iFi Proclaims the xDSD Gryphon a Head-Fi Legend

Posted on 9th November, 2021

iFi Proclaims the xDSD Gryphon a Head-Fi Legend

iFi's new xDSD Gryphon has the power to replace both the company's xDSD and xCAN and look good doing it.

While iFi's xDSD Gryphon may measure slightly bigger than the two devices it replaces, at 123x75x19mm, it comes loaded with Qualcomm's latest four-core QCC5100 Bluetooth processing chip, Burr-Brown DAC and a 16-core XMOS microcontroller. Naturally, all of that tech is woven together utilising iFi's specialist know-how. Furthermore, this 215g portable powerhouse allows for both digital and analogue connectivity.

iFi xDSD Gryphon

At the rear, you'll find a pair of USB–C ports – one input for digital audio, handled asynchronously, and the other for charging. This keeps audio, and power lines separate.

Next to these lies the S/PDIF digital input, allowing optical and electrical (3.5mm) connections. There are also 3.5mm and 4.4mm Pentaconn analogue sockets at the rear for single-ended and balanced connections, respectively. These double up on duties working as inputs when the xDSD Gryphon is being used as an analogue headphone amp and outputs to enable its use as a DAC/preamp in a home audio system. Moreover, you get fixed and variable options to connect to an amp and speakers.

Headphone outputs offered are a single-ended 3.5mm socket and a 4.4mm Pentaconn output enabling headphones equipped with balanced connectivity to take full advantage of the xDSD Gryphon's balanced amp design.

The 3.5mm output benefits from iFi's S-Balanced circuitry that promises to cut crosstalk and related distortion in half when used with regular, single-ended headphone connections.

Qualcomm's latest four-core QCC5100 Bluetooth 5.1 compliant processing chip is employed to support every current high-definition Bluetooth audio format, including aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, LDAC and HWA/LHDC alongside regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC.

Additionally, up to seven paired Bluetooth source devices can be stored in memory, making it easy to switch from one device to another.

iFi xDSD Gryphon

Built into the top surface is an OLED display strip, showing input selection, volume level, battery level, digital audio format and sample rate, and various other settings. Furthermore, the dimmable OLED display's SilentLine design ensures no electrical noise interferes with the audio signal. Finally, the controls on the front are partnered with LED indicators making it as easy as possible to access and use all the options.

The xDSD Gryphon's 'digital engine' is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chipset that iFi uses extensively, selected for its natural-sounding 'musicality' and True Native architecture. Also, it enables DSD and PCM to remain bit-perfect in their native form right through to analogue conversion, says the manufacturer.

The iFi xDSD Gryphon can handle full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz, PCM data to 32-bit/768kHz, all levels of DSD to DSD512, and single- and double-speed DXD benefitting from extensive jitter-eradication technologies, including the latest generation of iFi's GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer.

iFi has championed and gradually introduced fully balanced circuit design across its range – first in the flagship Pro Series components, then in the entry-level ZEN Series devices – with varying levels of sophistication.

PureWave is the name iFi has given to the advanced, symmetrical dual-mono circuit topologies found in the NEO and Diablo DAC/amps. The xDSD Gryphon is the smallest and most affordable device to feature PureWave design, boasts the company. High-quality components are used throughout, including custom ultra-low-distortion op-amps, multilayer ceramic TDK C0G capacitors, MELF thin-film resistors and inductors from Murata and Taiyo Yuden.

The headphone amp stage is capable of more than 1000mW into a 32-ohm load of continuous power through the balanced headphone socket. This should drive anything from high-sensitivity in-ear monitors to current-hungry planar headphones.

iFi xDSD Gryphon

The xDSD Gryphon is also loaded with iFi's OptimalLoop clever take on 'negative feedback' that incorporates multiple feedback paths instead of one global loop; each path is optimised for a particular function and works synergistically with the others to deliver optimal overall performance. It also gets CyberSync, a redesign of the CyberDrive volume control featured in the original xDSD. CyberSync is a software-driven volume control that operates in the analogue domain. Where this isn't a new concept, the way it synchronises with any digital source to which the xDSD Gryphon is connected is distinctly different, states iFi. The company adds that it achieves this by detecting the operating system (OS) the DAC is connected to and telling the source's OS to bypass its software volume control. So, whether the volume is adjusted using the xDSD Gryphon's rotary control or on the source device, CyberSync ensures the change is performed purely by Gryphon's analogue control chip.

iFi has also looked to optimise Gryphon's signal to noise ratio, starting with its low-noise, high-bandwidth power supply circuitry that sports linear regulation and delivers excellent PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) performance. Additionally, the way the xDSD Gryphon switches between settings has been engineered to ensure sonic transparency – FET-based switching is handled by a microcontroller, which only 'wakes up' when you change a setting, thus eradicating any sonically harmful interference.

Of course, iFi's analogue-domain sonic tailoring in the form of XBass II and XSpace are both present and correct, with the former offering 'Bass' (which targets low frequencies), 'Presence' (which focuses on the upper midrange) and 'Bass + Presence' (which implements both together). Meanwhile, XSpace is designed to compensate for the 'in-head localisation' effect and effectively widens the headphone soundstage to deliver a more spacious and speaker-like experience.

iFi xDSD Gryphon

With digital sources, you can also choose between three bespoke digital filters via the on-screen menu: Bit-Perfect, Standard and GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised), each having a fine-tuning effect on the sound.

An additional switch on the base of the xDSD Gryphon engages IEMatch, which attenuates the headphone output to better suit high-sensitivity headphones and in-ear monitors, removing potential background noise and increasing the usable volume range.

The iFi xDSD Gryphon is available from mid-November at an RRP of US$599.

Visit iFi for more information

    Jay Garrett's avatar

    Jay Garrett

    StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi Headphones
    Tags: ifi audio  stereo electronics 


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