Big Day of Testing (Yggdrasil, Gungnir MB and USB Regen)

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by TMoney, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sausalito, CA
    This post is going to be something of an information dump as I try and summarize my notes from a full day of testing. I'll do another post with some concluding thoughts in a day or two when I've had some more time to think everything over. Apologies in advance for the length.

    This is also a cross-post from over at HC. I realize that many of you aren't comfortable posting over there so I wanted to share our testing results here as well.

    --

    Larry (jazzfan) had come up with the idea of doing a mini-meet when Andrew (particleman14) and I bumped in to him at the California Audio show a few months ago. Larry and I had each purchased Yggdrasil DACs and we were interested in both putting them through their paces and testing to see whether the Uptone USB Regen device made a difference. We later found out that that Adam (drfindley) had purchased the Gungnir Multi-bit and we were interested in pitting the two Schiit top-dogs against each other in a blind test.

    Fast forward to Saturday. We ended up getting four people (including me) together for some testing at Larry’s house.

    [​IMG]

    The primary setup we used for our testing was Larry’s B&W 804S speakers powered by a Parasound Zamp. We used a Placette Audio Passive Line Stage as a volume control and input switcher. We tested by playing minute-long snippets of our favorite testing tracks on each set of gear to be tested. We used a Radio Shack SPL meter to ensure that differing volumes would not be a factor.

    [​IMG]

    I’ll describe the most interesting tests we performed, what the group conclusions were, and my thoughts, if any.

    --

    Test #1 - Does a warmed-up Yggdrasil sound better than one that had been sitting cold for a few weeks.

    Background: Larry’s Yggdrasil had been plugged in and powered on continuously for weeks. My Yggdrasil has been unplugged and powered off for a few weeks since I currently don’t have a rig to run it with. Would Larry’s “Warm” Yggdrasil sound better than my “Cold” one? The Yggdrasil manual mentions that you should always leave it on. Is there any truth to this?

    Conclusion: Yes! All four of us preferred the sound of the “warm” Yggdrasil to my “cold” Yggdrasil.

    My thoughts: The Schiit advice about leaving the Yggdrasil on is real. There was a noticeable difference between the two. The “cold” Yggdrasil sounded congested and slightly veiled compared to the “warm” Yggdrasil. The “warm” Yggdrasil had more definition and a crisper sound to my ears. We didn’t blind test this, but I’m sure we would have all be able to tell which Yggdrasil was which.

    [​IMG]

    --

    Test #2 - Did the “cold” Yggdrasil warm up after a few hours and sound the same as the “warm” one?

    Conclusion: No. All four of us still preferred the sound of the “warm” Yggdrasil to the “cold” Yggdrasil even after the “cold” Yggdrasil had been powered on for a few hours.

    --

    [​IMG]

    Test #3 - Did the Schiit Wyrd USB device make much of a difference with the Yggdrasil or the Gungnir Multi-bit?

    Background: I was extremely skeptical that either the Wyrd device would make any difference. If they had better USB technology why wouldn’t Schiit offer it as an option to include it internally on all their DACs?

    Conclusion: Not really. I think only Adam (the owner of the Wyrd) was even certain he heard much of a difference between using the two big $ Schiit DACs with or without the Wyrd. If there was a difference, it was very small.

    My thoughts: I highly doubt that any of us would have been able to determine whether or not a Wyrd was being used in a blind test. I will not be purchasing a Wyrd primarily for this reason.

    --

    [​IMG]

    Test #4 -Did the Uptone Audio USB REGEN device make a difference with the Yggdrasil and Gungnir Multi-bit?

    Background: The Wyrd didn’t make much of a difference, so I had low expectations for the Regen.

    Conclusion: Yes! The Regen makes a noticeable difference in the sound with both the Yggdrasil and Gungnir Multi-Bit. All of us heard the same differences on every track. The interesting thing was that on some tracks we preferred the sound of the stock DACs while on other tracks we preferred the sound of the DACs being fed by the Regen.

    My thoughts: I heard the sound of the DACs with the Regen as being slightly warmer and punchier than the sound of the DACs running stock. Without the Regen I heard slightly more top end energy and definition. The difference between using the Regen and not wasn’t huge, but it was there and it was noticeable. What was more curious is that some tracks sounded better with the Regen and some tracks sounded better without it. For that reason, I can’t really say it defiantly improved the sound as much as it changed its “flavor.”

    --

    [​IMG]

    Test #5 - Which sounded better, the Gungnir Multi-bit or the Yggdrasil?

    Background: Larry conducted this test in a way that allowed the other three of us to test blind. We sat on the couch while Larry switched DACs behind us. He used a coin flip to randomize the play order. We conducted this test with speakers and with headphones.

    Conclusion: First and foremost, they both sound great. Second, what we initially all were sure we knew which DAC was which, but we ended up being wrong. We all thought that what was actually the Gungnir was the Yggdrasil. We also generally preferred the sound of the Gungnir! We performed three sets of trials and the Gungnir won two of them and the Yggdrasil won the other. The two DACs sound close, but there are definite differences between them.

    My thoughts: Wow… if $ is no object then you really have to hear both of these DACs before making a purchasing decision. If $ is a factor, get the Gungnir! The primary difference I heard between Yggdrasil and Gungnir was that I thought Gungnir tended to feel a bit more laid back with a bit wider soundstage. In contrast, Yggdrasil sounded more defined and perhaps more detailed with a strong center image. This was a very interesting test. I’m not tempted to sell my Yggdrasil, but if I didn’t already have one I would probably buy a Gungnir and pocket the difference. The Gungnir is one heck of a DAC that some may even prefer to Yggdrasil.

    --

    Test #6 - How did the Oppo BDP-105 compare to Yggdrasil?

    Background: Prior to owning the Yggdrasil I had used the Oppo as my primary DAC for many years. I like the sound of the Oppo, but a lot of people online have claimed that it is essentially crap compared to the Yggdrasil.

    Conclusion: All of us liked the Yggdrasil more. The Yggdrasil sounded more "organic" and slightly more three-dimensional than the "flatter" sounding Oppo.

    My thoughts: I still think the Oppo is a pretty good DAC, but between the two of them, I prefer the Yggdrasil. I may just be partial to the Oppo's sound after using it for so long, as Adam claimed he didn't just prefer the Yggdrasil but actually disliked the sound of the Oppo. I thought he was being a bit harsh, but again, my ears may be biased to hearing the Oppo for so long.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    That's awesome. Thanks for posting this.

    I felt the Gungnir Multibit was more on the "euphonic" side of things and a little warmer compared to Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil played it more straight up and sounded more focused, it's the "technical tour-de-force" DAC. I completely understand the temptation to sell the Yddrasil, get a Gungnir Multibit, and pocket the difference. The differences are there but they are not huge.

    On Wyrd, I found it made more of a difference on Gungnir Multibit than Yggdrasil. Tweaks like Wyrd and Regen, I hesitate to say better - as I never liked the turbo or hyper clocks on the Empirical Overdrive USB Converters.
     
  3. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

    Staff Member Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,068
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Thank you for this post I am definitely on the fence about whether to pick up a Gungnir Multibit or Yggdrasil. At RMAF I am going to try to really sit down and listen to both of them. See for myself the differences and which sound signature best suits my needs. I also like how subjective you guys were with the usb "decrapifiers" seems like when you get to a certain point you might not need it as much as say a budget DAC.

    I am kind of interested in the types of music you guys used throughout your tests. If it wouldn't be too much trouble? Just curious.

    Also when you tested the regen and wyrd did you use any special USB cable or just a normal USB cable? Sorry if I missed this.
     
  4. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,535
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin
    Thanks Adam! It was an enlightening experience. Thanks again to Larry (JazzFan) for hosting the mini-meet. It was well worth it.

    Here's my thoughts:

    iFi Micro iDSD w/Regen
    We were all in agreement that this was probably our least favorite of the DACs for the day. The only word I wrote down when I heard it was "mushy". The Regen though was able to make a rather significant impact, it definitely tightened things up and added reverb. If the iFi Micro DSD was a kid coming in all muddy, the iFi Micro DSD was the same kid with his boots off. Better, but still not great.

    Cold vs. Warm Yggdrasil
    This was fun to hear a side-by-side comparison, because all I had to go on before was audio memory. The cold Yggdrasil was too warm and was lacking in separation and soundstage. You could hear the detail, but it wasn't coming through correctly. Like trying to hear details and spacial sounds after you've been at a concert that was far too loud and kinda dulled everything up. The cold Yggdrasil wasn't awful, but it was boring. The warm Yggdrasil was positively magical.

    Yggdrasil w/ Regen
    This was a really interesting test. We went back and forth with a lot of songs and with headphones (Black Widow > HD800/650) as well. Like Adam said, we preferred some tracks more with the Regen and some more without. It seemed to affect speakers more so than headphones. I felt like the Regen made the Yggdrasil less incisive and took some bite off the attack, but it seemed to give things more resonance. Voices and instruments seemed to be a bit richer. I kind of compare it to the HE1000s. Overall it wasn't worth it to me, but I did wish to have the reverb of the Regen with the attack of the stock. Maybe this approaches what a different output stage on the Yggdrasil could sound like.

    Yggdrasil w/Wyrd
    Like Adam said, I was the only one to seem to really notice much of a difference, but it seemed to add some minor attack to the highs and some punch to the bass, but it was very minor. I wouldn't say it was worth it for the Yggdrasil. I have found it makes a bigger difference with the Schiit Modi 2U

    Yggdrasil vs. Gungnir Multibit
    As Adam said, we did some blind testing and it was difficult to tell which was which, but we could all hear the difference. I think Marv is right, the Gungnir Multibit had a bit of a euphonic sound that we assumed was added detail when it was in fact added euphony. There was one of three tracks we were able to identify as the Yggdrasil and it was we were able to identify more detail as the track didn't lend itself to more euphony. I was really impressed with the Gungnir Multibit and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody, but with that said, I don't feel like I had enough time with either to make a strong conclusion. I have them both setup here tonight and I'll give them a quick listen, but it'd be worth it to do a more dedicated shootout, especially when I've got my Studio amp. :)

    Yggdrasil vs. BD105
    I wouldn't say the BD105 sounded bad, it just sounded fine. When the same track was played with the Yggdrasil, I had an immediate emotional response to the song I didn't have with the BD105. Instruments sounded more natural and voices sounded real. The Yggdrasil is just such a delight to listen to and the BD105 didn't have that. In fact, the biggest problem I've had with the Yggdrasil is the lost hours where I tell myself I'll just put on one track and end up listening for hours.

    Thanks again to Larry and to Adam and Andrew for coming out! This was a great mini-meet and I recommend others on the forum take the time to do the same. The more we get a chance to hear and compare gear, the more we can help others to make decisions and honestly the more fun we can have. The heart of this site really is that while the audio addiction is what brought us together, it's the friendships we've built through this forum that have been the most rewarding.
     
  5. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,535
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin
    I started a Yggdrasil vs. Gungnir Multibit thread here, as I figured it would be good to have a straight up comparisons thread for those two. Let me know if I should petition to have it merged back in.
     
  6. Yuanathan

    Yuanathan New

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Singapore
    Thanks for the great write up!
     
  7. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

    Staff Member Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,119
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Bay Area CA
    Thanks for sharing the results here! Very interesting indeed!
     
  8. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    669
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Stop making me drool man! Can't even afford an HD600/Magni2/Modi2 setup, much less this beast of a DAC. Nevertheless, high hopes for bumby (?)!
     
  9. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    14,164
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I noticed very little difference when I "downgraded" from Yggdrasil to Wyrd+MB Gungnir. It's great to see all of these impressions. Sorry I couldn't make it, timing is just bad for a while.
     
  10. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,461
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for the writeup! Seeing as you guys already have yggys and a Gungnir Multibit, the tests didn't warrant upgrading or downgrading your dacs. I've been tempted before to sell off the Yggdrasil and just upgrading my gungnir but I've held off.
     
  11. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    364
    Trophy Points:
    63
    What's the recommended warm up time for Gungnir Multibit?
     
  12. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sausalito, CA
    Larry had the following comments that I will add here:
     
  13. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sausalito, CA
    I basically agree with everything you've said regarding the G-MB. The G-MB did sound warmer and more euphonic when compared with Yggdrasil. The G-MB is still extremely neutral and organic sounding when compared with other DACs.

    In deciding between these two I really think the impetus is on a perspective buyer to try and attend a meet where both are in attendance. They both sound great, though there are definite differences. Yggdrasil does sound more detailed and up-front while G-MB sounded a bit less detailed and laid back. It isn't really a decision you can make intellectually. You really have to hear both and let your ears decide.

    As regards the Wyrd, we did test it with the G-MB as well. If there was a difference between the sound of the G-MB with and without the Wyrd, I wasn't really hearing it with enough consistently to say definitely what the difference was. I didn't really hear much of a difference with the Yggdrasil either.

    The Regen makes a much bigger impact on the sound than the Wyrd does. If I had to buy one to play around with it would be the Regen.
     
  14. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sausalito, CA
    We just used whatever cables Larry had on hand for all our testing. I don't remember anything particularly special about any of them.

    Off the top of my head, we used the following tracks in our testing:
    • Tracks 3 (Walking on a wire) and 5 (Shoot out the lights) from the album "Shoot out the lights" by Richard and Linda Thompson
    • Sigur Ros - Sæglópur
    • Paul Simon - The Boy in the Bubble
    • Keiko Matsui - Deity in the Silence
    • Lorde - Royals
    There were a few others, but I'm not remembering what they were.
     
  15. Azteca

    Azteca Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,581
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Many of the impressions online have led me to believe the Gungnir Multibit is very capable and that the difference between Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil, while it exists, will not be missed by most (especially for the price difference - could use that money to buy a whole other component that would net far greater improvements in my system). I welcome all future anecdotal accounts and data points on this topic.
     
  16. joeexp

    joeexp Don't ship this man FD-X1 ever

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    253
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    London
    Good review - Will test both to see for myself. Good work fellas!
     
  17. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

    Staff Member Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,068
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    Thank you for the response. Boy in the Bubble by Paul Simon is one of my reference tracks I use to subjectively test headphones.
     
  18. MoZo1971

    MoZo1971 New

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Montreal
    Great write up guys...thx for taking the time to share
     
  19. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,461
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    NYC
    No Hotel California?! Blasphemy! :eek:
     
  20. TMoney

    TMoney Shits on SBAF over at Head-Case to be cool

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sausalito, CA
    [​IMG]
     

Share This Page