Coming from the M1 boxes with Zu Submission sub, with the Pantheon I neither expected nor got more bandwidth. Despite their material size which obviously occupied more soundstage to be the bigger psych barrier to forgetting their presence, they behaved very much like small speakers. That was key. Think imaging precision, absence of box talk, depth of field and stern refusal to blow/balloon up instruments and performers beyond realistic proportions. The first two core differences were in projection power and bass quality. How I define projection power is not synonymous with forwardness. In matters of apparent soundstage location—far behind the speakers, with the farthest rows seemingly outside the room in the Irish ponies meadow—the Pantheon behaved exactly like the standmounts. Where the Danes differed was in the potency of across-the-room connection to the seat. This works like charisma. A person exuding it makes their presence felt the moment they enter a room. It's as though their personality projected outwards like radiating heat waves even if they stand well away from you. Perhaps the cylindrical wave propagation of a quasi line source affected this? Perhaps the "focused time array" of the concave baffles did? Whatever the tech reason, the Pantheon had more of this charismatic action. It delivered more energy across space for a stronger connection with the back-there musical action.


The second difference was bass impact/feel. Clearly two very high-excursion woofers per side move more air than a single double-tasking smaller mid/woofer on a monitor does. This translated to a more visceral response with more punch. Whilst the Zu sub goes even lower when EQ'd to be up at 20Hz, operating in mono and not located as 'coincident' by sitting farther away—on some matters, décor considerations do win out—creates a different gestalt. Attached to the monitors, the combined quality is more that of small-driver bass. With the Pantheon, that quality morphed to big-driver bass. With the Pass Labs XA30.8, its textures were a bit bloomy, redolent and overdone - disproportionately big and heavy. With the Diablo 300's apparently higher damping, all that receded beautifully to lighten up just as firm and taut as the subwoofer but with more in-room power. That's not the same as loudness. More drivers sharing in the task increase cone surface. That two-ups presence. Lowering the work load of each driver creates very tacit light-footed ease. Unless recorded to be brutal or overcooked Techno, bass now feels as nimble and unobtrusive as romping cat paws; and as intelligible as the presence region even at very low playback levels.



The takeaway from my first impressions was a crafty combination of small/big speaker attributes. Perhaps the biggest deal was the strict absence of ghosting. During my formative hifi years when working for 1st-order transmission-line designer Pat McGinty—the birdman of Meadowlark—he took me to a demo of truly sarcophagine Dunlavy speakers of the expanding d'Appolito type. He asked what I heard. I described weird interference effects. A singer's vocals would show up in fractured splices around the central image. He nodded. "That's called lobing and these do it a lot." The Pantheon had none of it. Their focus of singular images, not multiple versions thereof, was as locked in and specific as that of the monitors. Stopping a big box with doubled-up widely spaced drivers from interfering acoustically isn't easy. Whatever exact addresses team Gryphon piled on to achieve this is immaterial. What matters is that compact luxury monitors have nothing on the Pantheon in this regard. Where the dark Vikings do beg to differ is with a slight darkening of the overall illumination. That's a function of greater in-room LF energies. Those create deeper darker black values for the colour palette. It's not really a matter of more LF per se—no tone control liberties!—but of moving more air whilst dispensing the same quantity of bass. It's not about the what but the how. It's not primarily a downshifting of the tonal balance's midpoint but more of doing it for the textural balance. This type sound is warmer and chunkier than the super-aerated EnigmAcoustics über monitors with tall subwoofer.


After getting the lay of the Gryphon land to spin more complex fare, the next quality which arose were dynamics. Here I'm emphatically not discussing macrodynamic excesses. With this level of clarity and projection power, there's no need to caveman it on the throttle. There's no need to overcome "intelligibility drag" until the curtains finally raise. They're up already at subdued levels. I'm instead referring to the rippling of amplitude in the realm of melodic emphasis, of small accents in a beat's delivery. Rather than a solid albeit congealed mass of loudness, such keen microdynamics are twitchier. There's more flickering. By being dynamically interesting at standard volumes, the urge to crank it dissolves. It feels not merely primitive but a sign of compensation that attempts to remedy a lack of distinctiveness and involvement elsewhere. Perhaps it's most sensible and meaningful to call this conjunction of qualities—microdynamic astuteness, focus and energetic projection for in-room presence—the ability to communicate. Unlike with poorly recorded dialogue during a television show that requires constant effort to not miss words, hence meaning and subtext, getting the complete message is easy. This must be down to Gryphon's obsession with the time domain based on the complex filter math of their mentor Steen Duelund.


Finally there's the fact that Gryphon don't participate in the fashion trend for hard driver membranes like diamond, beryllium, magnesium, ceramic, carbon-fibre & Co. If you believe that such material choices all affect final sonics, contemplating how the Pantheon's transducer selection impacts the sound becomes an interesting exercise. Here I'll merely add that unlike AMT-fitted speakers from Burmester and Mark & Daniel I've either heard at shows or reviewed, Gryphon's implementation of such a tweeter does not create nonlinear dynamic expression. That refers to AMT bandwidth that feels too sharp, prominent or incisive; as though its faster reflexes always led the parade to dominate. Getting 'accelerated' drivers like air-motion transformers to play seamlessly with conventional cones doesn't seem easy. Here one suspects that Gryphon's triple-magnet dynamic units act as antidote to discontinuity.


To recapitulate the Pantheon essence when driven by its Diablo 300 stablemate integrated amplifier: it behaves like a minimalist maxi monitor except for bass power/presence and dynamic life where it's very clearly a big speaker of stout cubic volume. I think we can agree that this is a case where expectations based on appearance can be quite misleading. Five drivers in a big box, at least acoustically (visually is a different matter) needn't be domineering at all. They can be as refined, articulate, precise and vanishing as top monitors - and continue to behave like it without faltering or changing as SPL scale up to majestic or bombastic, going where monitors stop to go. An automotive reference would be a small tightly sprung light sports car with a very powerful engine. It's nimble, super responsive and very quick.