Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

General Information

Go ahead. Do things with Valhalla 2 that you’d never attempt with other OTL tube amps. Run low-impedance headphones. Use IEMs. Valhalla 2 is a complete re-imagining of Valhalla, with improved performance, higher output capability, lower distortion and output impedance.

Tubes Made Flexible
While most tube OTL amps are really only designed for 300 ohm Senns and 600 ohm Beyers, Valhalla 2 stretches to include headphones that you’d never expect to use with a tube amp. Go ahead. Use it with Grados. Run it with AKGs. Rely on it for many IEMs. You may even like it with high-efficiency planars like LCD-X, LCD-XC, Oppo PM-1 and HE-400.

A Complete Desktop Preamp
Valhalla 2 also adds two important features: preamp outs and a gain switch. Preamp outs let you connect your powered monitors directly to Valhalla 2, to give them some of what some people call “tube magic.” The gain switch gives you better control of both output level and impedance, for better matching to your headphones. It's easy to build a complete desktop system around the Valhalla.

Not Your Father’s Tube Amp
If you’re expecting syrupy, tubby, euphonically colored tube sound, you’re in for a shock. Valhalla 2 is exceptionally accurate, neutral, and resolving, without being strident or etched.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 7Hz-200KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 180mW
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 800mW
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 450mW
THD: < 0.04%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, high gain (worst case)
IMD: < 0.05%, CCIR at 1V RMS, high gain (worst case)
SNR: > 97db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, low gain
Crosstalk: < -71dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: 14 ohms (hi gain), 3.5 ohms (lo gain)
Gain: 7 (16.9db) or 1.5 (3.5 db), via rear switch
Topology: All-triode, noninverting, single voltage gain stage, current source biased front end and optimized WCF output stage, DC-coupled input
Tube Complement: 6N1P dual triode input, 6N6P dual triode output, 1 each per channel. 6N1Ps rollable to 6DJ8, E88CC, 6922, 6BZ7, and similar types.
Power Supply: Two internal power transformers with over 2,000uF of filter capacitance
Power Consumption: 40W
Size: 9 x 6 x 3.25”
Weight: 7 lbs

Latest reviews

Yoram Diamand

100+ Head-Fier
Pros: fun, I forget the time, and keep enjoying the music
Cons: too woolly
Hi I compared the Beyerdynamic T1.2 with the schiit Valhalla2 and the Stax sr-L700 mk1 with the SRM T1-S amp. The T1.2 was too woolly, and the L700 was too bright. So I need a better energizer, I agree. Still the T1.2 was lovely. I like it, and I will enjoy the Valhalla 2 a lot till I can afford a Woo WA2.

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Clean Spacious Presentation, Low Background Noise/Hiss/Hum, Solid Build, Smidgen of Warmth, Plug an Play
Cons: Vol Pot Could be more Precise, Slight Added Glare in Top End, Slightly Rough Upper Mids, Not the Best Choice Tube Rolling Junkies
This is more of a 3 way comparison with the Valhalla 2 proving it self to be the strongest overall performer!

So up for review/comparison is a Modded APPJ pa1502a an stock G1217 Project Ember II and a stock Schiit Valhalla 2

My Ember II has a CNC Chassis 1940 Vintage Sylvania 6sn7 JAN CHS VT231 Bottom Getter Flash Clear Top - $455 as tested if bought New
  • Ember II Assembled - $390
  • 6sn7 Adapter - $26
  • 1940 Vintage Sylvania 6sn7 JAN CHS VT231 Bottom Getter Flash Clear Top - $39
[Though it's the longest established and can be gotten second hand for closer to $350 often with upgraded Tubes or you can opt to assemble it your self and save a little there too]

My Modded Set has a set of Russian 6n6c Power Tubes with a 1940s Sylvania 12SN7GT Driver - Cost as tested is $394
  • Appj pa1502a Base Unit - $199
  • Pair of 6n6c Power Tubes - $20
  • Pangea AC 14 Power $30
  • 1940 Vintage Sylvania 12sn7GT JAN CHS VT289 Bottom Getter Flash Clear Top - $10
  • Audio Note Kasai + Auricap XO Re-cap an installation - $125
The Valhalla 2 is 100% Stock! - $350

As some one whose spent a lot of time tube rolling and modding/tinkering I was really curious to see how a stock amp like the Valhalla 2 compared to my rolled in wonders.



Overall I felt my Modded APPJ pa1502a was the most resolving, audibly it had the highest degree of fidelity or exactness in reproducing sound when specifically paired with dynamic headphones. The mods we did were;
  • Replaced existing Output Caps with AuriCap XOs &amp; Audio Note Kaisei's
  • Introduced bypass caps into the Circuit Path
All in all it's the result of about 7 months of research and I'm very impressed with the results! At the end of it all I feel if your able to DIY your likely going to get the highest degree of fidelity for your system with the least monetary cost. But there's extensive knowledge and experience required as any mistakes invoke additional cost. I also had to do some digging to figure out who to have install the mods, as I'm not cleanest solderer. So again time and money can quickly add up when putting together a custom piece. I suppose I lucked out!

But in a sense I feel it's a bit unfair to compare an amp Modded specifically for my exact system, still I wanted to include it to get some perspective on how a more DIY Focused option compares to available retail products. An I'm happy to say there was in fact a retail amp that followed closely behind my own Modded SET! So much so I kinda wish I'd purchased said amp before venturing into my own little experiment.



I did my listening with a ZMF Auteur in Cocobolo with their Silver Michanikos cable as well as with my HD 800 using a Audio Envy Tone Kraft Copper.

Each of these I felt was a headphone that had a more natural mid range presentation with even bass response, the HD 800 is brighter up top and very technical with strong staging and the Auteur was a bit more intimate with a more correct timbre and more even tonal response.

An I personally enjoy each with a drier sounding tube amp, so the three amps featured all share that slightly drier presentation in comparison to something like a Schiit Vali 1 or a Cavili Liquid Glass with a thicker sounding Tube.

An again overall I felt my Modded APPJ pa1502a had the most resolve and audible fidelity how ever on high gain an at over 80% rotation I also noticed it was nosier than the other two amps. Thankfully only about 10% of my music requires me to push the amp to this upper limit, and even then I've got around 3-4 dBs of headroom.

But I'll go over 4 aspects of sound quality in comparing the remaining two units;
  • Detail
  • Dynamics
  • Staging
  • Tonality/Timbre/Envelope
An as you guys know each of these aspects are often linked together, as tonal imbalances can often lead to perceived changes or in-inaccuracies in regard to staging as well as mask over some detail.
Overall I felt these aspects of the Valhalla 2's presentation were better than that of the Ember II;
  • Black background
    • With less audible noise, hum or hiss present during silent or quite passages
  • Clear Micro and Macro Dynamics
    • Gradual changes of individual instruments and musicians were easily identified
    • As were more sudden and intense changes to the intensity of the composition as a whole
  • Vivid Presentation of Transients
  • Tauter Bass
    • With a cleaner more balanced envelope - so no emphasis on attack, decay sustain nor release
Overall I felt the Ember II presentation was stronger in these aspects;
  • Staging
    • More precise location of movement of sounds within the audible space
  • Resolved more of the "sound of the room"
    • Such as ambient noise like wall reflections, echo's and things like foot steps
  • More Even Tonal presentation
    • Overall neither forward nor withdrawn throughout the frequency response
In comparison I felt the Valhalla 2 did the following different from the Ember II
  • Slightly Forward Mid-Range
    • While tonally not as balanced I did feel the Timbre was more natural
      • With a more even presentation of each part of the envelope
    • Slight forwardness helps define space for more intimate headphones but ultimately skews precision in staging for more open or spacious sounding headphones
In comparison I felt the Ember II differed from the Valhalla 2 in these aspects;
  • Some What Polarizing Presentation
    • Slight emphasis on attack and decay over sustain and release on in the mid range an upward
    • With contrasting emphasis in the lows
    • In a sense this some what polarizing presentation is more "tonally" correct but...
  • Slight emphasis on Ambient Noise
    • Part of why I feel it's staging is slightly more accurate
An finally I felt the Ember II did noticeably worse in these aspects in comparison;
  • Noisier
    • More audible hum and hiss during quite passages
  • Looser low end presentation
  • Some what skewed timbre
    • Again odd presentation creates a nice tonal balance but skews the overall balance in how the envelope is presented which makes the timbre kinda off
An lastly I felt the Valhalla 2 had this single fault;
  • Slight Glare or Hardness
    • A rougher top end texture alongside an unpleasant upper mid glare
So it was quite fatiguing with really bright or energetic cans like those from Audio Technica or even the Filter-less Campfire Audio Cascade.

Otherwise and overall I felt the Valhalla 2 in stock form was the better amplifier for these more grounded and natural sounding dynamic headphones. Plus it's $100 less offers an audible cleaner output and proves it self more resolving. An while it's slight tonal faults I feel can be remedied with some tube swaps I feel your likely better off just saving that money for a better amp in the future.

As again I feel upgrading the tubes on the Valhalla 2 to correct it's tone could get costly and ultimately money spent on new tubes could just be money spent towards a better amp. So if your like me and you kinda enjoy rolling tubes and seeing what differences exist, this likely isn't the best amp to explore that hobby with!



An yes I also felt the Valhalla 2 did give my little Modded Amp a real run for it's money!!! Thankfully, I have purchased an upgrade to my system so my experiment isn't holding me back at this time, though I wonder how much sooner I might have gotten said upgrade if I'd just gotten the Valhalla 2 in the first place...

An I again choose to limit this review to just dynamics as I felt the Hybrid Ember II had a clear advantage driving my Hifiman HE 560 and PreFazor LCD 2. An I've found that typically at this price points Hybrid Units seem to do better with harder to drive Planar Magnetics. Though exceptions may exist and I may explore them in the future.

So for those of you that own large collections of headphones that have very differing sound presentations and amping requirements the Ember II will likely remain an excellent choice given how easily you can adjust it's operation to compliment a variety of gear and sound signatures.



Other wise for those of you with single headphones such as the;
  • HD 600
  • AKG K702
  • HD 800
  • ZMF Dynamic Headphones
Non the less, at the end of the day the Valhalla 2 get's my full recommendation! It's a stunning product and proves itself an incredible value.
MartussDer
MartussDer
Now i am using Asgard 2 like preamp, but in my onkyo power amp, the result is very "cold" or "dry" with asgard2 like preamp. I just want a little more body (No GAIN) in the bass and mids without using a "DSP or Tonality control that only add Gain", just that. Valhalla could give more "body" to the sound vs a simple solid state preamp?. Regards.
Mshenay
Mshenay
You may get a better experience with the Schiit Saga PreAmp as I believe it's intended purpose is exactly what your looking for
MartussDer
MartussDer
Obviously i am looking for a good headphone tube amp at the same time. I have ordered an Vallhalla 2 five days ago, maybe tomorrow it will arrive. i will compare vs my asgard2 and my others amps and also, its preamp functionallity. Regards.

Slifox

New Head-Fier
Pros: Outstanding Value, Beautiful Design, Versatility (Tube Rolling), Powerful, Detailed Yet Smooth Sound, Soundstage, Magic, and No Wall Wart.
Cons: No cons sorry
The HD600 sounded good out of the Magni 3, but curiosity got the best of me...

I was reluctant to spend $350 on an amp, but I felt safe with Schiit's 15-day return policy. After scouring forums and reading reviews, I wasn't able to find a clear answer on how the Valhalla 2 sounds with the HD600s. DarkVoice, BottleHead Crack, Little Dot Mk II & III were being name-dropped everywhere I looked. I decided I needed to make a leap of faith. I decided to go with Schiit for their design, warranty, and reputation. The Valhalla 2 arrived at my doorstep...

First impressions mean everything, and I was impressed. The fit and finish of the Valhalla 2 is beautiful; a work of art. The tubes came carefully packaged and protected. I was happy to see that this amp did not have an obnoxious wall wart. After seating the tubes, I flipped on the power switch...I was met with a beautiful orange glow reminiscent of a cozy fireplace. I let the tubes warm up a bit, and prepared myself for what was to come.

WOW. I noticed a drastic improvement in sound quality. If I can describe it in one word, I'd say "effortless". The Valhalla 2 powered my HD600s effortlessly. I noticed that I could hear details in songs that I previously missed. The sound-stage was cracked open a bit; the music was given more space and clarity. Is this the same headphone? The Valhalla 2 also injected a bit of "oomph" into the bass. The sound became smoother, yet more detailed. It's as if this amp was made for this headphone.

I was happy with the HD600s before, but now I am ecstatic. Now I see why people buy more expensive amps. This amp worth more than it's price. I'm blown away.

I couldn't take my headphones off that night. I just sank into the music. It was truly an amazing experience. It goes without saying that I am keeping the Valhalla 2.
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