I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota
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  1. #1
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    I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Well wouldn't you know it? It's been confirmed.....I'll give ya a hint..... I'm a chocoholic!! I thought I already knew that. But, auditioning a certain amp just confirmed it.

    After spending about 5-6 hours listening and listening and listening and listening and auditioning amps at Mike Bovaird's excellent high end audio store (Suncoast Audio)...and we have a winner! We started about 9:00 AM and finished around 3:30 PM. Can't remember the name of the restaurant, but for lunch, Mike took me to eat at a quaint little sea food place and fed me a blackened scallops salad. It was delicious +++++.

    Back to the store for more auditions. After auditioning pretty much all the integrated amps in the store and making a final decision on my amp, Mike took me to the $500,000+ (maybe even $1,000,000) room and played a $200,000 Constellation/Magico M3 system and an awesome beyond description, $200,000+ MBL system.

    So, can you tell which amp I decided on, based on my hint? This should be easy for most guys here. The first AudioShark to guess the amp gets lunch at the same restaurant Mike took me to. And the meal is on Mike B, Mike M, and Joe ("joeinid") LOL!!! The only catch is you have to go to the Florida audio show in order to collect your reward.

    Yes, I got to meet the infamous Joe over Mike's cell phone. Great guy and a very bad influence on me. Joe probably knew what amp I was going to decide on before I decided. Joe, it was sooooooo much fun meeting and talking to you on Mike's phone Saturday. One mistake I've made during my amp search is not talking with you more about how to make such decisions. But once I had a chance to thoroughly audition all the amps I wanted to listen to, one amp kept tugging on my "ear strings".

    OK, so I was just kidding about having to wait until the Florida audio show to know my choice. Although you do have the opportunity to hit Mike or Joe up for a meal.

    I know most of you probably couldn't care less about my choice. In that case you can move along, nothing to see here.

    But for those who genuinely want to know.....drum roll please.....and the winner is................the Bose Lifestyle..............OK, OK, just joshin' ya. BTW, I used to own one of those in the '90s. Yes, the truth slips out! Don't tell anyone I said that. But that's a whole other thread.....that no one will want to read. Sort of like this one.

    Oh, yeah, the audition.....and the winner is (another drum roll).....The Gryphon Diablo 300!!!!!!!! Cricket noise, cricket noise, cricket noise. Uh.....the Gryphon Diablo 300!!!!!!! Anybody out there?

    Seriously, I am so grateful to both Mikes and to Joe for all their help. Mike Bovaird in particular. He was sooooooooo patient and helpful. I can't say enough great things about Mike. Such a good guy and dead honest. I'm so pumped about my choice.

    Yes, it was incredibly fun. But it was not an easy task. The ice cream flavors analogy holds very true here. They were ALL delicious. But, chocoholic that I am, I kept coming back to that creamy, chocolate, sound of the Gryphon D300. I've seen that term used before to describe the D300. Mike even stated he's seen those terms used to describe the D300. But I would use those terms sparingly as the vocals, the mids, upper mids, and top end are actually very open sounding and somewhat air-y to my ears. Not what my ears would call dark or chocolate-y. Just very balanced.

    And the bass/bottom end are just so nice and tight and clean and focused...also just the right amount of bass. To my ears the top end is perfect...not too rolled off, not too dark, not too bright.

    There just are not enough superlatives to describe the D300. Mike will tell you I came back to the D300 every time after auditioning each of the other amps. There is just something about the D300 that really pleases my ears. Great, huge, sound staging, big dynamic range, very accurate, reproduces everything you want to hear and nothing you don't. Did I say very balanced? I don't know what else to say about it.

    We auditioned the following integrated amps using the same speakers I have at home (Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary Models):

    Simaudio 340xi, Naim Supernait 3, VAC 170i, Luxman 509x, Hegel H390, Pass Labs int 60, and Gryphon D300. Pretty impressive line up. I now understand what an audiophile is saying when after he auditions several amps, he says he could be totally satisfied with any one of them. That was my situation last Saturday. I can, with complete confidence, say I could be very, very, happy with any one of the amps that I listened to. It was extremely difficult to narrow my choice down to just one amp after auditioning all those incredible sounding precision instruments. We were careful to match volume levels and we used the same room for all amps.

    We also auditioned some of the finest DACs and streaming gear money can buy. I'm looking at MSB and Lumin T2 DAC/streamers for the D300. My ears like the MSB slightly, and I mean slightly, better than the D300 internal DAC. The difference between the MSB and Gryphon's internal DAC are very subtle but they are there.

    Well, there ya have it. My personal pick of some extremely great sounding integrated amps. But this was not a runaway pick. As you might expect there was another amp, in particular, that really surprised me and made my choice that much more difficult. It sort of sneaked up on me because I didn't think I'd be that interested in it. I was much more interested in it's big brother.

    But, was I in for a surprise? The int 60 blew my socks off. Not sure what I was expecting but that amp just really surprised me. Very smooth and, like the D300, very well balanced. Like the D300, it had superb sound staging, dynamics, and balance. I was simply caught off guard with the int 60 and how good it sounded. Like the D300, it was all these things but in a different way...a different flavor. So, if for what ever reason you can't have a D300...maybe because your budget won't allow it, maybe it's just not your flavor. Whatever your reason. Check out the int 60. It will make you smile...big. I highly recommend it. And then there was the NAIM Supernait 3. Huge, open sound. Forget it's "only 80 watts." It's irrelevant. And, there's the VAC. Extremely clean and very discrete across the entire sound stage. I would like to audition the VAC after 30 to 45 minutes of tube warm up. Same with all the amps really. The Simaudio 340ix was surprisingly similar to the VAC even though it was a SS vs tubes comparison. The Luxman 509x is a very "safe" amp. It has just about the right amount of everything. It's an amp that might appeal to the widest population of listeners. Wonderfully built and great sounding. If you're concerned about resale this might be the amp to consider.

    The Gryphon Diablo 300. It just checked ALL the boxes and it elicited the most consistent, most positive response to my ears. So sweet sounding all across the frequency spectrum with just the right amount of everything for my ears. I just couldn't be happier with my choice. Thanks once again, Mike. This whole experience will be a lifetime memory. And I don't want to wish my life away, but come on January, LOL!!


    Tom

  2. #2
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Tom!!!!

    I’m so happy for you. You, my friend, are golden. I knew you were excited to finally get some ear time in on some great gear. What Mike does and did for you is invaluable. I didn’t get to where I’m at easily. I’ve made lots of mistakes, mistakes that, thank goodness, you’ve avoided.

    I’m absolutely sure you are making the right decisions and choices. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with you and Mike. I’m excited for you to finally assemble your system and sit down for your first listen.

    Well done my friend!
    Joe

    Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M, JBL 590.

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    First Watt SIT-1 monos, Misho Myronov Wooden amp, First Watt SIT-3, Luxman MQ-300, Job 250 Monos, Valvet E2se, NuForce STA200, AkitikA GT-102 amp, Cary 300B SE monos, ASL Wave monos, Dennis Had 45 monos.

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  4. #3
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    I know your plans for getting back into audio were pushed back. And sometimes that's what is needed to make good decisions. If I were to replace my Bryston amp and NAD preamp. The Gryphon D300 seems to check all the boxes. I think you will be a happy listener for many years. Congratulations.
    Speakers: Magico A3
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Great choice! I have the D120 and wish I had the room and the budget for the D300. I was afraid that you were going to choose the Luxman, which some like with Harbeth speakers. However, when I was listening with Mike the Gryphon integrateds were so much more powerful and the music so better defined, even with the Harbeth speakers. Enjoy....

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  8. #5
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Hope you enjoy yours as much as I've enjoyed mine. Great choice!

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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Congrats. Sure, we are interested, it's like we all went along for the ride. I just wish I was at the audition I think you made an excellent choice.
    Aurender ACS10 w/AQ Diamond,
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  12. #7
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Joe, thank you for the kind words, buddy. I really couldn't be happier with my final choice. That amp (Gryphon D300) is just a killer. My ears are absolutely in love with it. And you are so very right...Mike saved me a lot of potentially very expensive experimenting. But I do wish I could afford to bring all those amps home. They are all just so well designed and built. And, they ALL sound incredible. The differences between the D300 and my runner up choice was sooooooo minute, soooooooo subtle.

    My second choice was the Pass Labs int 60. An amp I really didn't think I'd be very interested in, mainly because of the 60 wpc x 2, at 8 ohms output level. I wasn't sure if there would be enough juice to power my Harbeths. Take it from me. It's more than enough. It sounded so good I decided to write a short review on it.

    I'll just say it really, really, really, sneaked up on me. I was much more interested in it's big brother int 250, mostly because I thought I'd need the headroom. But after the first song I knew the int 60 was a very special amp. And the warmer it got the better it sounded. It could get very loud and was really clean at high volume. But it really specializes in outstanding tone in the low to medium volume levels. And it has outstanding tone all year long. That "class A up to 30 watts" sound is just so juicy and rich sounding. How two amps can be so different yet sound so awesome in their own right, blows me away. I'll just say the int 60 is one HECK of an amp and my choice as a very close runner up to the D300. I was very impressed by the int 60. I've read that the int 60 has a sweeter top end vs the int 250. I don't really know as I haven't heard the int 250 yet. I knew there are those who prefer the int 60 to the int 250. But I've also read some highly positive reviews regarding the int 250. One even said the int 250 was perhaps the best integrated amp in the world.

    But, now I get what the int 60 love fest is all about. IMHO, it's a wonderful sounding, superbly built amp. If something happened and the D300 was no longer available I'd head straight for an int 60, hands down.

    And if you really want some serious tone boost, run your int 60 through an MSB DAC. A match made in heaven. Same with the Gryphon D300. The int 60 is definitely not the same amp as the D300. And I don't mean to suggest that in any way. They are two very different amps. But the int 60 also projects a great sound stage, it is also a well balanced amp, there's a certain sweetness to it, like the D300. It doesn't sound like the D300, but it sounds almost as good to my ears, in a different way.....the D300 is chocolate ice cream with strawberries and the int 60 is butterscotch with pecans. Which do you like most? I can't speak for others but the int 60 I auditioned sounded superb. I could definitely see me purchasing a Pass Labs int 60 as an amp for our upstairs living room system. Something that sounds a little different from my D300 driven downstairs listening room system. Joe, don't be encouraging me now!

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  14. #8
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Love the excitement, so what’s the entire setup now?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    Source Analog: Kuzma Stabi R with 4point 9 arm & Kuzma 40 Cartridge
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  15. #9
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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Quote Originally Posted by UltraFast69 View Post
    Love the excitement, so what’s the entire setup now?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    The setup, as of early January, will be the D300 integrated, Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary Model speakers (I already have those). Which ever DAC/streaming gear I settle on (with Roon Nucleus). I might get into analog in the future but, right now, my system will be pretty simple. Just for streaming.

    You might recall since I'm funding my new audio system with some pension money. I've purchased part of my system this year (speakers, cables and connects, and stands) and will purchase the remainder (Gryphon D300, streaming gear) at the very beginning of the new year, all for tax purposes. So, I'll have to be a little patient. I know it will be well worth the wait. But, I've waited this long. I can wait just a little longer.

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    Re: I'm Baaaaaack.........From Suncoast Audio Sarasota

    Quote Originally Posted by UltraFast69 View Post
    Love the excitement, so what’s the entire setup now?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

    Hey, UltraFast69!! Sorry I'm about a week late responding to your post. My set up as of early January will be the D300 and Lumin T2 streamer/DAC, a Roon Nucleus, and my Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary Model speakers. Fairly simple and straight forward. Someday I'd really like to have an MSB ADC V streamer/DAC. But that's about it.

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