Schiit Freya Preamp Review (Episodic)

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by purr1n, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    I was looking for an inexpensive set of 4 tubes to have on hand in the event one or more of the new Tung Sols that came with Freya start to exhibit problems. The best deal I could find were the NOS Russian tubes from Schiit, at $32 for a set of 4, so I pulled the trigger. Outside of Schiit, the least expensive I could find were around $15 each (I didn’t look on eBay).

    I enjoy Freya, and I think I started detecting some sonic differences between passive/JFET and tube gain. There’s nothing wrong with passive or JFET, but tube mode does add something extra - a bit more spaciousness, a more “open” sound (and I do volume match as best as I can with my Radio Shack SPL).

    I’ve never employed a pre-amp in my system prior to Freya, so I may just be a noob about all this, but I really enjoy what Freya brings to my system.

    I bought Freya for the convenience factor (centralized control) and volume control hoping it (she?) wouldn’t mess up the sound. Freya, as an unexpected benefit, seems to synergize quite well with my gear. I can’t get enough of listening to my music now - on speakers and on headphones. $799 well-spent, and another big win for Schiit (along with Gungnir Multibit and Vali 2) as far as I’m concerned.

    P.S.
    Still not being swayed by the siren call of tube rolling.
     
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  2. Argopo

    Argopo Acquaintance

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    In passive mode, the Freya is nothing more than a single resistive element attenuating the voltage out of the source. I just don't see how it can afflict so much damage to the sound compared to the active tube stage. I admit though, since putting my Heresys in my system I have not tried my Freya with a quality pair of tubes and LISST. Should probably try it out.
     
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  3. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Does anyone know if the Freya has had running changes since inception? Rereading the review in the original post, I noticed it mentioned tube mode had a gain of 5 (14 dB). However, on Schiit’s site it says that tube mode has a gain of 2.5 (8 dB).
     
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  4. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    Good catch, @zonto! There must have been a running change. Probably smart on Jason's part since 14 dB is kind of a lot of gain in some situations. Here is [a link] to the first wayback machine snapshot of the Freya page (2016) and it shows a gain of 5 in the specs.
     
  5. Argopo

    Argopo Acquaintance

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    Based on user reports, the more recent batches of Freyas (maybe for the past year or more) have lower gain for the tube stage.

    My Freya is an older version with the higher gain.
     
  6. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    So in a slight twist of things, I’m really liking JFET output mode of Freya now that I have Vidar monoblocks. Not sure if maybe the Bal-to-SE summing/conversion in Freya introduces some noise or coloration, or if maybe the Vidar monoblocks are just quieter, or if it’s a difference of cables or what, but it sounds less edgy and etched than it did before going into a single Vidar. Seems nice and smooth now, well balanced and dynamic.

    The only reason I tried this is becuase one of my favorite tubes is dying (Sylvania VT-231), and I wasn’t liking my other tubes, so decided to try passive and JFET. Passive is still not great IMO but JFET sounds great - I like it second only to my Sylvania tubes now (I like it better than my Northern Electrics, Hytrons and Raytheons)
     
  7. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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  8. allegro

    allegro Friend

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    Probably just to get clicks. There is no reason a VT-231 would not work in a Saga or Freya, I have used one myself in my Saga.
     
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  9. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Not the bad boy, but early vintage. It’s only a single pair that I run together with a pair of LISST.

    Not sure why he would say no Schiit. With mine, I got them pretty cheap (like half that price) and the guy didn’t have a tube tester, but swore they should be matched. But no idea what life they truly had left in them. The way mine started to fail was by going crackly/static-y/pop-y on an infrequent basis. Reseating the tube would sometimes fix it, sometimes not. I cleaned the pins as well with Deoxit, but didn’t fix it. Then I switched them from the gain stage, to the output follower stage and that cleared it up for 4-5 months, until the last week or so. I’m guessing the output stage may put less stress on the tubes, not sure. All my other tubes have never any issues, including Hytron VT-231. Have never owned another set of Sylvania VT-231s. However the non-noisy one has worked flawlessly without issue for well over a year.

    You should contact the seller and see why he’s saying no Schiit.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  10. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Sounds like the tube is going. I had that with a KT88 tube and the symptoms are nearly identical to what you're describing. A new tube and back in business.
     
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  11. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    @rlow Thanks for the update. How are the Vidar monoblocks performing with your lower sensitivity 4 ohm speakers?
     
  12. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Only had the 6 ohm Special Forty - my other two speakers are both 8 ohm.

    I’ll post something about going from single to monoblock Vidars at some point in the Vidar thread, but the used monos I bought were almost brand new (had no almost no use, even though they were purchased new over a year ago) and sounded way different from my well-used single Vidar - they needed some definite break in and are only getting there now I think.
     
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  13. Invisiblekid

    Invisiblekid Rando

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    Hey all Freya owners. As quick as I can, as thanks to my current system, it gets a bit complicated, and I'm bit of 2.0 noob that wants to be better. I apologise as this is not wholly Freya based.

    I'm looking to change/upgrade (debatable maybe) my 2.0 system. But the more I look the more I change my mind on what on earth to get.

    My current system is an ageing Sony La Scala S1 with 50w active speakers that have electrostatic tweeters, biamps in each one and motion feedback woofers. TBO they are very good and probably cost 3/4 of the price of the whole system, but one of them regularly keeps cutting out and distorts slightly when doing so (sometimes). The pre-amp though is very likely to be bettered now inc it's phono stage.

    So at the very least I'm looking to replace the pre-amp with something and loving how well the Freya seems to be doing. If I can get the speaker repaired, I'm assuming the Freya RCA preouts will work with current speakers (they have a single RCA in). They have a UK 230v rated system and figure of 8 power lead with 2 pin connectors at the other end which atm connects to the preamp. Again, i assume these can be connected directly into the wall sockets and maybe with better power leads?

    If a repair is possible would the Freya be overkill and the Saga be a better choice?

    OR

    I was looking at changing the lot and maybe getting a pair of Edifier S3000 Pros and using the balanced connections from Freya to speakers. I should add at some point I'd like to add a music streamer with balanced outs, hence the desire to get the Freya. Are balanced connections even essential?

    The Edifiers are only £589/$760, so isn't the general rule to spend more of your budget on speakers?

    So any thoughts? Don't want to derail the thread too much into better ways I should go, but if anyone can say I'm on the right tracks or not.

    Thanks to anyone who has got this far.

    Link to a La Scala S1

     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  14. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/new-members-introduce-yourself.17/
     
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  15. bearwarrior

    bearwarrior Rando

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    I am wondering how the Freya compares to iFi iCan Pro.

    Both of them can be true differential preamp, can do SS or tube mode. (iCan does not have passive mode)

    I am surprised that nobody has done it.
     
  16. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    We are surprised you haven’t done it.
     
  17. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    I'm even more surprised that you haven't introduced yourself. Or maybe I'm not....
     
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  18. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Yeah, tried that three posts ago - seems like @bearwarrior didn't get the hint...
     
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  19. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    How can I tell which gain version I have?
     
  20. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    is it loud when you switch to tubes? Or louderer?

    Seriously though, just play some pink noise and turn on an iphone RTA-type app and you'll probably be able to see the difference in output between stages if trying to measure 14dB compared to 8dB compared to unity/passive. One might propose to Jason that in their newly found transparency w/regards to running changes, we (the users) might appreciate a history of revisions like those that reduced the gain, or when exactly Gungnir Multibit went from A1 to A2, or when Jot went from splashy to driven-sounding, etc. A simple look-up table against SNs should be fairly small ask. I mean, they already must be capturing that info; just turn it out to the public?
     

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