To Jeff Fritz,
I read with great interest your review of the Gryphon Audio Designs Mephisto with the Magico Q7s. It was a very informative review! Would it be possible for you to comment on the Mephisto's mircrodynamics and timbres when compared with a high-quality SET amp? Also, could you comment on the soundstage perspective you were getting (i.e., were you getting a mid-hall, back-hall or row-15 type of perspective)? Some components seem to place the front of the soundstage in line with speaker front while others either push it back or slightly forward of the speaker plane. It would be very helpful to know where the soundstage front was in your system. I appreciate that this will change with recordings, but just how did the Gryphon compare to the other amps you have used with the Q7s with such as the Vitus monos? Any feedback you can provide would be much appreciated, as the Mephisto and Q7 are on my shortlist at present. My preamp shortlist includes the ARC Reference 10, Lamm Signature series, the new version of DarTZeel’s NHB-18NS, the Gryphon Pandora, etc. Many thanks and happy listening!
The soundstage perspective with Gryphon amplifiers is quite something to behold, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. The Gryphon amplifiers -- and the Mephisto is supreme in this regard -- have the ability to produce deeper and more substantial bass than any other amplifiers I have heard (although those from Boulder, the big Musical Fidelitys, and Anthem’s M1 are also good). This gives music a foundational heft that serves to greatly expand the acoustic of your room, because the acoustic of the recording venue is so aurally apparent. Although I got quite good soundstage depth, what seemed to happen, especially with well recorded live music captured in large venues, is that there was an expansion of the soundstage in every direction, effectively removing the walls of my listening space. Frankly, I think the Mephisto is the perfect partner for the Magico Q7 -- I would look no further if you have the means.
As for a comparison with a good single-ended-triode amplifier, I’ve not done it. And honestly, I don’t think it would work all that great anyway. One of the things you are paying for with the Q7 is the ability to reproduce a huge dynamic envelope. Although the Q7 is quite efficient -- and you could surely drive a pair of them with a minimal amount of watts -- it can also absorb a huge amount of power and put it to good use by producing superior micro- and macrodynamics. The combination of Gryphon Mephisto and Magico Q7 made music come to life in my room like nothing else I’ve heard. If I were you I’d get the Pandora preamplifier to match with the Mephisto and be done. Along with a pair of Q7s, a great source, and appropriate cabling, I can’t imagine a better system. . . . Jeff Fritz