Pros: good sound, good size, gain switch, price
Cons: none so far
Bare with me here as I dont write these things for a living or anything...
Just unboxed mine. It was delivered at 1 pm it is 4:15pm and the case is still cold from being in the truck. Must have been frozen in the truck/plane to still be this cold three plus hours later.
No blemishes that I can see, volume pot has smooth motion. Once it warms up a bit more I will give it a good listen with HD650's, HE-500's, SR325i's and report back. I will be using my Modi as the DAC.
Ok, so first and second impressions were not so good. I plugged in the Asgard 2 and let it warm up for 15 minutes or so. Then hooked up the HD650 and got muffled sound and distortion in the right channel at all levels. The Asgard was only warm on one side (right side near the headphone jack). So I figured I better wait till it was good and warm. 45 minutes later it seemed to be warming up nicely. Plugged the HD650 back in and same thing (muffled and distorted).
Let the troubleshooting begin. First thing I did was unplug the USB cable from the laptop and plug it back in. BANG!! Fixed the problem. Not sure what the cause was but it works now. Might have been an initialization issue with USB or the Modi?
So, on with the third impressions. It seems to take a long time to get hot 'n' ready for action, about an hour and fifteen minutes? Maybe it was still frozen on the inside?
I used a soundtrack from Eureka Seven with some tracks I am very familiar with to test. HalCali - Tip Taps Tip, Flow - Days, and Denki Groove - Niji. I listened at an elevated level to analyze the sound, higher than I would normally listen to for long periods.
This is comparing the Asgard 2 to the Magni using the Modi as DAC from an MX11 laptop, Foobar Flac.
Can hear a slight hum when my ear is about five inches from the amp. Hum is slightly deminishing with time, still there though. Now my ear has to be half an inch form amp. Still not noticable with phones on.
The Magni drives these phone OK but seemed to be lacking detail and low end punch. Still sound good, though. Just not quite there.
With Asgard 2 the phones prefered the high gain setting. Seemed to get better separation and more punch. Opened up the soundstage a little more. There was more definition and detail. Bass was very good where needed. Mids cleared up some. Highs were more pronounced (could hear a hisssss when "ss" were sung). Like it was maybe a litle bright, but not bad. Definitely felt more lively with the Asgard 2.
On low gain volume pot needed to be at ~2 o'clock, high gain it was at ~11:30 to 12.
With the Magni It seemed like there was someting between me and the music. I have heard others say veil, or like there was a towel over a speaker that masks the sound. It wasn't quite that bad but it was just lacking energy?
The Asgard 2 cleared most of that away in high gain. It made them wider (soundstage) and deeper and higher. I can hear the separation much better. Gives the bass more energy and clarity (not as punchy as the HE-500 but a good improvement non the less). Again there was a hiss when 'ss' were sung. Maybe a little more pointed that the HE500's but still not bad. Mids are fuller and more distinct.
Volume pot was at ~12 noon only high gain for these phones.
SR325i (G-cush and T-shirt mod)
The Magni does not really like these phones, with the G-cush alone they are way to bright and shrill, peircing and painful for some songs. The T-shirt mod under the G-cush tames that so they are tolerable but I don't typiclly use the Magni with these due to this issue.
I was expecting similar results with the Asgard 2, but that's not the case. The Asgard drives these phones just fine (with the mods). Wide soundstage, good mids and highs, but the bass is not there. The other two phones above are quite a bit more full than these phones. The Grados sound much better with my modded x-fi in my main computer rig and that's probably where they are going to stay.
So, overall the Asgard is a good step up from the Magni, as I would expect it to be. Next I think I will get a Bifrost and see how that changes things.
Hope this helps some of you fence riders jump in this Schiit pile with us...
Added HD800 below only Asgard 2 referenced
So, after about eight hours of listening here are my impressions of the Asgard 2 driving my brand new HD800's as compared to the HE-500's.
First off, I was underwhelmed by the bass when I first started listening. The headphones literally came off the truck and were hooked up mintues later (the UPS dude gave me a funny look when I came running to get the box ). They were very cold from shipping, so cold in fact that condensation formed on the metal part of the head band. The bass was there but not very pronounced. I decided to let them warm up at least close to room temps before starting the eval. I had been listening to the HE500's at the time, also so that might have been a factor (warming the amp up for the HD800's ).
After about half an hour I tried again. Much better but still not a lot of bass there. That's why I decided to give a good long listen. A mix of Asgard 2 and straight form my computer's modded X-Fi. Seven hours later (watching hockey on TV(muted), listening to music. Who needs to hear the commentators anyway, bunch of useless info they spew...well any way back to the task at hand.
The Asgard 2 does a respectable job of driving these phones. Bare in mind this is the first time I have heard them ever, so I am comparing it to the others phones I have (see the earlier post).
Comparing them to the HE-500's there is less bass in the HD800's but what is there is crisper and more defined. The HE-500, um, ?mushes? or muddies maybe? the bass some. Some may want more quantity. I noticed the recording/song style had a lot to do with it, some songs were just fine, others seemed to be lacking. The HD800's have MUCH better mids more ?forward? and pronounced. Very good with vocals (Alison Krauss, Anita Baker). The highs were also more present, but never got to much. Especially liked the attack on guitar strings, made their presence felt. The HD800's felt a lot more balanced in the presentation, showed better separation, and greater detail. Soundstage was slightly bigger.
The comfort of the HD800's is on a whole new level, after half an hour I almost forgot I was wearing them. This is a set of phones for the long haul listener as evidenced by the eight hour session I just completed, could not do that with the HE-500's would need breaks periodically. Also did not have to mod the HD800's as I had to with the HE-500's and Grados for comfort.
The volume pot didn't need to be as high with the HD800's, also. About 10:30 versus almost noon with the HE-500's both on high gain.
So the upshot is that the Asgard 2 does a very good job, IMHO, driving the HD800's and it is very worth trying it out for yourself. I plan to compare this to a friends Bottlehead crack once he gets it built (or maybe I should do one, too? hhmmmm...poor wallet is gonna have fits).
Let me know if there are specific questions.