay components ever since, I have every confidence that the adjustable MM/MC stage will match the impressive performance of the internal DAC.

With four inputs (AES/EBU, USB, S/PDIF on BNC, and a TOSlink) the Diablo 120 DAC will accept most sources and data rates up to 32-bit/192kHz and DSD512. More importantly, this is no simple plug-in board. The 120’s DAC module is built into and encapsulated within a machined aluminium brick, a totally separate entity within the amplifier’s chassis, which goes a long way to explaining why it works so well (and so many internal DAC options patently don’t). I also had in-house, Gryphon’s superb (and supremely cost-effective) Scorpio CD player, the perfect operational and aesthetic match for the Diablo amplifier. Feeding its digital output into the Diablo 120 DAC handily outperformed the player’s own analogue outputs – and that’s saying something. The Diablo 120 also arrived with one of Gryphon’s superb remote controls. I normally take remote handsets out of the box for photography and then toss them back. I don’t like what they do to the sound of a system and I don’t feel the need to hunt amongst myriad identical buttons just to adjust the volume or input. But Gryphon’s remotes are the exception to that rule. Confined to bare necessities (Volume, Mute, Input, and Standby) the buttons are big and positively latched, the handset heavy enough not to lose, small enough and elegant enough to perfectly fit your hand. Still the best remotes in the world, the rest of the industry would do well to sit up and take notice!

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