Headphone Amplifiers

Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Review

ARTICLE INDEX

Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Review Highlights

The single ended class-A Asgard 2 is a solid state, all discrete headphone amplifier that can put out up to 1W of power into a 25 Ohm load. The 32 bit, 192 kHz Bifrost DAC also uses all discrete construction, and both offer great fit and finish, and build quality. For $668 total, it's hard to believe these components are 100% made in the USA, but they are. Throughout my time with the Schiit components, they delivered iron-fisted control and exceptional recovery of detail with my Sennheiser HD600s. In addition to sounding far more expensive than they are, they also look and feel more expensive than they are. That's a very hard combination to beat.

Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Review

Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Highlight Summary

  • • The Asgard 2 is a single ended class A headphone amplifier with all discrete construction and no feedback in high gain mode.
  • • The Bifrost DAC is 32 bit, 192 kHz with all discrete construction and upgradable analog and USB input boards.
  • • Both components are entirely made in the USA from mostly US sourced parts, but still have a very low price of $668 for the pair of components as tested.
  • • The detail extracted by this pair of components is excellent, with sound quality far better than you'd expect for the price.
  • • The Asgard 2 has plenty of power to provide iron-fisted control over my Sennheiser HD 600s.
  • • Measured performance is excellent, even at over 5Vrms output level into 300 Ohms.

Introduction to the Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Review

Headphone amplifiers and associated components have seen an explosion in variety and quality in the past several years. Secrets has reviewed many headphone amplifier and DAC's. The younger generation of music lovers has learned what some of us geezers have known for a while. Headphones are the least expensive way to gain access to truly world-class audio performance. In fact, headphones listened to by the young may just save our hobby from the mediocrity of earbuds and compressed audio formats. One of these new companies specializing in headphone electronics is Schiit Audio. Founded by Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat (formerly of high end audio powerhouse companies Sumo and Theta, respectively), Schiit Audio is an irreverent company with a very serious mission: Schiit wants to bring fun back to our hobby by building very serious equipment at a relatively low price point. They have managed to deliver and have collected a large fan base on the intertubes. Like many lower price point companies, Schiit sells only manufacturer direct, but unlike many of their competitors, their products are entirely made in the USA out of mostly USA sourced components. I was very intrigued when I heard about this company and their business model. I asked for their most popular Class-A solid-state headphone amp, the Asgard 2, paired with their very well respected Bifrost DAC with "Uber" analog stage to test. Could this $668 component stack possibly compare to my venerable Headroom Ultra Desktop? Could Schiit possibly deliver components at the quality they claimed, made in the USA, for such a low cost? The short answers are yes and yes. I was surprised. Go to Page 2: Design

SCHIIT ASGARD 2 HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER AND BIFROST UBER DAC REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS

Asgard 2

  • Design: Headphone Amplifier, Solid State
  • MFR: 20 Hz - 20 kHz, - 0.1 dB
  • Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1.0W RMS per channel
  • Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.0W RMS per Channel
  • Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 380 mW RMS per Channel
  • Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 190mW RMS per Channel
  • THD: Less than 0.008%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, High Gain Mode
  • IMD: Less than 0.010%, CCIR at 1V RMS, High Gain Mode
  • SNR: More than 102 dB, unweighted, Referenced to 1V RMS, in Low Gain Mode
  • Crosstalk: Less than -72 dB, 20 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Output Impedance: Less than 2 Ohms
  • Gain: High = 6 (15.6 db); Low = 1.5 (3.5 db), via Rear Switch
  • Topology: Fully Dscrete, Single-Ended Class A with Single Voltage Gain Stage; No Globall Feedback in High Gain Mode, 12 dB Feedback in Low Gain Mode
  • Power Supply: Internal Power Transformer with 4 Separate Power Supply Rails and over 20,000 µf of Filter Capacitance
  • Power Consumption: 30W
  • Size: 2.25" H x 6" W x 9" D
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • MSRP: $249 USD

Bifrost

  • Design: Solid State DAC
  • Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional)
  • Input Capability: up to 24/192 for All Inputs, Including 24/176.4
  • Input Receiver, SPDIF: Crystal Semiconductor CS8416
  • Input Receiver, USB: C-Media CM6631A
  • D/A Conversion IC: AKM4399
  • Analog Summing, Filtering: Fully Discrete, JFET-input Differential Topology
  • Output: RCA Unbalanced
  • Output Impedance: 75 Ohms
  • MFR: 20 Hz - 20 kHz, ± 0.1 dB
  • Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS
  • THD: <0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at Max Output
  • IMD: <0.002%, CCIR
  • S/N: >110dB, Referenced to 2V RMS
  • Power Supply: 5 Stages of Regulation, Including Separate Supplies for Critical Digital and Analog Sections
  • Upgradability: Separate, Modular USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Card are Snap-in Replaceable
  • Power Consumption: 12W
  • Size: 2.25" H x 6.75" W x 9" D
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Price: $419 as Tested with Uber Analog Stage
  • Schiit
  • SECRETS Tags: Schiit Headphone Amplifier, Headphone Amplifiers, DACs, Headphone Amplifier Reviews 2014, DAC Reviews 2014, Bifrost DAC

 

Schiit Asgard 2 Headphone Amplifier and Bifrost Uber DAC Review