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Five new pieces of Schiit drop at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2014

  • THE_Show_Newport_2014Each time I see Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat they’re grinning from ear to ear. They know what they’re doing is re-writing what’s possible in the entry-level headphone and digital audio sector. Since the Newport Beach show in 2013 we’ve seen DACs and amplifiers roll out of Schiit’s California stable that have redefined what’s possible for around $100.

    In Irvine this year, we’re treated to even more of this SMD-fuelled madness. Schiit have not one but FIVE new products on their table in the (sometimes  crowded) Headphonium. Stoddard and Moffat don’t need to play hard ball with demos and sales talk. Schiit’s now established price/performance ratio pretty much sells itself.


    So – what’s new?

    Lyr and Valhalla been updated to a second generation status that Stoddard proudly claims is considerably more than just a few iterative tweaks:

    Valhalla 2 is now fully ready for efficient, low-impedance headphones, with switchable gain and only 3.5 ohms output impedance in low gain mode (14 ohms in high gain). And Valhalla 2’s performance into high-impedance headphones is even better than ever. It’s also ready for your powered monitors, with preamp outs. It’s much, much more versatile than you’d expect an OTL tube amp to be.”  

    “Lyr 2 is also now ready for a much wider range of headphones, too. Five separate regulated power supplies, including the 180V tube rail and DC heaters, now make Lyr much quieter than ever before. And the addition of a gain switch allows you to use low gain for an even blacker background. Now, if you want to run orthos–and, say, Grados–Lyr 2 is great for both.”

    A fifteen minute sit down with Lyr 2 and some LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads revealed it to be real clever in digging up surface textures.

    Valhalla 2 will sell for US$349 and Lyr 2 for US$449.


    Next up there’s Wyrd. It looks a lot like the Modi DAC but it’s anything but. Common decency had Schiit revise the working title of Defuckifier to Descrewifier. Its purpose? To hoover up host PC noise. USB input –> reclock, rejuice –> USB out. Power comes from a low-noise, external linear brick (not switching). Keeping expectations appropriately low, Stoddard refuses to make wild claims about what the Wyrd will do to your system.

    “We’re not going to make any claims about sonics, but it’ll definitely stop USB noise and power problems in their tracks. Some people say Wyrd makes everything sound better. We don’t know how it can possibly do so, so we’re going to stay Swiss on the subject.”

    A sticker of US$99 means you can easily find out for yourself.


    Also in Modi-like case is the Mani – a phono pre-amplifier with switchable load/gain in both MC and MM domains and a fully passive RIAA network. Again, a low noise linear power supply does the juicing. So far, so good. However, at $129 the Mani has the potential to become the goto option for incoming vinyl heads. It will put the likes of NAD, Pro-ject and Rega on immediate notice as soon as it starts shipping in August.


    It’s not all small boxes ’round here though. What apparently started life as Schiit’s most powerful headphone amplifier to date has blossomed into a fully-fledged integrated. The Ragnarok is le mot juste for audio folk wanting to straddle both two-channel and head-fi worlds. In the loudspeaker space you get 60 wpc into 8 Ohms and 100wpc into 4 Ohms. For headphones there are balanced and single-ended outputs with some eye-watering grunt: 15W into 32 ohms, 9.6W into 50 ohms, 1.6W into 300 ohms, 800mW into 600 ohms.  Compare that with the Lyr 2’s 6W into 32 Ohms, 4W into 50 Ohms, 660mW into 300 Ohms and 330mW into 600 Ohms and you’ll see that Ragnarok comes on as more than twice the beast.

    The Ragnarok’s major point of difference is microprocessor-managened power supply. US$1699 drops it right into Peachtree and Wyred4Sound integrated territory except the Schiit is (high bias) Class A/B and more specifically tailored to tango with the majority of headphones.

    It’s biased into Class A to about a 2W level into 8 ohms, or about 8W/32 ohms in more headphone-friendly terms” says Stoddard.

    Let’s face facts: Stoddard and Moffat are (re-)writing the book on how to keep it honest. There’ll be a similar Schiit-storm of products landing at RMAF in October.

    Further information: Schiit Audio

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. It sounds like Schiit heads have much to cheer about as the company expands beyond the headphone realm in a bigger way. Now, great sound can be had from a whole pile of, well, you know. These guys make audio fun and affordable, and the aesthetics are exceptional for the money.

      Didn’t Schiit also introduce a passive volume control recently for use between DACs without a volume control and powered speakers?

      A growing number of amps meant for nearfield desktop listening are on the market. It would be good to see a list of passive speakers some time that work well in such an arrangement. Presumably, driver proximity and controlled bass are the determining factors, but that’s just my educated guess. As for me, I still like active speakers atop my desk for the sake of cost and amplifier optimization.

    2. I’ve asked them about the phono preamp for some time. Nice to see it coming in August.

    3. Additionally, the customer service at Schiit is some of the best I have ever encountered in my 20+ years as an “Audiophile”. I have not dealt directly with Mike or Jason, but Nick and Alex are exceptional, they have made my venture, as a very late adapter, into computer audio/headphonia as smooth as possible, a big thumbs up!

    4. John,
      Good evening.

      Did Schiit mention (hint) the release of “Yssdragil” the DAC?

      Like your work as well.


      • @Mike – delayed again I believe. Perhaps that’s one slated for RMAF ’14 launch.

    5. The Wyrd looks ideal and will save me from seeking comparisons among Black Cat Cable Silverstar, Lightspeed Jr (where is that anyway), Mapleshade Clearlink Plus and iFi Gemini USB cables. My order for the Wyrd will be placed as soon as it hits their website. Too bad it likely won’t work between my external $29 Samsung drive and the Mac Mini, the setup I use for ripping, as I will always be suspicious of that link as well. I thought I that I could deep six ripping with an announcement from Apple re 24 bit downloads but alas, they ignored us once again. Oh well, as we say here about hockey, there is always next time. Thanks to Mike and Jason, they have made our hobby fun and affordable.

    6. Trouble is, Johno, after my initial (and final) on-line order and faulty product return to Schiit, IMHO that company’s engineering, manufacturing and customer service response is unacceptable. Upon your recommendation I invested in a Bifrost DAC in May. Following installation in my main rig, after a few days bedding-in, fitted with industry-standard RCA interconnect cables, the Bifrost’s rear panel RCA jacks flexed so much it caused an internal short of some kind, which rendered the thing inoperative. Remember, there are riser boards in the Bifrost that rest on thin pins and cheap, flimsy PCB-mounted RCA jacks. A recipe for disaster. Once the returned DAC was assessed, an email response from an un-named “engineer” at Schiit inferred I was both an imbecile and a gorilla. That my cables were too stiff and thick. That I caused the problem by forcing insertion of cables. And in language redolent of fascist dictatorships, “there will be no refund of shipping costs”. Rather than asking what cables were used (I use several brands and types) and/or seeking how the company could make good, Schiit Audio went into vehement damage control. Fortress mentality. Comparing notes with other local Schiit “victims” a pattern is emerging. While the USA-made aspect is trumpeted as an advantage, my guess is that there is no actual engineering quality difference between the California-assembled item and a similarly-priced equivalent audio product from, say, Asia. In fact if I were to compare both my Chinese-built Audio-GD DACs of similar, or cheaper cost, the Audio-GDs are vastly superior in manufacturing quality. There have never been any reliability issues with my Audio-GD DACs, least of all simple cable connections, and they both deliver the sonic goods. Audio-GD’s customer service has also been courteous and efficient. If Messeurs Stoddard and Moffatt are icons of the audio industry, no wonder the industry is in the wildly-unpredictable state it is today. I cannot recommend any Schiit Audio product based upon my unsavoury experience.

      • I’m sorry to hear of your rough run. However, let’s keep things in perspective here: one bad experience does not a suggest (or even prove) a trend. I’d advise you to take this up with Schiit directly (again) if you are able.

      • 35Years, sorry to hear of your less-than-pleasant experience. If you’d like to let me know who you talked to at Schiit, I’d be happy to look into this and see what the particulars were, and if we were out of line.

        One thing I will say–the RCA jacks we use are standard-issue PCB-mount RCA plugs, used on literally millions of other components made in many different countries around the world. We’ve had only a handful of failures (as in, less than 10) out of more than 150k components used.

        That said, I am interested in the RCA cables that were used with the Bifrost, so I can better understand what the limits of this RCA jack design is. Was it a locking cable? Brand and model?

      • How is any of this rant related to the news story? You disgrace Mr. Darko by turning his comments section into a soapbox from which you stand. Move on.

    7. 35Years, I am a bit confused by the vitriol of your comment. As an individual involved in clinical research, I am hesitant to make your reported negative experience or my positive one a universal trend. On the contrary, albeit anecdotal, reports on HeadFi are almost universally positive regarding the quality of Schiit products construction, engineering, and most importantly sound.

      Again as a Clinician, I tend to question what lies behind such power statements stemming from a singular, as reported, event, do tell?

    8. Listened to the Valhalla 2 with Bifrost driving it, through my LCD-2’s with ALO Audio cable, and was very, very impressed. My home rig is a PS Audio PWD MKII dac feeding a Red Wine Audio Signature 16 battery powered integrated amp powering the LCD-2’s through the speaker taps, and I found the Valhalla 2, Bifrost combo just as satisfying and fun to listen to. Could have sat there all day. Highly recommended. The Schiit guys are always looking like they’re having a blast are super friendly, have great music to demo and are the value leaders.

    Demo or die – Harman’s flagship store, Madison Avenue, NYC

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