Schiit Mjolnir 3 Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by ColtMrFire, Aug 18, 2023.

  1. gsanger

    gsanger Almost "Made"

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    Here's a few more day one impressions. Headphones used are an LCD-X and LCD-2, both "modified" with the foam taken out of the backside of the ear cups, and then an LCD-2 Classic (unmodified). I'm not really a fan of headphones, but discovered I like the sound of the LCD-2, and bought the other two recently to try out. Most comparisons are to my only other amp, the Monoprice Liquid Platinum. DAC used is the balanced and SE out of a Gungnir A1. I mostly listen to rock and metal, so that's what I use when evaluating gear.


    To Feedback, or Not to Feedback

    I'm a basic b*tch, and when I found out this amp was coming with a negative feedback/no feedback switch, that was the moment I knew I was buying this amp. That's my nirvosa. I've got a few other pieces of gear designed with no negative feedback, and I have my opinions on what kind of sound that has, and why it's superior, but, I was really looking forward to having a switch so I can hear the effects of negative feedback on the same amp.

    With the switch set to "no negative feedback", the amp has long, lush reverb tails. The sense of space is bigger, which is roughly in line with my experience with other no-NFB designs. When the feedback is engaged, the focus shifts more to the first reflections in the reverb, and tails get a little bit shorter, and sometimes feel a bit truncated. The stage closes in and sounds get a little closer to the listener, a little more intimate. Ultimately, I think the feedback is tastefully done, and some folks will really like "seasoning" their experience to taste. The sound does dip 1-2 dB when feedback is engaged, and that makes it hard to gauge if there's any other impacts, like on the leading edge of notes, but, nothing obvious.


    Single Ended (SE) vs Push Pull (PP)

    This one is interesting, and not at all what I expected. So far, I've found that PP mode seems to be a bit more forward in the midrange, while SE is more relaxed in the mids, to the point of sometimes sounding "veiled", and puts a bit more focus on the highs and the lows. PP has more energy to it, but I think it's largely coming from the more forward mids. Maybe a bit more distortion is contributing?

    To draw a comparison, I've also got a Freya+, and the SE on MJ3 reminds me of the buffer mode, while PP reminds me more of the tube mode. Perhaps that's not surprising - I know somewhere around here that @purr1n mentioned the buffer circuit on Freya+ was the inspiration for Mjolnir 3.

    After a day, my preference is PP most of the time, but, I really like SE with the LCD-2. I don't know if my LCD-2 is normal, but it quickly gets congested sounding in its midrange and needs careful matching with amps, sources, etc. And in this case, it plays real nice with Mjolnir's SE mode.

    As others have noted, this amp is fairly punchy, and that seems consistent regardless of SE or PP mode.


    With LCD-X

    So, I recently picked up the LCD-X (and LCD-Classic) from a fellow forum member, and had high expectations, but with my Monoprice LP, I just didn't connect with it at all. It had a great quantity of bass, but bass quality was lacking. It had no cohesion with the mids and highs. It lacked punch. To be fair, I think it was @rhythmdevils who pointed out that the LCD-X can sound recessed on amps with tubes, so I wonder if that's at play with the LP.

    But the Mjolnir 3 really fixes a lot of the problems I had. Kick drums are separate from the bass. There's actual texture to the bass guitar. Guitars have energy. The whole experience kicks and punches.

    Strangely, when I listened on the Monoprice LP, I even thought the headphones were uncomfortable. Suddenly, on the Mjolnir 3, they fit fine. Psychology is weird.


    Compared to Monoprice Liquid Platinum (LP)

    Mjolnir 3 definitely has more detail than the LP. At times the LP can sound a bit dull up top, but MJ3 helps bring more mid-level details (mid in terms of volume, not frequency. Think, things like auxiliary percussion being mixed back from a drum kit, but you can hear it all clearly). MJ3 is also a punchy amp, but, I feel like it might have a bit less punch and a bit more nuance dynamically with these Audeze heaphones than the LP. The low frequency range is also a bit more nuanced than on the LP - a little more focus on texture and quality than sheer power.


    Other notes

    So far, my preference is with this amp is the LCD-2 Classic, but that might be that I have found those to be the least "problematic" of the three Audezes I have, so I can just listen "through" the headphones and enjoy the amp. YMMV

    I tried high/low gain, but didn't hear much audible difference, so left it in high gain out of habit (whenever I have the choice, I usually leave it in high gain). I'm usually a quiet listener, and even in high gain and low volume, there's plenty of range on the pot before channel matching is a problem.

    I haven't tried it as a preamp, but, I bought it with the intention of doing so - will report back when I do.

    This thing really does vibrate! It's an experience. A bit like a purring cat.
     
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  2. Joe666

    Joe666 New

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    TL;DR: someone please plug a HD800 and, or, Verite into the Mjolnir Mk3... and report back :9
    So shocking interesting Mjolnir Mk3 peaks in current at 64 Ohm for 3-4W and halves the power at 32 Ohm which means at 16 Ohm it will be halved again. Clearly substantially current limited. Safety feature so not to melt headphones? Also, this may be the first such solid state output from Schiit?

    That reminded me of some other solid state amplifiers that do the same and all suck big with MrSpeakers planars, but are great with high Z headphones like HD800 and Verite.

    I'm keeping my Mjolnir Mk1 for my MrSpeakers planars and the like...

    ...but holding my breath here for some HD800, Verite, pairing impressions... ;-)
    p.s. no 230V version, no problem, I've a step down transformer...
     
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  3. That St Kilda Guy

    That St Kilda Guy Acquaintance

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    Arghh Jason

    Us Aussies have fought alongside you guys since Ayres Rock was a pebble and this is how you leave us, just like the British left the French at Normanby. Bring on the 230v please
     
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  4. gsanger

    gsanger Almost "Made"

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    Bonus morning coffee impression: I think I’ve become accustomed to the hefty low end on the Liquid Platinum, so the MJ3 has been sounding lean by comparison. I grabbed my EAD DSP-7000, which has an intoxicating blend of power and texture in the bass, and suddenly Mjolnir doesn’t sound so lean.

    IMG_2220.jpeg

    So, seems like MJ3 is fairly responsive to sources and upstream components. Schiit in, Schiit out, if you will.

    Also, not really hearing any sonic penalties on using the single ended inputs vs the balanced inputs.
     
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  5. Metro

    Metro Friend

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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    I was going to comment on this. Just because I happen to really like the Mjolnir 3 with the Caldera or other planars doesn't mean that it sucks with dynamics. If it did, I would not be buying one. I didn't try the HD800, but high and low Z dynamics did plenty well. HD600 and Grado RS2X (F-pads) did wonderfully. I suspect the HD800 would do well.

    It's all context. I do have better amps with dynamic headphones. Arguably stuff like the DSHA could be better with Focals and Grados (or Black Widow for HD800/600). I would not hesitate to say that Mjolnir 3 is probably one of the best amps in their current lineup when it comes to dynamic cans. By this I mean better than Rag 2, Jot 2, Magni, Piety, Asgard, etc. The Folkvangr is generally better, but it depends because as @roshambo123 mentioned, the Folkvangr has got that unfocused or in my words "fuzzy" thing going on (the Folkvangr is an unabashed pleasant distortion machine). My other favorite would be the Lyr+ ( a personal favorite that no one else really seems to like or notice). Lyr+ does more than a few things just slightly better but lows on Mjolnir 3 are tighter and punchier.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 23, 2023
  7. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    Maybe I missed the memo but this is the second report of MJ3 having some kind of mild vibration (other was on Head-fi). What is this? A transformer?
     
  8. gsanger

    gsanger Almost "Made"

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    This is buried towards the back of the manual:

    Schiit Manual.jpg
     
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  9. Riotvan

    Riotvan Snoofer in the Woofer

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    So even more reason for your cat to sit on top?

    Fine i’ll leave.
     
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  10. AlPastor

    AlPastor Facebook Friend

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    The vibration is very mild. Almost unnoticeable unless your hand is on it.
     
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  11. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    If you took out the word transformer this quote takes on a very different meaning... :oops:
     
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  12. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    Maybe Schiit trying to get more women interested in the hobby?
     
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  13. Mike_WI

    Mike_WI New

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    Anyone using isolators such as IsoAcoustics or similar under the Mjolnir 3?
    I realize there are not that many out in the wild but wondering if that would mitigate the (mild) vibration.
    I'm on the fence with this amp so interested in impressions.
     
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  14. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    If you're trying to reduce vibrations within a device, you wouldn't do that with an isolator. All that does is prevent the vibrations from moving elsewhere.
     
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  15. Joe666

    Joe666 New

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    I can see how that may be an issue with the juice Mjolnir Mk3 exibits, since other solid state Schiit amps do exactly that at 230/50 as well, but to a minor degree.
    Unless it sits on something resonant, not a problem imo, at least while wearing headphones... unlike Folkvangr which will pick up it's own vibrations at 230/50 because of vacuum tube microphonics and stuff...
    That I actually find really cool. It's like a MACHINE! lol
    Wait for the 230/50 versinon and you'll see it actually moving. :p lol
     
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  16. Mike_WI

    Mike_WI New

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    Understood.
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    We could dump hot glue or epoxy on the transformers and inductors, make them semi-potted :)
     
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  18. TazerMonkey

    TazerMonkey Acquaintance

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    I've only had my amp for a few hours so it's much too early for me to post detailed impressions, but I did want to alleviate anyone's concerns about power; my modded HE-6 6-screw is sounding pretty pretty pretty nice at around 1-1:30 on the knob in high gain, SE Class A, no-feedback. Nice and full, wide and clean sound. Sounds pretty damn good with HE-1000 Stealth and also ZMF Verité Closed too.

    Thus far, I'd say it's a knockout for planars.
     
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  19. joch

    joch Friend

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    Pretty X 3. I’m feeling @Armaegis ’s nervosa acting up
     
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  20. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    (apologies for off-topic posting)

    have you posted ab your EAD in the vtg DAC thread? I cant remember, but I also found AD1862 (iirc, that's what your DAC has two of, too right?) to be exactly as you described: authoritative in the lower registers as well as w more finely textured bass than the chip they replaced had (UA D20400A).
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2023

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