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Schiit DACs (Bifrost and Gungnir down, one to go)? The information and anticipation thread.

post #1 of 3320
Thread Starter 

NOTE: This post has not been updated since 18/04/2012.

 

OK so most people have clued onto the fact that Schiit Audio is planning to release a DAC, even multiple DACs if you read into the string of clues Jason has left all over the forum.

 

This thread plans to collate all the information (clues) and put them in one accessible location.

 

Generally speaking, if you have a question chances are it has been answered here.

 


Old and general DAC comments:

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)

From my research it began like this in the Schiit Asgard: Unboxing and First Impressions thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kboe View Post

Any whispers on a Schiit DAC...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] And yep, there will be other products--we just want to make sure they're absolutely, mind-blowingly right. Mike is extremely picky . . . no, er, obsessed might be a better word.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wgb113 View Post

I hope if it were to rhyme with yack that it includes optical and not just USB. [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

I'll answer all the _ack product teasers with this. Mike Moffat is my co-pilot. Would you expect anything less? (That is, once he stops moaning and groaning about USB. But he recently started smiling, so that's a good sign.)

 

Now that we have the amp portfolio solidified (Lyr is up for pre-order!!!) it's time to finish, some, er, other stuff.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

We're with you, man, but an _ack without USB these days is a non-starter. Suffice to say, there will be coax. And more.

 

Actually, until very recently, Mike would have been a happy man if USB simply didn't exist at all. 

 

And don't get me started on the iPad/iPhone/iPod-to-USB option. 1.1/48K. Barf.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by chesebert View Post

'til this day, I still don't get the point of using USB in a dedicated audio system. [...]


Quote:

Originally Posted by Yikes View Post

Any DAC that they come out with WILL have COAX digital input. What Jason was alluding to was the difficulty in getting USB to sound good, but he hinted that Mike (A known perfectionist) was finally smiling regarding this dilemma. So I'd expect a DAC that has Both COAX and USB (Also probably TOS Link, but who really cares about it normal_smile%20.gif ).

 

 

The next time relevant discussion popped up was in the thread New Schiit Lyr: Hybrid 6W Headphone Amp. Yes. Six. Watts. RMS.:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kremer930 View Post

Congratulations Jason on selling out your first production run. That will hopefully encourage the production of a Schiit DAC too. I am being hopeful. [...]

   

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] If you're in the Bay Area, you can see all our stuff at the Burlingame meet. We're bringing a final production Lyr, Asgard, and Valhalla, coupled with Audeze LCD-IIs, Grado PS1000s, and Senn 650s or Beyer 990s, respectively. Sorry, no _ack at this show (it would give away too much about our plans), but you can enjoy the fine sound of some antique Theta product! 

 

I expect you'll be hearing more from us on the _ack side soon.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 3. As far as digits go, we're declining to show any prototype stuff, because the sheetmetal gives away too much, even in ugly form. Yes, it's that obvious. No, we're not going to tell yet. So you get to enjoy some truly antique Theta gear. Which may surprise you. [...]

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leesure View Post

Jason,

 

if you're out there, is there ANY news on the DAC. 

 

C'mon...just a hint. 

 

Tease us!

 

Okay, to tease:

 

1. Don't think "DAC." Think, "DACs."

2. Think, entry-level to start. Think summer.

3. Think, even our reference stuff will start in 3-digit pricing.

4. Think, balanced.

5. Consider future-proof, and what that means in the context of USB.

6. Also consider there will be other inputs.

7. Think discrete.

8. Finally, consider Mike's history, his filters/jitter reduction/interface innovation/etc . . .

 

Enough teasing?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by hifuguy View Post

Hi Jason,

 

Thanks so much for your bit of sharing on the DAC plans. I'm begging you for just one more bone... will any of the DACs have a remote control for at least volume?

 

Thanks So Much!


Sorry, we don't do digital volume.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Schiit Audio View Post

Okay, a little more seriously: expect a pre-order for the first DAC in June, shipping in August. Of course, this may change due to parts availability, but . . . that's the plan.

First DAC is entry-level, second DAC (end of year) is a bruiser.

[...]

Even the entry-level will be futureproof.

[...]

Both will be balanced. One's delta-sigma, one's true multibit with our own digital filters--big difference in topology. Sorry I can't give more details about actual chips used.

 

And finally something very solid from Jason found in Schiit, could not be more happy with this company and their products.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Yep, DACs are coming. We're now confident enough to say we'll be announcing pre-orders on the first one in June (entry-level), and a roadmap for 2 other models, so you can plan what you want to wait for.

 

Rumors that they will all have Mike Moffat's signature on the back are greatly exaggerated. Or not.

 

The dribble of information has gone into full flight with this little teaser found on the end of a 6 moons review.

Quote:
What you can look forward to:
1. A line of 3 DACs, the first to be announced in June as the highest-value product like Asgard was announced last June. We'll also give at least a brief roadmap of what's coming so people can know if they want to wait or not. All of the DACs will have some surprises but the final 'statement' DAC will be the most, ahem - surprising.
2. A 'statement' headphone/2-channel product.

Hopefully all the above will be announced by the end of the year, then it's time to make some new plans.
All the best,
Jason Stoddard
Co-Founder

 

Jason then finally stumbled across this thread very thread and has been nice enough to grace us with information, questions and answers!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

All will be revealed in June!

 

Well, at least all on our intro product. But we'll also provide a brief roadmap on the others as well.

 

As far as USB goes . . . well, yep, we'll have USB, and it'll be a good implementation, but the two other SPDIF inputs will still outperform it. As someone here mentioned, USB is a *general* data interface, great for printers and external hard drives. SPDIF is a dedicated audio interface.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Oops, I posted this on the Lyr Tube Rolling thread, in response to a question about tube DACs, but it's definitely appropriate here as well:

 

 

And nope, no plans for a tube DAC. For current-output DACs, tubes don't have a proper low-impedance input to drive (or, well, to be fair, their transconductance is low when compared to solid state, so the cathode is still relatively high impedance.) For voltage-output DACs, we still prefer to stay on the solid state side for summing, etc.

 

You can expect that all our DACs will have discrete analog stages--Mike was using opamps in the Theta Gen III when I came around, and I turned him around to discrete in the Gen V with a discrete stage that measured (and listened) much better than the uber-super-duper opamps he was using at the time. That's a whole 'nother story--200 parts on a 4 x 6" teflon board with no soldermask . . .

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

A couple of answers:

 

Yes, all DACs will have TOSLINK optical and coax SPDIF, as well as USB. The top-end models may have a different interface as well. 

 

And yes, SPDIF from a computer is still far better than USB. Any implementation of USB. Even ours. We've had a half-dozen implementations running, and we've come to the conclusion: it just ain't that good. That said, it's not gonna be a crap TI 270x 1.1/48K max deal either. 

 

The big question, though, is: would you rather have a bulletproof 24/96 no-driver USB 1.1 interface, or a USB 2.0 24/192 that'll require driver installation for Windows, assuming both sound similar on real-world content (that is, 16/44.1)?
 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MangoMonkey View Post

Jason,

 

I think what YOU want (really), is a bulletproof 24/96 usb. I really don't know whether you want to get into the business of writing device drivers for windows. What's worse, you'll have to also spend time maintaining them. That's what'll be the expensive part.

 

Are you going to make a driver just for windows 7? What about vista? what about windows xp? 32 bit OS? 64 bit OS? What about windows 8? mac? Why not Linux?

 

At the very least, you'll have to spend time testing and verifying that it works on each one of these supported platforms. And bugs. What about bugs? Will you also have the infrastructure to get bug reports and crash dumps from folks to investigate crashes that will inevitably occur?

 

I honestly don't think you have the infrastructure to take this on.

 

Now, from a customer perspective:

 

The Mac folks seem to have a SPDIF out, so they're golden.

Let's look at the windows folks:

a) They have a PC (like I do) with both coax and optical out. We're set too, and couldn't care less about usb because like you said, optical is better.

b) They have a laptop/cheap pc without optical out. Dude, just suck it up. We're giving you 24/96 bulletproof. what more do you want? If you really can spend $20 an album to get higher res, just pony up the money to get a decent soundcard with optical out or a laptop with coax.

 

Seriously though. How much music is really available today, in higher res?

 

A better question to put to folks might be:

a) How much high res music do they have today?

b) How much high res do they see getting in the future. And the high res folks: since they're so obstinate about sound quality, will they use usb, or coax?

 

This is excellent input, and it mirrors our own internal discussions.

 

So, to "open the kimono" a bit more: we have both 24/96 bulletproof everywhere and 24/192 USB 2.0 running. No real difference in cost. No real difference in sound. Either can go in the entry-level DAC. SPDIF does 24/192 anyway. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 drivers available for USB 2.0 version, Mac doesn't require drivers.

 

But yeah, there's the PITA of installing drivers, answering emails about why drivers didn't install, calls, etc, etc. Believe me, 24/96 is much more appealing in terms of support. It's very, very tempting to say, "24/96 is it for USB." 

 

So yes, let's ask: how much music do you have in high-res, and how important is it? How much is 24/192? 

 

(And, while we're at it, have you ever thought about what 24 bits really means? I mean, no commercial DAC can really reproduce 24 bits. Nor can any commercial ADC record it. And no delta-sigma DAC is outputting the actual bits that went in. And every 24/192 upsampler is throwing away the original bits anyway. Not that we'd do upsampling. Those are the elephants in the room. We'll talk more about those as time goes on.)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

Would it be possible to make the usb receiver swappable and therefore futureproof?


Ding ding ding ding!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
     
     Quote:
Originally Posted by Wedge View Post


So you're going to use a delta-sigma DAC?


No matter how you color it: "advanced segment," "multibit delta-sigma," "hyperstream and dynamic matching," every commercially available 24-bit DAC IC except for the PCM1704 is delta-sigma. And the PCM1704 won't do 192kHz--and to our ears, it sounds kinda, well, boring. So yes, some models will use delta-sigma. Some won't.

 

From the 'Neck Deep in Schiit: Gungir Balanced DAC and Mjolnir Balanced Amp Announced' thread:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

I think I can confirm two things:

 

1. No DAC/amps in our future. We don't like to have multi-megahertz clocks (lots of them, in the case of modern DACs) running around in the same chassis with sensitive analog electronics, without some very heroic shielding--which then begs the question of "why not put them in separate boxes?"

 

2. DSD. No plans to support this. If it's an important part of your collection, it's best to move on.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] With respect to DSD, Mike is of the opinion that it's an inherently flawed format (and this is putting his response, ahem, very, very mildly), so we haven't spent much time with it. However, if enough people are using it, it's something we have to think about supporting. [...]

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

To answer a couple of questions, one of which came up privately, I figured I'd pop in.

 

[...] 2. Black anodize? Nope. Not gonna happen. We need to keep things simple, so silver it is. And clear anodize vs black anodize as far as heat goes is not that much different. Unplated aluminum is a disaster, but clear anodize's emissivity is 0.83, vs black's 0.86. Plus, if I ever see another black and gold Sumo faceplate, I'm going to have to get out my VHS videotape of Smokey and the Bandit. I keep flashing back to the chest-hair and gold-chain era. [...]

.

 

 

Bifrost related comments and information:

Bifrost product page: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=7

Bifrost FAQ: http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/

Comments from Jason (Schitt) stashed in here! (Click to show)

The following quotes are from this very thread.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey guys--we'll definitely announce this month, but remember, this month has 30 full days in it . . .

 

Seriously, though, it'll probably be between the middle and end of the month. Mike and I are doing some final tweaks and finishing up the orders for production now. Expect it to go something like this:

 

June 15-30: First DAC announcement, and some details on the next ones. 

August 15-30: First DAC ships.

 

And, oh yeah . . . the first DAC's name is: Bifrost. 

 

You heard it here first!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eee Pee View Post
Quote:
In Norse mythology, Bifröst or Bilröst is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (the world) and Asgard, the realm of the gods
[...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Just a quick update: we'll be making our official announcement about Bifrost on June 30. As soon as we announce, complete details will be available on the site, including the beloved FAQ.

 

Yeah, I know, we're skating till the end of the month, we're terrible people, etcetera, etcetera. But Mike really really wants this perfect. 

 

[...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

We're busy working on the site--hopefully launching a new shopping cart that's easier to use and offers more payment options (Google Checkout, PayPal)--before the Bifrost announcement.

 

Expect the actual announcement to happen on the 30th . . . and expect it to be worth the wait. 

 

[...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by obazavil View Post

I think it will be around ~350... but if it costs $150 i won't complain... at all.... :P

 

Now... 750 for me is a NO-NO definitely

 

Seven-fiddy? Ahhahahhahahahahaaaa! That's funny. That ain't entry-level, except in some alternate audiophile universe where hundred-dollar bills grow on gold-plated trees with happily glowing vacuum-tube flowers.

 

For not much more than that price, we'll redefine the *entire* state of the art. For now, we'll settle for redefining "entry level."

 

And no, we don't particularly care about the impact our pricing has on perception or reviews. If we cared about stuff like that, we wouldn't have named ourselves "Schiit." We're having fun. If people like our stuff, then cool. If they don't, then cool as well. No biggie. This ain't saving the world or curing cancer or discovering a new principle in physics!

 

And respect? Mike Moffat, dude. 

 

(Doing some testing on the cart, hopefully will be able to send the press release and put the announcement/pre-order thread up tomorrow AM, not PM.)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RebelScum View Post

ITS UP

 

http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=7

 

BIFROST

FULLY UPGRADABLE DAC | 24/192 BITPERFECT
USB 2.0 AND SPDIF | 32 BIT WITH DISCRETE ANALOG

Starting at: $349.00  (without USB),  $449 with USB

 

Specifications

Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional)
Input Capability: up to 24/192 for all inputs
Input Receiver, SPDIF: Crystal Semiconductor CS8416
Input Receiver, USB: C-Media CM6631

D/A Conversion IC: AKM4399
Analog Summing, Filtering: Fully Discrete, DC Coupled

Output: Dual RCA (single-ended)
Output Impedance: 75 ohms

Frequency Response, Analog Summing Stage: 2Hz-100KHz, -1dB (actual frequency response limited by sample rate)
Maximum Output: 2.2VRMS
THD: Less than 0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz
S/N: Greater than 108dB

Power supply: 5 stages of regulation, including separate supplies for critical digital and analog sections.
Upgradability: Separate, modular USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Card are snap-in replaceable.

 

Then from the Haute Schiit! Bifrost is world's most affordable fully upgradable DAC (press release) thread:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Hey all,

 

It's that time--time for a whole new line of Schiit! It starts with the first DAC from Mike Moffat in over a decade: Bifrost.

 

Bifrost changes the game in entry-level DACs, starting with full upgradability. Both the USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Card are snap-in replaceable, making Bifrost virtually future-proof. Don't throw your DAC away—upgrade when the time comes!

 

Even without considering upgradability, Bifrost offers exceptional value. Consider its AKM4399 D/A converter and fully discrete analog section—like those found in DACs costing several times Bifrost's price. But perhaps even more important, our advanced bit-perfect clock management system allows us to deliver all the original music samples straight to the D/A converter, rather than destroy them through upsampling.

 

And USB? Forget antique USB 1.1--Bifrost's optional USB input is high-speed 2.0, running asynchronously, supporting bit depths and data rates up to 24/192. It's one of the most advanced USB implementations available. Of course, Bifrost also offers two SPDIF inputs, one optical and one coaxial.

 

Bifrost is available for pre-order now. Bifrost retails for $349 without USB 2.0 input, and $449 with USB 2.0 input. The target ship date is August 31, 2011.

 

Here's the press release: http://schiit.com/news/63011-schiit-announces-bifrost-dac/

Here's the product: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=7

Here's a FAQ about Bifrost: http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/

 

Bifrost is the first in a line of 3 planned Schiit DACs, with a step-up balanced model and an all-out assault on the state of the art following within the next 6 months. All will offer exceptional value and upgrade paths for future-proofing.

 

All the best,

 

Jason Stoddard 

Co-Founder

 

 

bifrost-holes-645.jpg

 

Then from this thread again:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Okay, so we missed a bit and you found it early. Cool! 

 

Now the FAQ and press release are up too. You heard it here first!

 

And from the press release thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all, some quick answers:

 

1. Yep, all inputs are 24/192, including SPDIF.

 

2. A Bifrost without USB is certainly not "incomplete." It's simply an option for people who don't need USB. As far as the price goes, look at what good-quality 24/192 USB 2.0 costs, and then let's talk.

 

Then back to this thread with this:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

[...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrScary View Post

S/N: Greater than 108dB hmmm I will wait until they come out with their higher end Dacs.

 

2. S/N, etc--Mr.Scary, we're VERY conservative about all of our specs. Don't judge a product by a single quantitative number. Bifrost is going to scare the heck out of people, sound-wise. The others--well, it's a whole new world, isn't it?

 

And from the press release thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

A couple more answers:

 

1. Yep, pre-order price is same as retail--we mainly do pre-orders to judge demand so we can set up the right production numbers. It didn't work so hot on Lyr, though, since demand was much higher than expected. This time, we're prepared for much higher levels of orders.

 

2. Sorry, no package deals. We can raise the price on all our products to what they should cost and offer packages, if you'd like (kidding.)

 

3. Galvanic isolation? Is anyone not doing that? I honestly didn't think it was worth calling out.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...]

 

Don't worry--the first run is large, there'll be plenty of Bifrosts to go around!

 

Jason

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Some more answers:

 

1. Wall warts? Bite your tongue! None of our products use wallwarts. And none of them need external power supplies for best performance. 

 

2. Reasons to upgrade beyond balanced on the other DACs--not ready to talk now. The performance of Bifrost is insane already.

 

3. Inputs and outputs--only what's spec'd. 3 digi inputs with USB, 2 digi inputs without USB, analog RCA outputs. Nothin else. This is a simple DAC. That's why it can be priced where it is.

 

Hope this helps.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Type35 View Post

I just exchanged emails with an engineer at Hegel about the HD2 and he confirmed they didn't have galvanic isolation on that model.

In fact, he mentioned that galvanic isolation could not be done on USB when the DAC was powered via the USB port.


He's right about that--well, not without insane heroics--but ours isn't USB-powered.

 

And from this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrScary View Post
sounds like something for Jason to answer but I have the Sabre32 chip in my DAC and its rated at 129db which is quite a bit higher than the 108db the Bifrost is rated at. Im sure the mid level Dac and high end Dac the one Im waiting for will have a higher end DAC

 

Chip rating =/= implementation rating. In fact, the EE Minimax is rated 90dB S/N through the tube output and 95 through the SS output, despite the 129dB rating of the chip.

 

AKM4399 = 123dB rated

 

Like I said, we're *very* conservative, especially on specs like this that are basically BS and benchracing.

 

[...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

An update, and a couple of comments:

 

1. We should have a solution for Google Checkout not shipping internationally soon--which is probably going to be moving to a more advanced PayPal integration that allows deferred billing. If that happens, I'll contact all our PayPal orders and offer them the option to switch to bill only when we ship. That'll involve a refund and placing a new order. Sorry for the pain.

 

[...]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynobot View Post

Why no shots of the internals or the business end of the new Bifrost?

 

As soon as someone buys one they will be posting inside shots, rear etc. anyways so no need to keep it a secret.


No grand conspiracy here--we just don't want to post pix of ugly green-board protos. When the final red boards are here, you bet there will be pix, as we always supply to everyone who's interested.

 

Back shot? Those aren't shots--those are renderings. We didn't do a back rendering. But if you close your eyes and imagine a black back panel with one coax, one tos, one USB, and one set of RCA outputs, together with a power switch and an IEC inlet, there you go. Nothing special.

 

And a couple other answers:

 

[...]

 

3. All Bifrosts will have 3 LEDs on the front, but if you don't get USB, it'll skip that input.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey guys,

 

Yep, the "authorize only, charge only when shipped" deal is working on PayPal (basically, now we're only using them for processing, but the account and everything is on our site.)

 

We'll be contacting everyone on Tuesday after the holiday and canceling/re-placing orders--I'll go change the site FAQ about ordering right now.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

A couple of quick answers:

 

1. No combo deals, unless we're allowed to raise the price on the products to the levels they should sell at, then provide a discount from there. Kidding, of course.

2. No analog inputs on any DAC product, no volume controls, nothing preamplifierish. Too many compromises. 

3. No Amazon Payments or Google right now--they don't integrate well with the new cart. The current system allows you to pay with a credit card or PayPal account, which'll have to be enough for now. 

 

[...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Also, now that Google payments are not an option, I assume orders already placed with Google are fine?

Thanks.

Yep, no problem on that front! We'll try to put it back in the future, but it just doesn't want to do international shipments for the moment.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

A couple more answers/clarifications:

 

1. DAC rollable? Nope. I think we made that clear--we will release new boards when there has been a meaningful change in D/A or USB/input capability. This won't be "12 different D/As in 12 months," it'll be "hey, I don't have to throw my entire DAC away when tech changes."

 

2. USB vs. SPDIF. I think we've said what we need to say on our site. Our implementation of USB is one of the best, and we've heard all of them (that we can separate from the DAC, that is.) And, in our opinion, they're not up to the level of SPDIF.

 

Why should you believe us? Unlike other firms, we have no dog in this fight--we don't have a team of engineers spending 50 person-years developing proprietary USB tech, we're not selling an expensive USB solution or trying to license our technology--so we don't really care if you use our USB or not. That's one of the reasons we waited until there was a commercially available solution for USB 2.0--the CMedia CM6631 input receiver. Now, real high-speed async USB doesn't have to be costly, and we can provide great performance on the USB side. For USB, that is. 

 

And, consider this: when those expensive, embedded USB solutions in other super-expensive DACs have fallen by the wayside for USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or I2S (or whatever's next), you just swap out a card on your Bifrost, and you're ready for whatever future tech there is.

 

That's how we see the future of computer audio. We're realistic enough to know we don't set the standards, but you bet we'll be able to respond to whatever comes next--and you won't have to throw your DAC away to take advantage of it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

I don't suppose there is anything in the works for a firewire interface? It would be a nice option to have smile.gif


Firewire: too small of a market.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Um, a couple more comments:

 

1. Galvanic isolation? Like I said, of course we have that. I simply thought no competently designed, non-bus-powered device would be without it, so we never mentioned it. It's like saying your new lamp comes with a power cord. Duh.

 

2. Upgrades may not happen? Are you seriously arguing it's better to spend a lot more money on a DAC that's designed to be thrown away when tech changes, versus getting one that offers insane price/capability/value even without considering upgradability? It's not like Bifrost requires a second mortgage.

 

And, uh, upgrades will happen.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Ha, I see we've been accused of "not knowing USB" by some USB mafia on another site, because, you know, "them old guys with their SPDIF canes don't understand the future."

 

So, to clear things up, here's a version of an email I just sent.

 

 

Experience with USB?
Not enough experience with USB? Ha! Our DAC would have been out a year ago if it wasn't for USB. We have investigated all the commercially available USB interfaces, including some very expensive licensed ones, and arrived at design that is one of the best, if not the best, out there. I mean, it's USB 2.0, not antique 1.1, it's async, it has separate crystal-controlled clocks for 44.1 and 48K multiples, it has galvanic isolation.

 

We put a ton of engineering time into USB. We know it's necessary for many customers. We simply aren't going to portray it as anything it isn't. We have no reason to. So if you buy our USB solution, you know you're getting one that's solidly engineered and done to the highest level we can possibly achieve today. It's not slapped-together or afterthought. And it sounds really nice. For USB.

 

And--unlike everyone else at or near this price point--it's upgradable, for when the technology changes. And yeah, you can speculate about whether or not upgrades will come, but, you know what? One thing is for sure: technology will change, and when it changes, you will throw away a non-upgradable DAC--or accept less than the state of the art performance.

 

SPDIF from computers is inferior?
And I'm unsure where you get this idea that SPDIF from computers is "inferior." Sure, there's variation in SPDIF output quality, but we're getting jitter rates from Apple TOSLINK and good PC soundcard coax that are not significantly different than what we get from a good transport.

 

So--I gotta ask: Maybe it's not a case of these "old dogs" not knowing USB, but maybe it's a case of these newfangled designers not knowing how to properly implement a SPDIF receiver? There are so many tricks beyond the datasheet implementation . . . and we've been doing them since the 80s. 

 

But we'll see. When Bifrost ships, judge for yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

One of the huge advantages of an upgradable DAC is that it's easy to build up a ton of 2.5 x 4" DAC/Analog boards and swap them in and out. Yep, we've tried all the major chipsets. In this implementation, AKM gave the best sonic performance and some of the best measured performance. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Linux? We're not going to provide any technical support, but if your Linux machine is USB Audio 2.0 standard compliant, you should be in the same boat as Mac users--no drivers necessary.

  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Burn-in? Yep, everything's burned in for a day before we ship. This isn't for audio quality, though--this is to catch early failures. Our amps usually improve over the next 50-100 hours of run time beyond our burn-in. Bifrost will probably be similar.

 

Power supply scrimping? Uh, no. Like I've said before, we don't do wall-warts, we don't do switching power supplies. Bifrost uses a 4X over-specced EI core transformer (the same kind of transformer we use on all of our gear,) feeding 5 stages of regulation, with low-noise regulators in critical sections, and over a dozen conductive polymer aluminum solid electrolytic capacitors--which you typically only find on very, very expensive gear. Bifrost is no joke--it's a serious DAC!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xinque View Post

Jason Stoddard jason@schiit.com

 

On top is fine [...]

 

> Hey,

>

> [...] Have limited space in my room so I was considering stacking the Lyr on top of the Bifrost (I understand the footprint is identical from the website).  Also hear the Lyr can run quite hot at times, do you think this would be of concern in stacking the two?  [...]

>

> Cheers

 

And from the announcment thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

Hey all,

 

I’m sorry to say that we’re going to have to move the Bifrost shipping date to September 30, rather than August 31, as we had initially planned.

 

What went wrong? Well, rather than a chassis problem this time, it’s a parts delay--in this case, the transformer. Our production run slipped, so they won’t be here until early September. When you add board production, assembly (surface mount, which we contract locally), and test time after that, it’s not going to ship before the end of September.

 

In proper Schiit fashion, here’s the FAQ:

 

Hey, I’ve already been waiting long enough! Gimme a refund!

Technically, this isn’t a question. And technically, we haven’t taken your money. But we totally understand--just email us and we’ll be happy to cancel your order.

 

I ordered on (insert date here). Do I still get in on the first run of Bifrost?

Yes! We planned for a very large first run, so we’re not in danger of going into backorder.

 

Does this mean that every single Bifrost is going to ship on September 30?

No. We actually produce Bifrost here in the USA on our own production line, which has a finite capacity. The earliest orders will be shipped first, and we don’t anticipate it will take more than a week or two after production starts to clear all the backorders.

 

Oh no! What can I possibly do while I wait for shipment?

Well, you can visit our “Balanced Amp Research & Valhalla Giveaway” thread in Sponsor Announcements and Deals. Let us know what you think about balanced headphones and amps, what kind of connections you need, and features you want. Everyone who responds before August 31, 2011 will be entered to win a Valhalla, and we’ll announce the winner, chosen by random drawing, in the following week.

 

All the best,

Jason


And from this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

I'm sorry to say the barbecue option won't be available for Bifrost. It only runs slightly warm. Especially when it has the right voltage out from the transformer, ha.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Oh yes, and the rather cryptic reference to overvoltage transformers was the bugaboo that put us behind. We've definitely learned our lesson on preorders: don't do it until ALL production parts are in-house and qualified.

 

[...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Yep, looks like production is sorted on Bifrost, so barring any other surprises, September 30 is solid. [...]

All DACs: will use the same optional USB card, and all will have upgrade paths--see next comment. [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kayvaanshrike View Post

Hey guys, big big news! I have just got a heads up on the upcoming schiit products, no specific details, just a rough sketch. Basically, we will be seeing a balanced ss amp and balanced DAC by end of this year and a balanced hybrid amp and flagship balanced DAC by q1 next year. Furthermore, it seems the two balanced DACs will have options for the exact same usb card as the bifrost (dissapointing to me). More details include the fact that the cheaper balanced DAC will use existing high-end DAC chips (Sabre, Wolfsson, etc.) but the flagship will be completely unique, featuring never seen before chips (multiple). Furthermore, the flagship DAC is being designed to completely outperform the competition.  Including DACs that are many times more expensive (W4S, Weiss, Zodiac Gold, Berkeley, etc).It is actually being designed to even outstrip things like the dCS and Mark Levinson.  It is also going to be very special in that almost all the components will be in-house Schiit designed and produced parts. The casing for the two new amps and DACs will be matching. (as in mid-range amp and dac will be the same, flagships will be the same) They will both be significantly larger than the current products. (Lyr, Bifrost) Finally, suggested pricing could be 649-749 for the mid-range DAC and 949-1049 for the flagship DAC. The amps will probably be slightly cheaper respectively.

Hope you guys found this info interesting, I personally cannot wait for the balanced amps and especially the flagship DAC.

 

This is an interesting mix of fact and conjecture. [...]

    
      Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all, quick update:

 

The new transformers are here, a little later than expected. That said, it looks like we'll start shipping Bifrosts at the end of the month as planned--it'll just be a little slow at first. As usual, we'll be shipping earliest orders first, so I'll have to ask for your patience if you ordered recently. It should take only a couple of weeks to clear all the pre-orders.

 

Thanks for your patience!

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Some real photos of Bifrost (yes, including the back panel) are up on the site!

 

We'll have photos of the production guts shortly . . .

 

All the best,

Jason

 

[Hero Kid edit - 

bifrost_product.jpg

 

bifrost_product05.jpg

/Hero Kid edit]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Nobody has their order status updated yet because . . . we need a couple more days, I'm afraid.

 

In the process of getting ISO9001 certified, our PC board assembly house has been slooooowwww. So the boards are just trickling in. The good news is that it looks like we'll have much better supply than we expected, so we should be able to clear the preorders much more quickly than I thought. But--bottom line--they're shipping next week, not this week.

 

Sorry for the ongoing delays.

 

All the best,

Jason

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Okay, to answer a few more questions:

 

1. Yes, things around here are a little insane right now. We're basically living at the PCB assembly house at the moment. And yes, this is a local place--about 20 minutes away from our office.

 

2. Internal photos? Yeah, we had a few more important things to do. Sorry about that. An internal shot will go up today.

 

[Hero Kid edit -

bifrost_product06.jpg

/Hero Kid edit]

 

3. Shipping Monday? No. End of week for the first non-USB units. Assuming the board house doesn't get distracted by ISO again, or have someone out due to illness. See below.

 

4. Why the ongoing delays? Because this is a VERY different animal than an amplifier. First, we cannot make units ourselves, as we have done in the past with amps. The surface-mount components are the size of fly crap, so we are completely dependent on the boardhouse. We have to wait for the first article, program it, test it, and release production if it meets spec. If it doesn't, repeat as necessary. Also, if the board house tells us, "We're going to ship the 22nd," then we take them at their word. If they subsequently say, "Ah, the 24th, the 27th, ah, I mean the 2nd, and that's for the analog boards, not the motherboard or the USB board," there is nothing we can do about it. Except apologize to you.

 

5. Have we learned our lesson? Absolutely. [...]


Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreYew View Post

Here is a marked up picture of the Bifrost guts:

 

annotated bifrost.jpg

 

[Hero Kid edit - Just to clarify this is not an official image. Thank AndreYew for its creation. If you wish yo read his musings please reffer to these two posts:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/545842/schiit-dacs-the-information-and-anticipation-thread/870#post_7803903 &

http://www.head-fi.org/t/545842/schiit-dacs-the-information-and-anticipation-thread/885#post_7806390 [/Hero Kid edit]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Midweek update for everyone (well, kinda past midweek . . .)

 

Our lives at the boardhouse are winding down. I can now say we will be shipping a handful of Bifrosts on Friday, another handful on Monday, and will have good supply as of Tuesday. 

 

Apologies again for the delay.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Yep, USB should start shipping midweek and have good supply by the end of the week.

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by eclein View Post

[...] My guys were at RMAF today and saw Jason from Schiit and he told them the USB's should start shipping this coming week so its not to far off for me. [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all, quick update:

 

1. Shipping of Bifrost backorders continues to be slow--apologies again for the wait.

2. However, we expect to start shipping the first USB units this week.

3. All backorders will be cleared out in less than 2 weeks, by our current guesstimates.

 

A conspiracy theory on which units we sent first? Well, uh, no. How would we know what DACs our customers have? It's not like we can map their real names to their forum handles. Here's how we ship Bifrost:

 

1. Oldest orders first.

2. Non-USB first, because that's what we have.

3. USB units ASAP.

4. Review units.

 

Again, sorry for the wait, but we'll be catching up more quickly now.

   

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

To answer the above question, we do *not* do asynchronous sample rate conversion, or "upsampling." We're philosophically opposed to it, since it destroys all the original samples in the recording. Of course, so do successive-approximation D/A converters (aka delta-sigma--pretty much every major converter on the market today--Sabre, Wolfson, AKM.) Although we cannot do anything about the converter, we choose to preserve the original samples as far down the chain as possible. 

 

However, the AKM D/A does perform oversampling. Oversampling is done by the digital filter preceeding the delta-sigma modulator, and the amount of oversampling varies by sample rate.  

 

All the best,

Jason

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

USB? We're finally getting boards in tomorrow, so if they test well . . . Friday!

 

We may have *all* non-USB preorders shipped by then, too. Friday, that is. Things are moving much faster now--thanks for your patience, and apologies again for the delay.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all, another update:

 

1. USB boards are now in, and we're in the process of testing and burning them. First shipments are likely to happen Monday, not today as we'd planned. Apologies again.

 

2. All non-USB pre-orders will be shipped by Wednesday under the current plan.

 

3. Next week, we're hoping to get a couple of review units out, including one to Skylab (we talked him into waiting for USB--probably not our brightest move.)

 

4. Balanced DAC and other stuff has been pushed out, so we can focus on Bifrost. It's likely we'll be in a short back-order period almost immediately on clearing pre-orders, so we're planning for additional production. It's kind of insane to introduce a new product at this time. I'm still confident we will announce this year.

 

5. Lyr is in-stock again, and Asgard is on-target to be in-stock again next week. 

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Another slight delay on shipping USB--we want to make a minor firmware update on the delivered boards. We'll be shipping in a couple of days. And yes, I know, I'm starting to sound like a broken record . . .

 

All the best,

Jason


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Final update on USB: WE BEGIN SHIPPING TODAY!

 

Sorry for yelling, but it's a great relief to finally get these out the door. I expect a few will go today, many will go tomorrow, and all backorders will be cleared up next week. This also means the review units ship as well, so you can expect some pro opinions soon.

 

With respect to the clicking, that's simply the muting relay. It's completely normal. 

 

All the best,

Jason


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Any prepaid orders that didn't ship yesterday will ship today.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all:

 

1. We haven't experienced that error on Win7--in fact, the driver has simply worked with all the Win7, Vista, and XP systems we tried it with. All I can think is try to reinstall the driver, try it on another system, and let us know if it doesn't work. We'll also see what C-Media has to say about it.

 

2. A tiny amount of transformer hum can be normal (ear to chassis kind of thing), but I've never said excessive hum is normal--in fact, in the 6Moons review, I said we contacted the transformer manufacturer and changed the process to eliminate the hum, or at least dramatically reduce it. Which was done in 2010.

 

Hope this helps a bit.

 

All the best,

Jason


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

One of the reasons we like the AKM4399 (and 4396) is that they use switched-capacitor filters to provide out of band noise performance that is more similar to a multibit DAC. As far as we know, they're unique in this regard. They're still delta-sigma, but they're a rather nice implementation of delta-sigma.

 

It's also a little ironic. One of the senior projects I did way back when I was getting my EE degree was a switched-capacitor, frequency-sensing noise gate for analog noise reduction. This was before the days that FFT and DSP became inexpensive enough to use broadly. It's neat to see that switched capacitor filters still have practical applications. Oh, the days of Z-domain analysis!

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Sorry to say the distributor situation is pretty grim--we ship first to direct sale customers, and we are now in backorder for first run of Bifrost, as we still try to finish up shipping the preorders (should be finished early next week.) Current preorders are all covered.

 

The second run starts hitting at the end of the month. We hope. I can't emphasize more that dates provided are *estimates*, or, in less fancy terms, *guesses.*

 

All the best,

Jason

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

[...] Bottom line, everyone who has preordered is covered, it will just take us a few more days to finish them up. 

 

A few other comments:

 

1. When you place your order with us, there is *always* a note on every product page--the first line of the product description--that says if the product is in backorder, or if it's in preorder, and the estimated time that it will ship. Note: estimate = guess.

 

2. Why is an estimate a guess? Because we can't plan perfectly for demand, and we do not have complete control over the boardhouse that builds our products. We were caught off guard by a surge in orders for all products--nothing we could plan for by looking at the sales rate for the past few months. Also, the boardhouse has been slower than normal following their ISO certification.

 

3. That said, we're ramping up to try to eliminate these backorder situations in the future. That's our singular focus right now. No new products are being announced until this is fixed, period. That will probably push any new product announcements to the end of the year, or slightly past that, sorry. 

 

4. When you order, we don't charge your card, nor do we take a deposit, (PayPal will authorize the purchase, which places a hold on the funds for three days, then it is released.) So it's not like the money has come out of your account. Yes, I know, cold comfort when waiting for gear. But nobody is happy about the backorder situation, least of all us. 

 

All the best,

Jason

 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Here's a long-awaited update on where we are and what's coming up this year. 

 

As you may have known, we've been spending all our time ramping up production (Bifrost caught us WAY off guard, and ongoing demand for the other products continues to increase.) [...]

 

Q: What the heck have you guys been doing anyway? Sitting around, eating bonbons, watching Star Trek?

A: None of the above, actually. We've been working with our board house, our suppliers, and our production staff (yes, we now have staff) to increase capacity and ensure products are in stock. This is beginning to pay off as of, well, right now. It's entirely possible that our current backorders will be the last for a long time.

 

[...]

 

Again, sorry for the delays. It was a heck of a 2011, but 2012 will be even more interesting!

 

All the best,

Jason

.
User comments, reviews and/or impressions stashed in here! (Click to show)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidNighorn View Post

Got mine today.  I was about the 20th order placed on Day 1.  Lest everyone start to wonder, I sent in a prepaid overnight shipping label.  You didn't get skipped.

 

To set the stage a bit, I have relatively limited experience with DACs.  Up to now, I have had the Dacmagic and the Cobra D10 units.  Both were a decent improvement over the Squeezebox internal DACs.

 

With just a few hours on it, I can say that the Bifrost is significantly better than the Dacmagic.  The primary quality that I notice is a much larger sense of space and soundstage.  This observation is made using HD600 headphones and the Asgard amp - a combination that I have been using for 7 months in conjunction with the Dacmagic.  The sound of the Bifrost is, to use a cliche, 'organic'.  Nothing calls attention to itself, but everything sounds alive.  By comparison, the Dacmagic was a bit 'shimmery' in a way that is dazzling at first but wears badly over the hours.  

 

Physically, the Bifrost is identical to the Asgard with the exception of the volume knob.  The two look great together.  And for those of you interested in heat output, the Bifrost runs just warm - like you would expect from a unit with electricity running through it.  By comparison to the egg-fryer (Asgard), it is positively cool.

 

I am not sure how much break-in will factor in on the Bifrost.  But I have reference recordings, as we all do, that will help me to accurately assess changes over the hours.

 

Based on this extremely limited session, I can assure you that I am saving for the Statement product to use in my listening room!

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidNighorn View Post

Still listening too.  I need to go to bed but cannot tear myself away from the music.  This is the way that I usually experience vinyl, but it is rare with digital.

   

      Quote:

Originally Posted by ChavaC View Post

IMG_0886.JPG

 

Sounds pretty damn good so far.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by jerikl View Post

Got mine today. It powers on just fine but otherwise it's not working. At least, the optical input doesn't appear to be working. I've tested it with two computers (iMac and MacBook Pro) along with two different optical cables. I'm unable to test the coaxial input. Correct input is selected on the Bifrost and sound settings are correct on the computers.

 

Not looking for help -- just wanted to let everyone know in case someone else has the same issue. And btw, I've already contacted Schiit. It IS pretty though :)

   

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

As I have limited time before early bed to catch flight for RMAF, my very early impressions are right out of the box, but were still quite an eye opener. They echo David's comparison with the DacMagic. I've always felt the DacMagic was good, but rough and the first violin bow stroke told me all I needed to know in my decision between the 2 DACs. I've only had my DacMagic with no other DAC to compare with until now, and thought that there was probably not much if any differences between them. I need more time to see if the Bifrost has negative side effects, but the initial impressions are that it is VERY smooth and has good clarity, it just has a clean sound which was missing on the DacMagic. Passages that used to make my cringe slightly on my DacMagic are effortlessly played with the Bifrost. Soundstage depth seems improved, width slightly. Positioning and separation appear to be similar. As David mentioned it just feels more alive. Looking forward to putting much more time on this.
Now I gotta dash off and get a few errands run and pack. frown.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by hp300plus View Post

Just received mine:  Initial impressions follow same suit as others.  I was previously using a nuforce uDac2.  With the Bifrost, there's definitely some micro details coming out that I have not heard before -- with some added spacial-ness (if that's a word) and better separation of instruments.  I've got to head back to work from lunch, but am letting the Bifrost burn in with my ripped ALAC copy of Isotek burn-in tracks.  I'll post more info along with my other gear in use tonight or tomorrow.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hp300plus View Post

 

Using Optical connection here and yes, it does make a clicking noise when a signal is input/when I begin playing music, but only then, not when switching tracks.  I suspect you are playing music files that are at different sample rates possibly, and when you go from track to track, there's some internal clock switching going on -- Schiit indicated they are using a special clock system that doesn't upsample which I suspect is the 'clicking' sound you are hearing... this is from their site:
 
Advanced Bitperfect Clock Management

The ugly truth about most DACs in this price range is that they sacrifice every single one of your original music samples to get their magic "192kHz" spec. Every input is routed through a sample rate converter and upsampled to 24/192. Bifrost dispenses with the sample rate converter and uses a sophisticated master clock management system to deliver bit-perfect data to the DAC, preserving all the original music samples--whether it's 16/44.1 or 24/192.
 
I believe some Home Theater Audio/Video Receivers do this today... they have the same clicking effect when DVDs/Blurays change sample/bit rates (for example when going from the 2-channel "menu/title/chapter select" tracks at 44.1k to the actual movie playback at 96k).  
 
Still going to let mine burn in more though before I post a follow up review.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hp300plus View Post

 

Here's an updated mini-review for interested folks.  My setup is as follows.

 

  • Power:  From the wall - Pangea AC-9 power cable > PS Audio Duet power center > Shunyata Diamondback power cables x 3 (one for iMac, one for Lyr, and one for Bifrost).
  • Source: iMac running Mac OS X 10.7.2
  • Software player: Audirvana Plus 1.0.2 app using 16 bit/44.1k Apple Lossless rips (no software upsampling)
  • Headphone Amp: Lyr with stock JJ ECC88 tubes
  • Headphone:  Audio Technica M50
  • Bifrost input from iMac optical out: Sonicwave Impact Glass Toslink
  • Bifrost output to Lyr: WireWorld Solstice 6

 

I have been burning in the Bifrost for approximately 18 hours using a ripped copy of the Isotek system burn-in CD.  I am comparing this to a nuforce uDac2 as it's my only other DAC at the moment. I have added some bulleted outlines along with two album reviews.

 

For starters, without question (and probably needless to say), the Bifrost beats the uDac2 hands down.  I will give the uDac2 credit though as it truly packs a lot of quality sound in a compact and very affordable package, but at a little over 2 times the price of the uDac2, the Bifrost comes out a clear winner.

 

  • Soundstage:  Much wider than the uDac2.  All this time, I was skeptical that headphones simply wouldn't give you the soundstage you get with a normal stereo setup.  I was wrong.  The Bifrost brought a deep and wide soundstage that I didn't know was possible.  Granted, a stereo setup still beats headphones (at least for me), but with the Bifrost, my opinion has shifted with this experience such that the Bifrost is like a 'gateway drug' in my wanting to search for better headphones and to save up for that statement DAC.
  • Imaging:  I am hearing some really fantastic separation of instruments, vocals, etc.  Kind of scratching my head that this is actually possible with headphones.  
  • Detailing:  See my album reviews, all I can say to sum it up is… WOW.  Way better than the uDac2.
  • Noise:  The uDac2 uses and is powered by USB so when paired with the Lyr, I would consistently hear computer generated noise from it so there was always a low level distortion coming through because of this computer noise coming in the signal.  With the Bifrost over optical, there is absolutely zero noise.  And the background is dead silent.

 

I listened to two of my go to favorite albums for testing -- both are self-titled by Fever Ray and James Blake.

 

Fever Ray - Fever Ray:  This album is full of details, soft passages, thick and lush synthesizers, and ghostly vocals.  For those of you who remember the duo "The Knife", Fever Ray is the debut solo album from the female.  Compared to the uDac2, the Bifrost took the experience from a 6 to a 9 (I think I'll reserve the 10 for that statement DAC).  All these wonderful details came in like they've never done before - more alive and organic.  There's a sense of instrument separation where you can hear certain instruments/sounds fall below the ears, in the middle and above. I feel like I am hearing this album the way the artist intended.  

 

James Blake - James Blake:  This is an excellent album to further test micro details and soundstage - you can really hear James coming in and out on the vocals, breathing, tongue movements and all (don't laugh).  There are even passages where you can hear he's been recording in his home (I think) as there's an ever so faint street noise / chatter in the background.  James adds some interesting vocoder and phase shifting effects to the music that really make the headphone experience very spacial… I thought the uDac2 did a bang up job with this album, but wow, did the Bifrost once again take it to another level.  The positioning of certain sounds is pretty stellar - way more 360 degrees which I didn't get with the uDac2.  

 

All in all, I am very impressed with the Bifrost.  I might be a little overexcited given I'm coming from a uDac2, but none-the-less, I am very happy with this purchase such that I will be taking out the piggy bank to start saving for the statement DAC to see what it can do. 

 

As their other thread states in the Sponsor area -- "Haute Schiit" indeed!!!

 

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by ChavaC View Post

coax->lyr (6N23P) -> bifrost -> LCD-2 r1

 

Just to chime in with my thoughts, I've had the Bifrost about 4 days now and so far I'm really enjoying it. Mind you I'm coming from a D10 coupled to my Lyr so take my impressions with a grain of salt, but the Bifrost really is night and day in comparison across the board. The thing that especially jumps out to me is the imaging; everything has such a 3 dimensional and voluminous sound to it that I've never been able to get out of the other dacs I've owned. I had even all but decided to move on from the LCD-2s to the HD800 because I thought they were never going to let me hear into the music to the extent I wanted, but that idea is pretty much out the window now, and I've been having a lot of fun revisiting all my music with the LCD's. Even some of the poorly recorded music I have is showing some new life. On top of that, the soundstage is much more fleshed out but only a bit wider, although in all fairness my LCD-2s have never really shined in that department. I really get the feeling I'm listening to an actual room/stage rather than a wall of sound. Detail wise the bifrost is pretty big step up and I'm hearing several nuances I've never caught before, even in some of my favorite songs. It also feels like extension on both ends has been upped a notch or two. Tonally what I'm hearing sounds pretty neutral, maybe slightly warmer but I don't really get the impression it's coloring the music to any significant degree. So far I'm having trouble coming up with anything to complain about. There were a few hihats and drum beats that sounded a little thin when I first started listening, but my ears might have just been a little wonky as I haven't been able to find them again. Build quality is of course simple and solid.

 

I don't have a high end reference to compare to against higher price points, so take everything with a grain of salt, but I have to say I'm quite pleased with the sizeable bump in clarity and detail. I've always been a pretty underwhelmed with my past DAC upgrades (HDP, D10), so it's nice to finally have something that really adds to my rig.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post


Still sounding great. Some orchestral recordings I really didn't care to listen to before because they sounded too rough with the Dacmagic are nice and clean now and I'm loving them once again. Quite a difference with the Bifrost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yeemanz View Post

Just got my Bifrost today yay!

 

First impressions from a person with no audiophile speak....

 

My setup is in my sig. [Home Rig: Xonar Eessence STX > Schiit Lyr with Lorenz tubes > Schiit Bifrost > LCD2 with DHC macromolecule, K702 with DHC molecule]

 

Coming from no external DAC I was quite eager to hear what kind of difference having one would make. After a bit of effort setting up and panic when there was no sound...I realized that I hadn't push the coax fully in...doh...

 

Anyway, my music sounds more 'polished' with more clarity. For some songs I am also hearing a few extra layers that wasn't present before.

Still only a few hours into checking out the Bifrost, will have to update after listening to it some more.

 

So overall, very happy with the Bifrost :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by timmybob View Post

Although I have been a long time browser, I joined today to add my thoughts as I must have one of the first shipped (non-USB, number 2!). I also listen through speakers so realise my experiences may be different to those who mainly listen through headphones.

 

Over time, much of my music has seemed a little less satisfying to my ears and I had started to wonder if age changes were affecting my listening pleasure or whether my CD players (a 508 and a G08) were losing their touch. I know it is early days yet, and all changes take time to fully evaluate, but I have to say I am blown away. To say this DAC has lifted a veil would be an understatement. I know both my players are a little long in the tooth, but neither were slouches in this area in their hey-dey but neither can hold a candle to the Bifrost.

 

This one definitely won't be going back!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuceka View Post

Ok to answer several questions first. 

 

1) My LED is not really blue. It's exactly the same as the led you find in Lyr, Asgard and I assume Valhalla as well. 

 

2) I did dump it already :) My decision for selling was made even before getting the unit. The delay in shipping made it necessary to make some changes in my budget and financially I am not supposed to have it. So I had it for two days and people may say that it is not enough time to evaluate any product and I partially agree with that statement. However, here are a few words about Bifrost although I am not able to write reviews like some of the reviewers here. 

 

I got the non-USB version to use it with my DVD player's coaxial out and my macbook Pro's optical out. Unfortunately I had sold my coaxial cable along with my previous DAC, Stello DA100 so I didn't get to use Bifrost with my computer but only with my DVD player. 

 

I basically compared it with my main DAC which is HRT Music Streamer II. 

 

Sony DVD Player + Bifrost + Lyr + Hifiman HE-5 / AKG K701 

 

MacBook Pro + HRT Music Streamer II + Lyr + Hifiman HE-5 / AKG K701 

 

I used various albums by Joshua Harris on CD with my DVD player and played the exact same songs ripped ALAC on my laptop via HRT Music Streamer. 

 

Other music were various albums from the Box Set of Chopin and Telemann and Audioslave, and Norah Jones' Come Away With Me 

 

I really liked the sound that was coming out of the first set up with Bifrost with classical music and Joshua Harris. However in some of the passages with drums and cello in Harris' albums, I preferred the presentation of Music Streamer better. Bifrost has a very very clean sound and the instrument separation and soundstage were strong straits of it. First, I thought that was due to my K701s but I had the same results when I switched to HE-5 which don't have a huge soundstage. What I don't mean is that Bifrost is creating a false sense of soundstage and it is not to a point where you can say that it's unrealistic. I've found Bifrost to be very true to the recording. I can't say that it is warm but it is not cold either but leaning towards that side a bit. 

 

When I used my Hifiman HE-5 for all of the songs above, I found that when the passages get complex and there's too much guitar distortion, Bifrost was the clear winner in presenting the music clearer and the instruments being heard more precisely. 

 

Yet, when I listened to all of the songs over and over again with those two set ups, I could say that Music Streamer is not inferior to Bifrost. It hasn't made me miss my wonderful Stello DA100 and in the end I couldn't justify the price difference between two products. I think for what it performs Bifrost is a great steal and the customer service Jason and his team provides is just awesome and I'll always have Schiit amps but on this one, I can be quite content with Music Streamer and not lose a whole lot by not owning the Bifrost. And judging by the comparison, I am curious as what Music Streamer II+ can do compared to Bifrost. 

 

To sum up, with its price tag, synergy with my system, portability I decided to keep the Music Streamer and let Bifrost go. That DOES NOT mean I didn't like Bifrost but it didn't impress me too much either. Since then I sold both my K701 and Bifrost and it is funny how I keep ending up with the same rig (HRT + Lyr + HE-5) although I buy and sell a lot of stuff  :)


     Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

Some people have asked for impressions, others declare it's too soon, but I'll wade in based on about 8 hours of listening to mostly rock and jazz. Classical will come once I stop running back and forth digging out old faves, which may be awhile. And maybe that tells you something.

 

System is Marantz SA8004 player > Black Cat coax > Schiit Bifrost > Audioquest interconnects > Schiit Lyr > Norse 8-strand cable > Audeze LCD2 Rev. 2. 

 

Caveats: Haven't heard any $5K - $12K DACS in my system, and my ears ain't golden. Current DAC is PS Audio DLIII w/Cullen Circuits mods ($1.5K when new, less now.)

 

First word that came to mind was Slam. This is a good thing. Bifrost propels the music along, moreso than the DLIII. Bifrost is also very good at communicating all parts of a note - the instant start, the main event and the fade whether quick or sustained. I suspect that if you are a percussion fan, this DAC could be your new best friend.

 

Tonally, I haven't caught it out. Horns sound like horns; with full body, and bite when called for.

 

There's at least as much detail as the DLIII, but the Bifrost does seem to separate instruments a little better. Are those two guitars, tuned almost identically? You will have no doubt. Did the vocalist overdub herself? You'll know. LCD2s aren't known for their soundstaging, but with the Bifrost there seems to be as much spread as is on the recording.

 

Voices are lovely (where that's the appropriate adjective.) Of course the LCDs are known for vocal prowess. Kate Bush's voice can be screechy when poorly reproduced. (Some would say all the time, to which I reply (1) she hasn't always been well recorded, and (2) be nice.) Her 1989 album The Sensual World is one I always thought had been digitally recorded, with about as much depth and color as faded wallpaper. Only recently did I discover it was analog. On the reissue SW CD (from her 2011 Director's Cut deluxe set) her voice is rendered most agreeably by the Bifrost, with her inflections and edge intact, but without the teeth-on-edge quality that comes with inferior reproduction.

 

Bifrost is good at that sort of balancing act. Tinkly high piano notes are sharp and clean as an ice-cold martini down the gullet, but never sharp like an ice pick into the ear canal.

 

All told, I'm so far very pleased with the unit and would recommend it for the sound. Not to mention the company's customer service and the Made in USA cachet. And the great value.

 

Listening over the main speakers comes next. Somehow I doubt I'll get much done this weekend...


Quote:
Originally Posted by ddoyle777 View Post

Reflections on 4 days in and the Bifrost.

 

My system currently is a MacBook Pro > optical out > Bifrost > Arcam A85 > Lyr > LCD-2 Rev 2. My speakers are B&W Monitors

 

I replaced an early HeadRoom MicroDac with the Bifrost.

 

My first response is that the music is sweeter and smoother with the Bifrost - it sounds more like music.  There was a harshness that did not sound musical with the HeadRoom Dac, especially on piano.  It was not an aggressive harshness or I'd have dumped the HeadRoom long ago.  But the Bifrost seems to round the sharp edges off and the final product is easier to listen to.  The more I listen the more impressed with the piano on this Dac.  I'm wrestling with using "sweetness" here as I do not want to convey that the final product is in any way syrupy.  It's sort of like when you taste something and it's just a bit tart, when you weren't expecting tart.  You add a bit of sweeter and then your tongue says, "Ah, this is what I was expecting."  My ears have had the same experience.  Ah, this is more like music than the former was.

 

I haven't noticed a huge difference in sound stage but I think the separation between instruments is better.  So far I've only listened to my best classical stuff where the recording was top notch.

 

The only listening downside I've found is that some of my Bach organ is a little tamer.  There isn't the same "blart" in the pedal that is in the recording.  I think the digital edge from the HeadRoom gave it a slight edge, or else I'm listening at lower levels because of the musical clarity and the LCD2s need a bit more power.   I still need to listen more, and I'll continue to do so.  Mainly I've been listening to my favorites and that could bias my feelings.

 

Another thing I've found is that my tinnitus doesn't seem to flare as quickly.  I can listen longer without saying, "oops, my ears are starting to ring."  That used to happen fairly quickly - usually within 30 min.  Now, I stop as listen after a couple of hours and I don't notice it.  Again, perhaps it is because I am listening at lower levels.  But I don't' usually listen at loud levels, and generally turn the volume down when I notice ringing.  I don't really understand the mechanics of tinnitus, so I could be totally out to lunch here - all I can do is report my observations.   

 

I do wish it didn't have the click when it starts - I haven't gotten used to it so I go looking for what made the noise until I remember the Dac clicks.  I imagine I'll get used to it in time.

 

Bottom Line - this is better than the early HeadRoom Dac and I feel like it's a steal.  It's musical, and it's not going back!  Besides, how many folks can claim a matched piece of schiit in their study!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

Schiit must use the same LEDs found in tactical flashlights. With the room lights off and the Lyr on, it's easy to walk around safely. Add the Bifrost, and I can practically read..

 

Anyhow, spent most of day listening to Bifrost with speakers (Triangle Celius, powered by Musical Fidelity A300 and supplemented by Hsu 1220 subwoofer.) All for you, fellow Head-Fiers.

 

Overall impression, this is not a shy DAC. It puts the transients right out there, especially in contrast to the DLIII. The PS Audio has been praised as analog-sounding, which some people might interpret as rounding off the edges. The Celius-es (Celii?) have no lack of treble and are about as discreet as Perez Hilton, so the combo sometimes teeters on the brink of too much. In fact, I'm sure it would be for some people. Not for me though, or you if you enjoy occasionally being startled by cymbal strikes or other such notes.

 

Beethoven's Ninth (BIS hydrid SACD) was more enjoyable than I recalled. IMHO, this isn't the greatest recording, but the Bifrost made the individual instruments clearer and thus easier to follow. The chorus had impressive presence.

 

One of my reference tracks is Laughing by David Crosby from his album If I Could Only Remember My Name (2006 remaster.) Right off the bat, the Bifrost presented each guitar as an individual. Each had great weight, and there was very much the sense of each string being fingered. There's a lot going on in this song, and it came across clearly. Highly enjoyable. It's not the the Bifrost revealed new details, but it did make small things that much easier to pick out.

 

So far, so good. Some posters have opined that the Bifrost doesn't really punch above its weight class. I wish I could hear enough DACs (and more expensive) to have a truly informed opinion. I do wonder if the pace of advancement in digital doesn't render this a moot point. Even if I could afford to spend $5K or $20K on a DAC, I'd still have this nagging fear that it would be outdated in a year or less. As for the Bifrost, I'm not sending it back.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

Quick impressions under meet conditions, but with my headphone and the Super7 (which I am familiar with since Anax has stolen this several times from Craig already.) You may also want to confirm with Anax since he studied the DAC more intensely than me:

 

  • Transients and attacks are a little blunted
  • Bass extends decently well, is powerful, but is rounded
  • Maybe lacks that last half-octave down low
  • Good detail
  • Little bit sharp in the treble when volume is turned up.

 

Overall it's good for the money.

 

My reference is the PS Audio PerfectWave.


I can second this.  

 

Put simply it is basically neutral.  Resolves quite well and better than I was expecting.  There is a slight euphonic signature in that it doesn't have that flat digital signature yet there is no treble roll off or bass bloom to muck up and warm everything.  It's actually quite interesting and pleasant in it's voicing.  I can say I've heard about 3 different AKM DACs and this was the most 'organic' sounding but in a more natural transparent way rather than colored.  Just lacks that extra bit of refinement you get from something like the PWD where it might come off a bit grainier when played through very transparent amps.  For the money it's definitely a solid piece of kit and recommended.  For absolute performance I'd wait for their statement or go another direction.  


Quote:
Originally Posted by 333jeffery View Post

I got my Bifrost and Lyr today. After spending a few hours listening to them through my HD600's, and comparing them to an Arcam FMJ cd player/Cambridge Audio preamp setup, I've concluded that they are a helluva bargain. Their sound easily equals that of the much more expensive Arcam, and at times, even surpasses it. The Bifrost has a very clear sound without being harsh. It pairs perfectly with the Lyr.

For those curious about such things, I'm using Mullard ECC88's in the Lyr. Very clean sound, much like the solid-state Cambridge Audio preamp in my main system. No noise/hum whatsoever, and no clicking between tracks (I'm using the coax connection).  A worthy upgrade for folks using cheap DAC's, and a huge step up for those not using any DAC at all.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

My Bifrost clicks with each new CD in the player, a Marantz. With my other DAC, the Marantz loses lock between CDs, while with my old Rega player lock was unbroken as long as the player was on. Fortunately, I don't mind the click, since according to Jason it's normal.

 

Also, surprised that nobody pointed out that in my last post I wrote "taught" instead of "taut" when referring to bass reproduction.  Or you were all too polite to point it out.

 

Still liking the Bifrost quite a bit. It seems a bit more midrange focused than the Marantz alone or my other DAC, though I suspect that might be interconnect-related. Perhaps this weekend I'll have some time to experiment.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by HyperM3 View Post

Finally got my cables and my bifrost hooked up last night. After some frustration with my cable box I ended up connecting optical from my TV to the BF and Coax from my Logi Touch to the BF.

 

First thing I noticed when playing music from my iTunes(Apple Lossless) through the touch was how much brighter all the intruments sounded. I hate using the metaphore so loosely but it truly made my speakers sound like they had been "unveiled". There was an incredible amount of depth to the soundstage that wasnt present before. I was very happy with the increase in musical enjoyment this little investment added. I will give it more time to break in and give it a listen but so far I would definitely suggest this product to anyone on the fence.

 

The only downside I think I may have perceived is that my bass doesnt seem to hit as low as before. The mid-bass seems tighter but the low slams dont seem to vibrate my couch as they did previously. I wish this had some sort of IR ability to change input. This is the only product in my whole house that I have to get up from my listening/watching area to change.


      Quote:
Originally Posted by 333jeffery View Post

I'm loving my Bifrost/Lyr combo with my hd600's. There is no listening fatigue whatsoever. In fact, the only negative thing I can come up with in regards to the Bifrost, is that it doesn't have the resolving power of the "reference grade" DACS. Of course, some folks may prefer this as it keeps it from sounding dry and analytical. Still an excellent piece of kit for the money.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Misterrogers View Post

Thought I'd share my experience with cabling Bifrost. I replaced my work MSII+ with Bifrost, and used a generic optical spdif for the connection. Sounded wonderful, though the very bottom seemed rolled off a bit. My Silflex glass optical cable arrived today, and that made a noticeable difference. The bottom end is there is with force, clarity and slam, with a slight improvement in clarity overall. Now this probably speaks mostly to the poor quality of the cable I was using - but I thought I'd mention it as others may have  a similar experience.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ecohifi View Post

Here are my gathering of info so far on this thread for the bifrost:

 

good sound stage and detailed sound

 

Lack of bass and base resolution

 

Doesnt beat $3k dacs

 

Has issues with curtain win 7 drivers thru usb as win m/c doesnt recognised the unit

 

Has loud clicking issues that is considered normal due to activation of relays when changing tracks!

 

No acknowledgement of possibilty of remote firmware upgrades on presently owned units

 

Hum issues, undefined whether its due to the transformer or is it thu audio outputs?

 

Hate to be -ve but what other things have I missed thats going to come under "normal" 

 

The hype for this product was so +ve but thats when noone has owned it.  My prediction is that once the review units reach there destination the write ups are going to be flowery!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

I think I might notice a very slight reduction in bass compared to the DACMagic, but the clarity of the mids/treble versus the DACMagic is so much better it's hardly believable I listened to the DACMagic for as long as I did. The bass from the Bifrost is smooth and clean, hits very nicely, but may not be quite as loud or as much reverberation. Surely not the best DAC ever, but clearly a huge step up in this price bracket.

     Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

See my comments in the post above yours regarding the DACMagic. As to fine details, I'm listening to the Mozart violin concerto that is track #5 on the HDTracks 24/96 demo disc (you can download for yourself) and I can hear things like the breath of the player, when the player barely touches an extra string by accident which is very faint from a distance, but happens often. I hear the orchestra shuffling pages, moving their instruments into rest position during the cadenza, and so much more. It's quite good.
Also, I don't put any faith in 'professional' reviews. Nobody should, imo, unless the magazine/site publicly displays their financial information. Non-professional reviews like most found here by names like Skylab, Joker, and the like are not to be trusted out right either, but if you follow their reviews, look at their gear as time passes, their posts in threads on the topics you are following, you'll find out if they are being consistent or merely trying to be the big man on campus to get attention. If you put in the time to find people who share the same preferences you do, or can at least draw confident conclusions from, you have found your best reviewers.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by agisthos View Post


BIFROST impressions with speakers, not headphones, and via coaxial....


Guys I can only fairly compare against a CA751 BD player. This has what is essentially a DacMagic built in, same wolfsen dac chips for each channel, same Anagram Q5 upsampling technology, but without the benefit of a seperate dedicated enclosure.


In the past I have had a Meridian 200/203 Transport/DAC, Meridian 508 CD, Marantz BD7004 BD, Firestone Spitfire/PSU, and Audio-GD NFB-2.


But all those were heard with different speakers, and my new Vapor Sound Cirrus speakers are absolutely killers. They use a RAAL tweeter that extends very high, and also have Teflon V-Capacitors and Duelund resistors in a point to point wired crossover. Internal wiring is Mundorf silver/gold. So I am now hearing all upstream changes like cables and equipment to a very high degree compared to previous setups.

With that out the way, the Bifrost is substantially better than the Cambridge. There is just as much bass, but it is more tighter. The Bifrost has an ability to track the individual notes and instruments that just gets lost in the mix with the CA. Tonality and vocals, wood instruments e.t.c all sound more real. The main feature is the lack of glare and digitisis. Having heard an earlier Dacmagic in dealer demo, and now this new CA player, they have a distinctive sonic signature which had good detail but is processed and fatiguing over time. The Bifrost does not have this, totally relaxation when playing.


I have had the NFB-2, which was warm and analog, but did it at the expense of detail and added darkness to the sound. The Bifrost is not like that, it has more detail than the Cambridge but with the natural type sound. Schiit's theory about not upsampling pays dividends. I think the Bifrost is as good as the Sabre based Calyx DAC, with an even more natural feel. But the Calyx was heard months ago and cables have been upgraded a lot since then, not really a fair comparison until I can get it in again.
 

I am using what I now consider to be one of the best Coaxial cables I have had. A good digital cable will improve your sound over a cheap one to a high degree. (This is not the time nor place for that sort of discussion, PM me if you want the details.)
 

So there it is. For under $500 this is a real contender and stone cold bargain. I want to hear the new Minimax and other higher priced products, but am very content with this DAC for now. Also, the build and casework of this Schiit product is better than many 3-5k priced high end components. Personally I would rather have a DIY component built on a butcher block if it sounded better, but having such good casework is a great bonus at this price.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by PbassForever View Post

I've been following this thread for a while now and it's great to see the initial impressions start to take shape.

 

I used an Arcam CD73 for many years and then revived my vinyl collection about 1 1/2 years ago to do needle drops at 24/96 using an Apogee Duet.  I then purchased a DacMagic for playback side to go with my Arcam A85 amp and Epos M5 speakers.  I like the DacMagic but always felt that the frequency extremes while being  well extended were a bit exaggerated in a "smiley face EQ kind of way...... not extreme but leaning that way.  I've played bass for about 40 years and felt the bass end in particular was slightly on the Wolly side.  I recently bought a Squeezebox Touch and much preferred the bass end of the SBT over the DacMagic.  Bass and precussion were much tighter with the Touch analogue output.  Now there was bass and a bass drum.

 

I sold the DacMagic and just picked up a Grant Fidelity DAC-09 which I am now liking a lot.  It was used and at a price I could not pass up.  I like the DAC direct output.... no tube.

 

All this to say that I can relate to the bass of the Bifrost possibly sounding a little leaner than the DacMagic but having better control..... that would make it more accurate.

 

I'm watching the flood of new DACs with interest although I am currently satisfied and can wait until the air clears a bit.  There are great new offerings from Grand Fidelity (DAC-11), Music Fidelity (V-DAC II), Peachtree (DACiT), AudioLab (M-DAC) and many more.  It looks like the Bifrost is definitely a leading contender.


Quote:
Originally Posted by leesure View Post

Lookee what FedEx delivered a whole day early......

 

 

Office Headphone Setup

 

Listening now...initial impressions are quite positive.  I won't mistake my LCD-2's for HD-800's in terms of soundstaging, but it's definitely wider with the Bifrost.  More to follow once it's burned in and I listen a bit.

 


Edit: to be clear, I've had the Lyr for quite some time...2nd run, before the relay was added.  Just the Bifrost is new.

 

      Quote:

Originally Posted by internethandle View Post

Got my Bifrost yesterday (w/ USB, Order #215)!

 

Had a bit of a hiccup that turned out to not be the Bifrost's issue but my PC's own. At first I noticed something odd in that under Playback Devices the CMedia driver was only letting me choose in the 16-bit range of sample rate output, even though this is a 24/192 USB implementation. Just thought it was a weird Windows issue, though. Then after doing some brief 2 hour or so burn-in with Pink Noise, I did some listening. Everything sounded great until I began getting a strange wave "wa-wa-wa-wa" like distortion about halfway through the second song in a playlist. This would continue until I double-clicked a song again and re-started playback. Contacted Jason who thought it might be a driver issue, so he let me know they had updated the USB drivers at schiit.com/drivers and I might want to try them to rule out a driver issue. No dice. Tried other things - swapped out USB cables, DirectSound instead of WASAPI output in Foobar, tried other players beside Foobar, etc., and still had the issue. Just when I thought I might have a faulty USB card on my Bifrost, I remembered an old addage of sorts thrown around Computer Audio Asylum and some other forums - "not all USB ports are created equal." Sure enough, when I plugged my USB cable into another port, problem solved, no distortion, playback clean as a whistle! Really weird, never had problems with that port before, all other ports were disabled in Device Manager, the port in question had its own IRQ, etc., but apparently it either didn't like Bifrost or was fried. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there if anyone runs into similar problems.

 

Another piece of advice for Windows users of (I'm Win 7) the Bifrost with USB, the CMedia drivers were a bit inflexible for Jason and co. and as such have a lot of unnecessary clutter. Namely, if you look under your system tray -> volume icon -> right click -> Playback Devices tab, you'll see "USB 2.0 High Speed True HD Audio" for "Speakers" (this is the one you want!) but also "Digital Output", which is basically as if the USB board also had SPDIF/digital out, which it obviously doesn't. You can simply right click disable this, it won't do any harm, and will keep things less complicated (in Foobar, for instance, if you don't disable it you'll get an option to output sound in Foobar settings to "USB 2.0 High Speed True HD Audio Digital Out" as well as "Speakers" - Digital Out will produce no sound). If you go under the "Recording" tab in Playback Devices you'll also see a bunch of other unworking/not applicable stuff, e.g. "USB 2.0 High Speed True HD Audio Microphone", "Line In", "SPDIF In" etc. - disabling these also won't effect anything negatively, as far as I can tell, since, again, only "Speakers" is what you need here. Lastly, for some reason, after installing the driver for USB in Windows, at least in Win 7, "USB 2.0 High Speed True HD Audio" starts out only at 67% volume - I checked with Jason and he recommends you change this to 100% volume (to do so, system tray -> volume icon -> right-click -> playback devices -> right-click "USB 2.0 High Speed True HD Audio Speakers" -> levels tab -> slide volume bar to 100%).

 

In terms of sound - just fantastic. I'm coming from a Keces DA-151 Mk. 1 USB DAC, which was quite fantastic for its price range two or three years ago, but is isochronous, USB 1.0, limited to 16/44.1 etc., despite some good bells and whistles like a respectable chip (Burr-Brown PCM2702) and a toroidal transformer. Comparitively so far, lower noise floor, better soundstage and separation of instruments, and sensitivity to source material (MP3's versus FLAC, e.g.) - running to a Little Dot MKIII with Voshkod driver tubes and stock power tubes - also really brings out the warmth of the Little Dot's signature better than my last amp, which I guess is to say the Bifrost is fairly "neutral" and, apparently, my last DAC colored the sound more. Just some initial impressions.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HyperM3 View Post

After about a week of burning in and listening Id like to update my review a little bit.

 

I tried putting on some music that I normally listen to which gives my speakers a good run for their money which is dubstep. You might not like it and I dont expect everyone to, but I like it because it just throws sounds "everywhere". It also tests bass extension for me on my speakers. I can say that the bass is going lower but its DEFINITELY more controlled than before. Where it used to be slightly muddy and deep, now its barely audible but clean. The bass has become "snappy" and more musical from what I can tell.

 

In other ranges music just shines. The depth of soundstage is amazing. I really find myself looking through the music now when listening and seeing instruments being played behind my wall. Its really neat when demo'ing to friends when they experience that.

 

Mid-range and highs are just like the bass, snappy. I dont hear any extra notes being played and nothing sounds rolled off. Controlled is a word Id like to use. This is different to me though from what Ive been used to. I listen to music I have known for a long time that would go to and play as reference material. Im hearing them very clearly but different now. Theres more separation of notes and instruments. I hear more silence before when there aught to be. Am I making sense?

 

That was all when playing my itunes(recorded in lossless) through my logitech touch. I can hear a small difference when listening through my TV as well. Im using the same speakers for TV stereo and one of the things Ive noticed is vocal separation is cleaner. As with the instruments from the music, voice are separated better and imaged clearer. Another thing is off-axis listening on the couch(laying down) has no bearing on soundstage either. Everything is still centralized and if I closed my eyes I wouldnt know there were speakers in the room.

 

I dont know if ALL this could be contributed to the DAC as I had a good foundation of products to start with. But the addition of the bifrost continued my excursion into increasing the quality of sound I was looking for. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wberghofer View Post

Received my Schiit Bifrost (non-USB version) two weeks ago.

 

headfun.jpg

 

It looks great and sounds even better. Many thanks to Jason and the whole Schiit team for the great products and the usually very quick email replies.

 

Werner.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wberghofer View Post

 

since it’s difficult for me to describe sound and music in English (not my native language) I’ll concentrate more on the clearly visible outside facts.

 

Build quality and design of the Schiit Bifrost are on a very different level than the Beresford DAC. The Beresford feels and looks cheap compared to the Bifrost’s massive metal housing. I also like that the Bifrost does not use an external power supply. The power button and the input selection push-buttons on the front of the Beresford sometimes are difficult to operate; there’s a certain point which one has to hit exactly, otherwise the buttons simply won’t react.

 

For its price the performance of the latest Beresford DAC (gatorized Caiman) is very good, and it offers more input connections than the Bifrost: two BNC inputs, one USB and one Toslink. I have two Beresford DACs with two BNC and two Toslink inputs  (don’t need USB), but I don’t think that this special configuration is still available. Since there are two line-outs (fixed and variable) on the Beresford, it can be used as a preamp. It even has a headphone output with decent performance (depening on your headphones), but it shouldn’t be compared to a true stand-alone headphone amplifier. The Beresford’s volume knob feels light and cheap compared to the Valhalla’s volume knob, which offers a great tactile feedback while turning it.

 

I still use two Beresford DACs in my home in systems for loudspeaker playback, but for headphone listening I certainly do prefer the Bifrost/Valhalla combination. The Bifrost’s detail resolution is excellent, there’s more muscle, grunt and power (but this may be due to the Valhalla amplifier). When listening with the Bifrost and Valhalla, after a few minutes I forget to look for new layers of detail and instrument separation (which of course are there), but simply get lost in the music instead. Think this is the best one can say about equipment built for music playback.

 

Werner.


Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post

Don't know how many of you are in a similar situation to mine, which is that I've been an audiophile for more than 30 years, have had much of my current equipment for around 20 years, and just fairly recently have begun to explore computers as audio sources.  I have a 20 year old DAC that was a pretty fair piece of equipment for its day, but it is limited to 16/44.1 or 16/48 resolution.  So when the designer of my old DAC (Mike Moffat) came out with a new one that could handle resolutions up to 24/192 at a very nice price point, I was interested, and soon ordered one.  There's a 15-day money back guarantee, so the focus of my early listening has been to compare my older DAC to the Bifrost on 16/44.1 CD rips, which makes up virtually all of what I listen to these days.  If anyone here has an older DAC and is considering the Bifrost, perhaps you'll be interested in my early listening impressions so far.

 

Details of my setup are in my sig.  All listening was done with the Audirvana Plus audiophile player for Mac.

 

24 hours:

 

Still burning in and had only the briefest of listening opportunities Thursday night, then a bit longer session last night.

The USB input sounds better (clearer, hear more of the recording) than the optical input. Not light years difference, but noticeable. Both sound better than coax input through the V-Link.

 

Comparison with the Theta so far is interesting. Bifrost is so clear and unadorned that on some very plainly produced music it is almost in-your-face raw. For instance, on Silver Dagger from Gillian Welch's latest, The Harrow and The Harvest, there are two points - one where a harmonica enters and another where Welch gives a kind of "Hoo!" call - where the suddenness of the attack through the Bifrost is absolutely startling. Welch's voice is so plainly and clearly rendered it seems as if she's in the room singing, no mic, no amp.

 

The Theta, on the other hand, makes things (including Gillian's voice) sound prettier. But though the Theta is no slouch as far as clarity, there isn't quite the same absolute immediacy as with the Bifrost.

 

The sound of the Bifrost does seem to be getting more full and musical as it burns in, so I'll be very interested to see how it compares to the Theta once it has 100 hours or so of playing time.

 

80 hours:

 

Now after about 80 hours (should have been 96, but forgot to reconnect wall power for MacBook so battery ran down) the clarity and immediacy are still there. What's improved:

 

- Sound is far more full. When plugged in for the very first time there was a bit of a thin quality. That's completely gone.

 

- Sound is more integrated into a whole. In early listening there were individual instruments in a high, wide soundstage, but that soundstage wasn't a completely seamless illusion of musicians in a space, and it wasn't always evident how instruments were playing off each other. Now not just individual instrument locations and parts, but also the interplay between band members (e.g., of Alison Krauss's terrific band on Paper Airplane) is clear in the context of a full, solid soundstage.

 

- Sound is more musical. The beauty of Alison Krauss's voice is all there, while losing none of its clarity. My wife preferred the Theta at 48 hours because of its musicality. Now she prefers the Bifrost, and I agree. For $450, that's an accomplishment. Yes, the Theta is 20 years older. But it was a $2000 piece when purchased, then had an $800 upgrade. Even apart from the digital components, for which 20 years is an eon, there was a lot of analog goodness bought by that $2800, and the Theta heard by itself still sounds lovely. In spite of the years between them, for a unit 1/6 the price by the same designer to be so clearly superior does surprise me.

 

Frankly, I'm finding little or nothing to criticize in the Bifrost's sound, which is somewhat remarkable to me considering its price, the fact that it is still not completely burned in, and reasonably revealing associated equipment. Now I'm very much looking forward to beginning to explore some 24/96 material I've bought on DVD-A, as well as some high res downloads.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Ok. I received my bifrost about 20 hours ago, unexpectedly two days early. Yesterday morning I was still sorting out review tracks, so I was caught unprepared!

 

Anyway, I had auditioned five possible tracks earlier in the morning (see note 1 for rig), so I repeated those tracks (see note 2) with Bifrost (BTW no-USB), and made some notes. I nearly posted those early impressions yesterday, then decided to wait out the 50-100 hours burn-in Jason suggested.

 

However, there is substantial overlap with both Judmarc's and sling5s's impressions, so I shall post now. These are first hour impressions from yesterday - treat them as such. Health advisory - each to be consumed with a large grain of salt!

1. clarity is the stand-out feature. It's rather striking. I did not expect this, given both the EE MiniMax (EE) and StageDAC are quite detailed, resolving DACs.

2. attack is very good. Actually, I feel there may be a bright balance (or the EE is a little dark in the presence region), which could lead to this impression

3. well-defined bass. One track is a rock-pop ballad with a nice, low bass-guitar tune running through it. Hitherto (from memory) it has sounded a little muddy. I assumed it was deliberately mixed that way to complement the mournful "my boyfriend left me for another girl and she's so darned perfect" theme of the song. However, the bifrost rendered this bass-line with quite striking definition

4. just slightly "thin" and "raw" I would agree with; a touch relentless. Of course this has implications concerning the sound of the MiniMax! Still, this led me to look for burn-in notes in HeroKid's post 1, where I duly found them. Great job!

 

So far I am impressed. Compared to the EE - my usual headphone DAC - Bifrost stands up well. ATM, I suspect I will call the sound signatures somewhat different between the two, maybe a bit closer between Bifrost and StageDAC.

 

What next? I see this taking at least ten days. Some days I won't get to this at all. I have some exhausting projects on ATM, and there's no point listening when tired or stressed. However, I am happy to report any large findings/changes along the way, once I'm 'sure' of them.

 

More in due course.

 

note 1 - MacMini - iTunes - ALAC/WAV - TOSLINK - EE MiniMax DAC - Meier Concerto - LCD2 rev 1. I use Concerto about 50%, Lyr 45%, Violectric V100 or Meier Opera the other 5%. BitPerfect was disengaged as I've had some problems with it recently. Fidelia may make an appearance for some classical FLAC files. My T1 and Stax Lambda Pro will make cameo appearances, once I have solid impressions with my usual rig.

 

note 2 - leveled to 80dBA, the same level I set with the MiniMax in preparation for Bifrost's arrival. My meter claims +/- 1.5dB accuracy, and reproducing probe placement is approximately right but not perfect. Perfect level-matching cannot be guaranteed.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post

 100 hours:

 

Having a DAC for the first time that will play higher res material, I ripped some 24/96 songs from a couple of DVD-A discs, Steely Dan's Gaucho and the Beatles Love (the Cirque du Soleil soundtrack produced from Beatles songs and alternate takes by George Martin and his son).  The title track from Gaucho was great, Fagen's voice whipcracking in all the parts where he's being irritated.  ("You're a nasty schoolboy with no place to go.  Try again tomorrow.")  George's vocals were beautiful on a couple of my favorite tracks from Love, an alternate take of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and of course Here Comes the Sun.

 

Then I put on Track 13, an alternate mostly acoustic take of Strawberry Fields Forever.  And that voice - that voice - came from my speakers, the voice that's never had an equal, clearer and purer than I'd ever heard it before, John Winston Ono Lennon singing in my family room.  I couldn't have sat there more slack-jawed if someone had clubbed me between the eyes with a two-by-four.

 

And that is why we spend our money and play obsessively with metal boxes and tubes and wires, sit in semi-darkened rooms alone when we could be having a beer and chatting up some girl - for moments like these.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post

120 hours:

 

Doing a couple of things today - going back through the music collection to hear old favorites with the new DAC, and listening to high-res things for the first time.  

 

I heard something pretty amazing to me when listening to a rip of the Beatles' Love DVD-A recorded in 24/96.  The version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps on this recording is an alternate acoustic take.  I noticed during the first few acoustic guitar notes that I could hear the notes resonating in the guitar body just as you can if someone is playing an acoustic guitar in the room with you.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

[...] With almost 60 hours on my Bifrost,I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I would have to say that while the bass is cleanly presented, there's just a little bit less at the very bottom end. This is especially noticable over speakers, where there's also a subwoofer.

 

As far as "thin" or "harsh," I don't hear that on phones or speakers. This is true even on things like cymbal crashes or horn notes that can really startle me sometimes. Upfront, yeah; overdone, no. But if you don't want to hear everything, this may not be the DAC for you. It ain't gonna sugarcoat a bad recording or file.

 

And like Judmarc, I find it easier to hear details of the mix, and of individual instruments. Which I like, but some may find a case of too much information. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laforgue View Post

My 2 cents:  I find the Bifrost very realistic and very revealing. The bass is tight, so you won't hear the flabby boominess that some ears are accustomed, but Scott La Faro never sounded so good. The double bass sounds exactly right, with the added dimension that you can hear all his sliding fret work and slapping strings. The tympanis in Gergiev's Rite of Spring rocked the room, as they should.  You are definitely going to hear some piercing treble, but that's just like live music.  Hit a high note on a trumpet or violin in a live venue, and it is piercing.  I'm in awe of the Bifrost.  I listened to Prokofiev's Violin Concerto 1 by Vengerov and it was a revelation.  For the first time, I heard everything the orchestra was doing.  I've also noticed audible tape hiss on some high resolution downloads (Rachel Podger from Linn Records).  What I especially like is the roundness and decay of notes. As it has been noted, the soundstage is superb.  The Bifrost is transparent but still very musical.  At $450, I have no complaints.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sling5s View Post

I have had the Bifrost for about a week now.  I'm using the Bifrost paired with Asgard listening with Grado RS1i.  Later I will listen to it with my JH16pro.

But I can confidently say that in terms of these qualities: clarity, detail, openess, soundstage and resolving power, it surpasses all my previous budget dacs: Pico dac, Yulong D100, Nuforce HDP, Music Streamer II+, and Audio GD NFB-3. It's like my window into the music just got more clearer. Pretty impressed. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Just a quick update on my listening with the Bifrost and MiniMax DACs, following from my post of last Tuesday/Wednesday.

 

I have yet to bring the Meier Stagedac into play - this is about two days away. I have also yet to bring in the Lyr. The Stax Lambda Pro I will bring in at the end.

 

1. The brightness I noted in the first hour was entirely gone (with my LCD2 rev 1) at 36 hours burn in. Thinking this might be because of the slightly dark LCD2, I checked with my Beyer T1 at 48 hours, same result.

2. With the brightness gone, there is less sense of "attack". What remains is clarity. I will have more to say about this in a few days.

3. Gone too is the slightly "relentless" quality. On the contrary, the Bifrost is a pleasure to listen to.

4. There are differences between Bifrost and MiniMax, which I will report in a few more days when I've tested and confirmed with more material.

 

FWIW, my subjective assessment of overall SQ at this stage compared to the MiniMax: Bifrost is a good, even very good DAC.

 

 

EDIT: As of the 14th of September 2011 this section of the thread is no longer being up-dated!

 

Gungnir (Balanced DAC) comments:

Gungnir product page: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=11

Gungnir FAQ: http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-gungnir/

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)

From the Bifrost announcement page:

Quote:
[...] a planned line of three Schiit DACs, including a step-up model with balanced outputs, [...] All will offer upgrade plans or options.

 

From this thread:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Some quick answers:

 

1. Specs/etc for other DACs? [...] Both will be in larger chassis. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 2. Balanced DAC [...] prices haven't been set yet, but balanced will be significantly more than Bifrost--50%ish is realistic. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] To bring this more on the DAC topic, the middle (balanced) DAC will be a lot more than a balanced Bifrost, and it'll have a couple of new tricks that I guarantee you haven't seen before on other DACs on the market. So comparing it to Chinese-made, non-upgradable, 16/48 USB-input stuff just ain't fair.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 2. No analog inputs on any DAC product, no volume controls, nothing preamplifierish. Too many compromises. [...]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Same style chassis? Yes.

Same size? No.

 

So yeah, different chassis.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
[...]

 

Unfortunately, this will probably lead to some delays in announcing new gear, but it will contribute to your overall sanity, we think.

 

(And, that said, I still think you'll be seeing some balanced gear this year.)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

OK, C'mon, Jason, drop another veil - metaphorically speaking...

 

So we can expect a mid-grade DAC in a few months and then a loaded-for-bear effort at the end of 2011/early 2012, both in the same larger case?

 

And a balanced amp in that same large case, or are you planning two? And just for phones, or able to drive (very efficient) speakers as well?

 

Enquiring minds want to know (and start saving...)


Yeah, you don't want me dropping any more veils than metaphorical ones, that's for sure!

 

Here's what you can expect:

 

Balanced DAC and balanced/minimalist* amp, both in the same larger chassis, before the end of the year. [...]

 

*Minimalist will still have things like single-ended outputs--we're not insane.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] As far as details on the other DACs, yes, we're keeping things close to our chest--not for any cloak and dagger reasons, but because we're still prototyping/testing/optimizing. Let's see what else I can clear up, though.

 

All DACs: will use the same optional USB card, and all will have upgrade paths--see next comment.

Midrange balanced DAC: we're still in the middle of testing, so I can't confirm which D-A converter we're using. [...]

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] I'm sorry about all the cloak and dagger stuff, guys, but there are two reasons for it:

 

1. These products are still in development. *We* don't even know exactly what they'll be yet.

2. All of the upcoming stuff is "one and only" product. As in, it does stuff, or uses technology, you won't see elsewhere, at any price.* That's a hallmark you'll see going forward. If we can't say, "The only...", we're not going to bother making that product. We're not here to "slot in" with the rest, or pursue incremental changes. We're here to shake things up. 

 

*Yes, even the midrange product. Nobody is using our balanced amp topology, and nobody is using some of the stuff we're going to be doing on the midrange DAC. I'd prefer to keep the competitors guessing until we announce.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Okay, to answer a few more questions: [...]

 

5. Have we learned our lesson? Absolutely. You'll be hearing a lot less from us about what's coming when, until we actually have product in hand. That means you'll be able to confidently pre-order based on a real timetable that will be a lot shorter than 2 months. The bad news is, this will mean you won't hear about our new products for a while. I expect we will still have something (or somethings) new out this year, and something (or somethings) else out in Q1 2012. But that's all I can say at the moment.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 4. Balanced DAC and other stuff has been pushed out, so we can focus on Bifrost. [...] It's kind of insane to introduce a new product at this time. I'm still confident we will announce this year. [...]

 

    Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

 

[...]  3. That said, we're ramping up to try to eliminate these backorder situations in the future. That's our singular focus right now. No new products are being announced until this is fixed, period. That will probably push any new product announcements to the end of the year, or slightly past that, sorry. [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 1. Balanced amp and DAC--we're trying for a simultaneous release, but we'll probably be announcing in January, no earlier. If one comes first, it's the DAC. The DAC will be worth waiting for, especially if you're looking for a balanced-output piece. We're going to have at least one big surprise in store for you. Remember, all products from now on are "one and only" products--we won't release them unless they are unique in one or more meaningful ways. And yes, we know the definition of "unique."

 

[...]

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Here's a long-awaited update on where we are and what's coming up this year.

[...] So here's where we are, in convenient FAQ format:

 

[...] Q: Fine. Cool. We get it. What about the new stuff?

A: Okay, let's talk new products. Here's what we currently have planned: at least two pairs of products, one coming in Q1 and one coming in Q2. That's the current plan. Estimated. As in "guess." In Q1, we plan on introducing our first balanced DAC and balanced amp. [...]

 

Q: Sizes, prices, features? Tell us more!

A: All of the new products will be larger than the current products. The "midrange" products will be approximately 16 x 8 x 2.25", [...]. Unfortunately, beyond that, we can't talk price or feature set, for obvious reasons. What I will say is that we're sticking to our earlier statement that all new products (even the midrange ones) will be "one and only" products--using unique technology, and/or offering unparalleled performance, especially in their price range.

 

Q: So, is this going to be another "preorder and wait forever" deal like Bifrost?

A: No. That's one reason we're so late. Our preorders will be much shorter and more certain in the future.

 

Again, sorry for the delays. It was a heck of a 2011, but 2012 will be even more interesting!

 

All the best,

Jason

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] In a few days, I'll make an announcement about the "midrange" products, Mjolnir (balanced amp) and Gungnir (balanced DAC). Which really are end-game products. This announcement will give you plenty of information to chew on and decide if the products are for you, but there will be no pre-order. There'll be an interest list and an anticipated shipping date. Pre-orders will be open when all parts are at the board house for assembly, all final metal has been through QC, and we're ready to produce. This means there won't be delays, as there were with Bifrost.

 

[...] So when are the new products coming out!
We'll announce the midrange products in the next few days. Like I said, it'll be an interest list. We'll specify anticipated shipping dates on the interest list and announce pre-order shortly before shipping. At least one of the products will be shipping in Q2.

 

From the Gungnir product page:

      Quote:

gungnir_01.jpg

 

$749.00 / $849 with USB

Gungnir offers the world’s most advanced Adapticlock™ clock regeneration system in a fully upgradable, hardware-balanced DAC with 32-bit D/A converters, advanced fully discrete analog output stage, with hardware summing for single-ended output. Like Bifrost, it also offers one of the most advanced asynchronous USB 2.0 input sections available. The USB, SPDIF BNC and RCA coax inputs, and Toslink optical input all offer 24/192 capability.

So, what’s all this about Adapticlock? Well, you probably know about jitter. And you probably know one of the best ways to kill it is with high-precision, voltage-controlled crystal oscillator (VCXO) reclocking. Now, that’s all well and good, but what happens when you have a source that won’t allow the VCXOs to lock? You know, like a satellite receiver or some computers? In other cases, you’re toast. The VCXOs unlock, and jitter flows right through the system.

In Gungnir, if the VCXOs won’t lock, it shifts the entire reclocking network to VCOs. This allows us to lock to virtually any input, and still provide a low-jitter regenerated master clock. The result is higher-quality clocks, despite the source.

End-Game Performance With Hardware Balancing 
Gungnir uses two AKM4399 32-bit D/A converters for real hardware balancing. Each phase of the output is separately generated, rather than being converted from a single DAC.

Advanced Discrete Analog Section with Hardware Summing
After the DAC, Gungnir uses fully discrete, JFET-input output stages for current gain and filtering. Following that, discrete, JFET-based summing stages convert the balanced signal to single-ended outputs, so that Gungnir can offer both balanced and single-ended output.

Fully Upgradable, Future-Proof DAC
Worried about rapidly-changing USB input technology? Concerned about future advances in D/A conversion? Gungnir’s modular design uses separate, USB Input and DAC/Analog cards. When USB technology changes, we can simply drop in a new, better USB Input Card. When meaningful upgrades to D/A converters come out, we can drop in a new DAC/Analog Card. The result? A virtually future-proof DAC that won't end up in the dumpster.

Advanced Bitperfect Clock Management
Like Bifrost, Gungnir does not use asynchronous sample rate conversion to simplify clock management. All data is passed through, bit-perfect, to the D/A converter, preserving all the original music samples--whether it's 16/44.1 or 24/192.

USB 2.0, 24/192, Async, Completely Buzzword Compliant
Gungnir’s USB input is one of the most advanced implementations available today, featuring a high-speed USB 2.0 interface (not 1.1) and asynchronous data transfer to 24/192, based on the C-Media CM6631 USB receiver. No drivers are required for Macs, and Windows drivers are downloadable for Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

Don't Need USB? Cool.
Order Gungnir without the USB 2.0 Input Card and save some money! Add it in for $150 if you need it later.

Want to read more about Gungnir? Check out the FAQ-->

5-Year Warranty

Gungnir is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for five years. That’s 5 years. Yes. FIVE. Compare that to the competition. Please note this doesn't mean free upgrades for five years!

15-Day Satisfaction Guarantee
Don’t like your Gungnir? No problem. Call us for an RA and send it back for a full refund, minus 5% transaction fee, within 15 days of receiving your DAC. When was the last time you spent a couple of weeks in an audio store? With your own equipment? Thought so.

Specifications

Inputs: Coaxial RCA SPDIF, BNC SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional)

Input Capability: up to 24/192 for all inputs

Input Receiver, SPDIF: Crystal Semiconductor CS8416

Input Receiver, USB: C-Media CM6631

D/A Conversion IC: AKM4399
 x 2
Analog Stages: All fully discrete, JFET-input topology, DC coupled, summed for single-ended output

Output: One pair XLR balanced and one pair RCA single-ended
Output Impedance: 10 ohms

Frequency Response, Analog Stage: 1Hz-100KHz, -1dB (actual frequency response limited by sample rate)

Maximum Output: 4.0VRMS 
(balanced), 2.0VRMS (single-ended)

THD: Less than 0.006%, 20Hz-20KHz

S/N: Greater than 108dB

Power supply: two transformers (one digital, one analog) with 8 stages of regulation, including separate supplies for critical digital and analog sections.


Upgradability: Separate, modular USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Cards are snap-in replaceable.

Power Consumption: 20W

Size: 16 x 8.75” x 2.25”
Weight: 9 lbs

 

From the 'Neck Deep in Schiit: Gungir Balanced DAC and Mjolnir Balanced Amp Announced' thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

I think Maxvla pretty much covered it, but here are some additional comments. [Hero Kid edit: answers in bold]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

The new products look really interesting. I'll probably be the only one to say it, but their price points seem low to me for balanced components - I'd be a little less wary if they were each ~$1K (or more).

 

I have a few questions if you wouldn't mind answering:

1 - Does the Mjolnir amp come with a visually-matching PSU? If not, why not?

 

If 70,000uF of filter capacitance, 8 separate power supplies, and over 100VA of transformers isn't enough for an 8W amp, I don't know what is.

 

2 - Does the Gungnir DAC offer any significant advancements over the Bifrost (i.e., to make it sound better), aside from being balanced?

 

Yes. Adapticlock (Bifrost does not use clock regeneration, simply tweaks on the receiver), and a completely different discrete output stage with much higher performance. 

 

3 - Why should someone choose the Gungnir over one of the other popular ~$1.5K balanced DACs currently on the market (like the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 and Anedio D2, for example, also made in the USA btw)? (Ignoring price which is an obvious reason.)

 

We don't comment on competitive products, ever, in public or private.

 

4 - Will pics of the back panels of both pieces be available later?

 

Yep, when we get the final metal. These are just renderings. It should be pretty obvious what's on the back panels from the specifications, as well as gray powder-coat and white silkscreen.

 

5 - Not that you have to answer this one, but if the Mjolnir and Gungnir both seem cheap to someone for what they are, what would you say to persuade that person that they aren't cheap and represent something new & unique? And will the "statement" amp & DAC have a true "cost no object, maximum sound quality" approach?

 

We don't do a hard sell. If you like it, cool. If you judge gear solely by price tag, you probably won't like our stuff. Even though the statement stuff will redefine everything, and will have technology not available elsewhere, at any price.

 

6 - No offense intended here but I owned the Asgard and Lyr and wasn't really impressed with either of them. So what I'd like to know is, do you think the Mjolnir/Gungnir would be more up the alley of someone like me, or would you recommend waiting for the future statement products? I don't intend to be critical - I want to hear your marketing spiel for, let's say, high-end audiophiles. wink.gif

 

I think our press release, product description, and FAQ say it all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
    
       Quote:
Originally Posted by Edoardo View Post

Jason, will the DAC get and clock at any sampling frequency - 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 - both via SPDIF and USB?


Yes, with the exception of 176.4 over USB--a limitation of the C-Media receiver. But yep, we have separate VCXOs and VCOs for both 44.1 and 48k multiples. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roscoeiii View Post

For the DAC outputs, will both balanced and RCA be able to be used simultaneously? I would love to be able to run XLR to my bedroom headphone rig and RCA to my stereo. That's one of the features I miss from my Weiss DAC2


Yep, absolutely. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

To clarify further: 

 

1. There are two inputs on the back of the amp--RCA, and one XLR. 

2. Both of them are tied together.

3. There's a switch to short the inverting inputs to ground so you can use the RCA inputs. It does not select between inputs, it only shorts to ground.

4. While it's possible to have two inputs connected, it's not a good idea. If the source equipment is on, you'll be trying to drive the output of one source to another. If the alternate source is off, you have no idea what the state of the output is. It might be disconnected via a relay, or you could have a relatively low-impedance path to ground. Hence, "choose one."

 

As to why we chose to do it this way--simplicity. This is an amp, not a source selector. The balanced/se switch is on the back of the amp.

 

If we went on adding a ton of features, like switchable gain, or a real input selector, or single-ended outputs, we'd end up with a more complex, sonically compromised, more expensive product. That isn't what Mjolnir is about. It's about maximum balanced performance at minimum price. Period.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio_newb View Post

Few more questions for Jason on the Mjolnir. [Hero Kid edit - answers in bold]

 

1.  Do the balanced pre outs also follow the same rule of not being able to be converted to single ended?

 

Yes. Boom.

 

2.  If I'm using the pre outs to drive an amp and speakers, is there a way to mute the headphone outs so I don't have to unplug my cans?

 

Nope.

 

3.  Even after reading the FAQ I'm still not sure how hot this thing gets.  Was that an on par with the Asgard?  Cooler than?  Just add bacon and eggs?

 

Cooler than Asgard.

 

They both look great.  Might be hard to hold out for the statement gear.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

I'd take a long hard look at the specs of stuff in Gungnir's price range (and 2X), and see if you can find *any* true clock regeneration, outside of the hocus-pocus that "well, ASRC and delta-sigma mean it doesn't matter anyway," or "we gots magic stuff in the chip (that you conveniently can't measure) that make it all good." If a DAC doesn't have clock regeneration,it should be most properly compared to Bifrost.

 

Gungnir is the only DAC with both VCXO and VCO regeneration, and intelligent switching between the two. The difference between a properly regenerated clock and no regeneration is not subtle, and the technical achievement is no small feat. The difference between a DAC with only VCXO regeneration is that Gungnir will work with all of your sources.

.

 

Balanced statement DAC comments:

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)
From the Bifrost announcement thread:
Quote:
[...] a line of 3 planned Schiit DACs [...] and an all-out assault on the state of the art following within the next 6 months. All will offer exceptional value and upgrade paths for future-proofing.

 

From this thread:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Some quick answers:

 

1. Specs/etc for other DACs? [...] Both will be in larger chassis. The top end one I really can't talk about because I was serious about redefining everything. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

If you can swing the top one, it'll be nuts. Simply nuts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MrScary View Post

Jason,
I understand you underestimate I will wait for the higher end Dac's anyway
[...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...]

 

And, I will not say anything more, but the real top-end will be *much* better than Sabre. Think total redefinition, not remixing what everyone else is doing.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 I expect a DAC designed by thinking machines on Planet Ix.  tongue.gif


Mike Moffat sez,

 

"I resemble that remark!"

 

Seriously, though, you hit it. Sabre isn't a complete redefinition--it's just remixing what a lot of other people are doing. This will be a complete redefinition. Not Sabre, not NOS, none of the same old tricks. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] "Ultimate" DAC prices haven't been set yet, [...] Ultimate will probably be at the very top end of 3 figures to low four figures. Remember, that's a redefinition piece, unlike anything on the market. You will literally be getting technology that isn't available anywhere else--not for $5K, not for $10K. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 1. Top-end DAC will have balanced and single-ended outputs. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

A couple of quick answers:

 

[...] 2. No analog inputs on any DAC product, no volume controls, nothing preamplifierish. Too many compromises. [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kr0gg View Post

i guess they're making something like this:

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/totaldac2/1.html

 

but then, i guess, being similar to something is opposite to redefining...


Nope, not like that.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Same style chassis? Yes.

Same size? No.

 

So yeah, different chassis.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
[...]

 

Unfortunately, this will probably lead to some delays in announcing new gear, but it will contribute to your overall sanity, we think.

 

(And, that said, I still think you'll be seeing some balanced gear this year.)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

OK, C'mon, Jason, drop another veil - metaphorically speaking...

 

So we can expect a mid-grade DAC in a few months and then a loaded-for-bear effort at the end of 2011/early 2012, both in the same larger case?

 

And a balanced amp in that same large case, or are you planning two? And just for phones, or able to drive (very efficient) speakers as well?

 

Enquiring minds want to know (and start saving...)


Yeah, you don't want me dropping any more veils than metaphorical ones, that's for sure!

 

Here's what you can expect:

 

[...] Statement DAC and statement/versatile hybrid balanced amp, both in the same larger chassis, and probably deeper than the aforementioned products, early next year. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] As far as details on the other DACs, yes, we're keeping things close to our chest--not for any cloak and dagger reasons, but because we're still prototyping/testing/optimizing. Let's see what else I can clear up, though.

 

All DACs: will use the same optional USB card, and all will have upgrade paths--see next comment.

Midrange balanced DAC: we're still in the middle of testing, so I can't confirm which D-A converter we're using. 

Statement DAC: we won't be using a D-A converter used by any other manufacturer of audio gear. 

 

Hope this helps a bit.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

     Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] I'm sorry about all the cloak and dagger stuff, guys, but there are two reasons for it:

 

1. These products are still in development. *We* don't even know exactly what they'll be yet.

2. All of the upcoming stuff is "one and only" product. As in, it does stuff, or uses technology, you won't see elsewhere, at any price.* That's a hallmark you'll see going forward. If we can't say, "The only...", we're not going to bother making that product. We're not here to "slot in" with the rest, or pursue incremental changes. We're here to shake things up.

 

*Yes, even the midrange product. [...]

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Okay, to answer a few more questions: [...]

 

5. Have we learned our lesson? Absolutely. You'll be hearing a lot less from us about what's coming when, until we actually have product in hand. That means you'll be able to confidently pre-order based on a real timetable that will be a lot shorter than 2 months. The bad news is, this will mean you won't hear about our new products for a while. I expect we will still have something (or somethings) new out this year, and something (or somethings) else out in Q1 2012. But that's all I can say at the moment.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

[...] Another tidbit most probably expected, but it came up in conversation was that the statement Dac will not use tubes. Also it is not too far from being done as it was actually the first one Mike started on. It will likely be announced Q1 2012. After hearing the Bifrost in my home I can't wait to hear the statement.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Here's a long-awaited update on where we are and what's coming up this year.

[...] So here's where we are, in convenient FAQ format:

 

[...] Q: Fine. Cool. We get it. What about the new stuff?

A: Okay, let's talk new products. Here's what we currently have planned: at least two pairs of products, one coming in Q1 and one coming in Q2. That's the current plan. Estimated. As in "guess." [...] In Q2, we plan on introducing our "statement" balanced DAC and balanced amp pair. 

 

Q: Sizes, prices, features? Tell us more!

A: All of the new products will be larger than the current products. The "midrange" products will be approximately 16 x 8 x 2.25", and the "statement" products will be taller and deeper than that. Unfortunately, beyond that, we can't talk price or feature set, for obvious reasons. What I will say is that we're sticking to our earlier statement that all new products (even the midrange ones) will be "one and only" products--using unique technology, and/or offering unparalleled performance, especially in their price range.

 

Q: So, is this going to be another "preorder and wait forever" deal like Bifrost?

A: No. That's one reason we're so late. Our preorders will be much shorter and more certain in the future.

 

Again, sorry for the delays. It was a heck of a 2011, but 2012 will be even more interesting!

 

All the best,

Jason

 

From the 'Neck Deep in Schiit: Gungir Balanced DAC and Mjolnir Balanced Amp Announced' thread:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

PS: We're still expecting to announce the "statement" products and ship by year's end. Development is proceeding at a rapid pace now that we've addressed our operational issues. Sorry, no other info is available on these. They're really, really different than anything else out there..

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
     Quote:
Originally Posted by dyl1dyl View Post

Sigh, August for the Gungnir, looks like my statement DAC is a long way off frown.gif

May be sooner than you think . . . we're no longer trying to reinvent our internal processes, and engineering is moving much faster now.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

To answer a couple of questions, one of which came up privately, I figured I'd pop in.

 

1. Statement products cost more than originally anticipated? Yep. They're also very different products than we anticipated. We originally planned to have a single-ended-only, non-hardware-balanced version of the top DAC. We decided that hardware balanced was the way to go (it will still have summed single-ended output.) We also originally planned to have the top amp be a conventional volume-pot and input-switch design, now it's relay-switched stepped attenuation and relay-switched inputs. Fair warning: if you don't like clicking, steer well clear of the statement amp. It'll have 24 relays inside. 

 

[...]

.

 


I for one am very excited about their new DACs... if you've read this far you probably are too! beyersmile.png

I hope this thread proved to be useful.

 

See my other thread: New Balanced Schiit Amps? The anticipation and information thread.


Edited by Hero Kid - 12/1/12 at 3:43pm
post #2 of 3320

I want one!


 

post #3 of 3320
Yes! So Summertime was hinted. I'll take the highest end DAC that isn't balanced (I assume the balanced DAC will be the most expensive, and I'm not planning on going that route).

I think I'm definitely gonna hold up on a dac purchase until they get their Schiit together for summertime. wink.gif

I'll have to tough it out with the Fiio E7 until then, unless I justify the UDAC2 as a real upgrade to it for cheap. Heard it was more E7 = warmth vs UDAC2 = bright, so I'm not sure shelling $130 for a tone difference is worth it.
post #4 of 3320
Thread Starter 

Added some more information from their Facebook page.

post #5 of 3320

I hope the budget DAC is less than $150?

post #6 of 3320

Just wait...in a few weeks this thread is going to explode. I'll definitely keep an eye on this. And to think spring only just started...

post #7 of 3320

Futureproof w/ USB = USB 3.0 compatability?

post #8 of 3320

Not to start WW-III but a Dac for under or around  $150,00, you do know you get what you pay for, right.........Plus, if this company is talking a Dac by this summer or by the end of the year do you guys know how many Dacs will come on the market with the(latest and greatest) new chip/chips, input and output connection options,the best analog output stage,etc.etc. during this year alone. Dacs change like the weather that's why so many older brands still hold up. The builder eludes to this by talking about, " but you can enjoy the fine sound of some antique Theta product"!  I don't think he would use a "old school" piece of gear to demo his Equipment if they didn't approve of the sound that each piece contributed to their musical puzzle to produce a  great sounding system. Again,look how many Dacs have come onto the market in the last year,many very nice and some not so musical... Keep this in mind! but do remember, this is......JMO....and I'm hoping just like the rest of you that his company really has the "Magic Bullet"in their sights......  

post #9 of 3320


I dont think there is any use for usb 3.0 for audio, I may be wrong but since USB 2.0 can transfer 24/192 why would USB 3.0 be needed? Is there even a USB 3.0 specific audio standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverickmonk View Post

Futureproof w/ USB = USB 3.0 compatability?



 

post #10 of 3320

I'm certainly not disagreeing, i was mearly contemplating how "futureproof" and usb could be related.

post #11 of 3320

Subscribed. Is it reasonable to assume there may be balanced amps to go with these dacs? What about the likelihood of a balanced amp/dac combo similar to the Audio-GD offerings (NFB-10ES/WM)? Hopefully whatever they come up with can compete in terms of value.

 

Edit: Optical input please!


Edited by olor1n - 4/1/11 at 7:52am
post #12 of 3320

May not be for audio. Could be USB 2 with external power, USB 3 powered by USB only.

 

That's the deal with some of these USB 3 only monitors I've been hearing about, its the power.

 

Also, more on topic. I was just looking at a an amp from them, maybe I'll nab the DAC too.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caphead78 View Post


I dont think there is any use for usb 3.0 for audio, I may be wrong but since USB 2.0 can transfer 24/192 why would USB 3.0 be needed? Is there even a USB 3.0 specific audio standard?



 



 

post #13 of 3320


Ahh that'd make sense, I guess we'll just have to wait and see

Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

May not be for audio. Could be USB 2 with external power, USB 3 powered by USB only.

 

That's the deal with some of these USB 3 only monitors I've been hearing about, its the power.

 

Also, more on topic. I was just looking at a an amp from them, maybe I'll nab the DAC too.
 



 



 

post #14 of 3320

I'm pretty excited about it. If it has the same footprint as the Asgard, and I could just stack 'em. Oh man. Get hype.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caphead78 View Post


Ahh that'd make sense, I guess we'll just have to wait and see



 



 

post #15 of 3320

After seeing Jason's teases, I feel safe to make one conclusion: we'll see some balanced amps before too long.

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