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Schiit Gungnir DAC - Page 16

post #226 of 1570

 

: Spoiler (Click to show)

 

Originally Posted by SHYood View Post

I have been intending to add my two cents or so, but the sound of the my Gungnir has continued to evolve till yesterday, so I held off a bit.  It's been crunching numbers for a good 120 hours at this point, and I've had it in several situations, so I think I have a fair measure of it by now.  First, I'll preface with some listening biases and a dirty confession.  I listen mostly to Classical music and am one of those Luddites who believes that the measure of a system is its ability to recreate the illusion of live, unamplified  music.  I do listen to a wide range of pop, rock and progressive fare.  Hip Hop, Rap and Electronica are not my things.  My dirty secret is that I listen mostly in pen air with speakers.  I haunt Head fi for the quality of the commentary on digital sources and portable music.

I fed the Gungnir via a Macbook Pro Retina using Pure Music.  The computer refused to recognize the Gungnir connected directly to its USB 3.0 ports, but saw it when I connected it via a USB 2.0 hub.  I got very prompt replies to my concerns from Schiit.  They had not tried Macs with native USB 3.0 ports, yet, but were mystified that there seemed to be a compatibility issue since USB 3.0 should be totally backward compatible.  It may be a hardware issue to take into account.  However, I cannot discount the possibility that the fault may lie with Mountain Lion which is the buggiest Apple OSX that I have ever seen, thus far.  Playback has been through a variety of preamps and transducers, but, mainly Symphonies Magnums, VXT 8's for near field listening and Wilson Sophias for the main system.  

On first inspection, the Gungnir does nothing but impress.  The fit and finish is superb, and it is solid and heavy as a billet of solid aluminum.  On first listen, however ... As Doug Adams said so well, "Don't panic".  It does sound harsh and strident and, well, a bit raspy out of the box.  There was detail, aplenty, but at the expense of a very fatiguing high end.  I turned the output off and went away for 24 hours.  When I returned to listening, the top end has smoothed out a good bit and the jaggedness that a prior poster had referred to was fading nicely.  It was another 48 hours till I really had time to listen, and, then, the Gungnir was a revelation.  More on comparatives later. but I'll get the obvious one out of the way now.  It is a CLEAR upgrade over the Bitfrost that I had borrowed.  The later was nice, but the Gungnir improves on it in clarity, upper and lower end extension, and, especially in imaging abilities.  Gungnir gives a very solid, but not overblown bass foundation with pipe organ pedals very firmly and cleanly enunciated.  The highs are very nice and airy without the annoying harshness that I came to associate with digital in its early days.  So, tonal balance seemed nailed for me, but this isn't what sets Gungnir appart from the rest, IMO.  Gungnir portrays a sense of space and dimensionality of the instruments better than ANY digital source that I have heard to date.  (Sadly, I haven't heard the M51, yet.)  Gone is the spectacle of paper instruments on a cardboard stage.  The orchestra has deapth as well as width.  Instruments occupy a three dimensional space.  Janos Starker's cello blooms with a body that rivals my analog setup.  Concert halls reverberate and one hears the walls reflect the voices of massed choirs.  Well done, indeed.  What really delayed my comments is that Gungnir has another remarkable trick up its sleeve.  To an astounding degree, it makes mediocre recordings sound very nice indeed.  Sadly, not every great performance got a good recording, but Gungnir somehow helped me forget that and I ended up whiling away the weekend seeing what old warhorses sounded like.  I've been at the audiophool business for a good quarter of a century, and this hasn't happened to me in a long time.  If this is the midrange unit, I can't stand the anticipation for the reference.

On a few ballpark comparisons... Well, it was sort of sad.  The Bitfrost wasn't bad, but couldn't begin to do the spatial magic that the Gungnir could.  Dacmagic Plus need not apply.  My venerable, and much loved CAL Tempest can't compare on the frequency extremes.  My prior champ, the frightfully inexpensive Ross Martin Dual Bare Beast was also bettered, mostly in the realm of imaging and body.  I am sort of looking forward to borrowing some 1k plus DACs to see how they do in my system versus the Gungnir, but I doubt I'll feel any regret returning them.

The final test, for me was to compare a 24/192 download of Janos Starker's Bach cello sonatas with the vinyl version from my collection with a table, arm, cartridge combo costing a good 10 times the cost of the Gungnir.  It was disturbingly close, and the Gungnir/Macbook Pro is sure a lot less fiddly.

A couple of final notes.  I did compare USB to Audiophileo 2 provided SPDIF.  The later was marginally smoother, I think, but I really cannot convince myself for sure.  I did not use an optical input.  Cables do matter, but I'm still sorting that out.  Finally, Gungnir did benefit from good isolation feet.  My current fav for bang for the buck are the Tenderfeet from Herbie's Audio Lab.  Good stuff.

This has been an embarrassing gush.  I consider myself a pretty harsh critic of digital music reproduction, but I am rethinking that.  Higher sampling rates and gear like this make the expense and trouble of maintaing turntables increasingly tough to justify.  Many congrats to the fellows at Schiit.  Consider me a fan boy.

 

Very good impressions


Edited by paradoxper - 10/1/12 at 11:26am
post #227 of 1570
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikek200 View Post

For those needing the pics,

 

Alex from Schiit ,says pictures will be available ..next week ,or so???

Mike, if you go back a few pages, I posted pics of the backside of Gungnir.

post #228 of 1570

But no gutz? Need 2-C them gutz!

post #229 of 1570

Thanks! SHYood - very comprehensive opinions and comparisons. I will pull the trigger now!

post #230 of 1570

Thanks for the impressions SHYood
 

post #231 of 1570
Quote:
Originally Posted by livewire View Post

But no gutz? Need 2-C them gutz!

I'm not going to lie. I'd post some internals, if I could force myself to shut the damn thing down....

post #232 of 1570
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHYood View Post

I have been intending to add my two cents or so, but the sound of the my Gungnir has continued to evolve till yesterday, so I held off a bit.  It's been crunching numbers for a good 120 hours at this point, and I've had it in several situations, so I think I have a fair measure of it by now.  First, I'll preface with some listening biases and a dirty confession.  I listen mostly to Classical music and am one of those Luddites who believes that the measure of a system is its ability to recreate the illusion of live, unamplified  music.  I do listen to a wide range of pop, rock and progressive fare.  Hip Hop, Rap and Electronica are not my things.  My dirty secret is that I listen mostly in pen air with speakers.  I haunt Head fi for the quality of the commentary on digital sources and portable music.

I fed the Gungnir via a Macbook Pro Retina using Pure Music.  The computer refused to recognize the Gungnir connected directly to its USB 3.0 ports, but saw it when I connected it via a USB 2.0 hub.  I got very prompt replies to my concerns from Schiit.  They had not tried Macs with native USB 3.0 ports, yet, but were mystified that there seemed to be a compatibility issue since USB 3.0 should be totally backward compatible.  It may be a hardware issue to take into account.  However, I cannot discount the possibility that the fault may lie with Mountain Lion which is the buggiest Apple OSX that I have ever seen, thus far.  Playback has been through a variety of preamps and transducers, but, mainly Symphonies Magnums, VXT 8's for near field listening and Wilson Sophias for the main system.  

On first inspection, the Gungnir does nothing but impress.  The fit and finish is superb, and it is solid and heavy as a billet of solid aluminum.  On first listen, however ... As Doug Adams said so well, "Don't panic".  It does sound harsh and strident and, well, a bit raspy out of the box.  There was detail, aplenty, but at the expense of a very fatiguing high end.  I turned the output off and went away for 24 hours.  When I returned to listening, the top end has smoothed out a good bit and the jaggedness that a prior poster had referred to was fading nicely.  It was another 48 hours till I really had time to listen, and, then, the Gungnir was a revelation.  

More on comparatives later. but I'll get the obvious one out of the way now.  It is a CLEAR upgrade over the Bifrost that I had borrowed.  The later was nice, but the Gungnir improves on it in clarity, upper and lower end extension, and, especially in imaging abilities.  Gungnir gives a very solid, but not overblown bass foundation with pipe organ pedals very firmly and cleanly enunciated.  The highs are very nice and airy without the annoying harshness that I came to associate with digital in its early days.  So, tonal balance seemed nailed for me, but this isn't what sets Gungnir apart from the rest, IMO.  Gungnir portrays a sense of space and dimensionality of the instruments better than ANY digital source that I have heard to date.  (Sadly, I haven't heard the M51, yet.)  

Gone is the spectacle of paper instruments on a cardboard stage.  The orchestra has depth as well as width.  Instruments occupy a three dimensional space.  Janos Starker's cello blooms with a body that rivals my analog setup.  Concert halls reverberate and one hears the walls reflect the voices of massed choirs.  Well done, indeed.  What really delayed my comments is that Gungnir has another remarkable trick up its sleeve.  To an astounding degree, it makes mediocre recordings sound very nice indeed.  Sadly, not every great performance got a good recording, but Gungnir somehow helped me forget that and I ended up whiling away the weekend seeing what old warhorses sounded like.  I've been at the audiophool business for a good quarter of a century, and this hasn't happened to me in a long time.  If this is the midrange unit, I can't stand the anticipation for the reference.

On a few ballpark comparisons... Well, it was sort of sad.  The Bifrost wasn't bad, but couldn't begin to do the spatial magic that the Gungnir could.  Dacmagic Plus need not apply.  My venerable, and much loved CAL Tempest can't compare on the frequency extremes.  My prior champ, the frightfully inexpensive Ross Martin Dual Bare Beast was also bettered, mostly in the realm of imaging and body.  I am sort of looking forward to borrowing some 1k plus DACs to see how they do in my system versus the Gungnir, but I doubt I'll feel any regret returning them.

The final test, for me was to compare a 24/192 download of Janos Starker's Bach cello sonatas with the vinyl version from my collection with a table, arm, cartridge combo costing a good 10 times the cost of the Gungnir.  It was disturbingly close, and the Gungnir/Macbook Pro is sure a lot less fiddly.

A couple of final notes.  I did compare USB to Audiophileo 2 provided SPDIF.  The later was marginally smoother, I think, but I really cannot convince myself for sure.  I did not use an optical input.  Cables do matter, but I'm still sorting that out.  Finally, Gungnir did benefit from good isolation feet.  My current fav for bang for the buck are the Tenderfeet from Herbie's Audio Lab.  Good stuff.

This has been an embarrassing gush.  I consider myself a pretty harsh critic of digital music reproduction, but I am rethinking that.  Higher sampling rates and gear like this make the expense and trouble of maintaing turntables increasingly tough to justify.  Many congrats to the fellows at Schiit.  Consider me a fan boy.

 

 

What an excellent first post, very useful impressions! I have a hard time reading walls of text though, so I "fixed" it for you. This is much easier...

Also I agree, that the Gungnir really benefits from burn-in beerchug.gif


Edited by grokit - 10/1/12 at 9:29pm
post #233 of 1570

^ They are indeed. And yes, easier to read now too.

 

Gungnir looks like a serious improvement over Bifrost. The latter was great value for money, with detail and clarity but a 'lightness' or bass-shy character Gungnir seems to have amply fixed.

 

In a comparison with the Eastern Electric Dac (original version), I found the EE erred the other way - large quantities of bass and lower mids tended to wash out harmonic detail higher up, and (comparatively) injure textural detail important to naturally rendering some instruments., e.g. piano, cello.

 

If Gungir produces bass and texture, together with extended highs and a natural midrange, then in my book it sounds like a winner...

 

Except, well - there's the statement to come!

post #234 of 1570

The Gungnir continues to improve. I'm falling in love with my HD800 all over again!

post #235 of 1570

Looks like I know what I'll be adding to my chain next...

 

I'm currently caressing my brand new Mjolnir and I'm not sure if that's a healthy thing to be doing.... 

post #236 of 1570

Listening to My Little Basquiat by the Cowboy Junkies, which combines really distorted electric guitar with piano. I don't think I've ever heard distortion this clearly tongue.gif

 

The piano sounds are crystal clear and separated into their own space even though they are about the same Hz as the guitar. The drums sound almost binaural from gentle panning.  The bass guitar is distinct and is laying a solid foundation.

 

And Margo's voice sounds so distinct, it's like she's singing directly into my ears from heaven. Life is good...

beerchug.gif


Edited by grokit - 10/3/12 at 7:46pm
post #237 of 1570
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

Listening to My Little Basquiat by the Cowboy Junkies, which combines really distorted electric guitar with piano. I don't think I've ever heard distortion this clearly tongue.gif

 

The piano sounds are crystal clear and separated into their own space even though they are about the same Hz as the guitar. The drums sound almost binaural from gentle panning.  The bass is laying a solid foundation.

 

And Margo's voice sounds so distinct, it's like she's singing directly into my ears from heaven. Life is good...

beerchug.gif

 

You stop that!  My poor wallet... it's so afraid of Head-fi!  Just kidding.  Happy to hear it's a good experience for you.  I shall be joining the Gungnir club soon enough.  I've held off because all reports state that the Titanium HD is good enough as a DAC.  If the Gungnir is superior enough to upgrade, it'll be next on my list.

post #238 of 1570

very_evil_smiley.gif

post #239 of 1570

I’m listening to an LP ripped @ 94k

Vattensaga by Tingvall Trio

Piano, bass and standard drum kit

 

I have heard this a few times both on my system & my friend’s who has B&W 802di’s.

 

The imaging, detail, micro-dynamics & range I hear now are V similar to what I heard on my friend’s $14k speakers.

My system has never sounded this good.

 

 

edit: I would never have believed my system could sound this good.


Edited by wkhanna - 10/2/12 at 7:16pm
post #240 of 1570

Bill... Do you want to just bring the Gungnir over.... we can test it out on the 802D2s!!!

 

I can't wait to put it through the paces against the CA 840c.  :D

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