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Schiit Bifrost vs Gungnir

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I've read through the information on these two DACs on the Schiit site:

Gungnir: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=11 , http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-gungnir/

Bifrost: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=7 , http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/

 

Question:

Other than the balanced operation AND if you have a decent source that should always allow the VCXOs to lock (negating the need for Adapticlock) ... are there any other advantages to buying the Gungnir vs. the Bifrost?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAudio View Post

I've read through the information on these two DACs on the Schiit site:

Gungnir: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=11 , http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-gungnir/

Bifrost: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=7 , http://schiit.com/schiit-faq/about-bifrost/

 

Question:

Other than the balanced operation AND if you have a decent source that should always allow the VCXOs to lock (negating the need for Adapticlock) ... are there any other advantages to buying the Gungnir vs. the Bifrost?

 

Thanks!

 

On paper: Superior analog output stage (which is most of the sound of a DAC), superior power supply.  In practice: They just started shipping, you'll have to give it time for impressions to roll in! biggrin.gif  

 

My personal best guess: It'll probably sound somewhat better, but most of the advantages probably come in if you're running balanced.  Bifrost is already darned good, so besting it using similar tech other than the advantages of running balanced is probably quite a challenge.  The upcoming Statement level gear will cost twice as much as Gungnir, but should have (hopefully) more obvious improvements for unbalanced.  But that's a best guess based on theory on paper...before anyone has really had time to evaluate it. I have no doubt it's better, both balanced and unbalanced, but I suspect if you intend to run it unbalanced only, it's a much closer comparison than otherwise.


Edited by IEMCrazy - 9/13/12 at 6:40am
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

 

On paper: Superior analog output stage (which is most of the sound of a DAC), superior power supply.  In practice: They just started shipping, you'll have to give it time for impressions to roll in! biggrin.gif  

 

My personal best guess: It'll probably sound somewhat better, but most of the advantages probably come in if you're running balanced.  Bifrost is already darned good, so besting it using similar tech other than the advantages of running balanced is probably quite a challenge. 

 

Thanks IEMCrazy.  Superior analog output stages are very important to a DAC's sound, that was reinforced when I read Skylab's Bifrost review in his comparison to the Van Alstine and Red Wine DACs.  Neither one of those companies, AFAIK, has a digital guru like Schiit's Mike Moffat so I reasoned it must be their tube analog output stages giving the superior sound.  I plan on plugging the Bifrost into a Schiit Lyr, so that should give some of that tube sound.  Given that, I am looking for high levels of accuracy from the Bifrost.

 

However, other than being balanced, I couldn't find anything that describes significant differences between the analog output stages of Bifrost and Gungnir? 

They're both described as discrete, JFET ...

post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAudio View Post

 

Thanks IEMCrazy.  Superior analog output stages are very important to a DAC's sound, that was reinforced when I read Skylab's Bifrost review in his comparison to the Van Alstine and Red Wine DACs.  Neither one of those companies, AFAIK, has a digital guru like Schiit's Mike Moffat so I reasoned it must be their tube analog output stages giving the superior sound.  I plan on plugging the Bifrost into a Schiit Lyr, so that should give some of that tube sound.  Given that, I am looking for high levels of accuracy from the Bifrost.

 

However, other than being balanced, I couldn't find anything that describes significant differences between the analog output stages of Bifrost and Gungnir? 

They're both described as discrete, JFET ...

The analog output is definitely most of what a DAC is about! I'm not certain Jason's gone into specifics about the analog stage anywhere.  I know he's commented in it being a whole new ground-up analog output stage compared to Bifrost, and that it has more power filtration.  But other than that it's different and intended to be better, I don't know that we know a lot about what specifically makes it better other than that the unbalanced outputs are hardware summed from the balanced instead of Bifrost's unbalanced stereo conversion.  But then, Bifrost is already a tough act to beat where unbalanced is concerned.  Whether that adds up to a hill of beans, we'll have to watch and wait! popcorn.gif

post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 

Looking forward to seeing what the Statement line will have to offer ...
 

post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAudio View Post

Looking forward to seeing what the Statement line will have to offer ...
 

 

It should be interesting...Jason's dropped a lot of hints but no one knows exactly what to expect.  My theory is that it'll be NAD M51-like tech for less money.  But I could be proven entirely wrong! redface.gif

post #7 of 39

Couldn't "Gungnir uses two AKM4399 32-bit D/A converters ..." as opposed to Bifrost's one suggest something more than "a bit better"?

 

Jono
 

post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jono338 View Post

Couldn't "Gungnir uses two AKM4399 32-bit D/A converters ..." as opposed to Bifrost's one suggest something more than "a bit better"?

 

Jono
 

 

That goes along with the balanced stage....like I said, if running balanced is where I expect one would see most of the gains.  If running unbalanced I suspect it'll be a bit better but that's not where most of the gains should come from.  And that has to do with the particular chip and the particular balanced design.  Plenty of excellent balanced DACs costing far more than Gungnir use a single chip as well (not the AKM chip specifically.)

 

My point is the part numbers and the number of parts does not a good DAC make.  It's all in the implementation and my interperetation as someone who has not yet heard a Gungnir, based on the information provided is that, as I said, I expect it's definitely better in all ways, but the bulk of the benefits would still be seen when running balanced.  Obviously it has a redesigned analog stage in general which should be useful for both balanced and unbalanced.  But if you were to break down percentages of improvement (wherever that percentage may lie) I think a much greater portion of that would be seen when going balanced.  I may very well be wrong....they've started shipping some, so we'll see.

 

Gungnir may or may not be "more than 'a bit better'", but if it is, the mere fact that it's using two decoder chips instead of one is not likely the primary reason for it being so. One could make a worse DAC using two chips as well.  It was simply one method of implementation they chose to use as part of the end goal.  They could have chosen other methods as well.

post #9 of 39

Hi All,

 

Anyone got thoughts, based on listening, of Bifrost vs Gungnir single ended ?

Would love to know if it's a genuine step up in SE mode.

 

Cheers,

 

Raksy.
 

post #10 of 39

At our recent Dallas Head-Fi meet, I tested an unbalanced HD800 w/Bifrost and Gungnir.

 

Verdict? Gungnir is worth the money. Better separation of instruments, better high-frequency clarity, and larger soundstage. The difference was not subtle.

post #11 of 39

@Nick Dangerous,

 

Did you also think that Gungir has a much more holographic sound?

 

Regards

post #12 of 39

If you mean a wider soundstage with better instrument separation, it certainly does. No snake oil. The improvement is easily detectable with a good amp/headphones.

 

I'm getting one. It's an excellent performer in its price tier. But due to the finicky nature of USB, I'll likely avoid the USB option and use a Musical Fidelity V-Link 192 to do the conversion instead.

post #13 of 39

Seems really great! :)

post #14 of 39

By the way, when talking about soundstage, do you think Bifrost has a big soundstage (especially in width) in comparison to other DACs up to $1000.

I am looking for a good DAC for my LCD2.2 (driven by Schitt Lyr). I like the headphone a lot, but would like to have more air, larger soundstage in it, hence is my question. Thanks.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Dangerous View Post

At our recent Dallas Head-Fi meet, I tested an unbalanced HD800 w/Bifrost and Gungnir.

 

Verdict? Gungnir is worth the money. Better separation of instruments, better high-frequency clarity, and larger soundstage. The difference was not subtle.


Edited by korzena - 10/26/12 at 8:08am
post #15 of 39

Bifrost is good in its tier of performance, but it doesn't sing like DACs in the $750-and-up range. Since you are using the LCD 2.2 (which is an expensive, highly resolving headphone), you will easily hear the difference. I wouldn't recommend it in this application. Instead, I'd consider upgrading the amp.

 

In terms of sound quality, a Decware Taboo amp would outdo a Lyr + Bifrost combination for roughly the same cost. The Taboo is built for low-impedance headphones like the LCD and has a tube crossfeed mode (called "Lucid Mode") which noticeably expands the soundstage. Furthermore, when and if you decide to add a dedicated DAC in the future, it will scale that much higher and bring the LCD to a whole new level. In other words, you wouldn't be "locked in" to a lower level of resolution at the source.


Edited by Nick Dangerous - 10/26/12 at 8:02am
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