Gryphon Kalliope DAC
KALLIOPE (a.k.a. Calliope, meaning “beautiful voice”) is the eldest of the Muses, goddesses of music, song and dance in Greek mythology. Kalliope is the goddess of epic poetry and eloquence.
In any audio system, there are certain points along the signal path that are more crucial than others. These are the intersections where the signal is converted from one form of energy into another. Such transformations occur when the needle of a phono cartridge traverses the micro-grooves of a vinyl record, converting kinetic energy into an electrical signal. At the opposite end of the signal path, loudspeakers must transform electrical input into acoustic output.
But perhaps the most critical transformation of all is the conversion of the output of digital sources into an analogue signal, ideally without loss or distortion of any kind. Despite the lofty claims of many manufacturers, what is lost or changed at this point can never be recovered or restored.
In acknowledgment of the on-going refinement of digital audio sources and the rapid evolution of high-resolution digital audio formats, Gryphon Audio Designs now presents the Gryphon Kalliope digital to analogue converter to stand as the gateway that conveys the musical signal from one domain to the next in utterly pristine condition.
Three Reasons Why Bits Are Not Just Bits
The well-worn phrase “Bits is bits” encapsulates the widespread misconception that any reasonably constructed digital system will result in “Pure, Perfect Sound Forever,” in the lamentable promotional slogan coined by the inventors of the compact disc.
1.) Digital audio is not a simple one-dimensional row of numbers, where all that is required is to keep the correct numbers in the correct order. In fact, it is a data stream of numbers flowing through time. And the right number at the wrong time is (almost) as bad as the wrong number.
Gryphon Kalliope ensures effective correction/prevention of timing errors (jitter) using sophisticated circuit topology and exclusive, custom-built components.
2.) Following digital to analogue conversion, an analogue filter is required to remove high frequency noise. The deleterious side effects of a typical steep-slope “brickwall” filter include temporal smearing, energy loss, compromised resolution and reduced transparency.
Gryphon Kalliope employs advanced technologies and an innovative, minimalist single-component filter with no adverse audible impact.
3.) Advocates of the “bits is bits” attitude tend to ignore the fact at the end of all digital signal processing there is an analogue stage. The circuit design, component selection, power supply and layout of this stage are all just as critical now in the digital era as they ever were in the analogue age.
Gryphon Kalliope draws on decades of experience in the design and construction of some of the finest analogue audio systems the world has ever known.
Kalliope is far from Gryphon’s first foray into the digital arena. Throughout the digital era, Gryphon Audio Designs have stood for major innovations, paving the way for others to follow. In 1998, Gryphon introduced the world to the sonic benefits of 88.2 kHz asynchronous sample rate conversion in the CDP-1 CD player, the world’s first implementation of this advanced technology.
Gryphon Adagio, launched in 2001, and Gryphon Mikado, released in 2003, upgraded to 24-bit/96 kHz asynchronous sample rate conversion, preserving linearity for vastly reduced distortion and noise.
In 2008, the celebrated Gryphon Mikado Signature CD player took our cornerstone philosophies of dual mono and fully symmetrical balanced operation where no one had gone before - into the digital domain, employing two stereo DAC’s per channel in full dual differential mode running 32-bit/192 kHz. This configuration drastically lowers the digital noise floor and contributes to the expansive soundstage and sharply focused stereo image of digital audio by Gryphon.
Now, with selectable 32-bit/210 kHz asynchronous sample rate conversion and a dedicated ESS SABRE ES9018 32-bit D/A converter per channel, incorporating eight individual D/A converters in Dual Differential coupling, the Gryphon Kalliope DAC builds on the brand’s unique heritage and continues to lead the way.
Stability and Control
Gryphon Kalliope reaps the full benefits of Gryphon’s uncompromising design philosophy, including strict dual mono configuration, minimal internal wiring, fully isolated separate power supplies for analogue, digital and control/display circuitry and exclusive, custom components such as precision crystal oscillators and toroidal transformers.
To ensure unlimited, pure power to all stages, transformer windings for digital and analogue sections are physically separated and the four-layer printed circuit board employs a 70 mm copper trace to ensure optimal grounding and power distribution as well as signal transfer.
For maximum control and stability, each analogue channel in Gryphon Kalliope employs a dedicated custom-built 65 VA toroidal transformer and 34,000 microFarad power capacitor banks. Built from the finest discrete components, Kalliope eschews capacitor banks based on a few large capacitors, in favour of parallel-coupled clusters of smaller, high-performance caps (a total of 28), for lower equivalent series resistance.
Kalliope’s substantial, heavily regulated high-current power supplies would not be out of place in a typical integrated amplifier.