What makes this Gryphon Diablo 120 and Luxman L-509X battle so interesting is that we are dealing with two of the most elite of the elite when it comes to home audio. There is no denying that there is something special about both Gryphon and Luxman which is why I am excited to put this thing together today. You probably already know this, but both the Gryphon Diablo 120 and the Luxman L-509X are two very expensive products. However, their quality is some of the best around and it is very exciting to get the chance to compare the two of these by putting them head to head.
Wow, that is what many people are probably going to say when they see just how much these are. This is the perfect place to start these two amplifiers contest and the place I always like to start these comparison articles. Either one of these is going to cost you a few mortgage payments that is for sure!
Gryphon Diablo 120:
We are starting with the Gryphon Diablo 120 which is kind of crazy as I have heard it referred to as an entry level product from Gryphon! You are looking at between 11 and 12 thousand bucks to add this awesome amp to your home. Gryphon are one of the premier companies around when it comes to this stuff and anything with their mane on it is as high end as you can probably get. I did do a bit of digging around and managed to find it closer to the ten grand mark. However, there are various modules that you can buy for this such as a DAC one, and that can add a few extra grand onto the overall asking price.
The Luxman L-509X can be had for a bit cheaper, although it is still very expensive. You are looking at paying around $9,995,99 for this. I know it is still a vast amount of money, but if you add in the modules to the Gryphon, you are looking at a saving of a few thousand dollars! You can shop around and find some pretty decent deals for this. On eBay, you can find this for the 8 thousand bucks’ range in places like Japan and that might be the way to go if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck with this. Just make sure the person you are buying it from has good feedback.
I have to give the opening round to the Luxman L-509X. I am not saying that the Gryphon Diablo 120 is overpriced, but side by side, I just cannot ignore the fact that it does cost vastly more than the Luxman. Even without any of the modules, the saving you get with the Luxman is something that cannot be ignored.
These two amplifiers showdown is going to have one of the most amazing design categories I have had the pleasure to write. These are two very, very different looking products and that is something I love. These are two amps that I love the design of, but their design is so different this is really going to come down to if you prefer a modern or retro kind of style.
Gryphon Diablo 120:
I was mind blown the first time I saw pictures of the Gryphon Diablo 120 and then I was even more mind blown when I had the pleasure to see this thing in person. There are not a ton of videos showing off this, but have a look at this “Entry Level” Gryphon The Diablo 120 Integrated HiFi Amplifier REVIEW video to see all the juicy details of this. The dimensions of The Diablo 120 are, 17” x 7” x 14.5” so it is a bit smaller than the Luxman. It is the design that I just love about this. I like how you have your black body, but then there are also glossy black sections as well. These will attract dust and fingerprints like crazy, but man it looks fantastic. It looks like a 90s laserdisc player and I mean that in a very complimentary way.
The front of the Gryphon Diablo 120 is not as busy as many other higher-end amps. It has no dials on here, it is all smooth and touch based and I love the high-quality LCD it has. I usually like my black audio equipment to have no other colors on it, but that red Gryphon logo on here is like the icing on a very sleek and cool looking cake! The back of the Gryphon Diablo 120 is very interesting in that all of the connections are located towards the bottom of the unit. They are all easily identified and spaced out well enough. Just above this, we have a large slot that is there for adding one of the modules to the device. Each module plugs in and then has its own set of connections on it. I would love to get my hands on the DAC one, but I just had the base unit to look at.
There is a real contrast of style with the Luxman L-509X in comparison to the Diablo 120. This has a very retro kind of look to it and while I am more of a fan of black when it comes to my audio equipment, when you are going retro like this I do think that silver offers more charm and fits that retro style more. The dimensions of the Luxman L-509X are 17.3” x 7.5” x 18.2” so it is a few inches taller than the Diablo. Overall, I like the whole design of this and think that Luxman is one of the best when it comes to this kind of retro design. I get more “late 70s” vibes than I do 80s vibes with this thing. The very cool looking display on the front really does add to that retro charm the whole thing has. You have two larger dials on either side of this, one being for volume and the other being for your input selection. Below this is a vast selection of controls to enable you to play around with the sound and get it just the way you want.
While I do prefer black, as far as silver products go, this is one of the best designs that I have seen. Of course, we do have to take a look around the back of the Luxman L-509X to see what is going on there. There is a very nice selection of inputs for you to play around with here. I like how Luxman makes sure each one is clearly labeled and with the way that these are spaced out, you will not have a complete ugly mess of cables that are hard to organize around the back of here.
I do not think that there is a definitive answer for what has the better design out of the Gryphon Diablo 120 and the Luxman L-509X as they are both built like tanks and have a very high quality feel about them. I love the way that the 509X has this awesome retro thing going on. However, the Gryphon Diablo 120 is one of the coolest looking amps I have ever seen and that design is exactly what I would want in an amplifier that was part of my setup. I know keeping the glossy part of it clean can be a pain, but I would happily take it! Of course, I would not argue with anyone that says that they prefer the retro design that the Luxman is offering.
You know when you are dealing with companies that have the pedigree that Gryphon and Luxman have, sound quality is going to be phenomenal. The main category of these two amplifiers is here and we are looking at the sound. I am using my buddy’s Crosley C100BT-BK Belt-Drive Bluetooth Turntable with both of these. Also, amps like these do need to be properly broken in, so please keep that in mind as I share my thoughts.
Gryphon Diablo 120:
You know you are dealing with someone who takes their music very seriously if they have the Gryphon Diablo 120 in their house or any kind of Gryphon product actually. I love this Gryphon Audio, Diablo 120, Mojo S loudspeakers, full demo! High End Munich 2017 video as it gives you a great sound demo and gives you a better idea of what the Diablo can do. I have tested so many amps, many higher end ones too over the years and I would have to put this very high on the list of the best sounding amps. I have seen the video and listened to the actual album, Maiden England ’88 so many times that I know each and every note. It is one of my favorite live albums of all time and even without having the ability to break this thing if, for 50 plus hours, it sounded better than I had ever heard it before. The music was great, but the clarity of various yells and noises from the crowd truly did take me by surprise.
While I am a rocker first and foremost, I do listen to all kinds of music, Daft Punk are one of my favorite acts from the last couple of decades and the Daft Punk Tron Legacy Soundtrack was amazing when played through the Gryphon Diablo 120. Any kind of “digital” music when pumped through the Diablo 120 sounds like the instruments and the whole music production is happening inside your head. Even my wife who would be cool listening to her music on something modest like this Victrola 50’s Retro Bluetooth Record Player & Multimedia Center said this sounded fantastic. I am at a loss for what to say (pretty rare for me) as words really cannot do justice to how great any kind of music sounds through this. It is not just stuff that is loud either, the mids and even more lower, subtle sounds are so clear and accurate thanks to this.
I have had the pleasure to play around with the Luxman L-509X for a while now. So far everything that I have thrown the way of the L-509X has impressed me. There are some great videos like this New Luxman L509X Integrated HiFi Amplifier Dali Epicon Room @ Hi-Fi Show Live 2017 one here that really get into why this thing is so great. A recent band I have gotten into is Easy Life and their album Life’s A Beach I actually played for the first time with the Luxman L-509X. The sweet vocals and excellent musical arrangement really did blow me away. The song Skeletons was something I had heard a million times when playing FIFA 22 on my PS5, but it was like a whole new experience when played with the help of the L-509X.
I have yet to come across any review or video about the Luxman L-509X that is negative in regards to the sound quality. Even if you were to take this straight out of the box, connect your turntable straight to it and not play around with any of the dials at all, it is going to knock your socks off. This thing has some serious power, but that power does not result in a lack of clarity. To my ears, this managed to be pretty much near perfect in every regard. I recently picked up the special red vinyl version of Cross Road by Bon Jovi. This was their first “greatest hits” album. You get a good mixture of classic 80s Bon Jovi along with their early to mid-90s stuff as well and as the record goes from song to song, you appreciate that no matter the kind of instrumentation or how loud the vocals are, this handles it all flawlessly.
It feels pretty harsh to call either the Gryphon Diablo 120 or the Luxman L-509X a loser here as they both deliver amazing sound. I would say that unless you are super nerdy about your sound, chances are you will not notice much of a difference. For me, side by side I do think that the Gryphon just has a bit more clarity, to be fair it could be my ears playing tricks on me as this was the first time I used it. Hmm…. I am having a really hard time picking a winner, but I do have to give this to Gryphon, but it really could not be any closer.
The Remote Control
The final round of this battle of amplifiers is going to be looking at the remote controls that come with both of these things. These are two very different remote controls and I think it is going to be a pretty interesting round.
Gryphon Diablo 120:
I was pretty surprised by the remote control that came with the Gryphon Diablo 120. Before I had the pleasure to check this thing out, I was sure it would come with a massive remote packed with buttons, but it is way more streamlined than I thought. This thing only has six red buttons! However, the body is made from aluminum and the back has a solid rubber so it does not slip all over. It is one of the most premium feeling remotes I have ever had the pleasure to hold. While it is very basic, Gryphon has made sure that it is very easy to control the amp.
The Luxman L-509X remote control has that same retro design as the actual amp. This is a very cool looking remote and it has plenty of buttons on it and they are all clearly labeled so that you know exactly what you are doing. I think that they have done a great job with this remote control and overall, you get complete control of your amp thanks to this and that is all you can ask for.
Just like the actual amps themselves, these remote controls are two very differently designed things. I like both the designs, but I am having a hard time picking a winner here. I love the fact that the Gryphon Diablo 120 is made with aluminum, but I prefer more buttons on my remote control so, in that regard, the Luxman L-509X has more of what I like… It may sound crazy to some as the Diablo 120 is a far more “premium” product, but in terms of functionality, I do prefer what Luxman has done.
What Is The Best?
This has been a pretty epic battle! I have had a lot of fun with this Gryphon Diablo 120 and the Luxman L-509X contest as it was like putting two heavyweight boxers together or like The Rock and the Stone Cold Steve Austin if you want to get all WWE about it. Look, both the Gryphon Diablo 120 and the Luxman L-509X are two amazing and incredible amplifiers. If you were able to get either one of these you would be very lucky and I am sure very happy with it. The asking price for these puts them out of reach for most people, I know that there is no way I would be able to spend this kind of money. However, if I could just “have” anyone of these, I think I would go for the Gryphon Diablo 120 as the sound, even without proper breaking in was amazing. Still, the fact it costs a few thousand bucks more I think does take some of the shine off it.