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Schiit Gungnir vs Schiit Bifrost w/Uber upgrade

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello from a long-time lurker who has finally mustered up the courage to join this incredibly informative and awesome forum!  TBH I feel like a bit of an imposter, as although I have a nice "Head-Fi" setup, the majority of my listening is done through conventional loudspeakers (I'll spare you the gross details, but basically my ear canals "gum up" with wax if I keep my cans on for more than a few minutes at a time, - I assume this has something to do with trapped heat!).

 

Anyway I have been enjoying the musical delights of my Schiit Bifrost DAC since I purchased it in the summer of 2012.  I was originally using it on the optical input but after a few weeks switched to using its USB input so that I could get the sonic benefits from my 24/192 material.  I soon experienced the well-documented 'screeching' problem, which I rectified by sending my unit in to have its USB board replaced with the updated version.  As well as curing the 'screeching', this also added support for 176.4kHz playback, which was a welcome bonus.  It has been plain sailing since.


Fast forward 18 months and I am now considering sending my Bifrost away again, this time to have the Uber analogue upgrade board installed, an upgrade that has received tremendous praise on this forum.  At a cost of just £70, it would seem silly not to.  However I also have one eye on the Gungnir.  This is the reason why….

 

My current setup is as follows:

Audirvana Plus -> Mac Mini w/Snow Leopard -> USB2 -> Schiit Bifrost DAC

 -> RCA Y-splitter --> Yamaha A-S2000 (amplifier) and Schiit Valhalla (headphones amplifier) -> Tannoy Monitor Gold 15" (loudspeakers) and Sennheiser HD600 (headphones).

 

As shown above, I am currently splitting the Bifrost's single pair of unbalanced outputs into my Yamaha A-S2000 and Schiit Valhalla.  The Gungnir has two pairs of unbalanced outputs, which means I could do away with my Y-splitter.  The Gungnir also has a pair of balanced outputs, meaning I could take advantage of the balanced inputs on my Yamaha A-S2000.  What I'm not certain of however is whether the Gungnir allows you to have both the unbalanced and balanced outputs active at the same time??  If not then this would be a deal-breaker for me.   Plus, I have also read about a potential incompatibility between the balanced output of the Gungnir and balanced input of the A-S2000. Apparently the Gungnir outputs 4Vrms while the Yamaha is only rated to accept 2.8Vrms?? If this is true then it is a major faux pas by Yamaha!

 

Another important consideration is cost.  Upgrading my Bifrost with the Uber board will cost me just 70 GBP, compared to the 850 GBP the Gungnir will set me back(!!).  So as well as offering the increased functionality of twin unbalanced outputs and a set of balanced outputs, I need the Gungnir to offer superior sonic performance over the Uber-modded Bifrost in order to justify the extra outlay.  I'd therefore be grateful to hear from those of you who have had the opportunity to directly compare the Gungnir with the Bifrost w/Uber upgrade.  Is the Gungnir still sonically superior?

 

Thanks in advance (and apologies for such a long first post!).

Edited by ToTo Man - 1/6/14 at 7:27am
post #2 of 12

Honestly, I'm not sure what everybody else thinks, but my experience with both of them is that if you have the Uber'd Bifrost, the analog stage uberboard makes it sound very much like the Gungnir. I've got both and I really should do some A/Bing. I hear the only reason to get the Gungnir is if you're planning on going balanced, like the website says. I'm looking to get the Mjolnir, but the uber'd Bifrost is so good, I'm planning to it on my DNA Stratus in another room. Yes, it's that good (to me). :)

 

I'm seeking out different sounds myself though, so I'm into hearing other suggestions by others. Anybody?

post #3 of 12

Huh!

 

So after doing some A/B'ing, I can definitely say that the Gungnir is DEFINITELY more resolving. More... correctly weighted, with regards to timing and tone (and likely timbre). There's a slight veil on the uber'd Bifrost in comparison. The piano notes hit a little less hard, like there's something... weird about them. Of course, I could be talking crazy, but as I'm listening to it right now, it's like the Bifrost is trying to sound like it's bigger brother, but can't quite reach the heights the big sibling is able to. I'm by no means saying that the Bifrost is a bad value, but now I have to rethink my decision to put the Bifrost on the Stratus. CRAP. D: lol

 

With the Gungnir, it seems like there's more space. The resolving power is superior, so that must be the part of the DAC that is feeding the analog output stage. That the Bifrost does not have.

 

Is it worth the extra money? I'd say so, but then that's just me.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for doing an A/B comparison for me, most appreciated!  On one hand I'm pleased you have found the Gungnir to be more resolving and spacious sounding, but on the other I'm disappointed because it means my wallet might be taking a big hit in the near future! :D  Just to check, when you did the A/B, were you using the unbalanced or balanced outputs on the Gungnir?


Edited by ToTo Man - 1/8/14 at 3:44am
post #5 of 12

So with my setup, I was feeding the unbalanced DNA Stratus with the unbalanced outputs from the outputs of the Gungnir, but! The truth of the matter is that with the Stratus, true balanced operation can be attained from the amplifier only (via the output transformers). It doesn't need 2x the components throughout the line. Check out the DNA Stratus thread for more details:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/609800/dna-stratus-2a3-amplifier-first-impressions

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by neoresin View Post
 

Huh!

 

So after doing some A/B'ing, I can definitely say that the Gungnir is DEFINITELY more resolving. More... correctly weighted, with regards to timing and tone (and likely timbre). There's a slight veil on the uber'd Bifrost in comparison. The piano notes hit a little less hard, like there's something... weird about them. Of course, I could be talking crazy, but as I'm listening to it right now, it's like the Bifrost is trying to sound like it's bigger brother, but can't quite reach the heights the big sibling is able to. I'm by no means saying that the Bifrost is a bad value, but now I have to rethink my decision to put the Bifrost on the Stratus. CRAP. D: lol

 

With the Gungnir, it seems like there's more space. The resolving power is superior, so that must be the part of the DAC that is feeding the analog output stage. That the Bifrost does not have.

 

Is it worth the extra money? I'd say so, but then that's just me.

 

this is a big help and also disappointing ha ha thank you

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToTo Man View Post
 

Thanks for doing an A/B comparison for me, most appreciated!  On one hand I'm pleased you have found the Gungnir to be more resolving and spacious sounding, but on the other I'm disappointed because it means my wallet might be taking a big hit in the near future! :D  Just to check, when you did the A/B, were you using the unbalanced or balanced outputs on the Gungnir?


Did you go ahead and get the gungnir? i'm debating doing the same...

post #8 of 12

Bump for more comments.

 

I don't need balanced outputs.

 

Bifrost Uber USB2 vs. Gungnir USB2.

 

What does the ca. $300 difference buy me? Thanks.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nacc View Post
 


Did you go ahead and get the gungnir? i'm debating doing the same...

Having had a Bifrost Uber on trial for the last week I have decided to go for the Uber upgrade.  A noticeable improvement in mid-frequency transparency and clarity which costs just $70, a no-brainer really.  So my aspirations for a Gungnir are put on ice, at least for the time being.  Probably not worth the significant extra expense until I get serious about using balanced connections throughout my entire system...

post #10 of 12

Thanks for the comments. More from anyone else?

post #11 of 12

I'm also on this debate..but I do prefer Gungnir since it has more outputs

post #12 of 12

Besides Gungnir's extra 'features' like adapticlock for using crappy sources and being fully hardware balanced, are these two Dac's mostly the same?

 

I have the Gungnir myself but i'm recommending a DAC to a friend who's building a headphone rig. If a bifrost gets him 90% of the way there for half the cost then I feel like that's a no-brainer. 

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