Bifrost is the world's most affordable fully upgradable DAC, featuring 32-bit D/A conversion, a...

Schiit Audio Bifrost DAC

Average User Rating:
4.85714/5,
  • Bifrost is the world's most affordable fully upgradable DAC, featuring 32-bit D/A conversion, a fully discrete analog section, and a sophisticated bit-perfect clock management system, together with one of the most advanced asynchronous USB 2.0 inputs available (optional), as well as SPDIF coaxial and optical inputs, all with 24/192 capability. Fully Upgradable: The Future-Proof DAC
 Worried about rapidly-changing USB input technology? Concerned about future advances in D/A conversion? Bifrost's modular design uses separate, USB Input and DAC/Analog cards. The result? A virtually future-proof DAC that won't end up in the dumpster. AKM4399 D/A Converter and Discrete Analog Section
 Even without considering upgradability, Bifrost offers incredible value. Consider its AKM4399 32 bit D/A converter, one of the highest performance DACs in the world. Also consider that Bifrost uses a fully discrete, low noise JFET analog section-just like multi-thousand-dollar DACs. Advanced Bitperfect Clock Management
 Most DACs in this price range is sacrifice every single one of your original music samples to get their 192kHz spec. Every input is routed through a sample rate converter and upsampled to 24/192. Bifrost dispenses with the sample rate converter and uses a sophisticated master clock management system to deliver bit-perfect data to the DAC, preserving all the original samples--whether it's 16/44.1 or 24/192. Specifications* Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional) 
Input Capability: up to 24/192 for all inputs
Input Receiver, SPDIF: Crystal Semiconductor CS8416
 Input Receiver, USB: C-Media CM6631A D/A Conversion IC: AKM4399 
Analog Summing, Filtering: Fully Discrete, JFET differential topology Output: RCA (single-ended) 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms

Recent User Reviews

  1. Army-Firedawg
    5.0/5,
    "A DAC that's leagues above the others"
    Pros - Outstanding sound, build quality, and design.
    Cons - I guess that it doesn't support DSD on its own.
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    I often say when talking to either audio enthusiasts or people inquiring about my gear that this is a never ending quest in finding what’s better. I compare it to opening Pandora's box. Before we get a taste of what's possible, we’re more than content spending $10-20 on headphones. But once we’ve been tainted we grave to make it better and find the sound that we enjoy the most, often times spending multiples more money on a product that’s fractionally better than our current gear. And I am of no exception to this. In fact it’s what led me to the purchase of the Schiit Bifrost 4490 when I already had a fantastic combi unit (Aune X1s [and now the purchase of the PS Audio DL3 I’ve now {which I’ll compare to as well}]).

    I continuously kept hearing how great this dac was for its price and seeing as it was the #1 DAC on head-fi (before the website layout change [I’ve no idea how to find the current listings]) I just had to pull the trigger on it. So fast forward almost a year and I would like to now share my thoughts on just how I see the Schiit Bifrost 4490 performs.



    A little about me

    I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.

    I'm a 26 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord, North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.

    My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.

    Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.

    My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

    Equipment used at least some point during the review

    -Amp.

    -Schiit Lyr 2

    -w/ matched '68 Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8 tubes

    -SPL Audio Phonitor e

    -iFi Audio iCAN Pro

    -Headphones

    -Meze Headphones

    -99 Classics

    -Empire Ears Hermes VI

    -Bowers & Wilkins P7

    -Sennheiser HD650

    -Audio-Technica

    -ATH-W5000

    -ATH-W1000Z

    -ATH-AD1000X

    -ATH-A550Z

    -I’m sure there’s many MANY other headphones I haven’t included on this list that have been listened to during my time with the Schiit Bifrost 4490, but there’s just too many to list.

    -Sources

    -LG V20

    -Playing Tidal Hifi, Pandora, YouTube, and various lossless FLAC etc... music

    -Luxury & Precision L3

    -Misc. Equipment

    -Source cleaner

    -iFi Nano iUSB3.0

    Disclaimer

    I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. I purchased this product with my own money off the Head-Fi classifieds.

    The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

    The Opening Experience

    Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience

    Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.

    As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’

    This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?

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    Now, I will be upfront and disclose that I purchased this DAC second hand and it didn’t come in its original packaging. However, I also purchased the Lyr 2 which did come exactly as new, Schiit also packages their models similarly (which can be seen on many other unboxing videos) so I will be communicating off that. But again I will state, I personally did not open the Bifrost 4490 in its original packaging.

    The Schiit Bifrost 4490, and all other variants of the Bifrost model, come in a standard white cardboard box with the only identifying mark is the oh so well known Schiit logo on the sides along with the corresponding model number written in a box next it.

    As you open the box you’re greeted by, IMO, a very nice presentation and care given to a product to ensure it arrives safely and in one piece. Each side of the unit is encased in a very firm foam material that, from appearance (I never tested the durability myself), seems to be able to handle any reasonable falls or hits; also, right on top is the user/instruction manual. Finally the product itself is covered with a plastic sleeve to prevent dust from entering the unit, which even it is sealed by a Schiit quality approved sticker. Lastly, on the bottom of the package, you’ve the power cable.

    I will say that Schiit does a fantastic job at packaging their products and keeping them safe until they arrive at their customer's doorstep. They then present their product so that us as enthusiasts are genuinely excited to hook it up and hear what ti can really do. This is exactly the kind if thing I look for in a “handshake” given by a company in their unboxing experience. And finally, this is only a personal thing and doesn’t effect the review, rather for or against, but Schiit is an American based company that also builds their products here; and I personally really respect that.


    Construction

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    Luckily, this is an area that I rarely find a company slack in (in relation to DAC’s), and the Schiit Bifrost 4490 is of no exception. The main chassis is built of a beautiful and very durable U shaped piece of aluminum that covers the front, top, & bottom, while the sides and back are of a thinner metal that is meant for heat dampening. Getting into a little more detail and starting with the front and proceeding left to right then top to bottom, the front holds the Bifrost (which regardless if you’ve the original, 4490, or multibit model this doesn’t change) logo and the source selector button (USB, Toslink, Coaxial) with the corresponding selections LED indicator lights. The top only has the Schiit logo and cooling vent ports. Finally the business end, the back. The back shows a sticker as to which model you own, RCA outputs, a little information about the unit, the Coaxial input, USB input, Toslink input, power switch, and finally the power cable port.

    The Bifrost has a really good weight to it as well and, to me, doesn’t feel cheap or at all flimsy. In fact this DAC feels way better than what I’d personally expect to find at this price point.

    Despite being able to see the screws that are holding the DAC together, this is also one of the cleanest units I’ve seen. So in addition be being able to be a strong performer, it’s a great looker as well, and when matched to its corresponding Schiit stack partner (Valhalla 2 or Lyr 2) the look really goes nicely together. And it’s for all of the above mentioned points that I feel Schiit did an outstanding job with their Bifrost model. I’m confident that any who choose to buy one will have it satisfy their audio needs for many years to come.


    Specifications (copied straight from the Manufacturers website)


    Bifrost

    D/A Conversion IC: AKM Verita® AK4490

    Analog Stage: Fully discrete, DC coupled

    Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB, 2Hz-100KHz, -1dB 


    Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS


    THD: <0.003%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output


    IMD: <0.004%, CCIR


    S/N: >108dB, referenced to 2V RMS

    Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB

    Input Capability: up to 24/192 for all inputs, including 24/176.4

    Input Receiver, SPDIF: AK4113, USB: C-Media CM6631A

    Output: RCA (single-ended)


    Output Impedance: 75 ohms

    Power supply: 5 stages of regulation, including separate supplies for critical digital and analog sections.

    Upgradability: Separate, modular USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Card are snap-in replaceable.

    Power Consumption: 12W


    Size: 9 x 6.75 x 2.25”


    Weight: 5 lbs



    Sound

    I’m finally to the part I’ve been most excited to talk about. Now granted, I’ve reviewed a fair number of products and have had the pleasure of being able to listen to and demo a great deal more. And I say that not to brag, not even remotely, for there’s people on here who’ve forgotten about more products than I’ll ever have the opportunity to try. I say that to express how impressed I’ve been with the performance that this product has provided during my time with it. The level of detail that has been revealed to me, and the level of realistic imagery that is given to my headphones (and accentuated by my amp.) is more than beyond the $399 MSRP given by Schiit. Earlier I mentioned that audio is like opening up Pandora’s box, how once you’ve been tainted with the knowledge of how good your audio can sound you continuously want to seek out better and how I upgraded to a PS Audio DirectLink 3 (my model also has the Cullen Stage 4 mod) because of this. Now my DL3 originally retailed for just shy of $1,900 or almost 5X what the Bifrost 4490 sells for. And this is where the term diminishing returns really comes into play and even more so with the Bifrost. Yes the DL3 is better than the 4490, I won’t even remotely start by implying it’s not. However, it is nowhere remotely close to 5X the value, in fact, the DL3 is only slightly better than the 4490 to my ears.

    When listening to the Schiit Bifrost 4490, regardless through your choice of amplifiers, you become aware of details that you never even thought to think about being there. I LOVE listening to live performances ever since I acquired this level of DAC, I can hear, and somewhat understand, ambient chatter amongst people in the audience and if it’s an acoustic performance, the reverb that the string instrument makes just sends chills down my spine and a smile to my face.

    Earlier I mentioned I upgraded to the Bifrost 4490 (and Lyr 2) from the Aune X1s and in that review I mentioned how I loved the song “Pirates of the Caribbean” by the Rhapsody Philharmonic Orchestra. In this flash mob performance (which is unfortunately ONLY on YouTube) it takes place outdoors and in front of a seemingly rather busy street and as the double bass begins to play you can still make out the level of depth present by the cars driving and honking in the background and also by the people talking and whispering about what I assume it what’s going on (it’s in another language). Through the Aune X1s the idea of instrument and vocal separation and imagery was taught to me, but with the Bifrost 4490 it was instilled in me. Each instrument sounds so clean and realistic that whatever headphone you’re listening to, will sound much better than you thought possible. And I love listening to this song when reviewing products because it provides so much of that.


    Conclusion

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    To conclude my thoughts on the Schiit Audio Bifrost 4490 is that this is what I knew would be possible in this price range. For those of you who don’t know or follow me that closely, I’m a rather frugal person. Rarely do I find something worth the full price of its MSRP (kind of contradictory in this hobby I know) and after seeing so many different brands and hearing the quality difference in respect to asking price my frugalness just gets worse and worse. But in respect to all the Schiit products I’ve personally tried and more specifically in this case the Bifrost version 4490 I find it full forth the $399 MSRP for it out performs MANY other units I’ve tried that cost HUNDREDS of dollars more and is only slightly outdone by a product costing almost 5X as much. Schiit provides their customers a great “handshake” in its unboxing experience and goes even further by making their products built incredibly well. I love the company’s sense of humor but that doesn’t deflect them from making a solid DAC and I for one have been tremendously satisfied with my Bifrost 4490 this past year.





    Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
    kazsud, ngoshawk and volly like this.
  2. bosiemoncrieff
    5.0/5,
    "Bifrost Multibit: worth the price"
    Pros - transparency, realism
    Cons - not balanced?
    I only have my Mjolnir 2 Amp to test with Multifrost (Vali is in storage) so it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.
     
    That said, since I sent in my uberfrost for the upgrade, I've noticed a general lack of sibilance in my music, a smoothness that I associate with sitting in symphony hall itself. It feels more natural, organic, palpable, and real. My main criticism of the uber is that it sounded digital. I heard compression artifacts and the sound could come across thinner than it would be in reality.
     
    Bimby definitely isn't indistinguishable from a live performance, but the sound quality is still quite high, and represents an excellent value. I recommend it enthusiastically. The uber was certainly the weak link in my chain; now, although I would love to upgrade to the Yggy, there is no sense of bottleneck at the DAC.
     
    Listening to the Solti/CSO Resurrection Symphony of Mahler on the HD800, you get an incredible sense of being there. Strings have heft, the oboe has its glorious nasality. The soundstage is holographic.
  3. stigin
    5.0/5,
    "The new Multibit version is a game changer"
    Pros - Standalone DAC with multibit, 5 year warranty, beautiful, awesome build quality
    Cons - 45 seconds startup time not mentioned in manual
    This is a review for the Autumn 2015 Bifrost Multibit. 
     
    First reaction (after 5 minutes): this is certainly different than anything I have heard before. Clarity was the first thing that came to mind.
     
    Second reaction: I can actually hear the difference between this and the Modi Uber and the difference is much bigger than I expected. By comparison the Uber sounded a little woolly or the Bifrost is just crystal clear.
     
    Integral reaction: This DAC is so much fun to have in my setup and makes a (bigger than I expected) difference.
     
    Game changer: This used to be my opinion on any DAC I sampled: "This DAC sounds like any other (decent) DAC i have heard." Not any more, this is a game changer, I could easily hear the difference between the Bifrost Multibit and a few delta-sigma DACs. Maybe all the other multibit DAC's have the same audible difference (the technique is completely different) but as they all have price tags of (ten)thousands of euros they all fall in never-gonna-happen-land. This only costs 630 euros! Okay, it isn't cheap but still, 630 euros for a multibit DAC of this quality.
     
    Fun fact: my headphone setup is at work and although I am allowed to work from home I found myself getting in just to be able to listen to music using the new setup.
     
    Setup used (for those interested): Tidal HIFI (lossless) - USB - Schiit Bifrost Multibit - Schiit Magni 2 Uber - Audeze LCD-2F.
     
    Cons:
    -I was surprised by the 45 seconds startup time at first  (not mentioned in manual) so I wrote an email and within the hour Schiit confirmed this was normal.
    - Now I am contemplating buying at least another one for our main set at home and maybe for the secondary set too.
     
    Summary: This thing blew me away. It is good enough to motivate me to write a review. If you are shopping in this price range or higher you should at least try this!
    aamer23 and landroni like this.

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