Jump to content

Article: Schiit Audio Reference System Review Part 2


Recommended Posts

glad it's warmed up to five below - I hope that isn't near the hatching temperature for black flies tho...

 

Does the Venere series have that weight on a rope suspension thing that Sonus Faber uses on some speakers?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

is that we need to stop calling these types of speakers bookshelf speakers.

 

That's why lots of makers call them "stand mount" speakers nowadays....

 

I own a Freya as part of my "secondary" system, but I've heard it in some pretty good primary systems. No, it isn't as good as some $5-$10K

preamps. But it is as good  as  many $2-3K ones, and I think that's what counts at it's price point.  It's a true audiophile component, IMO. I prefer the JFET mode, and think you can hear more subtlety and detail in that mode as compared to the passive or tube modes, because of the cleaner sound in JFET (as opposed to tube) and the fact that it "drives" the system better than passive mode. 

 

The Freya is a great starter piece, and to really better it, you have to get seriously into the high end. For many people and systems it would be all you would need and spending more probably wouldn't get you a lot. 

 

The "Schiit Reference"  system  sounds like a bargain in the audio world that gets you a good piece of the high end without putting yourself at the far tail of the curve of diminishing returns on the dollar. 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Devestating review. The Vidar can't drive the TADs requiring the use of easier speakers...and the apparently unsuccessful hunt for a great pairing that could approach the reference high end system. Beneath the grudging admission of lower resolution and love of engagement / musical wholeness lays the unspoken criticism of soundstage, imaging and dynamic force.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, firedog said:

 

That's why lots of makers call them "stand mount" speakers nowadays....

 

I own a Freya as part of my "secondary" system, but I've heard it in some pretty good primary systems. No, it isn't as good as some $5-$10K

preamps. But it is as good  as  many $2-3K ones, and I think that's what counts at it's price point.  It's a true audiophile component, IMO. I prefer the JFET mode, and think you can hear more subtlety and detail in that mode as compared to the passive or tube modes, because of the cleaner sound in JFET (as opposed to tube) and the fact that it "drives" the system better than passive mode. 

 

The Freya is a great starter piece, and to really better it, you have to get seriously into the high end. For many people and systems it would be all you would need and spending more probably wouldn't get you a lot. 

 

The "Schiit Reference"  system  sounds like a bargain in the audio world that gets you a good piece of the high end without putting yourself at the far tail of the curve of diminishing returns on the dollar. 

 

Right on @firedog and thanks for the added information about your preferences as well. The Freya is really good. I hated to mention a point of this system that could be holding it back or that is a weak point, but I believe it's a necessary evil. I know people will read into this much more than we can imagine, but my words were selected carefully, meaning that I was accurate in my description not that I was dancing around anything. 

 

This system could be the best bargain in HiFi. If someone can go down to a single Vidar and a Gungnir or Bifrost DAC, this system gets int he price range of mid and low fi, but performs at a HiFi level. 

 

Thanks again for the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 hours ago, GUTB said:

Devestating review. The Vidar can't drive the TADs requiring the use of easier speakers...and the apparently unsuccessful hunt for a great pairing that could approach the reference high end system. Beneath the grudging admission of lower resolution and love of engagement / musical wholeness lays the unspoken criticism of soundstage, imaging and dynamic force.

 

The Vidars aren't spec'd to drive the TADs.

 

You are reading way way way more into my words than I could ever imagine. I don't dance around anything. I say it like it is. 

 

I have zero criticisms about soundstage, imaging, and dynamic force.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 hour ago, jimx1169 said:

I don't recall him saying the amps wouldn't drive the TADs.  What he said was "I don't recommend using TAD Compact Reference with the Schiit Vidar amps. I just wasn't thrilled by the sound."

 

Nice informative review.

 

Exactly @jimx1169

 

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, mourip said:

 

 

They did. Last October.

 

I just wish they could use the USB port with a small app to let end users update their own firmware. Many, many companies do this. That would have dropped the upgrade price a quite a bit and saved the large shipping costs.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GUTB said:

You’re suggesting the Schiit reference system with the Veneres and Sopras is close to or almost to the level of your Constelation + TADs? That’s what this review seems to be suggesting.

 

I don't suggest anything in my reviews. I say what I mean. Stop reading into everything.

 

 

 

53 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

I'd like to hear your thoughts on Schiit not doing DSD and similar HiRes...

 

also, a Vidar Benchmark shootout... on Maggies...

 

I don't really care if manufacturers do DSD, DXD, MQA, ETC...

 

I have many versions of my favorite albums and I can convert from any format to any other format to make do when necessary.

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen apeaker cables causing problems with amps for a long while, now, a resurface.

 

"

The Focal Sopra N°1


Note: I Had to switch speaker cables from the Wire World Platinum Eclipse 7 to a pair from little-known 512 Engineering in Northern California. The switch was required to get rid of a loud hum through the loudspeakers. These amps are a bit more finicky than other amps I've had in my system, namely the Constellation Audio Inspiration series and Pass Labs XA160.5. I haven't had to switch speaker cables to remove a loud hum prior to using the Vidar amps. "

 

Chris, can you elaborate on the loud hum, you heard, any guess on what frequency?

 

In trying to understand why the instability occurred, here's a picture of the Wireworld and the 512 Engineering (a guess here since there's no direct catalogue structure as such).

image.thumb.png.055ea5a70da3e54dfa61017c7d17365e.png                        image.thumb.png.b0856f566fd61d320bcad5eb9eca80fd.png  

 

The speaker cable from 512 Engineering is your classic Litz construction, low capacitance, low resistance, compared with the Wireworld at high(er) capacitance, since each conductor has a layer of insulation between. I don't think the Wireworld could pick up any hum by induction since it's twisted, so maybe the 'right' length reacted with the Schiit amp adversely. This usually happens when the source impedance is unstable, or is 'weak'.

 

512 Engineering produce symmetrical (balanced) transformers, good to find another source, other than that hopeless lot in Oregon. 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/19/2018 at 6:42 AM, GUTB said:

Devestating review. The Vidar can't drive the TADs requiring the use of easier speakers...and the apparently unsuccessful hunt for a great pairing that could approach the reference high end system. Beneath the grudging admission of lower resolution and love of engagement / musical wholeness lays the unspoken criticism of soundstage, imaging and dynamic force.

What is the point of your comment?  Who in their right mind would choose these amps to drive $42K speakers?  

I doubt anyone expects this budget system to provide SOTA performance, just good musical enjoyment.

ROON: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, barrows said:

No, it does not...  Maybe you should actually read the review and not "read into" it.

 

Schiit's marketing blurb on their site says:

 

"Okay. Let’s blow up this high-end nonsense. Here’s your ultra-high-end amplifier, without the ultra-high-end price. Welcome to the revolution."

 

Strangely this ultra-high-end amp can't handle the TAD CR1s, one of the best standmounts regardless of price.

 

What's not said about the sound of the Schiit system is just as interesting as what is said. For example browse What Hifi reviews -- lower-price gear reviews never have anything to say about soundstage and imaging, but high-price gear does have something to say about this areas without fail. Essentially, pro reviewers don't rate gear on an even playing field presumably so that they can always publish positive reviews.

 

This is a very positive review. The humming issue is well know and the review doesn't ignore that but does gloss over the severity of the issue as most users won't have access to what appears to be very expensive boutique cables with a limited distribution.

 

Constellation + TADs would have very strong soundstage and imaging performance. Sopras are no slouch either. But the review has nothing to say about these areas except for the air/space dynamic. Dyanmic performance is also a key metric that goes undiscussed.

 

As far being an ultra-high-end amp, everyone already knows that's not true, and this review does admit that much but indirectly and with the apparent intent to minimize the difference.

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

 

I don't really care if manufacturers do DSD, DXD, MQA, ETC...

 

I have many versions of my favorite albums and I can convert from any format to any other format to make do when necessary.

 

 

Do you own SACDs?  If so, how do you convert them to a PCM format?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good review. The ring of truth comes in how you looked at the performance as a system. In any technology, a system isn't just the sum of its parts, it's some kind of function. I've heard really inexpensive systems - inexpensive end to end - that sounded better than some poorly thought through (or poorly matched) really expensive systems.

 

I've experienced this "systems" issue myself. I've got a set of Gradient Revolution speakers that blows away every one who hears them. Then my Krell integrated died, and I got an Anthem integrated, similarly rated on power and other characteristics to the old Krell, to hold me over. I was SO disappointed in the sound. Flat, lifeless. Was it the Anthem integrated? I tried it with other speakers... it sounded wonderful with the other three sets of speakers I tried it with - two much cheaper than the Gradients, one significantly more expensive. I ended up moving a Peachtree integrated to the room with the Gradients. It's so much less expensive than the Krell, lower power than you'd usually match up with them, but I think it sounds way better. BTW, that Peachtree integrated was unimpressive with two other sets of speakers.

 

I've also experienced cable differences. The GoldenEar Reference in my AV system hated my ultra-high end cables that had been in that system for a long time, but have a love fest with some middling ones. Those ultra high end got transferred to the Peachtree Gradient system, and have found a home. For some reason, they match beautifully, and raised the whole system. 

 

So the speaker differences, cable differences? If you had found all the swaps to be linear in performance based simply on price and individual component performance, I'd have been skeptical.

 

I can't explain all of it. But I sure can hear it. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/19/2018 at 7:42 AM, GUTB said:

Devestating review. 

 

Later you state "This is a very positive review."  Which is it?  Devastating or positive?

 

You again state "Strangely this ultra-high-end amp can't handle the TAD CR1s"  Again, nowhere in the review does it say the Vidar's can't handle the load.  Set up as mono-blocks in the review the Vidars should provide 400W into an 8 ohm load and even more into a 4 ohm load.  TADs are on the lower end of the sensitivity rating (from the TAD website "Sensitivity: 86dB (2.83V @ 1m free space)) but the Vidars CAN handle the load as specified on the TAD website.  The reviewer merely stated that he didn't prefer the combo. 

 

However, I AM a little perplexed that the reviewer's remarks in the comment section state "The Vidars aren't spec'd to drive the TADs" when I believe the specs on Shiit's website would suggest otherwise.  Mr. Reviewer, care to explain?

 

Schiit's mantra is to provide high quality gear at affordable prices.  Most of us expect their gear to "punch above their weight" and to provide a high level of value to the consumer.  The fact that the reviewer didn't prefer the sound of the TAD speakers with the Schiit system doesn't diminish the fact that the Vidar is an amp that competes with amps that are ultra-high-end.  Every magazine that reviews amps/speakers has come to the conclusion that some amps pair better with some speakers and not others.  This review is no different.

 

I suspect that you have an axe to grind with Schiit or maybe you're an audio elitist that turns your nose up at anything other than gear that is the best of the best.  I suspect you've spent some money on some gear that makes you happy.  I respectfully suggest that you take a few hours enjoying your gear.

 

The review ends with: "Come to think of it, the Schiit reference system may be my default, go-to, recommendation for all the people that ask, what should I get? The price is low, the quality is high, and they may never need to purchase anything more expensive."  Devastating?  Hardly.

 

As an aside, audio enthusiasts/audiophiles are an odd bunch that can be hard to please.  On the one hand, if gear they like is compared to much higher priced gear and ends up in second place they state "the reviewer should compare to similarly priced gear."  If, on the other hand, their gear is compared to lower priced gear and comes out ahead they shout "The reviewer should have compared it to some higher priced gear!!"  Lose-lose for the reviewer.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, jimx1169 said:

 

Later you state "This is a very positive review."  Which is it?  Devastating or positive?

 

You again state "Strangely this ultra-high-end amp can't handle the TAD CR1s"  Again, nowhere in the review does it say the Vidar's can't handle the load.  Set up as mono-blocks in the review the Vidars should provide 400W into an 8 ohm load and even more into a 4 ohm load.  TADs are on the lower end of the sensitivity rating (from the TAD website "Sensitivity: 86dB (2.83V @ 1m free space)) but the Vidars CAN handle the load as specified on the TAD website.  The reviewer merely stated that he didn't prefer the combo. 

 

However, I AM a little perplexed that the reviewer's remarks in the comment section state "The Vidars aren't spec'd to drive the TADs" when I believe the specs on Shiit's website would suggest otherwise.  Mr. Reviewer, care to explain?

 

Schiit's mantra is to provide high quality gear at affordable prices.  Most of us expect their gear to "punch above their weight" and to provide a high level of value to the consumer.  The fact that the reviewer didn't prefer the sound of the TAD speakers with the Schiit system doesn't diminish the fact that the Vidar is an amp that competes with amps that are ultra-high-end.  Every magazine that reviews amps/speakers has come to the conclusion that some amps pair better with some speakers and not others.  This review is no different.

 

I suspect that you have an axe to grind with Schiit or maybe you're an audio elitist that turns your nose up at anything other than gear that is the best of the best.  I suspect you've spent some money on some gear that makes you happy.  I respectfully suggest that you take a few hours enjoying your gear.

 

The review ends with: "Come to think of it, the Schiit reference system may be my default, go-to, recommendation for all the people that ask, what should I get? The price is low, the quality is high, and they may never need to purchase anything more expensive."  Devastating?  Hardly.

 

As an aside, audio enthusiasts/audiophiles are an odd bunch that can be hard to please.  On the one hand, if gear they like is compared to much higher priced gear and ends up in second place they state "the reviewer should compare to similarly priced gear."  If, on the other hand, their gear is compared to lower priced gear and comes out ahead they shout "The reviewer should have compared it to some higher priced gear!!"  Lose-lose for the reviewer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Devastating when reading into what isn’t said about it. Very positive if taken at face value. 

 

The TAD CR1s are amongst the best standmounts in the world. They weigh 100 lbs and are considered a value in the world of high-end speakers at $40k. A linear A/B power doubling dual mono amp should drive the CR1s just fine — except if the amp just can’t handle the phase swings / instant current / impedance peaks / etc of a high-end, high-performance loudspeaker. Looks like the review relied on finding a high-performance speaker match which was found with the Sopras. Of course, the vast majority of people interested in the Vidar would never consider $9k speakers. Actually, they sounded great at AXPONA paired with the lowly Salk Song3 Towers, which would probably the budget limit of most Vidar buyers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, JSeymour said:

I understand your rationale for using the stock tubes that come with the Freya.  But they hold the preamp back.  You need to get some good NOS tubes in the Freya to hear it's true performance.  I put the stock tubes away permanently.

I'd agree entirely.

 

The OEM Sovteks that came with mine can be heard to crackle and pop - they sure didn't do much for my face's smile muscles. They've been retired in favour of current generation TungSols, as a low cost starting point. Over time, I'll consider NOS options.

 

I can understand why Chris kept the tubes stock. It's another area where you'll get widely varying opinion, rock and a hard place stuff.

Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, GUTB said:

 

except if the amp just can’t handle the phase swings / instant current / impedance peaks / etc of a high-end, high-performance loudspeaker. 

Where, exactly, are you getting your information to make that comment?  Certainly nothing which was mentioned in this review.  And you are commenting on this review are you not?

 

"Devastating when reading into what isn’t said about it."  Do you often put more stock into what isn't said vs. what is said?  If so then I doubt any reviewer could meet your standard.

 

I'd like to add that the fact that the reviewer didn't like the sound of the TAD/Schiit combo is not disparaging towards Schiit or TAD.  It is merely a statement that he doesn't like the combo.  He obviously likes the TAD speakers and he obviously likes the Schiit equipment.  Do the two have to be mutually exclusive?

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...