Ry, Denmark | 2021 – Ethos
The sleek lines, low profile and stylish blend of metalwork and high-gloss acrylic in the exterior design of the Gryphon Ethos CD player can only begin to hint at the sophisticated technology concealed within as Gryphon Audio Designs again takes up the challenge of creating the definitive combination of CD transport and digital-to-analogue converter.
Gryphon Audio Designs have stood for major innovations throughout the digital era with an acclaimed series of CD players that, perhaps more than most, deserve to be described as integrated transport/DAC’s.
In the once crowded, but now nearly vacant field of CD player design, the Gryphon story began with our very first digital source component at the close of the previous millennium. In 1998, The Gryphon CDP-1 CD player introduced the world to the sonic improvements offered by 88.2 kHz asynchronous sample rate conversion, the world’s first implementation of this advanced technology, now ubiquitous in digital audio.
Never willing to rest on our laurels, the Gryphon Adagio, successor to the CDP-1, was launched in 2001, taking digital musicality to the next level with asynchronous 24-bit/96 kHz sample rate conversion. After further refinement of this technology in the Gryphon Mikado, released in 2003, the implementation of 32-bit/192 kHz upsampling in the acclaimed Gryphon Mikado Signature represented another giant leap forward, once again breaking new ground and laying out a path for others to follow.
The first Gryphon separate digital-to-analogue converter, Kalliope, was universally praised in the world audio press.
“Kalliope reproduces music in all its harmonic richness, giving free rein to voices and instruments, well differentiated with a fluidity that is exemplary.” Haute Fidelité, March 2015.
The Gryphon Ethos remains faithful to the brand’s signature sound of great musical distinction, achieving a veritable musical alchemy with fast transient response and consistent tonal accuracy, regardless of the selected listening level. Perfect harmony alongside often contradictory parameters such as fluid handling of melody and rock-solid positioning in the stereo image is extremely rare, making the Gryphon Ethos an even more remarkable accomplishment, as manufacturers surrender to uninformed consumer pressure to deliver all-in-one “universal” audio and video disc playback.
Dedication and Devotion
Gryphon Ethos plays compact disc. Period. Full stop. It does not play video discs of any kind whatsoever, nor does it play any of the so-called “high resolution” audio formats.
Gryphon Ethos will quite simply reveal more of the hidden treasures in your CD collection than any other player, “universal” or otherwise, up to and well beyond its price point. That is its sole mission.
Gryphon Ethos is designed unapologetically with single-minded dedication to the compact disc, because this focused approach enables Gryphon Audio Designs to devote all our resources and expertise to releasing the full, unfettered musical potential of CD playback.
CD continues to be a maturing technology and by making that medium all that it can be, Gryphon Audio Designs can offer sound quality comparable to the so-called high-resolution audio formats. The immense catalogue of new and old CD titles will all benefit from the advances made in the Gryphon Ethos. We are confident that discerning audiophiles will appreciate what the Gryphon Ethos can do for their extensive and ever expanding music collections.
“Only” a CD player
Developing and manufacturing a dedicated High End CD player at this elevated price level certainly demands no small amount of courage in this day and age with low-budget universal disc players readily available. Because the Gryphon Ethos eliminates varying rotational speeds, video handling, multi-channel playback and other functions that are irrelevant to stereo music listening, it is devoted exclusively to compact disc playback with no compromise and no concessions.
When you choose the Gryphon Ethos, you know that its CD performance is not a mere afterthought. It is the player’s very reason for existing.
Bullseye on a Moving Target
We designed the Ethos integrated CD player to be a moving target in the rapid evolution of digital audio. In addition to handling standard 16-bit/44.1 kHz “Redbook” CD, the Ethos offers convenient playback and can be connected to external sources up to 32-bit/384 kHz PCM and up to DSD512. For once, hardware is keeping pace with software, making this a truly exciting time to cultivate digital audio, as a growing number of titles become available in these ultra hi-rez formats. Music lovers will be startled when they finally experience the untapped potential of Gryphon amplifiers and loudspeakers with these formats.
Taking our cornerstone philosophies of dual mono and fully symmetrical balanced operation still further, Gryphon Ethos is fully balanced throughout the digital DAC domain as well, implementing eight DAC’s in full dual differential mode. This configuration drastically lowers the digital noise floor and contributes to the expansive soundstage and sharply focused stereo image of the Gryphon Ethos.
In the interest of extracting the purest, most unadulterated sound possible, timing issues (jitter) are effectively addressed with two independent, specially designed, temperature-compensated crystal oscillators accurate to better than five parts per million.
Equally impressive is the selection of components employed in this construction: from the power supplies to the voltage regulation straight through to the lavishly engineered output stages.
After comprehensive listening sessions to seek out the best available digital-to-analog conversion technology without regard to cost or other extraneous considerations, Gryphon selected the ESS SABRE ES9038PRO 32-bit DAC chips, capable of full 32-bit processing in a dual-differential, dual-mono topology. This advanced DAC at the heart of the Gryphon Ethos makes a major contribution to the player’s effortlessly natural rendering of a three-dimensional soundscape with exceptional timing and razor-shape detail.
Gryphon Ethos employs state of the art, user selectable asynchronous sample rate conversion to execute complex mathematical calculations with extreme speed and precision. Without upsampling, a brickwall analog filter would be required following the conversion process, resulting in temporal smearing, energy loss, compromised resolution and reduced transparency.
Gryphon upsampling permits the use of a simpler, lower-order analog output filter, the integrity of the signal reproduced by the Gryphon Ethos is uncompromisingly conveyed against a silent background with a noise floor well below that of the recording itself.
The upsampled signal is decoded via a digital filter with a much gentler roll-off and, consequently, dramatically increased resolution, detail, spaciousness, focus, transient accuracy and harmonic integrity.
As contrasted with an upsampling filter, which processes the datastream at a higher frequency in order to shift the spectrum of quantization noise up and away from the range in which it is most detrimental (and not in a vain effort to achieve greater information density), upsampling is a process in which the sampling rate is increased prior to conversion.
Properly implemented upsampling eliminates the need for conventional, steep-slope analogue filtering altogether. In the Gryphon Ethos, this filter is replaced by a single, silvered Mica capacitor acting as a simple, first-order analogue output filter, preserving the integrity of the audio signal for a pristine presentation staged against an utterly silent, “black” backdrop.
By executing the filter function benignly in the digital domain with asynchronous 32-bit/384 kHz sample rate conversion, Gryphon Ethos achieves extraordinary resolution of fine detail, sharp image focus and extended high-frequency response.
The heavily regulated, fully discrete, fully balanced Class A analogue output stage employs zero negative feedback and offers both balanced XLR and single-ended phono outputs. The analog section is supplied with +23 Volts and careful attention has been paid to power supplies with separate transformers and comprehensive regulation.
This “overkill” solution yields perfect channel separation, greatly improved out-of-band noise suppression and significantly enhanced dynamic range.
The die-cast chassis of the transport mechanism features high reliability and extremely effective error correction.
With two separate custom-built analogue toroidal transformers and two separate digital power supplies, the digital, analogue, transport and display circuits exploit the benefits of isolated, heavily regulated power supplies.
The signal path is, naturally, as short as possible and the balanced analogue outputs are the finest Neutrik, while the Gryphon single-ended connectors are gold-plated.
User-Selectable Digital Filters
Gryphon Ethos features a range of digital roll-off options, seven distinct PCM filters and three DSD filters, which allow the user to fine-tune the tone of the player to personal taste.
The instantly recognizable and much loved Gryphon disc cover is illuminated by a ring of attractive blue LED’s. The lid effectively seals the top-loading mechanism, isolating the disc from external forces.
The precision-tooled, gold-plated CD clamp is an integral component with carefully balanced mass that contributes to the stability and correct rotational speed of the disc.
The drive mechanism incorporates extensive mechanical de-coupling with an effective clamping system to eliminate spurious disc motion. The acrylic and brushed, natural aluminium housing provide significant vibration-absorbent constrained layer damping for effective resonance control.
The remote control shows the same attention to detail as the rest of the player: the heavy, black metal slab fits well in the hand with a back layer of rubber so that it doesn’t slide on the underlying surface.
Power and Isolation
The Gryphon Ethos reaps the full benefits of hallmark Gryphon technologies, including strict dual mono configuration, minimal internal wiring, fully isolated separate power supplies for analogue (left and right channels), digital and transport/display circuitry and exclusive, custom components.
Digital, analog and display circuitry and their dedicated power supplies are carefully isolated in the Gryphon Ethos. The display is housed independently outside the main chassis and draws on a power supply that is isolated from the digital audio power supply.
Gryphon Ethos rests atop three adjustable Gryphon Atlas Spikes, assembled from carefully selected parts made of Polyoxymethylene (POM), aluminium and tempered steel. Extensive listening tests confirm that the mechanical characteristics of this specific combination of materials make it an ideal, one-way conduit for resonances.
Early on, Gryphon research established that the size, shape and materials employed in spikes can have significant influence on sound quality. Some materials can actually store some of the energy that they are intended to evacuate.
Gryphon Atlas spikes create a uni-directional evacuation path between the equipment and the outside world, acting as mechanical diodes, conducting energy in one direction only and effectively blocking it the other way.
Gryphon Ethos is fitted with a full array of digital input and output options. AES/EBU, USB and BNC inputs allow direct connection of external digital sources (PC, music server) to the Ethos DAC section. An AES/EBU output allows connection to an external DAC. The USB socket is fully compatible with a wide variety of digital audio formats.
The fully isolated vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) provides user-selectable display lighting (Off, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%) for a practical, instant overview of disc and player status. CD mode displays number of tracks, playing time, Repeat One or Repeat All, digital filter, sample rate (no oversampling or upsamling to 384 kHz or DSD128). DAC mode displays input number, input name up to eight characters, sample rate, PCM, DSD, digital filter. Upsampling and phase inversion indicators are illuminated by LED bars.
The battleship build quality, constrained layer damping and carefully engineered mechanical integrity of the Gryphon Ethos eliminate digital noise and interference between the various stages of the player, making it a functionally elegant musical instrument designed solely to preserve the integrity and purity of the original musical event.
With a rare level of precise control, the Gryphon Ethos masters any task you could assign it. Thanks to its finely balanced sound, it will seamlessly fit into any imaginable system configuration. With products like this, the wait for new high-resolution digital media is made immensely easy.
The Gryphon Ethos also celebrates the compact disc’s 35 years as the medium of choice for music in the home, demonstrating that in the skilled hands of Gryphon’s driven, skilled engineers there is even more musical pleasure and realism to be extracted from the silver disc than you had ever imagined.
Built for the Future
Thanks to its distinctive modular design, Gryphon Ethos is built to keep pace with digital technology as it evolves. Convenient modification of digital circuits by your local authorized Gryphon service centre as upgrades become available will ensure that your Gryphon Ethos remains on the cutting edge of CD playback.