iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon Review

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Technical Performance

The sound stage impresses with the Gryphon, which was a lacking feature of the xDSD, for both width and depth. It doesn’t feel that congested and cramped anymore. Now we have more space and air on the stage, with bigger dimensions. This was an area that I thought was a potential improvement, and iFi nailed it. Another improved aspect though is the separation ability. The xDSD Gryphon, despite having more body and fullness, layers and separates the sound better than the OG xDSD.

Other than staging, the resolution is very good and the transparency is on a high level for a mobile DAC. Especially in the mid-region things get enjoyable in terms of details and resolution.  It manages to put the right elements to their right places and for that stereo imaging is good. The dynamics are also another part that it shines in, with excellent dynamism and PRaT. The speed and attack are very impressive. The background is very quiet. It certainly has great imaging and staging establishment.

The power output is quite strong and it drives my Hifiman Edition XS (review soon) and Sennheiser HD660S easily. Not the best setup for full-size cans, but in terms of mere volume, it’s more than sufficient, especially indoors. So the amp stage is impressive for power. The noise floor is also dead silent and since this time you have the IEMatch feature, it’s also silent with sensitive IEMs. Overall a very flexible device with an all-around performance.

Wireless Sound Performance

With LDAC, the wireless sound performance is quite good but not that impressive to us audiophiles when compared to wired modes. The sound loses body, fullness and layering. Overall the BT sound is somewhat dirtier and more digital versus the very natural performance of the USB mode.

You can perfectly utilize the BT mode when you commute, but if you have space and don’t bother hooking up cables to your source device, go with the wired modes. It has more body and bass with USB mode compared to a more flat and lifeless signature with Bluetooth. Transparency is better with the USB mode as well. Wireless is not recommended from a pure sound perspective.

Comparisons

Dethonray Honey H1 Review

The Honey H1 is a special device with its OG Hugo-like presentation with fantastic timbre and warmth. However, it suffers from operational problems and an inferiorly designed volume dial. It also needs selective pairings because of its very warm and full sound.

The Gryphon though has excellent versatility since it sounds very good with whatever you throw at it. It has more space and air in its stage, with better separation and superior transparency. The H1 performs excellently when you match it with a proper IEM/headphone only, and that limits the device’s overall performance with not-so-good pairings.

The xDSD is a superior device in terms of operation as well, with a smooth user experience and a very helpful OLED screen. It’s also smaller and lighter with a pocketable form factor.

iFi Audio Micro iDSD Signature Review

The iDSD Signature is another excellent release from iFi, improving the already very successful iDSD Black Label. To cut it short, the Signature simply sounds better with more spaciousness, dynamism, definition and resolution. It’s also more powerful for demanding headphones such as planar magnetics or demanding dynamic ones like the HD800 series.

If you plan to get a DAC/Amp for your IEMs though, I recommend the xDSD Gryphon simply because of portability. If you need the best performance on a desktop system, get the Signature. Simple.

I’m very curious about the xDSD Gryphon’s performance against the new Mojo 2. I haven’t yet heard the Chord’s new device though. Hopefully soon.

Conclusion

A feature-packed, sturdy and perfectly pocketable device, iFi xDSD Gryphon is once again a great device from iFi. I think with the iDSD Signature, this is the best product they’ve come up with lately. I especially loved the new screen feature and improved build quality. It’s also a very flexible device to use. It just works beautifully.

It almost has the same size as a cigarette box, but packs a great amount of driving power and most importantly, it sounds very good. If you’re looking for a desktop DAC/Amp I recommend you to choose the iDSD Signature, but if you want the best portability in a DAC/Amp with high-grade sound quality with good power, the xDSD Gryphon is exactly for you.

As a result, I remove the Dethonray Honey H1 from the recommended list and add the xDSD Gryphon there. Congrats.

Page 1: About iFi and xDSD Gryphon, Package, Build, Design
Page 2: Operation, Sound Quality

 

4.2/5 - (84 votes)

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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

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