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Article: Schiit Audio Yggdrasil Multibit DAC Review

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I love it! Great review with just the right salting of technical detail to backup your conclusions. :)

 

I have to admit to a tiny bit of personal glee as I watch the cost of top quality gear come down to being reachable (sooner or later) for most audiophiles. The guys really have their - eh - Schiit - together!


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Chris, since the Yggy does not directly support DSD I have to ask a follow-up question. I know you have a large collection of DSD files as many of us do, so did you try playing any DSD files with your media player (i.e. JRiver) set to convert their output to PCM which could then feed the Yggy? I'm wondering how that sounds; whether the Yggy is able to maintain their excellent sound quality, or if you feel a DSD DAC is really needed to optimize their sound. Thanks in advance for your response!

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What an informative review! Nice job.

 

If this DAC gets it "right," then it's ultimately getting the performance only half right. The other half of the equation is the ADC in the studio. If all of the pre and post ringing and inaccuracy/affectation is an issue in a DAC, then why not in the ADC? Maybe Schiit needs to countenance a move into the pro audio space.

 

Last weekend, I sat in a moderate size room with a pianist and a cellist. I did not detect "air," a 30-foot-wide soundstage, slam, bloom, sizzle, or anything of the audiophile sort, just a moving performance. In comparison to the best recordings played back on a competent rig, that performance sounded downright dull in comparison at first, but ultimately it wasn't. I think realism is a harder sell than surrealism.

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It would be interesting to read a comparison with the Yggy and PCM vs a good DSD DAC like the Lampi for example.


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I've been listening to the Yggy for a couple of months and decided that it's really the end of my pursuit for the best sound

quality . I couldn't justify spending cash on a Total Dac or MSB Analog so it ended with the best sound quality I've ever heard

.Spooky realistic , as close to listening to live music I've ever heard .

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Chris,

pre and post ringing is not an aspect of sigmal-delta or multi-bit, it is an aspect of the over-sampling filter. Mike has posted the impulse response of his filter and it still definitely has pre and post ringing. It is a relatively short response (time domain) which seems to have some correlation with the "realness" you mentioned. But that is still an aspect of the filter.

 

Differences DO exist between SD and MB, but elimination of pre and post ringing is not one of them.

 

John S.

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Chris, since the Yggy does not directly support DSD I have to ask a follow-up question. I know you have a large collection of DSD files as many of us do, so did you try playing any DSD files with your media player (i.e. JRiver) set to convert their output to PCM which could then feed the Yggy? I'm wondering how that sounds; whether the Yggy is able to maintain their excellent sound quality, or if you feel a DSD DAC is really needed to optimize their sound. Thanks in advance for your response!

 

I can't answer your question but I can tell you that the Aurender N10 that Chris has can do DSD to PCM conversion on the fly.

 

Esau

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Hi Chris,

 

Great review! I hope someday that I will be able to listen to one!

 

One other feature of the Yggdrasil (and Schiit's other DACs from the Bifrost up) that wasn't mentioned in the review but that I consider a significant feature is the fact that they are designed to be upgradeable. So not only can you pick up a top flight DAC for a comparative song but if they refine it in the future, you can get the latest and greatest upgrades to it for a modest price without needing to re-invest in the base hardware. You can see how they have planned for this by the sheer number of daughter cards in the board picture in your article.

 

That, in the audio industry, is another revolutionary change that other manufacturers should take note of and Schiit Audio should be lauded for!

 

--Ned

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One other thing to share:

 

In another forum, the chip designer of the DAC chip used in the Yggdrasil posted after he discovered that someone was using the chip in an audio application. In his excitement he mixed up two of Schiit's products (referring to the Ragnarok, which is an amp, when he meant their next DAC down the line, the Gungnir), but his enthusiasm to see it put to another good use was palpable:

 

Originally Posted by roddymcl

This is exciting! I work for ADI and designed the AD5791 & AD5781 DAC IC's in the Yggdrasil and Ragnarok. But that was about 2009. I'm delighted a new market has been found for these products. As the Yggy blurb explains, I never considered audio when I designed these DACs. In fact the main motivation at the time was medical imaging - the nice folks who make MRI scanners are awfully fussy about performance, and for good reasons!

To be honest, I'm genuinely surprised this makes a good audio DAC. It's terribly expensive and I always assumed the code-change-dependent glitch energy would make THD unacceptable to audio buffs. (There are some ingenious board-level tricks around this but they are difficult and expensive to achieve - I'd love to know if the Yggy designer is using them ... feel free to get in touch!) On the other hand, the AD5791 architecture is unbeatable for noise. I really don't know what you audio perfectionists are hearing when you listen - is it THD ... or noise? Some combination of both, I imagine ...

Anyway, after years of designing products for specialist scientific, medical and industrial equipment I really like the idea of seeing my design in something I could use myself ... must get one of these! Given the prices, and my lack of sophistication when it comes to appreciating audio fidelity, I think it'll be the Ragnarok ...

Roddy

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HQPlayer offers a Closed form filter ; I use it to x2 DSD files (wow ! never sounded so good) but don't favor it when it comes to upsampling PCM files to 352 or 384.

 

Would be interested to know the differences between the unique CF filter in the Yggdrasil and the generous add-on to HQPlayer


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I am now listening to Murder was the Case because of this review. The most epic audio review I've read - and I really want to buy an Yggy to compare to my DAC. This review may put that urge to a point I can't resist.


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It would be interesting to read a comparison with the Yggy and PCM vs a good DSD DAC like the Lampi for example.

 

Yggy dsd vs. Yggy cd

Tried a couple of DSD albums on Yggy (jriver - 176khz 24bit), its wonderful. e.g. dark side of the moon, dsd is way way better than CD, night and day.

hate to say that, yggy with dsd makes cd unlistenable (i know, yggy already made CDs sounded so great).

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Chris -

I was looking forward to your review of this, as I know you love your Berkeley, and b/c Schiit claims the Yggy is as good as anything out there. You seem to more or less agree with this, which is pretty outstanding for a DAC that costs less than $2300.

 

Hypothetical: Could you give up your Berkeley Reference DAC for the Yggy without (much) regret?

 

Personally, I've found converting DSD to PCM with HQP sounds great on my DAC - and it's an ESS (Mytek 192), so I would not be at all surpised if it also sounds good through the Yggy.

 

So I'd really be interested in hearing how others who playback a lot of DSD think it sounds through the Yggy.

 

Anyone else who can chime in and compare the Yggy to a more expensive DAC? To take a flier on it I'd need to feel pretty confident about the sound - I've got to pay a lot of shipping and taxes to import it where I live, so if I try it and don't like it I'm out quite a bit of cash.


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Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Chris,

pre and post ringing is not an aspect of sigmal-delta or multi-bit, it is an aspect of the over-sampling filter. Mike has posted the impulse response of his filter and it still definitely has pre and post ringing. It is a relatively short response (time domain) which seems to have some correlation with the "realness" you mentioned. But that is still an aspect of the filter.

 

Differences DO exist between SD and MB, but elimination of pre and post ringing is not one of them.

 

John S.

 

Hi John. This quote from Mike Moffat writing here at CA about the filter should help:

 

Lots of taps permit a much higher slope in the transition band performance, a higher frequency response before the transition band begins (in our case .98 of nyquist), and much more attenuation in the stopband. The filter indeed rings, as all finite impulse response filters do, and it does indeed alias at 700 and something Khz, which is easy to filter in the analog domain without screwing up the sound. There is nothing faith-based about this filter, nor any exemptions from sampling theory. A frequency and time domain optimized filter is NOT mutually exclusive. The key word is optimized; not perfected.

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/delightful-digital-analogue-converter-week-~-25657/index3.html#post464623

 

Also, if you have a look at some of the Schiit info in Chris's article, their references aren't to delta-sigma in general but to the type of oversampling filter typically chosen (Parks-McClellan), and specifically to such oversampling filters optimized for frequency domain only without consideration for time domain, i.e., ringing.

 

Edit: By the way, I've heard the Yggy and it (as well as the Schiit Bifrost DAC with a version of the filter that will work in the lower cost unit) sounds really, really good. (That said, I'd try to get to listen to one before buying if the purchase transaction will involve significant cost to you.)


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The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

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What an informative review! Nice job.

 

If this DAC gets it "right," then it's ultimately getting the performance only half right. The other half of the equation is the ADC in the studio. If all of the pre and post ringing and inaccuracy/affectation is an issue in a DAC, then why not in the ADC? Maybe Schiit needs to countenance a move into the pro audio space.

 

I'm not sure if I miss-read the thoughts behind the comment, but Mike Moffat designed the famous ADC used by MSFL (though now they don't use it any more). If you have ever listened to Muddy Waters' Folk Singer or Robin Trower's Bridge of Sighs, those are two albums off the top of my head that were digitised with it. So "again" is needed in your comment I reckon. Otherwise I totally agree! You're not the first person to suggest it. :)

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Bit depth is not solely about dynamic range. Its more importantly about information density, the ability to more accurately reproduce a complex mixture of instruments and their overtones than a lesser bit depth.. So I am skeptical about any manufacturer whose philosophy is bit depth only matters to 21 bits. I believe the more honest answer is likely to be that current technology makes it challenging to make a commercially viable better offer over 21 bits, that this is related to why DSD is in vogue.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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