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  • Writer's pictureSteve Elford

First Experience with the Diablo 333

Okay – it arrived. Like royalty, the Diablo 333 shocked us first with it's truly splendid appearance. The photo's don't do it justice. We took our time to set it up and familiarise ourselves with the controls. The new front panel display is a total joy. We pushed play and left it running for a couple of days to settle in. Then, with a few guests, we sat down to listen.

We were all silent for quite a while. It wasn't what we'd expected. It was so different after the run-of-the-mill amps we'd been listening to recently. Everyone was re-calibrating.

"The imaging!" Someone finally said it. Immersion is an even better expression. The sound was everywhere, all around us and seemingly unlimited by the room boundaries. We played a few different tracks to check it wasn't some Q-Sound fluke. But every time, our memories of our favourite tracks were being overwritten by a new version. Gone was the idea of looking at a track in front of us, with left and right images, and some centre images closer or further away in the sound stage. Now we were in the venue – not viewing it from a copy placed in front of us. It was unworldly at first.

Someone then came up with another useful point to help us get our bearings. "It reminds me of some great single-ended 300B valve amps I've heard." Yes. A natural unfettered purity combined with a level of transparency that goes beyond detail and tone. This is transparency that lets through all the spacial cues. The slight phase differences that create three-dimensionality, the delineation between decay of different instruments. The decays alone are clearly separate entities, all around the room. There's power there too, of course. But the power is shocking in the way it comes at you. No longer just thumping bass rhythms at one end of the room, but powerful entities looming out of the soundstage. Indeed, it was this ability to hold spacial cues down very low that was clearly underpinning the whole immersive sensation. And this is probably where it's got those amazing 300B amps beat.

By now we're all agog. Was LOL the horrible expression wholly appropriate at this point in time. No, we needed a new one – ELOL – everyone's laughing out loud.

Okay, we're in absolutely no doubt. The Gryphon Diablo 333 is the king of integrated amps. Head of state, the ruler of them all. But also, at £24,500, it maybe the ruler of everything in its price bracket, no matter the box count.

So all that remains to say is call us, to have a discussion. There's a lot to talk about.

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