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First, there was the Stage III Concepts ASP Gryphon, then there was every one else
7/13/2008

I got to the battlefield at 10 this morning. The victor was strutting its stuff at centre stage. There were cables lying all around, literally, on the carpet in front of the system. It was not a pretty sight... No, no, hang on, it was actually quite a pretty sight, it was rare to get so many high end cables in the same room at the same time, and one did not just get to ogle but also listen to them in action…heavenly!

I plonked myself in the listening seat and maggielurva proceeded to play all his normal test CDs. Well, we already knew how taken maggielurva was by the ASP Gryphon, so I thought let’s see how much better it was in the normal hifi departments – I proceeded to analyze its performance in the bass, mid, treble, its resolution, its soundstaging capability etc. etc… Before long, I realized that it was all quite pointless. It was as if the ASP Gryphon was gently telling me that those were the wrong questions to ask. The appropriate question with the Stage III Concepts ASP Gryphon was “How Real Is It?”.

Before we get to that, let me quickly dispose of the hifi analysis stuff – in maggielurva’s system, the bass was excellent, it came on strong and even rattled my listening seat; the mid was as textured and palpable as ever; the treble was smooth and clean; the soundstage was wider and deeper, much deeper, it was more 3-dimensional than before; the resolution was first rate.

Then, the Gryphon went much ahead, to say that it was good in this and that was not appropriate. The music from maggielurva’s system was presented with an ‘oneness’ so complete that you could not but recognize it as ‘real’. For me to be able to understand / analyze this fully I’m afraid I’d need more time. I might just want to say that it was organic, it was seamless, it had natural flow…and they were all correct. I also thought that they got the ‘musical tension’ part right too (very very right). Some systems tend to tighten the tension a tad too much, that may give a sense of excitement but makes you grit your teeth some time. Some loosen it a tad too much, the music presentation may be relax but can also become lethargic and uninteresting. Maggielurva’s system with the ASP Gryphon got it right on every disc played, and it had the knack to get it right according to the music, like on the slow, atmospheric Rickie Lee Jones, and on the hard-charging and rocked out Teddy Robin.

The music through maggielurva’s system with the ASP Gryphon this morning was so real, it was like I was going to the concerts – I had 2v1g and Rickie Lee Jones performing in maggielurva’s hall live for me. I think there can’t be any higher accolade.

What about the vanquished? The Kubala-Sosna Emotion, the Stage III Concepts Magnus, and the Audioquest Sky, they were all excellent cables in their own right. Their performance in many of the hifi areas was beyond reproach, but none got into the ASP Gryphon’s territory of ‘realness’. I’ll leave it to maggielurva to tell you the shootout results. Let’s just say that - first, there was the Stage III Concepts ASP Gryphon, and then there was every one else.

Today’s listening session with the Stage III Concepts ASP Gryphon was quite a revelation.

[addendum by maggielurva]

final relative score:

[1] stage III concepts asp gryphon - 100/100
[2] kubala-sosna emotions - 80/100 (tie)
[2] stage III concepts magnus - 80/100 (tie)
[4] audioquest sky - 75/100

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