Schiit Gungnir Multibit impressions

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Bill-P, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I planned to write this a lot later... after at least a week or so, but then my notes would have stacked up, so here they are thus far. Please check back on the first post for more impressions later on, as I'd like to keep things coherent and continuous.

    10/05/2015, got the Gungnir Multibit (hereby shortened to Gumby for convenience) from the mailman, and I immediately plugged 'er in. Immediate impression compared to my Macbook's built-in DAC (yes, I'm serious!) is that... Gumby is thicker, and kinda murky? But not as bright or strident. That's good. Though I wasn't wowed. Tried to change sampling rate and all but that didn't seem to help. So... I decided to just leave things the way they were and just listened sporadically. Here are the notes on the same day:
    1 hour later, I swear I could start to hear a bit more of something coming from my music, but... it was still a little murky.
    2 hours later, at that point, I think the soundstage started opening up, and I could hear things coming from the far right or far left. Still not much depth.
    3 hours later, I think I'm hearing things a bit further into the soundstage. Still not sure what to make of it.
    4 hours later, I gave up and went to do other stuffs instead. Will try again tomorrow.

    10/06/2015, I waited until exactly 24 hours have passed since I turned the Gumby on to listen. At this point... I'm starting to notice how certain things like guitar, vocals, violin, piano, etc... still retained the same full-bodied warmth and thickness from yesterday, but now there is tangibly "air" or "silence" in between the parts where those things don't happen. Suddenly there is much more contrast between the "no sound" and "something" parts of my recordings. That's awesome! Oh, and this also happens with Youtube and MP3s, so it's not limited to highest quality lossless. Just to confirm, I switched back to my Macbook's DAC again, and... wow... the sound collapsed in every dimension, and everything was pulled closer to me by a large margin. It was a lot harder to distinguish between guitar and violin. This isn't brain burn-in. I swear Gumby was only marginally better than my Macbook's DAC yesterday. Very very very cool! Also, at this point, I started noticing flaws in certain recordings like... say... Eagles' Hotel California in their Hell Freezes Over album (K2HD version). In that song, the guitar at the very beginning has a weird buzzing sound whenever the track is played. I'd guess... I'm hearing the recording/mixing artifacts? Note that I've heard that before, but I thought it was grain in my amp/headphone. Now it's clearly sounding more like a recording/mixing artifact rather than a flaw in my amp or headphone.

    10/07/2015, 2 days later... at this point, with some of my recordings, including the closed-mic acoustic ones, I can "feel" strings being plucked close to me, the vibration and presence of the singer's vocal in front of me, piano notes ringing in space with the thump and weight of each stroke, and each one of those sounds is distinct and projected in their own space. It's a very holographic experience that I'd never experienced before! Do note that I have listened to Yggdrasil systems before, but it meet and show conditions and with music that were not my own, so I could not make out what it was. Now I know for sure that it's not the music. It's the Gumby that's doing this. And the effect is not exclusive to the HD800. I can hear this with my HD600 as well, and it makes some recordings so much more involved to me. And the crazy thing is... I still have a feeling it's not quite there yet. Gumby may still be able to pull even more out once it has had a few more days.

    10/08/2015, on this day, I actually didn't post anything because I was so enthralled with the music now. At this point, it didn't matter anymore. Gumby simply sounded excellent and "real" to me. To be able to listen to Youtube, to movies, to some of my lesser recordings this way? It was simply bliss!

    10/10/2015, I got my Wyrd in today, and so... I hooked it up to Gumby. Without exaggerating, I think... the improvements come down to a little bit more tightness, transients are a bit faster, a bit more blackness in the sound, and lower frequencies are slightly fuller. But honestly, I think it's a fairly small improvement compared to what Gumby was already able to do by itself. Or maybe it's because I have only my HD600 now. I don't have the HD800 with me. Maybe I'll revisit this (do a with-Wyrd and without-Wyrd comparison) again at a later time. But IMO, this is worth it if you want that extra 1-2%, and you can afford an extra $100. Otherwise? Gumby should be good enough on its own already.

    Foot note: listened with modded Sennheiser HD600 and HD800 (except for when I hooked Wyrd up). Amp-wise, I was using my DIY solid-state op-amp-based amplifier and the Bottlehead Crack. I've got OJ's CKKIII as well. Macbook's DAC was used as a comparison for you "all DACs sound the same" folks.

    Foot note 2: yes, this is a "how does Gumby sound like as it warms up" post in disguise. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015
  2. JK47

    JK47 The Beer Houdini

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    In my simple laymans terms... I felt my Gumby's clarity started from the top and trickled down over the course of the first week. I first noticed the clarity in the treble over the first day or two, then the mid range really started to come into focus in the following days, and finally the low end gradually filled in and rounded everything out, into a beautiful cohesive soundscape.

    My well worn ears maybe playing tricks on me... but I don't think so.
     
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  3. TomNC

    TomNC Facebook Friend

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    Nice impressions. Looking forward to following your continued posts on this.

    My gumby has undergone >350 playing hours. I am satisfied with the extended dynamic range, large soundstage and a little warm sound signature/tonality. The only area I think it does not do as well as the AURALiC Vega is imaging. Being with a different chip and design, the Vega produces better "borders" and texture of the individual sound images, contributing to typical audiophile effects with great clarity similar to what I preceived from high-end speaker systems. In comparison, the images are less well defined from the gumby. This difference is quite clear to me through Taurus MKii and HE-6/HD800. I did note that in recent posts at Innerfidelity, experienced listeners had hard time distinguishing yggy and a high-end non-R2R DAC. Perhaps better overall systems used for those tests could explain the reported lack of perceived differences between types of DAC.

    Also it is clear from a mini local meet that the gumby outputs lower voltage signals than Vega and another DAC, which may or may not be a factor for hard-to-drive headphones, depending the gain of amps.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
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  4. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, JK47, I don't think your ears are playing tricks on you. In layman's terms, those are exactly the things that I heard. I just couldn't think of a way to describe them!

    And yeah, TomNC, I've also noticed that about my Gumby up to this point. It's smooth, nice, clean and clear, but there is just no well-defined edge or border with some recordings, so sometimes it sounds just a tad too smooth/nebulous. I've noticed this with both HD600 and HD800, so I don't think it's the headphone per se. Maybe my Gumby needs more time?

    Small note, I've got a Wyrd coming in. It should be here any time. Will wait for about one week after to plug Wyrd in and see if there is any improvement in that regard. I know Wyrd tends to do that with most DACs I have plugged it into.
     
  5. fishski13

    fishski13 Friend

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    the Wyrd gives a leaner/analytical sound with a greater sense of detail with my DS Gung. still on fence whether or not i want to send mine in to get Gumbified.
     
  6. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Do it! Gumby is simply way too awesome IMO!

    We did a Gumby versus Yggy comparison today, and while Yggy does have a slight technical edge (the amp was Ragnarok), I felt like I'd prefer the slight laid-back sound of Gumby instead. Yggy sounded just ever so slightly V-shaped in comparison.

    And Wyrd does improve on Gumby as well, though I feel it's more on the full side than lean.
     
  7. fishski13

    fishski13 Friend

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    a question for all you Gumby owners. Bill-p, i'm going to dump it here if you don't mind.

    the term 'laidback' gets thrown around a lot. are you guys partially describing perceived treble here, as in 'warmer' and less aggressive treble, softer dynamics, or both? i really like the dynamic energy of the Gung. does the Gumby retain most or all of the Gung's dynamic capabilities?
     
  8. Shem

    Shem Friend

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    To my ear, the basic temperature character (slightly warm) of the Gumby stayed about the same with the multibit upgrade, while the resolution increased dramatically. I hear much better separation and imaging. Instruments that were difficult for me to hear before are very clearly present now, regardless of their levels in the mix. My ears interpret these upgrades as more dynamic than the D/S Gungnir, even though the overall temperature of the DAC remains slightly warm.
     
  9. maxedfx

    maxedfx Rando

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    So I'm planning to get the Gumby, as far as cables go, I have zilch. So for the xlr balanced and USB cables, any monoprice cable would do or shall I order PYST along with the Gumby??

    Also I have no idea about my USB quality from my PC or laptop, so do I get a WYRD too??
     
  10. Shem

    Shem Friend

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    From my experience, I would recommend Wyrd, two PYST USB cables, and the PYST XLR cables. The Wyrd, to my ear, makes a difference with Gumby, and the PYST cables are well-made, just the right length (short!), USB 2.0 certified (in the case of the USB cables), and great for the price. They're made by Straight Wire, a reputable cable company, and Schiit actually sells them much cheaper than they can be found elsewhere. You can get everything you need in one order.

    If budget is a concern, I would recommend Blue Jeans Cables' USB cables which are inexpensive and good quality, too (I've used them myself). Monoprice and Tripp-Lite also make good USB cables in short lengths. Blue Jeans also makes excellent XLR interconnects that you can get in short lengths, but after shipping they'd probably cost about the same as the PYST. There's also an eBay seller called Clark's Cable Company that makes 1-ft Mogami 2549 and Neutrik XX Gold interconnects for around $30 that are absolutely fantastic for the price.
     
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  11. maxedfx

    maxedfx Rando

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    Thanks shem, will check them out!
     
  12. maxedfx

    maxedfx Rando

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    Damn, 230V will be shipping by early November. So I gotta wait now..

    But, color me paranoid, this got me thinking whether the gungnir too will get a D/A Chip upgrade like the bifrost?? Technically the bifrost chip is the latest and greatest between the two!
     
  13. baldr

    baldr Schiit-sterer

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    Nah, no worries -- the Beef D/A chip is the newest only in our implementation timing. It is a 16 bit chip, unlike the two 18 bit chips/channel in Gumby and the 2 20 bit chips/channel in the Yggy.
     
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  14. maxedfx

    maxedfx Rando

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    Dayum! The master himself! Thanks for the response Mike.
    I'm just waiting for the 230V to be available!!
     
  15. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    Are you talking about the Bifrost D/S chip being a newer AKM?
     
  16. maxedfx

    maxedfx Rando

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    Yeah. But I missed the section for the multibit chip in the specs, which is completely different!
     
  17. cooperpwc

    cooperpwc Friend

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    Great thread. I hope that more people will post their impressions.
     
  18. Mikoss

    Mikoss Friend

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    My subjective impression - The MB Gungir sounds fantastic... my setup is with the Zana Deux and HD-650's.

    I do however prefer the Yggdrasil because I find it more revealing, in a way that is ultimately superior to any other DAC I've heard. Yggdrasil has the ability to reveal layer upon layer upon layer of detail, resolution and information inside of music, where other DACs are able to resolve the first layer, or perhaps the second. It also has a presentation that stays very true to the music... it doesn't sound like it's messing with the tone or timbre. It also allowed me to hear what digital was truly capable of... a very natural sound that didn't include the digital glare I thought came along with the format. Redbook also captures a hell of a lot of musical information... listening with the Yggdrasil, I am seriously stunned at how much I was previously missing on CD's. In short, a revelation.

    MB Gungnir also offers a similar 'natural sounding' presentation to my ears, albeit somewhat differently than Yggdrasil. It replaces some of the finite precision that Yggdrasil is capable of with an overall warmth. It is still extremely revealing, and extremely clean sounding, however there is a warmth that may only be noticeable after comparing to the Yggdrasil. The warmth is certainly not a deal breaker, especially at the price of the MB Gungir... and this DAC shines in so many ways, regardless of just how good the Yggdrasil is.

    The MB Gungnir offers a linear, full bodied sound, while retaining an overall resolution, which pleases me as a detail junkie. Both the tone and timbre of the MB Gungnir are reminiscent of the Yggdrasil... there is a notable absence of digital crap interfering with the music.The treble sounds very natural, and very resolved... cymbal crashes, percussion sound superb. The bass is also very tight and in my opinion, hits hard. I also use the MB Gungnir to feed my 2-channel PMC speaker setup, which has always sounded bass anemic... the MB Gungnir offers a starkly better bass presentation on the PMCs, in quality of bass and quantity.

    I can also say that I'm hearing a much more involved, coherent presentation, upgrading from cheaper DACs. Detail retrieval is apparent throughout the bass, mids, and treble, and I personally find this translates to me as much better imaging and soundstage. The inherent clarity of the MB Gungnir is also apparent in vocals... both lead and backup vocals shine with this DAC... it really allows a full expression by singers I hadn't heard before. Reverb and ambient queues are also fleshed out very, very well. This is something that truly amazed me with the Yggdrasil, and also fully amazes me with the MB Gungnir. The overall atmosphere of the recordings is presented very well with the fleshing out of these minute details. I think this is by far a large piece of what sets these MB DACs in a league of their own.

    Having said that, the MB Gungnir falls slightly short in comparison to the Yggdrasil in how much it can reveal of recordings... I don't think this is a crazy night/day difference, but it has to be noted. However, the MB Gungnir is capable of exposing enough for me to personally want to rediscover all of my music. I also feel that it's price is superb for its performance... I am seriously happy with this DAC. I also fully appreciate what Schiit has been capable of in producing these DACs... these are killer products.

    As for warm up, I hear two specific "warm up" changes - the first happens after about 48 hours, where any crispiness in treble is gone, bass is sounding very full, and mids are starting to become detailed. From there, I personally think Gumby benefits from another 48 hours of warm up, where details and ultimate precision become fully dialed in. So to my ears, I hear this DAC sounding as good as it can after around 4 days of warm up. (I have personally powered it up from cold four times now, and this has been fairly consistent).
     
  19. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    I really want to check out the Gumby!
     
  20. kirayamato

    kirayamato Friend

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    for the hd800 should i go with the yggdrasil or the gumby @Bill-P
     
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