Schiit Ragnarok 2

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Mindbender

    Mindbender Acquaintance

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    Fyi - The Schiit website is now offering the Ragnarok 2 in a Black finish. Might be something really nice to look at.

    Picked up a used Mjolnir 2 though. Maybe next year, I'll get the Black Rag 2.
     
  2. taisserroots

    taisserroots Friend

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    Show impressions of the raggy 2, electromod was using the ifi hybrid thing as a dac

    Most resolving ss amp I have heard.
    Can tell the burrbrown timbre leaking in, but the Ragnarok is reducing it, don't know what that could mean.
    Comparable depth to the hpa4, with that having a slight edge.
    Greater sensation of openness with stronger dynamics. I'm not sure why this is the case, the raggy has a slight treble grit.
    I think this is as warm as the hpa4.
    Stage is slightly wider.
    The edge in resolution is most obvious in microdynamics, which feel less compressed than the hpa4 by a fraction.
     
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  3. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    RAGNAROK 2 LOANER IMPRESSIONS

    I was first on the Ragnarok 2 loaner tour and finally had time to distill my notes into a coherent post. I've been using a Ragnarok 1.5 for about 18 months in a video 2.0 system in my living room with Magnepan 1.6QR speakers and Focal Utopia and Sennheiser HD600 headphones. I consolidated my former Peachtree Nova125 integrated and Torpedo 3 headphone amp into the Ragnarok 1.5. It's obvious the amp isn't the best match for my speakers or my headphones, but it's good enough and I've been saving up for a big boy amp. I was excited to compare the Ragnarok 1.5 to the Ragnarok 2, especially given the focus on improving the Ragnarok's performance with speakers. Chain is in my profile. tl;dr below.

    NON-AUDIO IMPRESSIONS

    • Input Layout: I've posted about this before (link), but I don't love the placement of the XLR 1 inputs below the right speaker terminals. Most integrated amps have the opposite layout, inputs on top and speaker wire terminals on the bottom. This wasn't as big of an issue in practice, but would still prefer the interconnects to be further from the speaker cables. One can use XLR 2 inputs to completely avoid the "problem".
    • Case: The top of the case of Ragnarok 2 is not as damped as Ragnarok 1.5. Felt a little less solid. Metal rang a bit more when knuckle-rapped or when inserting headphones.
    • Turn On: Much quicker turn on and initialization than Ragnarok 1.5. Ragnarok 1.5 takes around 50-60 seconds. Ragnarok 2 is much less than that, but I forgot to time it.
    • Heat: Love the heatsinks. This thing runs very cool compared to Ragnarok 1.5, especially after driving my speakers for a while. It is also typically slightly cooler than my Yggdrasil when idle and when using headphones.
    • Volume: The increased steps on the relay attenuator are nice. Sometimes the volume jumps per-click on Ragnarok 1.5 are a little too much. I typically listen to speakers around 3PM on high gain, and headphones at 12PM (Utopia - low gain; HD600 - middle gain). This was true for both amps.
    • Remote Control: Surprisingly solid feel. Love the convenience this provides. The IR receiver is on the bottom of the amp's faceplate, so I had to hold the remote up and angle it down a bit to get the signal over the bottom wooden part of my cabinet door.

    AUDIO IMPRESSIONS


    Day 1
    I watched an episode of Parks and Recreation while I ate dinner after work, switched out Ragnarok 1.5 for Ragnarok 2, and then watched the next episode. Initial impressions a couple minutes after turn on:
    • Bass seems a little more powerful and tuneful.
    • Did not seem as resolving. Harder to hear ambiance / echoes in the different rooms.
    • Noticed some harshness / ear grating sound on voices, almost like the microphones were a little hot. Spitty. This exact same thing happened for the first few hours when I hooked up my Yggdrasil four years ago (was watching another sitcom with my wife the afternoon I hooked it up). I messaged Marv about this that night and found out that the unit was fresh from Schiit, and he had not hooked it up before sending to me. Per Marv's instruction, I let it bake. As you'll see below, this spittiness subsided, so don't worry about it. Did not turn the amp off after this.
    I then switched to Utopia for a few minutes (low gain, 12PM). Impressions immediately below are mostly from listening to Third Eye Blind - Red and Weezer - Blue Album, which I've been listening to frequently this year.
    • Sounded super bassy and a bit muddy to me. Congested, especially during busy parts of songs. I think this was a combination of needing some run in and the changes in sound signature which became easier to discern over extended listening.
    • Punchier. This Nexus bass is no joke.
    • Timbre in cymbals sounded off to me. Did not sound as real. Didn't hear the little gradations in volume / space.
    • Increased soundstage depth.
    • Depending on the song, vocals sounded either smoothed over (Rivers' voice didn't have some of its usual rasp) or very forward and annoying (crappy recording from a band called Never Heard of It). Latter observation was due to the spittiness issue flagged above and subsided over time.
    • Found I was listening louder than normal. I typically listen around 75-80 dB average as measured by my NIOSH app (Z-weighted) on my iPhone. Pulled this out during NHOI and saw it was at 85 dB. Backed down the volume a bit.
    Day 3
    • Vocals sounded much smoother.
    • Tons of bass drive and kick. Thicker sound than I'm used to.
    • Cymbals still don't sound natural to me.
    • Bass guitar is amazing and easy to follow.
    • Piano seemed a bit muffled.
    Overall impression on day 3 was that the rough edges have been refined and what remains is (1) a lot of bass drive and kick; (2) thickness in the lower midrange; and (3) cymbals do not sound as natural as Ragnarok 1.5.

    Let me expound a bit on point #2. When I would listen to rock on the Ragnarok 2 and Utopia, it was super easy to follow the bass guitar and lead / rhythm guitar parts. They sounded emphasized to me. When I would think about the song later or while I was at work the next day, the rhythm guitar part would be stuck in my head. This amp definitely emphasizes the low and low mid frequencies. Revisiting other posts about the amp, it looks like @purr1n noticed this too (link 1, link 2).

    Day 5
    Moved to Sennheiser HD600. Gain setting was harder for me to decide on, but landed on mid gain here as well. Low gain sounded anemic on them. HD600 has bugged me with Ragnarok 1.5 due to the midrange peak. HD650 is a much better match with Ragnarok 1.5. I figured at this point based on what I had observed thus far re: the Ragnarok 2's sound signature that the HD600 would be well-served by it.

    This was not the case.

    Cymbals sounded reticent to me and timbre sounded off. HD600 in general has better timbre than Utopia, so it was disappointing to see this impression hold across both headphones. Weirdly, HD600 didn't sound as natural to me as Utopia on this amp.

    Back to Utopia:
    • Snare hits on Incubus's "Privilege" did not have as much reverb as I was used to. It was also more difficult to hear the difference between the relative volumes of hits and their location on the drum.
    • One of the best listening experiences I had with the Ragnarok 2 was this evening on Third Eye Blind - Narcolepsy. It starts off pretty simple and slowly adds more instruments and staging effects. The depth of the Ragnarok 2 coupled with the increased bass punch on Utopia was really pleasing here, especially on the larger drum rolls. Listening to this intro stuck with me days later. I had a similar experience soon thereafter listening to the new Blink-182 album. There were some really cool parts on this album too that were well-served by the imaging precision of the Utopia (which I felt had a decently deep stage already on Ragnarok 1.5) with the increased depth of Ragnarok 2. It was my first listen to this album, so I didn't take notes.
    • Ragnarok 2 smooths out vocals a bit, which is nice in some ways (especially on hotter recordings). That spittiness that I mentioned above was nowhere to be found now.
    • It was really easy to follow bass guitar parts.
    Day 10ish
    Last day. I level-matched Ragnarok 2 and Ragnarok 1.5 using white noise and then listened to the same four tracks on each. At this point it was pretty easy to summarize the differences between the two amps, which I've done below.

    TL;DR: Ragnarok 2 vs. Ragnarok 1.5 Impressions

    Ragnarok 2
    :
    • Bass grunt, drive and punch. Meat on the bones. Noticeable on headphones and speakers. Serves the Maggies and Utopias well.
    • In addition to the above, lower midrange (rhythm guitar) emphasis. Less neutral sound signature overall.
    • Smooth vocals. This was a pretty pronounced change for me from day 1 to day 10.
    • Less detailed/nuanced treble. Timbre of cymbals sounded off. Treble was also a bit reticent.
    • Deep soundstage. Also a little wider stage than Ragnarok 1.5 as well. This coupled with the low-end grunt can make for some cool listening experiences.
    • Less resolving than Ragnarok 1.5. Didn't notice echoes or room acoustics as much. Perhaps a byproduct of that smoothness noted above.
    • Gets a little muddy during complex passages.
    Ragnarok 1.5:
    • Does not have Nexus bass. I'm slowly readjusting.
    • More neutral sound signature, especially in the treble. Treble has some delicacy and nuance (not as much as Torpedo 3).
    • Vocals are a bit more forward and less smoothed over. Doesn't do you any favors on hotter recordings. Note that I'm not talking about the "spitty" sound that went away over time. This is a characteristic I've noticed over the past 18 months across speakers and headphones. (So much so that I rarely use HD600 anymore. The Ragnarok 1.5 makes the HD600 peak much less tolerable.)
    • Staging is noticeably shallower and slightly narrower than Ragnarok 2. Pulling up "Narcolepsy" and the new Blink-182 album again was comparatively disappointing given my great experiences with those on Ragnarok 2.
    • More resolving. Easier to hear differences in room acoustics, microphone placement, etc.

    CONCLUSION
    I liked the Ragnarok 2. I will not be buying one. If I had not purchased the Ragnarok 1.5 last spring, I would buy the Ragnarok 2. I like simpler systems and wanted something that could power both speakers and headphones in the living room until I purchased a big boy amp. Because I have already made my peace with this compromise, I don't feel the need to make this move. I miss the Ragnarok 2 and it has a great feature set, so maybe I will change my mind in the future. I'd also like to hear the HD800S on both amps.

    I'm also excited for the higher powered Schiit speaker amp that will purportedly be developed somewhat soon (?). Marv has hinted at it, as has Schiit. I hope that that amp can combine the benefits in soundstage depth and bass drive that appear to be coming from Nexus, with the resolution and nuance that I've read about in others' impressions of the Continuity output stage in the Aegir. I also hope that Schiit goes balls-to-the-wall with this amp and massively overbuilds the power supply and output stage (like Coda does).
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    MichaeLeroy, econaut, Claud and 21 others like this.
  4. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Almost "Made"

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    Super insightful comparison. I had to get my Rarnarok 1 repaired about 4 months. They replaced the board. I came back with a significantly longer boot time when powered on. I wonder if this means I have Ragnarok 1.5? My Ragnarok did seems to sound better when I got it back. Does anyone know what is different with the 1.5 vs the 1?

    At this point I do not see the need to upgrade to the Ragnarok 2 though it still sounds like a great option if I did not already have the Ragnarok 1.
     
  5. zonto

    zonto Friend

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  6. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Almost "Made"

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  7. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    Received the loaner unit today, I’ve been wanting to compare the Ragnarok 2 directly to the MHA150! Connected to a Yggdrasil A1 with balanced cables, the first listen was so cold and steely that I had to stop listening. I’ve never had an experience quite like this before. I’m planning on giving it some more time to warm up then I’ll try again.
     
  8. StageOne

    StageOne Friend

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    This was my same experience, I'm still working on a longer review but I had it on for 6+ hours before listening with the first set of speakers and I didn't listen long. The treble was harsh to the point of being grating. Open sesame by Freddie Hubbard had me switching tunes quickly. Sadly, I felt the same way with the headphone session.

    -- Updated
    Adding a few more notes for informational purposes vs review.

    I did notice a fair amount of transformer hum from the Rag 2, not so much from the front but it was audible about 6 ft away from the side. I don't get that from my Vidar or Aegir.

    First setup and comparison
    RPi/Roon > Modi MB > Sys/Denon preamp > Vidar > Elac Uni-Fi UF5
    RPi/Roon > Modi MB > Rag 2> Elac Uni-Fi UF5

    Second system
    RPi/Roon > Gungnir "A2" > Freya S > Aegir > Paradigm Studio 10s v5
    RPi/Roon > Gungnir "A2" > Rag 2 > Paradigm Studio 10s v5

    Headphones
    RPi/Roon > Gungnir "A2" > Rag 2 > HD6XXs (balanced)
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  9. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    Best to send it back to us, then. Because that's not what Ragnarok 2 sounds like.

    Please coordinate with the mods here to get it back to us so we can have a look.
     
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  10. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

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    Hmmm (I was before @StageOne in the chain)... didn't get that from it at all...?

    snips from some of my notes prepping for review.

    Had Aegir for a week or two before (have a handle on its sound).

    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Rag2

    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Rag2 (as pre) --> Vidar
    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Rag2 (as pre) --> Special Adcom (http://bit.ly/2P76EqY)
    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Jen 1:1 --> ClassD
    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Jen 1:1 --> Freya (passive) --> Aegir / Special Adcom
    Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Rag2 (as pre) --> long BAL run to Lyr3 [Jen 1:1]
    ManiV2-->Rag2

    -->ElacAdante/ub5/debut6.2/EnergyVeritas 2.2i -->ML descent i x2

    Ignored the 2 cards dac/phono (not enough time)
    Gain 1used mostly, headphones off.

    [Headphones]
    IMG_0025.jpeg
    ^temp setup testing everything seeing how it works-- HD650 balanced was good, Lyr3's just a gem tho-- left it at that, Didn't notice annoying treble. Way more interested in it as a speaker amp.

    Just jotting down / bread crumbing the ways used and compared. Was very impressed by its thoughtful design and sound. One thing I noticed: putting your ear direct pressed to the speakers tweeter, spooky dead silence... every other amp has a slight bit of hiss, here and most other amps I've ever had. Thinking check that, is it still dead silent?

    It left here hooked up like this last: Yggdrasil A2 (UNISON) --> Rag2 --> UB5. Was still very enjoyable!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
  11. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    Thanks @schiit , I figured something was probably up with this unit. Over the years I’ve purchased 7 of your products, and they’ve all been excellent. I’ll contact the mods.
     
  12. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

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    No transformer hum when I had it... 0, Vidar had slight transformer hum (same outlets) and was a non-issue.
     
  13. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Zero transformer hum for me too on the loaner.
     
  14. Maximillion

    Maximillion Acquaintance

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    Still searching for my next amp. Is it possible to bypass the pre on the Ragnarok 2?
    I was thinking of adding a Freya+ later if possible to give some options.
     
  15. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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    I ended up picking up a SPL Phonitor X.. best decision yet. If you get a chance, see if you can demo it and buy it used like I did. Ragnarok 2 just didn't have the resolution of even the lower priced schiit amps.
     
  16. Maximillion

    Maximillion Acquaintance

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    Thats a headphone amp, right?... I am looking for an amp to drive my speakers and HD650's
    Basically I want to ditch my separate headphone amp, phono stage and existing integrated.... and get an integrated amp with headphone, phono , pre, power all in one.
    However, I am interested in also having the option/alternative of a tube preamp (to be added at a later date)
    Not sure whether the Ragnarok 2 has an input that will bypass it's pre, though.
     
  17. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Almost "Made"

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    My Ragnarok ones does not and I do not see it on the Ragnarok 2 either.
     
  18. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Almost "Made"

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    Really surprised to hear that about the Ragnarok 2. Did you hear the loaner version or did you do order it from Schiit and do the 15 day trial?
     
  19. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    Literally any input will bypass the preamp on Ragnarok 2, because there is no preamp at all. Same as for Ragnarok. Turn the volume all the way up, and you have literally one set of relay contacts in the signal path before the amp.

    With respect to the resolving capability of Ragnarok 2, I think we'll have to agree to disagree. In my experience, and to my particular preferences, Ragnarok 2 is by far the best amp we make. I don't think Ragnarok 2 has limited resolution, though the stage is set farther back than most of our other amps, it is more tonally rich, and the bass response can be shocking, especially when used with headphones.

    For what it's worth, Ragnarok 2 what I use personally. Of course, I am biased, so YMMV.
     
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  20. SnowPuppy

    SnowPuppy Almost "Made"

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    Good to know about "no preamp at all". Makes me think that the Ragnraok may actually make a good preamp should I upgrade to a better external amp in the future (Schiit continuity pure mono blocks please, 4 figures is ok). I like the idea of using the Ragnarok as a preamp since I get to keep my world class headphone amp attached to my best two channel source components.

    Regarding resolution. My Ragnarok has excellent resolution. I honesty find it hard to believe that the Ragnarok 2 would not also have that. I have not heard a Ragnarok 2 yet with two channel however I did hear it at the last RMAF with the same headphones I have which is the Senn HD800S. I could tell the resolution was at least as good as my Ragnarok. I thought it sounded excellent.
     

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