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I A/B tested a Schiit Asgard and a Schiit Valhalla today - Very surprising results

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I could not tell them apart at all.  Based on everything I've read about tubes and tube amps, I found this to be incredibly surprising.  I built an A/B switchbox for comparing source components and have run a couple of tests.  I'm using a rockboxed iPod classic with FLAC files, and a pair of Sony SA-5000.  The Valhalla has stock tubes.

 

I tried a variety of tracks in different Genres.  Across all of them, I could discern no difference in sound what so ever.  Has anyone else ever observed something similar from these two amps?  Perhaps my hearing is not too discerning, but I have definitely heard tangible differences in other component tests with the same set up.

 

Is my test fundamentally flawed somehow?  Is it possible that a similar configuration/layout of the innards is more meaningful than the fact that one uses tubes?  (I have no idea if the rest of the circuitry is similar).  Or maybe I'm just deaf :)

 

post #2 of 7

The Sony MDR SA-5000 are only 70-Ohm, so you not really pushing the amplifiers.

Maybe testing with 250-Ohm, 300-Ohm or 600-Ohm headphones, might show a difference?

post #3 of 7

ipod dac and rather bright headphones which may not be the last word in transparency as well as high sensitivity, won't make a huge difference. my denon/fostex headphones are similar, hard to tell a difference many times. grados are the same.

 

better gear, better source, etc, will make it easier to tell the difference

post #4 of 7

I think it's good to be skeptical of differences between components, but you'd be more likely to hear a difference (if there is one) with a more resolving DAC or a pair of headphones that are less suited for an OTL. I suppose it could be possible that the switchbox is coloring the sound, but this seems unlikely. 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

I think it's good to be skeptical of differences between components, but you'd be more likely to hear a difference (if there is one) with a more resolving DAC or a pair of headphones that are less suited for an OTL. I suppose it could be possible that the switchbox is coloring the sound, but this seems unlikely. 

What does OTL stand for?  I will definitely try a better DAC as soon as I am able.  The switch box is using pretty standard speaker wire, which could theoretically be a problem.  I can't hear any change in the sound coming through it, but I'll set up a double blind test for that as soon as I can get a buddy to help me out,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubstep Girl View Post
 

ipod dac and rather bright headphones which may not be the last word in transparency as well as high sensitivity, won't make a huge difference. my denon/fostex headphones are similar, hard to tell a difference many times. grados are the same.

 

better gear, better source, etc, will make it easier to tell the difference

I will be able to test with a better source later this week, but I don't have the option right now.  I do have a pair of HD-700's that I can try, but I was operating under the impression that the SA5K should be near the top of the transparency range.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

The Sony MDR SA-5000 are only 70-Ohm, so you not really pushing the amplifiers.

Maybe testing with 250-Ohm, 300-Ohm or 600-Ohm headphones, might show a difference?

I have a pair of 250 ohm dt990's.  I'll give those a shot next.

post #6 of 7

OTL is output transformer-less, a type of circuit design. In general, OTL designs are better suited for high impedance headphones because they put out less power into lower-impedance loads (kind of the opposite of what transformer-coupled amps do):

For example...

Asgard 2 specs:

Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1.0W
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.0W
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 380mW
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 190mW

Valhalla specs:
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 100mW
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 420mW
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 210mW

As you can see, Valhalla has more power than Asgard at 300 and 600 ohms, but only 10% as much at 50 ohms. 32 ohms isn't even listed, but it's probably less still. 

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by morph2k4 View Post
 

I will be able to test with a better source later this week, but I don't have the option right now.  I do have a pair of HD-700's that I can try, but I was operating under the impression that the SA5K should be near the top of the transparency range.  

 

 

 

transparency, nope. but im sure they're quite detailed headphones.

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