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Schiit Mjolnir - Reviews and Impressions Collected

 

 

There are presently two reviews of the Schiit Mjolnir available. I am sure more will follow, but until then, this wiki may serve as a resource for people trying to get an idea about this product

 

Reviews:

1) Schiit Mjolnir Review by Purrin  HERE

Review 1 (Click to show)


I figured I’d write a proper review of the Mjolnir since “Mjolnir = WIN, EPIC” doesn’t exactly cut it. I’ll keep it short. I hate writing these things, since differences between amps are so much more subtle than that of headphones. I’ve had the Mjolnir long enough now to be sure of my impressions (and have them even out over different listening sessions and moods.)

Let me start with the “laid back” vs. “assertive” thing. Some amps are more laid-back others are more forward, aggressive, or let’s assertive. Forward may imply headstage, aggressive may imply something that’s unlistenable. So I am using the term assertive. The list below is copied directly from a HF post of mine with some minor changes:

“WTF SKYLAB” (Skylab, if you read this, please don’t take this personally!)
  Leben CS300
"RELAXED"
  Burson HA-160
  AMB B22 2ch DIY build
  AMB B22 4ch (various)
  Dynahi
  DNA Stratus (with Chinese tubes)
  BHA-1 (after 2 months burn-inhard to tell, keeps changing)
  Eddie Current S7 (with Anax's tube set)
  Eddie Current BA (with the current tubes I'm running)
  Schiit Mjolnir
  .
  Apex Arete
  Apex Peak
"ASSERTIVE"
  Matrix Quattro Amp
“SOLID-STATE GONE TERRIBLY WRONG”

I put a “.” as a marker to indicate a little jump. Take the above list with a grain of salt. It is very general and doesn’t consider specific or nuanced qualities of each amp. It should be noted that these conclusions were arrived at by making sure the tube amps were turned on for at least one hour and the solid-state amps were on for at least four hours. It seems the longer the Mjolnir is on, the smoother and more involving it sounds. This differences were arrived at using the BA as a reference. I will let Anax corroborate such wild claims if he so chooses.

My personal preference is toward the the “assertive” sounding amps. I don’t like sleepy or overly polite sounding gear. As we can see, I’ve put the Mjolnir on the more assertive sounding side of amps. Hence the Six-Moonish-esque phrase I coined: “dogmatically vigilant”. As Anax mentioned, the Mjolnir is like going to a rock concert, it’s going to keep you awake. It’s dogmatic, because it’s not going to gooooo the **** out of your HD800 into something it was never meant to be in the first place.

Now why would I care about the Mjolnir if I already had the BA? Well, however great the BA is at the spacious, openness, and micro-dynamic thing, it’s not perfect. Being a tube amp, the bass is always going to be a little bit rounded. Some tube aficionados may not hear this weakness, but others such as myself do. Ultimately, the point is that my version of the BA (PX4 or the modified PX25 version) still has a hint of that bass roundedness. Measured harmonic distortion for my BA at 0.5V into a 50ohm load at 100Hz is about 0.25%. Hardly bad for a tube amp. But I hear it.

As a quick side note, the Arete/Peak had excellent bass control and were super clean, but those amps were just a bit too assertive and etched for my taste. They also worked poorly with high sensitivity headphones like the W3000ANV because of noise. I feel the Arete/Peak are best matched with DACs which I feel are on the gooey side. It comes as no surprise to me that Todd at TTVJ owns one of these DACs as his reference. That being said, a few people who I know and respect love the Arete and Peak.

In terms of the combination of clean, explosive, powerful, extended, and controlled bass, the Mjolnir is only bettered by the Dynahi. The Dynahi has slightly more oomph and sounds more relaxed while doing it. If I get a chance, I’ll measure the Mjolnir and Dynahi bass distortion the same way as I did the BA. I bet the bass distortion results will be incredibly clean.

The final tuning of the production Mjolnir is shifted it down a notch from the assertive side found what I heard at T.H.E SHOW. As it currently is, the stock HD800's sound should range from slightly annoying to incredibly annoying. That’s because the stock HD800 does sound slightly annoying to incredibly annoying! Only the Burson HA160 makes the HD800 OK, but at great cost in other technicalities. Everything else I threw on it was superb (see headphone list at bottom.)

So all else aside, why I do love this amp? Because it sounds so involving. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but Jason supposedly said something along the lines that the Mjolnir is an amp that makes him not miss tubes. I wish he hadn’t said it so I could have said it first. I got my first hint of this, not at The Village Meet (the Mjolnir at that meet was supposedly just assembled the night before and it sounded bassy as hell, all over the place, and pretty much like ****), but at T.H.E. SHOW in Irvine, CA. (Kudos to Schiit for having real music available, and not that audiophile guitar instrumental garbage. Death to audiophiles who like audiophile music!) What struck me then was how involving the Mjolnir (+ Gungnir) was to me. It’s the kind of effect that makes us want to keep listening and not put the headphone down.

When I compared to the BA ($4000 + modified + $2000 vintage DHTs, if you can find them), the BA still renders those those micro-details and microdynamics better, and still has better instantaneous-dynamic-constrast and speed, etc. These aspects of sound reproduction are what constitutes “involvement” for me and what I hear in the best full tube amps such as the BA or HEV90. The fact that the Mjolnir, a solid-state amp at $750 can bring significant hints of this “emotional involvement” effect to the table, is simply amazing. Anax, who is not as familiar with the amp as I, having had a good listen to the Mjolnir (with the BA next to it), during our HD800 mod experiments, finally recognized: “Now I understand why you like it.” 

I shouldn’t forget to point out that when I picked up the Mjolnir from the post office, I kept the headphones on until past midnight (taking a small break to help put the kids to bed... err, I think I just ignored the rest of my family that day). Those who know me know that I simply don’t do that with gear that sounds like **** or even merely OK. I know, I know, many HF's get all pissed off when people like me dismiss **** after 10 seconds. But then again, I've heard it all, I've built speakers that kick the **** out of 90% of the overpriced the crap at T.H.E. SHOW. I'm sure it doesn't take Michael Shumacher or JPM to figure out in 10 seconds that the chassis of race car is gonna be ****.

Up to now, I’ve hated most solid-state amps because I’ve found them too flat sounding and too compromised on the involvement factor. This is interesting because more than a few knowledgeable folks have opined that this is not necessarily a tube vs. solid-state thing, but rather a topology thing. Heck, I’ve done enough experiments and amp mods myself to know that up to a certain point (like when the amp is going to explode) less feedback equates to better sound but worse measurements. Maybe it’s this circlotron circuit thing at work?

So basically, the the Mjolnir and Dynahi are currently my favorite solid-state amps, with me giving the Mjolnir an edge because its presentation suites my preferences.


Misc Stuff:
DAC: PWD2 firmware 2.02 USB and coax from PC, NativeX, Auto Filter
Other Amps: ECBA TS BGRP + Osram PX25, KG Dynahi, Bryston BHA-1
Other References: T2DIY + STAX SR007 / HE Audio Jade (modified, but falling apart)
Headphones: HE400, HE500, HE5, W3000ANC, HP1000, LCD2r2 (B Grade), 13 different mods of the HD800
IC Cables: Whatever I could find.
Power Cables: Eat my shorts.


P.S. Make sure you use a DAC with real balanced differential outputs. (Lots of audiophile CD players tend to cheap out and use opamp phase splitters for the balanced outs.) This amp will actually make use of the differential outputs. It's actually got a 4-gang potentiometer.

 

 
2) Schiit Mjolnir vs Bryston BHA-1 by Maxvla HERE
Review 2 (Click to show)



 I'm pressed for time these days, so this will be brief compared to my previous review (Mid-fi shootout), my apologies.
Here we have a pair of solid state balanced amplifiers, the first entry in the headphone space for the speaker amp stalwart Bryston and the latest in a string of hits from Schiit. New to me, as well, is the Schiit Gungnir, their second DAC, the first balanced. As such, I took plenty of time (over 2 weeks) letting them play in, and getting used to their sounds. All the gear you see in the picture above now has over 300 hours of play eliminating any burn in issues. I've been on a quest lately to explore solid state after having been strictly tubes since returning to Head-fi in 2009, and these are the latest in pick ups. As most of you know, I have no stake in the outcome of any product and call it as I hear it. I approach any gear with as little bias as possible, giving each piece the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it's a piece that's been dogged on here and has to prove it's not, but on the other side are pieces that are lauded that have to prove to me they are worthy of that praise. I've been surprised many times both ways and have learned the 'clean-slate' approach works best. To date I have to admit I have not been impressed with any of the Schiit amps I've heard at meets, but firmly believed that would change with the Mjolnir and it has indeed. The Bifrost is an excellent entry DAC, that, next to the Gungnir, shows it's price tag, but still is the DAC to beat at it's price range. The Gungnir takes the strengths of the Bifrost and fills them out. The Bifrost is a clean neutral DAC, though not overly resolving. The bass is tight, well controlled, and the mids are exceptional. Compared to my old Cambridge DACMagic the Bifrost was an order of magnitude better. The Gungnir brings up the bass response and gives much more detail, things these balanced amps and headphones (and ears!) crave. The Sennheiser HD800 is not bass light at all with this DAC and either of these amps. Deep primordial bass that comes from nowhere and everywhere, but at a volume that is tasteful and realistic, detail that will have you looking over your shoulder or opening your eyes trying to figure how the fingering pattern the guitarist "sitting" in front of you is using. With the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors this DAC and amp pair help the weakness of the UERM, top end sparkle, but still leave a little to be desired. The resulting holographic image while using this setup is hard to explain and is more an experience than something you just listen to. It's incredible.

There is a vast difference in topology in these amps, but I am, unfortunately, not well enough versed to give you an explanation. The origin of this difference is the nature of balanced topology. I won't get started with a debate that could consume the review taking it down a path I do not wish to pursue, but suffice it to say, each side has it's advocates. Please refrain from this topic in any comments.

Having owned the Bryston BHA-1 for a few months now I've grown accustomed to it's sound; slightly bright with an attack that feels almost harsh, but not. It is a very aggressive amp that keeps the pedal to the floor at all times. There is never any hesitation, no clutter in dense passages, and positioning is top notch. With demanding headphones like the HD800 and UERM, any deviation is quickly noted. The Mjolnir, right out of the box, impressed. It has a silky smooth signature but is not at all laid back. There is no hint of harshness and the sound from top to bottom is well presented. Bass is tight and deep, mids are clear providing excellent vocals. Highs are excellent as well, but I can't help feel a lack of sparkle compared to the BHA-1. The BHA-1 really sizzles, so if you are sensitive to highs, beware, however I have been a card carrying member of this group in the past and have no issues with the BHA-1 with the HD800, both of which are known for their treble activity. In fact, I believe it is this treble activity that gives the BHA-1 some breathing room from the Mjolnir when it comes to ability. This sense of air, delicacy, pin point precision follows down the octaves painting a life like sound stage, timbres, and textures. I have heard several high end electrostatic headphone setups and so far I've not found anything more real than the BHA-1 mated with the HD800. These electrostatic setups have the edge in detail, of course, but presentation is off, feeling like my head is trapped in a small box, sound coming from the sides of my head instead of in front. The BHA-1 and HD800 being the most real has it's downsides, of course. This pairing is not the best for poor recordings. Even some of my 320k/s mp3s from bands I love, but cannot get higher quality versions of, are noticeably poor in rendering. Artifacting in the compression process is easily detected, and in some cases intrusive. Imperfections are magnified and thrown in front of you such that you can't miss them. With the Mjolnir, the HD800 has the edge taken off just enough to be friendly with poor recordings, but still be very detailed. The sound is forceful but smooth, a nudge to get you moving instead of a bulldozer knocking you out of the way. Tonally the amps are remarkably similar. There seems to be no difference in bass or mids and only that small difference in the treble I mentioned before. Given enough time distracted, I often forget which amp I'm plugged into until I listen closely or look over.

The amps are more similar in size than I expected. The width is almost the same, but the Schiit amp is a good bit less deep. The Mjolnir and Gungir both dwarf my Bifrost by a large margin. You could fit the Bifrost in the left side of the Mjolnir and not even reach the volume knob. Their heat output are also very similar, both very hot running amps. With the Mjolnir stacked on the Gungir, the space between is actually hot, like don't put your finger there hot. As far as looks go, I prefer black, but I also prefer Schiit's styling. In this case the Bryston package is good enough that the black ends up making it my choice. If Schiit could make a black amp where the text looked good, I would be all over that (from an aesthetic perspective).

Now we get to the real difference in these amps, the price. The Schiit Mjolnir is readily available at $750 from Jason and company, a great crew of business men and women who go far beyond the extra mile to take care of their customers and prospective customers. The Bryston BHA-1 is available through some of the Head-fi sponsors for $1295 who take similar steps to satisfy their customers. In this review we have two winners, but for different things. I believe, for the money, the Mjolnir is the best amp present. At the same time, I believe the BHA-1 is the best performing amp present, but at a high cost difference. What's more, the difference in sound will be to taste, and with their sounds being so close, there's no way I can say for sure you will like the BHA-1 more than the Mjolnir. Ever since getting both balanced amps running their laps, I've been struggling to put my thoughts to words, which should tell you how close they are. The Mjolnir comes with the standard Schiit 5 year warranty, the BHA-1 the standard Bryston 20 year warranty.

Thanks for your interest, I hope you enjoyed.

TLDR: The Mjolnir is hard to beat. For the money it is my pick. For a significant increase in price, I feel the BHA-1 is a better performer if your budget can stand it.

For the record, I purchased all devices used in this review with the intention of keeping the winner and selling or returning the loser. I didn't even know if the Gungnir would be a noticeable improvement until I heard it the first time, so that was a question at first, as well. I have decided to keep the Bryston BHA-1 and Gungnir and return the Mjolnir and sell the Bifrost. I look forward to the next level from Schiit to pit against the BHA-1 and any gains on the Gungnir would be truly remarkable. I cannot find any faults with it whatsoever. Bring it on, Jason!

 


 
 

Below are some intitial impressions written by Mjolnir-users from the Schiit Mjolnir-thread




Solude on Mjolnir
post #967 of 17638/27/12



Quote:
Some 12 hours out from the official A/B I'm starting to get a better feel for the Mjolnir's overall character driving the LCD-3.
 
Overall, especially at this price, the amp is fantastic.  The only reason to look elsewhere is if you want something laid back or with a different tonal balance.  That's nice, but how does it sound Sol?  Well there hasn't been an amp through here that does dynamics and detail retrieval at even remotely the same level as the Mjolnir.  Tonal balance is very good but being sensitive to high frequencies the top end seems dominant to me.  Micro detail is up front, nothing hides in the blackness.  It takes some getting used to.  If my only musical interest was in mixing, or studio work, it's a no brainer.  Emotional portrayal is good but since its overall character is truth, there is no added help in that department.  Convincing emotion falls on the performer, if they nail it... emotional connection, they phone it in... nothing.  Staging is probably its only real 'fault'.  Its wide but not quite laser focused and my impression is its 3 blob like.

I'll reserve comparisons until after the A/B but its safe to say at $750 it stands alone.
 

 


Quote:
And the official A/B is complete.  Here we go...

The short of it is the Peak is staying and the Mjolnir is up for sale to the next lucky Canuck.

The long of it is a little more involved.  As with all my reviews this is in comparison, not global.  The Mjolnir is a detail and dynamics monster.  No question it will show you things that went unnoticed, clarify others and just flat out give you jaw dropping detail retrieval.  In the global sense of the word, its likely neutral as well.  But where it falls apart is in separation and staging.  The Peak is more natural, if a touch bottom tilted but what it does well is detail, though not at Mjolnir levels, and separation.  Things just never blend or become a wall with the Peak.  The Mjolnir despite great detail, tended to blend the bass lines into the mid mix.  Staging was mostly left to right, with comparatively more 3 blob staging than the Peak.

So in the end it becomes a trade off.  The Peak is more natural sounding, trading some detail and clarity for better separation and staging.  The Mjolnir has more detail retrieval and likely more neutral as well but can feel top tilted and fatiguing if, like me, you are sensitive to that.

Bring on the statement amp so I can drop my favourite tube in to tilt it back in my favour and have the best of both biggrin.gif

 

Quote:
Comparisons incoming versus the Mjolnir...
 
Soloist:  Slightly less detail retrieval, more mid focused, tons less dynamic, slightly better separation and staging, somewhat lifeless

B22:  Bottom tilted, tons more rounded, better separation but lower resolution and clarity, imparts itself on the music, less dynamic, better staging

Trafomatic:  Probably the most Mjolnir of the bunch, similar tonal balance, slightly less detail, greater staging, similar separation

GS-1:  Similar to the Soloist.

WA22:  Similar to the B22 with a more 3 blob stage

Which if we do the math makes the Mjolnir a great value for that style of character.

4) http://www.head-fi.org/t/603218/schiit-mjolnir-headphone-amplifier/1005#post_8662712


Quote:
My WA22 had EML 5U4G, Sylvania 7236 and Shug Treasure CV-181.  Three blob is a stage that is mostly left, centre, right with little to nothing in between the 'blobs'.  So where the Mjolnir was hard panned left and right with a centre image, the Peak pushes the stage forward and places instruments between left, right and centre.  Some would say the Mjolnir stage is wider, the Peak more narrow.  Peak also does height and depth which none of the other amps did.

Borrowing from Meier on crossfeed and apologies for terrible Paint skills tongue.gif  First is Peak, second Mjolnir... exaggerated to illustrate 3 blob.
 



rrahman

post #1002

Quote:
I got my Mjolnir and I been testing it out w/ the lcd3.  Its an impressive amplifier, but isn't without flaws.  

Spec’s wise its probably the most impressive amp I have heard.  You can really tell that 5 watts rms makes a difference.  The transient response, decay, and headroom are on par with the best I have ever heard.  It really makes anything else seem sluggish.  In this regard it slays my Concerto. Noise floor which is what usually bothers me most about amplifiers is as good as I can ask for.  Build quality is typical Schiit, flawless.

The qualms I have are more an issue of taste than objective inferiority.  It makes my LCD3 sound more like an HD800, with a very quick and responsive diaphragm, ever so slight uptilt in tonality, light and airy w/ massive soundstages.  The downside is it sounds more clinical, a bit thin and lifeless like an HD800.  I usually love this effect.  Infact I remember the pairing with the slightly darker lcd2 as what motivated me to buy the amp in the first place.  It really makes jazz, classical, a capella music and especially techno sound amazing.  On the downside, pop music, rock, hip hop sound aggressive, clinical and a bit lifeless.  Compared to my Concerto which I feel is the most neutral amp I have heard, I think the mjolnir has slightly too much treble energy.

A lot of people will read this and think this is a bad impression, but that's not really what I want to convey.  The amp's technical superiority over other amps is clear, but I think my taste preferences lie elsewhere.  I'll give it a few more days, but I will likely return this amp to get a WA22.  I have never heard the WA22, but I am hoping it has the muscle to control the diaphragm just as well w/o sacrificing body and emotional impact.  If I did not want to convert to a balanced set up, I’d probably keep my Concerto which I feel is competitively on par with this amp.

 



rattesp
post #1133

Quote:
I've had the Mjolnir for a week so I thought I could provide some impressions. First of all I think it's a fantastic amp for the money and I agree with most of what as been said about it : fast, dynamic, clean, deep bass ... But I still prefer my 3 channel B22 (Rockhopper built) with the T1. Not by a wide margin though which says alot about the value of the Mjolnir considering that I paid more than 1 600 $ for the B22. One thing that I prefer on the B22 is the soundstage. I totally agree with Solude when he talks about 3-blob soundstage of the Mjolnir.  But to me the weird thing about the Mjolnir's soundstage is it's is "height" ! I know it may sound strange or silly but when I listen to the B22 and then switch to the Mjolnir I feel like the "height" of the soundstage collapses, it feels compressed. It's really hard to describe but it feels strange to me. It sounds less "spacy" and "airy" (I really hate using those words but that's the best I can do. I have a hard time describing it even in my native language !).The second thing that I prefer on the B22 is the "texture" of the sound ( I sound almost esoteric!), mostly of accoustic instruments. On the Mjolnir the bass is deep and has a lot of slam but I don't hear any "nuance" or "texture". On the B22 when I listen to accoustic bass I can hear a bit of "grain" in the sound on well recorded CD, I can hear really subtle variation in the tone. I hear nothing of this on the Mjolnir. The best comparison I can make is electric bass vs bass played on a synth. 
 
Anyway I'm nitpicking ... The Mjolnir is a great amp and I haven't heard anything in it's price range that was better or close to it (except maybe the MKVI+). I haven't tried it with the LCD-2 (I sold them a long time ago) but I can tell from the sound signature of the Mjolnir that it was designed to pair with them,

 



Lappy27

post #1200 of 17679/15/12

Quote:
We had a mini meet last night at rattesp's house. I was there along with dleblanc343 and a his friend Nico. We wanted to listen to the Mjolnir that rattesp just acquired from solude few weeks ago.
 
I brought my Bryston BHA-1 along with my W4S DAC-2 and my LCD-2r2 for comparaison. I arrived about an hour before dleblanc343 and his friend so I had the time to try and compare the Mjolnir to the Bryston with my LCD-2r2.
 
The Mjolnir sound really reminded me the Bryston sound for the first two months. Fast, detailled, punchy, with lots of bite and at the limit of edginess on certain tracks. It was lively and toe tapping but this in your face presentation could lead to listening fatigue I assumed.

Going back and forth with the Mjolnir and the Bryston, I would say I prefered the smoother presentation of the Bryston. Still resolving but with a warmer and more linear sound from top to bottom. The Mjolnir sounds more thin than the Bryston. Our host, rattesp, who tried a lot of headphones (T1, HD 650, HD 800, LCD-2r2 and HE-6) with both amps had the same impression. He said he would place the Bryston sound between the Mjolnir and his beloved B22. He heard the Bryston at my house few months ago and he agreed that the sound change significantly since then. Warmer, fuller and smoother. That could be the difference in using time between the amps (I have about 200 hours on the Bryston and we are not even sure the Mjolnir having 50 hours on it so it still can change his sound signature).

dleblanc343 and his friend arrived and they tried the HE-6 with both amps and their findings were the same as rattesp and me. They both prefered the Bryston to the Mjolnir. Especially Nico. They both say the soundstage and bass presence was superior on the Bryston along with a smoother presentation.
 
The build quality, finish, look (to my taste), touch feeling (volume knob) seems superior on the Bryston.
 
BUT we all agreed that for the price, the Mjolnir is a superb bargain and tremendous value. The Bryston retail price is now nearly twice the selling price of the Mjolnir.
 
Still, we are all curious what an other hundred of hours could do to the Mjolnir. rattesp offer me to land me the Mjolnir for a couple of days in my home set-up in a near future to have the time to do a lenghty comparaison of both amp. I certainly will accept his offer. 
 
All the participants recognized that the fisrt attempt of Bryston in the headphone market was a really successful one.
 
By no means I wanted to step on anybody's toes here. I just want to share my experience (others here had the opposite opinion when they compared both amps) and let people know that there is other alternatives in SS amps (yet more pricey).
 

 



dleblanc343
post #1203 of 17679/15/12

Quote:
I was slightly disappointed in the mjolnir after doing a direct comparison to lappy's Bryston. But I have to say, I believe the mjolnir will change with a few dozen more hours of burn in. You can feel the depth is lacking and closed in compared to the Bryston and the highs were bright and sometimes unbearable to me. Those are usually typical indications of a "new" amplifier. And I agree with lappy, it sounded like it had a v-shape sound sig; which I'm not the biggest fan of...
 
Anyways, I hope the mjolnir develops with time, I have one on the way myself! But I think on an overall level, it will probably not match the BHA-1's technicalities. We'll see with time.
 
I did spend a while with the mjolnir on its own once lappy left, and it was much more enjoyable since I had nothing to compare it to (b22 doesnt count because it's very different). My friend Nico also realized that albeit not quite as coherent as the bha-1, the mjolnir does sound amazing for the price tag, and he said he had his "best musical experience" with it while  he was testing some electronic music from his library.

 

 


 

45longcolt

post #1231 of 17679/16/12

Quote:
With nearly 150 hours of serious listening (as opposed to frivolous listening?) through LCD-3s with Norse Audio Norn cable and via Bifrost, I'm still entranced with this amp. That doesn't mean it's perfect.

When I first substituted it for the Lyr, some music sounded less full, especially in the mids. This has become so much less marked as to be no longer noticable. Either the amp has burned in, my ears have adjusted, or quite probably a bit of both. And while I can understand how some folks would find it strident, I don't think that's the amp. On a number of very familiar recordings I've noticed harshness in piano notes, glassy vocals or strings getting edgy. But by no means on all music; some, indeed most, recordings with sharp sounds are just exhilarating without being tooth-gritting.

The Mjolnir does not play nice. This is Thor's frigging hammer after all (or should that be Frigga?) [Of all the hammers I own, I've never thought of naming one. Hmmm, I dub thee Thumbcrusher the Malevolent. Maybe not...] This thing is as revealing as Biden's gaffes and as merciless as a judge at the Nuremburg trials. If there's any unpleasantness on the recording, the Mjolnir won't sugar coat things. Not sure whether it's Schiit's voicing decisions, a consequence of the circlotron design or just solid state as opposed to tubes; although my late and unlamented Violectric wasn't so brusque, at least not as I remember it.
 
What the Mjolnir does well, it does enthrallingly well. Tectonic bass, more detail than a forensic audit, low noise floor, jumps like a startled acrobat. Not that all the detail doesn't carry a small price - take Tori Amos doing "Yes, Anastasia" which is her at the piano with occasional orchestral interludes. Not only is every breath as if she's doing it right into your ear (not neccessarily a bad thing, granted) but there are noises like she's squirming around on the bench. I almost want to tell her to sit still. And while she certainly wasn't wearing hiking boots to work the pedals, that's what it sounds like. And though you would guess the orchestra was recorded seperately, the Mjolnir makes it almost distractingly obvious. Not that this is bad, really, just something to be aware of.

And if you're a cable skeptic, do not buy this amp. Especially don't buy it then borrow a few sets of high-zoot cables and power cords and do some careful listening. Just stay with your comfortable preconceptions. I just switched power conditioners and...you don't want to know. These things make no difference, right? OTOH, if I was doing studio mixing, this would be a must-hear as an analytical tool. If you seek a gemutlich listening experience, you may want to shop elsewhere. But if you prefer the roller coster to the carousel, the Mjolnir is the proverbial E ticket.
 

 

45longcolt

http://www.head-fi.org/t/603218/schiit-mjolnir-headphone-amplifier/450#post_8589582 - post #457 of 1771 8/5/12
 

Quote:
Someone asked for impressions vs. Lyr, which is what I've been using (w/Golden Lion tubes) for more than a year with Audeze LCD-2s and -3s.

What the M has over the L is detail, both subtle and nearly-dropped-my-scotch varieties. F'rinstance, on one CD I heard turntale noise. Meaning the disc was sourced not from the master tape but from a clean LP (Boo! Hiss! Rip-off!) Not something I really wanted to know, but the M fairly whupped me upside the head with it. Things that you will hear through the L if you care to listen are presented starkly on the M, especially in the upper mids and treble.

Bass is profound on the M, though it may sound less fullsome than on the L. It's an old cliche that tube bass is a bit tubby and uncontrolled, and here's another example. Transients are faster on the M, not that the L is any slouch in that department, but crisper is crisper. And the M has more PRAT (do you know what a prat is in Brit-speak?) as well as the sense of unlimited reserves mentioned by others.
 
What the L has is that old tube magic, that puts you in a mellow mood and almost convinces you that beauty is truth. Almost. Going directly from the L to the M, the SS unit sounded a little colorless at times. I don't think that's the case; voices, for example, do sound compelling through the M. But like the Bifrost DAC, the M refuses to rose-tint things. In fact, on a couple of recordings it has sounded a bit hard, which the L will almost never do.

For detail-critical listening (especially mixing work,) the M has it all. For tubey goodness, the L. Hope this helps.
 

 



 

Loevhagen



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Listened to the V200 again after some time with the Mjolnir - and I know I'm keeping the V200. The German makes you able to sit back and relax. The Mjolnir and relax are two words that can not be combined. I enjoy the Mjolnir, and will keep it for the engaging fun factor sound signature. 

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A brief sum-up *)

 

Project Sunrise mkII (PSii) add some fun factor to the sound and the fact that it costs almost nothing makes it a very good buy. PSii adds some bass, which helps to give it the said fun factor. The vocals portrayed is great and I just love PSii with HE.500, which basically is tuned notch brighter than the LCD-2 / LCD-3. HE-6 are even brighter.

Violectric V200 and the LCD-2 is one of the very, very finest combinations I've ever heard. The sound is so natural to my ears, that I can fall asleep daily with that combination. I can also sit and enjoy the music for hours while awake. In other words, the combination is extreme competent. Flexible and playing anywhere and at any occasion.

Burson Soloist is slightly more "hifi" than the V200, and since the LCD-3 has a less prominent midrange presentation than LCD.2 - then Soloist a good match for the LCD-3.


 


Mjolnir is COMPLETELY different than the others. All the other sounds natural - but Mjolnir is the natural reference. Amazing bass. Very wide soundstage. The vocals is pulled forward (which again suits the LCD-3). I would say the Mjolnir is placed between the Soloist and V200 when it comes to "light / dark".

Mjolnir has only one drawback - and it is the d-e-p-t-h in the soundstage. HE-500 have great synergy with the PSii, which romanticize the sound provide depth. However, the Mjolnir reveal the HE-500 is "width only and no depth" compared to LCD-x.

I would assume 80% of all head-fiere would buy Mjolnir on site after a demo. Fewer would have done the same with the V200, Soloist, PSii and G100.

What to do after a few months is still an unknown.

What is already certain is that I'm never going to sleep with music on head fed from Mjolnir. It is just not possible. Mjolnir keeps you awake with its current playing style. And, it's not an advantage all the way.
 
Mjolnir is however demo amp numero UNO.

*) Google translated from Norwegian into English. 

 

3) http://www.head-fi.org/t/603218/schiit-mjolnir-headphone-amplifier/1500#post_8773429


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The Soloist is less fun than the Mjolnir. I could fall asleep listening to the Soloist with some good music playing (i.e. a good thing actually). I would really strive to get some sleep using the Mjolnir. 


Having switched back and forth between the Soloist and the Mjolnir (using the LCD-3 and DAC V800), the difference in the amplifiers sound signature is significant. I would dare to say that the Soloist is "boring" and the Mjolnir is "engaging". And in addition, the Soloist is de facto tuned a tad more bright than the Mjolnir. That does not mean the Soloist is bright. 

The soundstage depth of the Mjolnir is less than the Soloist. The width not that different - if you listen carefully. The "lack" of depth of the Mjolnir tends to impose the impression that the Mjolnir sounds wider... 

Disclaimer: Long time listening impressions.


 

kstaken

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post #448 of 1771 8/5/12

Preliminary impressions of course, but I'd describe it as transparent and highly resolving with effortless dynamics. I don't perceive any significant color coming from the amp it self but how true that is is really hard to say. The sound you're going to get out of it is largely determined by the source you feed it with (and the headphones of course). Give it a bright shrill source (or recording) and the amp is going to be perceived as bright and shrill, give it a warm syrupy one and the amp will be warm and syrupy. So I guess I'd answer your categories this way.

A) neutral (although exactly what that means is harder to define than it should be)

B) Lots of slam and PRAT assuming the source is providing it.

C) If the source provides the imaging it will allow it through and then it's largely up to the headphones. For instance the HD800 tends to have slightly more diffuse imaging than something like the HE-5LE or D7100. 

D) I don't known how to separate this from the sound of the source. The sound I get is smooth and musical with no harshness.

E) fast
 
It's been my experience that way too many headphones amps color the sound too much. I just want the amp to stay out of the way and amplify my source signal without molesting it. So far the Mjolnir is doing as good of a job as I've heard even compared to some much more expensive amps that I've owned/own.
 


kstaken

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My Mjolnir now has a little over 100 hours on it so I figured it's time to sit down and do a little more detailed comparison with the Apex Peak/Volcano. I use a Shuguang Black Treasure in the Peak and both the tube and the amp are well run in. Most of my listening with the Mjolnir has been with the Denon D7100 but for the comparison I used the HD800 since it's a better known quantity. I level matched the amps using an SPL meter. The cable on the HD800 was a Q Audio balanced cable and I just used an adapter for the Peak rather than switching cables. For the source I used the Denon DCD-A100 SACD player playing a mix of CDs and SACDs. I tried a broad array of music including orchestral, classical guitar, jazz, hip-hop, bluegrass, country, blues, rock, klezmer and electronica.

Going in I had been enjoying the Mjolnir so much I actually expected it to win easily. Of course, once you sit down and really compare it's not always so easy.  So here is a quick summary of what I found.

The Mjonir is more resolving and reveals more detail but is also drier. Images are clearer with cleaner edges. It does a better job of unraveling complex music with a lot of layering. It better handles large dynamic swings. It generally does a better job of presenting stage depth.

The Peak generally provides a more diffuse sounding image which can actually be more realistic sounding at times. In comparison to the Mjolnir it has a hard time when things get complex. It conveys subtlety and emotion better.


I didn't really notice much difference in soundstage width but I was focusing on which amp I enjoyed more for a particular piece of music and I find that after a certain point soundstage width doesn't really make that much difference in that regard.

I didn't notice either amp imposing a particular tonal color on the music.

So which amp did I prefer? Well … it depends. If the music has complex layering like electronica, big dynamic swings like large scale orchestral or relies primarily on energy to convey its message like rock I preferred the Mjolnir. However, if the music relies on emotion, lyricism and subtlety I found I preferred the Peak. I do feel the Mjolnir does seem to be the more technically pure amp but both amps are really very good and the Peak does do a good job of straddling the line between technical purity and tube based romanticism. Of course, given that the Mjolnir is $750 vs the Peak/Volcano at ~$2300 it really is an extremely impressive piece. 


 


 

brunk


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I'm using the T1/Mjolnir combo and I can tell you that imaging and soundstage is superb. It's the most convincing combo yet. It's like Dolby Headphone without the processing lol. After 30 minutes of listening to them on the HA-160D and B22 (friends) i would get listening fatigue. I haven't experienced fatigue on the Mjolnir at all! The only amp I've heard that can hold a candle to the Mjolnir is the Violectric, but I think it will get pushed out the spotlight in a few weeks once more reviews and impressions are in. I sometimes find myself turning up to louder volume than I should because its so clear and life like. The music and detail/transients just pour in that no sub $1k amp on the current market can come close to. The unit runs cool for quite some time, but after several hours of heat pooling up, it does get a bit hot. Mjolnir's heat sinking ability is very well engineered and really isnt a problem at all. This is also in a ~78 F room.


I can't stress enough just how convincing the Mjolnir+T1 pairing really is. It's a match made in heaven for sure. There is a very flat sound signature, unlike the V shape of Burson units. The Burson units sort of put the vocals "outside" your head ,but they are actually hurting the SQ in the end. The Mjolnir is more of a " \ " bass tipped curve, but doesn't drown out those ever-so-fine treble details and transients. That means a very flat frequency response for those neutral-nazi people out there. However, it doesn't try to get in the way of the music like Burson and others do. I'm done searching for headphone equipment for atleast a year, I might occasionally login to headfi now. That is the only compliment a manufacturer needs. Yulong D18/Mjolnir/Beyer T1 combo = Peace out HeadFi. Thank you Schiit!
 



jackiedh


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I believe it is too early to really compare the 2 Amps--I wouldn't call the Bryston tilted toward the treble end though--

I have never heard Senn Hd 800's so I couldn't really say how they would sound with either amp--but from what I have read about the sizzly high end of the 800's I would suspect they would sound more bright with the Bryston than the Mjolnir--

So far the Mjolnir sounds to me more full sounding with slightly more presence across the whole spectrum--

But again that is my impression and Jason say's to get at least 50-100 hours on it before any critical evaluations or comparisons--

Still haven't tried my LCD 2's yet but really liking the 650's with this amp...

This amp is a totally phenomenal bargain at $749.00--remember the Bryston is $1295.00!!!

jack


 



olor1n

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haven't been able to peg the Mjolnir's inherent signature. The way it sounds changes with every recording. Every flowery audiophile term can be applied but less flattering descriptions can also be accurate under different conditions. I get the sense I'm listening to the quality of the recording, the limitations of the Bifrost and the signature of the headphone. The Mjolnir is inconspicuous and it is indeed damn cool.


edit: I'm finding the Mjolnir sounds significantly better once it's had time to warm up. The LCD-2 is nice through the Mjolnir, but this Schiity amp elevates the HD800 a few rungs above imo. The clarity of every element and coherence of the overall presentation is something to behold. Also, this amp should obliterate the "HD800 has no bass" myth. Anyone clinging to that view after hearing these components should not be trusted. Ever.
 

 

olor1n


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The LCD-2 sounds great through the Mjolnir. Bass is immense and subterranean but tightly controlled. The most impressive aspect of the sound though is the soundstage. The LCD-2 can sound walled in, but the narrow corridor presentation is rendered non existent by the Mjolnir. Instruments are still forward, with the listener placed in the midst of the performers, but the band is no longer in a confined, claustrophobia inducing area. There is space, reaching beyond the point of origin. I've heard my LCD-2 balanced before, but I can't recall the horizontal stage this airy. Stereo separation is nice, though the centre image is still a tad too close for my liking. This aspect is an inherent quality of the LCD-2 though. The Mjolnir does not add a Dolby Headphone like DSP. It presents your headphones, and other components, as they are.

 




Duckman


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Heard the Mjolnir yesterday, straight out of the box, via an Esoteric D-07X and into the Audeze LCD3, A/B'd against the Burson Soloist from the same source (albeit via the RCA out this time).

I'd love to combine these amps.

The Mjolnir was a fun listening experience, but I felt that its focus and articulation were slightly softer than the Burson. Burson's images were slightly weightier and better defined, particularly down low. Burson also has more treble energy, whereas the Mjolnir has a smoother top end.

However, listening to tbe Burson, the soundstage was quite tightly walled-in, whereas with the Mjolnir, the walls literally fell away, creating a much more free, speaker-like presentation. I loved this about the Schiit amp.
 
My perfect 'budget' amp would be to combine the two: greater focus and articulation, together with an expansive soundstage.

This has me looking very much forward to the 'Statement' amp at year's end.
 



Solude

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Quote olor1n :


I'm finding the Mjolnir sounds significantly better once it's had time to warm up.
To quote Nelson Pass... what you are hearing is the amp go from class B to AB to A as you listen while its getting up to temp.  Treat it like a tube amp.  Don't listen after turn on wink.gif  I just simplify things and never turn off.
 



 



 



 

 

Comments (4)

Great resource, much easier than wading through the thread. Well done.
Very well done my friend
This is pretty awesome. Thanks for putting in the time to bring it all together.
Phew, thanks - you just saved me many hours of trawling!
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