Asgard is a fully discrete, Class A, single-ended JFET/MOSFET headphone amplifier with no overall...

Schiit Asgard Headphone Amplifier

Average User Rating:
4.63636/5,
  • Asgard is a fully discrete, Class A, single-ended JFET/MOSFET headphone amplifier with no overall feedback and a noninverting circuit topology. Its high-current design makes it uniquely suitable for low-impedance headphones, and its extremely low-noise design means it is virtually silent, even on the highest-efficiency headphones.

    Asgard features audiophile-quality parts throughout, including an Alps Blue Velvet pot, Wima and Nichicon capacitors, and Dale resistors, and is made in the USA.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Redcarmoose
    5.0/5,
    "Retro and Futuristic "
    Pros - Easy Non-complicated Perfection
    Cons - It Gets Warm, But That's The Cool Part
    The Schiit Asgard One Headphone Amplifier
     

     
     
    Ramblings:
    Head-Fi is a roller-coaster! As consumers we are always blasted by the front page of Head-Fi and it's both easy to get confused and overwhelmed as to what would be useful in an audio set up. In the 1970s everyone had big audio receivers. These devices had phono amps and FM tuners. Some could power multiple speakers and headphones. These units were the hub of many a stereo. Manufactures would challenge themselves to add as many options as possible. If you look back it actually started to get comical as the units at one point had 8 track tape players coming out the front and turntables on top. It seems consumers were attempting to get the most options possible for their money.
     
     
    Minimalism Hits The Streets:
    Then something changed. Separates introduced the idea that a purist just wanted one piece of equipment to do the job. The equipment became simple and clean in look. Knobs were less and less and the simplicity was in many ways like art. Power-amps had only one switch, off and on. Maybe we were lucky and they added two meters to see what power was put out? Many understood that manufactures were putting as cheap of parts as possible to make those complicated music stations do everything. So out of this paranoia a return to simple quality started with single intent units becoming the new rage. The future was these separates were then stacked one on-top of another and the end result was you had all the options as the receivers offered only with better quality.
     
     
    The Look:
    In 2010 a new company with a funny name showed-up but returned to the audio world the sexy simplistic minimalist design. They were different in their product look, the fact they were 100% USA built, and revolutionary in audio-concept ideas. What did this thing do? It was a headphone amp. Unlike the Asgard Two it didn't even act as a preamp. The back offered a place to input your power-cord and a set of gold-plated single ended inputs. It had a single on and off lever. That was it. The front held a volume knob and a 1/4 inch input for a pair of headphones. That was it. So for many just this simplicity was art. The fact that the bottom held 16 recessed Phillips screws had an industrial magic. The top? The top held only 4 flush Phillips screws and a gray metal air-vent. The sides, both right and left held gray metal air vents. 75% of the casework was this extruded aluminum single piece. So from a minimalist viewpoint it was very simple. The volume control again was just a simple machined aluminum knob. The volume knob only raised or lowered the volume. It did have one indicator, a single white LED which would inform you the amp was on. Could this be made any more simple?
     
    More Interesting History:
    To read about the Schiit Asgard One is a history about Schiit in a way. There was a small amount of fuss in the beginning and Schiit ended up putting a servo-relay which goes into action as to delay any power to the 1/4 inch headphone jack till a couple moments after the amp is turned on. The inventor of the O2 amp (NwAvGuy) claimed that Schiit put too much money into the fancy casework and that a diaphragm of an opened k701 headphone could be seen extruding to a dangerous level of extrusion upon turning the amp on. Schiit canceled the first production run of boards. The (NwAvGuy) the designer of the O2 amp ended up being updated on his Head-Fi Membership in the fireworks. The very first Asgards had a slight hum too. So maybe some would read all this and think Schiit is a second-rate company? Still if you read their account of the story they chalk it all up as a learning experience. We live in the information age and this baby being born had a couple issues, though nothing truly great in life is easy. It turns out that today the Asgard Two is the most reliable of all the Schiit products. So interestingly one of the first of the company products was attacked both on quality control issues and even questioned as to their manner of case work choices. Young companies with no history will at times actually become the target of people who just simply think they know better. It's only after history is made and respect is earned, that these "know it alls" tend to move on. Schiit now has a whole string of amps and DACs under it's belt, and has moved onto to bigger and more supportive real-estate. So our humble Asgard One now kinda sits as a simple piece of history. Most of us who have started business and have both won and lost in this game of chance have come to hold this gamble of sorts as cool. Cool too when stuff has a happy ending. In reality any small start-up has some guy holding his arm out, hoping it does not get cut-off. I have ended being joyful to be a part of this history that has enriched many of a Head-Fi members life. This review is a retrospect, and a reminder that some of the best things in life are simple. The photographs don't show a new product, but a product which has been used for years and years. A product with scratches and character.
     
    The Application:
    This amplifier can be placed in line between a DAC or phono-preamp. You can run a simple RCA cable to a mini-plug to a phone or IPod. All it does is give you a little more power to drive your hard to drive full size headphone or even to get a better sound from your easy to drive headphones. Pretty much all the time your going to get an improvement. It's this simple "Magic-Box" effect that really comes into play here. Most of the time in audio, the most direct path is the best sounding. In our history of audio the idea of stringing equipment after equipment, just for the sake of using all the toys, has never been a good idea. The more inter-connects, the more convolutions and back paths typically get you farther from audio truth. It's just that the most direct path is normally the most pure and best sounding.
     
    A Wire With Gain:
    In concept this is what everyone wants. The idea of just getting a pure amplification of signal with no color or change is what the goal is. Sadly though audio life is never normally so simple. Normally the question is if the amp is getting out of the way, and showing us character we know exists elsewhere. Tube amps tend to add a very slight or at times very noticeable warmth to the audio chain. There is nothing wrong with viewing the world in rose colored glasses. At times this style of color can go on to make things more listenable. But in the end the color is in reality keeping us just slightly from audio truth. After a while the mind can figure out where the fuzzy effect is taking place and the area of signal that is being smeared. That is where solid-state comes into play. Solid-state when done right should be a reference tool of power. If your confident of your quality, it should then become an audio microscope used to view truth, allowing you to identify anything else in your system which adds color, and that's exactly what the Asgard does. It steps out of the way and just becomes clear as glass adding nothing or taking away anything from the signal.
     
    Treble:
    The Asgard has a very detailed treble. There is a nice sound-stage and presence to everything. Having been used to tube amps I maybe feel that the Asgard is slightly bright, but that could just be me. The amp is in reality just being a wire with gain, completely with out color or introducing sonic artifacts of any style. Never are we finding the treble too bright or holding any distortion at any volume. I'm sure there would be equipment to study the distortion levels but none here in the range of human ear perception.
     
    The Mid-range:
    I have to say that this amplifier does a great mid range. I do own some amplifiers which tend to maybe excel at the mid range detail even just slightly better than the Asgard but that is really a reach. The overall romance here is how everything is in one single coherent placement. The treble connects naturally with the mids and the mids connect naturally with the bass.
     
    The Bass:
    Most of the time it could be stated that this amp produces the quintessential audiophile bass. That bass is not boomy or even present except when shown by the source. Maybe off-hand I would call this a little thin. Still not thin in a bad way but thin in a detailed way. If I was given the choice of heavy bass color or this combination of clarity and speed, I'm choosing this. Most of us have our amps which just exude color and boomy non-clear bass. Wanting something that for all intensive purposes is what an audio glass block is describes the character of the Asgard One. So you may wonder if that is boring? The amp has no outstanding character of it's own. It's not sexy in that regard. It really does nothing. It's a sheet of blank notebook paper, there is nothing written on it. It's that lack of personality which takes a while to learn to love.
     
    The Sound In Ending:
    It's not exciting at first. So in many ways it's an underwhelming experience which then grows on you as you learn the character of all your other pieces of equipment. The amp just has no personality of it's own. None. So really that's the best part. A no-nonsense approach which just gets out of the way. Clean and pure.
     
    The Build:
    Just like the sound, the build takes a while to fully understand. There is nothing which stands out except this simple ease of use and clean design applications. I thought the on and off switch would become an issue as it sticks way out beyond the amp, but it has worked fine for years and years. It gets a little hot which may surprise folks at first. After you realize that getting hot is normal, you tend to ignore the heat. The volume knob has a super nice feel being both smooth and sturdy. The rubber feet they give you tend to work, but I could never fully get used to placing the amp on end. You can see how your going to get better airflow going end to end but the amp seems like it could get knocked over by a random nudge? All and all the RCA jacks are rock solid, the amp tends to just work as intended day in and day out.
     
     
    In Ending:
    You can read the specifications all day long. You can read the reviews or you can just get one. The new Asgard Two is pretty much exactly the same. It sounds the same but can also be used as a preamp. Even on the used market, these are reliable and strong values to find. It's not like they need to be improved on in any sense. The Asgard can power all but maybe the most power hungry headphones with ease. It's also quiet enough to run your most sensitive IEMs with no perceivable noisefloor or channel imbalance at low volume. Due to the simplicity of design the unit ends up having a number of applications being used as an amp for TVs with headphones, or home headphone cinema applications. You can hook it up on the other end of a phone for an amp, or hook it up to any portable DAC. You can plug a phone into it and have a complete Head-Fi station. At the 2016 retail they are a rare value and a great purchase on the used market, as this technology is never really going to be improved upon, how could it, it's just an amp? It's built great, with not a single piece of plastic to be noted. It's been explained as the least profitable product margin (per unit) the company makes but also gives them the least warranty trouble and ends up as a loyal cornerstone product in their history. This was the baby that started it all and got the plane off the ground.
     
    This product  just emits a very cool meat and potatoes vibe. It's not boring but at the same time creates no fuss. It's a down to earth product doing a down to earth job in an audio world floating in the hype zone far from reality at times. In ending it's kind of like an old car, it's heavy and just keeps working. It has stood the test of time and just sits there being what it is.
     
     

     







  2. Hi-Fi'er
    5.0/5,
    "Excellent in Price Category and Value"
    Pros - Detailed, Realistic Sounding, Bassier, Deeper, Smoother and Wider Soundstage
    Cons - Larger that younger siblings; gets warm including the volume knob, but nothing crazy.
    I've been reading so many replies and reviews how the O2, Magni and Vali sound the same. After weeks of listening to all of them, (yes I have them all) they are all not exactly the same . I've been using the same music and all else in the system is the same and have only changed the amps. Started with O2, then went to Magni. Yes the Magni and O2 sound very close. The Magni does sound a tad processed and thin compared to O2 but the Magni does have more authority as it is more powerful in comparison even though they all seem to struggle reproducing the source.
     
    Then I went to the Vali. The Vali sounds nothing like the others. It's slightly more smoother and warmer, more of a natural sound but ever so slightly, and more realistic sounding. I was enjoying it very much for weeks. Then I decided to get the Asgard 2. Why? I read so much about it I just had to try it. The Vali also seem to struggle reproducing the source which makes sense as it's less powerful.
     
    I have to say the Asgard 2 is is not like any of the others. Why have some said there is no difference? I'm suspecting what is happening is that people are not using high resolution (or not high enough resolution) tracks or headphones to distinguish the difference OR they just don't hear the difference due to their hearing biology. As a side note: I also did an electronic spectrum hearing test to verify my hearing at different frequencies to eliminate that factor, and I passed 100%. 
     
    The Asgard 2; is in a whole other class. The Asgard 2 with the same headphones (HE-400) sound way more detailedrealisticbassierdeeper, smoother and wider is the best way to explain it with all else in the system being the same. The Mids seem more forward and lush. The Asgard 2 does not appear to add any color to the sound, but I may say on a scale from 1-100% if I had to say how much I think it does add coloration, maybe 10-20% which is not relevant to be considered significant, it's a really tiny amount but pleasant. The gain is also contributing to the level of authority also as it does have more gain than all the others even though it's also rated at 32 ohms at 1.0W RMS.
     
    As for noise (hiss); No hiss at any volume level either on High or Low gain either connected or not connected to a source with HE-400, so if you have higher impedance headphones there should be no worries.
     
    As for humming; it's there, but like others have stated, it's barely noticeable to non existent and that is an exaggeration even at least for my model. My findings are this; you have to be in a dead silent room and paste your ear on the chassis right over the transformer to hear it and even then it's so tiny of a sound there is no way anyone can hear this humming unless they are intentionally to try to hear it. Even if you put your ear on top of the amp over the grill area or to the side where the transformer is located, you can't hear it still. If your ear is one inch away from the same location you just can't possibly hear it unless you are super human! Shiit has done an excellent job in resolving this issue as others have stated overall.
     
    As for the volume knob getting warm, it's so minor I can't say it's even an issue. But here is a tip if it really bothers you or yours gets possibly hotter than you like. I have done this with all my Shiit amps but not due to heat issues but just ease of turning the volume knob. Get 3 O-rings that are a tad smaller in diameter than the volume knob and place them over the volume knob.  On the Asgard 2 it makes it easier to turn the volume knob also but the added advantage is you won't feel any heat off the knob. Plus it looks nice too!
     
    My serial is 002026 so I would hope all higher models do not have any of these issues or that they don't creep back into production. So for anyone that is thinking about the Asgard 2, YES it's worth it. You WILL hear a difference with respect to what was mentioned above about headphones, music quality rate and biology. This amp just sound like an actual amp, it sound "real" while the others mentioned sound like they're struggling to making an effort to process the sound, but the Asgard 2 seems to do it effortlessly with authority is another nice way to describe it. 
     
    I hope this helps anyone who maybe interested in the Asgard 2. 
     
    Cheers.
    davenindigo and jk47 like this.
  3. Jaxblack11
    4.0/5,
    "My First Amp!!"
    Pros - Looks good, warm and relaxed sound
    Cons - Not a lot of treble, it may lack detail
    Ever since I became fascinated with sound and music (two or three years ago) I quickly realized audio gear doesn't come cheap. I was forced to only really buy budget gear unless it was my birthday or some kind of holiday. Anyways, Christmas was a week away and I needed to pick a few headphones, a dac, and an amp. This time I could get something truly special, I looked around at reviews on head-fi and I found Schiit! After browsing Schiit's website and laughing from there faq, I knew the Asgard was for me. 
     
    Build Quality and Design
     
    I think it looks great! At first I wasn't a huge fan of the power switch being on the back but it probably would have looked ugly on the front. The entire body is rock solid, nothing feels flimsy or loose and nothing pushes in when force is applied. If you've been reading reviews of the Asgard then you probably have heard a lot about how the amp gets EXTREMELY HOT, but it's really nothing to go crazy about. I personally like my gear to get hot because it gives a sense of power and strength, plus it makes my friends (Beats By Dre users) think it could power a city.
     
    Sound
     
    My headphone collection: Grado SR225i, AKG K702, Audio-Technica ATH-A900x.
    I only really use my K702's for gaming because of their amazing imaging and soundstage but for music I was never really a huge fan. I love my a900x's! I use them for all music genres and gaming as well as movies although I don't really watch movies much because itunes sounds bad and blu-ray is too expensive. I use my Grado's mostly for rock and acoustic stuff. I sometimes use the tape mod and sometimes I don't, it really just depends on what I'm listening to. Before Asgard, I was using the dreadful Hifiman EF2A to power my AKG's (I didn't have the Grado's or A-T's at the time.) It was horrifying sounding! Trying to listen to John Mayer was like trying to wrestle five bears while wearing roller skates!! Nothing against Hifiman, but that amp just wasn't for me. My purchase made me feel terrible for a month so I decided I would research the heck out of any piece of audio gear I purchased next. After spending some time looking at different amps on head fi and other sites it was one week before christmas and I went with the Schiit. 
     
    As of now I really like my Asgard. It has a warm, relaxed, slightly dry and sterile sound signature. It's very smooth but I wouldn't call it watery or colorful and there is not a lot of treble really going on. At times I can get bored and I end up switching to speakers because of the lack of treble and perhaps detail. The way i'm describing it's sound may not seem pleasant but all of these unpleasant characteristics combine to make a nice smooth and relaxing yet powerful experience that goes well with Grado's.
     
    Thats my review! As a head fi newbie I hope anybody that read it enjoyed it and maybe helped them make a decision. By the way, I only use lossless files when listening. Even though i'm just a teenager, I don't mess around with itunes and mp3's. Thanks again for reading my review.

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