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Schiit’s Urd shreds the CD player rulebook

  • Listen to our podcast interview with Schiit Audio co-founder Jason Stoddard about the Urd here.

    The rulebook. If the staff at Schiit Audio have seen it, they don’t care to read it; today’s announcement positively shreds any preconceptions of what a CD player can be. The California/Texas company’s new Urd CD player is a CD transport: it contains no DAC of its own. Instead, its rear-panel S/DPIF digital outputs – coaxial or AES/EBU – can be used to connect a third-party DAC to handle D/A conversion. So far, so normal.

    BUT! Next to those S/PDIF sockets sits a USB-C output with which the Urd can hand off its digital disc read to a USB DAC. To the best of my knowledge, no other CD player on the planet (save this one from Shanling) can have, say, a Helm Bolt or Cayin RU-6 run as an outboard decoder. And yet the Urd can.

    The USB output is Schiit’s own Unison USB technology about which the press release says, “Urd’s unique USB output was the focus of several person-years of development at Schiit, in order to assure rock-solid performance and broad compatibility. Urd works with all UAC2-compliant sources and DACs that have been through Schiit’s testing; UAC2 is the accepted international standard for USB audio, and is supported by all modern operating systems.”

    The rulebook destruction doesn’t end there. Urd also features a pair of USB-C inputs for connecting a third-party network streamer or tablet/smartphone for seamless switching between streaming sources and CDs. This is sure to fire up those interested in comparing the sound of a stream to that of a CD but it also means the Urd can act as a USB-S/PDIF converter – USB in, coaxial/AES out – or as a USB pipe cleaner – USB in, USB out. Marshaling this data routing complexity is a quad of 32bit microprocessors

    And in case you suspect Schiit might have cheaped out on the internal components to pull off this wizardry, know that the Urd uses a metal CD tray and mechanism from StreamUnlimited, the power supply is all linear and features two transformers, one of which is dedicated to the drive. Urd comes wrapped in a Freya-sized chassis (and with a Freya-styled remote) that’s made just down the road from Schiit’s Valencia facility where Urd is assembled.

    Price? US$1299 in black, US$50 more in silver.

    Further information: Schiit Audio

    Photos: Lee Shelly

    Written by John

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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