iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon Review

Operation

On the front, you have the 3.5mm TRRS headphone output, 2 LEDs for kHz indication and input type, which will illuminate with different colours depending on the file and input. In the centre, there’s the volume control. It also has LED lighting in there, helping to see the volume level, as it gets red when you crank up the volume too high.

The volume pot also switches the device on & off. On the right end, you have LEDs indicating xSpace and xBass+, and there’s a settings button. The back of the device hosts the S/PDIF input, USB Type C data slot, Presence-Bass filter switch that iFi puts nearly all of their devices, and a  USB Type charging port.

iFi products always work like charm in terms of operation and the xDSD Gryphon worked perfectly in my tests. It’s easy to switch different input modes with the input button. The new screen helps greatly for operating the device niftily and fast. When you long-press the settings button you reach additional options such as screen brightness, USB dual-port charge, BT Voice on/off and digital filter.

On the bottom, you have your IEMatch controller switch. You can choose the 4.4 or 3.5mm outputs, or simply close it off completely. This is important for IEMs though, as I heard a noticeable hissing sound when I connect something like Vision Ears VE7. As you know VE makes sensitive monitors so they’re a good reference for background hissing. With IEMatch open, the hissing is not present.

Sound Quality

iFi does not disappoint at the sound department as you probably know, and this version of course looked very promising for sound when it was announced. iFi takes the component and circuit design side of things seriously, to give the audiophiles the best sound quality they could offer.

The xDSD was a very clean sounding device overall. It was quite neutral without colouration. The xDSD Gryphon is just a bit different in that regard. It sounds warm and musical with a full-bodied approach. It’s well balanced, resolving and crystal clear with great background blackness. The technicalities are very good and it’s very coherent, consistent and natural, especially in the mids.

The sound is articulated, with a slightly warm and musical presentation. The layering and resolution, together with separation are the highlights of the Gryphon. To me, it’s a very high performing mobile device overall.

Bass

xDSD’s bass response is not huge and it doesn’t bleed into mid-range. It’s a natural, effortless and “how it should be” type of bass in terms of quantity, with just a bit of mid-bass warmth. The overall quality of the bass is also very nice and satisfying. Hits are not very deep but it’s well layered, textured and resolving. Rumble is not extreme, but good for this kind of signature, and the speed & decay are also very good.

The bass is under control and this helps to have this clean and nicely separated sound. The mid-bass part is more emphasized than the sub-bass, but again, it’s under control at all times. The bass of the Gryphon is one of the most successful ones I’ve heard in mobile DACs, as it really impressed me with its pace and control.

Mids

Mids are not that forward in the xDSD Gryphon like its predecessor. It establishes a better balance there, with equal emphasis in each region. But it still sounds very enjoyable and musical. The mids are organic and natural with great tonality. The original xDSD felt a bit ”digital” in this area, but the Gryphon is simply better here. It has great harmony and richness and transparency is quite good.

Mids have a good body, with a satisfying note size with natural vocals and instruments. So the mid-region is quite well in the Gryphon. This is the best part of the device in terms of pure sound performance, and in my opinion, one of the best mobile DAC/Amp devices at this time. You’ll love to hear those details and the musical presentation across the mids.

Treble

The xDSD is a clean sounding device but it’s not too bright or aggressive. Treble region is successful, having good extension and transparency, as well as the overall separation from mids. The articulation is better than the original xDSD and the transparency level in the treble is also much improved.

The treble is very coherent, controlled and quantity-wise adequate. Not too laid back, but not exaggerated. Treble is sufficient with good definition, detail, articulation and extension. In the original xDSD; the mids were more dominant with treble being a bit laid back and rolled off. Not this time with the Gryphon. The successor has better treble with a smoother transition from mids to highs.

Page 1: About iFi and xDSD Gryphon, Package, Build, Design
Page 3: Technical Performance, Comparisons, Conclusion
4.2/5 - (84 votes)

linkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

A keen audiophile and hobby photographer, Berkhan is after absolute perfection. Whether it is a full-frame camera or a custom in-ear, his standpoint persists the same. He tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level as audio. Sometimes photography wins, sometimes his love for music takes over and he puts that camera aside. Simplistic expressions of sound in his reviews are the way to go for him. He enjoys a fine single malt along with his favorite Jazz recordings.

13 Comments

  • Reply February 24, 2022

    James

    Great review and agree with your observations. But how come no comparison to the Chord Mojo 2 sound quality-wise?

    • Reply February 25, 2022

      Berkhan

      I don’t have a Mojo 2 unit at this time.

    • Reply April 19, 2022

      John Renz

      How does it compare to Chord Mojo 2? Will there be a comparison review between the Gryphon versus the Mojo 2? Thanks! More power.

      • Reply April 21, 2022

        Lieven

        The units are on different continents, sorry

  • Reply February 24, 2022

    B

    What about battery life? Did you try this amp as a portable device?

    • Reply February 25, 2022

      Berkhan

      Yes, I’ve used it as a portable device. Battery life looks good but I didn’t run a specific test.

  • Reply February 25, 2022

    Pepijn

    Anything on the battery life of this thing? Other than what Ifi claims of course… I’m really liking what I see, but if the battery life is as poor as on the 1st gen Hip DAC, it’ll be a hard pass.

  • Reply February 25, 2022

    Fari

    A great review, Thank you. Although it is really a pity you did not compair it to the Mojo2. Specially sound wise since they are in the same price range (both 600 euros in EU) and direct competition.

  • Reply February 26, 2022

    ORT

    If not for the “inclusion” of MQA I would have bought one of these for one of my relatives as a gift. I will not pay for something that purports to be what it is NOT and reality is that MQA is nothing less than the fAudiophile version of The Emperor’s New Clothes. To buy a product with MQA is to support the frAudiophile that is BS, i.e., “Bob Stuart”.

    Other wise, thank you for the review! This is a gorgeous device made with great attention to detail with components and workmanship of the highest quality.

    ORT

    • Reply February 27, 2022

      Cruddy Grubby

      So, have you actually listened to an MQA dac and file?

  • Reply March 2, 2022

    ORT

    I listened at a high end show a few years ago and could discern no difference at all. And no, I did not wait for the blue K-Mart light to alert me that I should feign shock & awe at the lie that is MQA.

    Think for a moment. They want you to pay ol’ BS (Blob Stuart) for having something as useless as this on any and every thing BS can get it on.
    BS can take an airborne intercourse. A fool and their ego are soon separated from the fool’s hard earned money. MQA is the frAudiophile version of ENC. The Emperor’s New Clothes.

    MQA – The FARCE be with you.

  • Reply March 19, 2022

    Ben

    So, now that you have had a chance to review both this and the Mojo 2, what are your thoughts on these two as a compare and contrast?

    • Reply March 19, 2022

      Lieven

      As said, the units are on different continents

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.