SCHIIT TWO-CHANNEL GEAR COMPENDIUM Schiit previewed the first products in its two-channel line at the 13th Annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest ("RMAF") from October 7–9, 2016, including the Saga passive/tube hybrid preamp at $349, the Freya balanced tube/buffer/passive preamp at $699, and the Vidar 100W/400W stereo/mono power amplifier at $699. The initial announcement was made in the Schiit Previews 2-Channel Line At RMAF press release ("PR"). The below is an adaptation of the original SBAF compilation of pre-release nuggets shared on Head-Fi by @schiit re: the two-channel gear, as supplemented by the PR and other relevant information, all gathered together and frequently updated for easy reference. Enjoy! If I've missed anything, PM me and I'll add it. Spoiler: Selected Revision History 10/07/16: Incorporated PR updates. 10/08/16: Reordering/reorganization and Norse mythology added. RMAF pictures and impressions added. 10/10/16: Incorporated "Schiit 10/9" updates. Topology subheading moved to Speaker Amp heading. 10/12/16: Incorporated "SH Preamps" and related updates. Split into multiple posts. 10/21/16: More RMAF links from DAR, Stereophile, etc. Vidar Norse mythology supplements. 10/24/16: Incorporated info from a couple 10/24 posts by @schiit in our thread and the Schiit Happened HF thread. 11/09/16: Incorporated "SH Vidar Part I" updates. 11/18/16 through 12/13/16: Added Saga website info and SBAF impressions 12/23/16: Vidar prototype updates. See (source). Freya website information added. 01/10/17: Vidar rendering info added; XLR in only for monoblock mode 01/14/17: @Marvey's Freya review thread added 01/17/17: @schiit Vidar updates from HF added. 02/18/17 & 03/19/17: @schiit Vidar production updates on HF. See Vidar, Miscellaneous, chronological development history below. @ohhgourami Vidar prototype impressions added to Quick References. QUICK REFERENCES General Schiit.com product pages: Saga Freya PR. See above. SBAF thread: New Schiit / Preamps and Power Amp (was Putting the Schiit Signal Up) Spoiler: selected posts: "Schiit 10/9," 10/24 updates @schiit's 10/9/16 answers to thread questions ("Schiit 10/9"); see also (source). @schiit's 10/24/16 post re: 6SN7s and Vidar @schiit's 10/24/16 production update on preamps and Vidar Vidar prototype updates, etc. Vidar drawing from 11/2016; no stereo functionality with balanced connection January 2016 Vidar prototype and manufacturing update SBAF thread: Preamps (i.e., the @sphinxvc Preamp Compendium) HF: Schiit Happened, Chapter 13: Into the 2-Channel World: The Saga of Saga (and, um, Freya too) ("SH Preamps"). Schiit Happened, Chapter 15: The Vidar Chronicles, Part I ("SH Vidar Part I") Other posts in the Schiit Happened thread are linked/cited individually below. Spoiler: Pictures See Saga and Freya product pages for better photos Vidar prototype Picture of Freya, Yggy, and Vidar ("Schiit Schtack") posted by @Pyruvate One-page Schiit handout posted by @Marvey Picture of Schiit Schtack posted by @MrTie Pictures of Schiit Schtack, including close-ups of Freya and Vidar, posted by @AllanMarcus Picture of Saga borrowed from HF by @Hooncake Picture of Freya's rear (and Monoprice XLR cables) from The Audio Beat Picture of Mimby, Saga, and Vidar posted by @Scott Kramer New Vidar prototype as of 12/22/2016 Freya internals shared by @Pyruvate Vidar rendering Reviews/Impressions SBAF Reviews @Marvey's Schiit Freya Preamp Review (Episodic) thread SBAF Impressions @Marvey's Can'tjam! impressions (11/10/16) @nedifer's initial Saga impressions (11/17/16) @aafnp's initial Saga impressions (11/19/16) @Merrick's initial Saga impressions (12/01/16) (includes picture of remote!) @sphinxvc's Saga vs. SYS comparison (12/12/16) @ohhgourami's Vidar prototype impressions (03/07/17) Third-Party Reviews/Impressions Audio Asylum, REVIEW: Schiit Audio Saga Premplifier (Tube), by user Greg Cz RMAF Impressions Spoiler: selections from US Blues' impressions on Head-Fi (e.g., features, topology, monoblock power at 4 ohms) "Power switch- yes, it's on the back. Jason said that by nature the more he gets criticized for design decisions, the less likely he is to comply. His T-shirt was black, with a power switch indicator on the back, very funny!" "Sound- There were a lot of folks at that show who will spend a truck-load more money for gear that does not sound any better." [remainder of sound impressions chopped for brevity] "Tech- The preamp is smaller than I expected, standard width, maybe 8 inches deep, about the height of a Gungnir. The chassis are the same L-bent metal as the Joty. There is no balance control, and obviously no tone controls." "The Vigar is as tall as the Yggy, two of the side-by-sde are a bit wider than the 17" standard chassis. The amps are maybe 12" deep, and they do put out some heat. A single amp is not fully balanced, but when run in a mono-block configuration they are fully-balanced. The circuit is a SE variation of the pivot point circuit, Jason will have to provide more details than this. I heard them in mono block configuration this morning. Jason said they will get to about 600 watts at 4 ohms in mono block mode before they shut down, and the numbers are conservative." "The amp has the heat tunnel in the center, no fan, with the heat sink in the center. The top also dissipates heat. The picture of them in the rack at the show depicts them with a low-overhead shelf, Jason indicated that they need more ventilation than this." (source) The Audio Beat, Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016 - Hot Product. Audio-Head, Schiit Audio Does 2 Channel – RMAF 2016 (Credit: @Madaboutaudio) Digital Audio Review, Saga, Freya, Vidar: three fresh pieces of Schiit from RMAF 2016 (including 10-minute video interview with Mike Moffat and Jason Stoddard post-RMAF) Stereophile, RMAF 2016: Jana's Sunday at the Show ("As I entered the Schiit/Salk room, someone from Schiit asked me, jokingly: 'Isn't Schiit too cheap for Stereophile?' . . . Their playlist was cinematically explosive, and had me impressed by the system's dynamic responsiveness. I left the room thinking, as most people probably have: what a great sounding, affordably priced system! I've confirmed what all before me have learned: Schiit stays true to their word.") Spoiler: Other (not helpful) two-channel gear mentions Tubecad.com, 16 October 2016 (Note: CTRL+F for "Schiit") Audiogon.com forum, RMAF 2016 "No Schiit?" (Note: proceed with caution) Audiostream, Salk & Schiit GENERAL PRODUCT INFO Pricing Saga preamp is $349, Freya balanced preamp is $699, and Vidar amplifier is $699. See PR. Vidar may drop in price due to move from vertical passive heat tunnel to external heatsinks. See SH Vidar Part I. Spoiler: Schiit pricing philosophy "[T]hat's what we do. We design something, we figure out how much it costs is to make, and then we apply our standard margin to it. We don't price things 'at what the market will bear,' or 'higher so people will take it seriously,' or 'higher because there's literally nothing like it, anywhere near the price.'" See SH Preamps. "We think these are absolute, barking mad deals. Even more now that we've emerged from the design phase and spent some time looking around at the market. Hell, there are passive stepped attenuators (only, not with tube stages or remotes) that cost a lot more! When you start talking 6SN7-based preamps from credible companies, you start adding zeros really, really fast. And when you start talking about relay-switched stepped attenuators, you are talking really, really rarefied air. That's completely beyond-the-pale cost-no-object high-end design. Hell, it's beyond a lot of 'high end' companies that have given up and simply use volume control chips now (barfarolaomaticdeluxe, is how I feel about that, but I'm biased.)" Id. Spoiler: previous pricing discussion Discussion about using new Salk speakers with the Ragnarok at a recent show: "We were using the new Salk Song3s. Which sounded absolutely fantastic. I'm hoping that Salk wants to work with us for the speaker room at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I was a little embarrassed that the electronics cost more than the speakers. Hopefully we can solve that for the next show..." (source) "So yes, it was very well worth going, and I'm looking forward to the next show, where we can (hopefully) rectify the inequity between electronics cost and speaker cost. The Salk speakers were $2900. Our stack was $4000 [Yggy + Rag]. I'd much rather see the stack at a lower cost than the speakers. Much lower. And with more power. A lot more power. And a remote. Yes, those are all hints." (source) Note: Given that the Yggy is $2300, I find it impossible that the Yggy, a new preamp, and the new speaker amp will cost less than the Salk speakers at $2900. I assume this statement, if it holds true, (1) involves replacing Yggy with Gumby in the hypothetical or (2) is a reference to only the preamp and amp stack and excludes the DAC entirely. Potential speaker amp pricing, etc.: "Big power amps also are never going to be cheap. At least not unless they’re Class D. And sorry, guys, I’ve never heard a Class D design that outmatches a conventional linear amp. Yes, even the ones that claim to do so. Call it what you will—confirmation bias, whatever—but I will take a linear design over a mathematically optimized switching approximation of it. Same as I’ll take multibit over delta-sigma. But I digress. Big power amps mean big components—big power transformers full of steel and copper (these ain’t cheap, or if they are, run), big heatsinks (even high-density designs have their limits,) big output devices, big protection systems, big chassis, etc. Bottom line, it adds up. But again, it’s all relative. Does a 200WPC stereo amp need to cost $5,000? No. But it will probably be more than $500. And $50,000? Well, that’s nuts." (source) Credit: @Pyruvate Release Schedule Saga shipping now. Freya available as of 12/23/16, but will ship in 2017. Vidar shipping estimated Q1 2017. See (source); 10/24 post; PR. "In terms of timing, you'll be seeing the preamps up on the site in a couple of weeks (they are being sent to photograph straight from the show, and we're just waiting on production of the boards, as we have all metal in-house.) Vidar is more fluid, as it has some long-lead parts that will certainly put it out past the end of the year. " See Schiit 10/9. "The amp still needs to go through some pretty extensive torture-testing to see where the protection system fails. This has to be 100% right. Unreliable cheap amps kill companies." Id.; see 10/24 production update; 10/24 torture test update. Spoiler: previous release schedule discussion "I'm certain you'll also see the first dedicated 2-channel products from us in 2016." (source) "Don’t be surprised if the 2 channel products start with preamps first, rather than power amps." (source) "Maybe you'll see [the presumably third speaker amp prototype; see Speaker Amp below] at RMAF. In any case, you will see the preamps [note the plural], since we've already started ordering parts for them [same]." (source) "I'm leaving for the show tomorrow, but I can confirm that both of the preamps and the amp will be [at RMAF]." See @Azteca's 10/5/16 status. Spoiler: Market Impact "I want to do more at Schiit. So consider this our manifesto: we will continue to bring the highest-value products, at the fairest-possible margins, in the largest-quantity runs (for even lower cost) to assure that as many people can enjoy high-end audio as possible, and to grow the audience for the future. And we’ll continue to do this both in personal and desktop audio, and in the world of speaker amps, preamps, and other gear, as we can. You’ll see our 2-channel products this fall, and, if the reaction of various industry people is to be believed, they may have an even bigger impact on that market than we have on the desktop." (source) "Even then, I think you will be floored by what we have in store." (source) "And the more I looked at the preamp market alone, the more I realized that there was at least as much room for disruption as on the desktop—maybe even more..." See SH Preamps.