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A Review On: Schiit Asgard Headphone Amplifier

Schiit Asgard Headphone Amplifier

Rated # 5 in Desktop Amps
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
Value
BokononVolta
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Pros: weighty, looks great, powerful sound

Cons: slight hum

This was my first dedicated headphone amp. Before this, I ran a couple of component stereo receivers on my desk at work. I enjoy listening to my higher end home stereo system, and listening on my daily walk with my IEMs (in ear monitors)

Initial impression of the chassis is very nice. It looks solid, feels solid, but can get very warm, so position it accordingly.

I used it with my NOS Pacific Valve Fathom DAC, as well as straight from the computer. With a dedicated DAC, it obviously sounded better. After upgrading from my Pacific Valve NOS DAC to the Bifrost, I found it sounded even better. The two devices were better matched. The darker sound of the NOS seemed a bit fuller and brighter with the Bifrost.

Headphone-wise I used it with a variety of cheaper units:
Panasonic RP-HTTF600, Monoprice 8323, Beyerdynamic (DT770 250 ohm, DT880 250 ohm, DT990 600 ohm), Grado SR80i, AKG271 MKII, Bowers & Wilkins P5, Sennheiser HD-280. The Asgard handled all of them well, even the 600 ohm. I never felt like I was pushing the amplifier very hard with any of these.

I also plugged in my JH Audio JH-5 IEMs, and it also sounded good, but there was a very slight hum. I suspect the hum is also present in the other headphones, but the very sensitive IEMs could detect it more. I tried putting on a different circuit than my computer, tried using a non grounded plug adapter, and it just didn't go away.

This hum wasn't annoying enough to dissuade me from this amp, but I wanted to try their tube Valhalla, so I sold this one and upgraded. But to be honest, if I was doing it all again, I would just stick with the Asgard. The upgrade really wasn't significant enough with my headphones to be able to tell much. Surprisingly, the Valhalla was a bit brighter and had more bass, but it was very slight. I think this Asgard is that much of a good deal.

I listen primarily to 24/96 vinyl rips that I make on my home system (Clearaudio TT, Grado Reference cart, E-mu 1212m ADC, after a thorough vacuum clean of the vinyl - i am pretty anal about it). I listen to a variety of genres, and find myself enjoying this amp for rock/pop type of music. Like most of the Schiit offerings, it doesn't have qualities that (to me) favor certain types of music - very neutral sounding.

I'll post reviews of the Bifrost and Valhalla next. And if Schiit wants to send me some evaluation gear, I am happy to try their higher end offerings too, but for now, I'll keep saving up- The Gungnir and Mjolnir reviews will have to wait smily_headphones1.gif

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