Schiit Bifrost 2

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by RobS, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. abisai2

    abisai2 Friend

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    I've had a Bifrost 2 since March. Its only purpose has been for 2 channel duties in my living room. Prior to moving it there I spent a little bit of time comparing it to my Gungir A2. Like others have said, the SE out on this thing is fantastic. It's pretty impressive how much better the SE out on the Bifrost 2 is compared to the Gungir A2 SE out. My primary sources have been Allo DigiOne's (non-signature) for a long time now. So, I'm pretty familiar with how they sound so that's what I used for comparison.

    Unison did not do much for me. If USB were my only source I probably would not have noticed. However, once you become accustomed to a REALLY good source its difficult to adjust to something less. For me the differences between Unison and DigiOne come down to better clarity and definition for the DigiOne. I also experienced some fatigue that I never get with my primary source.

    For reference, I use an Ampsandsound Kenzie Encore and Shortest Way 51+ as my amps. My headphones are Auteur, HD600, and HD650.

    Like others have also said, Bifrost 2 with SW 51+ is a winning combination. I still prefer my Gungir A2/Encore combo. There is something about the synergy that can keep me engaged for hours. With that being said, I've found myself many times listening to music thinking 'my goodness this sounds fantastic' when using the BF2/SW51+ combo. Winner winner chicken dinner!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  2. Don Quichotte

    Don Quichotte New

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    You mean:
    a) SE Bifrost 2 sound better than SE Gungnir Multibit A2 (which, if true, is interesting news for me, I didn't know this; if so, can you describe a bit how is it better?), or
    b) going from balanced to SE is much less of a downgrade on Bifrost 2 than on Gungnir Multibit A2 (which we already knew)?
    Thanks!
     
  3. EagleWings

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    Schiit Bifrost 2:

    Tonality of the Bifrost2 is a little complicated. Overall, its a touch on the dark side, particularly in the bass and mids. But it is also bright in the treble region. If you are coming from DS DACs, you'll find Bifrost2's presentation a little fuzzy. Meaning, it won't have the pristine atmosphere, nor the vivid outlining and separation of instruments. A similarly priced DS DAC is probably going to have better resolution, separation, imaging precision and technical abilities. But what you get in return is a meaty/dense midrange, coupled with nice timbre, which is not easy to come by in the DS DAC realm.

    While the midrange timbre is good, the overall timbre is gimped by the brightness and digitus in the treble region. So it is not a completely analog sounding DAC. Bass hits decently hard and finds the right balance between articulation and authority. And most importantly, it integrates very nicely with the midrange. Treble is my only issue with this DAC because, it is bright, sharp, strident and exhibits digitus. It exists with every digital source I’ve tried and doesn't seem to go away even if the DAC is left ON for a couple of days.

    On speakers, Bifrost2’s strengths (meaty midrange and timbre) are more apparent and, the treble oddities can be reduced by toeing out the speakers. But on headphones, the treble nasties are put under spotlight (even on the HD6XX) and the strengths don’t shine through quite well. So I like the Bifrost2 more on my speakers, and if I didn’t own a pair of speakers, I probably would have sold the Bifrost2 already. Not that it sounds bad on headphones, but I prefer the timbre to be analog-like, for me to be able to connect with my music. And Bifrost2 hasn't been able to do that for me on headphones.

    If you don't listen to genres that involve acoustic instruments or vocals, you might be better off with a Modius and save $500, as you won't be taking advantage of Bifrost2's meaty midrange and timbre.

    Sources: Coax via Hiby R6, USB via MacBook Pro
    DACs: Bifrost2, Modius
    Headphone Amps: EC BW2, Magni 2, KMS's Sapphire
    Headphones: Modded HD800 (SDR, SBAF), Unmodded HD6XX, EQd LCDi4, DQSM Turandot
    Speaker Setup 1: DAC > Passive Volume Controller > Tannoy Gold 7
    Speaker Setup 2: DAC > Rotel Integrated Amp > B&W 685

    IMG_0796.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  4. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    Hey man, your review is well written, but are you sure you weren’t reviewing Modius? Your thoughts on Bifrost 2 treble are pretty much the opposite of mine, however are pretty in line with Modius. #shrug
     
  5. Cakecake

    Cakecake Guest

    Did you let it warm up?
     
  6. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    I've been using nothing but BF2 since it's release. The treble is wonderful for my preferences. Good extension and smooth. You might say "liquid." Not elevated but not missing anything either.
     
  7. EagleWings

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    @Gaspasser , to my ears the Bifrost 2 is definitely brighter, even after extended warm-up, and both DACs exhibit some level of digitus.
     
  8. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Well written impressions which is why I gave a like, even if they fly against the norm which is always acceptable.
    a loaned BF2 has been great in my chain to BW2 and Aficionado, perhaps digitus treble hasn’t been a factor due to older ears, or ZMF Auteur compared to your HD800 and IEMs.
     
  9. gaspasser

    gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    How do you define digitus? Rough treble? I would say that Bifrost 2 treble is maybe a little rolled or soft (especially via Unison) to my ears but to me that is the opposite of digitus. Not trying to start a fight or anything, just genuinely curious.
     
  10. Melvillian

    Melvillian Friend

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    The treble sounds rolled off, making the dac sound “smooth”. Maybe what @EagleWings is hearing is in the lower treble and upper midrange, which is where I’m hearing some harshness on the bifrost 2.

    Edit* I’m using coax via the digione signature. Will try unison usb and see if that resolves the issue for me. It’s all gear dependent anyways. With my speakers, Modius and bifrost 2 have a bit of harshness whereas the soekris 1321 and gungnir A2 don’t. I’m sure on other systems it’s not an issue at all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  11. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Bifrost 2 over coax can exhibit some glassy traits in the treble. I wouldn't say it's necessarily bright, but rather the mids lack a sort of bloom to them and make the treble stand out a bit as such. Note that I don't mean "bloom" in a tubey sense, nor am I talking about bass or lower mids that give a sense of body and weight. Hard to explain.

    That said, this is more a relative characteristic and not so much an absolute.
     
  12. MyPetSasquatch

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    I appreciate your opinion, even if it differs from my own experience. I'll have to listen to it with headphones to see if I can spot what you're hearing.

    I actually had somewhat similar thoughts with my speaker setup until someone urged me to flip the phase switch on the remote. I did so and all of a sudden the mids were no longer recessed and the treble wasn't edgy.
     
  13. EagleWings

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    @jexby , that is the reason I held off from posting my impressions until I listened to it with a HD6XX. Actually I got to try 2 x HD6XXs, and the results were consistent.

    @Gaspasser , not a problem. Digitus doesn't sound like rough or edgy treble, nor does it cause fatigue. Rather, it affects the timbre of instruments and vocals, as if the notes are coated with a digital sheen/glare. It's something you start noticing on DACs, once you get exposed to a DAC that is free of digitus or, has it to a lesser degree.

    @Melvillian , yep, it's the lower treble that is quite bright. The upper treble sounds fine.

    @MyPetSasquatch , actually I quite like the Bifrost2 on my speakers. The sound feels like it is coming from a plane right behind the speakers and because the mids are meaty, it doesn't feel recessed. On the headphones though, the mids don’t seem to have the same magic and sound slightly pushed back. When I received my package, the remote was missing, so I haven't tried the phase invert function yet. I’ll remember to try it once I get my hands on the remote.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  14. will_f

    will_f Friend

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    I thought the BF2 was a pretty major across the board improvement over the Modi2U. Is the Modius that much better than the Modi that it plays in BF2’s league? If so, that’s a darn good price.
     
  15. EagleWings

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    I guess I should revise, the last paragraph in my impressions, as it seems to suggest that Modius sounds as good as the Bf2. Bf2 is definitely the better sounding DAC, especially when you consider aspects like microdynamics, midrange timbre, treble resolution and reproduction of acoustic instruments. But when I am listening to genres like synth, house, EDM, psychedelic or trance, I am not really listening for timbre, melody or details. Rather, I am listening to the rhythm, beats and synthesized notes, which the Modius itself is capable of doing quite well. Also, Bifrost2 concentrates the instruments to the center of the stage, whereas Modius spreads the instruments farther, which IMO seems to work in favor for these genres. For these reasons, I feel that, if one listens to just these kind of genres, it might make sense to go for the Modius.
     
  16. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Friend

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    Interesting. I've found the Bifrost 2 to be just slightly on smooth/dark side of neutral, and exceptionally revealing of textural microdetail (relative to anything else I've owned; note that BF2 is also the most expensive DAC I've ever owned), with excellent timbre and realism. Especially with the HD800.

    On the other hand, most of my listening is from a modded Crack, which for all the crazy resolution and dynamics resulting from the mods, is still pretty damn warm and tubey. I do wanna pick up a balanced SS amp as a tube alternative, maybe at that point I'll be able to hear what you hear better.

    In the meantime, I'm not saying you're outright wrong, but your impressions do go against what most other people are hearing. Have you tried plugging it into a different wall outlet, are you using a cheap power conditioner? My experience is that cheap power conditioners are the worst thing you can do for audio gear, and plugging gear into the wall is a dramatic improvement in staging, depth, dynamics, and overall smoothness. Just an idea... I could be totally off base and as with everything ymmv
     
  17. haywood

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    I wonder if this is getting back to Mike’s view about voicing for real instruments vs computer generated ones. Iirc the argument was something like he knows what a piano (or flute or acoustic guitar, etc.) is supposed to sound like so can make sure those are reproduced well but something like a synthesizer is electronic so it doesn’t really have a real world reference.
     
  18. EagleWings

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    It all comes down to one’s frame of reference. For me, that would be the Cayin N8 in DAC mode, which is smoother, has lesser digitus and has better timbre in the treble compared to the Bifrost2. I used to own a Hugo2, which had similar treble issues like the Bifrost2, but to a greater extent.

    All DACs were used in the same headphone chain, which has remained constant for the past 2 years.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  19. will_f

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    My impressions match yours. The textural microdetail Is probably my favorite part. Also, the timbre works very well with my gear. Like you, it’s the most expensive DAC I’ve heard, but given the ever diminishing returns of higher priced gear, I’d have to spend serious money to improve on those aspects.

    I agree with what @EagleWings has to say about the BF2- a different DAC may serve you better if you don’t need / want what the BF2 brings to the table and prefer a different sound. At some point, it becomes what you prefer rather than what is better. I also think popular music is to some degree popular because it sounds good on popular gear (such as D/S DACs, Class D amps and warm headphones). I listen to bluegrass, jazz, and live recordings now, but when my gear was less “high end”, I listened to a lot more synthesizer and pop. It’s likely that my tastes have shifted at least partially because of what sounds good on my chain.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  20. schneller

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    It is interesting to read about the SE performance of the BF2 as this is the most important output for me. I keep struggling with the question: is the Yiggy A2 worth nearly 3x the price if all I am using are the SE outputs?

    My chain: HTPC > USB > DAC > SE output to DIN input > Naim SuperNait3 > Dynaudio Contour C20 2.0 stereo speakers.
     

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