Schiit Audio Valhalla 2 - Reviews
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.
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 & 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.
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.
You may get a better experience with the Schiit Saga PreAmp as I believe it's intended purpose is exactly what your looking for
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.
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.
  • Like
Reactions: Adu and Chopin75
Pros: Affordable, Great Build Quality, 5 Year Warranty, Wider Range of Headphones than Vahalla1, Roll Tubes, Made in USA
Cons: Runs Hot, but its 4 tubes!!
I have a bottlehead Crack with Speedball for a few years and has been my go to amp for my Beyer T90 and T1's 2nd Gen.
After several DIY builds, I was curious how Schitt's Vahalla 2 would work with my T1's. Most amps nowadays seems to be looking at
megawatts for the lower impedance heaphones and earbuds...most likely for portable devices etc....but I wanted an amp that would
drive the heck out of 300 and 600 ohm headphones.

The Vahalla 2 specs 800 mw RMS at 300 ohms and 450 mw at 600 ohms. This peaked my interest fore sure. I owned a Schiit Lyr and Asgard as
well along with 8 other head amps mostly DIY stuff. For $350 the Vahalla 2 seemed worth the try. I really like Jason's quick wit, comments and there made in the USA philosophy!

When I got the amp, its was very well packaged and all you have to do is to carefully plug in the 4 tubes, connect up, power on and listen!

Only a on/off switch and a high/low gain switch on the back along with the power plug, along with RCA inputs and RCA preamp outputs. Simple.

A large robust, freely moving volume knob on the front, 1/4" headphone jack and a small on LED. The LED stays on for several minutes after shutdown. No big deal but some
have wondered if this was an issue, its not....just takes some time to bleed down and go off.

If you want the smaller input tubes can be rolled to your hearts and wallets desire. The stock NOS tubes that came with my Vahalla 2 are wonderful, I see no real need to
change them out and I did order a second set for $40....imagine a NOS tube for $10 apiece, its good that Schitt isnt ripping us off for tubes.....

Ok so how does it sound or not sound? First impressions are lasting ones, and the new toy syndrome can subjectively taint your viewpoint and feelings towards new audio toys..
I mean shouldnt new stuff just be better because they are new and maybe cost more? Ha! I have found out the cost more is not always "is better". With the Vahalla 2 I found that it
is indeed a wonderful amp for my T1, 600 ohm and even some lower impedance cans. (actually a BIG surprise).

It sounds different than the Bottlehead Crack in that the presentation seems more like your in the front row vs back in row 5-10. Depending on the music and how the material was recorded and mastered both of these amps do very nicely. My preference is the Vahalla2 just because it seems to effortlessly light up these higher impedance headphones.

I have found myself several times just getting lost in a holographic sound presentation that so many of us buy all kinds of stuff to get! The Vahalla 2 and the Beyers are one of the best
pairings I have heard. Very clear and open for a tube amp, you can hear all those things you never heard before and I often take off the headphones thinking someone
is at the front door or my wife is calling out to me!! LOL.

The bass, mids, low end are all there in spades, well done, well controlled....good stuff sounds really good, crap and trebly compressed crap sounds like compressed trebly crap! LOL.

It has no issue playing the low end stuff like the heartbeat beat thump from Pink Floyd, the old stuff from The Doors...the re-mastered 40yr anniv stuff is fabulous, drum whacks that will pop your head off!
Rather than get all flowery, no that the amp and Beyer Cans will really make you smile and in a lot of cases you need to look no more, or spend more to get absolutely fabulous music recreation.

The amp gets hot, but its got 4 tubes in it, close together but according to Schiit its not an issue and the tubes are rated for 3000+ hours or 200 days on all the time and again a new set will
set you back a whooping $40! A deal.

Oh the big surprise was my 80 ohm Beyer DT1350's....those small portable closed headphones that Tyl at Innerfidelity opined about so much...well they are small and the soundstage compared to their bigger brothers is just "small". I plugged these into the Vahalla2 and switched to low gain and played some stuff and I was SHOCKED....I had to check to make sure I didnt have the T90 or T1's on! It was like the small DT1350's disappeared on my head and the soundstage popped out much wider than with other amps. I was listening to Cowboy Junkies Original Trinity Series in the church with that really low end beat and the reverb in the church is so well recorded a Classic recording for sure. The 1350s just grow up on this amp...I have no idea why, but whatever Schitt did to make lower impedance cans play like these Tesla DT1350's is magin to me indeed.....The 1350's have sat on my desk for months unused!!! Not anymore...

So all in all the new Schitt Vahalla2 is a superb tube amp that makes high impedance headphones "light up" very, very well....and to my surprise those 80 ohm cans work so well with it as well!

If your looking for a tube amp and dont want to solder, cut wire, or do DIY this is a very good alternative for you. Considering the cost, the wider range of impedances than most OTL amps can handle well the Vahalla 2 is a no-brainer.


All the best

UPDATE: Here it is over a year since I wrote my review and I still have the Vahalla 2, same tubes...and after building and buying several other head amps the V2 is still right up there as a very, very good amp. Listening with a set of Beyer T1's 2 Rev, on high gain and the sound is musical and lucious, wide open, spacious and just very nice...other amps are just so analytical and dry in comparison and these Class A amps are good in their own right but the V2 with its "sound" signature is just right for me!
Last edited:
Ahhh, I did wonder. =D
How are the with the T90?
Excellent with the T90's, With good material its hard to beat at this price point...absolutely stellar IMO. Highly recommended.
Pros: 4 tubes, fantastic stock tubes, reveals detail
Cons: gets hot, tubes are sometimes difficult to set, sometimes tubes move and have to be reset.
my first Schiit was the Modi and Magni and they were great and added quality and "space" to my music, 
so, i then got the Valhalla2 and its added even more detail, quality and "space".
I've first used the Valhalla2 with Modi, and it worked fine. 
the sound opens up more then with Magni and more detail. 
i would like if there was a easier way of getting different tubes to experiment wiith, through Schiit, BUT, the stock tubes are great.
I'm using some IEMs (Klipsch s3, i know i need better IEMs)(i can't use headphones because of strong magnets) but the Valhalla2 is great on low gain, and, 
actually my IEMs don't get warm vs using the Magni, i always think there a little warm, but the V2 dosnt heat them up at all, 
i don't even have to turn the volume up much, theres just so much more detail that i want to listen to the detail and not crank my music like i normally do. 
Schiit is fantastic and i have 4 products from them 
Magni, Modi, Valhalla2, Bifrost Delta Sigma
  • Like
Reactions: Chopin75
Pros: Great Value, Excellent Sound Quality, Plenty of Power
Cons: IMHO...they need to raise the tubes for better cooling

I have to say I was very impressed with this little beauty.  For my 63 yr. young ears after being subjected to some of the most ferocious live hard rock and heavy metal it really does justice to my more subdued audio selections now.  The imaging is quite nice especially listening to live performances and various electronic music like Vangelis.  I especially love to listen to the beauty of the Hammond B3 organ from ELP, Triumvirat, Eloy, Deep Purple, YES..etc.  Nothing like listening to a tube driven keyboard thru a tube amp.
One thing that I did immediately "modify" was I raised all four tubes approx 3/4" using 9 pin noval tube socket savers that I picked up from ebay at the following link:

Seems to keep the amp running much cooler and actually gives the amp additional visual appeal.
Sorry my review is not as "technical" as some others, but if you are looking for a nice "mid-price" setup, the Schiit Valhalla 2 and the Modi 2 Uber make a nice entry level system.  I only have one pair of headphones and those are my Sennheiser HD600's.  As many have said, it seems this is the perfect amp for these 300 ohm cans and possibly the Beyerdynamic DT 880 or 990 250-600 ohm cans. 
Out of curiosity, did raising the tubes to cool the amp cause any changes in the sound?
One more thing, did you also swap the tubes or are the ones you are using still the 'factory' tubes?
Pros: Tube and Value
Cons: None at this Price
The electronic wizards and warriors at Schiit Audio can do battle in the bloody realm of HiFi audio worthy of this amp's mythical name. The technical schiit is on the website, the Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) type music reviews are not my thing. I'll keep this Schiit review short and brief. What does it for me, the sensation I get when the tunes produce that euphoria that sends "Qi" down your spine. I'm very sensitive to ear fatigue, so I prefer tube over solid state and open back over closed cans. Neutrality and accuracy is overrated, what matters to me is how my emotions connect to the tunes. The Valhalla 2 sounds great with my Grado GS1000e and HiFiMan HE-300 headphones, is the impedance match off for this setup? I don't know but sounds good to me. I got that "Qi" flow off Phil Mucci "Diabolik Films" and Silver Strain "La Main Gauche" .. weird how that works, I'm not into "witch house" at all
  • Like
Reactions: Andrew Lutchman
Pros: Great Resolution, Beautiful Finish, and Extremly Well Priced.
Cons: Power switch and gain settings are located on the back of the device.
What this is…
There just aren’t that many reviews of the Valhalla 2 available.  I started thinking… I have a Valhalla 2, why don’t I contribute to the same community that has provided this lurker valuable perspective on my headphone purchasing endeavors.  So here I am providing perspective on my ownership of the Valhalla 2.
Why did I purchase the Schiit Valhalla 2?
Simple, it got my attention.  It is designed and manufactured in the USA, by a very talented team of engineers.  It is an OTL that isn’t supposed to sound and perform like an OTL.  It is supposed to do things that one wouldn’t expect.  Based on the headphones below, you will see that I am testing all of the ones that shouldn’t sound good.
The Fit and Finish
Plain and simple, the team at Schiit Audio have designed the “Valhalla 2” to look and feel high end.  The pictures in my opinion will never do this piece of artwork justice.  Over the course of my many website and showroom visits I have been hard pressed to find any other headphone amp that looked this nice under the famous 1k mark.  Clean lines and subtle accents sum up the look of the Valhalla 2.  The volume knob feels firm to the touch and where it isn’t the final note in precision it is by no means a slouch even if it is warm to the touch (I actually enjoy the heat, it lets you know it is there and working).  The connections are firm and solid, a cable will not come unplugged if it was bumped or jarred by accident.  The addition of the preamp option was an added bonus and I have chosen to connect the device to AudioEngine 2+ powered speakers.  This combination is much enjoyed for the 10% of the time that I am not wearing a pair of cans.
Source & Connectivity
Flac/Tidal HiFi -> Windows PC -> Analysis Plus Toslink Optical Digital Cable -> Cambridge Audio 840C -> Analysis Plus Oval One Interconnects -> Schiit Audio Valhalla 2
Cambridge Audio 840C -> Analysis Plus Oval One Interconnects -> Schiit Audio Valhalla 2
Sample Music
Melody Gardot – Good Night
Musica Nuda – Day Tripper
Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused
Pink Floyd - Money
Jakob Dylan – On Up the Mountain
Gemma Hayes – This is What You Do
She & Him – I Should Have Known Better
Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stonger
Chris Cornell – Imagine
Bjork - Hunter
The Headphones
AKG K 702
Gain = Low
Volume Knob is at 12.
Overall Impression: Leaner is the first thing that comes to mind when listening through the 702.This headphone has great resolution, good separation, and surprisingly good depth. I feel like I am hearing the AKG’s sing. I just don’t feel that the same level of involvement and emotion is there.
Audeze LCD-2
Gain = Low
Volume Knob is 11-12 depending on the song.
Overall Impression: The resolution and staging are outstanding.There is truly noticeable depth in the music that I haven’t heard before. These headphones have what I can call exceptional resolution, staging, and separation. I find myself interrupted by smiles on a consistent basis. I have also found myself removing them because of the resolving 3D sound.I am wondering where that came from, then realize it was all in the music. I am happy to say that I am wearing this headphone at my desk for up to 6-8 hours a day plugged into the Valhalla 2.
Grado SR225E
Gain = Low
Volume Knob is at 9-10 depending on the song.
Overall Impression: Great midrange and hi’s.The Grado apply a level of passion and emotion into the music somehow that is truly magical.Where they don’t resolve quite as well as the AKG, I enjoy the separation, and depth that they do provide.This headphone is just a really fun and enjoyable listen.
Sennheiser HD598
Gain = Low
Volume Knob is at 11-12 depending on the song.
Overall Impression: Where this headphone makes for a very musical and fatigue free combination, I find that the soundstage isn’t as wide or deep as that of the other headphones.Going back to this headphone is very tough as this headphone just isn’t the same league when it comes to sound staging.
Overall Thoughts
The resolution, depth, and staging that the Valhalla 2 provides is just short of a miracle.  I have a hard time imagining better amplification, even though I know it exist.  The airy, atmospheric sound that flows through the LCD-2 and SR225E is absolutely enjoyable. These headphones keep wonderful pace through Bjork’s “Hunter”, resolve female vocals and capture the environments essence. Where all of the headphones listed don’t have the low end depth in their basket of tricks, the amp generously lets them shine and as a result I get to enjoy my music. I don’t find the Valhalla 2 to be a limitation, as all of these headphone combinations offered an extremely low noise floor.  Somehow this amp continues to surprise me, especially when I have taken the weekend off from listening.  Where I am tempted at times to pull the trigger on the Sennheiser HD650’s or Beyerdynamic T1’s just to hear the difference, I am able to resist.
Final thoughts
What can I say, I find a smile on my face every Monday-Friday when I check into my office and I don’t have to attend a teleconference. 
Because it means that I have the opportunity to sit down and crunch out actual work… wait for it… while listening to my Cambridge Audio 840C/Valhalla 2/Audeze LCD-2 combination.  For the money, I am a very happy camper.  I do plan on pursuing and testing solid state equipment like the Auralic Taurus MK II, Bryston BHA-1, Schiit Mjolnir, and Burson Audio Soloist. Until then I will remain oblivious to the idea of better sound and continue to embrace my Monday-Friday smiles.  I hope you find value in my feedback and perspective.  Please feel free to hit me up with any questions and I am always looking for feedback. Cheers!
Okay... got the Vallhala, it really brought out the magic in the HD650. The Valhalla is almost TOO transparent. You aren't really getting a tube sound, but it opens up almost any music I throw at it. Imaging is better than through my SS Marantz. The thing that most surprises me now is that the Valhalla + 650 sound amazing with any type of music. From Nora Jones to Boards of Canada. I may have a new all-rounder on my hands. Not what I was expectning. 
+1 on V2 with 650's. Have had my combo for a couple of years now and found your great review while looking for some tube rolling opinions. I'm also a huge fan of Bjork's Homogenic and often use Joga and Hunter as reference tracks when trying new stuff. Thanks for taking the time to review -- posts like this led me to Schiit in the first place, and I'm grateful for it.
Excuse me. Somebody knows if i use the preamp output to a external power amp for speakers, Will i obtain the same warm tonality?
Pros: Inexpensive, solidly-built, wide soundstage with high-ohm headphones, pre-amp is handy with active monitors.
Cons: Headphone choices are limited to high-impedance models, as low impedance models don't sound great with it.

“You know, I’ve never owned any Schi….um, any of your products..” I was saying to Jason Stoddard in LA in March. Indeed, the last time I’d sampled anything from his company was years ago at a meet in Australia, where an original Asgard hadn’t impressed me. So I asked Jason if he would send me a Valhalla 2 once they were in production, as the amp seemed to be something of a potential all-rounder, which is unusual for an OTL tube amp, which would normally be suited only to high-impedance headphones of 300 Ohms and above.

When the Valhalla 2 turned up, I was greeted with a small, but weighty box. The amp itself looks like it should be light, but the aluminium chassis is thicker than I had expected and the top, side and back plates are substantial metal as well, adding to the weight. The Valhalla 2 comes with 2 sets of tubes, the shorter ones are Russian 6N1P and the larger are 6N6P. Setting up the tubes was straight-forward: Put the small ones in the front sockets and the big ones in the back sockets. Plug in the power cord and source and power up. A gain switch on the back also changes the output impedance, with low gain set up for IEMs and low-impedance headphones such as Grados, IEMs and portable headphones which tend to be low impedance as well.

I didn’t simply want to hook the Valhalla 2 up to my best DAC, best cables and whatnot, as people who are likely to buy it wouldn’t have the same expensive equipment as I do, so I initially plugged it into the same power strip as my computer with the stock power cord and connected it to a Geek Out using an Audioquest Mini 3 cable.

The Valhalla 2 blurb says that you can use it even with planar headphones and IEMs, even if the power output at 50 Ohms was going to be a lacklustre 180mW. It did indeed seem to deliver music, at least basically to a pair of LCD-X but some roughness in the sound suggested that it wasn’t a good pairing and switching back to my Studio Six was a huge sonic relief. My HD-800s paired vastly better with the soundstage nice and wide, if the clarity and instrument delineation was behind that of the more expensive amp. More noticeable out of the box was that the sound had a bit of bite — a bit of harshness on the leading edge of notes. I decided to leave the amp running for a few days to see if it went away, as I’d experienced similar things with other amps fresh out of the box.

Inevitably I’d have to evaluate the amp on its own, so I hooked it up to the Hugo, which was also feeding the Studio Six. What was quite surprising was the degree to which it was possible to distinguish the sources the Valhalla 2. The Hugo was noticeably smoother than the Geek Out, though not by as big a margin as it was using the Studio Six, or directly out of each DAC using their headphone sockets.

The sound itself isn’t at all “tubey” but entirely clean and clear, which would make it a good match with mid-range high-impedance headphones, which can sound closed and narrow with poor amps. After settling on a pair of headphones, a bit of fine-tuning can then be done with DAC selection if desired if one simply doesn’t select a Modi or Bifrost from Schiit as well and simply be “done”. More so now that it has pre-amp outputs, putting it on one’s desk with a pair of active monitors from the likes of Emotiva, Adam or others would make for a great all-round home-office or similar rig.
Thanks to Jason for sending over a Valhalla for review. A video will follow soon.
@hidehide  It's pretty neutral to monitors as it is with headphones. You lose a bit of resolution compared to direct from an Yggdrasil, for example, but for anything less I'd say it would depend on the DAC's SE output quality I reckon.
@Currawong I'm new to all these DACs/AMPs/speakers. I'm planning to get a Schiit Gungnir multibit + Schiit Valhalla 2 for my Adam A7X and HD650. For the A7X, would you think it is better to connect thru XLR with Emotiva Control Freak as a passive volume control, or connect with the RCA thru Valhalla 2 as pre-amp? Thanks =)
hmmm.... i kinda wanna get a tube amp for iems tho...:p i know you've said that you dont prefer tube amps for iems, what are the downsides (i've never used a tube amp and im curious)