[UPDATE 22nd April 2015: more specific details on the Yggdrasil DAC can be found here].
Schiit head. Ape Schiit. Schiit for brains. Schiit storm. The Dad-punning goes on for miles for those not too uptight to dig this Californian company’s wordplay. You’re either a little bit offended or you think it’s genius. I fall into the latter camp – as do thousand of others who’ve come ’round to realising that good headphone amplifiers, DACs, USB de-crapifiers and (in 2014) phono stages don’t have to cost the earth whilst still being made entirely on US soil.
Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat released a whole slew of new models at T.H.E Newport Beach in June and now they’re at RMAF’s CanJam with two more excretions.
At the very bottom of the Schiit price range now sits their new USB dongle DAC, the Fulla. As in “You’re Fulla Schiit, buddy”. Except Stoddard and Moffat are anything but. US$79 gets you something to lift the sound of your PC or Mac and frees up more cash for those Grado or Sennheiser headphones you’ve been spying. Inside an AKM 4396 DAC chip feeds a single-ended output stage capable of 300mW. Yes, the off-centre disc is a volume rotary.
The Fulla is also the cheapest dingus USB DAC to date to come from a well-established player and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how it stacks up against the AudioQuest Dragonfly v1.2 or the HRT microStreamer. Given it’s cheap-ass entry fee, that comparison falls to you, dear reader.
“Ask me about my big DAC”, reads Mike Moffat’s t-shirt. A line straight out of The Benny Hill Show or the Carry On movies. The product being referred to is Schiit’s long-rumoured statement DAC: Yggdrasil. And Yggdrasil is finally with us. Almost.
This is very much Moffat’s baby. He claims features it’s his finest, lowest-jitter USB implementation to date. However, I’ve been asked to withhold the specifics until the DAC goes into production.
A key point of difference with the Yggdrasil DAC is its interpolation filter. Based on a Western Electric algorithm from 1918, it throws away none of the original samples. The only new samples created are those that sit between the originals. Not impressed? Think of it this way: the part cost of Yggdrasil’s filter sums to more than the total part cost of the entire Bifrost DAC.
The second point of difference is Schiit aren’t using an off-the-shelf decoder chip. Moffat has opted for unspecified silicon from medical electronics and weapons systems. A pair of which are deployed here in each channel. The output stage is all discrete FETs, transistors and film caps.
I asked Moffat about voicing and he says that his aim here was the pursuit of signal purity rather than a certain (house) sound.
With boards now into their third revision, Moffat expects the Yggdrasil DAC to see its first production run in Q1 of 2015. At US$2299 it looks set to upset some of the bigger players.
I certainly could pick no obvious flaws during a brief listening session with Schiit’s Ragnarok headphone amplifier and Mr Speakers Alpha Prime headphones. With two pieces of hardware sitting between my ears and it, as well as listening in a noisy hall, making on any comment how Yggdrasil sounds is near impossible. A good time to remind y’all that a show report is not a review.
Further information: Schiit Audio