Speakers that cost as much as a median-priced American home are no longer outliers in the highest-of-high-end audio. And with that sobering fact acknowledged, Gryphon Audio Designs, the Danish high-end manufacturer of no-holds-barred speakers and electronics, offers audiophiles a four-way, twin-tower system called the Gryphon Kodo Reference Standard.
Priced at $390,000, this state-of-the-art loudspeaker features two sculptural 93-inch-tall towers per channel. A nearly eight-foot-tall speaker is an imposing sight, so four of the giant towers dominate even the most commodious listening rooms with their presence, even before they make a sound.
Each bass tower incorporates a vertical array of eight custom-designed eight-inch bass drivers that handle frequencies from 200 Hz down to a subterranean 16 Hz, powered by internal amplification that delivers 1,000 watts of continuous power and 4,000 watts—4.5 horsepower—of peak power. The relatively small size of each individual driver ensures speed and excellent transient response—unattainable with larger-diameter transducers—while delivering massive air displacement by virtue of 64 inches of total piston surface per channel.
A second tower incorporates a vertical array of 11 non-powered drivers (here’s where a stack of Gryphon Mephisto Solo amps comes in) and features an air-motion transformer (AMT) ribbon tweeter and a line array comprising two four-inch midrange and three five-inch mid-bass drivers, top and bottom. Midrange drivers are mounted in separate sealed chambers, with natural wool material used for interior damping. Importantly, the front baffle of the main towers has an elegant concave surface—not for aesthetics, but to ensure proper time alignment and identical arrival time of output from all drivers at the listening position.
Sophisticated crossover and electronic design ensure that each driver is kept in phase and the room interface paradmeters are optimize, while a whole-system approach can be achieved with Gryphon digital and analog sources, a preamplifier, and the aforementioned Mephisto stereo or monoblock amplifiers.
As with every Gryphon product, industrial design and aesthetics are top of mind for Gryphon founder and CEO Flemming E. Rasmussen. Designed and built in Denmark, Gryphon equipment is noted for flawless sound, reflected in the build quality of each component and loudspeaker. Modular construction allows for both side panels of each tower to be exchanged for those of a different finish as room decor demands, while the minimal string grille provides a glimpse of the impressive driver array responsible for some of the best sound on the planet.