Gryphon Audio Designs is the brainchild of Flemming E. Rasmussen and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to allow the purest essence of the live music experience to be recreated in the home environment.
Rasmussen holds a degree in painting and graphic arts from the Aarhus Art Academy, Denmark. During his studies, Rasmussen developed close relationships with the local music community and designed LP covers and concert posters for many leading local acts.
After graduation, he taught photography and painting for ten years before becoming chief designer of textiles and imprints for Scandinavia’s largest sportswear manufacturer, advancing to the position of president of the company’s printing plant before resigning to found 2R Marketing, which quickly became Denmark’s leading High End audio import company.
Gryphon Audio Designs was founded in 1985 as an offshoot of 2R Marketing, The first product, the now legendary Gryphon Head Amp, grew from a one-off spare time project developed only for the designers’ own home systems. At the 1986 Chicago Consumer Electronics Show, a respected Japanese distributor expressed interest in the product. Soon after, the Head Amp was voted “Best Buy” by the Japanese audio press. Although the Gryphon project was initially strictly a hobby, not an actively pursued commercial venture, demand generated by reviews and word-of-mouth acclaim led to the formal establishment of Gryphon Audio Designs as a separate corporate entity.
Following the immediate success of the Gryphon brand, all import business was phased out in 1993, so that Rasmussen could dedicate his efforts entirely to Gryphon.
Gryphon Audio Designs achieved immediate and on-going global acclaim for state of the art performance, intuitive ergonomics and the stunning beauty of the cost-no-object Gryphon preamplifiers and power amplifiers. Rasmussen’s background in fine arts and industrial design gives every Gryphon product a distinctive, luxuriant finish which arises organically out of the audio circuit design and the user interface for a truly unique integration of form and function.
For his ambitious company Rasmussen wanted a name that would represent unlimited power, while at the same time conveying graceful ease, a name that would stand for the power and grace with which his products render all the subtleties of recorded music.
The Gryphon name and logo are inspired by the fabulous creature of Greek mythology with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. This perfect union of the Power of the Lion with the Grace of the Eagle is an appropriate symbol of the forceful elegance we strive to achieve in Gryphon audio equipment.
A design team consisting typically of 4-5 members works on separate technical aspects of each project.
The design team’s mix of dedicated engineers in the fields of electronics, mechanics and software, working with experienced audiophiles, ensures an open mind to audible phenomena for which there is at present no satisfactory scientific explanation. If the design team finds that a “tweak” brings us closer to the real thing, then it will be incorporated in the final design, regardless of our inability to offer an objectively verifiable explanation.
The hand-picked experts who make up the Gryphon design team bring to their labors skill, pride and an unbridled enthusiasm which allow Gryphon to take the engineering and critical evaluation of home audio equipment to new levels, reflected in the exacting standards to which every Gryphon product is designed.
All Gryphon products are designed and manufactured in Denmark. The manufacture of certain key components is sub-contracted to companies approved for Mill spec production and involved in R&D and manufacture of military and medical equipment to the strictest standards.
Through these sub-contractors Gryphon gains access to the most advanced assembly techniques and know-how, which would otherwise be unavailable to a small, independent company.
Gryphon makes considerable investments in software and hardware for sophisticated testing. Each module in every Gryphon product has its own individual test certificate. When the modules are assembled in a complete functional unit, it, too, is subjected to comprehensive function tests with results recorded in a test certificate.: Every Gryphon unit is individually tested. After a 48-hour burn-in sequence, each product is undergoing both electronically and audio performance tests again.
Gryphon Audio Designs is a prime proponent of a dedicated, no-frills, minimalist approach, leaving out tone controls, balance controls, headphone sockets, etc. in order to maintain signal integrity.
Each Gryphon product is designed to serve the single purpose of maintaining the integrity of the input signal with no subtractive or additive colorations. The quality of the input signal itself (for better or for worse) must always be the sole factor which determines the final sound quality. This philosophy naturally entails that poor recordings will be revealed for what they are, while allowing fine recordings to be more fully appreciated.
At Gryphon we have found soundstaging and ambience to be fundamental aspects of the live music experience. This awareness underlies the wide bandwidth which is one of the key points in Gryphon circuit topology. All Gryphon products feature ultra-wide frequency bandwidth to ensure perfect phase characteristics which are essential to correct soundstage reproduction. Broadband frequency response is also an indication of the high slew rate of every Gryphon gain stage.
Gryphon pioneered the external, overkill power supply with extensive mains filtering based on the insight that the audio signal begins with AC from the wall outlet. All Gryphon designs are heavily biased towards Class A to keep transistors well within their most linear operating area and the vast majority of Gryphon products are zero negative feedback designs.
Gryphon was also the first manufacturer to introduce a true dual mono configuration. Dual Mono eliminates any possibility of interaction between the two channels which might compromise ultimate sonic performance.
Gryphon has undertaken a quest for absolute musical truth, remaining unconditionally faithful to the musical source. One of the most important lessons that Rasmussen learned as a painter is that too much of human perception is based on expectations, on what we think we know about things and not on what we actually see or hear.
In order to properly create the illusion of something real, we must first perceive the reality accurately and understand it in detail. This lesson is the philosophical cornerstone of Gryphon Audio Designs.
As the best possible reminder of the reality that the finest audio equipment must recreate and as an indispensable tool in the development of our products, Gryphon owns an extensive collection of first and second generation master tapes of studio performances in all musical genres recorded between 1956 and 1976 during the golden age of stereo recording. These tapes represent the closest approximation to live performance, which for Gryphon is the only reliable reference. No CD or LP comes close to these original recordings for dynamics and resolution. These recordings are a valuable tool that forces Gryphon engineers to work to a higher standard than designers who only have access to ordinary commercial releases.
Gryphon also works closely with a professional recording engineer whose concert recordings allow the frequent opportunity to attend a concert and then listen to the recording immediately after. With the concert experience fresh in mind as an absolute reference, the critical evaluation of home equipment takes on new dimensions, which are reflected in the exacting standards to which every Gryphon product is designed.