Schiit Audio Bifrost DAC

robertbudding

Head-Fier
Pros: Made in the USA
Cons: Noise caused by computer activity
Distortion during complex musical passages
I tried to like this DAC, but it just didn't sound right. Noise would come through whenever I saved files onto my computer, and it would distort during complex musical passages. So, in summary, my Schiit sounded like crap. Yes, I burned it in. Yes, I tried various high-quality cables. Yes, I really wanted to like it. But I finally threw in the towel and sold it on eBay. The replacement, a Teac UD-301, is fantastic. Detailed, accurate, and reliable.
adydula
adydula
Using a Bifrost on 4 different pc's in different rooms...never any interference when doing PC stuff ...You should have called Schitt and have them repair it. Their customer service is great. Something with your setup or in your listening environment was causing this to occur...hope you told whoever you sold it too this anomoly!

Army-Firedawg

1000+ Head-Fier
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.

bosiemoncrieff

Headphoneus Supremus
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.

stigin

New Head-Fier
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
aamer23
BiMB is more musical, tuneful, immersive, better defined harmonies and melodies more fun. More fluid coherent better defined and controlled base WOW!!!!!! and it is getting better as the hours of use increase 
USAudio
USAudio
I too emailed Schiit about the long startup time (~30 seconds) and was quickly informed it was the DSP booting up. Hopefully they will add that to the website and/or user manual.

Padgett

New Head-Fier
This is my non review of the Multibit upgrade to the Bifrost ('Bimby'), in which I don’t try and describe to you how it sounds. I think reviewing audio equipment must be like trying to describe sex with smoke signals. Unless you actually experience it for yourself, it’s just a bunch of pointless puffing. Instead I’ll tell you how it feels, which is brilliant.
 
Listening to Bimby I can’t hear what the second cellist had for lunch, and I can’t determine their spatial position relative to the violinist. Probably because I don’t listen to classical music and more thruthfully because either descriptions like that are bollocks and hyperbole, or my listening just isn’t that refined (which I’m willing to concede is plausible) or because I’m usually not paying that much attention to the music.
 
To understand why I’m not paying that much attention to the music, I need to tangent a few degrees. My Schiit stack sits on my desk at work and for the most part I listen to music in order to tune out my co-workers and general office background noise.  My co-workers are awesome, and this isn’t a middle finger at management or a solitary sulk, it’s just my way of being able to concentrate so that I can get stuff done. I feel I need to make a reasonable attempt at being productive given I’m being paid and there’s a firm desire on my part to remain employed so I can provide for Wifey and the soon to be 2.2 kids (one is two and clearly the head of the household, one is on the way, and the .2 is furry and likes to wash the taste of cat food away by licking his butt.) 
 
I’ve been listening to my my original Bifrost and Asgard 2 for a couple of months, and it’s been performing admirably and isolating me from the aforementioned distractions. As a baseline the Bifrost and Asgard is like a Honda Accord – It meets all of my expectations, is perfectly serviceable, does what it says on the box, nothing more or less. I have no complaints.
 
Pay attention now because we’re back to the interesting bit.
 
Bimby is utterly failing at allowing me to concentrate at work. It’s ruined my productivity, and I love it. The first album I played (Rush – 2112) did it’s job and I was able to focus on work. This is most likely because I was working to a deadline and had gone deep into 'the zone'. A ferret is using my ankles as a grinding stone for his teeth and I’m not going to notice deep. Then I put on some Doors (L.A. Woman). At some point I found myself sitting up - I had exited the zone and could feel my heart racing. The kind of heart racing you get from standing in front of the stacks at a live gig, where the sheer volume displaces enough air that you can feel it reverberate through your chest and you feel thumping bass comes up though the floor, though the soles of your feet* and out your mouth as you scream along with the band. Which incidentally I don’t recommend as a spontaneous action appropriate for an office environment.
 
I found myself foot tapping and head bobbing. Which I hate because I’m male, middle class, white and uncoordinated. I think God have us head bobbing and foot taping to make up for the fact that when taken as a class of people, we can’t dance. And I didn’t care. I was lost in the music. I could feel the music, and it was wonderful. I’ve never experienced that outside of a live performance.
 
My verdict? Bimby: More attention grabbing than an an ankle biting ferret and highly likely to render you oblivious to anything else. 
 
This review was based on the following stack:
 - Schiit Bifrost Multibit
 - Schiit Asgard 2
 - Beyerdynamic T5p
 - Spotify Premium on a Mac Book Pro, connected via USB
 
* Unless you’re in the Pony nightclub in Melbourne, in which case the flooring (at one point it may have been carpet, if the carpet was shaved down to the underlay) reverts from it’s mostly solid form to a slightly more squishy form as the years of spilt drinks, vomit and other bodily fluids liquify with the changing air pressure and body heat. You still feel it in your toes, though it’s more sticky and makes you want to shower.
 
Note: The purchase price is actually the upgrade price from Addicted to Audio in Melbourne. 
bronzboy
bronzboy
You weren't kidding about LA Woman.  Holy S.   Asgard 2 / Bimby
DanPerezSax
DanPerezSax
Awesome and hilarious review!  +20 points for the Ben Folds reference.
tekkster
tekkster
Best Bifrost review I've read so far.  Engaging.

bretemm

500+ Head-Fier
Pros: music sounds stronger, more of a "base" to your music, switching,no noise using with Valhalla2
Cons: needs to warm up (to break in that is)
the new Bifrost Delta Sigma is great, 
i first got the Modi and Magni then after 1 and a half years i got the Valhalla2 and wanted a better Dac,
so i waited for the Schiit event for the Bifrost to be updated, then went for it!
verses my modi using it with my Valhalla2, i noticed noise, BUT, now with the Bifrost (DS) I have yet to year noise. 
I'm actually using some klipsch IEMs (g3) before the s4i, I NEED BETTER IEMs I KNOW,-im limited to IEMs because i can't get by strong magnets.
I'm going to possibly get Klipsch X11i, Westone or Shure next.
 
the audio quality i put SLIGHTLY lower because some tracks off youtube (HQ or FLAC files if they even were)  didn't sound that well at first, but that might be because it needs to warm up more (break in).
 
 
overall, 
Schiit is a great company with great support for their customers and the Bifrost DS is my 4th purchase.
its really has added more detail to my music and a even wider sound range and "space" the Valhalla2 is a great compliment to the BIfrost (as well as with Modi) 
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watchnerd
watchnerd
When you compare vs the Modi, is that the original Modi or the Modi 2 Uber?
bretemm
bretemm
the original Modi

Aurthur

New Head-Fier
Pros: Great build quality, easy to set up, sounds great
Cons: Doesn't support DSD natively (Loki add-on or DSD compatible player required)
Amazing little DAC.  Fits easily on my desk without any hassle.  It even improved the sound of Pandora so much that I can barely hear the difference between their stream and local FLAC or uncompressed WAV files anymore.  Setup on Windows 7 was plug in and go.  Updated the drivers to the ones from Schiit's website just to get the additional sample rate options per their instructions.  Changing to the improved drivers was a breeze for anyone familiar with driver installations on Windows.
 
My only complaint, if I had one, is that it doesn't natively support DSD.  I don't actually have any DSD files to play, so that doesn't bother me, and the explanation from Schiit makes perfect sense to me as to why they didn't include it.  I do have some SACDs I wouldn't mind playing, but it's not really a high priority for me, as I use this primarily at work where I'm all digital.  If I really care about it in the future, I'll grab a DSD compatible player to plug into one of the toslink connections and switch input to that.
gr34td3str0y3r
gr34td3str0y3r
They don't sell the Loki anymore :frowning2: 

hodgjy

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Space, imaging, PRAT, micro detail, dogmatically vigilant sound
Cons: None at this price
Holy Schiit!
 
That's the first thing that came to mind when I connected the Bifrost Uber to my system and gave it a listen.  Here's a rundown of a few things.
 
Amp: Trafomatic Head One
Cans: Sennheiser HD600
Old DAC: V-DAC ii with V-PSU ii
Apple lossless -> iPod Classic -> Pure i20 dock -> coaxial connection
 
For a long time, I felt my rig was basically end game.  But, over time, I began to notice some weaknesses in my overall sound, which I started to attribute to the V-DAC.  Some of the hailed strengths started to be weaknesses to me.  For example, at times it was too smooth and polite.  It rounded some notes off.  Then, I began to realize a lot of the weaknesses, too.  It had some grain in the upper frequencies, even though the overall sound was smooth.  This just drew more attention to the grain because the mids and bass were silky smooth.  Despite the bass being smooth, it wasn't overly authoritative.  Also, the image got crowded at times and it struggled with micro details.  The V-DAC also lacked PRAT during some complex passages.
 
So, I began to look for a DAC upgrade.  My research lead me to the Bifrost Uber.
 
Specifically, here's what I noticed immediately when playing my reference tracks with the Bifrost Uber vs. the V-DAC.  Granted, differences between DACs are subtle, but I can hear them.  It's not my attempt to overstate things or use hyperbole to describe the sound.  But, I need to describe the differences somehow.  Below are the subtle differences I noticed immediately:
 
1) The sound is alive!  There's no better way to say that.  The sound has energy and is alive and real.  Not dull.  No veil.  No boring politeness. 
2) The background is absolutely black.  The blackest I've ever heard.
3) The bass is authoritative.  It's textured.  It runs deep and hits hard.
4) There's no grain in the upper frequencies.  It's smooth and life-like.
5) The imaging is exquisite.  I have to retrain my brain to imagine where the instruments are on stage because it's filling is spaces that weren't previously there.  I'll be spending many late nights re-listening to my music collection.  The sound isn't the "three blob" image we hear about from time to time.  It's more 3D and complete.  Great width and depth.  Height is pretty good, too.
6) The attack and decay are dogmatically vigilant. The DAC attacks the music and throws it at you with enthusiasm.
7) The midrange is superb.  Guitars have texture I'm not used to hearing.
8) Space.  There is space between instruments and voices that simply wasn't there with the V-DAC.
9) Micro detail.  The detail retrieval is much better than the V-DAC using the same source files.  I'm hearing sounds I've never heard before.  Unfortunately, I'm hearing flaws in some recordings that the V-DAC's politeness masked.
10) PRAT monster. 
 
In my mind, there's no comparison between the V-DAC and the Bifrost Uber.  Sure, differences between DACs are subtle  But, the collection of these subtle differences put a huge gap between the V-DAC and Bifrost Uber.
 
I'm not trying to cut the V-DAC down.  When I first bought it, it was was a major upgrade to my CD player and I was super excited to have it.  But, time has passed it over and the Bifrost Uber is the better piece of equipment at this time.  And, but a pretty large margin.  Well, if you add up all the small differences, it becomes a large margin.
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spiderking31
spiderking31
I have to wait until I have the money, but the funny thing is, I'm using a pair of sennheiser hd650's with a blue Dragon v3 headphone cable, with the coaxial cable, and I can relate big time to what the reviewer is stating here! We both have the 6xx series, and the HD600 and hd650 are very revealing themselves! That's how I am having the same experience as him. Uber just has less THD, that's about it. The hd650 has half the distortion as HD600's, and many people have said there is subtle difference between the two
wahsmoh
wahsmoh
slightly OT but would the Bifrost Uber benefit from an external jitter clock like the Remedy Reclocker??
riverlethe
riverlethe
Dogmatically vigilant?

dc-k

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great DAC for the price
Cons: slightly awkward placing of power switch
I bought the Bifrost to complete my home audio system. This started with me listening to my portable player at home, followed by open headphones, then headphone amp and finally HDD based music and the DAC.
 
The more home listening I did the more I needed something to link my HDD full of high resolution music to my lovely LCD2 headphones. As I'd been using a Lyr amp for some time, the Bifrost was the obvious solution. Fortunately, computer has optical audio output so I could get away with the basic bifrost without the USB option, so for me the USB as optional is a money saver rather than a cost.
 
I can't compare the sound with any other DAC, but the quality of playback is far better than when I connected my PC to the Lyr via standard audio connectors. The gain over IBasso DX-100 to Lyr via its line out is greater in convenience terms than in audio terms and certainly less of a leap than the gain from PC to Lyr direct.
 
My only minor quibble is the power switch is not easy to use, being placed right at the back, so I tend to leave mine on for more time than I would like.
 
In short, I now have easy access to my 250 GB of mostly high resolution music straight from desktop to ears and the Bifrost is a great, cost effective, neat link in my digital music chain. I would happily recommend this DAC to anyone.
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Tibwolf

New Head-Fier
Pros: Bright and crisp sound, 3 different inputs to match your setup, Solid construction, Great and prompt customer support
Cons: USB addon is pricey, Bright input indicator LEDs on front (color mismatched to a Schiit Lyr)
ALAC lossless music > MBP > Optical > Schiit Bifrost (previously a Nuforce uDac) > Schiit Lyr > Audeze LCD2r2 (previously a Denon d2000)
 
Artists listened to:
Deadmau5
The Birthday Massacre
Dub Fx
Feed Me
Flux Pavilion
Skrillex
Teebs
 
The construction of the Bifrost is superb, with only minor quirks. The aluminum chassis is rigid and sturdy; there's no body flex or any loose components inside. The only downsides are that the input indication LEDs on the front are bright and not the same temperature of white as the Lyr.
 
The jump in sound quality from a simple entry-level DAC is definitely noticeable. Everything about my music improved, if only slightly. The soundstage has noticeably opened up, with the highs becoming more crisp and the lows having a more defined texture. At lower volumes, the Bifrost retains its clarity and resolution over the uDac, which gives a greater impression of dynamic range.
 
Overall, I would really recommend this to anyone looking to sate their latest temptations in the pursuit of greater sound. This is a great component to any setup and it feels like it will last a long, long time!
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money4me247
money4me247
Just an comment on this quote: "Bright input indicator LEDs on front (color mismatched to a Schiit Lyr)."
 
I have the Schiit Bifrost Uber USB Gen 2 & Lyr 2, and the lights on both units match. Seems to me that the lights are exactly the same in this generation of products at least.
  

Gerzom

Head-Fier
Pros: Sound and build Quality
Cons: None
I own my Bifrost now for 2 months and it just keep getting better. Major improvement was also achieved by upgrading the power cable. Im not using it with headphones but to play music from Spotify via my iPad. I started my DAC quest via an Audioengine D1 to a Micromega MyDac which had issues with the Apple connection to finaly the Bifrost.
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watchnerd
watchnerd
What power cable did you upgrade to?

BokononVolta

New Head-Fier
Pros: highly capable, doesn't have any quirky sound issues
Cons: construed as a bit boring?
Before getting this DAC, I ran my Asgard thru a Pacific Valve NOS DAC. I also compared this in my main home system to a Audio-GD Reference 1 DAC.

When I first received it, it went into my home system for the comparison against my Audio-GD. Its not really a fair competition, but I found the Bifrost held up a lot better to rock/metal fast type of music. It was very clinical and detailed compared to my Audio-GD. I didn't find myself wanting for anything, but when I plugged in my Audio-GD I found that the music gained more life, thickness, and personality. So that let me to believe that this was a highly capable, if boring, DAC.

I then brought it into work and replaced my PV NOS DAC and found myself thinking the same thing. Compared to the Pacific Valve, it was a lot more detailed and "cleaner" sounding. I am still using the Bifrost and I don't think its bad at all, but I am glad i have other DACs I can listen to to gain new insights as well. The Bifrost is like the Nerd who gets everything pretty much right and makes few (if any) mistakes, but sometimes you need to experience something a bit more personable :)

I'm not particularly high end, but I like to try things and compare.

Headphone-wise I used it with a variety of cheaper units:
Panasonic RP-HTTF600, Monoprice 8323, Beyerdynamic (DT770 250 ohm, DT880 250 ohm, DT990 600 ohm), Grado SR80i, AKG271 MKII, Bowers & Wilkins P5, Sennheiser HD-280.

I also plugged in my JH Audio JH-5 IEMs, and it also sounded good, in fact these pulled the most detail out of everything I tried.

I listen primarily to 24/96 vinyl rips that I make on my home system (Clearaudio TT, Grado Reference cart, E-mu 1212m ADC, after a thorough vacuum clean of the vinyl - i am pretty anal about it). I listen to a variety of genres, and find myself enjoying this amp for rock/pop type of music. Like most of the Schiit offerings, it doesn't have qualities that (to me) favor certain types of music - very neutral sounding.

After living with the Asgard amp for awhile, I swapped it out for the Valhalla, and felt the Bifrost held its own with that amp as well. I was hoping the Valhalla would warm up the sound more and breathe some personality into the Bifrost, but I found it really did not. (not that I am disappointed - just something to keep in mind).

Hate to sound like my review is hating on the DAC because I actually like it a lot. I use it over my Pacific Valve DAC exclusively now. Makes the NOS sound a bit muddy when doing direct comparison. Just wish I could have Bifrost clarity with a bit more thickness and lushness. I will have to look into the Gungnir :) :) :)

One annoying thing for those that use it hooked up to a computer. It has a relay that clicks on/off after a little pause. So if you are leaving the DAC turned on while you are doing doing computer stuff with no music playing... you will get an annoying click. i.e.: if you empty the trash on your computer you get CLICK! -empty trash sound- CLICK! as the DAC "turns on" and then "turns off" - and there's no way to get around this except to leave music playing all the time. It took me awhile (longer than I hoped) to get past this, but I now ignore it.

I used it exclusively with the TOSLINK optical port. I may eventually get a M2TECH HiFace for my computer and go coaxial. If I notice any difference I will update this review again.
wahsmoh
wahsmoh
hey I think if you're looking for that lushness or fullness you'll find it with the Uber analog upgrade :]
saxelrod92
saxelrod92
Yea I have it with uber upgrade, as well as the usb gen 2 add on, and I just wanted to mention that at least with my computer and usb connection the bifrost does not make any relay clicks. Ive put my ear next to it and literally tried playing every option of output from my computer, like youtube videos, system sounds, foobar wasapi music, etc. no clicks with usb. And everything sounds fantastic, so I assume its not a defect or anything since those clicks are relays to protect your system and headphones. I've seen other posts that have said the same thing about using usb and not having clicks, but not everyone, so it must depend on your full set up or something.

skfktkwjs

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Outstanding Performance for price,desigN, Clearity, Sound Stage
Cons: Non so Far
[size=10pt]  I just got these two days ago. I am running these with my Bellari HA540 and Grado GS1000i[/size]
 
[size=10pt]GS1000i already has quite big sound stage (about head size for left, right, back, and top), a with Bellari [/size]
 
[size=10pt]HA540 and by Adding Bifrost, they become even bigger by half head size. I can clearly feel where are the [/size]
 
[size=10pt]sounds coming from. Bifrost adds more resolution in to your music it is crystal clear.[/size]
 
[size=10pt]I would recommend this to everyone who are looking for DAC under 700 USD. [/size]
XxDobermanxX
XxDobermanxX
What can i say? schiit happens sometimes :D
littlexsparkee
littlexsparkee
I'm running the same combo of the HA540 & Bifrost, they work quite well together

Skylab

Reviewerus Prolificus
Pros: Excellent performance at the price
Cons: Does not outperform very high end DACs
REVIEW: Schiit Audio “Bifrost” DAC
 
Introduction
 
By now, Schiit probably needs no head-fi introduction, and so I will not be providing one.  I will also not be making any jokes about the name.  Sorry.  That was so last review
biggrin.gif

 
I had asked to be sent a review loaner of the Bifrost when the announcement was made about its existence.  Schiit was nice enough to oblige – unfortunately it arrived at a very bad time for me at work, and I was able to spend a good amount of time casually listening to it, but not much time really evaluating it, or writing about it.  I have finally been able to do some of that, although this review isn’t going to be quite as complete as I had hoped.
 
For this review I fed the Bifrost either the toslink output of a Pure i20 digital iPod dock, or USB from my Sony Vaio.  The audio out from the Bifrost was in turn sent to either a Meier Corda Classic, a vintage Marantz 2285 receiver, or the Leben CS-300.  Headphones used were the Beyer T1, Audeze LCD-3, Hifiman HE-6, and Audio Technica W3000ANV.  The Marantz also drove B&W N805 speakers, and I spent quite a bit of time listening to the Bifrost via speakers.  I compared the Bifrost briefly to the MHDT Havana, the Audio by Van Alstine Vision Hybrid DAC, the Red Wine Audio Isabellina Pro DAC, and the HRT iStreamer.
 
There is not much to discuss in terms of the operation.  I’m glad the power supply is onboard; I hate wall warts.  Coax, toslink, and USB inputs; single pair analog outputs.  In the traditional Schiit chassis:
 
View attachment
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The Sound
 
There have been some “robust” discussions lately about headphone FR, and what measurements of them mean in terms of what we hear.  In stark contrast to that is something like a DAC: Any well designed, modern DAC will measure completely flat in the audible domain, and as such, any differences we hear in sonics really cannot be directly attributed to measured frequency response, as the measured frequency response of a modern DAC is, in almost every case, going to look identical to any other DAC.
 
And yet, if you read this or any other audio site or magazine, people clearly hear differences in DACs.  I certainly do. But I cannot point to a frequency response chart and say “this is why it sounds this way”.  Outside of the frequency response, there are things like jitter rejection that can be measured and have an impact on things like transparency.
 
All that said, I do in fact find the Schiit to be very neutral in the frequency domain.  The Bifrost comes across as essentially uncolored.  Nothing jumps out as being out of balance, even over extended listening.  I would say this is what we should expect from a modern, solid state DAC, and the Bifrost delivers it.  I consider this high praise for a DAC. Certainly bass drum and guitar  from Dream Theater’s “On the Backs of Angels” were plenty full and deep, and very subtle percussion on Steely Dan’s “Aja” was easily discerned, so there is good presence at the frequency extremes.
 
The Bifrost does a very good job of detail retrieval – better than I expected, in terms of what I have heard from other DACs in this price range.  It is also very good in terms of being transparent and grain free, although it doesn’t set any benchmarks here versus higher end DACs (about which, more later).  On its own, it comes across as being pretty free from grain, and being very transparent.  I think it performs well for its price class in this regard, and even beat another more expensive but popular DAC in this regard. 
 
The soundstage thrown by the Bifrost was also good, especially in terms of image stability and specificity.  It was not as holographic as my higher end references, nor was it either as deep, or wide.  But again, taken on its own, it performed well.  The very holographic soundstage on the Porcupine Tree song “Stars Die” was very satisfying, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything via the Bifrost.  It was very well fleshed out, and Steven Wilson’s voice was well defined and centered, versus the much more spread out harmony vocals.
 
 
 
Comparisons
 
I did level-matched comparisons with three DACs, as mentioned above.
 
Let’s get two things out of the way with ease.  First, the Bifrost absolutely stomps the iStreamer.  The iStreamer seems grainy, veiled, threadbare, and thin sounding by comparison.  It’s not even close.  It’s funny, because taken on its own, I always thought the iStreamer was decent enough, but on the comparison to the Bifrost, if does not fare well.  Granted, it’s 40% of the cost of the Bifrost.
 
On the other hand, the Bifrost was noticeably outclassed by both the AVA Vision Hybrid and the RedWineAudio Isabellina Pro DACs.  In this case, the Bifrost is less than 25% of the cost of the either of these DACs, and it shows.  I found the AVA to be better to some degree in every single respect.  More transparent, less apparent edge and grain, better microdetail, better microdynamics, more natural ease in terms of musical flow, better bass slam and extension, and a smoother and more extended treble.  Midrange on the AVA is drop-dead, breathtakingly beautiful without being at all colored – on the Bifrost, the mids sound thin by comparison.  The Isabellina was pretty much the same story.  The Bifrost was a little closer to the performance of the RWA DAC than it was in the case of the AVA, but still, it was clearly not in the same performance league.
 
But again – that is only by direct comparison.  I don’t think of the Bifrost as grainy or thin.  It is just more that way than the higher-end (and at $2K somewhat expensive) AVA and RWA DACs.  It really isn’t a fair comparison, either, especially knowing Schiit has a much more advanced (and expensive) DAC in the works. 
 
 
The comparison to the MHDT Havana was more interesting.  The Havana is NOT neutral sounding.  It’s a NOS DAC with a tube output.  I like the sound, but the sound is, well, kind of “vintage” – warm and woolly.  And boy was this apparent when compared to the Bifrost.  The Schiit DAC sounds MUCH more neutral than the Havana.  And yes, compared to the very warm Havana, the Bifrost sounds thin.  But it also sounded more open and transparent, has better treble detail, and had more apparent midrange resolution.  Frankly, the Bifrost turned me off so much to the Havana that I sold it.  It’s just too colored, in the end.  Pretty sounding, but untruthful.  The Bifrost is more truthful, even if sometimes there is less beauty in the truth.
 
 
Summary
 
So where does that leave the Bifrost?  At its price, it is a very nice piece of kit, and a good value.  I don’t think it is setting any performance benchmarks in absolute terms, but it provides very solid performance at its price point, and I think Schiit has packed a lot of performance in this DAC at $450.  I regret that I no longer had my similarly priced Music Hall to compare it to, but I was not that impressed with the Music Hall (which is why I sold it).  The Bifrost isn’t going to slay a pile of $2K+ DACs anytime soon, but I don’t think that was Schiit’s goal for it.  For a DAC in the $500 price range, it gets the job done very nicely.  While I may have become “spoiled” by my reference DACs, Schiit should be commended for providing a high performance product at this price.  In the current world we live in, a DAC has become the focal point of the majority of music playback systems.  It’s THE source for most people.  Given that, having a good quality DAC like the Bifrost available at this price point is a very good thing. 
 
Wraith13
Wraith13
I was looking at the Pure i20 and it says that it has it's own DAC on-board, are you able to bypass that with a certain connection? Is there another iPod dock that could be used with the Schiit DACs?
spiderking31
spiderking31
Without a doubt, the most informative review I've read so far concerning the Bifrost. This review definitely gave me the answers i was looking for. Hands down, the best written review for the Bifrost. Thanks! ☺️☺️
Gladzilla
Gladzilla
i ahve a topping D3 that sounded more spacious than an Ava dac any reason this may be?

danlevy

Head-Fier
Pros: audio quality, ease of set-up, build quality, price
Cons: none yet
 
I'm really happy with my Bifrost.  I don't know if your experience will match mine but here goes:
 
I already have a DAC hooked up to my "good" system in my listening room.  But I have been waiting to find the best way to listen to the music in my downstairs family room served from an upstairs Drobo via Ethernet.  The Drobo is packed with all lossless audio, some of it ripped from CD, some high resolution, some needle drops.
 
So here's what I have:
Old iBook G4 running OS 10.5 and iTunes > ethernet > Drobo > ethernet > Airport Express optical out> Schiit Bifrost > decent Rotel preamp and amp > B&W ceiling speakers in family room.
 
Nothing special, right?  But with the Bifrost, I have never heard such excellent, natural sound from the system.  There is no wireless: it's all a wired ethernet connection to the optical out of the Airport Express into the Bifrost.
 
I control it wirelessly. Either using the Remote iOS app on my phone or iPad, or using Screen Sharing from a laptop downstairs sharing the upstairs iBook which has the iTunes library for the Drobo.  All of sounds just fantastic.  More surprising was how good Spotify sounds.  Here, I am just transmitting wirelessly to the Airport Express using Airfoil, with my (paid version) Spotify preferences set to the high quality stream (I think it's 320k). This is remarkably good sounding...I was trying to explain to my kids this morning how much like science fiction this has to feel to anyone in his or her early fifties who might have dreamed of the great jukebox in the sky, that it is actually here.... the sound is somewhere between better-than-acceptable and really-damned-good, depending on the source.  
 
Of course I might have achieved the same result using any number of inexpensive DACs but waited for something like Bifrost to come along that satisfies my various rational and irrational consumer urges.  I am definitely going to hook the Bifrost up at some point to my "good" system and expect it will do well in that context too.

 
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