Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


Upon entering Gryphon Audio Designs’ room, I encountered Anthony Chiarella, the company’s North American director of sales and marketing. The room was jammed full—standing-room only—but there was no music playing. Chiarella explained that I’d have to wait about ten minutes before they could play music, as they play it really loud, and so does the room next door. The two exhibitors had agreed to alternate demos so as not to bother each other.

How polite, how European. Beats fighting it out with stereo wars, right?


At first, I sat way in the back, so I couldn’t really see the system, just the tops of the speakers. It sounded great back there, but after 15 minutes some space cleared out up front, so I scampered up and grabbed a first-row seat.

Sweet blue Jesus—what an imposing system. Matte black from start to finish, it’s out of a different timeline, as if the Vikings had achieved dominance, developed industry, and created a killer stereo system. An ensemble of massive black chassis interrupted only by glowing blue LEDs, red Gryphon icons, and intricate heatsinks—this is a system you’d install on the Death Star.

I’m mixing my cultural metaphors here, but in case you can’t tell, I was seriously impressed.

High End 2024 was the first showing of Gryphon’s new turntable, the Apollo. Gryphon Audio Designs was founded in 1985, and this is its first turntable, so the brand wanted to be certain to get it right. The company partnered with Germany’s Brinkmann Audio and gave Helmut Brinkmann free rein to create the best turntable he could. The Apollo uses two motors run by a digital motor control via a solid-state power supply.


The 12″ tonearm is also made by Brinkmann. Gryphon also partnered with the Danish Technological Institute to develop a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating for the tonearm. Another partnership—Ortofon developed the Black Diamond cartridge, which is based on the MC Diamond, but hot-rodded with great enthusiasm by one of the company’s main designers. The body of the Black Diamond is 3D-printed titanium coated with DLC.

What’s really interesting is that Gryphon sells the Apollo as a complete €128,800 package—’table, arm, and cartridge. These components are not available separately. It comes down to synergy. The Apollo is designed as a whole, complete subsystem, so it’s sold as such. That said, the Apollo will accommodate two arms, so you could purchase it as sold and add the arm of your choice—but it had better be matte black, or the Vikings might get angry.


Gryphon was also premiering its Siren phono stage with its external dual-mono power supply. The €58,800 Siren follows Gryphon’s playbook, employing thick, four-layer PCBs with heavy copper traces. Parts quality is superb, as is the casework, with the entire unit weighing in at 83 pounds. With its four inputs, the Siren can accommodate multiple arms or multiple turntables.

Then we listened. First up, The Bass Gang—a quartet of upright basses all banging away. This was giant, rich sound that wrapped around me with warm, expressive midrange—serious Baby Bear stuff that straddled that line between too tight and too lean. Maybe a touch toward Mama Bear, but in a way that was fun and welcoming without being sloppy.

Rune Skov, Gryphon’s global sales director, was acting as DJ. He must have been talking to Doug Schneider, who is constantly trumpeting the wonderfulness of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours to anyone who’ll listen. For the most part, I’m over this album, having listened to it like forever. But I have to admit it sounded great through this monster system. It’s easy to make this midrange-heavy album sound thick and congested, but this system from Gryphon kept the light and air in the top end, through the cymbals especially.


A serious standout was Booker T. & Priscilla, a long-out-of-print LP of grooving rock that just flat-out slammed through this system. Clearly recorded and well-pressed, but obviously not an audiophile nugget, this record had bounce and a jump factor that made me giggle. Played loud, but not too loud, it was pretty much my standout favorite music from this show. I’m off to Discogs to find a copy before you louts buy them all.

So this all-black system from Gryphon does pretty much everything I’d ever want, and I guess that’s what they’re trying to achieve—synergy from soup to nuts. Do I need to tell you that this is an expensive system? I’m not going to price it out piece by piece, but Gryphon added it up for me and it comes to €661,200.

Now I’m going to go cry in a corner because I can’t afford it.

Jason Thorpe
Senior Editor, SoundStage!