Pros: Beautiful aesthetics, great build quality, multi-gain settings, large volume potentiometer, clean sound, RCA output, clean output.
Cons: Comes off a bit bassy and not as lively compared to the Schiit Magni at times
Headphones Used: JAYS a-JAYS Five, TDK BA200, Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs, Grado SR80i, Meelectronics Atlas
Build Quality and Design
What I love about Schiit’s designs are the clean, minimal, and modern elegance they give off. The Asgard 2 follows suit with a minimal design that would look perfectly suited next to an Apple product. What I enjoy about the Asgard 2 is the large volume potentiometer and the white LED. I’m a fan of big knobs and the white LED is a nice touch, slightly drawing my attention to it once in a while.
The Asgard 2 feel incredibly well built, I feel this based upon it’s hefty weight, the sturdiness of the connections in front and back, and the feel of the movable objects. The switches for the gain as well as power give a satisfying click when switched, while the potentiometer offers mild resistance when turned. The RCA jacks offer a little resistance when being plugged into, and the cables sit safely nested into the jacks. Everything about the Asgard 2 feels incredibly well built. I have no idea what the inside looks like and I wouldn’t know what to look for anyway. There are no rattling parts, this feels solid.
I’ve used the Asgard 2 with the headphones listed above, each for a few hours. I then compared the sound to my Magni directly after each song to compare. There’s nothing scientific about my methods, I am simply giving my impressions on how the Asgard 2 sounds in comparison to my impressions of the Magni.
As I said, I’ve used the Schiit Asgard 2 with a variety of headphones, ranging from low impedance IEMs to planars. I tend to listen to my music rather louder than others and I find that the Asgard 2 easily handles any headphone I’ve put through it, offering a clean and powerful sound in every case. I was able to leave the low-gain on for every headphone to have an adequate listening volume though I chose to use the high-gain for some headphones in which the volume knob was near full. I never once noticed any added distortion or added noise even when cranked up, but I wanted to be safe rather than sorry. It’s also worth noting that I never noticed any hiss with any IEM with either amp.
The sound of the Asgard 2 is simply put as full, refined, and mildly warm. I find that vocals shine the most of any other instrument when listening to the Asgard 2, becoming full and intimate, very convincing of being life-like on every headphone that I’ve used them with. I call the Asgard 2 warm, I’m not sure that is entirely fair, the sound is warm compared to the bright Magni, but I don’t feel as if I’m missing any highs.
When comparing the Asgard 2 to the Magni I find the Magni to often sound a bit more detailed and energetic. I attribute this to the Magni having a bright sound in comparison, which is known to have an effect of sounding more detailed. I do find myself head nodding a bit more frequently with the Magni, but the brightness isn’t without it’s faults. The brightness of the Magni worsens sibilance present in recordings and headphones, as well as amplifies distortion in the highs at times. In every test, I’ve found that the Asgard 2 has edged out the Magni for my preferences. I find the Asgard sounds fuller and more intimate. I can’t say that I’ve noticed any soundstage differences between the two, the differences were kept to sound signature and cleanness of the amp.
As I said, I find the Asgard 2 to be a more refined amplifier for offering a more rounded out and clean sound throughout. I’ve found that while the Magni brings added energy to modern recordings, that the Asgard 2 sounds much better with brilliant masterings, such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (Black Triangle). Overall my listening experience with the Asgard 2 has been more pleasurable than the Magni and the ability to change the gain gives the Asgard 2 a leg-up.
TL:DR: Magni is brighter and can sound more energetic/detailed at times, but the Asgard 2 is a cleaner sounding amp that provides a fuller and more fulfilling sound.
It doesn’t particularly sound like I’m singing praise for the Asgard 2 at this point. That is only because I am comparing the Asgard 2 to the more than capable Magni. The Magni has pushed the boundaries of what a $100 amplifier can be and I would gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a budget amp. With that said, when comparing the two I find the Asgard 2 to be a worthy upgrade for a few reasons. The added RCA output on the Asgard 2 allows for speakers to be connected, making it a far more versatile amplifier, the high and low gain offers better compatibility in comparison to the Magni and the Asgard 2 offers more power, more cleanly than the Magni.
The Asgard 2 is a refined and full sounding amplifier that I highly recommend to anyone considering an amplifier in this price range, especially if you already have a Schiit Modi to keep the aesthetics together. Well done Schiit, well done.
See more pictures here.