Pros: Weighs a ton, Very good build quality
Cons: Fuzzy/congested/blurry sound. Very colored. Too warm sounding.
Got the unit in and on day one it randomly sounded OK and then would crap out on me. In total I wasted probably 6 hours of my day off trying to fix issues I thought were a fault of my computer. I kept thinking that I had fixed it and then the issue would come back. First I thought it was interference with my ethernet port, bad usb cable, bad hub, noisy power etc. I tried every combination I could find. I even attached the amp to different wall outlets and with and without noise filtering on my surge protectors. In the end there is NOTHING wrong with my setup.
On day one the sound would randomly feel as if all the weight of the music was being sucked out. No life at all to it. Background details seemed to get "lost". Then 5 minutes later (same song) it would be fine. The sound would alternate between sounding good to bad and not due to variations in recording. I could switch to a different amp using the same usb port and DAC and it'd be perfect! On day two at one point it sounded great for 45 minutes and then went back to normal.
I thought maybe it was noisy power or something but I got the A2 to be dead silent. I did notice an improvement in sound when I used cables with tons of shielding and USB cables with ferrite beads. It didn't last long though. Yes, I tried many different cables.
At times the bass would randomly get bloated and the low mids would get shoved forward somehow. At one point I was sure that my A2 had died. Nope.
So I gave my ears and amp a rest and tried again the next day with my HD-650. Same results but even worse sound compared to the Q701.
I tried Xbox 360 Optical to E17 DAC to Asgard 2. This combination was awful and warmth overdose. Fallout 3 seemed incredibly muffled and dark. First time I've ever heard bass bleed in that game and I use my HD-650 with it all the time. It felt like everything was abnormally thick/full. More than it should be. E17 has some warmth, but not a lot. Switching to the Q701 was a little better.
I then tried a docked Ipod Touch 2G to A2. IMO the 2G is kind of bright. Not any warmth at all coming from it's amp/dac. Similar sound. Still got that muffled/fuzzy sound from my HD-650. Closed in soundstage and lacking detail. Just sounded too dark.
I also tried a Denon 1920 CD player to A2. A little better, but the A2 seemed to be giving everything it's own coloration. The bass from each setup wasn't very well controlled at all.
HD-650/Q701 sounded amazing from the O2 and Micro Amp with not much change between them. I understand that maybe the A2 is not meant to be 100% transparent, but not sure. Please note that I would switch to other amps and everything was perfect so it's not an issue with my ears or setup. At times I felt my ears were playing tricks on me but that's not the case.
So in the end I returned it and the unit is fine. I guess the A2 sound is just not for me. After all that time i'm out of about $68. Not a big deal. Return shipping costs about $35 (should have went UPS/Fedex) insured and you have the 5% restock (which is perfectly fair). I wish I could say I just had a lemon but guess not. Perhaps i'm too picky, but I don't think so. I also spent maybe $50 on a new powered hub and RCA and USB cables to make sure it wasn't my fault. Couldn't wait for Monoprice so I had to buy overpriced stuff locally. I even bought a new USB card and no change in the audio.
With how it is I imagine it would OK for me with a Grado or Beyerdynamic DT-880 or something considered brighter/thinner. I guess I just didn't like it with the 598, DJ100, HD-650 and modded Q701. I thought the Magni was pretty OK and felt like it sounds better than the Asgard1/2 but it's not warm at all (don't care) to me and is a LITTLE bright/thin. The O2 and Micro Amp are close to perfect. To me the Micro Amp is like an O2 on steroids and with all those rough edges taken off.
I feel a bit bad reviewing this but why should I? I spent my hard earned money on the amp and it didn't work out. I use to have a lot of money but now i'm mostly on a budget. I have nothing against Schiit and I love their Modi. I should have just gotten a Bifrost instead.
BTW I had an Asgard 1 years ago and didn't like that either so I guess it makes sense why I wouldn't like the Asgard 2. I did feel it was fair to give it another chance.
EDIT: The review details are messed up so don't go by that. I gave the Audio Quality a 2 out of whatever.
EDIT 2: My only idea as to why this didn't sound good or randomly bad is due to external interference. Not from noisy power or computer etc. None of my other amps have any issues. Probably impossible but that's all I could come up with. Like I said before it SEEMED to sound best with ferrite core USB cables, heavily shielded cables etc.
I live in a 3 story building with 12 apartments total.