"Anyone Up For A Fight?"
The Danes were conquerors.
And that trait has flowed all the way down to Gryphon products. Pit them against anything out there and frankly, they usually win.
About The Commander Preamplifier
The Commander preamplifier is essentially a direct development on from the exceptional Pandora preamplifier. Gryphon have taken the Pandora elements and sought to increase performance where they can in an almost cost-no-object way. To us, this path has employed three significant strategies. First there are big improvements in the power supply design with features such as 50 times lower noise on critical voltage reference sources. Then there is the use of significantly better specific components such as Charcroft precision resistors and Mundorf capacitors. And finally significant enhancements to resonance control such as triple constrained layer damped base plates with critical circuit boards 'floating' on specially designed isolators.
And making this a two-chassis system brings the significant benefit of moving harmful vibration and magnetic fields caused by transformers completely away from all critical signal circuitry. Plus of course, room to house four mains transformers and two x 90,000uF capacitor banks.
The user experience is elegant too with a Large 4,3” TFT capacitive touch information screen for intuitive control, with a remote control. Plus the Commander has the Green Bias Link system which enables the pre to set the bias in a Gryphon power amplifier dependent on the volume setting. And finally, there is the almost 'brutalist' design concept which makes these components a spectacular visual addition to any high-end setup.
When it comes to the volume control in the Commander, Gryphon state it's a "microprocessor-controlled 85-step relay, volume attenuator featuring Charcroft Z-Foil Audio ultra-precision resistors and ultra-low capacitance relays for best sonic performance." Now, at Winters Audio we have had experience of Charcroft Z-Foil resistors in other components, where designers have used them for critical DAC output I/V converters say, and can testament to their impressive gains over any other comparable type of resistor. Combine that with the latest low-capacitance relay technology and we have here a volume control of significantly improved transparency over anything that has gone before.
Input Impedance, balanced: 18kΩ
Input Impedance, single-ended: 12kΩ
Output impedance: 7Ω
Bandwidth (-3dB): 0.1Hz to 1.5MHz
THD + N: 0,003% @ 1kHz and BW 10Hz-30kHz, balanced output
Max output level, balanced: 19Vrms
Max output level, single-ended: 9,5Vrms
Max input level, balanced: 20Vrms
Max input level, single-ended: 10Vrms
Power consumption: ≤ 0,5W (standby), 90W (idle)
AC voltage range 110-120V or 220-240V – factory changeable only.
Green Bias Link
Dimensions Preamplifier unit, WxHxD: 48 x 23,6 x 45,5 cm, net unit weight: 30,5kg
Dimensions PSU unit, WxHxD: 48 x 23,6 x 44 cm, net unit weight: 38,2kg
Shipping dimensions: Two crates; each 59 x 57 x 38 cm, respectively 45kg and 52kg
Matching & Setup
Clearly the first setup consideration is that this is a two box preamlifier of significant size and heft. This pair will need some serious and robust shelf real estate. And your support strategy should match the Gryphon strategy for best results which is that chassis grounding is much more consistent than isolation (see their argument here ), and they recommend the use of the Gryphon Spikes. At this level of course, very good mains accessories are also a prerequisite.
The Commander is a considerable investment of course, and system upgrade plans at this level need to be carefully managed. The natural partner for the Commander is the Gryphon Apex power amplifiers but a staged approach to these components would surely be needed in consideration of the significant financial commitment and the need for confidence in the performance achievable. So depending on the status of your current system, and where it's current strengths and weaknesses are, it may be best to aquire either the Commander or the Apex first in order to eliminate the weaker of your current pre and power setup. This approach will give you a better performance increase with the first change and allow you gain confidence in the rewards that such an investment will bring.