Posted on 8th August, 2019


The Gryphon Audio Designs Essence Pre and Power amplifiers have been announced by the Denmark-based high-end audio brand.

Next year, The Gryphon, arguably one of the most influential high-end brands in Scandinavia – and, possibly, the world, celebrates 35 years of exploration and innovation.

The Gryphon Essence pure Class A amplification system has been developed based on the experience acquired and lessons learned from the top-flight Gryphon Pandora preamplifier and the stereo and monoblock Mephisto power amplifiers.

The Gryphon Essence

As Gryphon founder, Flemming E. Rasmussen, states:

Technology is not driving us, we like to drive the technology in a direction that serves us and our goals.

Gryphon Audio Designs Essence Pre-amplifier

The Essence Pre-amplifier sports a dual-mono configuration and achieves the shortest possible signal path with minimal internal wiring.

Superfluous circuity such as tone controls, balance controls, headphone connections, mono switching, polarity inversion and more have been banished from the signal path. The result is reduced interchannel crosstalk and signal path colouration.

The Gryphon Essence

The Gryphon Essence pre-amplifier is a pure line pre-amp with a pair of balanced XLR inputs and three single-ended phono inputs. With no internal wiring, the only cables found are a short ground lead, display ribbons and AC power wiring mounted in a shielded channel from the rear IEC socket to the power switch to minimise 50/60 Hz interference.

Exhaustive investigation and auditioning have preceded the selection of every component part, and many original, proprietary parts have been custom-designed and built exclusively for Gryphon.

Custom display

The range of microprocessor-controlled, fully adjustable menu items includes input naming with up to eight characters, maximum level, start level, input level matching up to 8 dB, AV throughput, user-selectable display brightness (100/75/50/25%, Off), default restoration and Gryphon Green Bias. The Gryphon Essence preamplifier can be configured with a 0 dB AV throughput for ideal integration with your separate multi-channel installation.

As an optional extra, the Essence can be fitted with either an MM/MC phonostage or a digital to analogue converter. The phonostage is a Gryphon dual mono design based on the acclaimed Legato Legacy.

If you are using a compatible Gryphon Class A power amplifier, you may choose to connect the Green Bias control link for automatic regulation of user-selectable Class A bias between the sockets marked GREEN BIAS on the preamplifier and on the power amplifier.

Modular Options

The Gryphon Essence

DAC Module

The Gryphon DAC module is the perfect match for the Essence preamplifier. With the module installed, the Essence display monitors the active digital input, sampling frequency, PCM/DSD format and selected digital filter setting.

The module adds four digital inputs (USB, balanced AES/EBU 115 Ohms, TOSLink optical and BNC S/PDIF 75 Ohms). USB can process PCM up to 32-bit/384 kHz as well as DSD (on Windows OS up to DSD512, on Mac OS up to DSD128, on Linux OS up to DSD128 DoP); via BNC S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital inputs up to192 kHz/32-bit PCM and via TOSLink up to 96 kHz/24-bit PCM. Format compatibility of the various inputs is subject to change without notice.

This future-proof digital module is ready for any current or foreseeable high-resolution digital format.

PS2 MM/MC Phono Module

Based on the now legendary Legato phonostage, the Gryphon PS2 MM/MC Phono Module is a true dual-mono design for enhanced channel separation, capable of extracting every musical detail for ultimate realism.

The Gryphon Essence preamplifier can be ordered with the PS2 Phono Module factory-installed. The module can also be added later at a time of your choosing.

If the module slot in your Gryphon Essence preamplifier is already occupied by the Gryphon DAC Module, then the stand-alone Sonett Phonostage is recommended as a substantial upgrade for any system assembled to extract the very best from black vinyl grooves.

Gryphon Essence Stereo / Monoblock Power Amplifiers

The Gryphon Essence

Utilising a symmetrical AC power polarity for the two-channel version of the Essence power amp improves transient response, soundstage depth and ambience retrieval.

With an ultra-wide frequency bandwidth (0.5 Hz – 350 kHz, +0 dB, -3 dB), Gryphon Essence is conservatively rated at 50W (8 W), 100W (4 W), 190W (2W) in stereo, Class A and at 50W (8 W), 100W (4 W), 200W (2W), (Monoblock), Class A.

These exceptional figures guarantee stability with any loudspeaker load. The dual-mono design employs a custom-built shielded, high current toroidal transformer. Furthermore, the output stage and driver stage use separate power supplies for effective isolation of the output stage from the input stage. Finally, a separate transformer for control and display circuitry isolates them from the signal path.

Unlike other high-power amplifiers, Gryphon's no-compromise, pure Class A topology allows the Essence to offer extreme power reserves on-demand, “combined with refinement and delicacy in the musical presentation”.

The Gryphon's fundamental philosophy is that all electronics in the playback chain must ideally be neutral and not add or subtract anything from the recording, no matter how “attractive” such distortions may be. To that end, the Essence is a product for the increasing number of music-lovers who seek purity in the reproduction of music. Furthermore, we're told, it's a product for music lovers who respect both the musicians and recording engineers enough to refrain from adding or subtracting anything regarding the original intention of the recording.

Circuit topology

The Gryphon Essence

Power is the name of the game, and the Essence is equipped to take on even the most vicious and nightmarish of loudspeaker loads. The output section uses Sanken bipolar output devices which have demonstrated extreme reliability in addition to outstanding sonic performance. The Essence Stereo employs 20 transistors per channel, while the Essence Monoblock features 40 of these devices per unit. These transistors can be called upon to deliver massive amounts of momentary peak power without overload.

The separate driver section has its own power supply from individual windings on the custom-made toroidal transformers. The unique mechanical design ensures optimal thermal tracking between drivers and output devices. Also, the driver section features its own generous bank of high-quality capacitors.

The power capacitor bank in the Stereo version is an astounding 440,000 µF array of exceptional capacitors, and 880,000 µF in the Monoblock edition, in both versions bypassed by high-quality polypropylene capacitors throughout the power supplies.


The unique, non-invasive protection system offers reliable, fuss-free protection without compromising signal purity and signal path simplicity.

When DC or HF is detected at the input, the amplifier mutes until the error condition is corrected.

The output signal is continuously compared to the input, so that, in the presence of a difference which exceeds predetermined limits (typically a short circuit condition), the amplifier mutes until the error condition has been corrected.

Heatsink temperature is monitored continuously by a thermistor. In the event of overheating (temperature above 90° C), the amplifier will shut down. Regular operation will resume when a safe operating temperature is reached.

Global negative feedback is non-existent, and DC coupling employs DC servo circuitry. Internal wiring in the signal path is kept to an absolute minimum.

Gryphon Essence uses a completely independent transformer and power supply for display and control circuits, effectively preventing digital noise generated by these circuits from reaching the amplifier circuits.

Class A

The Gryphon Essence

True Class A operation has always been a Gryphon benchmark, simply because they've found nothing to match the sonic glories of pure Class A.

True, pure Class A means heavy transformers, massive heatsinks, lots of heat, lots of electricity, expensive parts and costly assembly.

While The Gryphon endorses every effort to conserve energy and preserve our global resources, they do admit that they've not been able to obtain Class A performance from alternative amplifier topologies. In their words, “[it] makes it clear that there simply is no substitute for the sheer magic of pure class A”.

However, based on a thorough analysis of typical listening situations, the company has devised Gryphon Green Bias (green for substantially reduced environmental impact). Green Bias offers true, pure Class A with considerably lower power consumption.

Any Gryphon preamp and power amp with Green Bias control allow you to select the amount of Class A required to run your speakers entirely in Class A. The settings take into account such factors as speaker sensitivity, room size, musical dynamics and overall volume level.

Programmable Class A bias is an efficient, convenient means of reducing power consumption without compromising Class A performance.

While Green Bias does not offer the extremely low power consumption of Class A/B or even the low power consumption of “auto-biasing” systems, it does contribute significantly lower power consumption without sacrifice or compromise of even a fraction of its pure Class A performance.


Recommended pricing ex vat will be:

  • Essence Preamplifier: 12,800 euro
  • Essence Power Amplifier: 16,800 euro

For more information, head on over to Gryphon Audio Designs.

Tech Spec

Gryphon Audio Designs Essence Stereo and Essence Monoblock Power Amplifier

Stereo version

  • 2 x 50W @ 8 W, 2 x 100W @ 4 W, 2 x 190W @ 2 W at 115V/230V AC supply
  • 20 very high current bipolar output transistors per channel
  • Output impedance: 0.015 W
  • Bandwidth (-3dB): 0.3 Hz to 350 kHz
  • Power supply capacity (both channels): 440,000 μF
  • Gain: +31.0 dB
  • Input impedance, balanced (20 Hz-20 kHz): 20 kW


  • 1 x 50W @ 8 W, 2 x 100W @ 4 W, 2 x 200W @ 2 W at 115V/230V AC supply
  • 40 very high current bipolar output transistors per monoblock
  • Output impedance: 0.0075 W
  • Bandwidth (-3dB): 0.3 Hz to 350 kHz
  • Power supply capacity (both channels): 880,000 μF
  • Gain: +31.0 dB
  • Input impedance, balanced (20 Hz-20 kHz): 20 kW

Gryphon Audio Designs Essence Preamplifier

  • +18 dB gain, max.
  • Output impedance: 15 Ohm XLR, 22.5 Ohm RCA
  • Frequency bandwidth (-3 dB): 0.1 Hz – 1 MHz
  • Power supply capacity: 2 x 26,000 μF
  • Input impedance, balanced (20 Hz – 20 kHz): 50 kOhm
  • Input Impedance, single-ended (20 Hz – 20 kHz): 25 kOhm


    Jay Garrett's avatar

    Jay Garrett

    StereoNET UK’s Editor, bass player, and resident rock star! Jay’s passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi
    Tags: gryphon  harmony hifi 


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