Schiit Freya + and S Impressions - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by purr1n, Jun 30, 2019.

  1. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Hi All

    Just joined this Forum. Am actually starting my audiophile journey and hope to get some views from seasoned audiophiles or fellow enthusiasts in my quest for better stereo audio.

    I have right now the following deck:
    Klipsch RP 6000f fronts and an equivalent centre speaker
    Jamo surrounds and height speakers
    Two Klipsch 10 inched subs
    Onkyo RZ 830 AVR reciever (Class D)
    Marantz UD 7007 (CD/SACD/Blueray) player
    XTZ A 2- 300 power amp (Class D)

    Now my Onkyo RZ 830 does have built in Tidal and various other streaming capabilities. I only use Tidal.

    Soundwise, for my current set up snd for the price , it actually sounds good. Pretty neutral tones with good bass. I was considering a Vidar as a power amp but since I couldnt audition it, I went for the well reviewed XTZ power amp recently which I was able to audition. And this amp I must say, has certainly added to sonic significance. Very neutral, clear and transparent with tight bass punch paired with my setup and compliments my Onkyo too.

    But as you all have been through at some point in your journey , am looking at the next upgrade.

    I have always been intrigued by tube amps which render a different warm or lush sound signature and musicality which quite differs from clear open and detailed solid states. I have never owned a tube amp. So my impression is based on watching you tube, research and occasional store shows.

    I am now considering the following options for streaming:

    1. Bluesound node 2 or 2i and
    2. Schiit Freya + tube preamp ( the original Freya has been discontinued from what I gather)

    In terms of connection, I will be connecting the Node2 or 2i with the Schiit freya+ tube preamp connected to my XTZ Power amp which is soild state. The Node 2 or 2i will be used purely as a streamer.

    I wish to ask if this combination above for streaming will enhance my audio significantly. Will I get the tubey signature with the Freya+ in terms of lush warm neutrality but without losing too much of transparency and bass punch from my initial set up?

    Will Node 2 or 2i be a better tool for streaming as compared to my Onkyo RZ 830? Onkyo does decode MQA too. But not sure if node 2i is a better streamer compared to my Onkyo.

    If this works, I will be using Onkyo for my movies and CDs and the Schiit Freya + and node 2i specifically for Tidal streaming. And down the road maybe see how I can integrate my pre amp to my Onkyo for all stereo.

    I cant audition Schitt here. But can order in. So the best way to learn about them is from users of the amp and hence I have approached this forum.

    Sorry for the long note. But really appreciate your views.
     
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  2. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Yes...and no ;) Depends upon the tubes. I think those are new production Tung Sol's that come with the Freya+, and they are pretty transparent and extended in bass and treble (relatively speaking).

    A Saga would be a lower cost gateway into tube sound and experimentation, but it is not an active 'all in' pre-amp as the Freya is. Have fun!
     
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  3. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Like @crenca says, it will depend somewhat on what tubes you use, but overall Freya is not a “lush” and “old-school tube” sounding device. It’s general signature is also neutral, open and detailed. They use stock JJ tubes now if I’m not mistaken, which again are pretty neutral. What you will more likely gain is resolution (it’s likely just a way more transparent preamp than whats in the Onkyo) and larger/deeper, more 3D soundstaging. I would expect an improvement in timbre/tone as well, but don’t expect this overall rich/warm/lush/smooth presentation unless you seek out tubes that can give you some of this. It should somewhat smooth out a bit of the square/dry edges of your class D amp however, but again don’t expect it to smooth over everything. I expect it may actually improve dynamics as well - but it depends on the character of your current receiver’s preamp.

    Probably, but you need do some reading on the Node 2i. It does have one of the best UI and feature sets out there (for a streamer that uses proprietary software). You would also be using it as a DAC as well since the Freya only takes analog inputs. My understanding is the SQ of the DAC in the Node 2i is decent - not sure if it would be better than the Onkyo, but most likely. Unless by chance someone here also has/had your receiver to compare to the 2i, you’ll likely have to do more research to determine this.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  4. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    I have the 2 (not 2i) but this might help.

    The dac is OK enough for my living room cheapo class-dead system.

    The WiFi loses connection constantly, I'm always in the UniFi software to force a reconnect.

    The spdif out is pretty legit. Not at the level of the top pi steamers, but good enough that I keep it around for the living room and my workshop because the ui is just that good.
     
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  5. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Thanks for your response. I have heard about the Saga. But based on reviews the Freya + seems to score better. Plus the Saga is a single tube vs Freya + which is 4?
     
  6. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    But in terms of cost; as you have rightly pointed out, the Saga is certainly a better option in terms of experimentation. Something worth thinking about
     
  7. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Thank you for your detailed responses rlow. Very insightful. I gather that the Freya + as it is; with the Tungsol tubes does not give a full tube sound signature. Thanks for pointing that out. So my anticipation now is more level headed. Right now since I am listening via mostly to Class D amps ( Onkyo AVR and XTZ power amp) and its clear and detailed, I would certainly value greater openness, detail and clarity in the Freya + as its something I am used to; but also wish for some of the airy feel of tube sounding amps which maybe am missing. The lingering rounded edges as you put it. As opposed to the square dry edge in my current amp. I really like width and depth in sound stage. So you know somehow hoping to get both sonic feel in one. I hope the Freya + is not too forward sounding though. I value detailed but am not into too much brightness in tone which can be fatiguing.

    In terms of tone, timber, dynamics and 3d soundstage and the rather transparent feel based on your views the Freya does seem to do pretty well and that sounds appealing. My Onkyo is pretty neutral, not bright. Its a mid level AVR from Onkyo decent amount of details; pretty good in bass. Dynamics wise i think its fair. . But what really enhances it is my power amp which pushes teh amp and adds a layer of open and clear sonic ability


    As for the node 2i. The UI is a very good point. My current built in function of the Onkyo has a very bad interface. Not user friendly. Another option am considering is to use My Marantz UD 7007 player as a dac connected to node 2i as purely a streamer and play via the Freya +. Not sure which among the two has a better Dac though. But I may lose MQA decoding this route. As the marantz cant decode MQA though it can play hi res 24bit/196 khz. Well guess have to plunge in some research. Really value your advise and experiences. Its very helpful in my audio quest.
     
  8. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Thanks for your response. Yes UI is something I need at the moment as my current Onkyo Tidal function has a bad user interface. Dac wise looks like it can be better. Hope the Freya + can add enhancement as a pre. Another alternative would be to route the node 2i via my Onkyo or Marantz UD 7007 connected to the Freya + and my power amp.
     
  9. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I second the opinion above re the ui on the Node 2i, it is quite good. While the internal dac is ok, it is not really competitive with my Gungnir Multibit, however it's coax out to the Gungnir is significantly better than usb to the Gungnir from a pc for both locally stored music and Amazon Music Unlimited. I haven't heard the dac in the Onkyo though. I have the node connected to my router via ethernet, and it has always worked perfectly. While I don't use Tidal, I assume the same would be true of it, but I do not know if you can use an external MQA compatible dac for the final unfold via the Node's coax digital out. I can't see why not, but have not tried it.

    The Node also has an analog in via 3.5mm, so you could use the Marantz to play discs this way using its dac and utilize the ui of the Node for playback through whatever preamp you choose. I have not tried this however. I don't think there is an a/d conversion between, however. I am using an og Saga as a pre to my se power amp for speakers and am very happy with it. It is definitely not what I would call "tubey" however, at least with the tubes I have used, but that wasn't what I was looking for. It is very transparent though, which is what i was looking for. The analog in of the Node does double as a mini toslink digital in though, so you cannot use both. I use it for a digital in from my tv for movies, etc. Hope this helps.
     
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  10. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Thanks very much for the tip of using the 3.5mm via Marantz connected to the Node. I could also use the USB in marantz to connect the node too? Am planing to use erthnet, cleaner sound that way.

    I am also looking at the Saga +. Its a much cheaper option. A freya here costs $1650 including shipping. Saga may be $400 to $500 less. But I do gather the Saga is not as tubey as the Freya but seems to be well reviewed as well. Guess I have to just see what fits. Glad to hear you are happy with your Saga. Hows the combo with the Node?
     
  11. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    I also dont use balanced XLR connections. So am.wondering if I should consider the Saga + instead thought the Freya does look tempting.
     
  12. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I personally don't think either Freya is good value vs. either Saga if you aren't going to use the balanced connections at some point, at least as part of a planned upgrade down the road. (I am sure not all agree). Especially given the comparative costs of tubes. The node only has a USB in, not out, but I avoid USB pretty assiduously, in fact one of my main reasons for buying the node was to avoid USB. I am very happy with both the node and the Saga, but it sounds like you may be looking for more coloration of the sound than the Saga will provide. It is just a tube buffer in active mode after all. Quiet and transparent is how I would characterize the combination, which is kind of redundant but there you go.
     
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  13. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Like @Senorx12562 says, Saga is likely a better and more transparent preamp for RCA/unbalanced only setups, and also as long as you don’t need extra gain (Saga has no gain). But it will not give you the tube flavouring that Freya can - the tube buffer difference with Saga is pretty subtle.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  14. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    At $200 new after it's replacement by the S and + models, it was also right at the top of the value/$ scale for audio gear in my experience.
     
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  15. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Thanks for your insights. Pardon my ignorance am not sure what does extra gain refer to or for that matter no gain. Right now I have a gain feature in my XTZ power amp which is at 75% connected to my Onkyo. I was told this would be optimal. Actually I have no idea what it does. So in this case with a gain in my power amp would it help if Saga+ has no gain

    Yes I know not going for the Freya i may trade some tubey sound. But that may be compensated with savings finance wise as long the Saga sounds good with my node and XTZ power amp. Guess i can also connect my Marantz CD to the Saga as well and to the power amp.

    This way for movies I can just use my Onkyo (with power amp) and have an entire different set up for my stereo CD and streaming via Saga or Freya with my Marantz (CD) and Node 2 or 2i (Streaming) connected to my Power amp (XTZ). Only thing just need to plug out and plug in the main connectors into/from the power amp whenever I wana watch movies; vice versa for streaming. Hope this can be done and it gives a signifcant audible difference. Quite excited about having imdependents set ups.

    Just have to decide between the Saga+ or Freya + . Tough decisions. Dont know if balanced XLR connections which I have never invested in as its another thing I dont know much of is worth it.

    Appreciate your thoughts
     
  16. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Good to hear this! Seems like Saga + does pull its weight
     
  17. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    This is pretty common (a hybrid hifi/home theater setup) - you can do this a couple ways:

    1. Like you described, 2 completely separate chains running into your power amp. You could actually throw an A/B switch like a Schiit SYS in there so you don't have to constantly swap cables.
    2. Run the pre-outs from your Onkyo into one of the inputs of the Saga (or other pre) and set the volume of the saga to 100% in passive mode. That way, you dont have to swap cables around or hit an a/b switch, but you do have to remember to turn the volume on the pre down before you play music. Some preamps/integrated amps have a dedicated input for this (usually called 'home theater bypass' or something similar) - but Schiit's pres do not.
     
  18. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    Hi Moriya. Thanks for your explanation. Seems clearer now once you explained. Adjusting vol control may be a hassle each time I play music. Bur since Schiit does not have a HT bypass. I may not have much of a.choice.

    I am now narrowing my choice between Freya + and PrimalLuna Evo100. I am.told the Freya + has a lot of gain. Will this be an issue? My power amp XTZ A 2 300 has a gain knob to match. So it should be ok? Not very sure about the gain part.

    For the Prima Luna EVO 100, it has HT bypass but is rather pricey. It has also received good reviews and appears well built. So am not sure if I should invest that much inPrima unless its significantly better than Schiit Freya +. Still considering

    Appreciate your views.
     
  19. Ram18

    Ram18 Rando

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    I have finally gotten my node 2i. I tried connecting my node 2i via my Onkyo to my XTZ power amp and then did a comparison with a direct connection with just the node 2i directly connected to the XTZ power amp without the Onkyo.

    The node 2i connected directly to the XTZ was much better. I used my node 2i to control the vol. It was a night and day difference. The vocals were much more clearer, very alive, great bass ( and this is without my two subs ;) the bass was really loud so I had to turn the gain on my XTZ down a little. The openness, transparency and width of soundstage was also much more revealing as compared to routing the node 2i via my onkyo. Was really impressed with the bass. Music is pretty good now.

    Now am thinking of adding the Schiit Freya + as the final upgrade. Would like to seek your views if the sound signature would be even better if I run the node 2i to the Schiit Freya + preamp connected to my power amp; as compared to running node 2i direct to the power amp as I have it now. Besides having the tube sound will.there be an audible audio enhancement? Anyone has tried the node 2i with the Schiit Freya + to share their experience? This would really help my consideration in my purchase of the Freya +. I am deciding more on the Freya + as opposed to the Saga + as the tube mode seems to be better in the Freya + vs Saga + as per some of the reviews I have researched on.

    I will possibly, as mentioned earlier, use the Schiit SYS to switch between music via node 2i and Freya + and movies with the Onkyo.

    Appreciate your thoughts.
     
  20. Noldir

    Noldir Rando

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    Just a quick question about the graph: is my conclusion correct that the Freya+ in JFET mode is more neutral (so less omission and commission) than the Freya S? Or am I just horrible at reading graphs? I also lean more to the purist approach but from your review it sounds like the S is the more neutral? Or did I misunderstand?
     

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