In July 2017 Schiit Audio introduced its Vidar power amp for $699. The Vidar was the final piece of the puzzle for us "full system" music lovers. I use the term full system to refer to those of us who listen through a DAC, preamp, amp, and loudspeakers, as opposed to more headphone focussed listeners. As soon as I read Schiit's Vidar announcement, I emailed Co-Founder Jason Stoddard, requesting a pair of them for review. Like all customer centric companies, Jason told me he'd send the amps to me as soon as Schiit finished shipping orders to actual paying customers. I have to respect such an answer, even though I was itching to get a pair of Vidars in my system. While I was at it, I asked Jason for a Schiit Freya preamplifier to round out my system
Fast forward to August 1, 2017 when a stack of Schiit arrived at Computer Audiophile headquarters. Jason sent a pair of Vidar amps for testing a mono configuration and the Freya preamplifier. Shortly after connecting the amps, I ran into a strange issue, as documented here (link). I mention this only to show how responsive Schiit is to customer service issues and how quickly the company found and resolved the issue. Sure the process was delayed because of Jason's travels to see the August 24, 2017 total solar eclipse here in the US, but rest assured he won't delay any repairs again until April 8, 2024 when the next total solar eclipse is visible here in the US. Only kidding. Jason did see the eclipse and that did delay his looking into the issue, but I would have done the same thing. Plus, because of this delay, he sent me two brand new Vidar amps so I could continue my review without waiting for a resolution.
The CliffsNotes version of the issue: Jason changed the compensation capacitors to current production parts in the Vidar amps I returned, and all was just fine.
The Current Situation
After receiving the new Vidar amps, taking a short family vacation, and attending the CEDIA 2017 trade show in San Diego, I'm ready to jump into the Schiit. I have the Schiit flagship Yggdrasil DAC connected to the Freya preamplifier and a monoblock pair of Vidar amps. This is what I consider the Schiit Audio reference system. I also have a Schiit Bifrost DAC ($399) for comparison as well.
Prior to starting the Schiit review, I talked to a few manufacturers about sending loudspeakers here for use with the Vidar amps. Given the conservative power rating of the amps into a 4 ohm load, when configured as monoblocks, I think it's wise to test different speakers and report my findings.
Here are the components and loudspeakers I plan to use for this Schiit Audio reference system review.
My plan is to use the Schiit Audio reference system in many different configurations and really give the Vidar amps a workout. Based on my first cursory listening sessions with the complete Schiit system, I am very impressed. I've had my TAD CR1s connected to the Schiit electronics while awaiting the arrival of the other loudspeakers and while playing music throughout the day while I work. Of course I frequently spin my chair around, away from my desk, to crank the volume when feeling inspired. I've yet to find the breaking point of the Vidar amps, and that's saying quite a bit. I like to play my favorite music at levels that indicate, to the neighbors, that it's my favorite music. I don't plan on pushing the amps until they shutdown, but I won't shy away from using them how I listen to music. So far, so good. Actually, so far, very good.
Much more to come in my full review of the Schiit Audio reference system in combination with several loudspeakers and sources. I'm seriously looking forward to the fun.