Today we are looking at the Pass Labs INT-250 and Gryphon Diablo 300 and seeing which one is the best. I have been lucky enough to check out both the Pass Labs Int-250 and the Gryphon Diablo 300. So, I thought it would be fun to put the two of the head-to-head and see which one I feel is the better amp for your money. Speaking of money, these are two very expensive products, but thanks to a good friend, I was able to spend some real quality time with both of them.
When we are dealing with Pass Labs and Gryphon, you know that we are not looking at the same class of amp that you can buy on Amazon for like 200 bucks! The price category in our Pass Labs Int-250 and Gryphon Diablo 300 battle we have going on today is going to be a real eye opener for many of you guys I am sure.
Pass Labs Int-250:
The fact I am telling you that the 12 grand that the Pass Labs Int-250 goes for is not too bad, tells you we have a real shocker coming from our friends at Gryphon! While this is a lot of money to spend on an amplifier, I do think that the asking price for a more premium and higher-end amp is not completely out of line. I have looked on eBay a few times now and this thing never seems to show up on there. Although, I am not sure I would be comfortable spending this kind of money on eBay! You will have to find a dealer who deals in higher end audio equipment if you want to get one of these.
Gryphon Diablo 300:
The Gryphon Diablo 300 is a real monster of an amp and it has a monster of a price tag too! You are easily looking at around the 20 grand mark if you want to get your hands on one of these. Look, I know the reputation that Gryphon has and the quality of this thing, but I just do not see how this kind of money being spent on an amp is something people are cool with. Hey, if money is no object to you, more power to you, and treat yourself! However, for the average joe like myself, while the Pass Labs offering is very expensive, it does not seem as unattainable as the RRP on this one.
The Verdict: The Pass Labs Int-250 takes this round and it takes it in style too. Some people love the Gryphon Diablo 300 and think that it is the best of the best and I am ok with that. However, I just do not see the 8 grand difference between the two products so there is no way I could give this round to Gryphon. However, let’s not kid ourselves, 12 grand for an amp is still a hell of a lot of money!
One thing that always gets me excited when I do one of these comparison articles like this Pass Labs Int-250 and Gryphon Diablo 300 one I am doing today is when they look radically different! This is always a lot of fun to compare and I can tell you right now that I had a really hard time picking which one of these, I felt had the best design as truth be told I thought they both looked fantastic.
Pass Labs Int-250: The Pass Labs Int-250 is part of a series of amplifiers from Pass Labs that all have a rather similar design to them. I would say that this one here is the main event one that they offer (well as of writing) and it is easy to see why. It comes in at 19” x 21.25” x 9.1” so it is rather large and you will need to make sure you have a decent amount of space for it. It also weighs 105 pounds so it is both larger and heavier than the Gryphon Diablo 300. I love the overall style of this, the silver design that they have gone for here gives the amp a kind of retro design and that is something I think is very cool. The thing that captures your attention is the circular display right in the center of the amp. This is a very nice touch and most amps have a rectangular display. One side of this has a volume dial and the other has an LCD to let you know what source you have selected. Below the LCD are your various source buttons and below the volume dial is a mute button. It is a very cool design and one I would be more than happy to have in my main setup at home.
On the back of the Pass Labs Int-250, we have a very smart design. The large size of this means that you have your connections spaced out perfectly and they are all labeled which is always something that I like to see. The strangest design choice that this has is that on the back there are two large silver handles which I know are there to help with mounting, but why are they on the back? The remote that comes with this is epic, it has that same kind of silver aluminum vibe and it gives you all the control you need over the amp and replicates the buttons that are actually on the amp which is a nice touch.
Gryphon Diablo 300: I really do like the design of the Gryphon Diablo 300. Before I share my thoughts, check out this Gryphon Audio, The Diablo 300 Integrated Amplifier, Flemming Rasmussen, High End Munich 2015 video where you can get a better look at it.
I love the black that they have used here, it gives the amp a real presence and while it weighs 83 pounds and comes in at 18.9” x 9.2” x 18.1”, it is a bit smaller and lighter than the Pass Labs Int-250. I think that the design of this thing looks like a futuristic car engine or what would power the Batmobile! It is a very cool design and right in the middle it has an LCD and on either side of this, you have touch sensitive buttons which I think are a nice touch and help give the amp more of a cool personality. As much as I love the design of the Gryphon Diablo 300, it does have something I am not a huge fan of and that is the grate/vent thing on the front. It is way too large; the smaller version of this amp has the size just right, but here I think it sticks out a bit too much.
As far as the connections go on the back of the amp, you are well covered here. Gryphon has spaced everything out very well and I like how they have clearly labeled what each port is. Towards the top, you have a large door this is for adding one of the modules that Gryphon offers such as their DAC module. I think this is actually a really cool idea and if someone had the money to upgrade, then there would not be many better amps out there than this one with the DAC module! As far as the remote control goes, Gryphon has really outdone themselves. Not only does it give you all the control you need over the amp, but it also has a very premium look and design to it as well.
The Verdict: It is so hard to pick a winner here. To start with I genuinely really do love the design of both the Pass Labs Int-250 and the Gryphon Diablo 300. However, they are so different looking that it is kind of hard to compare the two of them. It is 100 percent a personal preference kind of thing as I do not feel there is a right answer. I think for me, I am going to give this one to the Gryphon Diablo 300, mainly because I am more of a fan of black audio equipment.
So, we come to the final round of our Pass Labs Int-250 and Gryphon Diablo battle and it is really the main attraction as we are looking at the sound. I remember the first time I ever got to check out a higher end amp, it was a McIntosh, and the step up from what I had used before it was crazy! These are two incredible amps that will make your music sound truly awesome!
Pass Labs Int-250: To get an idea of the sound capabilities of the Pass Labs Int-250 I suggest you check out this Sound Demo: Pass Labs INT-250 and Dynaudio Heritage Special. video.
I am a huge fan of what this thing can do and the first time I got to try it out I was very impressed by what I was experiencing. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, I was really into rap/nu-metal and Meteora by Linkin Park is a real favorite album of mine. Two songs come to mind, Breaking The Habit and Somewhere I Belong, they both rocked my socks off, and Breaking The Habit, in particular, showcased just how good the sound capabilities of the Pass Labs Int-250 are. The way we get more softer sung sections and then when the drums kick in and it gets loud just blew me away when it was played through this. It is the kind of thing that is so impressive you really do have to hear it for yourself.
Balanced is probably the best word I can use to describe the sound I was experiencing with the Pass Labs Int-250. It truly was something special and that was before I started tinkering with the sound. In sticking with late 90s and early 00s music, Come Clean by Puddle Of Mudd (such a shame the lead singer could not get his crap together) is an album that holds up very well, Burly being a firm favorite song of mine. When you play a song like that with this amp, you truly can appreciate just how rich the sound is and now it does not have too much bass or too much treble, it all flows perfectly and I really do not think that I have anything negative to say about the sound I was experiencing here at all.
Gryphon Diablo 300: I have to say that right off the bat the Gryphon Diablo 300 has a hard time going in the ring with the Pass Labs Int-250. The reason I say this is because I know we are looking at the sound here, but I have to be honest and say that I have a very hard time getting past the price difference here. Let me start with the positives, the Gryphon Diablo 300 sounds amazing, listening to Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy by Rob Zombie was really cool, the song The Triumph of King Freak is one I am a huge fan of and one of his more awesome recent songs. Anyway, even when cranked up, the clarity on offer here was stunning. It was like I was in the studio as they were rocking out and recording this thing! I have used some amps before that have to be in a sweet spot when it comes to volume and settings, but I hand on heart think that no matter how loud you have this, it will sound crystal clear and well balanced.
Ok, so I love the sound that the Gryphon Diablo 300 provides and think that anyone who hears it will be impressed. I even fired up the Forrest Gump Soundtrack, one of the best movie soundtracks of all time, an album I have listened to countless time with many different amps, record players, and speakers. So, when I tell you it sounded the best, I have ever heard it with this, you can take that to the bank! My friend and I ended up hanging out in his store playing a ton of music with this for most of the day and we had a great time and not once did we have anything negative to say about the sound we were getting.
The Verdict: These are two incredible amplifiers and deep down I know that the Gryphon Diablo 300 has the better “tech” inside it and probably has more refined construction and real audiophiles will tell you why it is better. However, for me, I just did not think that it was any real better than the Pass Labs Int-250, which when you consider the massive price difference it really should be. If I am being brutally honest to my ears, the Pass Labs Int-250 hit the sweet spot just a little bit more.
Which Is The Better Amplifier?
As we bring this Pass Labs INT-250 and Gryphon Diablo 300 battle to a close I can confidently say that even if money was no objective for me, I would still pick the Pass Labs Int-250 over the Gryphon Diablo 300. While I do ever so slightly prefer the design of the Gryphon Diablo 300. For my personal taste, the Pass Labs Int-250 offered a sound that was more suited to me. Plus, it is way, way cheaper! You cannot overlook the price difference here, I legit do not see how anyone could say that the Diablo 300 (even if they love it) is worth the several thousand dollars more than it costs.