The Gryphon Zena replaces the Athena ball-bearing volume wheel with touch-sensitive up/down buttons to create a volume attenuator consisting of 43 individual steps in 2 dB increments, with no more than two resistors in the volume control signal path at any given time.
Among the numerous component upgrades of the Zena is an ultra-precise array of SMD metal-foil resistors and hermetically sealed, gold-plated, ultra-low capacitance Pickering reed relays.
Equally crucial, the Zena volume attenuator is fully balanced, with no conversion of the signal from the XLR inputs to single-ended prior to attenuation, as was the case with the Athena. This simplification of the Zena signal path represents a major step forward in sound quality.
The Zena employs shunt regulators in the voltage supplies to the active circuits of the volume attenuator, in order to ensure a DC supply with ultra-low output impedance across a wide frequency band and optimal noise suppression.
To allow use in a surround system without compromising the stereo performance of the Gryphon Zena, the preamp now includes an expanded AV throughput function, so that either Input 2 (XLR) or input 3 (phono) can be configured as a 0 dB AV throughput for ideal integration with the owner’s multi-channel installation.
The Zena employs Wima polypropylene capacitors across the electrolytic capacitors in series regulated power supplies, as well as in parallel across Aluminium Organic Polymer capacitors in the shunt-regulated power supplies of the volume attenuator circuit. Schottky barrier diodes with low Von voltage are used in the analogue power supplies.
With no internal wiring, the only cabled exceptions are a short ground lead, display ribbons and AC power wiring mounted in a shielded channel from the rear IEC socket to the power switch to minimise 50/60 Hz interference.
Like the top of the range Gryphon Pandora preamplifier, the Zena eliminates tone controls, balance knobs, polarity inversion, headphone connections, mono switches and other superfluous circuitry to reduce interchannel and signal path coloration to an absolute minimum for the ultimate in beat fidelity, known to the British audiophile as PRaT, more politely referred to as Pace, Rhythm and Timing.
Flawlessly executed minimalist Scandinavian industrial design in various shades of black combines with a stylish user interface and all the functionality any serious 21st century music lover will ever desire.