Schiit Mjolnir 3 Impressions

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

  1. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Facebook Friend

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    I personally would not do it as it is redundant. It would be like adding a preamp to an integrated amp in a two channel system. Additional cables and contacts do degrade the sound. And the signal would be preamplified twice. If I needed a premp to get an integrated amp to sound better, I would not purchase that integrated amp. That said, it can be done and it may sound good or different with tubes being added. Nothing wrong with doing it if you think it sounds better.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    What? I thought Live at Darryl’s House made it clear that they were indeed awesome.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Personally I like to keep things simple. I use a preamp in one headphone chain because it’s an opportunistic necessity:

    DAC -> Saga 6SN6 -> Aegir -> iESL -> Koss ESP950

    I would not use Mjolnir 3 as a preamp because it’s a Class A space heater / stove for eggs, pancakes, crepes, chorizo.
     
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  4. MellowVelo

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    The 24/48 download included with the 25th anniversary deluxe set is the best digital version, in my experience. Unfortunately, it’s never been made available separately. The 2002 SACD is pretty good but sounds slightly compressed. If you can’t find the 24/48 version, the original CD is honestly great, and you can get for like $3.99 at your local record shop.
     
  5. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Thank you for the quick reply. That is always how I treated things, but SBAF sorta lit a FOMO fire in me. Seemed like many people were using it before their headamp. I only use it to get cable from one side of the room to the other while having XLR for my JOT-A and SE for T3

    [EDIT] Freya-N is what I am referring to since it was a vague post.
     
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  6. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Live at Darryl's House was an incredible series. I never really appreciated Hall/Oates until watching that show
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Yeah, other kids in high school thought I was ghey because I had five or six Hall and Oates LPs. Live at Darryl's vindicated me. Good pop is good pop.
     
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  8. gsanger

    gsanger Almost "Made"

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    I've used it briefly as a preamp, but, you know how there's a warning in the manual about listening in warm rooms? Well, I'm in Florida. And it's summer. And our central A/C is out, so all we have are window units. And my stereo system is in the room just below our poorly insulated and poorly ventilated attic. And the MJ3 really is a space heater, so, limited impressions, but...

    I think it's fine as a preamp, but it's not obviously better than the Freya+, but not obviously worse - more of a different flavor. The thing I notice it doing better is in the stereo separation, and that's likely down to the dual mono structure of the MJ3. Double tracked guitars, keyboards with Leslie speakers, synths - anything that's using stereo as an effect - all sound bigger and wider. Elements between the speakers have a little more clarity on where exactly they are. Center image is rock solid.

    Otherwise, it's clean, clear and maintains good dynamics, all like the Freya+.

    The character of the different switches flow through to the preamp outputs. So, you can change the flavor by switching PP/SE, feedback/no feedback, etc. I will say that the low end tightening up that others have noted with feedback on is more apparent to me over speakers than over headphones.

    Also, the pot still has great tracking down at low volumes. I use two Monarchy SM-70 Pro amps, and they only need something like 0.75 volts to be driven to full output, and at low listening levels, there's plenty of play on the MJ3 volume knob, even in high gain.

    As a practical matter, it sounds like there's two relays that delay the output on MJ3, and if I turn my amps on before they click, I get some gnarly 60 Hz hum.

    But for now, in summer, I'll be sticking with Freya+ in buffer mode. Maybe in a few months I'll try MJ3 as my "winter preamp".


    Please report back if you do. I've got Zu Dirty Weekends I'm tempted to try this with.


    Clear is the word I keep coming back to when I listen to Mjolnir 3. It's like being on a boat on a calm lake, looking down, and being able to see clearly all the way to the bottom.


    I haven't, but I should - thanks for asking!
     
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  9. HeyWaj10

    HeyWaj10 Almost "Made"

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    While I'm not in the market for the MJ3 currently - I'm very much going to save for one (and hope there is a future revision to Gungnir in the pipeline to aesthetically and sonically pair with the MJ3 just right). I've got a nice spot for this stack that would give me something truly special to aim for!
     
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  10. TomNC

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    I’ve been listening to the Mjolnir 3 (or M3) since Sunday night. My initial impressions so far match well with what has been described in several posts under this thread.


    My chain: Apple music via iPad—UpTone ISO Regen—Eitr—DAC in Cary 306 SACD player—LTA pre—M3 with six pairs of headphones: LCD-4 (balanced), RS1i (SE), R10 (SE), HD650 (balanced), HE500 (SE), and Verum (balanced). With the M3, I have only used low gain, non-push-pull, and non-feedback settings.


    One main strength of the M3 is wholesome tonality or frequency spectrum. Nothing is exaggerated and nothing is recessed. No artificial sense of airiness, mid forwardness, or bass slamming; no fatigue. This allows the inherent harmony/timbre/texture of instruments and human voices are reproduced in a realistic manner.


    Another standing-out characteristics is its effortless dynamics, no matter what aspects of this dimension are concerned, macrodynamic swings, transients, or rhythmic drive. The first pair of headphones I tested is LCD-4 because while I like its darkish tonality and excellent technical capabilities, the LCD-4 sounds reserved and over-dampened with my other amps. M3 indeed energizes the LCD-4 showcasing it remains a top performing planar headphone. The amp also rectifies the HD650 which is the slowest headphone among what I have. But it does not do much in cutting through the veil of these headphones. I do not think this reflects a weakness of the M3. Rather, this confirms that the amp has a balanced FR spectrum. It is my long-held belief that it takes some specialized amps to drive HD650 exceptionally well given its unique strengths and shortcomings and such amps are very likely do not as well with other headphones. (JAR 650/600 seems a better approach to address the slowness and veil of HD650). With all headphones I tried, M3 consistently show its excellent dynamics. Attack/decay are just right and realistic. I’ve been listening to Apple Music spatial audio classics since I received the M3. Its dynamic drive and tonality keeps me engaged track after track without an urge to switch to other genres. If the amp can do so well with classic works, there is no doubt it can handle other tracks.


    Despite its strengths in natural, organic sound reproduction, the M3 shows no weaknesses in resolution and other hi-fi technicality. I can hear so clearly musicians’ finger touching the instrument or breathing that I don’t want more resolution. With R10, I could follow some low-volume distant instruments very distinctly in a part of Beethoven’s Symphony 9 which I cannot say I heard so well previously with other amps although I listened to this piece many times.


    All things considered, the M3 appear to be the best headphone amp that I have ever experienced. It excels in musical engagement while shows not much compromise in hifi properties. I audited some tube amps in the $3K-7K range. Although those amps did certain things better (e.g., headstage or imaging separation), none of them made me feel as satisfied in sheer music enjoyment as the M3. I doubt this amp would be limited by one or two runs only. Rather, this is a classic piece of gear and should be in production for multiple years. It gets my nomination for an SBAF annual award.
     
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  11. purr1n

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    Amen brother.

    I starting writing a diddle on how the Mjolnir 3 should be a classic that undergoes runs every few years for 15 years much like the EC ZD(S) and DNA Stratus, but I deleted it because I thought it was too early (and also because I didn't want to sound like a Schiit shill / encourage FOTM). So I'm glad you said this first. It disappoints me when I look back and see that awesome stuff like the Pioneer M22 had such a limited time that it was for sale.

    The problem is that audiophiles are fickle. Maybe @schiit should make a hundred after sales slow down and put in the same warehouse holding the Ark of Covenant. Open the crate up every few years.
     
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  12. D Rob

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    You're spot on. In my "final thoughts" I will have to account for that. After 24 hours on the ambient heat isn't worse but the heat sink is "You can't touch this" hot.
     
  13. rfernand

    rfernand Almost "Made"

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    Oh man! I hadn't realized I have it in my Bandcamp and it's marked "Private" :( Indeed, good - but I think the 2002 CD may be the best bet at this point.

    Edit: 24/48 contains "Courage", "Sagrada", and "Don't Give Up (piano)". Folks looking at the 2012 Vinyl Box also get Live in Athens and goodies.

    More edit: According to Roon, the dynamic range of the 48/24 and the 2002 remaster is identical (8).

    Postdata: the US 2002 remaster was a big improvement over the 1992 CD. Gosh, what a great album, it was.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2023
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Thinking about this more. My concern is that the Bifrost 2 with the Mjolnir 3 and HD800S could result in lows that are too thick. It really depends, some HD800 users really like this effect. The S version of the HD800 is thicker in the lows in an attempt to balance with the highs. I’d say give it try. However while we are on the topic of DACs and synergy.

    With the three balanced headphones I have on hand, all balanced terminated (Caldera, JAR600, RS2X + F Cush), I found absolute consistency among the DAC pairings. I have come to this conclusion about the Mjolnir 3: tonality is warm but not overly warm, it’s harmonically rich. So I think we should be careful with pairing with thick or phat sounding DACs. One way to decrease the thickness (distortion I bet) is to flip up the feedback switch. Finally, the Mjolnir 3 resolves low level information like a mofo. This I did not expect because I did not hear this quality, at least not to this extent, with the prototype.

    Gungnir A2:
    Strong sub bass heft works well as does a depression in the mid-bass, which helps the Mjolnir 3 from sounding overly thick and bloated. This AD57xx based Schiit DACs with their discrete analog output stages resolve plankton like crazy and Mjolnir 3 makes this very well known. The issue is the forward upper mids, which on recordings like Temple of the Dog or Peter Gabriel’s So, is not a good thing. The headstage is super expansive with precise imaging with this DAC.

    Yggdrasil LIM
    Become my favorite a while back because of its natural timbre and dark tonality. Worked well with single driver high efficiency loaded horn speakers. However, the drop in resolving power was painfully obvious in combination with its downward sloping tonality. Came away disappointed which was something I did not expect.

    Yggdrasil 11001B, MIL vB, MIM, 11001B Jason Edition, 11001B Marv Edition, whatever
    I LOVE this DAC with the Mjolnir 3. Neutral with a bit of richness and a small drop of syrup. This is the most neutral and even sounding DAC in Schiit’s lineup. I’ve let this DAC warm up for weeks now. At first it was a bit grainy in the highs. The liquidity and I dare say sweetness and dreaminess (Chris Cornell vocals on Temple) comes later. I think the x4 OS has a bit to do with the sound. Funny how TI fixed the distortion in the ultrasonic region totally changed the nature of this DAC. BTW, NOS works darn well too with the Mjolnir. Supposedly MM hates it still. If anyone is interested, let @schiit know. Maybe they can make a small run.

    Other DACs I think should work:

    Yggdrasil GS
    F’kers like @ChaChaRealSmooth were able to snag these up when they went on fire sale. This is the OG OG Yggdrasil with the lower current but lower distortion output stage, but with firmware updates that fix the glitchiness. Many have argued this was the best Schiit DAC ever and that MM got it right the first time (just needed firmware updates).

    Soekris DAC2541
    Midcentric tonality and R2R. Some complained it was too thin sounding, but I think this would impart clarity with the Mjolnir 3. I wanted to buy the loaner, but @sphinxvc wanted it and needed it more than me.

    Burl B2
    Maybe too much energy? Twist the output knob for a vintagey oversaturation effect.

    MORE HERE:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...jolnir-3-impressions.13699/page-7#post-414878
     
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    Last edited: Aug 31, 2023
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Oh, forgot to mention, @schiit offered a loaner. Heart this post if interested. Will be limited to trustworthy members, but at least more impressions.
     
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  16. Friday

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    @purr1n when you say Bifrost 2, do you mean the OG phatter Bifrost 2 or the 2/64?
     
  17. artur9

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    Listening from a Linn Akurate DS to Eta Mini C, I found some things in your posting I'd like to emphasize.

    That ability to have sounds pop from nowhere, starting/and stopping on a dime is amazing. I have a song where, during the singer's intro, a few people clap, and you can hear each and every one at a different place in space. Just a stunning thing to hear.

    As to the layering/separation/localization, I'm hearing instruments play together in a way I've not heard before. My copy of Stravinsky's Firebird, the Infernal Dance, I feel like I can hear each and every instrument grouping as a separate source of music. Gobsmacked!

    I don't have a separate streamer for this but, would my Gungnir OG/MB be a better match to the MJ than the Linn Akurate? When I compared them directly before, I couldn't hear any difference. (the Linn's black is a better match than the GMB's silver ...)
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The OG phatter one.
     
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  19. joch

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    For more appreciation of H&O, check out Hit Parade’s Chris Molanphy’s 2 part podcast:
    https://chris.molanphy.com/hit-parade-rock-n-soul-edition-2/
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2023
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Check out this goldmine of KSAN FM live broadcasts back in the day. This was the golden era of music mastering / engineering. And The Record Plant studios back in the day didn’t have 122db SINAD gear. More like 68db SINAD. (We can hear the noise in that Bob Marley recording).

    https://www.qobuz.com/be-nl/search?q=Ksan-fm&i=boutique
     
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