Coming from the original I am currently breaking in a brand new Valhalla 2. Below is a very positive 2 cents about this successor from my side. The force is strong in this one. The main reason for buying the Valhalla 2 only a few months after buying the previous one, was my Shure SRH1840 with an impedance of only 65 Ohms. A damping factor of just over 2 times with the original Valhalla, was stretching it too much.
The Shure SRH1840 has a modest bass with ground shaking foundation and I could always hear that via my Fostex HP-A3. The ground shaking element was weakened to say the least using the original Valhalla and is restored again using the Valhalla 2. The bass has more punch and control, not a big surprise looking at damping factor which is now over 18 in low gain mode. In my DIY past I used the thumb-rule of > 15.
The sound of the Valhalla 2 has more clarity when compared to the original but this does not say it all. In combination with that clarity there is a warmth which I would like to describe as the sound signature of tubes. The Valhalla 2 seems to slow down time. You also get the impression of serene silence around you while listening to loud music. I think that description is more poetic than just saying it sounds darker black than before. In combination with the natural mids of the SRH1840, human voices become something special at this price point. Talking about human voices, I never heard more coherent and fluent transitions between dim and loud passages (Body and Soul, Lioness by Amy Winehouse, 44.1kHz 24bit).
There is a change in the projection of the sound stage but I do not know exactly how to describe it. Bottom line, it is more realistic.
I transferred my Cryoset tubes to the new amp: A 6N1P-EV Super Cryo matched pair and a russian 6N6P Gold Grid Cryo matched pair. The Valhalla 2 has much better focus and separation of instruments and voices than before. I think the new topology makes the amp less sensitive for the tolerance of the active components because the tubes are really the same. Focus benefits from narrow tolerances between channels (and the absence of feedback).
Yes I am using the Fostex HP-A3 as a source, together with JRiver's standard crossfeed. An AudioQuest Sydney interconnect sits in between and the digital audio goes over a Carbon USB cable from the same brand (in my defence I would like to say that I do not want flipped PCM bits via isochronous USB transfers).
I already preferred this Schiit over the Fostex phones output because of the wider stage and the more natural sound. The Valhalla 2 brings it to the next level.