Jump to content
gradier

Schiit Saga vs Freya

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Anyone like to offer reasons for buying one over the other? I have M-Audio M-38 studio monitors with 1/4", RCA, and XLR connections. Looking for a new pre-amp. The Saga seems to offer the potential of doing the job very well, but I wonder what I would gain by springing for the extra bucks needed for the Freya. Any thoughts would be welcome....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone like to offer reasons for buying one over the other? I have M-Audio M-38 studio monitors with 1/4", RCA, and XLR connections. Looking for a new pre-amp. The Saga seems to offer the potential of doing the job very well, but I wonder what I would gain by springing for the extra bucks needed for the Freya. Any thoughts would be welcome....

 

I wonder what the differences in circuit really mean. The Saga has a single tube buffer - how that even work in 2 channel stereo circuit escapes me....


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone like to offer reasons for buying one over the other? I have M-Audio M-38 studio monitors with 1/4", RCA, and XLR connections. Looking for a new pre-amp. The Saga seems to offer the potential of doing the job very well, but I wonder what I would gain by springing for the extra bucks needed for the Freya. Any thoughts would be welcome....

 

I always prefer xlr . Saga has no xlr connections so Freya it is .

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone like to offer reasons for buying one over the other? I have M-Audio M-38 studio monitors with 1/4", RCA, and XLR connections. Looking for a new pre-amp. The Saga seems to offer the potential of doing the job very well, but I wonder what I would gain by springing for the extra bucks needed for the Freya. Any thoughts would be welcome....

The Freya is more flexible with more features, but the Saga has a simpler signal path, and generally, the simpler the signal path, the better the sound.


George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder what the differences in circuit really mean. The Saga has a single tube buffer - how that even work in 2 channel stereo circuit escapes me....

The tube is a 6SN7, a dual triode. That means tha there are actually two tubes in the glass envelope. Half of the tube is for one channel, and the other half of the tube is the other channel.


George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's called a dual triode.

I wonder what the differences in circuit really mean. The Saga has a single tube buffer - how that even work in 2 channel stereo circuit escapes me....

Forrest:

Win10 i7 3770k HQPlayer>Win10 NAA

DSD512>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought a Freya, because I wanted the extra inputs,outputs, XLR, and JFET mode. In short, it gives me a lot of flexibility in my system to connect to just about anything in just about any mode. I also wanted the 128 step volume control as opposed to 64 steps. (I often playback mixed playlists and change volume every track).

 

I think it is a killer preamp for the price. I haven't had $5K preamps in my system, but the Freya is certainly better than anything I've heard up to $2K and might be as good as some of those multiple $1000 dollar preamps. I think you'd have to spend several times its $699 price to get something better

 

A few comments about the Freya: all 3 modes sound similar to me: very clean, clear and detailed, but not harsh or etched.Wide soundstage. I don't think just walking into a room without knowing which mode was playing I could immediately tell you. I can tell them apart in A/B/C comparisons, but they aren't THAT different.

 

The JFET and passive sound very similar, but the JFET has a bit more "meat on the bones" to the sound. Not quite as lean. Some would say the passive is a bit thin, I wouldn't call it that. The passive would be very good in a system where you want an extremely clean sound b/c your other components already give you the flavor you like or maybe a bit too much.

 

The tube output sounds similar, but has a little bit of a softer/more rounded character. I find the bass extension is not quite as low or as taut and percussion/cymbals a bit more up front. (Obviously specific tubes influence this a bit. I'm using a pair of new Tung Sols as an upgrade to the gain stage, and the stock Russian military tubes for the output stage). Again, not huge differences from the other modes. The Gain with the tube mode is a LOT greater than with the other two, so if you'd like more gain in your system that's a plus. I think - although it may be an expectation bias - that I prefer the sound of mp3 files and older 50's 60's recordings played back with the tubes engaged.

 

I'm using the JFET mode as the default mode, I think it sounds good with everything. Switch to tube mode here and there for fun.

 

Schiit themselves say the Saga measures slightly better than the Freya, because of the simpler circuit. I'd doubt the difference is audible. In any case, I prefer the sound of the JFET mode, which Saga doesn't have. The tube mode with Saga is a buffer, with Freya it is an active preamp tube mode, and will give you full balanced output.

 

I'd assume the two amps sound very similar in the respective modes. So which you get would seem to me to be more a consideration of if the Freya has any added features you'd like, and if so, is the higher price worth it for you. If you don't want or need the extra Freya features, go with the Saga.

 

On more note: if you install the tubes on either amp, they are always engaged when the amp is on (no matter whether in tube mode or not). So if you run expensive tubes as an upgrade, it will end up costing you bucks. Schiit recommends that you turn the amp on and off as needed if you install the tubes. Without tubes, no reason not to leave it on.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

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 :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The less electronics in the analogue audio signal path the better. I don't need the gain of the Freya, just the passive resistor based volume control plus active low impedance buffer of the Saga. And in my system the Saga sounds (much) better than any other preamp I've tried so far..

 

As did Firedog (with the Freya's pair of gain stage tubes), I will upgrade the Saga's single (NOS Sovtek 6SN7GT/6H8C) buffer stage tube with a brand new Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB that should last ~10.000 hours.. :)


Current system: MacMini/PC  >> Schiit Eitr (with Uptone Audio LPS-1, for 5V USB power) >>  RME ADI-2 DAC (with Zerozone 12V linear power supply) >>  Xkitz Electronics XOVER-2, 100Hz active crossover (with Zerozone 17.5V linear power supply + LDOVR LT3045-A, ultra-low noise 15V voltage regulator) >> Schiit Vidar stereo power amp to KEF LS50 speakers + Sunfire HRS12/HRS8 active subwoofer. Cables used: Canare star quad speaker cables; AQ Cinnamon USB; AQ Big Sur & Schiit Pyst RCA; Supra CAT8 ethernet cable (with JSSG) for low voltage DC power; unknown coaxial cables; standard mains power cables (with Airlink BPS1502EU, 1500VA, balanced, mains isolation transformer).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many of us have DACs with volume control -- the "need" for a preamp to begin with is suspect. How much a sonic benefit would there be with a real line amp stage as compared to, say, a Sabre digital volume control scheme?

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The less electronics in the analogue audio signal path the better. I don't need the gain of the Freya, just the passive resistor based volume control plus active low impedance buffer of the Saga. And in my system the Saga sounds (much) better than any other preamp I've tried so far..

 

As did Firedog (with the Freya's pair of gain stage tubes), I will upgrade the Saga's single (NOS Sovtek 6SN7GT/6H8C) buffer stage tube with a brand new Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB that should last ~10.000 hours.. :)

 

Thanks for the input/explanation/review everyone - I am a tubey newby ;). I think I am going to go for a Saga - looking forward to the remote as much as anything...

 

Abtr, how much do you expect to hear the differences between the factory and the Tung-Sol? I know everyone points to a little more this, a bit of that - but if you were to give a % (say, 5%) what would it be you think?


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many of us have DACs with volume control -- the "need" for a preamp to begin with is suspect. How much a sonic benefit would there be with a real line amp stage as compared to, say, a Sabre digital volume control scheme?

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

 

You are right, of course. IF digital is your only source, and IF your DAC has a volume control, then a "preamp" is, as you point out, largely redundant. OTOH, if you have other sources (tuner, phono, tape), then a preamp is pretty much a must have and furthermore, if your DAC's volume control isn't on a remote control. then you will probably at least need a Saga (or something similar) to give you mute and volume control from your listening position. Can't speak to anyone else's needs, but I've never been able to judge "proper" volume from anywhere but my listening chair.


George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... Abtr, how much do you expect to hear the differences between the factory and the Tung-Sol? I know everyone points to a little more this, a bit of that - but if you were to give a % (say, 5%) what would it be you think?

Well, the stock tube I received from Schiit with the Saga, produced some crackling sounds and noise (in both channels) which generally means the tube is at the end of its life.. I replaced it with another Sovtek 6SN7GT NOS tube and the problem was solved. The Saga sounds brillant. I don't expect the Tung-Sol to sound better (that's 0% improvement), but NOS tubes appear to be less than 100% reliable. Hence, the new Tung-Sol..

Edited by Abtr

Current system: MacMini/PC  >> Schiit Eitr (with Uptone Audio LPS-1, for 5V USB power) >>  RME ADI-2 DAC (with Zerozone 12V linear power supply) >>  Xkitz Electronics XOVER-2, 100Hz active crossover (with Zerozone 17.5V linear power supply + LDOVR LT3045-A, ultra-low noise 15V voltage regulator) >> Schiit Vidar stereo power amp to KEF LS50 speakers + Sunfire HRS12/HRS8 active subwoofer. Cables used: Canare star quad speaker cables; AQ Cinnamon USB; AQ Big Sur & Schiit Pyst RCA; Supra CAT8 ethernet cable (with JSSG) for low voltage DC power; unknown coaxial cables; standard mains power cables (with Airlink BPS1502EU, 1500VA, balanced, mains isolation transformer).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, the stock tube I received from Schiit with the Saga, produced some crackling sounds and noise (in both channels) which generally means the tube is at the end of its life.. I replaced it with another Sovtek 6SN7GT NOS tube and the problem was solved. The Saga sounds brillant. I don't expect the Tung-Sol to sound better (that's 0% improvement), but NOS tubes appear to be less than 100% reliable. Hence, the new Tung-Sol..

 

Actually, I'd expect more reliability with NOS tubes than new ones. :-) I've compared 6SN7s for years now and I always come back the the GE 6SN7GTB. A solid, rich and balanced presentation. You can get matched pairs for about the same as a premium new 6SN7.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Preferring to run balanced and in need of a preamp after upgrading my main system DAC from a LHL Pulse Xfi (which has a volume control) to a Holo Spring L3 (no knobs), I was fortunate that Schiit came out with the Freya while I was searching. I mainly wanted a passive preamp for volume control from DAC into powered speakers that could operate in balanced mode, and the feature set of the Freya was too tempting to resist for the price.

 

The Freya and the Holo DAC arrived the same afternoon. O Glorious Day!

 

Now listening to music 24/7, or burning in the gear - whatever you prefer to call it, and all is sounding pretty good FOOB. These two seem like a good match. Mostly running in passive mode now to establish a baseline sound signature, then will explore JFET and tube sections later. I think that I will end up removing the tubes and running passive or JFET, but, as the toy is still new, I want to play around some.

 

My only complaint and it is a very small one.....literally - I understand the desire to keep the cost down for adding the remote control, but it should at least be large enough for an adult-size hand.


You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many of us have DACs with volume control -- the "need" for a preamp to begin with is suspect. How much a sonic benefit would there be with a real line amp stage as compared to, say, a Sabre digital volume control scheme?

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

 

You are right, of course. IF digital is your only source, and IF your DAC has a volume control, then a "preamp" is, as you point out, largely redundant. OTOH, if you have other sources (tuner, phono, tape), then a preamp is pretty much a must have and furthermore, if your DAC's volume control isn't on a remote control. then you will probably at least need a Saga (or something similar) to give you mute and volume control from your listening position. Can't speak to anyone else's needs, but I've never been able to judge "proper" volume from anywhere but my listening chair.

 

The above is all true in theory. Of course, like many things in audio, reality doesn't always match theory.

 

My present DAC has volume control with 3 modes: digital (ESS chip, goes direct from digital volume control to D/A conversion and output); analog (full analog preamp section that receives the analog output of the DAC chip and applies analog volume); and bypass ( DAC does no volume control of any kind, and digital signal is converted to analog in chip and goes directly to line level output, bypassing the volume control circuitry).

 

In theory, the digital control should be superior. But it doesn't sound as good as either of the other two modes. Even the manufacturer/designer says that the digital volume control measures better than the analog, but doesn't sound as good; and that the volume bypass sounds even slightly better.

 

In addition, when adding the Freya into the chain (in all 3 modes of both the Freya and the DAC) between the DAC and the amp, SQ is improved significantly: more detail is heard, more "air", wider soundstage. So reality doesn't match theory.

 

Lots of people find similar results with good preamps added to their chain that has a DAC with volume control. Go ahead and call it some kind of coloration if you want. I don't think so - it actually sounds more real and less colored with the preamp in the loop, at least using the passive and JFET modes of the Freya.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

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 :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always go with the equipment which has the most flexibility. More inputs and outputs because you never know when you are going to need them.


In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake ~ Sayre's Law

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, I'd expect more reliability with NOS tubes than new ones. :-) I've compared 6SN7s for years now and I always come back the the GE 6SN7GTB. A solid, rich and balanced presentation. You can get matched pairs for about the same as a premium new 6SN7.

Well, the new Tung-sol tube certainly sounds different from the NOS Sovtek tube you get standard with the Saga. I think The Tung-sol sounds better.. ;)


Current system: MacMini/PC  >> Schiit Eitr (with Uptone Audio LPS-1, for 5V USB power) >>  RME ADI-2 DAC (with Zerozone 12V linear power supply) >>  Xkitz Electronics XOVER-2, 100Hz active crossover (with Zerozone 17.5V linear power supply + LDOVR LT3045-A, ultra-low noise 15V voltage regulator) >> Schiit Vidar stereo power amp to KEF LS50 speakers + Sunfire HRS12/HRS8 active subwoofer. Cables used: Canare star quad speaker cables; AQ Cinnamon USB; AQ Big Sur & Schiit Pyst RCA; Supra CAT8 ethernet cable (with JSSG) for low voltage DC power; unknown coaxial cables; standard mains power cables (with Airlink BPS1502EU, 1500VA, balanced, mains isolation transformer).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, the new Tung-sol tube certainly sounds different from the NOS Sovtek tube you get standard with the Saga. I think The Tung-sol sounds better.. ;)

 

I've always found that puzzling. You would think that all tubes with the same part number would sound alike. After all, the tube's static characteristics, transconductance and bias curves are very narrowly proscribed and all the characteristic curves look the same in the tube manuals, but I know from experience that they all do not sound the same. When I had my VTL Monoblocks, I found that every 807 output tube (each amp took six) sounded different and the Chinese ones that shipped with the amp sounded the worst. They also fell apart with the bases separating from the glass envelope if you tried to remove them from their sockets by handling the glass, and the anode caps on top of the tubes came off with the anode cap leaving a little nub of wire sticking out of the top of the tube and the anode cap stuck inside the cap connector, but that's another story for another day. Luckily, I found a ham radio operator who had a horde of NOS JAN (Joint Army-Navy) 807s in the plain boxes with the typed military info on a slip of paper glued to the side of the box, and I made a "lifetime buy" from the guy at $0.50 a tube (I bought 48 of them). They sounded best. I have no idea who made them, because they were all made to the same military spec, but I read somewhere that JAN tubes (with the brown bakelite bases instead of black) were supplied during WWII by one of three tube makers: RCA, Sylvania, or GE. Anyway they all sounded exactly the same!


George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, I'd expect more reliability with NOS tubes than new ones. :-) I've compared 6SN7s for years now and I always come back the the GE 6SN7GTB. A solid, rich and balanced presentation. You can get matched pairs for about the same as a premium new 6SN7.

 

zackthedog, did the premium new you tried include the "The Shuguang Treasure" (why do I feel guilty even typing that out? ;) ) or the Sophia Electric?


Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, the new Tung-sol tube certainly sounds different from the NOS Sovtek tube you get standard with the Saga. I think The Tung-sol sounds better.. ;)

 

My Freya came with tubes from the Novosibirsk factory. They are 6H8C. From what I've been told by a vendor, they are old military tubes.


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS >SOtM Lan Isolator>Bricasti M5 Network Player >Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

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 :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My Freya came with tubes from the Novosibirsk factory. They are 6H8C. From what I've been told by a vendor, they are old military tubes.

Yes, that's also the stock Saga tube. 6H8C and the number 8510 are printed on the tube. The number 8601 is printed on the base. They are (NOS) Sovtek 6SN7GT tubes produced in the Novosibirsk factory (6H8C is the Russian designation for a 6SN7). Not sure if they are military tubes but they might be. Apparently these tubes are used in many currently produced tube amplifiers.

 

My stock Saga tube was producing periodic crackling sounds and noise, maybe it got damaged from some shock or dropping, after all it's a NOS tube.. I found a replacement Sovtek 6SN7GT for € 13 that has 6H8C and the number 8602 printed on the tube and 0 and 1 printed on the base. It sounds just fine, but I prefer the new Tung-sol 6SN7GTB. :)


Current system: MacMini/PC  >> Schiit Eitr (with Uptone Audio LPS-1, for 5V USB power) >>  RME ADI-2 DAC (with Zerozone 12V linear power supply) >>  Xkitz Electronics XOVER-2, 100Hz active crossover (with Zerozone 17.5V linear power supply + LDOVR LT3045-A, ultra-low noise 15V voltage regulator) >> Schiit Vidar stereo power amp to KEF LS50 speakers + Sunfire HRS12/HRS8 active subwoofer. Cables used: Canare star quad speaker cables; AQ Cinnamon USB; AQ Big Sur & Schiit Pyst RCA; Supra CAT8 ethernet cable (with JSSG) for low voltage DC power; unknown coaxial cables; standard mains power cables (with Airlink BPS1502EU, 1500VA, balanced, mains isolation transformer).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zackthedog, did the premium new you tried include the "The Shuguang Treasure" (why do I feel guilty even typing that out? ;) ) or the Sophia Electric?

 

I'm not that crazy about the Treasure/Psvane 6SN7. It's a nice tube, and it certainly depends on your system. A lot of people love them. They do have a big, open sound, similar to the Mullard ECC32. I guess I should try mine again. :-) But the quality control is so-so and they can be noisy and microphonic, the last thing you want in a preamp. I find that the GE 6SN7GTBs do everything very well for a reasonable price. Production was very consistent, they'll tolerate high voltages, microphonics are extremely low and they're generally tough as nails. NOS or very strong matched pairs go for $60 or less.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...