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.
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.
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 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.
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.