Schiit audio has been gaining some great reputation for coming up with the best bang for the buck dacs and amps. They do not produce too many dac/amp combos, rather, they like to go and build individuals amps and dacs. Jotunheim is one of their two dac/amps, the other being the Fulla. Nevertheless Jotunheim is not your daily dac/amp, these surprised many audio enthusiasts with its performance and I will tell you why in this review.
ABOUT SCHIIT AUDIO
from their website:
Schiit got started in 2010 when two audio industry veterans decided it was time to shake things up a bit. The two audiophiles are Jason Stoddard, formerly of Sumo, and Mike Moffat, formerly of Theta. Together, they have designed dozens of audio and A/V products, from the Andromeda III to the Cobalt 307 to the DS Pre and Angstrom 200.
So, yeah: fully balanced differential power amplifiers, fully discrete I/V conversion stages, audiophile D/A converters, relay-switched stepped attenuator volume controls in preamps. the first DTS home theater surround processor on the market . . . we’ve done a ton of stuff.
In the old days, audiophiles went up the food chain from the table radio to the console stereo to separate speakers the size of refrigerators and monoblocks that would cook a cat. Today, nobody starts with a table radio. Everyone—and we mean everyone—starts with headphones.
So, yeah. We do a lot of headphone stuff. Or “Personal Audio,” as they’re starting to call it. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have products that are totally comfortable in a speaker-based system, from all of our DACs, to the Mani phono preamp, to the Ragnarok integrated amp. Whether you’re looking at personal audio or at a speaker-based system, we have fun, affordable products that’ll put a smile on your face.
Mike Moffat separately aligns each molecule of every JFET, using a special Absolute Zero containment suit…er, well, no. What makes them special are three things:
Unique Multibit DAC and Digital Filter Technologies
Today, virtually every DAC uses a reduced-bit technology known as “delta sigma.” Multibit DACs have largely gone by the wayside, thanks to less-expensive delta-sigma technology. The few multibit DACs that exist either use NOS (new old stock) D/A chips, one of two or three still-extant multibit chips, or build their own R2R ladders at high cost. We’ve always believed that multibit DACs provide the best sonic performance, especially when coupled with Schiit’s unique, DSP-based closed-form digital filter. This is why we created two entirely new multibit DAC architectures using current-production, medical/military grade D/A converters that have linearity specs far exceeding any audio DAC. If you’d like to learn more, read about Yggdrasil, Gungnir Multibit, or Bifrost Multibit.
Innovative Analog Approaches
On the analog side, we’ve also taken innovative approaches, each uniquely designed for the task at hand. Even our least expensive headphone amplifier is essentially a miniature, fully discrete, DC coupled, Lin-topology power amplifier. We’ve introduced unique output stages to wring more power out of Lyr 2 with its Dynamically Adaptive output, re-introduced inherently balanced topologies like the circlotron in Mjolnir 2, and created unique “analog computer-style” protection systems. For Ragnarok, we introduced the entirely new concept of 100% intelligent microprocessor management of the entire amplifier–from bias to DC level to overcorrect protection…and included a relay-switched stepped attenuator, for perfect channel matching and no ICs in the signal path…and also created an amplifier that’s comfortable driving everything, from tiny IEMs to giant speakers.
Designed for the Real World
The real world is a complex place, which is why all of our products are overbuilt. Pick up one of our affordable Valhalla 2 or Lyr 2 amps, and marvel at the weight, heft, and solidity (each of those two amplifiers use two separate transformers with real high-voltage supplies—an approach that’s usually far beyond their modest price. Then, we test them extensively with Stanford Research audio analyzers (and our ears), and we burn-in every product from Asgard 2 on up for a minimum of 1 day to help catch any early failures. (Ragnarok and Yggdrasil get 4 days each). We also keep very close tabs on any service and support needs, so you can rest assured of years of great sound.
And—it bears mentioning—we believe that close-coupled, local control of all of the aspects of production delivers better products. That’s why we design and produce our stuff here in the USA, with the vast majority of parts cost going to US-based companies manufacturing in the US. We need all of that clarification in there because some people have played games with what “Made in USA” means. When we say it, it means that our chassis guys are right over the hill in the San Fernando Valley, our transformers are made here in California, our boards come from the east coast (of the USA), and we design, assemble, and test everything here in Valencia, California.
This unit was purchased for review purposes. As usual, my reviews are unbiased.
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-700KHz, -3dB
Balanced Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 7500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 5000mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 3000mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 900mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 500mW RMS per channel
Single-Ended Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 2500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 800mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 350mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 175mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.0015%, CCIR
SNR: >109db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms, balanced or SE, at both gain settings
Gain: 2 (6dB) or 8 (14dB), selectable via front switch
Inputs: Balanced XLR and Single-Ended RCA, selectable via front switch
Outputs: Balanced headphone (4-pin XLR), single-ended headphone (1/4” TRS), balanced line preamp, single-ended line preamp
Optional Inputs: AK4490 Balanced USB DAC or Passive MM Phono
Gain Stage: Proprietary Schiit Pivot Point™ fully discrete differential current-feedback topology
Power Supply: One 48VA transformer with 6 stages of discrete or integrated regulation and over 70,000uF total filter capacitance
Input Capability: up to 24/192, including 24/176.4
THE BUILD QUALITY
Balanced and quarter inch input for headphones in front of the unit
Balanced input and output / RCA input and output at the back of the unit
full metal/aluminum design. Very sturdy with thick rubber feet installed. The design is simple with 2 gain setting (low/high) and a switch to change options (user manual is useful for this).
What I have here is only the amp itself, but you can get a balanced dac or phono option for extra 100 dollars.
my only complaint is that the on/off switch is at the back, making it inconvenient for those tucking it in somewhere.
Clean and powerful. Neutral with a hint of warmth. Trying with multiple dacs, the conclusion was that the amp is very clean but does lack the ability to really dig in and extract the last bits of details/dynamics of the music. However, the amp should be able to run anything clean and effortlessly. I wish I had a pair of he6 to test that theory.
Best price for a truly balanced amp. Truly amazed.