Gungnir came in today. Initial impressions straight out of the box confirms what others have stated. The Gungnir is on a whole other level from the Bifrost. I only have it connected to the Mjolnir single ended via rca at the moment (waiting for balanced PYST cables), but the improvement over the Bifrost is evident. It seems to have the same signature, though the frequency extremes extend further. There's more air from the smooth top end, and better separation and placement of elements as a result. It makes the Bifrost seem flat and "veiled" in comparison. The most apparent improvement though is in the bass. The HD800 at the end of this chain is glorious.
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Schiit Gungnir DAC - Page 18
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Based on feedback in this thread and the Mjolnir thread; would it be fair to say that a Gungnir + Mjolnir will give too much bass to e.g. a pair of LCD-2 / LCD-3? I know this is a subjective matter, but i find the question prudent to ask.
From everything I've heard it sounds like it just gives more bass control, not necessarily quantity.
Of course I haven't heard them yet; really want to though.
No, it gives plenty of bass, but it's not overdone. There's great control. Bass is full, deep, extended all while
remaining balanced. Meaning, it doesn't overtake the rest of the spectrum.
I've reached just over 200 hours on the Gungnir and feel I've given enough time
for everything to smooth out and settle down. While I've listened to a ton of DACs
both over and under $!k, I thought it best to keep my comparisons to the Bifrost,
which was my most recently owned DAC.
The Mjolnir bests the Bifrost across the entire spectrum in every way.
Bass, instrument separation, clarity and details. Most noticeably, I found the
Bifrost veiled details more often and had a more bloated low end.
In certain passages the Bifrost revealed a harshness that wasn't apparent in the
Gungnir, completely smooth and clear. This is something I've not noticed until now.
Bass is one of the biggest additions needed,
Plenty of weight and extension with good control. Nothing muddy or
unnatural about it, just plentiful, musical and clean.
There's an overall fast pace to things, less congestion or clutter.
In the Beginning the top end was detailed, but retained some harshness.
This has completely smoothened out. Very musical, non-metallic or
clinical sound to it. Instruments sound natural without over emphasis.
There's more air to instruments, great sense of space, very easy to follow
a single instrument along. Clutter is non existent.
I tend to dislike full blown reviews as they don't feel like real world experiences.
(With all their audiophile jargon nonsense.)
So the biggest quality I've come to enjoy about Gungnir is its ability
to make bad recordings very enjoyable. While retaining an overall
transparent tonality, everything is rendered as musical. The last time
I enjoyed a DAC this much was my time with the PW DAC.
I've been using the LCD-3's and HE-6's mostly. But I'll save impressions for the Mjolnir thread.
Great stuff Para, and thanks for your first impression olor1n. Look forward to more.
On the "full blown reviews" thing, and speaking from my very limited experience, one gets into quite a weird, intense, detached space. Tiny differences become large (or disappear) - quite different from normal listening. Afterward, they become tiny again.
Well, there are some very encouraging reports here from people I trust and one or two newcomers who obviously listen carefully.
I look forward to more comparison with Bifrost, simply because it's a familiar reference point for many of us. In my case, comparisons with the original Eastern Electric DAC (stock; tube switched out) or Meier Corda Stagedac also welcome. I'm especially interested in what it does in terms of portraying the natural character (timbre; balance of harmonics and fundamentals) of each instrument/voice at the same time it's separating these instruments.
Thanks Paradoxper (and all others who posted their observations).
I like the style you used for your report.
My unit is still burning in, so I will wait a while to update my findings.
But I would like to add that the base is full, fleshed out, clean, crisp, fast, tight & V musical.
I listen mostly to acoustic jazz & pay great attention to string bass.
Gungnir is musical in its bass production.
It does not over power or distract.
It is a natural bass missing from lower performing DACs.
Those familiar with the Bifrost will notice it right away.
Do not misinterpret this as being overly bass-heavy.
I find it interesting that in total, all the opinions so far are very constant.
Okay... so my friend WKHANNA (BFF LMAO) just lent me his Gungnir for the next say 5 days or so... and here's my initial impressions with about an hour or two of going back and forth with it and my Cambridge Audio 840c....
So far… here’s the “facts”…
Gungnir is -3dB over the CA 840c.
Gungnir has about 25 hours on it possibly (Wkhanna isn't really sure)
CA840c is almost 3 years old and has been slightly modified (all wires silver soldered)
Gungnir makes a clicking sound when switching different Sample Rates (small click sound, but loud enough to be heard about 9 feet away at listening position), CA840c does not make any sound.
Gungnir price and specs -- you know.
Cambridge Audio 840c - $1200 or $1400 when I bought it (can't remember), Adaptive Time Filter, Asynchronous upsampling to 24-384kHz, 32-bit Analog Devices "Black Fin" DSP, Dual Differential DACs (2x Analog Devices AD1955 24-bit running at 384kHz), Fully differential output stage, Anti-Aliasing Filter based on linear phase Bessel filters for constant group delay and minimum phase shift, DC Servo with no capacitors in the signal path. http://cambridgeaudio.com/assets/documents/840Cspecsheet.pdf
Data located on a 40TB Raid 6 Win2k8r2 Server with 4GB connection (1GBx4) streamed to Win7 64bit laptop -> Foobar2000 -> ASIO4ALL -> WireWorld UltraViolet USB Cable -> Musical Fidelity V-Link (original one, 192 is on order) ->
Path Splits here:
Lifatec Glass Optical -> Cambridge Audio 840c ->
Silver Cat Interconnect -> Schiit Gungnir ->
Silver Cat Interconnects -> Rotel RSP-1098 (modified) -> Silver Cat Interconnects -> Rotel RB-1090 (modified) -> Cat Cables CatTails bi-wired (2 pair) -> Bowers & Wilkins 802D2.
I tried swaping the Optical and Digital Coax cables and honestly my opinions are completely identical... I couldn't even tell any differences that would've moved with the cable swap...so I left them as I normally have it (and it made it easier to demo both).
Melody Gardot - My One and only Thrill (CD and 24/96K Vinyl Rip)
Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart (CD and 24/96k Vinyl Rip)
Dave Brubeck - Time Out (24/96K Vinyl Rip)
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (200g 24/96K Vinyl Rip) -- is the best sounding thing I have period.
Various other Genres will be played over the next few days.
And now... here’s the Opinions…
Gungnir over the CA840c:
-Slightly sharper, maybe clearer and/or slightly more detail. Also seems slightly thinner sounding because of this.
-Highs are slightly more detailed and crisp… almost to the point of being harsh.
-Midrange and vocals seem thinner, a little more detailed (especially brush work on a snare), but thinner almost harsh at points (listening to Melody Gardot especially). At times I noticed almost an echo to the voices that I could not hear on the 840c. Not sure if it's detailing the actual reverb/echo used at points to help make the voice sound better or what. It seemed like it belonged...but it also sounded odd at the same point.
-Bass is more emphasized in the lower range, probably in the 20 – 40hz is more prominent. Slight more detail.
-Sound Stage is smaller and not as deep, placed slightly further back only sounding to come right at the plane of the speakers.
-Instruments will jump out with a little more life to them and might have a slight bit more detail and realistic-ness to them (on a very very small scale).
CA840c over the Gungnir:
-Sound stage is bigger and instruments are in a slightly different place (perhaps more focused in a location). Soundstage depth is deeper, still feels like my room has another 10ft beyond the wall.
-Highs are almost identical, with ever so slightly softer possibly every-so-slight less detail, sustain is identical.
-Midrange and vocals seem fuller and warmer (silky still) and slightly lower octive wise (could be the fuller effect though)… and maybe over all slightly ever-so-slightly “over-emphasized" and I did not notice the echoing effect that seemed to happen at points with the Gungnir. Voices are 'forward', more pronounced, louder, or "in your face" more.
-Bass is more emphasized in the upper lower range, probably in the 35 to 60Hz range.
-Soundstage is wider and deeper and is placed right at the speakers and sometimes comes more forward in presentation (slightly in front of the speakers)
-Instruments don’t jump out quite as much and seem to stay more in with the sound stage unless really called upon. It almost reminds me of the statement where when an amp can’t produce a sound properly (doesn’t have the power) the sound will come out sounding over emphasized vs. being more coherent with the whole soundstage. Not saying that’s the reason here AT ALL…just that is what it reminds me of… that type of thing.
They are almost the same identical DAC. LOL. Each one has slightly different things it does slightly better/emphasizes more. Of course the Gungnir is still breaking in with an estimated 25ish hours on it, so I think the midrange should come around a lot and the highs will actually smooth out, but hopefully not lose the detail. I’m also figuring the soundstage should open up and be very similar to the 840c’s width and depth.
Both have impressed me. Gungnir for the price is AMAZING!!!! If I didn't have anything it would definitely be my DAC of choice. CA840c... the old dog STILL impresses!!!! It makes me feel really good that 3 years ago I picked out such a winner and my ears haven't failed me in knowing what sounds good. ha ha. This also brings up two more things... what will the Statement be like... I'm guessing on par with the NAD M51.
I wish Cambridge Audio's DACs were exact mirrors of what they are doing with the 800 series CDp's... well except for this new one which is a pre-amp as well... not sure if I like that, and the only updated the ATF, not changing the 2 Analog Devices DACs... So oh well, don't think that's a good purchase at the price raise of ~$400.
The only way I could quantify things at the moment is with numbers… lol
Edited by PewterTA - 10/4/12 at 5:13pm
I feel like part of it is that it's a very un-congested presentation, so bass seems to slam harder as it jumps out of a blacker background and from a clearly defined area in space. I've heard other setups where you need to focus to hear the bass lines, as it runs up against other elements in the music.
The first time I really heard the HD800's with great bass slam was on Purrin's PS Audio PWD --> Balancing Act setup at the last Bay Area meet. I don't think anyone could walk away from that set up and think the HD800 was bass-light, or thin, or clinical. I use James Blake's "There's a Limit to Your Love" as one of my bass test tracks, and that song really hits on that system. It's not like the bass was overwhelming or boosted either, it was still supremely balanced and natural. It's just that the bass was so dynamic, and could seemingly jump from one to ten instantly from out of nowhere if the music called for it.
I don't have $8K to drop on DAC+amp (from what I understand, he's using $1K+ in tubes), but that has been my unicorn dynamics system since. Sort of an "endpoint" in mind.
It's been one week since I got the Gungnir, but I feel like my system now shares a lot of the same qualities as that reference (from memory). Sure, it may not match the resolution, or micro-detail, or dynamic shifts of the PWD-->BA -- but it ticks a lot of the same boxes. Musical, involving, analog and natural, very smooth treble, lots of warmth and atmosphere.
One thing it does match the PWD --> BA system in is its ability to make me NOT want to listen critically. It has a way of just sucking you into the music. Seriously, the other night I just got my Magnums back from a long term loan from another member. I plugged them in just to check if they were still in working order, and ended up sucked into a 4-hour session with them.
The LEDs on my Gungnir are brighter/whiter than the one on my Mjolnir. The one on the amp is more opaque. Yours seem to be like mine. Is this the same for everyone else?
- Schiit Gungnir DAC
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