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I have a HD650, but pretty sure you will love it with Grados!
PLEASE post your impressions
Ok guys, first impression is "BOOM!" With a brand new AMP/DAC combo, I can only comment on the pair as a single change. But this set-up is so up to the task with all of the music I'm throwing at it. This is pretty much the most unfair comparison of all time, BUT, compared to my on-board motherboard DAC that felt blended, fuzzy, and unpronounced, the Schiit set-up feels distinct, hard hitting, and transparent to the point of pronouncing major details within tracks that never made any appearance at all before.
The Grado RS1i's have always been incredibly eager to attack the music, but now they are so happy that they've finally found their vessel, their Bifrost, to the land of Asgard! (haha) Godly music tracks sound absolutely Godly as they should. When listening to dynamically demanding tracks like "Vampire" by Skazi or (call me mainstream, whatever haha) "Like a G6" by Java, the layers of sound are rich and full. At some points more mellow bands like Alt-J give the feeling that the band is right there in the room. Metal like "Through the Fire and the Flames," by Dragonforce which is probably a recognizable track to anyone that listens to the genre, sounded very revealing and explosive with the complex layers and hyper fast details happening at all moments.
Detail is a double edge sword, and unfortunately, I've discovered that some of my old favorite tracks are actually poorly produced, and the difference between recordings is noticeable. But no matter what, the dynamics are produced better on every track that is thrown at this set up, and therefore universally makes all of my music better. Some music just improves more dramatically than others, depending on the quality of recording.
Could I ever think of an improvement upon this DAC/AMP? Actually yes. It might be that I have thus far only listened to 320 kb/s recordings, but there can be moments where the smaller less distinct details of a recording (that probably I never even heard previously) could potentially be more revealed and detailed. I will have to go to my first meet up soon to see what I discover. This also might just be me discovering how far detail transparency can go.
So there is my initial impression. I have 2 hours of listening in so far, which gives the AMP/DAC 26 hours of burn-in if they were burnt in 24 hours at the factory as Schiit claims. It's hard to say if I'll notice the sound change, but right now, I hope it doesn't. This set up has knocked my socks off. This was a great investment, and makes me wonder how I could allow myself to go without a dedicated AMP/DAC for so long. At least I am glad I saved for this.
I contacted the folks at Schiit regarding my harshness issues - shrill highs and recessed mids and got an email back literally minutes later. Schiit confirmed that the sound will improve over time plus extending my return period by 15 days. And I'll be damned, I never in a thousand years though that sound on solid state hardware can change with time. Especially not THIS much. Read on to see how I came to this conclusion:
It went from being unusable (had to put the headphones down because it was actually hurting) to stomping the Xonar with LME49990's. I did all this testing in best way I could think of to eliminate placebo. I went and built myself an RCA switch box with 3 inputs and 3 outputs. AB tests don't lie (as much), especially when the difference was so dramatic. I got the volume levels between the STX and the Bifrost as close as I could and compared for a while. I'll go as far as to say I was hating the Bifrost sound. To make sure it was not just me hearing things I shut everything down and repeated the same test a few more times, on 3 different days. I heard the same unpleasant sound coming out of the DAC every time. This Schiit just won't do, but with the extra time to evaluate I had nothing to lose. Time to tuck it away and leave it playing music 24/7.
With 200+ hours on it, I did the same tests again recently. Not only was the vast difference gone, but the mids were where they should and the highs were not hurting! On top of that, the Bifrost sounded way better than the Xonar in bass tightness, soundstage, instrument separation, quieter... pretty much everything! So there you have it. I realize this is still far from scientific but I think with AB testing the variables are controlled enough to not make it placebo. Who knows, maybe the difference wasn't as big as it sounded like to me but I can't deny it still happened. This Schiit made me come to the conclusion that people here weren't crazy when they talked about DACs burning in.
Take this however you want, but one thing here is certain - I will deal with Schiit again in the future as their service is top notch as well as recommend them to anyone looking for great gear. My only remaining gripe with their gear is lack of a power switch up front, but it's only a minor issue. Cheers!
TL;DR: extensive AB testing suggest that there is such a thing as solid state burn in and Schiit has outstanding customer service
I currently own HIFIMan He-400s and a Schiit Lyr2 with a Schiit Modi (USB) DAC running mostly iTunes and Pandora from a Macbook Pro. I'm looking to hear from someone that has had a similar combo to this that then upgraded to a Bifrost Uber. I know it should sound better, but I'm trying to get a sense of how much better. If I did this I would ditch the USB and go to using Toslink. So how much of the improvement would be the Bifrost, and how much would be from going Toslink over what I currently have?
The Bifrost can decode 176 and 192 rather than being limited to the Modi's max of 96. In that sense it is objectively better (more capable). It also has 3 inputs (toslink, coax, and USB) so it's more capable in that way also. And it is upgradeable so when Schiit comes up with new circuit boards in the future, it can stay current.
I have a Bifrost but have not heard the Modi to compare the sound, sorry.
I don't think there will be any sonic difference at all between the USB, optical, and coax inputs. Not unless you have major RFI/EMI interference now causing obvious audible problems thru USB. Only in that case would optical/toslink be better, since it will be immune to that interference.
Edit: before I got the bifrost, I used the Mobile Fidelity V-DAC. Hard to say if that is comparable to the Modi, but the v-DAC costs more. And the Bifrost is a noticeable improvement over it. It's not day and night difference - but it is to me a significant difference that helps me enjoy the music more.
+1, except HD650, ASUS>Modi>Lyr 2>HD650's, also exploring an upgrade to a Bitfrost USB. I haven't had an opportunity to compare the Modi to the Bitfrost, so I would love to hear from those who have?
I own 2 Modi (one USB and one optical) and an UberBifrost, which kind of tells you how much I like Schiit products. I thought I had the best dac/amp combo in the world, until I upgraded from the Modi/USB to the Bifrost Uber. Huge difference, across the board. Main thing I noticed was much larger and more 3D soundstage along with much better imaging. Also the mids and highs were a lot smoother and the bass a lot tighter. I mean it cost 5 times as much but even so I consider it an exceptional investment in my headphone system.
+1 I did the same. I noticed more detail, larger sound stage, etc..
Sonoric comparisons with the gungnir unbalanced?
That's the kind of info I was looking for. Thanks!
I was going to put my Vali up for sale and now I think the Modi will join it.
HPiper, could you tell much of a difference between the optical and USB Modi? I'm trying to get a feel for if using the optical is an upgrade by itself
Very little if any at all. the optical seems like it might be a tiny bit quieter (lower noise floor) but that may just be the cd player output vs my PC output. So take it for what it is worth, optical sounds a little quieter to me but that is on MY system. It isn't a large difference.
Thanks. Schiit has been pretty vocal about generally not thinking too much about USB, which made me think that Toslink might be a noticeable improvement. When I get a Bifrost I was probably going to pass on the USB option and just use the Toslink out on my Macbook Pro.
Going back to the leaving the DAC on or off question... someone said it shouldn't draw much power if you leave it on. My Bifrost runs pretty hot if I leave it on all the time. Is that typical for other people?
I always think Toslink is preferable to USB audio