Schiit Jotunheim Review / Preview - Head-Fi TV
Oct 22, 2020 at 10:47 PM Post #6,361 of 6,455

AppleheadMay

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Hey all, been perusing the crazy number of pages on this topic after deciding on the Jotunheim Multibit DAC/Amp combo.
I'm new to the audiophile world, only owning a pair of Campfire IOs that I bought in March of this year. Currently, I run the IO off my Samsung Galaxy S8, was subscribed to Amazon Music HD for a couple months, but decided against supporting them.

Now, I'm moving into the crazy land of buying an entry level system for home enjoyment (new job / birthday gift), while contemplating a complete switch to the Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iMac, etc.), and purchasing Hi-Res audio online. It seems like Jotunheim would be a good entry level, coming from nothing, while allowing me room to purchase over ear headphones in the future. My musical tastes range from Florence and the Machine to Slipknot. I love detail retrieval, and appreciate high-end frequency as much as low-end rumble.

Does the following setup sound alright?
Jotunheim with Multibit DAC card.
New iMac (don't own yet)
USB connection to DAC (do I need a special USB cable with a separate ground to ensure balanced output from the amp?)
Balanced male XLR to MMCX cable from http://www.mimic-cables.com
Campfire Audio IO IEM

I did notice the Jotunheim has a limit of 24 bit / 192 kHz audio input. I know some content goes well beyond that limit. Should this be a concern?

What I would do in your case (purely my opinion), assuming you will want to move to headphones later on (the Jot is too powerful to buy just for IEMs) and assuming you will want to upgrade/expand your system later on is:

-- for the Apple part:
-Mac Mini: runs just as fine as an iMac and you can attach any monitor to it, a cheap one at first and you can upgrade to a big ultrawide or for example a 48 OLED later if you want. Any monitor you like.
-iPad Air 11": just the right size, latest processor and tech at a much lower price than the Pro.
iPhone 12 Mini: I used to have a 6s, now an 11 Pro Max but I'm ordering the 12 Mini. The rest is way to big to keep in a shirt/jeans pocket and haul around everywhere.
- forget Apple's services like Apple Music and aTV+, they suck. Rip your music from CDs, buy from HDTracks and/or stream from Tidal or Qobuz.

-- for the audio part:
- The Jot is a true bang for the buck device and even performs well over its price. Get one without a DAC, the multibit card is nowhere near the performance/SQ and verstility of a Bifrost.
- For the dac, get a Topping D10s. It performs just as well as the AK4490 card you can put it the Jot at the same price but once you upgrade to a better DAC (Bifrost highly recommended) you can still use it as a DD converter. Later on it could serve for example to connect your Mac with USB to the Bifrost with coaxial for audio other than your music library. Upgrade to a Bifrost later on.
- to get your music from the Mac to the DAC use a Roon Bridge. This way you stream your music over your network instead of directly connnecting to your computer which improves SQ quite a bit.
The cheapest option would be an RPI4 with Ropieee. Just as adequate but arguably almost as good as much more expensive devices like a StackAudio Link, Lumin U1 (mini) or Auralic Aries).
You can find what you need for that on Amazon: "Labists RPi4 kit" + "Manouii case" (or any other case without fans made from solid aluminum) + RoPieee (very easy to install). Total price should be 100 bucks.
- For music software, use Roon, there simply is no better experience. Get a free 30-day trial (plus a free Tidal/Qobuz trial) you can run from your Linux computer now and connect your IEMs to your computer just to see how it works. It's expensive though, 149 for a year or 450 lifetime but you can use it on any device without purchasing additional licences (IOS, Android, Mac, PC, Linux, a dedicated music server (NUC, Roon Nucleus, Synology NAS)). If you get the lifetime deal, after 10 years it'll have cost you 45 a year.
I can't recommend Roon enough.

Your upgrade path is simple after that without needing to replace anything: add a Bifrost and keep using your D10s, add a NUC with Roon Core or a Nucleus, get some nice headphones with a balanced cable ...

My setup (or one of them at least) for desktop is:
Mac Mini + Windows PC with LG OLED 48 CX.
Roon Nucleus -> StackAudio Link -> Schiit Bifrost 2 -> Jotunheim + Lyr 3 (this is using the USB input of the Bifrost)
I also connect my Mac via USB to a Topping D10S that connects to my Bifrost via coaxial.
My windows PC is connected via USB to a SBX G6 that connects to the Bifrost via optical.
 
Oct 23, 2020 at 12:01 AM Post #6,362 of 6,455

OneBoot

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What I would do in your case (purely my opinion), assuming you will want to move to headphones later on (the Jot is too powerful to buy just for IEMs) and assuming you will want to upgrade/expand your system later on is:

-- for the Apple part:
-Mac Mini: runs just as fine as an iMac and you can attach any monitor to it, a cheap one at first and you can upgrade to a big ultrawide or for example a 48 OLED later if you want. Any monitor you like.
-iPad Air 11": just the right size, latest processor and tech at a much lower price than the Pro.
iPhone 12 Mini: I used to have a 6s, now an 11 Pro Max but I'm ordering the 12 Mini. The rest is way to big to keep in a shirt/jeans pocket and haul around everywhere.
- forget Apple's services like Apple Music and aTV+, they suck. Rip your music from CDs, buy from HDTracks and/or stream from Tidal or Qobuz.

-- for the audio part:
- The Jot is a true bang for the buck device and even performs well over its price. Get one without a DAC, the multibit card is nowhere near the performance/SQ and verstility of a Bifrost.
- For the dac, get a Topping D10s. It performs just as well as the AK4490 card you can put it the Jot at the same price but once you upgrade to a better DAC (Bifrost highly recommended) you can still use it as a DD converter. Later on it could serve for example to connect your Mac with USB to the Bifrost with coaxial for audio other than your music library. Upgrade to a Bifrost later on.
- to get your music from the Mac to the DAC use a Roon Bridge. This way you stream your music over your network instead of directly connnecting to your computer which improves SQ quite a bit.
The cheapest option would be an RPI4 with Ropieee. Just as adequate but arguably almost as good as much more expensive devices like a StackAudio Link, Lumin U1 (mini) or Auralic Aries).
You can find what you need for that on Amazon: "Labists RPi4 kit" + "Manouii case" (or any other case without fans made from solid aluminum) + RoPieee (very easy to install). Total price should be 100 bucks.
- For music software, use Roon, there simply is no better experience. Get a free 30-day trial (plus a free Tidal/Qobuz trial) you can run from your Linux computer now and connect your IEMs to your computer just to see how it works. It's expensive though, 149 for a year or 450 lifetime but you can use it on any device without purchasing additional licences (IOS, Android, Mac, PC, Linux, a dedicated music server (NUC, Roon Nucleus, Synology NAS)). If you get the lifetime deal, after 10 years it'll have cost you 45 a year.
I can't recommend Roon enough.

Your upgrade path is simple after that without needing to replace anything: add a Bifrost and keep using your D10s, add a NUC with Roon Core or a Nucleus, get some nice headphones with a balanced cable ...

My setup (or one of them at least) for desktop is:
Mac Mini + Windows PC with LG OLED 48 CX.
Roon Nucleus -> StackAudio Link -> Schiit Bifrost 2 -> Jotunheim + Lyr 3 (this is using the USB input of the Bifrost)
I also connect my Mac via USB to a Topping D10S that connects to my Bifrost via coaxial.
My windows PC is connected via USB to a SBX G6 that connects to the Bifrost via optical.
Wow! I appreciate everyone's thorough feedback. @AppleheadMay I plan on buying some "cans" in the future, so having an amp with room to grow seems like a good idea. I've written off Apple, Spotify, Tidal, etc. for streaming. Qobuz seems to pay the artists a decent cut, so I'm open to them.

Your Roon Bridge solution seems like a great idea, if I had a house with multiple rooms. I am currently renting a room, and can't really listen to music at work, so my 11'x11' room is my space. I'm also a little confused how the Raspberry Pi would output better USB audio than the Mac? Does it have a better audio system? I'm trying to create a temporary endgame at my desk in my room.

The Roon subscription is $700 for life now :-/ Jotunheim and Bifrost 2 sound like a great duo, just feels weird to not use an internal DAC with the Jotunheim. With your Topping / Bifrost combo, does the Topping DAC clean up the signal for the BiFrost?

I have so much to learn in this world, but I appreciate you taking the time to teach! I'm technically-minded, and pick things up quickly.

@Dana Reed are balanced connections mainly beneficial for higher impedance cans?
 
Oct 23, 2020 at 12:57 AM Post #6,364 of 6,455

Dana Reed

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I've written off Apple, Spotify, Tidal, etc. for streaming. Qobuz seems to pay the artists a decent cut, so I'm open to them
While Qobuz seems really nice, and has both lossless and integration with Roon, I'm still using Spotify for streaming stuff, and Roon for things I own. I have a family Spotify account so all 4 of us can listen to different stuff on it, and my family couldn't give a crap about Roon integration. But if you don't have that consideration, then Qobuz is probably fine
I'm also a little confused how the Raspberry Pi would output better USB audio than the Mac?
For a one endpoint solution, it may not really help. For Roon they do suggest separating the core, endpoint, and UI functions into separate hardware. I do have an Allo Pi setup as a Roon endpoint on one of my rooms, but can't say I notice a huge difference between that and USB direct to the core Mac mini.
The Roon subscription is $700 for life now :-/
For a single endpoint system, $700 for Roon is a bit steep. I'm using it with several different endpoints throughout the LAN in my house. Some other benefits it gives that you won't get with iTunes is the advanced DSP options, and confirmation of a clean signal chain. Jriver can also do some of this, but in the end I found I liked Roon better, so sprung for the lifetime (was $500 at that time).
@Dana Reed are balanced connections mainly beneficial for higher impedance cans?
I'd say that the balanced is mainly useful for high current planar magnetic headphones. Any desktop amp will generate enough voltage for high impedance cans like 300 and 600 Ohm Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic. It's more the current required for 30-100 Ohm planars that a solid state balanced amp with help with those amps/Watts.
 
Oct 23, 2020 at 1:09 AM Post #6,365 of 6,455

AppleheadMay

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Keep in mind that Tidal has more choice in the US, Qobuz in the EU.

For SQ it's better to separate your DAC from the computer as computers generate noise and have have timing issues. A Mac less so than a PC, a bridge (like the RPI4 with Ropieee is dedicated to audio only. There's a lot to read about that on the Roon fora.
I also don't use multiroom and have my Stack Auio Link bridge right next to my Bifrost DAC just to improve SQ.

The internal multibit DAC in the Jot isn't that good and nowhere near the quality of a Bifrost. It costs 200 I believe and the internal AK4490 sounded better to me. That and the fact it can serve another purpose later on is why I recommend the D10s (its coax and optical are outputs, not inputs). It won't clean up anything like a bridge would.
But if you want to go for a Bifrost right away you wouldn't need it unless you need a DD converter for some other purpose like me.

Roon is expensive indeed but I still recommend to try it out with a Qobuz/Tidal subscription as well to get to know it's ease of use and see how it changes the way you listen to music and lets you discover music.
And the more years you've used it the less expensive it becomes. It costs about the same as the Bifrost and I consider it an equally important part of your setup.

Balanced has about double the output power and most people find it sounds better as well. So do I. For your IEM's trhe single-ended output power is already to much but for higher impedance cans (some Senns for example) and difficult to drive cans (some planars) it's recommended.
 
Oct 25, 2020 at 4:25 AM Post #6,367 of 6,455

OneBoot

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Keep in mind that Tidal has more choice in the US, Qobuz in the EU.

For SQ it's better to separate your DAC from the computer as computers generate noise and have have timing issues. A Mac less so than a PC, a bridge (like the RPI4 with Ropieee is dedicated to audio only. There's a lot to read about that on the Roon fora.
I also don't use multiroom and have my Stack Auio Link bridge right next to my Bifrost DAC just to improve SQ.

The internal multibit DAC in the Jot isn't that good and nowhere near the quality of a Bifrost. It costs 200 I believe and the internal AK4490 sounded better to me. That and the fact it can serve another purpose later on is why I recommend the D10s (its coax and optical are outputs, not inputs). It won't clean up anything like a bridge would.
But if you want to go for a Bifrost right away you wouldn't need it unless you need a DD converter for some other purpose like me.

Roon is expensive indeed but I still recommend to try it out with a Qobuz/Tidal subscription as well to get to know it's ease of use and see how it changes the way you listen to music and lets you discover music.
And the more years you've used it the less expensive it becomes. It costs about the same as the Bifrost and I consider it an equally important part of your setup.

Balanced has about double the output power and most people find it sounds better as well. So do I. For your IEM's trhe single-ended output power is already to much but for higher impedance cans (some Senns for example) and difficult to drive cans (some planars) it's recommended.
Alright, y'all got me in the deep end now. Jotunheim with Bifrost is where I'm leaning (with PYST interconnects and USB). Their dimensions aren't identical, so it will be a ramped schiit-stack, but should still look pleasant :)

As for phones and cables, I'm planning on going with Hart Audio MMCX to 4 pin XLR. I will continue to love my Campfire IO IEMs, but started looking at Planar Magnetic systems. Would the Aeon RT Closed be a good choice? I heard the stock cables are microphonic, so would need the cables from Hart Audio as well. In the non-planar realm, I saw the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. They're only 32 ohm, so probably wouldn't use the potential of the amp (hence the draw to planar), but these wouldn't hurt the budget as much. Any thoughts? I like bass, warmth, but also detail retrieval and femal vocals. I could go Aeon open as well, but I've never given open a shot.
 
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Oct 25, 2020 at 5:16 AM Post #6,368 of 6,455

AppleheadMay

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Alright, y'all got me in the deep end now. Jotunheim with Bifrost is where I'm leaning (with PYST interconnects and USB). Their dimensions aren't identical, so it will be a ramped schiit-stack, but should still look pleasant :)

As for phones and cables, I'm planning on going with Hart Audio MMCX to 4 pin XLR. I will continue to love my Campfire IO IEMs, but started looking at Planar Magnetic systems. Would the Aeon RT Closed be a good choice? I heard the stock cables are microphonic, so would need the cables from Hart Audio as well. In the non-planar realm, I saw the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. They're only 32 ohm, so probably wouldn't use the potential of the amp (hence the draw to planar), but these wouldn't hurt the budget as much. Any thoughts? I like bass, warmth, but also detail retrieval and femal vocals. I could go Aeon open as well, but I've never given open a shot.


Dimensions not identical?

IMG_1026-private.jpeg




As for headphones: so many choices.
I don't know the Aeon and the Meze.
My choice would be a Masssdrop-Sennheiser HD6XX (same as HD650) and for planars I am partial to Audeze, Abyss and Hifiman. I'd simply start with a Massdrop-Hifiman HE4XX.
But that's me ...


My desk and full system:

IMG_1027-private.jpeg


IMG_1029-private.jpeg



as you can see I am a professional photographer. :wink:
 
Oct 25, 2020 at 10:50 AM Post #6,370 of 6,455

Dana Reed

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Alright, y'all got me in the deep end now. Jotunheim with Bifrost is where I'm leaning (with PYST interconnects and USB). Their dimensions aren't identical, so it will be a ramped schiit-stack, but should still look pleasant :)

As for phones and cables, I'm planning on going with Hart Audio MMCX to 4 pin XLR. I will continue to love my Campfire IO IEMs, but started looking at Planar Magnetic systems. Would the Aeon RT Closed be a good choice? I heard the stock cables are microphonic, so would need the cables from Hart Audio as well. In the non-planar realm, I saw the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. They're only 32 ohm, so probably wouldn't use the potential of the amp (hence the draw to planar), but these wouldn't hurt the budget as much. Any thoughts? I like bass, warmth, but also detail retrieval and femal vocals. I could go Aeon open as well, but I've never given open a shot.
I have the original tuning Aeon flow closed, and I like them, but not as much as my LCD-XC. I would recommend trying a pair of open backed if your listening situation allows. I’ve never found a closed pair that I’ve liked as much as open.
 
Oct 25, 2020 at 12:48 PM Post #6,371 of 6,455

blackdragon87

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Alright, y'all got me in the deep end now. Jotunheim with Bifrost is where I'm leaning (with PYST interconnects and USB). Their dimensions aren't identical, so it will be a ramped schiit-stack, but should still look pleasant :)

As for phones and cables, I'm planning on going with Hart Audio MMCX to 4 pin XLR. I will continue to love my Campfire IO IEMs, but started looking at Planar Magnetic systems. Would the Aeon RT Closed be a good choice? I heard the stock cables are microphonic, so would need the cables from Hart Audio as well. In the non-planar realm, I saw the Massdrop x Meze 99 Noir. They're only 32 ohm, so probably wouldn't use the potential of the amp (hence the draw to planar), but these wouldn't hurt the budget as much. Any thoughts? I like bass, warmth, but also detail retrieval and femal vocals. I could go Aeon open as well, but I've never given open a shot.

enjoy your new jot. i quite like mine paied with my new new bf2
 
Oct 26, 2020 at 1:10 AM Post #6,372 of 6,455

OneBoot

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Dimensions not identical?

IMG_1026-private.jpeg



As for headphones: so many choices.
I don't know the Aeon and the Meze.
My choice would be a Masssdrop-Sennheiser HD6XX (same as HD650) and for planars I am partial to Audeze, Abyss and Hifiman. I'd simply start with a Massdrop-Hifiman HE4XX.
But that's me ...


My desk and full system:

IMG_1027-private.jpeg

IMG_1029-private.jpeg


as you can see I am a professional photographer. :wink:
lol. Quite the setup! Schiit's site said that the BF2 is 0.75" deeper than the Jot. Probably negligible, especially when stacking the Jot on the BF2.

Thank you for the headphone recs! I'm pretty sold on the Aeon RT Open, which is weird. It's such a polarizing device (just like the Campfire IO, my first medium end IEM). Those were $300, and the Aeon RT Open are $500. Heard good things about the Aeon 2 Open, and they're $900 but come with a "free" upgraded XLR cable that's normally $200. In my head, I say I want end game, but I know that's not how hobbies like this work :p

I live on the west coast, so I appreciate supporting relatively local business, and quality at that. I also seem to have goldilocks taste. Good bass, with good staging and good detail / dynamics. Not ready to drop over a grand on headphones, yet. Really, I want something that sounds good with my tastes, while giving a different experience than the IO.

@Dana Reed thank you for the feedback on the OG Aeon. I'll probably go with an open back style for my listening pleasure.
 
Oct 26, 2020 at 3:29 AM Post #6,373 of 6,455

AppleheadMay

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Schiit's site is wrong, I just measured them and they're both exactly 6" deep.
So is the Lyr in case you want to add some tube flavor. :wink:

Yep, way too many choices in headphones, you need to find what you like.
All the ones I have now are phones I'm going to keep, I only want to add a high-end planar, either the Abyss, LCD-4 or Susvara.
But seen their price I'd need to audition them first. I know a shop in the center of Amsterdam where they have all three on demo.
Apart from being a 600km drive back and forth I absolutely hate big cities so I don't think I'll ever be going there.
 
Oct 26, 2020 at 1:07 PM Post #6,374 of 6,455

Dana Reed

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lol. Quite the setup! Schiit's site said that the BF2 is 0.75" deeper than the Jot. Probably negligible, especially when stacking the Jot on the BF2.

Thank you for the headphone recs! I'm pretty sold on the Aeon RT Open, which is weird. It's such a polarizing device (just like the Campfire IO, my first medium end IEM). Those were $300, and the Aeon RT Open are $500. Heard good things about the Aeon 2 Open, and they're $900 but come with a "free" upgraded XLR cable that's normally $200. In my head, I say I want end game, but I know that's not how hobbies like this work :p

I live on the west coast, so I appreciate supporting relatively local business, and quality at that. I also seem to have goldilocks taste. Good bass, with good staging and good detail / dynamics. Not ready to drop over a grand on headphones, yet. Really, I want something that sounds good with my tastes, while giving a different experience than the IO.

@Dana Reed thank you for the feedback on the OG Aeon. I'll probably go with an open back style for my listening pleasure.
I haven’t heard the Aeon open, RT or otherwise. But I’ve heard good things about both the Aeon 2 and RT. I mostly use the closed ones at work for a mix of music and conference calls. It would be interesting to compare the newer Aeon opens to my LCD2 and HE6SE, but I feel like after getting the HD800s and Elex this year, I should have an intervention
In any case, the BF2 and Jot should do great with these. My Jot is hooked up to an Yggy GS, and I love that.
 

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