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Schiit Bifrost vs Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC and Meier Corda Stagedac - Page 4

post #46 of 65
Thread Starter 

CJ we both know who we mean and all I can say to your comment re 'The Bionic Woman' is "yes please!" tongue_smile.gif

 

And thanks guys.

 

Just an update on the Meier/Schiit/T1 comparison. I'm configured for this now and ready to listen. However, am also trying to get a fairly major writing project to first draft before the 23rd along with a chapter on another project. I have an enforced break after that - will be away from head-fi and home office for about two weeks. The writing's going pretty well atm - the listening is a nice break - so hopeful I'll get the comparison done too. But can't be 100% sure.

 

Cheers!

post #47 of 65

 

Cool, looking forward to the post! I wasn't exactly expecting a multi paragraph review-length comparison for the Meier vs. Schiit with the T1, but I'd love to read whatever you're willing to write wink.gif
Particularly background blackness interests me most, and sub-bass quality/quantity biggrin.gif
post #48 of 65
Thread Starter 

T1 x Meier vs Schiit stack

 

Unfortunately I have run out of time with this RazorJack, so here are tentative impressions based on two of my test tracks. This has actually opened some questions I haven't had time to explore. I will get back to this next year.

 

As before, levels were matched closely; or 'exactly' if my SPL meter can be believed, which I doubt!

 

Background blackness: Stagedac-Concerto (SC) is silent, period. Bifrost-Lyr with the stock GE6BZ7 (BL) - sometimes silent, sometimes not. There can be faint hum at times. It does not seem to intrude when the music's playing, but it's there (sometimes).

 

Sub-bass quality/quantity: With 'Lydia' (sparse arrangement, low-tuned bass guitar, drum and female vocalist kicks off this track), still present is the tendency I noted previously for the Bifrost to have a little more surface detail around the string, a little less of the fundamental and the first harmonic or two of the note. The SC combo dug a little deeper, but seemed less clean-cut - the bass a little woolier but maybe accurately so, I don't know!

 

SC also - as noted before - showed voice to good effect. BL wasn't too far behind though. And BL excelled by presenting more 'twang' when the lead guitar came in. This is a strength of the Lyr IMO, and it certainly doesn't disappear when fed by the Bifrost.

 

With John Paul Jones Bass 'N' Drums I had quite a different impression! There's more texture in the bass guitar work (probably thanks to JP Jones doing the production!) and this seems to show in the BL's favor,largely thanks to Bifrost's outstanding clarity. Two points stand out. First, sound-stage is better with BL - instruments are set out with nice focus and instruments seem better separated sonically, not just spatially. The overall effect is more engaging. Second, dynamic range seemed noticeably better - more hush and more loud.

 

In comparison, SC seemed a touch drier in the upper bass/lower mids, making it slightly more distant or detached and making the track a little less engaging. Sound-stage was narrower and less focused. I think this may have contributed to an illusion of less dynamic range because really - when I concentrated on this one aspect - I don't think there's any less loud and soft with SC. (As you'll remember, when it comes to voice Stagedac is very good on this point).

 

This raises more questions than it answers because whilst I slightly preferred Lydia with SC, I more than slightly preferred Bass 'N' Drums with BL! There are logical test-tracks to go to from here, but this will have to wait.

 

It may be that BL is a little mono-tone when one-at-a-time (deep) bass guitar notes are being played with clean picking and 'straight'., i.e. without a lot of note-bending or other technique. Hence, the first minute or two of Lydia may have played to BL's weakness. But once we moved to JP Jones inimitable technique, the Bifrost has more to work on and more to give the Lyr.

 

That's speculation, and I think doing the cross combinations might tell us a bit too - Bifrost with Concerto and Stagedac with Lyr.

post #49 of 65

Thank you!!

 

Schiit keeps amazing me, especially concerning your observations on soundstage and dynamic range. As expected, the biggest let down for me would be the faint background hum. 

 

Nice that you prefer one rig over the other with varying music, although I wasn't exactly familiar with the names you mentioned. Which one would you prefer for heavy metal? biggrin.gif However, I suppose it isn't a meaningful question if you're not really into that kind of music.

 

I so cannot wait to receive my T1, I hope it won't get delayed too much in the postal service due to Christmas madness frown.gif

post #50 of 65
Thread Starter 

Without having tested anything beyond the two tracks I named...all my heavy metal is pretty old (Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age if that's even considered metal), but if it's guitar-heavy stuff I'd go Bifrost-Lyr (or maybe Stagedac-Lyr). I've consistently felt Lyr excels with blues and rock guitar, and this impression didn't change with these two tracks.

 

If it's more drum-intensive (especially kick-drum), I'd probably go SC - and also if clean and neutral is your preference.

 

Remember too I've rolled back to stock tubes for all this - there are some terrific options out there. I like the relatively inexpensive Matsushiita 6922 tubes with the Lyr...

 

I don't listen to the T1 much - LCD2 is my 'go to' phone - but this has reminded me how good the T1 is!

post #51 of 65

Excellent Comparison!!

 

I have a slightly off topic question for all the folks who have had experience with the EE minimax.

Anyone notice a hiss on the tube setting if the volume on the amp/pre is turned up? I have recently started noticing it after I had to run the volume at high. This hiss disappears on the SS setting. Also it is not tube dependent.

 

 

post #52 of 65


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Without having tested anything beyond the two tracks I named...all my heavy metal is pretty old (Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age if that's even considered metal)



 

Hey man, you'll get brain damage listening to that stuff!

 

Nice review BTW!

post #53 of 65

Ooops!

double post deletedconfused_face_2.gif

 


Edited by Chris J - 12/22/11 at 4:24pm
post #54 of 65

Judmarc,

 

I downloaded and used Audirvana over the holidays and have to agree with you.  It is a nice improvement over iTunes.  One question though.  Have you noted that 16/44.1 seems to be read into Bifrost at 24/44.1.  At least that is what the Audirvana DAC readout is showing.  Is there some kind of conversion happening?  I did not think that was supposed to happen in the Bifrost.

post #55 of 65

Spectacular review, one of the very best I've read.  

 

Quick nitpick though: I don't think you should be using itunes to do a critical comparison like this.

 

I too use a macbook pro with the toslink output, and have listened to the Peachtree DacIT, the EE Minimax, the Yulong D100, the Dacport and Dacport LX, among others, and can always tell a significant improvement over itunes with virtually any other player. Even the simple open source VLC media player is an improvement, but I've also listened extensively to and done comparisons between Play, Audirvanna, Pure Music, Decibal, Fidelia and Amarra 2.0.  The last is definitely the best, but it's also the most expensive (funny how that works...) but Pure Music, Decibal and Fidelia are VERY close seconds are are all very cheap.  I have not yet tried BitPerfect, but it's also cheap and has gotten good reviews, while Play, VLC and a few others are free.

 

For as much detail as you show in other parts of your setup, you really owe it to yourself to stop using iTunes for playback.  It's not very good, and it will taint your ability to distinguish amongst other components in your path.  

 

That and switch the opamps in your Minimax.  ;)


Edited by AVU - 1/4/12 at 12:13pm
post #56 of 65
Thread Starter 

Thanks AVU, your comments truly appreciated beerchug.gif

 

Below a few comments about why I did it the way I did. Not to say I was necessarily right, but that there was a reason!

 

I have and use both BitPerfect and Fidelia (have also tried Pure Music, and found it ergonomically almost unusable in my setup).  I gave serious thought to using Fidelia for the review. I decided against this because I wished to be as "standard" as possible, so as to (potentially, when not actually) be relevant to as many fellow head-fiers as possible.

 

Probably most of us have access to and have used iTunes at some time; but once this is left behind we break up into sub-groups - Amarra versus PM vs BP users etc. The same reasoning dictated my roll-back to the - I believe - most preferred of the stock tube options in the Lyr, even though I think my current favorites  outperform the 6BZ7s to a large degree. Similarly, my decision to switch the tube off for the EE was to bring things back to a common reference point - except for those who have rolled their opamps of course wink_face.gif

 

The problem for me is that if I approached all this as I am obliged to in my regular work, I would have to include ('account for') all the variations. The number of combinations is mind-boggling. The obvious solution is to break the review into phases; e.g. Phase 1 - compare several iTunes alternatives: are there significant differences? Do they fall into distinct groups (as indeed you found - thanks for those notes) in which case can one use a single app from each group to represent it? And so on... Possibly, there might be 6-12 months work here eek.gif

 

And ultimately, given the fine margins in listening comparisons at this level, my results might be more rather than less debatable than (I think) they are now...

 

That said, I'm always open to suggestions and new approaches. As it happens, I did recently acquire Amarra 2... Obviously I should start using it, and see if this leads me to a re-think wink_face.gif

 

post #57 of 65

AiDee, excellent points, well taken.  No, actually for the purposes of the review, I think you made the right call.  There are SO MANY COMBINATIONS to consider, tube rolling, op amp rolling, different audio players, obviously the combinations quickly become prohibitive.  So I think you're right to keep things at the baseline, with a coda that things can be significantly change with upgrades.  For instance, this article on the EE is very interesting:

 

http://www.dagogo.com/View-Article.asp?hArticle=864

 

But seriously, your comparison is extremely well done, and one I'm very interested in, trying to decide amongst these dacs myself! wink_face.gif  

 

I'm going to be doing a comparison of the Peachtree DacIT, the EE Minimax, the Yulong D100, and the Dacport LX later this month, and will be using your review as a benchmark, though I'll certainly fail to live up to the rigor and precision of your analysis.  I'm complained in the past that individual reactions to components are almost entirely meaningless, and almost always reflect the psychology of the latest purchase.  Detailed comparisons are the only legitimate form of analysis, and your review is an excellent example of this.

 

 

post #58 of 65
Thread Starter 

AVU thank you very much again regular_smile%20.gif

 

I see we think alike - I didn't deliberately set out to do a comparative review. Indeed, I had no intention of ever doing reviews at all! But having done this one, I very strongly came to the same view as you concerning comparisons.

 

I sense you are understating your analytical skills - greatly looking forward to your comparison!!

post #59 of 65

Wow this is probably one of the most detailed reviews ive ever come acrossed.

 

 

Do you think the schiit combo synergizes well with the LCD-2? I am looking at <800-900 USD setup for the LCDs.

post #60 of 65
Thread Starter 

I think this combo can synergize very well with LCD2.

 

Two buts though...

 

One - finding the right tubes. IMHO, none of the stock options are suitable. They range from a little muddy to lacking transparency or being slow - missing the LCD2's strengths. (Note: some disagree with me).

 

There are good tubes for the Lyr/LCD2 - see the Lyr tube-rolling thread (very long) - but the "best" were incredibly expensive and bought up long ago anyway. Lots of options remain, but the tube-rolling exercise could take you over your budget pretty quickly.

 

Another option that could work with Bifrost is the Meier Classic amp. It's a very good amp with the LCD2 (more "rounded" than the Concerto I used in this review; less dry, less analytical) and...no tubes to roll!

 

Two - what sound you want, aka how much of the LCD2's potential do you want to reach?

 

Probably fair to say consensus is the Bifrost is better as a DAC than the Lyr as an amp. This is certainly my view. There may be other and better amp options within your budget, the Classic being one possibility.

 

Beyond your budget there are many options of course evil_smiley.gif including from Schiit themselves. Their Mjolnir (balanced, 8W, circlotron amp, release end this month) and Gungnir (balanced DAC, August) are due soon.

 

Reports from one or two headfiers who heard prototypes are promising.

 

You may want to look at options like this in a year or two! Unfortunately, the LCD2 is that kind of headphone...

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