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2013 Head-Fi Winter Gift Guide (Desktop Amps & DACs)
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Schiit Bifrost Uber Analog Upgrade - Page 2post #16 of 5715/1/13 at 7:13amCan someone share exactly what über upgrade is all about? The description on their site is detailed, but I think I need some more info. Am I correct in saying it does a better job of removing capacitor noise from the signal chain? What else does it do and how noticeable will it be? I guess either way we should find out today when folks receive their units.
Gear mentioned in this thread:post #17 of 5715/1/13 at 7:41amQuote:Originally Posted by BobDob25
Can someone share exactly what über upgrade is all about? The description on their site is detailed, but I think I need some more info. Am I correct in saying it does a better job of removing capacitor noise from the signal chain? What else does it do and how noticeable will it be? I guess either way we should find out today when folks receive their units.
+1post #18 of 5715/1/13 at 8:01amJust to add, I'm also curious if this removes the clicking noise attributed to bifrost when connected via toslink. I beleive a user in the schiit users thread reported clicking when songs start, torrents are finished, etc.post #19 of 5715/1/13 at 9:54am
Just installed the Uber Analog board and was immediately glad I spent the $70.
I use Mining for Gold & Misguided Angel from Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Revisited and Letters from 9th Ward, Walk Away Rene from Rickie Lee Jones' Girl at Her Volcano (Japanese Remaster) for any testing to compare any tweak - software or hardware. It was very easy to hear much less grain and quieter backgrounds. I am very impressed.post #20 of 5715/1/13 at 10:13amQuote:Originally Posted by BLenarcik
Just installed the Uber Analog board and was immediately glad I spent the $70.
I use Mining for Gold & Misguided Angel from Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Revisited and Letters from 9th Ward, Walk Away Rene from Rickie Lee Jones' Girl at Her Volcano (Japanese Remaster) for any testing to compare any tweak - software or hardware. It was very easy to hear much less grain and quieter backgrounds. I am very impressed.
Sold. All i needed to hear.post #21 of 5715/2/13 at 6:29amQuote:
I'm 99.99% sure that the Uber upgrade will have no effect on the clicking. The clicking is the mechanical sound of a relay that Schiit has chosen to use. The clicking occurs when an input on the Bifrost locks onto a signal (any input, not just Toslink), or when you change to a new sampling rate. You can find this explanation on Schiit's "About Bifrost" page on their website:
Hey, this Bifrost I got clicks! What’s up with that?
It’s just the muting relay, operating normally. We chose a relay rather than relying on the D/A chip’s soft mute, since it’s safer and less sonically invasive.
If you hook up your Bifrost and never change the input, then the clicking won't bother you. Such is the case with the Bifrost I use in my office setup, with USB output from my laptop. Because the USB output remains a steady "always on" signal, and because I don't change to a different input on the DAC, and because the sampling rate remains consistent, the Bifrost quietly does its job of making music. Same goes for another Bifrost that I use with a Sonos zone player -- the "always on" digital output of the Sonos into the Bifrost's coax S/PDIF input produces a single click when the Bifrost locks on to the signal, then no more clicking, just uninterrupted music.
But it's different if you use the digital output from a CD player into the Bifrost's S/PDIF input. If, like many CD players, your player mutes the digital output when not in "Play" mode, then each and every time you push "Play" to start a CD, the Bifrost will emit a brief series of clicks as it tries to lock onto the digital output from the CD player. The same clicking also occurs when you manually skip from one track to another -- the CD player mutes the digital output when it searches for the track you've selected, and then when it reaches the selected track and unmutes, the Bifrost relay clicks again (in my experience, usually a few times before locking onto the signal). I've tried three CD players (Rotel, Marantz, Classe), and all cause the clicking with the Bifrost.
I still have lots of music on CD, unripped to NAS (slowly getting there, but the paying job does get in the way...). I thought of trying Schiit's higher-priced Gungnir DAC with my CD player, but the Gungnir also uses the mechanical relay. I am hoping that the much-anticipated "Statement DAC" from Schiit avoids the noisy mechanical relay.
In the system in which I often use the CD player as my source, I don't use a Bifrost, because that clicking is just annoying enough to get in the way of the music. (I use a Rega DAC instead.) But in my office system and in the room with Sonos player, I greatly enjoy the performance of the Bifrost, which doesn't click as long as it is fed an uninterrupted digital signal.
Well, I just took the plunge and got one of my Bifrosts set up for the Uber upgrade. I quickly received authorization from Schiit to return it, so I'll be shipping it to them today. I hope I like the upgrade as much as BLenarcik does.post #22 of 5715/2/13 at 6:38ampost #23 of 5715/3/13 at 2:30amWow, the "uber" upgrade makes an enormous difference. Much more clarity, "air" and overall resolution over the non-"uber" version. I have not had enough time to truly make a comparison, but my recommendation to anyone considering a Bifrost is to go for the upgrade.
I am going to switch back to the previous analog board this weekend to do some comparisons, so I will do a photo guide to swapping out the board soon.post #24 of 5715/3/13 at 4:37amQuote:Originally Posted by toschek
Wow, the "uber" upgrade makes an enormous difference. Much more clarity, "air" and overall resolution over the non-"uber" version. I have not had enough time to truly make a comparison, but my recommendation to anyone considering a Bifrost is to go for the upgrade.
I am going to switch back to the previous analog board this weekend to do some comparisons, so I will do a photo guide to swapping out the board soon.
Thanks in advance for the PIC guide. I want to do this, and could muck my way through the swap, but a users guide makes life easier.post #25 of 5715/3/13 at 8:32am
Here we go:
First, remove the four screws on the top:
Then, remove the eleven screws on the bottom:
Gently pull the circuit board housing out of the chassis:
Keep track of your select button, and turn the circuit board housing over:
remove the four retainer screws from the back of the circuit board housing:
Pull the circuit board out and flip it over, then remove the two screws retaining the analog daughter board :
remove the analog daughter board, careful with the pins:
And then, reverse the process. I found that this is the best position to reinsert the circuit board housing with the chassis. This makes sure that the metal select button does not cause frustration:
Good luck!post #26 of 5715/3/13 at 9:02am
Thanks to toschek for the how-to guide and great photos. One question for you, toschek -- did you run into any difficulty in getting the three front-panel LEDs to line up when you re-assembled the DAC? Any tips for success in that part of the task?
Even though I've sent my Bifrost to Schiit to have them install the Uber board, I'm tempted, when it returns, to take it apart to gain access to the LEDs in order to figure out some way to dim them. They are very bright!post #27 of 5715/3/13 at 9:12am
Thanks for that overview, toschek - About to order an Uber analog board myself, and this should come in handy. I notice you didn't include a photo of the Uber PCB - Just curious, is its appearance markedly different from the stock board? Also, any additional listening notes to add?
post #28 of 5715/3/13 at 10:00amQuote:
It seems the popular switch to blue LEDs on most new equipment in many cases yields this complaint - An easy solution for any component that exhibits the "blinding light" syndrome (Bifrost included) is to cover the LED with a fairly small dot of blue electrical tape (so the dot's sticky edge adheres to the front panel). Results include a much less bright LED, a deeper blue color (as the tape is fairly translucent), and its appearance is non-obtrusive after the unit is shut off.post #29 of 5715/3/13 at 10:29ampost #30 of 5715/3/13 at 11:06am
There's a bit of uncertainty going on in the other thread, but if you compare the picture of Bifrost's "old" board (shown here: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/schiit2/open1_big.jpg or on Schiit's site still, probably) the board in toschek's photos IS the Uber board - I suspect he just disassembled his Bifrost to take the photos. However, there's another user in the other Official Schiit DACs thread who only ordered the new USB2 board (which, it appears, toschek also has installed?) and not the Uber board, but the pictures he provided also show a Bifrost with a different DAC/analog board than the one in the 6moons picture (or how mine looks, I've disassembled mine before), and pretty much identical to toschek's. That user doesn't know why his looks like the Uber board, though, as he purchased his Bifrost well before the Uber announcement. So, either Schiit has been putting semi-Uber boards in Bifrosts for some time now, or complete ones, without an official announcement, or something or another, no one's had any confirmation from Jason.
Anyway, glad to hear the Uber feedback has been pretty much unanimously positive so far - such a steal for a mere $70. The more I deal with Schiit, the more I find it odd when, for instance, another audio dealer I have purchased from is going to go through a dealer after doing direct sales. I understand the logistics behind sales can be a pain, but for your user the price savings and therefore value are just enormous.
- Schiit Bifrost Uber Analog Upgrade
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