Paul Van Dyck's 
Date of Visit:
6 June 1999

13 November 1999

Third Visit:
09 December 2000

the System

Gryphon amps

Paul's DIY DAC


e-mail to:
Paul Van Dyck


Paul is from Antwerpen (Belgium) and is on his second assignment to Turkey since November 1998 for his company. The first time he stayed in Ankara in the 80's. Thanks to his Turkish wife Fatma, Paul speaks very fluent Turkish. Paul first found me through my web page, sent me an e-mail to ask about someone who could fix a voltage related problem of his Gryphon power amplifier. Fortunately this problem is now 100% solved.

I asked the Van Dyck couple about the eternal domestic issue: Fatma said that she's got a high "AF" and that she likes to listens to music with decent systems, but Paul thinks that there is room for improvement. My impression is that there is perfect harmony.

Paul is at the same time a DIY person: he made his own D/A Converter (which was based on an Elektor supplied schematic). His project lasted three years. Paul says that the most difficult part was finding the components. He gave me the following technical details about his DAC:

"It uses two torroidal transformers: one for the digital part and one for the analogue part. It has 12 regulated power supplies, and uses separate grounds for the digital and analogue sections. The digital filter is a Burr Brown DF1700, 8 times over sampling. The DACs are the Burr Brown PCM63P-K 20 bitters. I-V conversion is the Analog Devices AD844, and the output stage is a Burr Brown  bifet OPA627, configured for an output impedance of 50 ohms. The analog output circuit is completely DC coupled and uses a DC servo to control the DC output offset."
Paul thinks that Gryphon's built quality and circuitry is top quality. I thought that I made a compliment when I said that its sound is very tube like but he corrected me saying: "there is no such thing: there is only right or wrong sound."

Paul is not yet a member of the Istanbul Hi Fi Club but wishes to join soon. He listens to blues / jazz (30%), pop (30%), classical (25%), world music (10%) and Turkish music (5%).

System's Components
CD Transport:  Sony CDP XA50 ES
D/A Converter: DIY - (based on Burr Brown PCM63P-K)
Preamp: Gryphon Sonata
Power Amp: Gryphon Antileon
Speakers: B&W Matrix 802 S3
Interconnects: Aural Symphonics AS-One Plus, Kimber Select KS1120
Digital cables: Audioquest Digital Pro
Speaker Cables:  Kimber 8TC (bi-wired)

Paul's comments about his System:

AA: "Paul, how would you describe your system's sound?"
PVD: "Natural, clear and very life like on human voices. My selection criteria has always been human voice."
AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"
PVD: "I would wish to have a little more inner detail and some more bass extension."
AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"
PVD: "Speakers, but this is a medium term project."

the revised system

Aerial 10T
Re-Visit Notes (13 November 1999)

If you look above, at "Paul's comments about his System" section's last answer, you will read Paul's medium term wish for upgrading his speakers. This was on 6 June. Well we now know that medium term is 5 months for Paul. He's now got a pair of new speakers: Aerial 10T. Another novelty is the speaker cables: Nordost Red Dawn. The rest of the system remains the same.

I noticed a big improvement in the area of the bass which had become well extended and controlled. In general the system sounded very balanced with a natural warm tonality. The new Aerial 10T speakers seemed to have a very good synergy with the Gryphon amplification.

One more change: Paul has now joined the Istanbul Hi-Fi Club.

Well done Paul, happy listening.


the new system

Audio Aero Capitole

Chord SPM 1200C

Third Visit Notes (09 December 2000)

It has been a year since my second visit. I noticed that Paul has now adopted a minimalist approach to hi-end audio. Minimal in terms of quantity, as there are now only three main components (if we don't count the cables) and minimal in terms of size (see the size of the Chord power amp). 

His new (French made) CD player, Audio Aero Capitole, is in fact a CD Player / Preamp combination. It incorporates a 24 bit / 192 kHz upsampler and its analog output stages use tubes.

Paul replaced his very dear Gryphon power amp by Chord SPM 1200C stereo power amp. We all know that Chord manufactures some huge looking amps but this one is not one of them, it has relatively small dimensions and weighs only 14 kg. But it still delivers 315 W rms @ 8 ohm. Quite an achievement!

The speakers and the cables were the same as my previous visit. 

Let me tell you that I heard an important improvement in the area of openness, stage size and depth and liveliness. Inner details were better and the bass was more controlled. There was a sense of ease and effortlessness (amazing when you look at the size of the Chord amp). The mids' tonality was slightly on the lean side but we experimented with different cables (I can't reveal their names at the moment as I'm preparing a review about them) and could cure this shortcoming very easily. There appear to exist an important potential for further improvement just by inserting cables with the right synergy.

So overall a very worthwhile upgrade which one more time proved that "Less is More!".