Hacking Schiit

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Marvey, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. Josh Schor

    Josh Schor Friend

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    tried QSA light blue $71 fuse for a week, sending it back for a refund. Tonally richer but loss of space and air, preferred the stock fuse. shifted everything down, not bad just not to my liking
     
  2. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Getting back to Modi MB and the op amp swap...

    Finally got around to putting in the OPA2156's replacing the OPA1656's...I think both are great and are a huge step up from the stock op amps (AD8512). However, the 2156 will be a bit warmer than the 1656. The staging and layering sound similar, but if the 1656 sounded a little light on the low end slam, then the warmth of the 2156 is for you.

    I almost hate to make a post and just agree with @Marvey that the 1656 this is "a bit clearer, better textures, more expansive staging and better layering" than stock .

    and

    "OPA2156 is in the vein of the OG MB sound. It's less warmpoo and outright organic than OG - instead has an emphasis in the mids (lower mids to middle mids). If you want a bit of that 300B sound, this is it. OPA1656 is flatter or at least without any areas of emphasis other than having a slight darkish slope."

    Basically, I can concur these findings. I kind of want to go back to the 1656's at this point because I find it more neutral and let the warmth of my amps carry that load. I also kind of felt the 1656 might have been slightly more macrodynamic. The 2156's seemed to have taken some of the energy out. I think either one is a personal choice.

    If you like the tonality stock AD8512's and want better layering and textures, then 2156's might be what you want. If you want a more neutral sound with maybe a tad more air, then 1656's might be what you want Both had cleaner bass than Bifrost MB 1.

    PS - this time I used the ChipQuik SMD-1 and that stuff works like a charm. Or maybe that or also I got a new soldering iron (Pine64 Pinecil which is based on a TS100 - Highly Recommended!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2022
  3. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Was doing some op amp research for another device (Little Bear B4) and found this article about the OPA2156 and it's advantages and disadvantages of CMOS in audio over FET and Bipolar and how the 2156 has somehow overcome them. It is more of an objectivist viewpoint, but still somewhat interesting:

    https://quantasylum.com/blogs/news/opa2156-hifi-in-cmos

    It just more or less reminded me of now new (2019) and cutting edge these op amps are and that op amps might not be a bad word anymore. And also a reminder that the audio version is the OPA1656, which is currently being incorporated in a few other products and DAC's including Fulla, Hel, Modi E, and the Geshelli J2.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2022
  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Right, the main point being CMOS opamps might not be a good choice with a low source impedance. Even then, it doesn't seem like a low source impedance will result in poor performance, just that a CMOS opamp might not be the right part choice.

    If my understanding is correct that source impedance would be the output impedance of the preceding device/circuitry, then I believe most DAC ICs should have a high enough output impedance to mitigate this concern with CMOS opamps.
     
  5. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I went back and tried to selectively reread the thread again for Modi MB mods, and am still a bit confused.

    This is the OG mod.

    • "I/V" is the "output opamp at U10", correct?
    • Where is the buffer?
    • Where is the DC offset?
    So to reproduce @Azimuth's configuration, I'd need 2x OPA1656 and 1x OPA2156, correct?

    Thanks on behalf of all eejit modders :bow:
     
  6. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I think it is confusing because there is both Modi 3+ and Modi Multibit in this thread and the first picture in this thread is a Modi 3.

    Modi Mutibit
    • I/V and Buffer: U17 & U18
    • DC Servo: U20

    Modi 3+
    • I/V and Buffer: U10

    Bifrost Multibit
    • I/V and Buffer: U16 & U17

    For the Modi 3+, not sure if a DC Servo is needs on that one. Modi DS already has OPA1656 as buffer, so no need to mod.

    For Bifrost Multibit, looking at my old pictures it looks like U18 could be the DC servo and it has an OPA2277. I cannot confirm what it is, only what op amp is in there.
     
  7. Gazny

    Gazny MOT: ETA Audio

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    Decided what the heck, modded my Val1. Mostly because I could(or wanted to feel that I could). Desoldering is much more difficult than soldering, I will say it sounds more different than better, and you lose some of the things that made it sound like the Val1, but I would say the treble might be a little more forward and I perceive it as more nuanced. Regardless, I still love it for what it does well. (I do not recommended anyone do this, engineer friends of mine told me this could explode)
    66968255189__DF6C6D4B-8E78-4F96-8BBA-50A85A1E67FB.jpg
     
  8. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Can you explain what you did here?
     
  9. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Should never have sold mine. Enjoy.
     
  10. Tommy

    Tommy Acquaintance

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    Apologies in advance if this is in the wrong thread. I have a Jot2 with 4490G2 usb card that has developed static in one channel. Starts off minor when playing first song through usb and gets worse as the song progresses until the static is really bad. Definitely something off with the usb card as it sounds splendid through analog inputs. Any thoughts on what might be up with it and if I can hack it in some way to get it working again? I'm not original owner and have no idea how old it is, so wouldn't expect Schiit to get it working again. :)
     
  11. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    A cap or resistor going bad? Heats up and goes out of spec. Could also be a bad solder joint somewhere that does the same - heats up, expands and, becomes intermittent.
     
  12. Tommy

    Tommy Acquaintance

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    Good point. Will rip it out tomorrow and tinker.
     
  13. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I am going to put this here as I found this super helpful when desoldeing SMD’s. I have two soldering irons and now I’m going to have to try this.

     
  14. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    So...I took an original Bifrost Multibit, and swapped the to main output AD8512's for two OPA1656's.

    Bifrost op amps.png

    Note: It appears the DC servo is on the right there at location U18. That is an OPA2277 and I felt it was already a good performer over the TL082 and did not change it. Only the two AD8512's were changed in U16 and U17 to OPA1656's. The whole process took me about an hour from unscrewing the case, to putting it all back together.

    Now, I have done op amp swaps before. Heck, I started the O2 op amp rolling thread on this site many years ago when I was an early SBAF member. But never...never...has anything been SO life changing as the OPA1656 op amp...at least in this and the Modi MB DAC.

    Basically, a Modded Bifrost Multibit (MBM), is a mini Theta. Very similar signature low end slam and definition, same kind of dynamics and speed, same cutting leading edge, very similar uncongestedness and layering. People talk about the low end of Theta's, but don't really tell you it does not tell you that the low end never gets in the way or bleeds into the mids. Everything has it's space. Now I can throw audiophile terms all day, so maybe I can do some comparisons.

    MBM vs Stock BM:
    Stock Bifrost Multibit is almost cut off on the lows that is kind of soft and quick. Also has soft extension on top. Kind of hazy, but still has clean smooth midrange and that multibit goodness (which I think is mostly Moffat's filter and multibit details). And with the op amp changed is pushed the top and low end in both directions giving it full bandwidth power, while still retaining that unique smooth character. Super addicting to listen to.

    MBM vs Modded Modi Multibit (MMM)
    Modded Modi Multibit already released some of these super dynamic and spacious qualities. The Bifrost has better low end definition and slightly less grain. This is from memory, but in speaking with a few that have heard both, this I believe is fairly accurate. It may also be slightly wider sounding. Basically it is an improvement, albeit just a touch in a few areas.

    MBM vs Theta DS Pro Prime II
    Now, I love my Theta. Very analog like. Very non-digitus whatsoever, even if it has hybrid (Multibit + D/S) PCM67, it still retains Theta (Moffat) character of smooth, slammy, layered, etc. And yes, it does dig down deep in the low end. The MBM had a bit better extension on the top end air, and maybe a bit of width because of this, but the Theta beat it out in layering and smoothness. About 90% of the time, they sounded the exact, and I mean, exact same. And the differences here are even exaggerated just to even mention the differences. Ever so slight...so slight.

    Basically, the Theta, Modded Bifrost Multibit, and the Gumblefreya, all about sound very close to the same. They all are some of the fuller realization of Moffat's design, no matter what the chip is. The op amp is only brining out what is there in the first place. There is a reason the OPA1656 is already in other Schiit DAC designs currently (Fulla, Hel, Modi E to name a few) and hopefully will be continuing to explore the possibilities.

    So now this MBM is cracking good, super addicting, and on the level of super high end DACs.
     
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  15. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I've had a borrowed modded Bifrost Multibit (MBM) for about a week in my system. I did have a Modded Modi Multibit (MMM) until recently but sold it to help fund my turntable upgrade (worth it). This the same mod that @Azimuth described in the top post, but not the same unit. I am feeding it exclusively SPDIF through a Pi2AES, source is JRiver 29 on a MacBook doing UPNP to the Pi. Headphones are ETA Mini through a Schiit Vali 1. Speakers are Blumenstein Orcas through a custom fleawatt amp.

    The first thing I think anyone will notice about this DAC is the bass. The low end is absolutely monstrous, cavernous, gargantuan. It slams with a level of authority beyond what my old Gungnir A1 MB was capable of. Yet it still retains texture and most importantly, for how prominent it is, the low end somehow manages to stay out of the way of the mids and the high end. A pretty amazing change when you consider that the unmodded BFMB was considered to have the most disjointed bass of any of the Schiit Multibit DACs. As an unapologetic basshead, this delights me. If this were the only thing it did well, I'd still be impressed with how impactful yet expressive the low end performance is.

    Hopping up to the high end, the original BFMB had muted highs, kind of a closed in feel without much air or sparkle. The MBM improves greatly on this aspect, extend the high end further, and adding some needed air and space. This isn't as open sounding as the BF2, which to my ears is the airiest of the Schiit Multibit DACs, but listening to Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Mahler's fourth symphony, I have a much better sense of the recording space than I would have had with the original BFMB and the resolution is good enough that I can hear bows on strings and make out the character of different stringed instruments.

    The mids compete with the low end for the star of the show here. The timbre and decay on the MBM is a little intoxicating and certainly addicting. Listening to acoustic guitar, you can almost feel those wonderful resonances from the guitar body as the strings vibrate against it. Male and female vocals are both full bodied and presented with wonderful clarity. Early era Kate Bush vocals float on top of the bed of music with wonderful expressivity.

    Perhaps my all around favorite aspect of this DAC is the way it presents percussion. I've always felt Mike's DACs were among the best in reproducing the full sonic spectrum of percussion, and the MBM is among the best I've ever heard. I have a Bifrost Uber here for comparison, and when I hear a drum hit on that, I can hear a drum stick hit a drum head and produce a sound. With the MBM, I can hear the stick hit the drum head, the resulting vibrations of the drum head, the way those vibrations emanate outward from the drum, the impact hits me like it's in my chest. Brushes sounds like brushes and not soft, non-stick based sounds.

    This isn't the widest or deepest soundstage I've heard. Layering is solid but not world class. The presentation is a very up front, in your face kind of thing. Some people will like this, others will prefer the more laid back presentation of an unmodded Bifrost or Modi MB. This would be one DAC where Unison might be more synergistic than SPDIF, as it might tame a bit of that high energy presentation. These are not big issues to me, but worth mentioning.

    I have lost a few nights of sleep already listening to "just one more song" with this DAC. It's good enough that when I listen to it, I don't wish I'm listening to vinyl instead, and can just enjoy this vivid, robust presentation of the music. It has me listening to more variety of music in my library as well as I want to hear how different genres, styles, and products sound through it. Multiple times while playing tracks on the MBM I've said "Wow!" aloud because of how spooky good it sounds. The Gungnir MB A1 had that same effect on me, and the MBM is in some ways a better DAC. The MBM has less haze than the Gungnir A1, better percussion reproduction, and those mesmerizing mids. Gungnir A1 has better layering, separation, and instrument placement within the soundstage, which was larger in all dimensions than the MBM. I also think Gungnir A1 is a bit more extended up top.

    Given the used prices of Bifrost MBs, around $350 depending on configuration, anyone who is comfortable doing the opamp mod will be rewarded with some truly wonderful sound that can compete with $1k+ DACs. I'll be getting one of these for myself soon enough and that will be my long term DAC going forward.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 14, 2022
  16. dematted

    dematted Friend

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    Thanks to for @Azimuth very generously loaning me this modded bifrost multibit, and @Ksorota for gracefully sending me a chromecast ultra so that I could hook it up with an optical output (The USB output was blacked out). Thanks y'all! I also think this is now @Erroneous' dac, so thanks to him for letting me hold onto it for awhile...

    This thing is pretty cool. If there was one word I had to describe this dac, it would be fun. It has an aggressive sound with loads of impact, particularly in the low-end, as well as a sense of sweetness and decay in the mids that Bifrost 2 can only vainly try to simulate with its characteristic low-mid thickness. Compared to the Bifrost 2 that I normally listen to, there's much more sense of dynamics, especially on the macro-end, and also a sense of immediacy that can at first make one think that this thing has "cut through" what some refer to as the "schiit haze". That being said, upon closer listen, its blackground isn't really noticeably better than that of the Bifrost 2. Tonally, it sounds a bit more neutral and even-keeled than the Bifrost 2, but I actually feel like at the level of things like transient presentation, it's a bit more bombastic sounding, with exaggerated leading edges and a very resonant sense of decay (the opposite of something like the Soekris 2541, which to me sounds like it has rounded attacks and truncated decay, giving it a very "damped" sound).

    I first thought that it was unequivocally better than the Bifrost 2, but on closer listen, I'm not quite sure of this. While I think I'd happily take it over the Bifrost 2, which sounds comparatively sedate and boring, I think there are some virtues to Bifrost 2's more "normal" presentation - it sounds a bit less like it's constantly itching to get up and go. Not every hit of percussion sounds like a hi-hat going off next to your ear. Of course, if you like this sort of aggressive, percussive sound, the Modded Bifrost Multibit would probably be a great pick for you, but the Bifrost 2 does have a better sense of fluidity and cohesiveness to the sound, as well as a larger stage that lets the music breathe a bit more.

    In fact, the biggest weakness of the MBM is probably the stage. Though layering is generally acceptable, the stage itself feels noticeably compressed. I normally don't care about this on headphones, but it was mediocre enough compared to the otherwise excellent qualities of this Dac that I feel like it bears noting. Therefore, I'd probably avoid this for speakers.

    Even so, I think this is a real accomplishment. In most technical respects, this is equal or superior to the Bifrost 2, and at a cheaper cost, too! It just has a very different presentation - not every system that the Bifrost 2 works well in will necessarily be a winner with the MBM. That being said, I prefer this dac to bifrost 2, and think that for the most part, it is a superior dac.
     
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    Last edited: May 5, 2022
  17. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Almost "Made"

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    Thinking of modding my Modi Multibit but trying to decide which chip would give the best synery with the SW51+..

    'If you like the tonality stock AD8512's and want better layering and textures, then 2156's might be what you want. If you want a more neutral sound with maybe a tad more air, then 1656's might be what you want Both had cleaner bass than Bifrost MB 1.'

    Sounds like 2156's might be the choice, I think SW51+ might work best with a warmish source. Tough call!
     
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  18. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

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    When I did the OPA1656's here: SBAF DAC Talk II also planned to order more 2156's (3 are in my ModiMB and really nice) to try... they've been out of stock for a while (DigiKey/Mouser/TI), just checked and still none! Could be tricky to get any for a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2022
  19. Pancakes

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    I *think* somewhere in this thread someone posted a very useful video of SMD desoldering, resoldering. Here's another method I found that looks to make things very easy (haven't tried it yet).

     
  20. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Don’t forget to check direct with TI. They might have some.
     

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