Schiit Gungnir Multibit impressions

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

  1. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    @Josh358 Yea, there is no glare of significance from the Y2 DAC. It's not live music, but nothing is except for live, but I find it very listenable. The original Yggdrasil A2 sounded different, more precise in some ways, but also more metallic and sterile. I prefer the Y2 version, smoother, more analog like, but feed it a good recording and the output can be near the dynamics of a live performance, and.... nothing sounds harsh or digital like (maybe a touch of that, but not much).

    Definitely do not judge your Yggdrasil A2 out of the box cold. I hate pseudo science, but agree with others here that it sounds like crap when cold, but once warmed up, everything changes for the better. I will be keeping my Yggdrasil A2 2 until the day it no longer functions, and hope that Schiit is around to fix it then. Sounds like music.

    @schiit problem now is your products are so enjoyable, I am in no rush to upgrade. Y2 + Mojo 2 with tubes of choice, I am in no rush to upgrade anything.
     
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  2. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Do you mean A1 versus A2? I'm kind of confused, between Y2 and A2, which one has the updated analog boards?
     
  3. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    Ah yea, sorry for that. Yggdrasil with the analog 2 version board, Y2 for short. It changed the tonality of Yggdrasil, for the better.
     
  4. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    It’s called Yggdrasil A2
     
  5. Josh358

    Josh358 Almost "Made"

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    OK, the comparison is done and I think it was the most difficult comparison I've ever made, not because the differences weren't easy to hear, but because each DAC had its strengths and I couldn't decide which one I liked more! I ended up keeping the Yggdrasil, but really, it could have gone either way, and I was flip-flopping right up the last minute.

    For those who haven't been following the thread, these were new units, the Gungnir MB "B" version (often referred to as A2) and the Yggdrasil A2 version with the USB 5 card. However, I didn't use the USB inputs for the comparison because I found that the SPDIF and AES inputs sound better. (With my luck, the new USB card will start shipping a week after I bought the DAC, LOL.)

    Setup

    Listening was with my Tympani IVA's, using both an A21 and an AHB2. Sources were mostly JRiver and the Qobuz app, with a bit of Roon and HQPlayer thrown in, on my HTPC build. Both DAC's had at least a week to warm up, and while that was happening, I replaced the original midrange drivers in the Tympani with Neo 8 arrays, for a substantial improvement in transparency and dynamics. At one point during burn in, there was a thunderstorm. I didn't want to risk the DAC's by leaving them plugged in, but I didn't want them to cool down, so I kept them warm by plugging them into my computer's UPS!

    The setup had some unavoidable limitations. The first was that I had to use the unbalanced outputs on both DAC's even though they aren't quite as good sounding in my system as the balanced ones, because there was something wrong with the Gungnir's balanced output -- the level of one channel measured lower than the other. I hope this didn't compromise the Gungnir's unbalanced outputs, but when I measured them, their levels were pretty close to one another.

    Another limitation is that I bought a Lynx AES16e card (I normally triamp with a digital crossover). I compared it to my Lynx E22 card by feeding both cards the identical signal with JRiver's somewhat flaky zones feature, and both replugging the AES/EBU inputs and then feeding Yggdrasil's SPDIF input with the E22 (which can be reconfigured for SPDIF) and its AES/EBU input with the the AES16e and switching between them using the input selector button. The E22 proved slightly cleaner.

    I fed the amplifiers directly, which I think is more demanding of the DAC, though it can be argued both ways (digital volume control is easier on the analog output stage since it isn't always at full output).

    At first, I tried comparing the DAC's with the E22 plugged into the Gungnir Multibit and the AES16e plugged into Yggdrasil, using my analog A/B switch and again feeding them from linked zones. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure which of the differences I was hearing were due to the Lynx card differences and which were properties of the DAC's. So then I tried replugging the E22 output, but this proved too clumsy owing to a 2 dB level difference and the fact that I had to switch the analog output as well.

    I'd ordered a Canare AES/EBU transformer but it was slow in coming. Fortunately, since I was running out of time on the trial, I was able to get a Sescom transformer overnight from Amazon. This isn't quite the right transformer -- it has no attenuation whereas to meet the SPDIF spec you should have 17 dB (the Canare I ordered attenuates by 10 dB for 1 volt video distribution, so at least it's closer to the spec -- no time to get the parts for a resistor pad). But I'd seen that someone else here had successfully used the Sescom transformer with a Gungnir, so I tried it and no smoke came out.

    I hooked up the transformer to the Gungnir via a true 75 ohm cable from Blue Jeans Cable (any cable maker who knows that Canare BNC's are 75 ohms while others are usually 50 ohms knows their stuff!) and ran the AES/EBU directly into Yggdrasil, compensated for the level difference in the Lynx mixer, and then spent a lot of time listening with the analog A/B switch.

    Both DAC's would have done a bit better had I been able to do the comparison with the E22, and the AES16e may have masked some subtle differences.

    Most comparisons were of 44.1 material, since it's more demanding on the DAC and still most of what I have (though Qobuz is rapidly changing that).

    Comparison Results

    Imaging - The Gungnir's image was *much* wider, Yggdrasil's was slightly deeper. The difference in width was so pronounced that when I A/B switched them centered images stayed where they were but instruments to the far left and right jumped disconcertingly towards or away from the center. The Gungnir wins this round -- I think. (Which if either is right?) Instruments were also easier to localize and more palpably present with the Gungnir. Of all the differences, image width was the only one I wouldn't describe as fairly subtle -- it's in your face.

    Detail -- Here Yggdrasil has a slight edge. It's slightly more controlled and detailed, despite being a bit more veiled and "flat" sounding on simple program material.

    Tonality -- Gungnir won here. Instrumental timbres were richer and, most importantly, more natural. Overall, tonal balance seemed tipped up towards the highs on Yggdrasil and down in Gungnir. I preferred the downward tilt, which seemed more natural on my system, but that could be speaker/acoustics dependent. Gungnir seemed to have a more liquid sound on simple material, while Yggdrasil seemed to have a bit of glass between the listener and the instruments.

    Macrodynamics -- I'd give Yggdrasil the nod.

    Clarity -- Yggdrasil was slightly veiled (but more controlled) with simple material, e.g., a few instruments or voices, while Gungnir had more distortion on complex material like massed voices and violin. The Gungnir sounded like it had some second harmonic that became IM on complex material, IOW a very slightly tubey sound, though God knows why you'd hear this given that DAC's have such low nonlinear distortion. This was even true on the simple material at which it excelled -- a trace of a sour, bell-like quality. As so often, I have difficulty correlating measurements and sonics here. In the end I chose Yggdrasil in large part because I found the Gungnir's distortion more offensive, though it occurs less frequently since most of the time music is on the simpler side.

    Bass -- Yggdrasil was the clear winner here, with bass that was tighter and more controlled. Gungnir's bass is a bit mushy by comparison.

    Digital Artifacts -- Gungnir did better, I think. There's a bit of frequency-dependent HF tizz or emphasis on the Yggdrasil that bothers me, even though the level is very low and much lower than it is on a Sabre chip, even the 9038 Pro.

    Reverb and Trailing Harmonics -- Gungnir has more reverberation and more decay harmonics. I'm not sure which is more natural here, whether the Gungnir is exaggerating reverb or Yggdrasil attenuating it. But subjectively, I liked the effect of the Gungnir more.

    Transients -- Gungnir sometimes seemed exaggerated on attacks, and yet the attacks were too rounded on piano with its 20 dB peaks. The closed form filter seems to emphasize transients, at least that's the impression I got when I did a brief comparison of reconstruction filters using HQPlayer. Yggdrasil came out ahead here. In particular, its reproduction of piano is outstanding.

    Conclusion

    In the end, Yggdrasil came out ahead on complex material and piano, while I preferred Gungnir on simpler material, where it had a naturalness and musicality that Yggdrasil couldn't quite match, along with the sense that the instruments were actually out there. I think anyone would be happy with either and can see why others have said that it's a matter of preference. Certainly, I agonized over the choice.

    OveraIl, I'd say that my results were very similar to what others have said about these DAC's here -- but of course there's no substitute for hearing something yourself.

    One of the reasons I chose Yggdrasil was that it's upgradeable. I'm reminded of the Voyager episode in which Neelix and Tuvok are combined into one person with the best features of each, and hoping that in a future incarnation, Schiit can accomplish the same thing with these DAC's.

    Addendum

    Since I plan to use a digital crossover I tried hooking up both DAC's, setting up some filters in JRiver, and biamping. The results were glorious. It's amazing how much transparency you gain by bypassing the passive crossover. It's as close to audio nirvana as I've ever been.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  6. Inoculator

    Inoculator Acquaintance

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    I recently purchased a used Gungnir Multibit over on that other forum, and was disappointed to find when it arrived that it will not power on. I tried multiple different power cords, no luck. Him and I are trying to work out what to do about it, but I figured I would check-in and see if anyone might have any suggestions or ideas for what might be causing this. No signs of damage to the box or the DAC itself.

    Just so bummed, was going to get it plugged in and warmed up for some testing next week (have a couple of days off of work next week). Whenever I get it sorted out I will be sure to share my thoughts/impressions. Planning on the Gungnir Multibit being my endgame DAC.
     
  7. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Assuming you tried different wall/power bar sockets etc and see absolutely no life (no blinking lights on the front when you first flick the power switch on), it could be the box was moved abruptly by the shipper and one of the transformers broke off the PCB. Or maybe even the fuse popped out? Do you hear anything moving around if you tip it back and forth or turn it upside down?

    If the original seller gives you the ok, you could try to open it up and take a look inside based on using these instructions:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-gungnir-gen-5-usb-upgrade-instructions.4875/

    Just be damn careful with the screws, especially putting it back together - they can crossthread or strip very easily.

    Edit: as per @Cspirou if he’s the original owner, may want to go the warranty route if you can. If he’s not, not much to lose by opening it if you’re careful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
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  8. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Is he the original owner? You should get him to do warranty service and split the costs.
     
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  9. Inoculator

    Inoculator Acquaintance

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    Thanks for all the quick advice! I did try multiple different outlets/power strips, etc. I don't seem to hear anything broken rattling around in there. No sign of powering up at all, no lights.

    The guy I purchased from is the original owner, so him setting up warranty service is what I am thinking will be our best bet. Nice to have the guide for how to open it up though if need to inspect myself.
     
  10. Roman

    Roman Almost "Made"

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    Did you check if it is getting warm while turned on? I was in the same situation when I bought a B-stock Gungnir MB from Schiit. No sign of any activity except the device did warm up meaning there was some issue inside. Most likely a shipping damage occurred. There is nothing you could do probably, better to send it to Schiit for inspection.
     
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  11. Inoculator

    Inoculator Acquaintance

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    I had this thought as well, left it on for a bit, but no luck. Getting warranty process going, but seller is just going to refund my money, so I will be back on the hunt. Appreciate all the advice, love it around here.

    Maybe this is just a sign I should have held out/saved for a Yggdrasil instead?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
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  12. klyrish

    klyrish Almost "Made"

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    I don't know what the hell is going on but I just turned on my Ragnarok for the first time today since using it last night, opened Roon, and started playing...and the music is totally static-y, distorted, and extremely quiet. I have the amp turned up all the way and I can hear my voice over the music. This has been happening with worrying frequency lately but usually turning off the Gungnir Multibit for a few seconds fixes the issue.

    Not today. I've cycled power on both the DAC and amp four times, unplugged both, let them sit for a few minutes, looked to ensure that there is nothing that could be causing a short and yeah...sound is TOTALLY fucked and there's an obnoxious hum constantly in the headphones.

    I have a bad feeling about this. Has anyone else ever experienced something like this?

    EDIT: WTF, I cycled through the Raggy inputs and when I got back to the balanced inputs, the sound was still bad but quickly went back to normal, almost like a dial was being turned. They're fine now and that hum is back to being nearly non-existent unless the volume is very high. This is so weird.
     
  13. skem

    skem Friend

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    Sounds like a bad solder joint in a balanced plug, receptacle, or on-board part. In some balanced designs, there’s a slow servo that is used to adjust DC offset between + and - signals. That sounds like one of the two paths went out and the servo went in one extreme. Note: I have no idea if Raggy has such a design.
     
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  14. Mike Rife

    Mike Rife Rando

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    I am prepared to purchase a new Gungnir MB in January. Bye, bye Chi Fi.

    I have read every post here on the advantages of the Unison USB upgrade. It is highly touted in posts for the Bifrost 2 and mentioned in a closed beta for the Yggdrasil. As yet, I find no information about a Unison USB for the Gungnir.

    Am I missing it, or is there truly no info -- positive or negative -- about the availability of Unison USB for Gungnir?

    I could order the Bifrost 2 today, but I have long lusted after the Gungnir.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  15. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    I think it is generally accepted that Unison will be released in the near term for the Schiit lineup, even the Bifrost 1. On a actual release date, I don't believe Schiit has said anything.
     
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  16. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    I have no idea of availability timelines, but I do know that while the Unison cards for Bifrost and Yggdrasil are plug-and-play, Gungnir requires a flash to the firmware on the unit to support it, meaning there will likely be no self-upgrade option and it will have to go back to Schiit for the change.
     
  17. Mike Rife

    Mike Rife Rando

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    Guess I will wait until January to see what happens. I assume it is possible to acquire a new Gungnir MB and pay an upcharge for Schiit to install the new firmware. Best outcome for me.
     
  18. Mindbender

    Mindbender Acquaintance

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    Food for thought - If @Mike Rife is going to consider the Gungnir MB, would the Yggdrasil GS (Garage Sale) be a alternative to look at also? The claim is that the Yggdrasil GS is prettttty close in comparison to an Yggdrasil A2 at nearly $1000 less and a 3-year warranty (vs. the Gungnir MB warranty).

    In other words, a Gungnir MB buyer could get an Yggdrasil GS for nearly the same money.

    https://www.schiit.com/products/yggdrasil-gs

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/schiit-yggdrasil-gs.8560/

    If I'd seen the Yggdrasil GS, I might've gone for this plus a Mjolnir 2 instead of the Yggdrasil A2.

    Note: I don't know what the "upgradability" is for the Yggdrasil GS (e.g. will you be able to upgrade to Unison eventually? Don't know.)
     
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  19. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    I suspect @schiit installs the required firmware to support Unison USB for all the new units, it would likely only be the older units that need the firmware updates. You could certainly ask them if Jason doesn’t chime in here.
     
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  20. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    You can upgrade the Yggdrasil GS to Unison USB (or whatever may come.) It won't even have to come back to the mothership for Unison USB.

    And yes, Gungnir Multibit WILL have to come back to the shop for Unison USB, it needs new motherboard firmware. It's the only one of the upgradable DACs that needs this. Bifrost and Yggdrasil just need the card.
     
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