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    Schiit Texas Audio Roundup - Writeup

     

     

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    I'm back home in cool Minneapolis, after spending a couple days in Austin at the Schiit Texas Audio Roundup. It was really nice to see everyone again, spend time listening to music, and talking about geeky audio gear with friends. In typical Schiit style, two new products were announced the morning of the show, and we had full access to listen to both of them all day long. 

     

    Minutes before the opening bell, Jason Stoddard sent out an email, containing the following information.


    Okay, cool. Here's what we got:

    1. Bifrost 2/64. The first upgrade to Bifrost 2 brings an all-new analog section that throws 64 bits of DACness at each channel to bring hardware-balanced performance to our most affordable upgradable DAC. And it adds an NOS mode. And everyone who owns a Bifrost 2 can upgrade without the DAC coming back to us, thanks to a slide-in analog module and SDcard based firmware. Oh, and this $799, not $7999. Upgrades are $300. And it's available now.
    2. Lyr+. Introducing the first tube hybrid amp that ends tube nervosa, forever. Use it with a tube...or pull the tube out and it'll happily switch over to internal depletion-mode MOSFETs--while preserving the same Coherence topology, the same high voltage tube rails, the same output distortion profile. Our all-new Fusion Architecture means Lyr+ is equally capable...with or without tube! Oh yeah, and it has remote control and relay ladder volume. We estimate Lyr+ will ship in 4 weeks, for $599 without a tube, or $699 with a selected premium 6SN7.


    If you're familiar with Schiit's digital wizard Mike Moffat, you likely saw something in that first paragraph that has you looking out the window for flying pigs. Yes, Schiit has enabled a non-oversampling mode for the first time in one of its DACs. Schiit is famous for its one of a kind digital filter, and now it's enabling listeners to bypass that filter. According to Jason Stoddard, it's about choice and a number of customers who want to use external upsampling in an application such as HQPlayer. Perhaps one day, we'll also get to illuminate that 8x light on the Yggdrasil :~)

     

    One thing to consider with the NOS mode is that the inputs of the Bifrost 2/64 are limited to 4X (176.4 or 192 kHz), while the internal proprietary Schiit time and frequency domain optimized digital filter, implemented on Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor, oversamples at 8X. Given that I haven't had a chance to use HQPlayer with the Bifrost 2/64, I can't say if external upsamplers have one hand tied behind their backs, or if this is just like pixel-peeping specs, and the real story will be told via listening. 

     

    I spent some time listening to the Bifrost 2/64 with Joe Whip on the first day of the show. I was listening through the new Lyr+ headphone amp and a pair of Sennheiser HD800S headphones. In NOS mode, without any external upsampling, the sound wasn't for me. But, I'm sure some people will love it. As used car salesmen say, there's an ass for every seat. I can't wait to use some serious external upsample on this one, to see if it comes close to Mike Moffat's digital filter wizardry. 

     

    One of my mottos with respect to high end audio is, live and let listen. I've come to the realization that measurements should be used in a laboratory, to make sure nothing is incredibly wrong with a product before its design is concluded. By "wrong," I mean not as designed. This brings me to the Schiit Audio Folkvanger, a limited-production, 10-tube OTL/OCL tube headphone amp. 

     

    The Folkvanger is far from a class-leading measurement bench queen, but I absolutely enjoyed every minute I spent listening through it. In fact, my favorite system at the entire show was the Folkvanger with Sennheiser HD800S headphones. I spent a good 30-45 minutes with this combo, using my iPhone as a source, outputting to a Schiit DAC via lightning to USB converter. The VOX iOS app came in really handy as well because it gave me had access to my albums that are unavailable via streaming (think Japanese jazz from Three Blind Mice records).

     

    I played the Impex releases of Misty (Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio IMP8309), Midnight Sugar (Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio IMP8308), and Blow Up (Isao Suziku Trio IMP8307), through the Folkvanger and was immediately "sold." This amp has that certain "something" that pulls the listener into the music and doesn't let go. I seriously could've listened for much longer, but I started to feel like an amp hog. After a while, people started to line up for access to this limited edition amp, and I had to call it a day. Word on the street is that the Folkvanger is close to sold out. I have a feeling that once it's gone, it's gone. It very well might turn into a cult product that "everyone" wishes they'd have purchased "back in the day."

     

    Schiit Audio was my main draw for the Texas Audio Roundup, but it was also nice to see Wendell from Magnepan at the show, along with a few other manufacturers like Grado, Dan Clark, Nitsch, and the entire team from Emotiva. It's the Emotiva team that I spent time with at dinner and in an after hours watching / listening session, the evening before the start of the show. I really enjoyed talking to them and to see them work in their home theater room. They are all major geeks when it comes to audio and video. Troubleshooting a standard setup issue, was both comical and educational. The guys get along very well, and are sure to make fun of each other at every turn. I enjoy people in this industry who don't take themselves as serious as a heart attack, but still know their stuff. 

     

    That's a wrap for the Texas Audio Roundup. I'm happy Schiit took the bull by the horns, and created its own audio show in Texas. The smaller event was a breeze to cover, and gave me time to really soak-in all the rooms and talk to everyone involved. In addition, the rooms all had a low ambient noise level, making auditions of audio components very simple. In a way, the Schiit Texas Audio Roundup was the equivalent of seeing one's favorite artist in a small club, versus a stadium. Much more personal and enjoyable for all involved. 

     

     

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    Very cool, and I love seeing a value-oriented, no-BS company innovating and doing it's thing.  Are these guys the most important/successful hifi company launched in the past 10 or 20 years?  Longer?

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    I agree with Chris that the Texas Roundup was a great event. However, it would have been even better in Philly. 😇 Seriously though, it was great to finally be able to meet Chris in person as opposed to Zoom and the phone. It should come as no surprise that Chris is a great guy! The Bifrost 2/64 was interesting. It took a good bit of listening to get a handle on what it was doing. Using the Megacomboburrito filter, it sounded  marvelous and a clear step up, at least for me, from what I have heard listening to the original Bifrost 2. It shares many attributes as the LIM, which is saying something. The NOS mode had a rather consistent effect on the sound, across different genres of music, that I would describe as a softening of the sound and a narrowing of the soundstage. It was not for me but I can see why some would prefer it, especially those that love to experiment with digital filters. As for the Folkvanger, it did sound fantastic but is is expensive and the tubes get real hot, getting up to 400 degrees F. There is no cage, so keep the cats away. It is my understanding that there are few left so if you want one, you will likely have to move fast. At a cheaper price point, I was rather impressed with the Lyr +. For traveling purposes, I may just have to get one and pair it with the Bifrost 2/64 as I sure enjoyed listening to Chris’ Japanese Jazz catalogue with this combo. As for Emotiva, it just so happens that I am in the market to finally upgrade my HT set up to add a 4K display and Atmos. Emotiva has a pair of powerful receivers coming out in the fall that are rather versatile and click all of the HT boxes for yours truly. Looks like I will have to get one. I will be calling you Dan in September! Again, it was a great event and I would like to thank Jason and the wonderful Denise at Schiit for inviting me. A great time was surely had by all.

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    Hey @The Computer Audiophile, I heard you went to another DAC showdown while at the show. What were your thoughts on the various DACs auditioned?

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    Just now, JoshM said:

    Hey @The Computer Audiophile, I heard you went to another DAC showdown while at the show. What were your thoughts on the various DACs auditioned?

    While technically present at the DAC showdown, I had trouble really listening because the system was very different. I'm sure some people liked it, but it really wasn't to my taste. Plus, it was a very difficult room. 

     

    I would've loved to listen to the DACs present, in a different system in a different room. 

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    Chris, 

     

    Outside of press releases, any ideas why the new Tyr amp has received very little coverage/testing from the audio press?

    I assumed the media would be chomping at the bit to test a pair.

     

    Have you had a chance to audition the Tyr monoblocks?

     

    Thanks, 

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    1 minute ago, SlimPickins said:

    Chris, 

     

    Outside of press releases, any ideas why the new Tyr amp has received very little coverage/testing from the audio press?

    I assumed the media would be chomping at the bit to test a pair.

     

    Have you had a chance to audition the Tyr monoblocks?

     

    Thanks, 

    That's a great question, to which I don't have an answer. They are really cool. I haven't had a chance to audition a pair yet. 

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    31 minutes ago, JoshM said:

    Hey @The Computer Audiophile, I heard you went to another DAC showdown while at the show. What were your thoughts on the various DACs auditioned?

    I was with Chris at that DAC showdown.  Let’s just say I was not in love with what I heard. It was pretty ponderous to be honest.

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    On 7/25/2022 at 7:03 PM, JoeWhip said:

    I agree with Chris that the Texas Roundup was a great event. 

     

    Did you get some info from Schiit at the event about URD, maybe whether it will be released this year or later?

    Thanks

     

    Matt

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    A pity Folkvangr is not available in The Netherlands, I would love to try it (and probably buy it...).

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    1 hour ago, matthias said:

     

    Did you get some info from Schiit at the event about URD, maybe whether it will be released this year or later?

    Thanks

     

    Matt

    Yes, there is no timetable on when the Urd will be released. It is my understanding that the software for the hub function is good to go. However, the transport mechanisms are not yet available and there is no ETA on that. Hopefully some time this year. Otherwise, the Urd is finished.

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