Modular PCM/DSD Digital-to-Analog Converter from Gryphon Audio

by The Audio Beat | October 9, 2013

ryphon Audio Designs' new Kalliope digital-to-analog converter (€19,800) seems especially aptly named after the goddess of music, because the Kalliope has all digital music covered, handling PCM at up to 32 bits and 384kHz resolution and DSD at up to 6.144MHz. The Kalliope uses eight ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC chips in a dual-differential topology. The DAC's class-A analog output stage is heavily regulated and fully discrete, and it uses no feedback. The digital circuit boards are modular in layout to allow easy upgrade, and firmware updates will be available via USB. Like all Gryphon products, the Kalliope is fully dual mono.

Power was an area of special emphasis in Kalliope's design, specifically the removal of dependence on the 5V USB connection between the DAC and partnering computer or music server. To bypass this source of noise and sonic degradation, the Kalliope uses a 12.5 Farad SuperCap as a "virtual battery" that delivers low-noise, stable, regulated power and eliminates the computer as the power source altogether.

Features include user-selectable PCM and DSD digital roll-off filters and asynchronous PCM sample-rate conversion. Digital inputs are AES/EBU and BNC S/PDIF, both of which are galvanically isolated, along with asynchronous USB. Analog outputs are both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR. A de-jittered AES/EBU output and a BNC connector for use with an optional external word clock are also included. Kalliope comes with its own infrared remote control.

"We designed the Kalliope to be a moving target in the rapid evolution of ultra high-resolution digital audio," says Gryphon CEO and chief product designer, Flemming Rasmussen. "For once, hardware seems to be out in front of software. . . ."

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