We Ask 10 Questions For High-End
During Enjoy the Music.com's very special 25th Anniversary we're asking various high-end audio manufacturers to answer the same ten questions. Their answers may surprise you! This month we're featuring Rune Skov, Sales Director of Gryphon Audio. Gryphon was started by Flemming E. Rasmussen, after he obtained a degree in graphics arts from the Aarhus Art Academy in Denmark and he had been involved in the local music community as well as employed as a designer for a sportswear company. Mr. Rasmussen first founded 2R Marketing, which was an importer of high-end audio products into Denmark, and developed a moving coil preamplifier for record players. After this preamp (which became the "Gryphon Head Amp") was shown at the 1986 Consumer Electronics Show it developed sufficient interest in Japan to justify the formation of a sister company, which has become Gryphon Audio Designs.
Gryphon products are designed and built by Gryphon Audio Designs at the factory in Ry, Denmark. Service is accomplished by Gryphon Audio Designs at their facility. To aid in service, the individual circuit boards in each Gryphon product has its own quality control certificate, while the completed unit also has its quality control certificate. Records of all boards and devices are maintained at Gryphon Audio Designs, and all products are fully traceable.
Q. What is your first memory of falling in love with music?
A. As a very young kid, I completely fell in love with David Bowie. Sitting in front of my parent's B&O audio system in the 1970s was my very first experience and my loyalty and love to the artwork of David Bowie has followed me ever since.
Q. How did you first get introduced to high-fidelity audio gear?
A. When I started to visit the biggest Scandinavian Retailer in my hometown (KT Radio Odense), but unfortunately it went bust and is no longer around. But that shop used to be a Mecca for high-end audio gear. Everything your heart could desire you could find. I bought my very first high-end CD player in this shop. It was the legendary Pioneer Stabile Platter Mechanism. I couldn't afford the piece when only being 15 years old and I had to put in my entire savings and also make a payment plan for six months to get it. It was marvelous and from that day I was hooked!
Q. What is your favorite piece of vintage hi-fi, and why?
A. It was an old Lenco Turn Table. It was owned by my old grandfather and I was very young at that time. I loved his Lenco TT and not at least his record collection of old vinyl records (including LP78). It was also the first time when I was introduced to opera. He was a big fan of the late Maria Callas and my love for her has never expired. I am completely floored when listening to Maria Callas and she is still one of my favorite artists…and probably always will be.
Q. When did you decide to start a high-end audio company?
A. The Gryphon Audio Designs was founded in 1985 by Mr. Flemming Erik Rasmussen (pictured above).
Q. What, and when, was your company's first product?
A. The very first product from Gryphon was the little "Head Amp" which was officially introduced to the world in 1986.
Q. What challenges did you face during those early years?
A. It is always difficult to step into manufacturing with a rock-solid plan and idea of what you wanna achieve and where you want to take it. But luckily there has always been a red line or path to follow from Day One at Gryphon Audio Designs. Never compromise performance and design and always sticking to the clear philosophy of building extreme high-end products with the true dual-mono Pure Class A topology. Something we did from the very early days and something we have been sticking to ever since.
Q. How have your products evolved over the years?
A. We have made sure to refine our technology and the use of components and not at least improving the Pure Class A topology in our products over the years. We're always striving to make an even better product when replacing a current product. Just think about the evolution of the original DM-100 which turned into the very first Antileon in 1995, replaced by the Antileon Signature, and finally evolved into the Antileon EVO. It went from being 100 Watts (per channel) pure class a (true dual mono) with a total power capacity of 280,000 microfarad and today the Antileon EVO (25 years later) has stepped up to 2x150 watts (stereo version) with a massive power capacity of 670.000 Microfarad. Better circuit boards and far thicker traces (from 50 microns to 150 microns of gold traces on the circuit boards) Ultra-short signal paths, etc.
As mentioned before it has been a matter of taking the right steps in terms of improving exciting designs and taking that philosophy to the next level and always improving on the build quality and reliability. Turning a relatively small production into being quite big highly industrial production. No.1 have to sound and look similar to No. 500. There are no rooms for tolerances when offering luxury audio components to the end-users. Being a brand is a promise to the end-users.
Q. What is your company's most popular product(s)?
A. Without a doubt it is the highly acclaimed Diablo 300 integrated Amplifier.
Q. What is your next planned product offering and its' features?
A. I will have to keep that in the dark for now. But I am sure the many audiophiles and Gryphon fans will be quite excited about the future products from Gryphon. We are always working on something new and interesting. But from the actual idea is born in the head of Mr. Flemming Rasmussen and the rest of the R&D team lead by Chief Engineer Mr. Tom Møller, (who's celebrating his 20th anniversary on November 1st as being in charge of all electronic designs at Gryphon Audio Designs ).
Q. What advancements do you speculate high-end audio will offer ten years from now?
A. Well, that's an extremely difficult question to answer in a qualified way. But I predict that the industry will move even more towards the digital domain when talking about the playback. That streaming will become even more important. However, I do believe that files like LP and CD will still be very much around. The different formats have been declared dead many times and especially the CD has been declared dead and gone several times over the last decade. However, the CD-media has never been better and the current CD-players in the high-end audio have never been better than today.
Saying that vinyl is far better than CD players (at a certain level like the Gryphon Ethos) is very difficult to claim nowadays. It requires a very skilled person and a high-quality Turn Table to outperform some of the best CD-players in the market for luxury high-end audio components. But I guess it is a subjective opinion and always a matter to be discussed.