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New Balanced Schiit Amps? The information and anticipation thread.

post #1 of 335
Thread Starter 

So it is hardly any secret that Schiit is bringing out new balanced amps. These new amps will be in conjunction with Schiit's new and upcoming DACs, two of which will be balanced. If you want more information about these DACs please visit this thread.

 

Jason has been active involving Head-Fi's community in the early development of the new balanced amps, but in typical Jason style his dribs of information have been all over the place.

 

This thread was created with the goal of collecting this information and storing it in one accessible place.

Chances are if you have a question a quick search of the posts stored here will answer it. If not this is probably a good place to ask wink.gif

 


Early and general balanced amp comments:

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)

It all started in the New Schiit Lyr: Hybrid 6W Headphone Amp. Yes. Six. Watts. RMS. thread with this:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 4. Balanced version of this amp? Nope. Balanced Asgard? Nope. Balanced in the future? Yep. When? I don't know. Will it cost a lot more than this amp? You better believe it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by gogogasgas View Post

Jason, thanks for the new post. Although I know this thread is about the upcoming Lyr, I'd like to put in a special order for a new Schiit headphone called the 'Ström' (Nordic for swiftly flowing water)

 

The 'Ström' has much of the design of the Lyr, perhaps with an all solid state solution to that valve/tube set-up and:

 

1. Balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs

2. A pre-amp with multiple input selection

3. A two box set-up, using two of your existing silver boxes, with the bottom box housing two separate, over-engineered power supplys

4. Be a completely 'dual mono' design

5. And something essential to proper listening pleasure, two analog VU meters! Woof!


Please send a deposit for $10,000,000, and we'll let you know when it's ready. Be patient. Very, very patient.

 

There was a bit of a gap until new information sprung up in the Schiit DAC anticipation thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] 3. For balanced amps, how many of you guys need dual 3-pin connectors, instead of a single 4-pin XLR? How about single-ended out on a balanced amp? [...]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

Thanks for the input!  

 

To clarify, yeah, we're looking at input about the headphone outputs of a hypothetical balanced amp (the fact we're asking this is a clue how early we are in development.) We'd love to leave the dual 3-pin arrangement in the dust, if we can. But if we have to have them, well, there you go.

 

As far as this cannibalizing the Lyr--nope. Like I said, I'm a fan of balanced, but only balanced done right. Far too many "balanced" amps aren't really balanced, and use things like balanced-to-single-ended conversion, then run through a 2-gang pot, before going to the balanced output stage. Or they're a single-ended amp with a 4-pin connector. Or they're some awful quasi-bridge thing like you'd see in 1970s stereo amps. 

 

Balanced done right is costly--it requires a quad pot (which is not even listed in the Alps catalog anymore, but if you want to buy 1200+ of them, yeah, you can sweet-talk them into it) and real balanced circuitry from input to output. It also requires twice the current (at half the voltage) of a single-ended amp. And if you start getting into, say, circlotron output stages, you're talking about a complex power supply. I guess what I'm trying to say is, well, hell, balanced ain't gonna be cheap. [...]

 

Information then came housed in the very appropriate Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,

 

We’re getting ready to finalize the feature set for a possible upcoming balanced amp, and we thought you might want to let us know what you think about balanced amps, what features you want, if it should include the kitchen sink, if it should be priced under $50*, etc. 

 

[...] Here are the questions:

 

Do you have balanced headphones? If so, which ones?

If not, are you looking at balanced headphones or a balanced amp in the future?

For balanced headphone output, how important is it to have dual three-pin XLRs as well as a 4-pin XLR?

For a balanced amp, how important is it to also have single-ended outputs?

If single-ended is important, is the quality of the single-ended outputs as important as the balanced outputs, or is this more of a “utility” thing so you can use all kinds of different headphones?

 

Thanks in advance for your responses! 

 

All the best,

Jason

 

*Note: This is a joke. Doing balanced right (balanced from input to output, *good* quad pot, true differential output stage, etc.) ain't cheap. Please don't tell all your friends "Schiit is gonna do a balanced amp for $50!" Because that's not gonna happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all, 

 

Thanks for the responses so far! Keep them coming--even if it's "I don't believe in all this balanced hoo-ha!"

 

As far as what we're planning, we're still working the details of the planned balanced product (or products)--hence this poll. It's really helping to clarify what we're going to provide as far as connectivity and features. We may decide to bring out a "minimum cost" balanced product (still not cheap), and another "maximally versatile" version as well. But that's all up in the air at the moment. 

 

The reason we're so focused on the single-ended (SE) output is that the balanced topology we're working with isn't just another "put two of the same amps in one box and run one inverted," deals--there's no good way to get a SE output (well, a quiet SE output) out of it. So the SE output would have to be an entirely separate amp section--which is why we're asking "how good's it gotta be?" Sounds like it will have to be **** good.

 

All the best,

Jason

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post

Based upon what someone wrote I wanted to clarify something.

 

 

It is perfectly OK to make a Single Ended (¼” or 1/8” stereo jack) to balanced (4 pin or two 3 pin XLR’s) adapter.

 

 

It however is not always OK to make or consider using a Balanced to Single Ended adapter (4 pin or two 3 pin XLR to ¼” or 1/8”).

 

 

I won’t get into the technical reasons, but I’d caution any balanced amp owners that are considering using a balanced to single ended adapter to TALK TO THE MANUFACTURER before doing so.


Absolutely right!

 

Our balanced topology (as well as all the other real balanced topologies we know of) won't be thrilled if you short the left and right negative outputs together.

 

"Won't be thrilled" = "will trigger the protection--amp won't work." If there was no protection, "won't be thrilled" = "amp go boom."

 

And with a quick visit to the Schiit DAC anticipation thread:

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.

 

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.)

 

And back to the Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway thread with:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

[...] 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? [...]


[...] Here's what you can expect:

 

Balanced DAC and balanced/minimalist* amp, both in the same larger chassis, before the end of the year. It's likely the first balanced amp will be only solid state, to the dismay of our tube fans. Sorry about that. Some people like silicon too. It's cool. 

 

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

 

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post


Wrong!!!  As both I and Jason previously cautioned; A SE (1/4") to Balanced adapter is OK, but a Balanced to (1/4") SE is NOT OK. If a person does not know what they are talking about they shouldn't talk about it at all. Promulgating the false impression that Balanced to SE adapters (going to a 1/4 or 1/8 plug) are OK is doing a disservice to the community.

 


Yeah, looks like we're going to have to be real clear in the instructions: IF YOU SHORT TWO ACTIVE OUTPUTS TOGETHER, YOU WILL HAVE A BAD DAY.

 

Balanced amp negative terminals are active. At least on a real balanced amp. Any difference between the channels is driving a dead short (0 ohms.) You might be able to short them together and get away with it for a while at low volume, since, let's face it, stereo channels typically have similar content, so there's not going to be a huge voltage differential there most of the time. But the moment there is--BOOM.

 

And from the Schiit DAC anticipation thread again:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by blankdisc View Post

Thanks, Jason. :-) you are the best. just a quick question. when you said "a balanced DAC/balanced amp pair", i assume that the DAC and Amp are two separate products, and can be purchased separately, right?


Yep, two separate products--they just happen to be in the same size chassis, so they make a nice pair. 

 

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.

 

Back to the Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway thread with:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,


Thanks for the input. It's definitely helped us solidify what we're going to be doing for the balanced side of things. What we've decided:

 

1. We're going to change our plan for one single "statement" hybrid balanced amp. It's now going to be two amps: an all solid-state, simple balanced amp aiming for maximum balanced performance for the price, and a hybrid statement amp.

 

2. We'll have both 4-pin, 3-pin, and single-ended phono outs on both amps.

 

3. Both amps will have single-ended output as well, and it will be the "high quality," not the "utility" variety. This isn't as trivial as it sounds, since our balanced topology is not simply another amp stage running an inverted signal. So, single-ended is an entirely separate output stage (using the same differential voltage gain stage, though.)

 

[...] For everyone else, thank you sincerely for all the input. You'll see the first evidence of it in a few short months.

    

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey guys,

 

We're trying not to announce any more details until the amps are available, but I can confirm the following:

 

1. The prices stated above are at least in the ballpark. We have to finalize the BOM before we can set final prices, so don't be surprised if it changes.

 

2. Both balanced amps will indeed use the same topology.

 

I probably won't be able to answer many more questions, I'm afraid.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

From this thread:

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.) Because of this, we're late on a bunch of planned products. Sorry, sorry. White iPhone and all that. So here's where we are, in convenient FAQ format:

 

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.

 

[...]

 

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

.

 

Balanced solid state amp comments:

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)

From the Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

[...] 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? [...]


[...] Here's what you can expect:

 

Balanced DAC and balanced/minimalist* amp, both in the same larger chassis, before the end of the year. It's likely the first balanced amp will be only solid state, to the dismay of our tube fans. Sorry about that. Some people like silicon too. It's cool. [...]

 

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

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey all,


Thanks for the input. It's definitely helped us solidify what we're going to be doing for the balanced side of things. What we've decided:

 

1. We're going to change our plan for one single "statement" hybrid balanced amp. It's now going to be two amps: an all solid-state, simple balanced amp aiming for maximum balanced performance for the price, and a hybrid statement amp.

 

2. We'll have both 4-pin, 3-pin, and single-ended phono outs on both amps.

 

3. Both amps will have single-ended output as well, and it will be the "high quality," not the "utility" variety. This isn't as trivial as it sounds, since our balanced topology is not simply another amp stage running an inverted signal. So, single-ended is an entirely separate output stage (using the same differential voltage gain stage, though.)

 

[...] For everyone else, thank you sincerely for all the input. You'll see the first evidence of it in a few short months.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

(Bold added for emphasis.) - Hero Kid

 

From this thread:

     Quote:

Originally Posted by koonhua90 View Post

Emailed Schiit Audio and got a reply from Jason himself, [...] The $750 one will be mid tier.

 

Should be out by Q1 2012, but there is no guarantee.

 

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey guys,

 

We're trying not to announce any more details until the amps are available, but I can confirm the following:

 

1. The prices stated above are at least in the ballpark. We have to finalize the BOM before we can set final prices, so don't be surprised if it changes.

 

2. Both balanced amps will indeed use the same topology.

 

I probably won't be able to answer many more questions, I'm afraid.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

From the Schiit DAC anticipation thread again:

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. [...] 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

 

From this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...]

 

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.

 

[...]

 

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


Minimalist is what we do. Though there are a helluva lot of connectors on even the midrange balanced amp.

 

Okay, a couple more details:

 

Midrange balanced amp: solid state, will have balanced and SE outputs, including both 3-pin and 4-pin balanced, balanced and SE inputs. Power output will be equal to or greater than Lyr. This is a real balanced-in, balanced-out, 4-gang pot, no conversion to SE anywhere in the signal path type design. It also has (as far as we know) a unique topology in the headphone amp realm.

 

[...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

There won't be any knobs in the middle. [...]


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

A few more comments:

 

The "midrange" balanced amp (which really is an end-game product, in terms of performance) will be solid state.

..

 

Balanced (statement) hybrid amp comments:

Information stashed in here! (Click to show)

From the Same Old Schiit? Balanced Research and Valhalla Amp Giveaway thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45longcolt View Post

[...] 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? [...]


[...] 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

Hey all,


Thanks for the input. It's definitely helped us solidify what we're going to be doing for the balanced side of things. What we've decided:

 

1. We're going to change our plan for one single "statement" hybrid balanced amp. It's now going to be two amps: an all solid-state, simple balanced amp aiming for maximum balanced performance for the price, and a hybrid statement amp.

 

2. We'll have both 4-pin, 3-pin, and single-ended phono outs on both amps.

 

3. Both amps will have single-ended output as well, and it will be the "high quality," not the "utility" variety. This isn't as trivial as it sounds, since our balanced topology is not simply another amp stage running an inverted signal. So, single-ended is an entirely separate output stage (using the same differential voltage gain stage, though.)

 

[...] For everyone else, thank you sincerely for all the input. You'll see the first evidence of it in a few short months.

 

All the best,

Jason

 

(Bold added for emphasis.) - Hero Kid

 

And from this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by koonhua90 View Post

Emailed Schiit Audio and got a reply from Jason himself, statement amp will run $1200 to $1500. [...]

 

Should be out by Q1 2012, but there is no guarantee.

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

Hey guys,

 

We're trying not to announce any more details until the amps are available, but I can confirm the following:

 

1. The prices stated above are at least in the ballpark. We have to finalize the BOM before we can set final prices, so don't be surprised if it changes.

 

2. Both balanced amps will indeed use the same topology.

 

I probably won't be able to answer many more questions, I'm afraid.

 

All the best,

Jason

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...]

 

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.

 

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


Minimalist is what we do. Though there are a helluva lot of connectors on even the midrange balanced amp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

There won't be any knobs in the middle. [...]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

[...] The "statement" balanced amp will be a hybrid.

...


 

I hope this thread proved to be useful.

Enjoy!

 

See my other thread: Schiit DACs? The information and anticipation thread.


Edited by Hero Kid - 2/28/12 at 7:41pm
post #2 of 335
Thread Starter 

[Space reserved... just in case]

post #3 of 335

Subscribed.

post #4 of 335

Subscribed. Thinking of getting one of the two balanced amps to pair with the Statement Dac. May go for the lower end ss though as I already have lots of tubes in the Lyr and Woo Wa5

post #5 of 335
Subscribing to what is sure to be an awesome thread. Schiit has me hooked. I can't wait to see what they come up with for DAC's and balanced amps.

"Our top of the line DAC is going to use a chip that isn't used by anyone else" has me so intrigued.
post #6 of 335

Subscribed as well. Was originally pondering a LYR for my LCD-2, but with my Matrix Quattro on its way, I could just hang back and wait for a balanced Schiit-experience :) 

 

Schiit really cracks me up both attitude, information, service and amp-design, and I hear great things about the sound as well. I'm more or less certain my next amp will be some sort of tube goodness from them. Really looking forward to more info about the amps, but also the new DACs. Got a Cambridge Audio DacMagic that really does what it says on the tin, but I think I might like something more in the future. 

post #7 of 335

We may be expecting an announcement for the mid range Dac soon since the Bifrost is almost shipping.

post #8 of 335

thank you hero kid for get around all the useful info.did jason mention what tube gonna be in the hybrid amp? i have some nice 6922dt880smile.pnghum..

post #9 of 335
Thread Starter 

No he has not mentioned what tubes they plan to use... Either way I would be surprised if they did not recommend tube rolling (if your budget allows). You can do a hell of a lot to play with a hybrid amps sound by playing with tubes, allowing buyers to (generally) get the sound they want from it.

post #10 of 335

i am rolling a lot of tubes with my earmax pro and the zanadeux,it is fun and is pricey.

post #11 of 335

Conversely, I have really loved the shiit Valhala philosophy: for the sake of sound quality, we have designed and built this amp to sound well and best with and only with these tubes. Plug'n'Play.

post #12 of 335

^ Gotta love the KISS philosophy.

post #13 of 335

Subscribed, & I'm not yet done burning in my Lyr ! (Which I'm really enjoying the hell out of !!! If you are even considering a new headphone amp don't be a knucklehead & get yoursellf a Lyr before Schiit comes to their senses & starts pricing it relative to it's enjoyment value). It's definitely not for dissatisfaction reasons that I'm interested in a balanced amp it's due to the fact I just picked up an SACD player that has balanced outputs. For me there is no great rush as I have'nt even really done any tube rolling (other then installing the 6N1ps rather than the stock tubes that the Lyr ships with). Is this hobby great or what ?

post #14 of 335
Hey guys, does any1 know about pricing on these amps yet?
post #15 of 335

Man Jason is doing a terrific job...keep the good schiit coming !!!!

 

Peete.

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