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Gryphon Diablo 300

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To Jeff Fritz,

I have looked at your Ultra Audio site for quite a few years and have enjoyed reading everything. It’s fair to say that your website has evolved for the better, as well.

I liked the Magico Q7 review -- I wish I was in your spot, being able to do reviews of Vitus, etc., while on loan. This audio thing can get a bit costly. I only have Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 7s -- and these are still OK -- but Magico seems to be making some great progress. The only thing I've read about is the visceral slam that you don’t get from, say, the Q5s compared to the MAXX 3s. I’m tending to think Magico may be the way to go. What’s your view on MAXX 3s vs. Q5s? Do the Magicos have less grit than the Wilsons now? Keep up the great work and I hope to talk with you in the future.

Regards,
Analogueonly
Southern Hemisphere

Thanks for your kind words about Ultra Audio -- my writing assignments there have been a great passion of mine for many years. We continually strive to improve all the SoundStage! Network sites, and the feedback we're getting affirms it.

Regarding your question, in my estimation it is a fairly simple analysis: I've had the Q3s and now the Q7s in my system. I've also owned plenty of loudspeakers, including Wilsons. From these experiences I can say with confidence that the Magicos are among the world's great loudspeakers, and I believe the Q7 to be the absolute best. I've written a lot about the company over the past couple of years and I am more impressed by what they produce with each successive model. The Magico house sound is neutral, resolving, dynamic, and transparent to the extreme.

Regarding the comparison to Wilson, frankly I don’t think that's much of a battle. Overall, I do not believe any of the Wilsons are as linear (i.e., neutral) as the Magicos, and none of the models that I've heard has the resolution of the Magicos.

In my opinion, moving from your speakers to the Q5s would be like going from an old black-and-white television to the latest 1080p flat panel -- there is simply no comparison. My experience with the MAXX 3 loudspeakers has been at shows. There might be some marginal improvement over what you have in the ability to play louder, and there might be some more midbass punch (which is still not accurate, in my opinion), but they would still be lacking in the areas of neutrality, linearity, transparency, etc. I'd say moving to the Magico Q5, on the other hand, is probably the most significant sonic upgrade you could make to your system. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

I read with great interest your review of the Raidho Acoustics C2.1, which I also own, and I concur in whole with your findings. Moreover, browsing the details concerning the Music Vault and different speaker reviews you've conducted, I've noticed that there is no identical positioning of the different speakers during the listening sessions. This brings me to my question: How would you describe the best-case scenario for the C2.1's placement, obviously related to your room which you thoroughly know?

Thank you and best regards,
Vlad

My Music Vault listening room is about 23' wide x 20' deep. It supports deep bass in a very linear fashion as you can see from the in-room measurements I've conducted with various speakers I've had under review. The room has obviously been heavily acoustically treated and does not exhibit any egregious bass modes. For loudspeaker reviews this means that the distance from the speaker cabinets to the front wall is largely determined by the need for low-bass reinforcement versus maximizing soundstage depth. In other words, I don't have much if any "room boom" to deal with, so these other sound characteristics are the determining factors.

With the Raidho Acoustics C2.1 I did find that they benefitted from being placed slightly closer to the front wall than average (perhaps by 6"). The bass from the relatively small drivers and modest cabinet volume was enhanced by the boundary reinforcement that this placement produced and it had very little negative impact in other areas such as soundstage reproduction. In this location the bass was surprisingly robust, as I said in my review, and there was nothing to complain about with the soundstage at all. So, by all means, experiment and see what fits your tastes best. The Raidho speakers are capable of producing very high-resolution sound and deeper bass than you'd think. The key is to find just the right balance in your room. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

Nice article on the Magico S5 speakers. I just ordered a pair for my listening room. I was going to get the Maggie 20.7s but thought these would be a better solution. My dealer swears by Magico as best of the best.

Cheers,
Darrin

Based on what I heard in Munich, I think you will be very happy. They seem like terrific speakers at what is a sensible price for the performance you get. Let us know what you think once you have them in. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

I was just wondering if you have either the Rockport Technologies Mira 2 or the Avior in for review and, if so, roughly when it might be coming out for publication. It would be great if you are able to compare them to competing speakers such as the Magico Q3 or Wilson Sasha (vs. the Avior), or the Wilson Sophia 3 or Vivid B1s (vs. the Mira 2s), or whatever speakers you think may be relevant competition that you have reviewed or have in for review. Thanks and hope all is well.

Cyril

I just spoke to Andy Payor at Rockport today and my samples of the Aviors have been pushed back due to a large customer demand for the product. I was told to expect delivery sometime in July. Expect publication two to three months after that. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

Hello! It's been quite a while since I last e-mailed you. I ended up with the Boulder 2010 preamplifier and 2060 power amplifier and have upgraded my speakers to a pair of Avalon Times. The system is now a bit too analytical, lacking a bit of musicality, in my opinion. I would like to add a bit more warmth to the system. 

I am looking into the Constellation Altair/Hercules and the Gryphon Pandora/Mephisto Monos. How would you characterize these two setups and what would be your preference? 

Cheers,
Chan

I have not had the opportunity to hear the Constellation equipment in my system, though I do know that it has been given some solid reviews elsewhere. My take is that, at the very least, it is very competently designed gear and will likely perform at a high level. Is it special? I really can't say.

But I can say that the Gryphon gear is special. As you likely know, I reviewed the Colosseum amplifier and Mirage preamplifier and found them to be outstanding. Gryphon equipment has a reputation for being highly musical, sometimes warm, and very analog-like, though the newest models also display great speed and transient snap. Based on that, I think the Gryphon pairing will do exactly what you want it to do in your system, particularly if the Mephisto Mono/Pandora combo is better than the Colosseum and Mirage. If my experience with Flemming Rasmussen's designs is any indication, it will be something to hear. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Graham Abbott,

Your insightful review has prompted me to audition the NuForce DAC-9 and I am very tempted to buy it. 

Before I do that, would you be able to advise whether the NuForce DAC-9 can be compared to the sound quality of the Mark Levinson No.360S notwithstanding the price? I look forward to hear from you. 

Thanks,
John

Thanks for reading the review and your kind comments. I cannot offer comparative comments on the No.360S as I haven't heard it. I have heard the No.390S player/processor, but that was too long ago to make any relevant evaluations. 

I mentioned in my review that I did pit my Cary 303/200 against the DAC-9, with the NuForce unit clearly coming out ahead. Though the Cary uses some of my favorite chips and employs an extremely robust power supply (it weighs 35 pounds), it still has a more crisp and, dare I say, "early 2000s" digital sound. It lacks the tonal weight, textural meat, and overall ambient soundfield and soundstaging capabilities of the DAC-9. I might give the Cary the edge in pure transient speed, but the DAC-9 just does more and does it better. I think the advances in technology paired with lower production costs make the new generation of DACs hard for legacy products to compete with in general.

I am guessing the No.360S is limited to 16/44.1, and with the ever-increasing supply of high-resolution recordings that will be a consideration. As I noted in the review, the DAC-9 sounds fantastic playing higher-bit-rate recordings. That and the fact it has solid desktop potential make it a robust package.

Either way, all the best to you and your music! . . . Graham Abbott

To Jeff Fritz,

I truly enjoy and trust your opinions including your reviews of products. I would appreciate it very much if you could share some of your vast knowledge on my two systems at home.

System 1:

Kaleidescape server and player
Herron Audio VTSP-3A preamp and M1A mono amps
Aesthetix Pandora DAC
Shunyata Hydra Model-8 power conditioner
Rockport Technologies Mira 2 speakers (on order)
Shunyata power cords
Cardas Clear Light speaker cables and interconnects
Synergistic Research D3 digital cable

System 2:

Kaleidescape server and player
Aesthetix Calypso Signature preamp
Mark Levinson No.336 amp
Berkeley Alpha DAC
Shunyata Triton power conditioner
Rockport Technologies Avior speakers (on order)
Harmonix Studio Master, JPS Labs, and Shunyata Anaconda power cords
Cardas Clear interconnects and speaker cables
Synergistic Research D3 digital cable

I was wondering if I should use the Aesthetic DAC in System 2 instead and consider changing the Levinson amp to the Aesthetix Atlas Signature. Would this ensure better synergy using the same brand?

Please share your thoughts on both the system setups and if there is something I should consider adding to get the most out of the equipment. I spoke to Andy Payor regarding the ability of the amps to drive his speakers and he feels that they should have no problems in this respect. I appreciate your time and advice.

Regards,
Raj

First, let me congratulate you on the choice of the Rockport speakers. You are a very fortunate audiophile to be able to order two such fine speakers and have separate rooms and systems to enjoy them in. I should have the Avior in within a few weeks for review and I am very much looking forward to hearing them.

As for system advice, I think you might be on the right track with the upgrade of the Levinson to the Aesthetix Atlas Signature. I have heard really good things about this amplifier and I suspect it would be a great match for the Aviors. The Levinson is quite old and I know the sound quality has been surpassed by many designs. I think the old Levinson is the one glaring weakness that I would address if your resources allow. Otherwise, I have no comments other than to say enjoy! But I suspect you don’t need that advice anyhow. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

In reading about TWBAS 2012, there were several comments made about the optimization of the Music Vault room. Can you discuss and detail its construction?

Michael Goldin

The Music Vault listening room was constructed in 2005. There were three articles that detailed its design and construction: "Building the Music Vault -- Part One," "Part Two," and "Part Three." The room stayed essentially unchanged until the lead-up to TWBAS 2012 when I decided to address a few small but important items, one of which had a larger-than-expected impact on the sound: The polycylindrical diffusers on the walls were placed under tension with a combination of fiberglass insulation and polyethylene foam in order to damp any resonances that might ensue. This manifested itself as more linear bass response, which I immediately saw in the in-room measurements I conducted of several loudspeakers I had in for review. The sonic payoff was smoother low bass that was more articulate and clean than ever before. I also had a trap-door-type opening in the floor installed to facilitate the installation and removal of large speakers and amplifiers. You can see this in action by watching the "TWBAS 2012 Setup and Kickoff" video on SoundStage! Global. . . . Jeff Fritz 

To Jeff Fritz,

I enjoyed reading your review of the Rockport Technologies Mira. My present speakers are Avalon Eidolon Visions, in a room that is about 10’ x 15’, and I am considering the Mira 2s. In your experience, would the Mira 2s be a good choice for a room of this size? I am trying to find the best-performing speaker for my room size, one that provides a wide and deep soundstage, and has excellent bass performance along with excellent performance in the mids and highs. I will be using Jeff Rowland solid-state amps and preamp and an Esoteric digital front end.

Any comments regarding the Mira or Mira 2, or other speakers that should be considered, are appreciated.

Your articles in Ultra Audio and on TWBAS are also much enjoyed.

Best regards,
Al

I'd buy the Rockport Technologies Mira 2 in a heartbeat if I were shopping in the area of $15,000. It is a marvelous speaker and one that I believe would outperform what you currently have by a wide margin. The Mira 2 will play deeper and more authoritatively in the bass and is certainly the more neutral speaker.

Given a proper set-up regimen, a pair of Mira 2s will produce all the soundstage depth and breadth you could want. You'll be amazed at the resolution in the mids and highs, all without ever becoming fatiguing. They are articulate in the extreme and will thrive with good solid-state electronics like you have. What else can I say? An unqualified recommendation. . . . Jeff Fritz

To Jeff Fritz,

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and reply to this e-mail.

I’ve read your review of the EgglestonWorks Andra III numerous times and found it very informative. I would like to audition this speaker but there are no EgglestonWorks dealers in California -- there are only four in the USA.

I just purchased the BAT 600SE amp and VK-52SE preamp, and I’m looking to replace my Energy Veritas 2.8 loudspeakers with something around the same size (although I can go taller), price (I can’t go higher, retail-wise) and with great sound (subjective).

Being that you’ve listened to numerous speakers, and the Andra III has been out for a while, can you tell me what speaker(s) rival the Andra III at this price point? Lastly, would you spend your hard-earned money on this speaker, given everything I wrote above? Thanks again.

Ray Knight

The EW Andra III is a good loudspeaker, but not the model I would consider today if I were shopping in the $20k-$30k price range. The two speakers I would audition are the Magico S5 and Rockport Technologies Avior. Both of these speakers are super-high-performance designs that use topnotch drivers and robust cabinets, but, more important, are thoroughly engineered devices that will deliver linear, low-distortion, wide-dispersion sound. Frankly, I think these two speakers have leapfrogged the competition at the very competitive price point you are shopping in and would be at the top of my shortlist. . . Jeff Fritz