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Upgrade uDAC to Schiit Bifrost?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I purchased a Schiit Asgard and a Sennheiser hd600 last week. I'm wondering how much of a difference it would make to upgrade my uDAC to a Schiit Bifrost. I'm assuming that it would have good synergy with the other two components since the Schiit products are built around the hd600s.

 

Now that we've got my current situation out of the way, my questions for you are:

Would a Schiit Bifrost be a substantial upgrade from the uDAC? I haven't heard any systems better than my own, so I don't know what future upgrades COULD bring. Mostly, I'd like to know how much of a difference the Bifrost will make relative to my previous upgrade. (Previous upgrade: Senn hd595 to hd600; uDAC amp to Schiit Asgard)

 

Should I work on "learning" my current system before thinking about upgrades? I'm still burning in my new gear and haven't completely gotten "used to" the sound.

post #2 of 19

Personally, I think the amp will affect the sound in this case, more than any reasonably competent dac will. The uDac should serve just fine for a while, and you can determine the best direction to go once you are familiar enough with your system.

 

That is to say, I don't think you'll hear much of a difference. "Synergy" is mostly a made up concept... as long as the components work together, they'll be fine. 

 

With that said. The Bifrost + Asgard combo would LOOK pretty sweet together. And the sound would be just fine. So is the aesthetic worth the cash to you, because I do not think you'll have a significant audible improvement. 


Edited by liamstrain - 1/23/12 at 10:13pm
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

Personally, I think the amp will affect the sound in this case, more than any reasonably competent dac will. The uDac should serve just fine for a while, and you can determine the best direction to go once you are familiar enough with your system.

 

Good to know. I keep feeling like I'm missing out on a secret club of nicer DACs -- like there are sounds I'm missing since I'm using just a uDAC. I'm setting up a meet with a guy who has a Musical Fidelity V-DAC so I can see what better DACs would sound like on my system. Hopefully that'll give me a good picture.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

 

That is to say, I don't think you'll hear much of a difference. "Synergy" is mostly a made up concept... as long as the components work together, they'll be fine.


I used "synergy" mostly as sort of shorthand meaning that the sound profile and all will work well with my system and goals for what I'd like my system to sound like.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liamstrain View Post

With that said. The Bifrost + Asgard combo would LOOK pretty sweet together. And the sound would be just fine. So is the aesthetic worth the cash to you, because I do not think you'll have a significant audible improvement. 


Aesthetics are a pretty big factor for me, actually. But if that's the only consideration, I'll hold off for a while anyway.

post #4 of 19

Anything would be an upgrade over a uDAC(I briefly listened to the uDAC2 BTW) and you can't amplify something that does not exist...so yeah, get a better DAC.

post #5 of 19

You would get a different flavor from the system with a newer DAC. Either you would like it or not. It could bring more detail but maybe the more bloated bass from a cheaper DAC or the smoothness in general could be more pleasant for not trained ears.

 

I now use a Bottlehead Crack + HD600 + iBasso D12 DAC. It's a wonderful combo but after 8 months I feel I need more! The bass does not satisfy me any more now, I feel it shallow and everything else smoother than I would like it. As you I don't have a better system to compare with, nor headphones nor do I know someone that could let me test something better. I wan't something with tighter and cleaner bass, with more authority, also I wan't to attack a little the smoothness from the overall system, something a little sharper maybe, I would say datailed.

 

Either I could live with it as it is or I could start testing something else. The best bet for me would be to try other headphones, maybe Audeze LCD-2. But now I'm not willing to spend on other amp as well. I also thought on recabling the HD600 but I sincerely think I won't feel any dfference. I rolled tubes on the Crack and it do improved a little but I get used to it so fast that I don't feel the difference.

 

After reading a lot now I do realize that the right path would be to upgrade the DAC, and to make it worthwile it should be a DAC that can handle bigger sample rates and bits than redbook music, that means that the source also would play a big roll. Even the jitter that could live between the source and the DAC could be the bigger difference to notice a real improvement from a DAC, so improving the DAC as well as the source while taking care of the setup between the 2 would be the best by now until I decide to upgrade the headphones. Then I would also go for new cables for the HD600 and for the DAC between the Amp. I feel that after having take care about the DAC and the source, better cables would let me hear exactly the improvements that could bring the DAC and a better source, but not that some cables are going to really improve the music if the source is still cheap.

 

The thing for you is, get another DAC or not? I think that maybe by now you are fine, as I was. Later on if you feel the need, then you won't need just another DAC, but more discipline on how to use it and how to pair it with the source ;)  That also means money and a lot of priority and love for your music and your newer hobby.

 

You can start at any point sincerely, you can start right ahead with a Bifrost or even a better DAC. I was about to spend on a W4S DAC-2. Nevertheless the truth is that I will be wasting it without better headphones, that DAC is already good for some decent speakers and amp, not just for headphones.

 

... Oh by the way! I just put my order for a Bifrost. I can bet it would pair well with the system. As soon as I get it, maybe more than a month, I let you know how I feel the difference if you still are interested.


Edited by Gauss1777 - 1/24/12 at 8:38am
post #6 of 19

I upgraded from an unmodified Asus Xonar Essence ST, to the DAC in a Focusrite 8i6 audio interface, and a difference could definitely be heard. I imagine you would find the Bifrost to be much more detailed than the uDAC, albeit a bit "colder" sounding as the above poster said. I personally think the flattest, most detailed DAC that you can get would be best. For warmth and other coloration, I would leave it up to the amp. The Asgard is already a very warm amp; I don't think you would find anything unpleasing about upgrading the DAC in this chain. Again, a slight loss of warmth in the lower end, yet greatly increased clarity should accompany it. Just wanted to expel my thoughts before my brain exploded. 

 

I highly recommend trying to demo the said components, if possible, before deciding. Sound is, in the end, subjective.

post #7 of 19
Schiit offers a 15 day trial so you can A/B them with your setup.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the opinions! I think I'll try to test out my friend's V-DAC and make a call after that.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Draygonn View Post

Schiit offers a 15 day trial so you can A/B them with your setup.



As for the 15 day trial, it's still a bit of a costly endeavor. You have to pay shipping both ways (about $10 x 2 = $40) where I live and a 5% transaction fee ($450 x .05 = $22.50) totaling around $45 to purchase and return it. That ends up being about 10% of the product price! It's a nice comfort in the event that you completely HATE a Schiit product. But if the products just aren't exactly what you're expecting, it's a lot to swallow.

post #9 of 19

 

Originally Posted by qoouep View Post

I think I'll try to test out my friend's V-DAC and make a call after that.


The V-DAC is low end too(SMPS wall wart, cheapo 5532 opamps), so don't expect a miracle. It still should sound better than the uDAC, though.

post #10 of 19
The udac has high disortion and is badly designed a upgrade should bring a small improvement, a good dac will sound transparent the udac might sound coloured because of its high disortion.

There's nothing wrong with a wallwart its the power circuits inside that matter, theres nothing wrong with the 5532 it sounds transparent and is used in alot gear, the v-dac should sound transparant.
Edited by JRG1990 - 1/24/12 at 2:42pm
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by qoouep View Post

Thanks everyone for the opinions! I think I'll try to test out my friend's V-DAC and make a call after that.
 



As for the 15 day trial, it's still a bit of a costly endeavor. You have to pay shipping both ways (about $10 x 2 = $40) where I live and a 5% transaction fee ($450 x .05 = $22.50) totaling around $45 to purchase and return it. That ends up being about 10% of the product price! It's a nice comfort in the event that you completely HATE a Schiit product. But if the products just aren't exactly what you're expecting, it's a lot to swallow.

True but having bought the Bifrost myself out of curiosity, fully expecting to return it (I was part of the "DACs don't make that huge a difference" camp), I have to say I can't imagine how anyone cannot be satisfied/impressed with it unless they're downgrading from a $2k dac. Very neutral, very revealing, and overall amazing bang-for-buck product imho. 
 

 

post #12 of 19

I have the same setup except I have a Fiio E10 as my DAC. My Bifrost will be here tomorrow.  Another option is to wait until an authorized dealer puts some on Amazon. They are fulfilled by Amazon so you get free return shipping and 30 days instead of 15. Audio Advisor said they expect a shipment soon. I do not know if they will be putting them on Amazon though.

post #13 of 19

Nice, would be great if you could post a brief analysis between the two. I never heard the e10 but curious to see how it compares to the bifrost. I know personally my bifrost totally outperforms my fiio d3. My opinion on dacs in general have changed but i still wonder about the amount of diminishing returns you get with more expensive dacs. Cheers~

post #14 of 19

Initial impressions on the the Bifrost: It blows the E10 out of the water. You name it, the Bifrost does it better. This is with it being in use for 5 hours. Everyone says it gets better with burn in so I'm one happy camper. It's always fun to listen to a song you've heard hundreds of times and hearing something you never have before.

post #15 of 19

Good stuff Radioking59, my initial experience mirrored yours except w/ d3 instead of e10. Mines definitely sounded better after some burn-in. I estimate I'm around 60hrs and the sound just keeps getting smoother and more balanced. Initially, the bifrost was a tiny bit on the bright side for me, now it's perfect. Fwiw Jason Stoddard recommends 50-100 hrs of burn-in. I think I'm nearing the end of the burn-in process though, the changes are getting less obvious. 

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