Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S04 ep2 : Flemming Rasmussen, Gryphon Hi-Fi, [Denmark]

Interview with Flemming Rasmussen

Gryphon was started by Flemming E. Rasmussen, after he obtained a degree in graphics arts from the Aarhus Art Academy in Denmark and he had been involved in the local music community as well as employed as a designer for a sportswear company. Mr. Rasmussen first founded 2R Marketing, which was an importer of high end audio products into Denmark, and developed a moving coil preamplifier for record players. After this preamp (which became the "Gryphon Head Amp") was shown at the 1986 Consumer Electronics Show it developed sufficient interest in Japan to justify the formation of a sister company, which has become Gryphon Audio Designs. Gryphon Audio Designs became a formal company in 1985, and gradually the importing of audio components into Denmark by 2R Marketing was phased out until it ceased in 1993. Mr. Rasmussen owns a collection of master reel to reel tapes from the 1950s and 1960s. These tapes are played on a modified Studer A80 Reel to Reel tape deck to listen to products as they are being designed, in order to achieve a final product with the desired sound.


I went to the Art Academy as a painter and a graphic designer and to make money I was
working for banks. Sometimes it's rowdy; sometimes I'm doing sound and a lot of times I was
doing graphic designs. I made posters, so I became part of this music community although I'm
not playing an instrument. Something that I'veregrettedand never really learnt. One of the
burning products and this is the first time this product is being demonstrated publicly. I needed
some connectors not from my own, but for my system and I was looking at these connectors you
could buy and I was looking kind of a designer's point of view, but also trying to figure out, I
mean,what would the ideal connector be.And I designed a connector for fun, for my own
system. I had a friend thathave what you call it, a lace, and he made eight connectors for me.
And some of my fellow, high fi victims, they saw these and said, why don't you, you know,
make some more of those, I would like that and I was making fifty thousand connectors a year. I
also started to import it from brands and I had brands like Classique, Cradle, Goldman and I did
that for quite some years. 02:59

One of the distributions that I had with Classique cartridges and I sell cartridges for sixty
creators but I also found out that the finger print of the header was stronger than the differences
between the cartridges so I had a brother- in- law that time, that laid on , went on with studio
equipment and we thought, ok, this is going to be a one off, so just do everything you know the
way that it really should be because it's not commercial and given my design background I
thought ok, I want to go all the way with this one so, I made it with two separate channels hold
it together by a gold plated front and it was just a very cool device.03:53


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

I use to go to the sea and show everything in Chicago and a friend of mine said, “Why don't you
bring that cute little header with you to Chicago. It's so small you can carry it. I would like to
have it in my booth you know, just a conversation piece. So I took it along and there it was and
people, because they talked about it. They have never seen anything like that. So there was this
Japanese distributor, he came into the room, he saw that thing and he said I want to buy it and I
said you can't buy it, this is the only one I just bring it here for fun. He really wanted it so I gave
him a price and I tried to scare him away with the idea with it at a very high level. And I guess,
some way we were putting down the building bridge of Gryphon that time. I went home and I
made one more, sent it to Japan, never heard from him, atleast I thought I'd never hear from
him, but soon long time.Then one day came this very big magazine called Stereo Sound and
there was my header, the only number two in the world. Being product of the year. I mean, they
loved it. It was so solid, it was you know, so sudden, he wanted more and it was a huge profit,
because going from making one to more, was a major step, but that's where it started.05:26

But it was not like there was any plan or anything. I never had plans like that in my life. It was
just a desire to go in the direction and see how far it would take me and the head amp you know
became vonoxdays, the vonoxdays became to like a full blown pre amp.05:56


Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

Gryphon is actually a very small company, in the sense that I never had the ambition to
manufacture because I knew that from my brother in law and my friend that manufacturing is
probably the hardest way to money at all. So I used some supplies from day one. I found fairly
big companies in Denmark. I mean, it's such a small place, but you find a lot of electronic
manufacturers and these electronic manufacturers, because it's such an expensive place to be in
Denmark, small country and all that.They specialize in making sophisticated equipment. So
they had some testing equipment and manufacturing equipment on a level, you know that I
could only dream of. If I insisted on making everything on my own, I would, you know, make a
bad product and the same with the designers. I mean I've got a few people who I was working
with inhouse, they working for me, but when we decide, ok, we want to make speakers, I went
out and I put a crew of people together who are really good at speakers.07:13

High end business is founded by amateurs and nobody went into this business to make money. I
don't think so and very few actually did. I mean, there were mostly ambit fellows that found a
way to finance their hobby, you know. I did not go into this because I wanted to make money. I
went into it because I thought it was interesting and it turned me on. I thought that I could bring
beauty into mechanical side of the whole thing.07:54


When I was painting and people saw my paintings and they would tell you, ok what are you
trying to tell? And the thing is, if I knew what I wanted to tell, I would have written a book. I
mean I would not make it difficult by making a bloody painting that people had to translate and
I am number one and I was having a show and I had my painting on the wall and I was curious
and out of vanity I guess, I was hanging around this place where my painting was and there was
this coupled standing near it and they were talking about the artists intentions with this painting.
They were talking about tormented childhood, things I wanted to press and there was rebirth
and everything and I was just standing up, wow.08:49


Jewellery Theatre Elements

And I got this collection of tapes and I bought it from an old friend in America. A lot of them
were deck masters and studio masters and they were like from the 50's up to the 70's and they
were very, very good period. Some of them are quite rare. I got a studio 80, that he used for the
whole playback and all that. soI had the whole setup and I had it up and running and it
transformed alot of things for me. There was this and noise and everything, but the atmosphere,
the feeling, I mean it was just reaching out, moved certainly a lot of the perceptions I had of the
different definitions of what good sound was. Of course I realized very soon that you cannot
make anything that sound like life. But it is the only goal you can have. I mean it is the
direction I had to go.09:57

How did you come up with the name Gryphon? Where does that come from? 10:15

That actually came from a past time thing I had, I was hand- gliding and one of the planes I was
flying was, his name was Gryphon and I had an incredible experience that thing, I was flying
that thing down from the kit to the horn and I was having , you know, like a Walkman at that
time, playing Barton at the same time,I mean that was better than sex I tell you. That was really
something. So that's where it came from and it was also a good symbol because the combination
of Lea and liar symbolizes the force of the great and everything and it was just adding this
mystical touch to it, you know and that I thought was important.11:02


Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

And I had this one product I was bringing out to a distributor in Hong Kong, wanted him to buy
it and we were sitting out and his show room was opened to everyone, I placed it on the table
and there came this client and he looked at it and I could see his eyes were popping out of his
head and he said, "I want that, what is it? I mean, beautiful and I said this a header, ok I want it
and I want it tonight and it's typical Hong Kong style at that time. So you seem to be an
important client to this distributor so we went out to him that night and he had a villa in Hong
Kong, you had a lot of money because in that branch, you could put on thirty stores. a big
building and he had seven systems, but he had a chair that he wanted me to sit in because he
wanted me to take photo, which is quite usual. When I was sitting there, i was looking at the
wall and I saw these photos. They were be like, that I was feeling from pros sitting there,
Wesson sitting there, Betas a sitting there, all the boys in the high end was sitting in that chair
and that is what he was collecting. 12:38


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Flemming Rasmussen, Gryphon Hi-Fi, Denmark