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Found 12 results

  1. Ayre Codex, Lampizator Amber, Schiit Yggy, exaSound e32, and Ayre QX-5, DAC Comparison -A Short Story The following is more of a catharsis than a comparison of some very exciting DAC products on the market today. These writings are somewhat of a warning to others more than a recommendation of one product over another; attempting to discover audio nirvana can tail spin quickly. Over the course of two months I auditioned the Ayre Codex, Schiit Yggdrasil, Lampizator Amber II, exaSound e32, and Ayre QX-5 Twenty, in my home, in my listening room and with my speakers. But that was not the original intent. Each piece of succeeding equipment arrived as the result of me continuing to read reviews in magazines and forums, even after making my final purchase decision. Hence my warning, purchase it and enjoy it, as there is always some other or new gear that alleges an improvement to your current setup, and chasing nirvana can take you places you were never prepared to go; especially if you find and prove the reviews to be true and accurate. I went down a similar path several years ago when I read every review I could find and attempted to evaluate an amplifier for my system and finally chose the Classe CT-2300; but that’s a story for another day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this particular DAC journey started three years ago when my wife surprisingly encouraged me to keep my Martin Logan powered electrostatic Vantage speakers after I replaced them with the Magnepan 3.7i’s. Apparently she liked the eclectic and artistic look of the Vantage’s even if she couldn’t hear the difference between the two. That left me with two systems. I kept the Logan’s in the den and ran them with an old Pioneer integrated I had sitting in the garage. When the 60” Samsung went out in the den the warranty company let us replace it with a wall mounted 65” LG OLED. I then felt the den’s system was deserving of something better in the audio department to match the level of video performance the OLED provided. As a consequence, and in usual fashion, I made a visit to my local Magnepan dealer in contemplation of replacing my Classe CT-2300 two-channel amplifier. The dealer recommended that I improve my source instead of looking for a new amplifier and he insisted that I give the Ayre Codex a try for consideration. I resisted because I already have a headphone DAC and amp from Schiit Audio. Reluctantly I took the Ayre Codex home for an audition. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought the Oppo 105D was a contender against the Codex in the boxing ring of sound quality. I admit, and by these writing you will soon see, that I am an audio enthusiast and not a true audiophile. I had previously been very satisfied with the sound of the 105D and enjoyed the two-channel improvement in sound it provided over my Marantz AV7005 pre-processor. I was confident this was an act of futility but he was adamant I would hear a noticeable difference in the sound quality. I took the Codex home for audition, more so to prove him wrong and to validate my 105D purchase, than to really consider and contemplate the purchase of a separate DAC to add to my system. Secretly I had my heart set on upgrading to mono-blocks as they have always appeared to me to be the ultimate design for amplification. So I gave the little Codex a listen, and to my amazement he was right. The Codex was extremely musical. More detail, better sound staging and more air, no pun intended, than I had ever experience in my humble system. It took me a little while to justify the purchase of the Codex because it almost rendered useless, the upgraded components that gave the 105 an auditory advantage over the 103 (especially since I now use an HDMI extractor to pull high-rez audio from my disc content). But the overall sound quality was a considerable improvement and a step, or two, or three above the Oppo and well worth the purchase. All would have been well and good, had I only stopped there. For whatever reason I was not content with stopping there but, it was if I was hearing my library for the first time. Track after track, I would hear something I had never heard before. It was exciting and very enjoyable but I could not help but think that maybe I sold myself short. If that much of an improvement can be had with the small and semi-affordable Codex, could I have possibly left some sound quality on the table by not investigating all of the top players at a similar price point? While scouring the web, I would listen to the Codex pouring out involving and almost new samples of music as I attempted to listen to, at least a clip of, everything in my collection and on my playlists. In reading, I ran across the Schiit Yggy and felt I hadn’t given my purchase enough investigation as I already owned the Schiit Lyr/Bifrost headphone amp/dac combo and I have been very pleased with that combo, with my HiFi Man HE-500 planar-magnetic headphones. So I quickly sent off for the Yggy. I then read about the Lampizator Amber II and decide to include this unit for deliberation as they both afford a 15-day and 7-day trial period respectively. I will anchor the remaining portion of this monologue by stating the unscientific analysis and assessments that follow are with my speakers, my system, in my home and with my collective ears, as I did confer with couple of buddies for their opinions. There were so many variables that several different outcomes could have easily resulted if the experiment had been conducted under different conditions, i.e. different interconnects, power cords, speakers, amplifiers, etc. That being said, here is how things transpired. Since I purchased the Codex first let’s start there. The Ayre Codex comes in at $1995 and makes a very attractive offer considering the price to sound quality factor. If I were to apply a numerical value to the overall sound quality I would assign it 85 out of 100 with all things being equal. But that’s where things get convoluted; everything isn’t equal. There are so many variables when comparing and contrasting these products, but surely I thought the one constant to compare would be the sound quality. Yes sound quality of one consistent point of comparison but with what format and through which input? So I compared the sound, in general, with as many different inputs as possible but focused on the USB inputs for direct comparison. The numerator in this equation is price. This all started as an attempt to get the maximum amount of sound quality at a predetermined maximum price point. But in an effort not to leave any discernable amount of sound quality on the table, my budget range was exposed to scope creep. My fear was possibly spending $500 short of something that was sonically outstanding. Conversely I also want to avoid spending $500 too much with no audible advantage. The Codex basically made everything sound pretty good, very appealing sound regardless to the recording. It was not overly analytical but just detailed enough providing a very good sound stage. It leaned towards the warm side with the emphasis on the midrange. It comes in a form factor that screams headphone amp/dac, until you link it into your two-channel big rig. It is very versatile for the price with the ability to serve as a pre-amp, DAC, and headphone amp, but it’s volume control does not include a remote. That would normally not be a problem except it had a better sound as a stand-alone pre-amp versus being connected via the XLR inputs into my Parasound P5 pre-amp. So anytime I wanted to adjust the volume I had to eject myself from the couch to make an adjustment or to mute it to take a phone call. A plus included the ability to see the sample rate illuminated on the dimmable LCD screen, from my listening position, without the use of my telephoto SLR lens (more on that later). Also, I wish it had a few more inputs as one USB and one optical SPDIF provides limitations when attempting to integrate it into a hybrid multi source, Home Theatre / Two Channel , combo system. And although it had an impressive and formidable form factor with high quality buttons and knobs in a densely packed rectangular case, the unnerving part is it’s required to stand upright without the option to position it horizontally. I never had it to fall but that was a byproduct of my pesky phobia that caused me to treat it like a piece of delicate crystal. From the pics you can see that I don’t have a formal audio rack to house my equipment, but I care for each piece greatly none the less. I never tried it but I read the Codex also doubles as a balanced output headphone amp. Back to my point, this unit screams headphone amp/dac combo until you plug connect it to your big system via balanced outputs preferably, but single ended RCA is available as well. If it had a remote I could have stopped there (I’m trying to convince myself, not you), but I did not. I ordered the Amber and the Yggy and both were in production delays so I was content with the Codex until I received a strange email from DHL stating the Amber was enroute from Germany, so the excitement started to build. Because of the 7-day trial I stayed home to meet the delivery man and got the burn in process started right away. 72-hours later with the Lampizator Amber II running into my Parasound P5 preamplifier via RCA, I enjoyed an improved and a different sound presentation. But at an MSRP of $2925 USD/ $2500 Euro (the conversion rate was 1.17 at the time of my purchase but it’s a little less now) it really challenges the price to performance ratio when I assign an overall sound quality rating of 88 out of 100. I must admit this tube based format provided an almost exotic sound. It had a nice tube bloom, a warm and inviting sound bordering on mesmerizing. Unfortunately on certain tracks and after extended listening sessions the bloom would vacillate towards smearing. I also felt the Amber lost some sound quality due to the lack of balanced XLRs. The Amber is the entry level model to the Lampizator family of DACs. The base price is $1800 Euro and I went with the upgraded $2000 Euro, Tube Rectified version. I figured that it is a tube based DAC after all, so why not go tube all the way? I also added DSD256, to the tune of an additional $500 Euro MSRP, to help future proof the purchase. Afterwards I realized the Amber had the least chance of surviving this comparison as it was inadequately equipped without balanced XLR outputs which would cost an additional $1,000 Euro, and no pre-amp volume control, another +$1,000 Euro. Therefore the Amber was forced to use my Parasound P5 that possibly limited the overall performance. The Amber II owner’s manual has a section under COOPERATION WITH THE PREAMP that reads, “The DAC with volume control should sound audibly cleaner and more direct without any preamp between the DAC and the amp. The preamp, however good, will veil a lot of the DAC’s natural clarity, speed and directness.” I am now not 1000% confident that statement is completely accurate but I did believe it then. What I heard thru the Parasound P5 cosigned that declaration. I thought, if that is a true statement, why would you sell a product with an inherit drawback? And if you did sell it with this perceived flaw, one would expect that caveat to be posted clearly on the company website, and not on page 20 of the owner’s manual. Even with the Amber relegated to run thru my P5 I still enjoyed that tubey sound. The majority of my listening includes female voices and the Amber presented a very sexy sound. I was completely seduced by the sound of those tubes. That is until the Yggy arrived. I would be very happy with the Amber today, even without the volume control, if I had never heard the Yggy. The Yggadrasil by Schiit arrived at the end of the burn in period for the AMBER so I rushed to get it past the burn in period for a quick evaluation to make my final DAC purchase selection. Each time I peeked into the oven to sneak a listen to the Yggy there was an increasing sense of revelation. It eclipsed the Amber after 48 hours of burn in but I didn’t give it any really critical listening until it had run for a 100 hours. Gobs of detail is the major characteristic of the Yggy. I could see into the music much further and clearer than ever before. That allowed for a visceral and engaging experience, more lifelike. But I wasn’t ready to give the checkered flag to the Yggy because the Yggy lacks DSD support. The Yggy’s sound quality surpassed the Amber in PCM mode but not when attempting to resolve DSD, so that was concerning to me. The Yggy also has a formidable form factor with USB, Coaxial, BNC and AES/EBU connections, and although I didn’t test the BNC or the AES/EBU I read the sound quality may perform better thru these inputs. The Yggy did lack a headphone connection, which was a moot point for me, but like the Amber it was relegated to working thru the P5 as it has no volume control. Ultimately I hung onto the Amber II, past the 7-day trial, wrestling with the final decision and thinking the Yggy couldn’t improve that much more. When I contacted Schiit to obtain the return merchandise authorization, they gave me 15-days to have it arrive at their facilities, so that unfortunately gave me more time continue the side-by-side evaluation. They say timing is everything and I feel all of these products need a proper 30 day trial period to give them a thorough burn in and a relaxed evaluation but in either case I feel 7 days simply isn’t enough. What further complicated things was the inclusion of a PASS LABS 250.8 two-channel amplifier. I read the 250.8 was a good match for my Maggie’s and Reno HiFi has a 15-day trial so I plunged the credit card down deeper into the abyss. 72-hours later I was intoxicated by the voice of sirens singing to me thru my Maggie’s. This audio addiction had begun to produce the euphoria I had only read about but never personally experienced; at least not in my listening room. Was this real, was this Memorex, or was I a victim of ACTUALIZED REALIZATION ; meaning, just because you are listening to $17k of stereo equipment you think you hear $17k of sound quality. If it is a placebo please don’t bring it to my attention because I am loving every minute of it! But in the silence between each sound track I begin to sober. It seems I encountered a sound quality vertigo of sorts. There were simply too many moving parts as I tried to evaluate if the improvement in sound came from the 250.8 or the extended burn in time of the Yggy and the Amber, or again, was it Actualized Realization? It took hours of critical listening to recalibrate my ears and my mind to the improved quality of sound I now enjoyed. I fully reassessed the three DACs again, including another listening session with the fellas, and we concluded, yet again, that the Codex was an outstanding product worthy of anyone’s system, the Amber was one sexy and captivating sound but the enormous level of musical detail in the sound coming from the Yggy won first place over the others. Despite the lack of DSD decoding I ranked the overall sound quality of the Yggy at 91 out of 100 and at $2300 it was the current pound for pound champion. So now I had a dilemma that only got worse. I had the Amber II past the evaluation period when in fact I preferred the sound of the Yggy over the Amber. Ouch! So I posted the Amber for sale on Audiogon, despite the fact that I have never sold anything on Audiogon. I have bought some pieces on Audiogon but I have never been a seller, but oh well, this has been a totally new experience for me so this will just be another leg of the journey. And since I was already this far down this rabbit hole, I took another plunge which at the time seemed safe enough. The inclusion of the PASS LABS 250.8 into my system followed with the purchase of the exaSound e32 DAC from Canada, both with 15-day and 30-day trial periods respectively. I learned of this combination while reading about the award from Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound at the AXPONA Chicago Show (2015), awarding the BEST SOUND (cost-no-object) to: Magnepan 3.7i driven by Pass Labs and sourced by exaSound. The e32 arrived in a box that led me to believe they shipped it too soon and forgot to include the unit in the shipping container as it felt like a completely empty box. I peeled open the shipping material nervously to find a small, attractive, silver, rectangular unit weighing in at less than 2.5 pounds. My immediate reaction was this thing does not have a chance. Ironically, during this evaluation process, the size and weight seemed to have an indication on the relative sound quality. I know nothing about the interworking of DAC technology, I only know what I hear, but it defies conventional logic that something smaller and lighter than all of the competitors would be the sound quality champion. To my surprise and utter amazement the e32 blew away everything I had heard previously. It is everything you can imagine, detailed, nuanced, warm, dynamic, electric, viscerally engaging and basically more life-like above all the others. I rated the sound at 93 out of 100. Finally, I found my price for performance sound champion. Fortunately I arrived to this conclusion before that 15th day deadline I was given, so I rushed the Yggy back to the Schiit warehouse. At last, I had my final decision and I was so satisfied with what I was hearing, or so I thought. With my final DAC selection solidified I redirected my energies to evaluating the Pass Labs 250.8, and I matched it against the two-channel Ayre VX-5 Twenty, which is a review for another day. But in doing so, my local Ayre dealer recommended that I consider the Ayre K-5xeMP preamplifier, as I had to disconnect the e32 from the amplifier to connect the Marantz AV7005 for home theater viewing. This cumbersome process bother him, but I was completely ok with it. I was also convinced that directly connecting the DAC to the Amplifier produced the best sound and performance, just like the Amber owner’s manual suggested. I reluctantly agreed to audition the Ayre pre-amp, but the greatest motivating factor was based on my inability to see the LED display on the e32. If I could move the volume control to the Ayre Pre-amplifier I wouldn’t have to use my SLR telephoto lens to read the current volume level. For some reason that really bothered me, perhaps because it emphasized my mortality and aging eyes. For smiles and giggles I interjected the Ayre K-5xeMP with Audience AU24 XLRs downstream for yet another amazing but incremental improvement. The pre-amp gave darker blacks and more ease to the sound, adding control and enhancing the musicality and realism to the sound. I was really moving in the wrong direction with this leg of the experiment. The original intent of this study was to find the optimal arrangement, getting the greatest result within a limited budget. However, experiencing the step up in sound with the pre-amp and high priced interconnect inspired me to try to discover just how good this system could sound, and the education would have a minimal cost of tuition, so I forged forward. It also would give me something to strive for in the future, or not. I wanted to know and understand where to place the demarcation point for the sound quality diminishing point of return. Regrettably I was so impressed with the K-5xeMP ($5,600 MSRP) that I continued my research and decided I simply must audition it’s bigger brother the KX-5 Twenty ($9,950 MSRP) and for more smiles and giggles I want to hear the QX-5 Twenty Digital Hub/DAC/Pre-Amp ($8,995 MSRP). I did what I had to do to get my hands and ears on one. I did the math and moving the budget up this far should provide exponential gains in sound quality, right? It did not; not at first, at least. The QX-5 had a better sound quality but not befitting the 3x price tag. The e32 and QX-5 Twenty were virtually neck and neck. Granted the QX-5 did not yet have its requisite 1,000 hours of burn in to perform at 1000% but I had past the first 100 hour check point and I felt I should hear more separation between the two units. I headed back to my local Ayre dealer confused and befuddled. His conclusion was I improved the system so much with the 250.8 and the KX-5 Twenty that I was now exposing weak points, namely the interconnects. We replaced the Tributaries and AU24 XLRs with all AU24 SX 1m XLRs ($2,400 MSPR each) and boom, the performance of both the e32 and the QX-5/20 made noticeable leaps forward! The QX-5/20 outpaced the e32, but not by a 3x margin as the price points require. I had finally reached a noticeable diminishing point of return. The musical experience enjoyed by this system with the $9k Ayre DAC, $8k Ayre Pre-Amp, with $4,800 of Audience interconnects was as close as I have ever been to audio nirvana. The musical experience now astounds me, stops me mid-sentence, as I attempt to listen to my music playing in the background while I keep my head down buried in work. With this system there is very little work being done in my listening room, as I am constantly drawn from the attention of the laptop screen to the performance on the virtual stage in this room. I was amazed that I could actually hear what the sound engineer intended for me to hear in the pans of sounds and placements of the instruments in their respective places on the sound stage. This sound was 3d, it was audibly holographic. On some classical tracks I could close my eyes and hear the dimension of the sound hall, however deep and wide; it was an optical illusion for your ears. If they were to make virtual reality glasses for your ears this would be it! It made me realize how music has the ability to live on thru history and how the artist didn’t make the music just for the fan of their day, but for the fans of my day, and for the music fans of tomorrow. But while I’m listening, I am transported back in time, I am there with them now; it was as close to sounding real as I have ever heard. There is so much information included in CD quality music I almost felt the QX-5/twenty was reconstituting the music. At one point I was starting to accuse the QX-5/20 of using some type of technology or algorithm to reconstruct the music into something completely brand new. My reference tracks now provide information that before wasn’t present and currently didn’t seem possible. It was as if the QX-5/20 was remixing the sound. The musical experience was phenomenal, but at those price points I would personally demand nothing less for my hard earned dollar. I simply didn’t expect it to actually perform that well; I thought this was just something rich guys purchase just to brag about how much they have spent. The sound quality rating deserves a 100 out of 100 in relation to anything I have ever heard both in and out of my personal listening room. But the reality is,there has to be something better, but at what price? And then, once you find that, I am sure there is something even better than that. So realizing this cannot be the end all, be all, ultimate in sound, (or is it) I would assign it a 98 out of 100. Hearing this sound experience and being blown away by it and then understanding it is so far beyond my financial means I was disheartening until I did the math and realized I was enjoying 95% of this sound quality for a fraction of the price with the e32. Hearing the holy grail of sound made me appreciate just how close to heavenly music I was getting from the e32. It appears exaSound put all of the production money into the sound quality with a limit on the investment into the form factor. The e32 is handsome and attractive to the eyes but it lacks the tactile feel of exquisite craftsmanship, which is not a problem for me, just an observation. The feel of the buttons, the sound they make when pressed, the contrast on the LCD screen aren’t consistent with the amazing sound this little piece of dynamite makes. I’m sure the pictures of my system support my philosophy that it’s all about the sound, the look has virtually no influence on my purchasing decision. The e32 also screams headphone amp/DAC until you connect the XLRs into your big rig. It is actually a compliment to exaSound, for me to be shocked by the sound that comes from such an unassuming form factor. It’s as if they literally did more, much more, with less, weighing less than two and one half pounds. It comes in a small and light package but the sound is gigantic and the performance is oh so powerful. It’s the best DAC I have ever heard that is less than $9k. Here is another challenge with this comparison, when you interject a high end pre-amp into the equation it’s difficult to determine who is the true star, the DAC or the pre-amp. Without question the KX-5 Twenty pre-amp is a star, if not the star. I have never enjoyed listening to my music at average to below average volumes, as much as I have with the KX-5/20. I usually rock out with the volume even if it isn’t rock music. The KX-5 Twenty does what it is supposed to do, in as much as it amplifies the source to the next level without coloration or interference; the higher quality of source material, and the higher quality of the DAC, will result in higher quality and better sound performance, point blank and period. But when you compare DAC to DAC as standalone units, e32 vs. QX-5/20, the margins diminish somewhat when they are interconnected directly into the amplifier. The differential diminishes even more when you use more affordable interconnects. I wish I could re-run the whole experiment with all the DACs running thru the KX-5 Twenty, I am sure the Amber owner’s manual would be proven wrong. The KX-5/20 is one marvelous piece of equipment and allows everything connected to it to reach it’s full potential. In conclusion, I just read what I wrote, trying to tie this all up and lock it down and move on with my life. Then I did the math…. I did the math again…. Ok, so the math doesn’t quite compute. I tried to interject numbers into sound because I crunch numbers for a living. It’s like trying to grade cars on the quarter mile time alone to determine the overall value of the vehicle. That math doesn’t compute. Here is what I was trying to illustrate with the computational values: • You would do well with any and all of these contenders • Great sound quality is universal with each of the products included in this evaluation • Cost Is No Object only applies to 1% of the population and I’m not in that category, are you • If your budget is limited to $2,000 buy CODEX before they stop selling it or accounting informs them to raise the price; expect that to happen soon and mark my words when it happens • If $2,300 doesn’t break the bank and resolving your sound in PCM only isn’t a deal breaker get the YGGY and don’t look back, but realize they allow for upgrades so the future has promise • If you can afford it, and have a penchant for the exotic, and or like to tinker and roll tubes, jump on the AMBER and enjoy yourself and don’t look back • If $3,500 is in your budget and or you ultimately want the best sound for the least amount of money, buy the e32 before they add features you don’t want and or need, or charge more to add a form factor that doesn’t improve the sound quality • If $5,500 is in your budget you may want to spring for the exaSound e32 and Play Point combo as that is a closer match for the QX-5 Twenty Hub, and if you do let me know how they compare as I ran out of time before I could make that head to head comparison, and it’s half the price with higher sample rates up to DSD256 and 32 bit PCM • If cost is no object, or $9k is in your maximum budget, or you simply want the best possible sound quality, buy the QX-5 Twenty; and my recommendation is to push the budget another $8k and marry it with the KX-5 Twenty, and if you compliment the remainder of your system accordingly with a full loom of AU24 SX interconnects and speaker cables, you just might experience an eargasm, every nite, with every track, for years until your hearing starts to fail I am sure everyone reading has a similar story. We should all go to therapy together; my name is M. James Scott and I am an Audio Addict. But writing this short story has helped me in my 12-step program to find a cure to audio alcoholism. The exaSound e32 prevailed victorious in the performance to price category and the Ayre QX-5 Twenty as the ultimate winner in sound quality, price notwithstanding. But again, I would be interested to know how much closer the e32 could close the gap if it’s sister component PlayPoint was included in the shootout. My 30 days is up with the e32 so I guess I will never know; that is if my therapy continues to be effective… http://ayre.com/ http://www.lampizator.eu/Fikus/WELCOME_TO_LAMPIZATOR.html http://www.schiit.com/home https://exasound.com/default.aspx A Short Story by M. James Scott
  2. Dears, have you ever experienced problems in connecting Roon ROCK (mine is on a NUC7i7) with Yggdrasil through USB? I can't really set up Yggy in Roon as audio device: in the device list it doesn't appear at all or, quite weird, it appears for a second and then disappeared again. I tested different usb cables but nothing works. I've Yggdrasil with Gen 3 USB; I've also tested an Intona between Rock and Yggy and no improvements When I connected another DAC through USB (ifi iDAC2) all went really well. Thanks for any support
  3. For those of you who LIKE the look of the otherwise all-black Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amplifier WITH the ridiculous silver volume knob, you can safely ignore this thread :). For those of you who, like me, think the silver knob looks terrible, read on. I contacted Schiit support (with tongue-in-cheek) asking if they could send me a black knob to replace the one "erroneously" shipped with my amp. They replied that "they had no black knobs" (which is the response I expected). I then set out on a quest to fix the problem myself. I found a source in Asia that was able to supply me a solid, cast aluminum black knob for about $10 all-in. This knob is the exact same diameter, but a little thicker than the knob supplied by Schiit. It is also slightly glossier than the finish of the amp. I still like it better than the silver knob, though. I have attached a photo of the result. All comments welcome. If you are interested in pursuing this yourself, let me know via PM. Happy listening!
  4. Hi, dear CA forum members! This is my first topic here, I would like to ask if Gungnir MB is a good deal for a first DAC. Is it as good as reviews and some people tell? What alternatives do I have with this budget? Before answer, you should know, that I'm 17 years old and this summer I'm going to work, to earn enough money for the dac which will stand in my Dad's (and mine too) audiosystem. He'll buy other stuff. Also I want to build special PC for audio (like C.A.P.S).. maybe it is an overkill for 1350$ dac? Thank you! Misha
  5. Mine arrives any day. It handles 24/192 (a first for me) but I have to wonder if even Schiit can pull off a $150 DAC that can translate enough of that resolution to make it worth the downloads. Anybody have one of these little guys? Gary [h=1]SCHIIT ANNOUNCES NEXT-GEN MAGNI AND MODI[/h][h=2]12/12/2014[/h]Enhanced Performance and Flexibility; New Uber Models December 12, Valencia, CA. Two years after the announcement of the original Magni headphone amplifier and Modi USB DAC, Schiit Audio introduces the next generation: Magni 2 and Modi 2, together with their even more feature-packed Uber models. This introduction means additional flexibility and performance for Magni 2 and Modi 2 at the same price level ($99) as the original Magni and Modi, while Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber reset the value equation for entry-level products at $149 each. "We've added gain switching to Magni 2, and 24/192 capability to Modi 2, and kept them at the same price as the originals," said Jason Stoddard, Schiit's Co-Founder. "But we went all-out on the Uber models, adding preamp outputs and higher power to Magni 2 Uber, and making the Modi 2 Uber essentially a mini-Bifrost, with optical, coaxial, and USB inputs. Now, the flexibility and performance you can expect at the entry point to high-end personal audio is much higher than ever before." In total, four products were announced: Magni 2. All-new discrete headphone amp with 1.2W RMS per channel and switchable high/low gain, together with a refined constant-feedback gain stage. The update of what's arguably the most popular headphone amp, ever. $99. Magni 2 Uber. All-new discrete headphone amp with 1.5W RMS per channel, switchable high/low gain, preamp outputs, and even more sophisticated constant-feedback gain stage. Also includes new 24VA wall transformer (3x larger than Magni) and aluminum top chassis and knob. $149. Modi 2. All-new USB asynchronous DAC with switchable USB Class 1 and Class 2 modes. USB Class 1 remains driverless for all supported computers, USB Class 2 adds 24/192 capability, but requires drivers for Windows. The update of one of the most popular USB DACs ever. $99. Modi 2 Uber. All-new USB, optical, and coaxial three-input DAC running full USB Class 2 for 24/192 capability through all inputs. Essentially a mini Bifrost. AC linear power supply with included 8VA wall transformer. Aluminum pushbutton and top chassis. $149.
  6. Schiit Yggdrasil

    Hello guys, I hope this will become the new thread for all things Yggy. I hope this thread will be glitch-free. Pun intended. I hope we see the familiar faces, and some others, not so much. Mike (Baldur) paid us a visit once in a while. I hope we will see you more often now that your neck has been upgraded. I will start with a first question: any of you tried tweaking your Yggy? Schiit mod
  7. I have the über Bifrost and now see one can send it to Schiit for the Multibit upgrade. Has anyone done this and, if so, what are your impressions?
  8. So today I decided to put the Marantz NA6005 through the ringer and see how it actually performs up against a great affordable DAC, the fully loaded Schiit Bifrost. The Bifrost has the upgraded USB board as well as the upgraded "Uber" analog output board. The Bifrost has many thousands of hours on it. It's been powered up ever since the first day I bought it over 2 years ago. The NA6005 has been up and running non-stop for the past two and a half weeks, so roughly 400 hours on it. The Schiit is being fed via a Wireworld Ultraviolet 2 meter USB cable with JRiver off of a stripped down Compaq laptop, then out through Wireworld Oasis 7 1 meter interconnects to the preamp. The Marantz is being fed via a Belkin CAT5 2 meter cable, through an old Netgear 10/100/1000 switch, streaming directly from the NAS and another Belkin CAT5 cable, then out through an old pair of Cardas Crosslink interconnects to the preamp. Both units getting fed quality 24/96 FLAC files straight from the NAS. Now comes the fun part, the comparison... The tests were done with the same tracks playing, with the Marantz playing roughly one second ahead of the other, so when switching back and forth I could hear and remember exactly how one sounded with not only instruments, but also by word of the songs. I also tried running the Toslink out of the Marantz into the Bifrost, then switching back and forth that way, which ultimately ended in the same exact results as mentioned below. Both the Schiit Bifrost DAC and the Marantz NA6005 sound almost identical. Same amount of bass and attack, same silky smooth top end, same dynamics, same inner detail, same sound stage width and depth. The ONLY difference between the two is that the Bifrost has just a touch more fullness and warmth in the midrange, especially with vocals. This gives vocals just a bit more heft and scale, which is a good thing. I then wondered if that touch of extra fullness and warmth in the midrange was due to the different interconnects being used on both units, so I swapped them. The Wireworld cables now on the Marantz, the Cardas cables on the Schiit. Sure enough, that fullness and warmth left the Bifrost and went to the NA6005! Also, with said cable swap, the bass on the Marantz seems to be a little more detailed and tighter as well as the sound stage depth being just a little deeper with the Wireworld cables. Everything else seems to have remained the same. This is also a pleasant finding. So all in all, both the Schiit DAC and the DAC in the Marantz sound virtually identical, with the Marantz getting the slight edge in a bit more bass detail and stage depth. That says quite a bit about the NA6005's capabilities considering for all practical purposes it just beat the fully upgraded and praised Schiit Bifrost, which is an extremely good DAC as well. I guess this means I can free up some $$$ by selling off the Bifrost and USB cable.
  9. Hey all! So I decided today that my work rig must go. It basically just sits on my desk - a desk that I am rarely at and when I am, I can't get more than 10 minutes of uninterrupted time so what the heck, my daughter needs a swingset next spring so I'm clearing out some toys to get her a proper place to play Pics provided upon request, I have perfect eBay and Audiogon feedback (toddmrhodes, trvtec@gmail.com on Agon) but am more than willing to answer any questions and, as I said, provide any pics. Everything listed is in perfect working order, only one item has a blemish worth noting. Anyway, here goes, all prices listed are shipping included but PayPal add 3%: Schiit Gungnir Rev2 USB, NOT upgraded to Gumby. A great foundation and I'd keep it in my home room if I didn't get a very nice DAC a month ago - $575. I will note this is about a 6/10 due to a ding/bent corner on the back left if you're looking at it from the front. Functionally it's perfect but the case is not perfect so it's priced and noted accordingly. Ships in original packaging and I'll even throw in a 1M Pangea USB cable. Nothing earth-shattering, obviously. Schiit Loki DSD DAC - $80 Garage1217 Project Ember II with 6SN7 tube adapter, a 6SN7 Sylvania tube, and three other spare tubes. Bought new about three months ago, great sounding amp and drove the following Senn HD650's with ease - $300 Sennheiser HD650s - purchased used four months ago, sound wonderful, and in very good condition. Stock cable. - $250 And last, and certainly least - a Bravo Audio V2 headphone tube amp - $40. Worked great on my SR80i's, not s'much on my 650's. PMs are welcome, shipping will be limited to the US, basically anywhere UPS will ship domestically. PayPal preferred. I'm not posting this anywhere else except a very small, private forum elsewhere, I'll leave this stuff off eBay, Agon, and even Head-Fi to give my CA'ers first crack. Thanks! Todd
  10. Hello, this is my first post on this forum as a member and I just have a few questions. I've asked this multiple time to people but, I'm wondering what the differences between the Bifrost Uber and Modi will be. I currently own the Schiit Modi and Schiit Asgard 2 with my HD 600's right now and are looking into getting the Schiit Bifrost Uber What are the differences? Will I get slightly smoother sound and perhaps more detail and space? Thanks!
  11. Purchased new directly from Schiit on Feb. 26 (total $266 w/ shipping). Selling as I intended to use with a pair of IEMs, but I've only done so twice since it arrived. Otherwise, I do all my listening via a pair of nearfield monitors connected to a Modi DAC. Thus, I'm hoping to switch out for a Bifrost DAC. Selling for $200 + $15 shipping via USPS Priority mail. US only. Includes user guide.
  12. I’ve been on an obsessive mission to upgrade my computer audio system and desktop listening station to respectable performance level. I’ve been interested in hi-fi for a long time, but never really graduated beyond the entry-level gear, although I tried to buy the best (think Vandersteen 1B, PSB Alpha B1) and my “main” rig serves primarily as day-to-day home theater (those B1s are literally relegated to a bookshelf in a media console). With advances in computer audio, I saw an opportunity to get my audiophile on at the desktop, as well as revamp the computerization of my music. My initial purchase was the Sennheiser HD-650 headphones. This dictated my budget for a DAC and amp, in keeping with the conventional wisdom that headphones (or speakers) should garner the lion’s share of the hi-fi budget. Several DAC/amp options have emerged for $300 and less over the last half year, and the next level is a substantial leap upwards of at least 50%, and losing the integrated headamp and portability in the step (e.g., Schiit Bifrost, Halide DAC HD, Resonessence Concero, or Asus Xonar Essence One). So I focused my attention on the Dragonfly, iDAC, Modi, and now the Explorer. I bought the Dragonfly before the Explorer’s release, then purchased the Explorer in somewhat of an impulse purchase, and quickly conducted some casual comparative listening before the return window runs out on the Dragonfly. Starting with the Dragonfly Dragonfly is available on Amazon, replete with expedited shipping, easy returns, use of gift cards, etc. Although a good DAC remains an enthusiasts’ purchase, these simple-to-install, portable products with reasonably wide appeal and price under $500 should have minimal distribution hurdles and constraints, resembling the mass market more than a network of exclusive audiophile boutiques. Availability: not an issue with Dragonfly. The Dragonfly’s 3.5 mm output swaps easily between different downstream kit (headphones, external amps, powered speakers), even easier than dual RCA jacks. I didn’t require the Dragonfly’s supremely small thumb drive form factor, and would have preferred that the design budget be freed up to a larger size and allocated to other performance attributes while remaining aptly portable, as with the other DACs I considered. But the form factor is as functional as it is impressive. I bought the companion Dragontail USB cable to ease strain on the main unit’s USB stick and simply add back some substantive bulk to the diminutive device with a matching cable. As others have reported, there’s a gap between the cladding on each device, and the connection is crooked. Although it works fine and it’s a minor issue, what little I’m asking from the simple yet premium passive component from a major name in cables is a conspicuous disappointment. Research My initial impression of the sonic performance, before I actually listened to anything, was formed largely by AudioStream, to which I owe credit for very helpful research. Dragonfly placed on the light and lean end of the sonic spectrum, in contrast to the fat and rich presentation of iFi’s iDAC. With a similar position on the spectrum, Modi conceded to Dragonfly in Audiostream’s assessment. Late to the party, Explorer was the Goldilocks of the group, neither too fat nor too lean. Lacking the Goldilocks choice initially and forced to choose one end of the sonic spectrum over the other, fat and rich sounded more appealing than light and lean. But iFi availability was sketchy. One dealer that deigned to offer it online in the United States listed availability as January 20 up until February, and I also heard of shipping delays from otherwise satisfied customers even in its home country. And iDAC cost another $50 plus shipping than Dragonfly. And the RCA jacks would make for a slightly more cumbersome switch among systems. The Modi/Magni stack, while cheapest and small enough to port around the house, are even more suited for semi-permanent desktop placement, dedicated to a headphone rig. It was tough (and somewhat unpatriotic) to pass on Schiit’s exemplary home-grown manufacturing and distribution, but I haven’t ruled out adding one of their popular headphone amps. Purchase So I bought the Dragonfly. Behaving more like a young lad than a middle-aged audiophile, I proceeded to crush my new toy immediately out of the box with hard rocking favorites, recently re-ripped from CD (hopefully for the final time) to ALAC with XLD. Additionally, I played a smaller but more diverse collection of HD tracks up to 192 kHz sample rate, served up by a Synology 212j NAS via iTunes and BitPerfect on a MacBook running Snow Leopard. Stock cables. Dragonfly delivered the goods, but I was struck by its analytical sound. Much of this I attribute to being new to serious computer audio and headphone listening, if not entry-level hi fi more generally. It was a fascinating new perspective on my music, but one that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. The center of gravity of my music collection is 90s indie rock, with a tilt toward the hard stuff. This is not particularly amenable to the audiophile treatment, not to mention a rather analytical one. On poorer recordings of favorite material, I pined for an old-fashioned treble control to turn down. Nevertheless, Dragonfly delivered impressive resolution. I could pick apart individual elements of otherwise congested noise pop, for example. Aggressive attack livens up the sound. The resolution and attack serve up bass very nicely; nothing muddy about it. But even after listening for a few days and adapting to the sound and allowing for some burn in, I find that these strengths come at the expense of the corresponding excesses—a rather clinical sound. Dare I say, digital. Even with superior, more “grown up” recordings, albeit less so. One knock on the Dragonfly is that it stresses when pushed. Even within the context of my challenging listening habits, I observed this initially and over time. On most recordings, the sound completely falls apart beyond 75% volume, and often before. I reach this harshness limitation before a discomfort of otherwise clean sound pressure alone on nearly every recording; only the best of them overcome this. Over time, I tend to keep backing the volume down, winding up marginally above 50% at most, even though the loudness itself seems reasonable at, say, 67%, even 80% for short bursts of cranking up a favorite passage. Even after embracing the detailed presentation, it can be fatiguing to listen loud enough to hear the nuances. An external amp could help here, and I’d probably add one (most likely the Magni) were I to stick with the Dragonfly. Maybe even a tube amp, even though I’m not a big advocate of seeking tone control with amplification coloration. Otherwise, longer-term listening is pleasant enough at 50% or below. Enter the Explorer Its simultaneous launch and evaluation on Audiostream and Computer Audiophile immediately placed Meridian's Explorer as the new king of entry-level portable DACs. Well, more sonically neutral than Dragonfly and iDAC according to AS, and demonstrably superior to Dragonfly on CA. Having conducted such and exhausting initial search, I bought the Explorer almost impulsively, from Audio Salon in Santa Monica, per CA’s recommendation. Audio Salon delivered attentive service and quick shipping; I concur with the recommendation. Beyond the obvious feature set comparison, one thing I confirmed immediately with Explorer is that you can feed the separate headphone jack and line out simultaneously. Not that you’d want to listen to them both at the same time, but swapping between, say, headphones and desktop speaker monitors doesn’t get much easier, since you can keep them both connected and running with no switching. If I read the scant info on the iDAC right, it has both headphone and line out RCA jacks, but can only output one at a time correctly. Swapping with Dragonfly is literally a snap, but there’s just the one port. Evaluating the Explorer sound vis-à-vis Dragonfly has generally been an exercise in confirming expectation bias. Sorry, no rigorous blind ABX for the objectivists, but also no offending absolutist subjectivist claims intended. Explorer gets more right with less wrong than Dragonfly. Explorer does not exhibit Dragonfly’s excesses, but nor does it succumb to corresponding shortcomings. It sounds more natural and euphonic than analytical. Explorer delivers the whole rather than the sum of the parts, which Dragonfly picks apart (albeit to fascinating effect). Not hyper-detailed, but also not congested. Explorer excels at timbre and decay, but not at the expense of being unnatural or colored. Attack is not overbearing, but nor is it too slow. Soundstage and imaging are better with Explorer, too. Explorer sounds more laid back; I’m not sure whether that’s a notable signature or just a contrast with the fast, forward pace and attack of the Dragonfly. The Dragonfly attack is apparent on drum thwack. It’s punchy, but after a bit of time at satisfying volume, you feel like you’ve been punched. The Explorer delivers more satisfying decay on drums and strings, resulting in a more obviously natural sound. Part of that comes from well-presented timbre, which is sonically where Explorer outshines Dragonfly most gratifyingly. By my calculations and listening experience, Dragonfly delivers marginally more power into my HD-650 (300 Ω) than Explorer. Although both DACs sound good at modest loudness levels, Explorer holds up at higher volume longer. With Dragonfly, I’m usually reaching to turn it down. With Explorer, I’m reaching to turn it up. The Explorer sound quality breaks down at about the same point I reach my volume limit or just after. I can usually reach my short-term volume limit, but sometimes not. Again, an external amp would help here (I may look for one that goes to eleven). But that would require use of the non-headphone line out; I’m excited about the prospect of toggling back and forth between my headphones and desktop speakers—which is my next computer audio upgrade adventure (Emotiva Airactiv 5 or Adam F5?). Results So I will be sending the Dragonfly back with its tail and keeping the Explorer. Which is not to say that Dragonfly is a loser, or that Explorer is the final word on DAC/headamp combinations. Dragongfly excels with portability, punchy delivery, and fine detail. I don’t doubt that I might like iDAC even better sonically, but the more natural and balanced reputation of the Explorer seems more “correct,” but not at the expense of euphony. And there’s the port configuration and availability advantages that favor Explorer. I suppose Explorer gets you in at the entry level for neutral and natural, whereas previously, you had to choose among trade-offs at the humble $300 level. Explorer and Dragonfly may perform as good as previous generation DACs that cost much more, but even today, $300 doesn’t remove all room for improvement on sonic realism by any means. But Explorer is not lacking for much in a $300 DAC, not to mention one that’s portable with a headamp. And there’s always incremental improvements like an external amp or iFi’s iUSBPower plus two-headed cable. The latter gets you to the $500 class with a modular, incremental, optional upgrade rather than an up-front hit to the budget. I also fully acknowledge all manner of expectation bias, and I don’t pretend to scientifically pick apart different DACs. I just spend time listening to each DAC and forming impressions, fully aware of bias introduced by reading reviews and commentary—embracing it, even. I concede some trust in the most credible reviewers and reputable manufacturers that I’m getting the most for my budget. Beyond that, it comes down to basic features like outputs and even availability via a robust distribution channel (I haven’t even mentioned 192 kHz capability until now). While alternatives remain viable for different priorities, I’m delighted with the Explorer.
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