Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
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2019 Chapter 6:
Onsanity


If you love music, and you’re happy with your system, that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Here's to less insanity...and more Onsanity.
Wow

Refreshing

I've been happily doing just that for many years , first with (what turns out to be a fairly atrocious) Sumo Theorem and Axiom transport feeding a Diana / Andromeda. I'm impressed and frankly a bit touched you "garfed" an Andromeda II out from storage and took the time to share the picture. That and your most recent post says a lot about you and your company.

Ethical

I spent a princely sum of $99 on your Modi and discovered the most significant upgrade to my system in 20 years. Since that purchase, I've been enjoying the story - but most importantly the passion of Schiit. I'm soon purchasing a Freya along with a multibit DAC, as the Diana's volume control's L/R tracking is awfull, let alone dumping a gallon of contact cleaner once a year through it.....

I was planning on an amplifier purchase, but, you know? I'm good with the Andromeda II for now.... nice to know you are probably good with that as well

Thank you

/john
 
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There @Jason Stoddard goes applying logic and reason to a hobby where logic and reason have no business. :D
 
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2019 Chapter 6:
Onsanity


Or, Being Happy With What You Have


As we launch Aegir, I’m beginning to get a lot of questions like this: “I already have a couple of Vidar monoblocks, should I upgrade to Aegir?”

Sometimes these questions start a whole cascade:

“Oh yeah, and when Sol comes out, are you gonna have a ‘better’ phono stage than Mani, because maybe it’s time to upgrade that too.

“Oh, and if it has balanced outputs, maybe it’s time to go from Saga to Freya.

"And speaking of balanced outputs, maybe I should go from Bifrost to Yggdrasil.


“And while we’re talking about that, when is a more expensive DAC than Yggdrasil gonna show up?

“And by the way, how about an even more expensive preamp than Freya?”

Holy moly guys, let’s take a pause here. Because I really gotta be blunt and ask: do you really just like buying things?

No, seriously. Do you just like buying things?

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s cool if you just like buying things. Hell, I like new shiny stuff quite a bit. But growing up in a not-so-wealthy household with one crazy budgeting parent and another insanely cheap one, I’ve never quite shed the scrimp and save mentality. Twenty years of running an ad agency with relatively deep boom and bust cycles didn’t hurt, either. So I’m not in danger of FOMO buying sprees.

But I’m not you. If you have tons of disposable income that is nice and stable and predictable, and you like buying things, knock yourself out. Go ahead. Talk yourself into trying thousands of dollars of gear. I’m not going to stop you.

But, at the same time, I’m not going to encourage you to do so. Hence this chapter, looking at some ways of assessing, and perhaps moving away from, the insanity of gear churn.

Because maybe it’s time for some, ahem, Onsanity.


A Particular Individual

Now, let’s go back to the question that started it all: Aegir vs Vidar?

In this case, we can actually be helpful. And, if we’re lucky, we can extend this example to some general guidelines. Maybe. We’ll see.

Let’s look at the situation, though. You’re comparing two amplifiers, both similarly priced. One is a low-power, high-bias Continuity™ design, and one is a high-power, lower-bias Class AB design. They both have the same basic feature sets, but one allows you to de-bias the output stage with a front panel button. One has a warning about hot rooms (Aegir) and closed spaces. One doesn’t. Both can do stereo or mono, in the same way.

So, how do you choose?

If it was me, I’d probably start with a yes/no list something like this:
  1. Do I have the money to easily buy this product? As in, you’re not giving up food/shelter/transportation/travel/etc in order to purchase it, you’re not going to put it on a card and pay it off over time, you’re not going to use one of those fancy ‘get it now and pay it off later’ services with a silly Web 3.0 name, and you’re not going to plead with your SO to buy it for you. If the answer is no, stop right here. You’re done. Come on. Be real.
  2. Am I lacking something this product will do? If you already have an amp, you’re already listening to speakers. Is the amp that bad? Does it really need to be upgraded? Really? Seriously? Again, if the answer is no, it’s probably time to move on.
  3. Am I really unhappy with my system? No, really. If you’re content, why look at other products? What if the new product doesn’t work so well with your system? Now you’ve spent money and time and not gotten any better result. Be careful. Maybe it’s best not to change anything. Another no? Maybe best not to poke the bear.
Okay, so you’ve answered “yes, yes, and yes,” above. What about Aegir vs Vidar?

Here’s how I’d break it down:
  1. How efficient are your speakers? If they’re less efficient (say, 86db or less), you probably want to stick to Vidar. Or mono Aegirs. But mono Aegirs are more than twice as much money. And they put out a lot of heat.
  2. How loud do you listen? Okay, so you have less efficient speakers, but you don’t go above noon on Freya. In this case, either amp will probably be fine. Oh wait, you’re a headbanger? Stick with Vidar.
  3. What’s your room temperature? Both amps run pretty warm, but only Aegir has a warning in the owner’s manual about maybe needing a fan if your room is above 30 degrees C. You may want to stick with Vidar if you don’t want to turn on the A/C.
Hopefully that helps a bit.

“Wait a sec!” You cry. “There’s absolutely nothing there about how the amps sound! How are we supposed to choose if you don’t talk about sound?”

Okay, fair question. It’s one I’m not super comfortable with, because it gets into some awful sales-y practices, and it doesn’t take into account your particular system. More on that later. Here’s what I will say: In my opinion, when used within its output limitations, Aegir will typically sound better than Vidar. It’s a richer, more cohesive amplifier. However, it’s also a much less powerful amplifier, so it DOES have more limitations. AND, it’s dangerous making blanket statements like “A is always better than V.”

So...consider your own system.

(And do this only after answering ‘yes’ to the three questions above.)


Systems Diversity

What’s good for one system is not necessarily good for another.

Wait. Stop. Go back and read that again.

Actually, no. Read this:

What’s good for someone else’s system may not be good for yours.

(Oh yeah, and that goes about 10000% if ‘someone else’s system’ is a random dood on the intartubes who may or may not be being paid by another manufacturer, or who may or may not be good at this whole ‘subjective review’ thing.)

(Ah, and this is not to disparage the many independent reviewers out there. Just a reminder not to take literally the first thing you read as gospel, and to remember that the world can be a very gray place.)

And, here’s the kicker: even if it’s a reviewer using the product in the same exact system you have, it still might not sound good to you.

“Wait, what?” You ask. “How can that be? Shouldn’t both systems sound the same?”

Yes, they should.

But you may hear differently.

You may have different sonic preferences.

In fact, you almost certainly do.

So, even if it’s exactly the same system, that review (or your friend’s opinion) may mean absolutely nothing. Because you hear differently, and have different sonic preferences.

I see it all the time. We have one early listener who really really really loves clarity and detail. The stuff he loves I’m rather ‘meh’ on, because I like harmonic and tonal richness. He thinks I like stuff too warm. I think he likes stuff too neutral. It’s entirely possible that we can pass the same headphones back and forth on the same prototype system and I’ll love it and he’ll hate it.

So yeah, it’s a horribly gray world. I completely understand why some people retreat into a stance that “the measurements are all that is meaningful,” because that seeks to provide some order. You know, because if some numbers are higher than others and some are lower than others, then at least there is some standard, right?

Well, except that measurements don’t correlate especially well to what people hear.

Except that people hear differently.

Yeah. Best to go back and read that again. Again.

Because...those two statements taken together mean that we will never be able to have a “subjective quality” or “ear quality” measurement on an Audio Precision. There will never be a measurement like “97.34% of the original concert experience,” or “92.3 points on the Absolute Audio Perfection Scale.”

Never.

Why? Because everyone hears differently.

Here’s the problem: Who’s the arbiter of the Original Concert Experience? Who’s the creator of the Absolute Audio Perfection Scale? Do they hear like you? Or, if it’s a blended metric, like the Olive-Welti curve, who were the listeners? Are they listeners that immediate turn the bass and treble up all the way in their car? Do they do smiley-face equalization on everything? Again, do they have your same preferences?

In short, you don’t know. And even a panel of trained listeners may not give a weighted curve that youlike.

Because you hear differently. And you have different preferences.

“But that’s inconvenient,” you say. “That means I literally have to try everything in my specific system and see if it works for me.”

Yes. And yeah, that sucks. I get it. It’s a pain in the rear end to have to order and send things back, or visit a dealer and bring things back. It’s a complete collapse back to pure subjectivity, and all of the attendant messiness that it creates. Because if everything is subjective, then who’s to say that the color of the equipment or number of magic hologram stickers or price of the hand-braided yak-hair cable or the wireless Schumann Resonance tuner or a green paint pen or NOS gallium transistors may make all the difference in the world to you.

But then again, maybe that in itself is an argument for Onsanity.



The Penalty of Sidegrading

There’s a lot of talk about “end game” gear. But there’s less talk about the possible penalty of constantly swapping and changing and looking for an end game: endless sidegrading.

You know what I’m talking about.

It’s the endless Groundhog Day of audio.

You got a great new DAC that’s way warmer and richer than the old one...but it doesn’t resolve as well.

You got a shiny new amp that has insane punch and dynamics...but it’s a bit prickly in the high end.

You got fancy new headphones that resolve stuff you’ve never heard before...but they’re kinda bass light.

And so...

You pick up another new DAC that’s more resolving, but it’s kinda dry.

You pick up another new amp that’s more tonally rich, but it hits like a wet noodle.

You pick up new headphones with bass, but the resolution just isn’t there.

And so...

You swap it for another DAC that reviewers have promised to be a giant killer...but it’s kinda dead sounding.

You swap for another new amp that reviewers are loving...but it doesn’t sound anything like they said it did in your system.

You change up to brand new headphones from a company noted for their great headphones...but this one appears to be a miss.

And so...

(And so you get it. You just keep churning, and getting nowhere.)

“Well, that’s easy,” someone is saying. “You’re just not spending enough money. Go up the chain enough, and all those compromises go away.”

Oh really?

No, seriously: oh really?

Be honest now.

It couldn’t be that you’re just more invested in it, and therefore it must be better, right?

Because, in my opinion, a Fulla 2 can be an end-game system. Magni and Modi, surely. Heck, I’ve gone crazy and I usually use a Vali and a Modi Multibit on my work desk.

And yes, I’m completely serious.



What Can You Be Happy With?

That’s the real question, isn’t it: what can yoube happy with?

I’ll admit it. I’m pretty easy to satisfy. A Vali 2 and Modi Multibit is plenty good. I’ve rarely been disappointed in that stack. Now, it isn’t the most resolving bit of kit on the planet, and it doesn’t hit super hard, but it’s tonally very pleasant and it’s a relaxing, involving listen. It may be a little too rich for something like, say, the Audeze LCD-2 classics I like, and in that case I might want to go up to Lyr 3 or down to Magni 3 and Modi 3. Or even Fulla 2, which works great with them.

“But I thought you liked Mjolnir and Gungnir Multibit,” someone might ask.

Sure. Sure I do. When I have plenty of space, that’s a great combo. It’s also a whole heckuva lot more expensive. It also runs fairly hot and eats a ton of desk.

Bottom line, there’s room for every kind of system. Some people are gonna be totally happy with a Ragnarok and Yggdrasil on their desk. Me, I don’t have that kind of space. I can appreciate it for what it is, but I don’t feel any need to have it just for the sake of having it.

On the other hand, some people will think that Fulla 2 is overpriced. Yep. I get it. In that case, there’s no shame in running earbuds on your phone.

If you love music, and you’re happy with your system, that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Here's to less insanity...and more Onsanity.
Couldn't agree more Jason. As an audio nut for over 30 years, it has always astounded me how many people in this hobby seem to flip through gear faster that they change their clothes. I used to subscribe to many stereo magazines (I wont list them all, but one was Stereophile) and I couldn't believe how some guys were selling their 6 month old gear for half price or less...just so they could fund their latest "new path to audio nirvana". Me, I keep my gear for years and when I DO move up, I spend 6-12 months researching to find what I want...and then at least another 2-3 to get a price I can afford and am willing to pay (even if that means buying used). It does seems sometimes, that many people dont spend enough time tweaking their gear (or finding other components that match well with it) before they slap a for sale sign on it. In many cases, it seems like they couldn't even be bothered to spend enough time with the piece of gear, before they labeled it inferior for their needs and sent it off to the trade-in shelf. Seems like a shame...alot of good gear gets dissed just because it wasn't paired with the right other gear, and was discounted before it got a chance to shine within the context of a synergistic system. Oh well, bargain hunter types like me just end up getting better deals on the used stuff.
 
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That’s why the Loki Maxi is a good (not yet announce or in the product pipeline) product.

One day you feel like listening to extra bass heavy stuff, next day more neutral.
I upgraded my system once from the magni/modi stack to the modi multibit/valhalla 2. I seriously think my only other purchase will be a Loki unless something in the chain dies.
 
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I loved the last update by Jason. Having spent so much time upgrading and side grading, I found that the low-mid tier stuff was definitely good enough for me. $200-$400 headphones, a Magni/Modi level dac/amp was really all I found necessary.

I have experienced less expensive, and MORE expensive, and for the latter, I never found the cost to justify the inconsequential improvement.

But hey that's just me.

Honestly, the only thing I want from Schiit is a Magni/Modi in ONE chassis. I know, I know, but STILL. Just do this, and I'll die happy.

Don't get me wrong, I do find it fun to try a bunch of headphones, but when it comes to source and amp, I'm of the "get something you feel is good enough" camp, and worry mainly about the actual transducers.
 
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I loved the last update by Jason. Having spent so much time upgrading and side grading, I found that the low-mid tier stuff was definitely good enough for me. $200-$400 headphones, a Magni/Modi level dac/amp was really all I found necessary.

I have experienced less expensive, and MORE expensive, and for the latter, I never found the cost to justify the inconsequential improvement.

But hey that's just me.

Honestly, the only thing I want from Schiit is a Magni/Modi in ONE chassis. I know, I know, but STILL. Just do this, and I'll die happy.

Don't get me wrong, I do find it fun to try a bunch of headphones, but when it comes to source and amp, I'm of the "get something you feel is good enough" camp, and worry mainly about the actual transducers.
Get the Fulla 2 bro.

I mean sure it's not as good as the Magni 3/Modi 3 stack, but it keeps pretty close to the old Modi2U/Magni2 setup I had a long time ago.

Fulla 2 might be all the amp/dac one needs for under $300
 
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Get the Fulla 2 bro.

I mean sure it's not as good as the Magni 3/Modi 3 stack, but it keeps pretty close to the old Modi2U/Magni2 setup I had a long time ago.

Fulla 2 might be all the amp/dac one needs for under $300
Not enough headroom in the power department. Not for 'current gear' but because I review headphones, I have a wider spectrum of headphones at random points in time, and feel Magni levels of power covers 99% of what I would review. As far as DACs go, I'd be fine with Modi level. I just want it all in one chassis, lol.
 
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Well done, Jason. And, perfect timing as well.
Exactly my reason for staying with Gumby and not heading to Yggy.
I am happy in my space :)
Get the YGGY, and be happier........:ksc75smile:
 
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Just have to skip the sidegrading and keep three different amps and a collection of headphones to create the combo that best fits your mood. :)

 
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Not enough headroom in the power department. Not for 'current gear' but because I review headphones, I have a wider spectrum of headphones at random points in time, and feel Magni levels of power covers 99% of what I would review. As far as DACs go, I'd be fine with Modi level. I just want it all in one chassis, lol.
I agree, if they could do it in one chassis, I would buy.

And dude while I'm quoting you KSC75 > KSC35 :wink: Weird how good the soundstage is on the KSC75 while just being just a touch bright and not as muddy as the KSC35.

Anyway uh back to Schiit happens...curious about Aegir impressions. I have a Vidar in my rig and I absolutely love it. Fantastic bass.
 
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https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ContemporaryAmericanSociety/Chapter 7 -- consumerism -- Norton August.pdf

An amazing paper on consumerism, which not necessarily pertaining to audiophiles; is centered on the USA in comparison to the world. Reading it you can’t help but notice the underlying psychological concepts involved with simply buying for the sake of buying.

It turns out a new audio purchase creates a whole stream of endorphins causing a grand feeling of well-being. After which the cycle can start again and again as funds permit. Poor neighborhoods and countries have less consumerism and rely on family and social community interaction to parallel the endorphins of big purchases.

Ever live in a rich gated community? No one knows anyone except the total extroverts in town.

With the underlying proof that many aspects of our hobby are getting better and better, there is no better time than “now” to chase audio quality. It is true that gear is better than ever. Still I always wonder how much of a gear-head I really am? And........do I really need this stuff?

But in the USA consumerism is created. If you live in Orange County California driving a beat-up old car can actually make you look like a bad person; not a poor person; but an actual bad individual. Where have we wondered to?
 
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He managed to last a minute with these ones :ksc75smile:
I am contented with my Bimby-Jot-HD650/Brio R-LS50 :L3000:
I remember hearing these once and they were worse than Tyll portrays them to be.
 
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Couldn't agree more Jason. As an audio nut for over 30 years, it has always astounded me how many people in this hobby seem to flip through gear faster that they change their clothes. I used to subscribe to many stereo magazines (I wont list them all, but one was Stereophile) and I couldn't believe how some guys were selling their 6 month old gear for half price or less...just so they could fund their latest "new path to audio nirvana". Me, I keep my gear for years and when I DO move up, I spend 6-12 months researching to find what I want...and then at least another 2-3 to get a price I can afford and am willing to pay (even if that means buying used). It does seems sometimes, that many people dont spend enough time tweaking their gear (or finding other components that match well with it) before they slap a for sale sign on it. In many cases, it seems like they couldn't even be bothered to spend enough time with the piece of gear, before they labeled it inferior for their needs and sent it off to the trade-in shelf. Seems like a shame...alot of good gear gets dissed just because it wasn't paired with the right other gear, and was discounted before it got a chance to shine within the context of a synergistic system. Oh well, bargain hunter types like me just end up getting better deals on the used stuff.
To take your time is a bit sadistic but also FUN! I remember when upgrading from my all in one Panasonic radio/tape/record system to Rotel I first bought the pre amp and then had to wait a whole year to buy the power amp...not sure i have the same patience nowadays
 
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