iFi Audio introduced xDSD Gryphon, its new portable DAC and headphone amplifier. The portable headphone amp is positioned on a higher-end than the recent hip-dac2. The design features rounded edges and an alternation of concave and convex lines on the top and bottom. On the front stands the multi-function knob which is also used to adjust the volume; five LEDs indicate the volume level, operating status, audio format currently in use, and other information.
On the upper side, there is an OLED screen that shows the selected input, the volume, the battery level, the audio file being played, and the relative sampling frequency. iFi has made sure that the display does not interfere with listening to music by introducing unwanted noise; this was achieved through an internal design called SilentLine. The dimensions are 123 x 75 x19 millimeters with a weight of 215 grams. The available finish is gunmetal gray.
The construction has been taken care of with care: it starts with completely separate sections for Bluetooth, digital-to-analog conversion, and headphone amplifier. The integrated DAC is a Burr-Brown that ensures “bit-perfect” reproduction and is equipped with the True Native architecture, therefore with reproduction of DSD files without conversion to PCM. The supported file types and their sampling rates are as follows:
- DSD: DSD512 / 256/128/64, Octa / Quad / Double / Single-Speed
- PCM: 768 / 705.6 / 384 / 352.8 / 192 / 176.4 / 96 / 88.2 / 48 / 44.1kHz
- DXD: 768 / 705.6 / 384/352, 8 kHz, Double / Single-Speed DXD
- MQA: 384 / 352.8 kHz
xDSD Gryphon headamp is equipped with a 16-core low latency XMOS microcontroller and is equipped with the latest generation Global Master Timing (GMT), a component necessary for jitter reduction, a phenomenon that can distort a misalignment between the signal sent and the one received and which results in a loss of quality.
Bluetooth connectivity is entrusted to Qualcomm’s QCC5100 quad-core chip, capable of supporting the aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX LL, LDAC, HWA / LHDC, AAC, and SBC codecs. The maximum sample rate reaches 48kHz at 24-bit for aptX HD and aptX Adaptive while LDAC and HWA / LHDC reach 96kHz. The user can memorize the pairing with up to seven devices to quickly switch from one to the other.
S-Balanced technology is derived from the iCan Pro studio headphone amplifier, capable of offering the benefits of a balanced connection even with headphones connected on the 3.5mm output. The amplification section is equipped with OptimaLoop, a technology that applies an optimized version of the so-called “negative feedback”, a solution that compares the output signal with the input one to correct errors, control gain, and reduce distortion.
Also worth mentioning is PureWave, an asymmetrical and balanced dual-mono circuit topology with short, direct signal paths. According to iFi audio, the name was chosen because it allows achieving greater purity of sound thanks to superior linearity and low levels of noise and distortion. Rounding out the rich list of technologies is CyberSync, a volume control system that synchronizes the source with the DAC. The software on which it is based detects the operating system to which Gryphon is connected – iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS, or Linux – and bypasses the internal volume management, thus ensuring that any modification is performed exclusively by Gryphon’s analog control chip.
While listening, the user can set one of the three digital filters available to customize the performance: the choice is between Bit-Perfect, Standard, and GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimized). To these are added three other options:
- XSpace: gives greater amplitude to the stage and recreates an experience similar to that of a live concert;
- XBass II: emphasizes missing low frequencies when using open headphones or listening to recordings lacking in this aspect; the possibility to choose between the “Bass” and “Presence” voices avoids penalizing the yield on the mids;
- iEMatch: proprietary technology that adapts the output to headphones and in-ear headphones with high sensitivity, removing potential background noise and increasing the range of the actual usable volume.
Available connections include Bluetooth 5.1, two USB-C ports (one for charging and the other for connecting smartphones and computers), an optical digital input, an unbalanced analog input on 3.5mm jack, a balanced input on 4.4mm connector, an S-Balanced headphone output on 3.5mm jack and a balanced headphone output on 4.4mm Pentaconn. The internal battery ensures battery life that can reach 8 hours of operation.
iFi xDSD Gryphon price and availability
iFi xDSD Gryphon portable headphone amp DAC is now available for buy from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk at $599.