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.
Edited by agisthos - 11/2/11 at 5:45am