Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
Jun 12, 2024 at 12:50 AM Post #154,666 of 158,116
A favorite of mine. Another Gene Hackman movie I liked was Heist, with Rebecca Pidgeon. Her version of the song Spanish Harlem is known as a great audio test track.🤪

I have that DVD.
 
Jun 12, 2024 at 1:28 AM Post #154,667 of 158,116
Das Boot was a great movie. But my favorite submarine movie is Hunt For Red October. I have no earthly clue how accurate it was, but any flaws were pretty transparent to the layman. Pairing a young Alec Baldwin with Sean Connery almost guaranteed success, and the soundtrack was brilliant.

I may be one of the few where a soundtrack is equally important to the actors and/or the plot....
Sure... but not realistic: "One ping tube only" :joy:
 
Jun 12, 2024 at 6:35 AM Post #154,668 of 158,116
Screenshot 2024-06-12 at 18.35.34.png
 
Jun 12, 2024 at 7:09 AM Post #154,669 of 158,116
tattarrattat Is the longest word that can be spelled in either direction, coined by James Joyce in Ulysses. Now you learned two things.🤪
“A man, a plan, a canal, Panama”

Edit: Ninja’d by @macdonjh
 
Last edited:
Jun 12, 2024 at 12:40 PM Post #154,673 of 158,116
Thanks Adam.

Vali3 just showed up. I have the stock tube (came with it) and a GE 5670 to compare. Kind of excited!

Kyle
Sounds fun if this is your first experience with tubes. I am more concerned with keeping the pins clean on older tubes but nothing wrong with cleaning the glass.
 
Jun 12, 2024 at 12:44 PM Post #154,674 of 158,116
New to tubes.

Do you have to protect the glass from fingerprints?
I use gloves when changing tubes, but I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s nice to keep them clean but the temperatures involved probably won’t be an issue.

Where finger oil does definitly become a problem is on things like xenon enclosed arc lamps for movie projectors which output 2500 to 4000 or more watts of light. Get a finger print on one of those and the thing will explode after a few hours use.
 
Jun 12, 2024 at 12:46 PM Post #154,676 of 158,116
2024, Chapter 6
Unleash Kraken!


Yeah, I know, it sounds corny.

And yeah, I know, double corny because you’ve looked at the power output and went, “Wait a sec, this isn’t exactly an arc welder.”

And maybe triple corny, because you’re wondering where the tie-in is here. Did Kraken have 5 necks? Was it even a Norse thing anyway?

Well, sorry for the corn. But Kraken is the answer to a simple question:

What if we made a multichannel amp to audiophile standards?

As in, what if we made a multichannel amp that’s just as comfortable with music as it is with movies? What if we went all-out, cut no corners, and built it exactly like we do all of our other amps?

Would that be interesting?


kraken-detail 1920.jpg



Another “Mine” Product

I’ve been using a prototype Kraken for almost a year now, paired up with a Syn. As Syn replaced my multi-thousand-dollar surround sound processor, Kraken replaced three Vidars. It is 1/3 the size, runs far cooler than even a single Vidar, and sounds just as good. I don’t miss the Vidars at all.

“Well, that’s you,” someone says. “What if I need more power?”

I’d ask: “How do you know you need more power?”

As in, do you measure the amount of power your amps are putting out?

Do you know the exact requirements of your speakers?

Do you factor in the additional power of the subwoofer if you’re doing a home theater setup?


Because I’ve been using Kraken with speakers down to 85dB efficiency, and I’m not wanting for power. And yes, this is with blockbuster movies and highly dynamic music. And no, I’m not volume-constrained; we have a dedicated theater room in a detached house.

So, like people who are discovering that Gjallarhorn (and even Rekkr) can produce lease-breaking output levels, maybe you’ll discover that a single Kraken is all you need to unleash.

Aside: Or yeah, maybe a couple if you have even more channels. Thanks Dolby.


The Path to Kraken

The path to Kraken started shortly before we introduced Syn, when I realized it might be a great idea to have an amp to pair with it. Yes, I know, this should have been obvious, but hey, I miss things. I’ve told you I’m not perfect.

But when I realized that doing a multichannel amp might be a good idea, oh boy did the ideas flow. I drew up three concepts:
  • A super-Rekkr: 5 channels in a Gjallarhorn-sized chassis. Yes, this fits. Amazingly.
  • A super-Aegir: 5 channels in a Aegir-sized chassis. This also had the benefit of using an Aegir 2 toroid.
  • A super-Ragnarok: 6/4/5/3 channels in a Tyr-sized chassis, configurable for up to 3 180W channels, or up to 6 45W channels. Neat idea conceptually, but pricey—think over $2K.
“So why didn’t you do all of them?” you ask.

Simple: because we have to pick our battles. Going whole-hog into multichannel amps with a line of three products, all of which are a bit off the beaten path, isn’t a great idea business-wise.

Plus, the super-Rekkr, at maybe 5 x 5W, would really only be for super-efficiency speakers, or very small systems. So, while cute, it probably wasn’t what we wanted to start with.

The super-Ragnarok, while really cool conceptually, and more in-line with what people might expect from a multichannel amp, would be a very pricey intro into the multichannel amp market…and a weird match with Syn.

So that left the super-Aegir.

Which left me with really a single question: would 20-30W be enough? I knew it would probably be a bit more powerful than Aegir, at least with only 2 channels driven, because it wouldn’t have the loss through Aegir’s Continuity™ output stage.

The answer, of course, was to build it and find out.

Design-wise, Kraken was an oddball. With 5 channels, that meant that one heatsink would have to do more work than the other. As in, one heatsink would be used for 3 channels, and the other for two. Weird? Sure. But Kraken was so over-designed that even the 3-channel heatsink had more than enough dissipation.

Kraken was, however, complex. 5 channels is a lot of channels. And I wasn’t about to cheat with op-amps or chip amps or Class D modules or switching supplies. So when you’re talking five fully discrete speaker power amps, really Class AB, current feedback, DC coupled, with 2SC/2SA devices and TO3P outputs, that’s a lot of parts.

Furthermore, I was using all the tricks of our other music-focused amps—as in, Schottky rectification, independent high voltage, regulated stacked supply from the front end to the drivers, intelligent 32-bit microprocessor and completely transparent current and temperature measurement for protection—so this was no stripped-down, cheaped-out amp.

The first iteration had a bonehead mistake with the current measurement system—as in, it could only measure total current, rather than per channel, which made it too trigger happy. But, in general, it worked, so I quickly moved on to a second prototype. This one needed a new microprocessor with enough ADC inputs to measure current on each channel independently.

The second proto pretty much just worked. Stephan’s firmware passed the screwdriver test, and we made some tweaks to help customers understand what was happening with the amp:
  • If the amp goes into current protect mode, only the LED of the affected channel flashes.
  • If it goes into temperature protect, the two LEDs on the affected heatsink side flash.
  • It has the fun “cylon” start-up thing.
  • And a fun “count-up” progress bar when coming out of standby.
Oh, and one other thing: a 12V trigger.

Cue the apoplexy.

“Oh mah gawd, the world must be ending!” someone cries. “Schiit actually did something useful and put a 12V trigger on their products? What the heck happened?”

Here’s what happened: we decided to put a 12V trigger on because this product has a higher likelihood of being used in a home theater environment, where these hopelessly antique interfaces are still sometimes being used.

So in Kraken’s case, you can plug in a 12V trigger and control its standby mode that way. No 12V = goes into standby. Yes 12V = begins operating again. Simple as that. Did I mention this is an extremely outdated interface?

But there it is. Enjoy.

Beyond that, Kraken is super-simple. 5 input RCAs, 5 pairs of binding post outputs. No bridging, no configuring, no switching, just connect your channels and go.

And, as soon as the second-generation Kraken was working in an unpainted chassis, I grabbed it and put it in my system.

As I mentioned before, it displaced a stack of Vidars. I was using 3 Vidars for 5 channels, stuck side by side on a long rack. It worked, but it ran hot and was, in general, overkill. When I got the Kraken installed in their place, it looked tiny and a bit silly.

But oh boy, did it sound good!

I missed nothing—and I mean nothing—from a stack of Vidars. Not in sound quality, not in power, not in anything.

In later testing, we ran Kraken with a pair of Magnepan LRS+. Good? Nah, only OK. Volume-limited. Definitely not a Tyr stack. But nor did it show any signs of strain—it played cool, and didn’t click off.

With a pair of midline Klipsch, it had enough volume to peel paint, as you’d expect.

But the most amazing thing is how mature, how totally comfortable Kraken is when paired with fairly fancy-pants stuff, like LS50 Metas. Having 5 channels of Metas is a fairly amazing idea, if a bit pricey. And Kraken is totally ready for that kind of challenge.

“So this thing still seems a bit weird,” you say.

And yeah, I admit, it’s not for everyone. It’s not a big bruiser, it doesn’t have 7 or 11 channels, it’s not what you’d expect.

But resolving? Oh yeah.

And quiet? Absolutely.

So let’s see how this goes. Maybe I’m one of a handful of people who want a bizarre amp like this. Maybe the market is a bit bigger. Or maybe I’ll be surprised. In any case, I have my Syn/Kraken stack, and I’m set. So neener.


Kraken Secrets

“Wait a sec,” you say. “That’s it? Why is Kraken so good? What makes you say it overperforms its numbers? Are you even gonna guess?”

Well, sometimes this business is weird. I remember a time, back when we were doing speakers, when we came up with a tiny sub-sat system with a puny ½ cubic foot bandpass subwoofer. I put it together, thinking, “There’s no way it can be any good.” And then being gobsmacked when it outperformed pretty much everything else we’d made to date.

Kraken isn’t that extreme. The main surprise was really that I could swap out three burly Vidars and not even notice they were gone. It took a while for that to sink in. In retrospect, that’s pretty amazing.

So why is Kraken better than it should be?

Well, I’m sure that some of it is the simple fact that we treated it like all of our other amps—fully discrete, current feedback, linear supply, yadda yadda.

But I think, even more importantly, Kraken has two important features you don’t usually see on other amps:

  • No invasive protection mechanisms.
  • Super beyond the valley of overbuilt power supply and output stage.
The most important factor, I bet, is “no invasive protection mechanisms.” Every power amp has to have some kind of protection to keep it from self-immolating if it’s accidentally shorted, or abused into a speaker load that’s more like a screwdriver than it should be.

There are many ways to protect an amplifier:
  • Rail fuses or breakers. This is what Sumo used to use. This is relatively non-invasive, but it’s slooooowwwww, and also you’re taking a chance that someone might, ah, wrap the fuses in foil or do something equally silly.
  • PTC thermistors. These sound neat—they are variable resistors that increase in value when they heat up, cutting off the power supply—until you realize they degrade every time they trigger. Ouch.
  • Current limiting. Most amps have in-built analog current limiting. This is a simple and easy way to protect an amp that is fast, predictable, and doesn’t degrade over time. It also happens to sound like absolute ass. We don’t use current limiting. It’s a horribly invasive way to protect an amplifier. None of our amps have this.
  • Analog computer style protection. Some of our simpler amps—Rekkr, Gjallarhorn, Magni, etc—use a simple, analog computer style protection to lift the output relay when things get spicy. This works very well and is uninvasive, requiring only tiny resistors in the power supply for measurement.
  • Microprocessor oversight. This is what we do with pretty much all of our other amps. It’s a lot more sophisticated than the analog computer style protection, since we can set current limits at multiple time constants, factor in temperature and DC, and do lots of other fancy things. The most important thing, though, is this is also completely uninvasive, using just tiny resistors or hall-effect sensors for current.
With uninvasive protection, Kraken can do some fairly stupid tricks, like sourcing 20A of current for 100mS. This is completely bonkers for a 20-30W amp. And I think that’s a big reason it sounds the way it does.

The other factor—the overbuilt power supply—just backs this up. The transformer in Kraken is exactly the same transformer as in Ragnarok 2 and Aegir 2, a 600VA toroid that is complete overkill. This then feeds a power supply with 66,000uF of filter capacitance, and a separate regulated boost supply for the front end to the drivers. This boost supply means we can run the outputs right up to the rails, increasing efficiency. And, since the boost supply isn’t stacked on top of the main supply, and regulated, it provides a rock-solid basis for Kraken’s front end.

“Ouch, more tech-speak,” someone says. “Why do you have to go so techy?”

Ha.

Well, I could be snarky and say, “When you aren’t using pre-done modules with catchy names, you actually have to do some engineering, which means understanding a few things.” But that’s mean. Let’s just go with the fact that I’m the analog guy, and I really like what I do, and so I get excited about it. Apologies if the explanations are dense. But sometimes that’s all they can be.

As always, I hope you enjoy Kraken…or, even better, Kraken and Syn!
 
Schiit Audio Stay updated on Schiit Audio at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
 
https://www.facebook.com/Schiit/ http://www.schiit.com/
Jun 12, 2024 at 1:29 PM Post #154,678 of 158,116
OK, Now I want a Syn just so I can justify a Krakken. :rolling_eyes:

** No pics of the Krakken's innards? How disappointing. :D
 
Last edited:
Jun 12, 2024 at 1:39 PM Post #154,680 of 158,116
2024, Chapter 6
Unleash Kraken!


Yeah, I know, it sounds corny.

And yeah, I know, double corny because you’ve looked at the power output and went, “Wait a sec, this isn’t exactly an arc welder.”

And maybe triple corny, because you’re wondering where the tie-in is here. Did Kraken have 5 necks? Was it even a Norse thing anyway?

Well, sorry for the corn. But Kraken is the answer to a simple question:

What if we made a multichannel amp to audiophile standards?

As in, what if we made a multichannel amp that’s just as comfortable with music as it is with movies? What if we went all-out, cut no corners, and built it exactly like we do all of our other amps?

Would that be interesting?





Another “Mine” Product

I’ve been using a prototype Kraken for almost a year now, paired up with a Syn. As Syn replaced my multi-thousand-dollar surround sound processor, Kraken replaced three Vidars. It is 1/3 the size, runs far cooler than even a single Vidar, and sounds just as good. I don’t miss the Vidars at all.

“Well, that’s you,” someone says. “What if I need more power?”

I’d ask: “How do you know you need more power?”

As in, do you measure the amount of power your amps are putting out?

Do you know the exact requirements of your speakers?

Do you factor in the additional power of the subwoofer if you’re doing a home theater setup?


Because I’ve been using Kraken with speakers down to 85dB efficiency, and I’m not wanting for power. And yes, this is with blockbuster movies and highly dynamic music. And no, I’m not volume-constrained; we have a dedicated theater room in a detached house.

So, like people who are discovering that Gjallarhorn (and even Rekkr) can produce lease-breaking output levels, maybe you’ll discover that a single Kraken is all you need to unleash.

Aside: Or yeah, maybe a couple if you have even more channels. Thanks Dolby.


The Path to Kraken

The path to Kraken started shortly before we introduced Syn, when I realized it might be a great idea to have an amp to pair with it. Yes, I know, this should have been obvious, but hey, I miss things. I’ve told you I’m not perfect.

But when I realized that doing a multichannel amp might be a good idea, oh boy did the ideas flow. I drew up three concepts:
  • A super-Rekkr: 5 channels in a Gjallarhorn-sized chassis. Yes, this fits. Amazingly.
  • A super-Aegir: 5 channels in a Aegir-sized chassis. This also had the benefit of using an Aegir 2 toroid.
  • A super-Ragnarok: 6/4/5/3 channels in a Tyr-sized chassis, configurable for up to 3 180W channels, or up to 6 45W channels. Neat idea conceptually, but pricey—think over $2K.
“So why didn’t you do all of them?” you ask.

Simple: because we have to pick our battles. Going whole-hog into multichannel amps with a line of three products, all of which are a bit off the beaten path, isn’t a great idea business-wise.

Plus, the super-Rekkr, at maybe 5 x 5W, would really only be for super-efficiency speakers, or very small systems. So, while cute, it probably wasn’t what we wanted to start with.

The super-Ragnarok, while really cool conceptually, and more in-line with what people might expect from a multichannel amp, would be a very pricey intro into the multichannel amp market…and a weird match with Syn.

So that left the super-Aegir.

Which left me with really a single question: would 20-30W be enough? I knew it would probably be a bit more powerful than Aegir, at least with only 2 channels driven, because it wouldn’t have the loss through Aegir’s Continuity™ output stage.

The answer, of course, was to build it and find out.

Design-wise, Kraken was an oddball. With 5 channels, that meant that one heatsink would have to do more work than the other. As in, one heatsink would be used for 3 channels, and the other for two. Weird? Sure. But Kraken was so over-designed that even the 3-channel heatsink had more than enough dissipation.

Kraken was, however, complex. 5 channels is a lot of channels. And I wasn’t about to cheat with op-amps or chip amps or Class D modules or switching supplies. So when you’re talking five fully discrete speaker power amps, really Class AB, current feedback, DC coupled, with 2SC/2SA devices and TO3P outputs, that’s a lot of parts.

Furthermore, I was using all the tricks of our other music-focused amps—as in, Schottky rectification, independent high voltage, regulated stacked supply from the front end to the drivers, intelligent 32-bit microprocessor and completely transparent current and temperature measurement for protection—so this was no stripped-down, cheaped-out amp.

The first iteration had a bonehead mistake with the current measurement system—as in, it could only measure total current, rather than per channel, which made it too trigger happy. But, in general, it worked, so I quickly moved on to a second prototype. This one needed a new microprocessor with enough ADC inputs to measure current on each channel independently.

The second proto pretty much just worked. Stephan’s firmware passed the screwdriver test, and we made some tweaks to help customers understand what was happening with the amp:
  • If the amp goes into current protect mode, only the LED of the affected channel flashes.
  • If it goes into temperature protect, the two LEDs on the affected heatsink side flash.
  • It has the fun “cylon” start-up thing.
  • And a fun “count-up” progress bar when coming out of standby.
Oh, and one other thing: a 12V trigger.

Cue the apoplexy.

“Oh mah gawd, the world must be ending!” someone cries. “Schiit actually did something useful and put a 12V trigger on their products? What the heck happened?”

Here’s what happened: we decided to put a 12V trigger on because this product has a higher likelihood of being used in a home theater environment, where these hopelessly antique interfaces are still sometimes being used.

So in Kraken’s case, you can plug in a 12V trigger and control its standby mode that way. No 12V = goes into standby. Yes 12V = begins operating again. Simple as that. Did I mention this is an extremely outdated interface?

But there it is. Enjoy.

Beyond that, Kraken is super-simple. 5 input RCAs, 5 pairs of binding post outputs. No bridging, no configuring, no switching, just connect your channels and go.

And, as soon as the second-generation Kraken was working in an unpainted chassis, I grabbed it and put it in my system.

As I mentioned before, it displaced a stack of Vidars. I was using 3 Vidars for 5 channels, stuck side by side on a long rack. It worked, but it ran hot and was, in general, overkill. When I got the Kraken installed in their place, it looked tiny and a bit silly.

But oh boy, did it sound good!

I missed nothing—and I mean nothing—from a stack of Vidars. Not in sound quality, not in power, not in anything.

In later testing, we ran Kraken with a pair of Magnepan LRS+. Good? Nah, only OK. Volume-limited. Definitely not a Tyr stack. But nor did it show any signs of strain—it played cool, and didn’t click off.

With a pair of midline Klipsch, it had enough volume to peel paint, as you’d expect.

But the most amazing thing is how mature, how totally comfortable Kraken is when paired with fairly fancy-pants stuff, like LS50 Metas. Having 5 channels of Metas is a fairly amazing idea, if a bit pricey. And Kraken is totally ready for that kind of challenge.

“So this thing still seems a bit weird,” you say.

And yeah, I admit, it’s not for everyone. It’s not a big bruiser, it doesn’t have 7 or 11 channels, it’s not what you’d expect.

But resolving? Oh yeah.

And quiet? Absolutely.

So let’s see how this goes. Maybe I’m one of a handful of people who want a bizarre amp like this. Maybe the market is a bit bigger. Or maybe I’ll be surprised. In any case, I have my Syn/Kraken stack, and I’m set. So neener.


Kraken Secrets

“Wait a sec,” you say. “That’s it? Why is Kraken so good? What makes you say it overperforms its numbers? Are you even gonna guess?”

Well, sometimes this business is weird. I remember a time, back when we were doing speakers, when we came up with a tiny sub-sat system with a puny ½ cubic foot bandpass subwoofer. I put it together, thinking, “There’s no way it can be any good.” And then being gobsmacked when it outperformed pretty much everything else we’d made to date.

Kraken isn’t that extreme. The main surprise was really that I could swap out three burly Vidars and not even notice they were gone. It took a while for that to sink in. In retrospect, that’s pretty amazing.

So why is Kraken better than it should be?

Well, I’m sure that some of it is the simple fact that we treated it like all of our other amps—fully discrete, current feedback, linear supply, yadda yadda.

But I think, even more importantly, Kraken has two important features you don’t usually see on other amps:

  • No invasive protection mechanisms.
  • Super beyond the valley of overbuilt power supply and output stage.
The most important factor, I bet, is “no invasive protection mechanisms.” Every power amp has to have some kind of protection to keep it from self-immolating if it’s accidentally shorted, or abused into a speaker load that’s more like a screwdriver than it should be.

There are many ways to protect an amplifier:
  • Rail fuses or breakers. This is what Sumo used to use. This is relatively non-invasive, but it’s slooooowwwww, and also you’re taking a chance that someone might, ah, wrap the fuses in foil or do something equally silly.
  • PTC thermistors. These sound neat—they are variable resistors that increase in value when they heat up, cutting off the power supply—until you realize they degrade every time they trigger. Ouch.
  • Current limiting. Most amps have in-built analog current limiting. This is a simple and easy way to protect an amp that is fast, predictable, and doesn’t degrade over time. It also happens to sound like absolute ass. We don’t use current limiting. It’s a horribly invasive way to protect an amplifier. None of our amps have this.
  • Analog computer style protection. Some of our simpler amps—Rekkr, Gjallarhorn, Magni, etc—use a simple, analog computer style protection to lift the output relay when things get spicy. This works very well and is uninvasive, requiring only tiny resistors in the power supply for measurement.
  • Microprocessor oversight. This is what we do with pretty much all of our other amps. It’s a lot more sophisticated than the analog computer style protection, since we can set current limits at multiple time constants, factor in temperature and DC, and do lots of other fancy things. The most important thing, though, is this is also completely uninvasive, using just tiny resistors or hall-effect sensors for current.
With uninvasive protection, Kraken can do some fairly stupid tricks, like sourcing 20A of current for 100mS. This is completely bonkers for a 20-30W amp. And I think that’s a big reason it sounds the way it does.

The other factor—the overbuilt power supply—just backs this up. The transformer in Kraken is exactly the same transformer as in Ragnarok 2 and Aegir 2, a 600VA toroid that is complete overkill. This then feeds a power supply with 66,000uF of filter capacitance, and a separate regulated boost supply for the front end to the drivers. This boost supply means we can run the outputs right up to the rails, increasing efficiency. And, since the boost supply isn’t stacked on top of the main supply, and regulated, it provides a rock-solid basis for Kraken’s front end.

“Ouch, more tech-speak,” someone says. “Why do you have to go so techy?”

Ha.

Well, I could be snarky and say, “When you aren’t using pre-done modules with catchy names, you actually have to do some engineering, which means understanding a few things.” But that’s mean. Let’s just go with the fact that I’m the analog guy, and I really like what I do, and so I get excited about it. Apologies if the explanations are dense. But sometimes that’s all they can be.

As always, I hope you enjoy Kraken…or, even better, Kraken and Syn!
Ok dumb question. How would I do subwoofer outputs with Syn/Kraken.

I have a theater setup doubling as a main listening setup (by using the Freya as a HT Bypass to the mains). Currently I have a Yamaha AVR receiving my theater feed from a Nvidia Shield, then outputting to projector for video, and then using bypass outputs to go to a Freya and then Aegir for the mains, and the AVR powers the center and rear surrounds, along with the big movie subwoofer. The Freya additional outputs are going to the smaller music subwoofer. In this setup, looking to replace the AVR, Freya, and Aegir with the Syn and Kraken. I can split the audio from the hdmi feed, but I don't know how to manage the subwoofer(s) for theater use...

Edit: misworded, I know Syn handles the theater subwoofer, but the music sub was going from the extra output from the Freya. Perhaps the answer is extra output from the Loki Max?
 
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