or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #29 in Desktop Amps

Posted

Pros: Great Resolution, Beautiful Finish, and Extremly Well Priced.

Cons: Power switch and gain settings are located on the back of the device.

What this is…

There just aren’t that many reviews of the Valhalla 2 available.  I started thinking… I have a Valhalla 2, why don’t I contribute to the same community that has provided this lurker valuable perspective on my headphone purchasing endeavors.  So here I am providing perspective on my ownership of the Valhalla 2.

 

Why did I purchase the Schiit Valhalla 2?

Simple, it got my attention.  It is designed and manufactured in the USA, by a very talented team of engineers.  It is an OTL that isn’t supposed to sound and perform like an OTL.  It is supposed to do things that one wouldn’t expect.  Based on the headphones below, you will see that I am testing all of the ones that shouldn’t sound good.

 

The Fit and Finish

Plain and simple, the team at Schiit Audio have designed the “Valhalla 2” to look and feel high end.  The pictures in my opinion will never do this piece of artwork justice.  Over the course of my many website and showroom visits I have been hard pressed to find any other headphone amp that looked this nice under the famous 1k mark.  Clean lines and subtle accents sum up the look of the Valhalla 2.  The volume knob feels firm to the touch and where it isn’t the final note in precision it is by no means a slouch even if it is warm to the touch (I actually enjoy the heat, it lets you know it is there and working).  The connections are firm and solid, a cable will not come unplugged if it was bumped or jarred by accident.  The addition of the preamp option was an added bonus and I have chosen to connect the device to AudioEngine 2+ powered speakers.  This combination is much enjoyed for the 10% of the time that I am not wearing a pair of cans.

 

Source & Connectivity

Flac/Tidal HiFi -> Windows PC -> Analysis Plus Toslink Optical Digital Cable -> Cambridge Audio 840C -> Analysis Plus Oval One Interconnects -> Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

Cambridge Audio 840C -> Analysis Plus Oval One Interconnects -> Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

 

Sample Music

Melody Gardot – Good Night

Musica Nuda – Day Tripper

Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused

Pink Floyd - Money

Jakob Dylan – On Up the Mountain

Gemma Hayes – This is What You Do

She & Him – I Should Have Known Better

Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stonger

Chris Cornell – Imagine

Bjork - Hunter

 

The Headphones

 

AKG K 702

Gain = Low

Volume Knob is at 12.

Overall Impression: Leaner is the first thing that comes to mind when listening through the 702.This headphone has great resolution, good separation, and surprisingly good depth. I feel like I am hearing the AKG’s sing. I just don’t feel that the same level of involvement and emotion is there.

 

Audeze LCD-2

Gain = Low

Volume Knob is 11-12 depending on the song.

Overall Impression: The resolution and staging are outstanding.There is truly noticeable depth in the music that I haven’t heard before. These headphones have what I can call exceptional resolution, staging, and separation. I find myself interrupted by smiles on a consistent basis. I have also found myself removing them because of the resolving 3D sound.I am wondering where that came from, then realize it was all in the music. I am happy to say that I am wearing this headphone at my desk for up to 6-8 hours a day plugged into the Valhalla 2.

 

Grado SR225E

Gain = Low

Volume Knob is at 9-10 depending on the song.

Overall Impression: Great midrange and hi’s.The Grado apply a level of passion and emotion into the music somehow that is truly magical.Where they don’t resolve quite as well as the AKG, I enjoy the separation, and depth that they do provide.This headphone is just a really fun and enjoyable listen.

 

Sennheiser HD598

Gain = Low

Volume Knob is at 11-12 depending on the song.

Overall Impression: Where this headphone makes for a very musical and fatigue free combination, I find that the soundstage isn’t as wide or deep as that of the other headphones.Going back to this headphone is very tough as this headphone just isn’t the same league when it comes to sound staging.

 

Overall Thoughts

The resolution, depth, and staging that the Valhalla 2 provides is just short of a miracle.  I have a hard time imagining better amplification, even though I know it exist.  The airy, atmospheric sound that flows through the LCD-2 and SR225E is absolutely enjoyable. These headphones keep wonderful pace through Bjork’s “Hunter”, resolve female vocals and capture the environments essence. Where all of the headphones listed don’t have the low end depth in their basket of tricks, the amp generously lets them shine and as a result I get to enjoy my music. I don’t find the Valhalla 2 to be a limitation, as all of these headphone combinations offered an extremely low noise floor.  Somehow this amp continues to surprise me, especially when I have taken the weekend off from listening.  Where I am tempted at times to pull the trigger on the Sennheiser HD650’s or Beyerdynamic T1’s just to hear the difference, I am able to resist.

 

Final thoughts

What can I say, I find a smile on my face every Monday-Friday when I check into my office and I don’t have to attend a teleconference. 

 

Why?

 

Because it means that I have the opportunity to sit down and crunch out actual work… wait for it… while listening to my Cambridge Audio 840C/Valhalla 2/Audeze LCD-2 combination.  For the money, I am a very happy camper.  I do plan on pursuing and testing solid state equipment like the Auralic Taurus MK II, Bryston BHA-1, Schiit Mjolnir, and Burson Audio Soloist. Until then I will remain oblivious to the idea of better sound and continue to embrace my Monday-Friday smiles.  I hope you find value in my feedback and perspective.  Please feel free to hit me up with any questions and I am always looking for feedback. Cheers!

Posted

Pros: Great Value, Excellent Sound Quality, Plenty of Power

Cons: IMHO...they need to raise the tubes for better cooling

I have to say I was very impressed with this little beauty.  For my 63 yr. young ears after being subjected to some of the most ferocious live hard rock and heavy metal it really does justice to my more subdued audio selections now.  The imaging is quite nice especially listening to live performances and various electronic music like Vangelis.  I especially love to listen to the beauty of the Hammond B3 organ from ELP, Triumvirat, Eloy, Deep Purple, YES..etc.  Nothing like listening to a tube driven keyboard thru a tube amp.

 

One thing that I did immediately "modify" was I raised all four tubes approx 3/4" using 9 pin noval tube socket savers that I picked up from ebay at the following link:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/150471555641?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, z1.1.0. ||B2

Seems to keep the amp running much cooler and actually gives the amp additional visual appeal.

 

Sorry my review is not as "technical" as some others, but if you are looking for a nice "mid-price" setup, the Schiit Valhalla 2 and the Modi 2 Uber make a nice entry level system.  I only have one pair of headphones and those are my Sennheiser HD600's.  As many have said, it seems this is the perfect amp for these 300 ohm cans and possibly the Beyerdynamic DT 880 or 990 250-600 ohm cans. 

Posted

Pros: Tube and Value

Cons: None at this Price

The electronic wizards and warriors at Schiit Audio can do battle in the bloody realm of HiFi audio worthy of this amp's mythical name. The technical schiit is on the website, the Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) type music reviews are not my thing. I'll keep this Schiit review short and brief. What does it for me, the sensation I get when the tunes produce that euphoria that sends "Qi" down your spine. I'm very sensitive to ear fatigue, so I prefer tube over solid state and open back over closed cans. Neutrality and accuracy is overrated, what matters to me is how my emotions connect to the tunes. The Valhalla 2 sounds great with my Grado GS1000e and HiFiMan HE-300 headphones, is the impedance match off for this setup? I don't know but sounds good to me. I got that "Qi" flow off Phil Mucci "Diabolik Films" and Silver Strain "La Main Gauche" .. weird how that works, I'm not into "witch house" at all

Posted

Pros: Inexpensive, solidly-built, wide soundstage with high-ohm headphones, pre-amp is handy with active monitors.

Cons: Headphone choices are limited to high-impedance models for the most part.

“You know, I’ve never owned any Schi….um, any of your products..” I was saying to Jason Stoddard in LA in March. Indeed, the last time I’d sampled anything from his company was years ago at a meet in Australia, where an original Asgard hadn’t impressed me. So I asked Jason if he would send me a Valhalla 2 once they were in production, as the amp seemed to be something of a potential all-rounder, which is unusual for an OTL tube amp, which would normally be suited only to high-impedance headphones of 300 Ohms and above.

When the Valhalla 2 turned up, I was greeted with a small, but weighty box. The amp itself looks like it should be light, but the aluminium chassis is thicker than I had expected and the top, side and back plates are substantial metal as well, adding to the weight. The Valhalla 2 comes with 2 sets of tubes, the shorter ones are Russian 6N1P and the larger are 6N6P. Setting up the tubes was straight-forward: Put the small ones in the front sockets and the big ones in the back sockets. Plug in the power cord and source and power up. A gain switch on the back also changes the output impedance, with low gain set up for IEMs and low-impedance headphones such as Grados, IEMs and portable headphones which tend to be low impedance as well.

I didn’t simply want to hook the Valhalla 2 up to my best DAC, best cables and whatnot, as people who are likely to buy it wouldn’t have the same expensive equipment as I do, so I initially plugged it into the same power strip as my computer with the stock power cord and connected it to a Geek Out using an Audioquest Mini 3 cable.

The Valhalla 2 blurb says that you can use it even with planar headphones and IEMs, even if the power output at 50 Ohms was going to be a lacklustre 180mW. It did indeed seem to deliver music, at least basically to a pair of LCD-X but some roughness in the sound suggested that it wasn’t a good pairing and switching back to my Studio Six was a huge sonic relief. My HD-800s paired vastly better with the soundstage nice and wide, if the clarity and instrument delineation was behind that of the more expensive amp. More noticeable out of the box was that the sound had a bit of bite — a bit of harshness on the leading edge of notes. I decided to leave the amp running for a few days to see if it went away, as I’d experienced similar things with other amps fresh out of the box.

Inevitably I’d have to evaluate the amp on its own, so I hooked it up to the Hugo, which was also feeding the Studio Six. What was quite surprising was the degree to which it was possible to distinguish the sources the Valhalla 2. The Hugo was noticeably smoother than the Geek Out, though not by as big a margin as it was using the Studio Six, or directly out of each DAC using their headphone sockets.

The sound itself isn’t at all “tubey” but entirely clean and clear, which would make it a good match with mid-range high-impedance headphones, which can sound closed and narrow with poor amps. After settling on a pair of headphones, a bit of fine-tuning can then be done with DAC selection if desired if one simply doesn’t select a Modi or Bifrost from Schiit as well and simply be “done”. More so now that it has pre-amp outputs, putting it on one’s desk with a pair of active monitors from the likes of Emotiva, Adam or others would make for a great all-round home-office or similar rig.

 

Thanks to Jason for sending over a Valhalla for review. A video will follow soon.

Schiit Audio Valhalla 2
Description:

Go ahead. Do things with Valhalla 2 that you’d never attempt with other OTL tube amps. Run low-impedance headphones. Use IEMs. Valhalla 2 is a complete re-imagining of Valhalla, with improved performance, higher output capability, lower distortion and output impedance. Tubes Made Flexible While most tube OTL amps are really only designed for 300 ohm Senns and 600 ohm Beyers, Valhalla 2 stretches to include headphones that you’d never expect to use with a tube amp. Go ahead. Use it with Grados. Run it with AKGs. Rely on it for many IEMs. You may even like it with high-efficiency planars like LCD-X, LCD-XC, Oppo PM-1 and HE-400. A Complete Desktop Preamp Valhalla 2 also adds two important features: preamp outs and a gain switch. Preamp outs let you connect your powered monitors directly to Valhalla 2, to give them some of what some people call “tube magic.” The gain switch gives you better control of both output level and impedance, for better matching to your headphones. It's easy to build a complete desktop system around the Valhalla. Not Your Father’s Tube Amp If you’re expecting syrupy, tubby, euphonically colored tube sound, you’re in for a shock. Valhalla 2 is exceptionally accurate, neutral, and resolving, without being strident or etched. Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 7Hz-200KHz, -3dB Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 180mW Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 800mW Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 450mW THD: < 0.04%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, high gain (worst case) IMD: < 0.05%, CCIR at 1V RMS, high gain (worst case) SNR: > 97db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, low gain Crosstalk: < -71dB, 20 Hz-20KHz Output Impedance: 14 ohms (hi gain), 3.5 ohms (lo gain) Gain: 7 (16.9db) or 1.5 (3.5 db), via rear switch Topology: All-triode, noninverting, single voltage gain stage, current source biased front end and optimized WCF output stage, DC-coupled input Tube Complement: 6N1P dual triode input, 6N6P dual triode output, 1 each per channel. 6N1Ps rollable to 6DJ8, E88CC, 6922, 6BZ7, and similar types. Power Supply: Two internal power transformers with over 2,000uF of filter capacitance Power Consumption: 40W Size: 9 x 6 x 3.25” Weight: 7 lbs

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphone Amplifiers › Desktop Amps › Schiit Audio Valhalla 2