Schiit Two-Channel Gear Compendium

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by zonto, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. zonto

    zonto Friend

    Sep 30, 2015
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    Schiit previewed the first products in its two-channel line at the 13th Annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest ("RMAF") from October 7–9, 2016, including the Saga passive/tube hybrid preamp at $349, the Freya balanced tube/buffer/passive preamp at $699, and the Vidar 100W/400W stereo/mono power amplifier at $699. The initial announcement was made in the Schiit Previews 2-Channel Line At RMAF press release ("PR"). The below is an adaptation of the original SBAF compilation of pre-release nuggets shared on Head-Fi by @schiit re: the two-channel gear, as supplemented by the PR and other relevant information, all gathered together and frequently updated for easy reference. Enjoy!

    If I've missed anything, PM me and I'll add it.

    • 08/30/17: Added link to @Marvey's Vidar review
    • 07/21/17: Added Vidar release information. General clean-up.
    • 07/13/17: Brought forward weekly update summaries to Vidar post's "Miscellaneous" chronological development subbullet; updated General–Release Schedule
    • 06/14/17: Linked to various third-party sites/threads and @atomicbob's Saga measurements
    • 06/09/17: Added minor Vidar updates from weekly thread update
    • 06/06/17: Added Freya/Vidar impressions from June 2017 LA Audio Show.
    • 06/02/17: Incorporated 6/2/2017 HF update into Vidar chronological development history subsection.
    • 05/24/17: Incorporated "SH Vidar Part 2" updates.
    • 02/18/17 & 03/19/17: @schiit Vidar production updates on HF. See Vidar, Miscellaneous, chronological development history below. @ohhgourami Vidar prototype impressions added to Quick References.
    • 01/17/17: @schiit Vidar updates from HF added.
    • 01/14/17: @Marvey's Freya review thread added.
    • 01/10/17: Vidar rendering info added; XLR in only for monoblock mode.
    • 12/23/16: Vidar prototype updates. See (source). Freya website information added.
    • 11/18/16 through 12/13/16: Added Saga website info and SBAF impressions.
    • 11/09/16: Incorporated "SH Vidar Part I" updates.
    • 10/24/16: Incorporated info from a couple 10/24 posts by @schiit in our thread and the Schiit Happened HF thread.
    • 10/21/16: More RMAF links from DAR, Stereophile, etc. Vidar Norse mythology supplements.
    • 10/12/16: Incorporated "SH Preamps" and related updates. Split into multiple posts.
    • 10/10/16: Incorporated "Schiit 10/9" updates. Topology subheading moved to Speaker Amp heading.
    • 10/08/16: Reordering/reorganization and Norse mythology added. RMAF pictures and impressions added.
    • 10/07/16: Incorporated PR updates.



    Reviews, Impressions, and Measurements
    SBAF Measurements
    SBAF Reviews and Impressions
    Third-Party Reviews/Impressions
    RMAF Impressions
      • "Power switch- yes, it's on the back. Jason said that by nature the more he gets criticized for design decisions, the less likely he is to comply. His T-shirt was black, with a power switch indicator on the back, very funny!"
      • "Sound- There were a lot of folks at that show who will spend a truck-load more money for gear that does not sound any better." [remainder of sound impressions chopped for brevity]
      • "Tech- The preamp is smaller than I expected, standard width, maybe 8 inches deep, about the height of a Gungnir. The chassis are the same L-bent metal as the Joty. There is no balance control, and obviously no tone controls."
      • "The Vigar is as tall as the Yggdrasil, two of the side-by-sde are a bit wider than the 17" standard chassis. The amps are maybe 12" deep, and they do put out some heat. A single amp is not fully balanced, but when run in a mono-block configuration they are fully-balanced. The circuit is a SE variation of the pivot point circuit, Jason will have to provide more details than this. I heard them in mono block configuration this morning. Jason said they will get to about 600 watts at 4 ohms in mono block mode before they shut down, and the numbers are conservative."
      • "The amp has the heat tunnel in the center, no fan, with the heat sink in the center. The top also dissipates heat. The picture of them in the rack at the show depicts them with a low-overhead shelf, Jason indicated that they need more ventilation than this."
      • (source)
    • The Audio Beat, Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016 - Hot Product.
    • Audio-Head, Schiit Audio Does 2 Channel – RMAF 2016 (Credit: @Madaboutaudio)
    • Digital Audio Review, Saga, Freya, Vidar: three fresh pieces of Schiit from RMAF 2016 (including 10-minute video interview with Mike Moffat and Jason Stoddard post-RMAF)
    • Stereophile, RMAF 2016: Jana's Sunday at the Show ("As I entered the Schiit/Salk room, someone from Schiit asked me, jokingly: 'Isn't Schiit too cheap for Stereophile?' . . . Their playlist was cinematically explosive, and had me impressed by the system's dynamic responsiveness. I left the room thinking, as most people probably have: what a great sounding, affordably priced system! I've confirmed what all before me have learned: Schiit stays true to their word.")

    • Saga preamp is $349, Freya balanced preamp is $699, and Vidar amplifier is $699. See PR.
      • Vidar may drop in price due to move from vertical passive heat tunnel to external heatsinks. See SH Vidar Part I.
      • "[T]hat's what we do. We design something, we figure out how much it costs is to make, and then we apply our standard margin to it. We don't price things 'at what the market will bear,' or 'higher so people will take it seriously,' or 'higher because there's literally nothing like it, anywhere near the price.'" See SH Preamps.
      • "We think these are absolute, barking mad deals. Even more now that we've emerged from the design phase and spent some time looking around at the market. Hell, there are passive stepped attenuators (only, not with tube stages or remotes) that cost a lot more! When you start talking 6SN7-based preamps from credible companies, you start adding zeros really, really fast. And when you start talking about relay-switched stepped attenuators, you are talking really, really rarefied air. That's completely beyond-the-pale cost-no-object high-end design. Hell, it's beyond a lot of 'high end' companies that have given up and simply use volume control chips now (barfarolaomaticdeluxe, is how I feel about that, but I'm biased.)" Id.
      • Discussion about using new Salk speakers with the Ragnarok at a recent show: "We were using the new Salk Song3s. Which sounded absolutely fantastic. I'm hoping that Salk wants to work with us for the speaker room at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I was a little embarrassed that the electronics cost more than the speakers. Hopefully we can solve that for the next show..." (source)
      • "So yes, it was very well worth going, and I'm looking forward to the next show, where we can (hopefully) rectify the inequity between electronics cost and speaker cost. The Salk speakers were $2900. Our stack was $4000 [Yggdrasil + Rag]. I'd much rather see the stack at a lower cost than the speakers. Much lower. And with more power. A lot more power. And a remote. Yes, those are all hints." (source)
        • Note: Given that the Yggdrasil is $2300, I find it impossible that the Yggdrasil, a new preamp, and the new speaker amp will cost less than the Salk speakers at $2900. I assume this statement, if it holds true, (1) involves replacing Yggdrasil with Gungnir Multibit in the hypothetical or (2) is a reference to only the preamp and amp stack and excludes the DAC entirely.
      • Potential speaker amp pricing, etc.: "Big power amps also are never going to be cheap. At least not unless they’re Class D. And sorry, guys, I’ve never heard a Class D design that outmatches a conventional linear amp. Yes, even the ones that claim to do so. Call it what you will—confirmation bias, whatever—but I will take a linear design over a mathematically optimized switching approximation of it. Same as I’ll take multibit over delta-sigma. But I digress. Big power amps mean big components—big power transformers full of steel and copper (these ain’t cheap, or if they are, run), big heatsinks (even high-density designs have their limits,) big output devices, big protection systems, big chassis, etc. Bottom line, it adds up. But again, it’s all relative. Does a 200WPC stereo amp need to cost $5,000? No. But it will probably be more than $500. And $50,000? Well, that’s nuts." (source) Credit: @Pyruvate
    Release Schedule
    • Saga, Freya and Vidar available now.
      • "In terms of timing, you'll be seeing the preamps up on the site in a couple of weeks (they are being sent to photograph straight from the show, and we're just waiting on production of the boards, as we have all metal in-house.) Vidar is more fluid, as it has some long-lead parts that will certainly put it out past the end of the year. " See Schiit 10/9.
      • "The amp still needs to go through some pretty extensive torture-testing to see where the protection system fails. This has to be 100% right. Unreliable cheap amps kill companies." Id.; see 10/24 production update; 10/24 torture test update.
      • "I'm certain you'll also see the first dedicated 2-channel products from us in 2016." (source)
      • "Don’t be surprised if the 2 channel products start with preamps first, rather than power amps." (source)
      • "Maybe you'll see [the presumably third speaker amp prototype; see Speaker Amp below] at RMAF. In any case, you will see the preamps [note the plural], since we've already started ordering parts for them [same]." (source)
      • "I'm leaving for the show tomorrow, but I can confirm that both of the preamps and the amp will be [at RMAF]." See @Azteca's 10/5/16 status.
    • "I want to do more at Schiit. So consider this our manifesto: we will continue to bring the highest-value products, at the fairest-possible margins, in the largest-quantity runs (for even lower cost) to assure that as many people can enjoy high-end audio as possible, and to grow the audience for the future. And we’ll continue to do this both in personal and desktop audio, and in the world of speaker amps, preamps, and other gear, as we can. You’ll see our 2-channel products this fall, and, if the reaction of various industry people is to be believed, they may have an even bigger impact on that market than we have on the desktop." (source)
    • "Even then, I think you will be floored by what we have in store." (source)
    • "And the more I looked at the preamp market alone, the more I realized that there was at least as much room for disruption as on the desktop—maybe even more..." See SH Preamps.
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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  2. zonto

    zonto Friend

    Sep 30, 2015
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    • "[T]he preamplifiers use extreme high-end design techniques such as relay-switched stepped attenuators (rather than a volume control IC or a potentiometer), and employ highly linear 6SN7-type tubes on 200 or 300V rails in the active stages." See PR.
        • "Motorized pot or relay attenuator? The most important function of a preamp is volume control. Remote volume control can be done in three ways: with a motorized potentiometer—that is, a motor that actually physically spins a volume pot, or with a relay-switched stepped attenuator, like we did in Ragnarok, or with a volume control chip. I won't even discuss the third option, though it's been showing up in many previously "high end" brands. Sorry, that's simply lazy. And when it comes down between a motorized pot—and all of their associated vagaries, like poor tracking at low volumes and eventual wear—and the relay-switched stepped attenuator, which has near-perfect channel tracking at all volume levels, relays rated for 15 million cycles, and nothing more than a couple of resistors in the signal path, well, it was really no contest. At least one decision was easy." See SH Preamps.
    • Tubes:
        • "It's because we hate you and want you to buy a whole new series of tubes, because we recently acquired all manufacturers of 6SN7-type tubes. Kidding." See SH Preamps.
        • "Here's the real reason: because they're better tubes. 6SN7-style tubes are by far the most linear tubes I've ever worked with. At typical line-level output, Saga measures almost like an op-amp based design, with triple-zero distortion figures (as in, 0.000X%). That is 100% insane. Aside: and yeah, we'll have the usual nonsense about how 'this ain't really a tube amp, get a tube amp with tons of distortion so you gets the reeeel tube sounds.' That's fine. You want a soft, fuzzy, blurry tube preamp, there are plenty of them out there that provide loads of second-harmonic distortion. The reality is that Saga and Freya, while the distortion is small, are true tube preamps, with typical tube harmonic structure (mostly 2nd harmonic, decreasing rapidly into the noise on higher-order distortion). They're tube preamps—they're just very clean tube preamps. And Saga is even cleaner than Freya. So yes, we went with these tubes simply because they perform better. Plus the fact that we can treat them right—with 300V on them in Freya, and 200V in Saga—these are real tube preamps, not plate-starved designs. In short, we used these tubes because they were right for no-compromises preamp design. Please accept my apologies if this kicks off a new tube acquisition spree for you." Id.
      • "The preamps will ship with Russian NOS equivalents (6N8S). We've found these better than the affordable new-production tubes from Sovtek, EH, and JJ, though the EH can be pretty decent. Shipping with good (as opposed to affordable) new-production tubes would raise cost significantly." (source)
      • Tube matching: "You'll want matched sections on Saga, and you'll want matched pairs at least on the front tubes on Freya. Front tubes are voltage gain, rear tubes are output buffers on Freya. Matching is less important on output buffers, but in general it's a good idea." Id.
      • Tube rolling options for both preamps:
          • "The good news is that the rolling options are rather more limited (6SN7 and 6SL7 types only, including the Russian 6N8C and 6N9C). Best to stick to 6SN7 only for Saga, unless you want more distortion—the hybrid part of its tube output stage is transconductance-matched to the 6SN7. 6SL7s will work fine, but they'll have measurably more distortion." Id.
          • "We have not done extensive testing on super-rare, super-expensive, unobtainium/alien technology tubes, so we can't provide, I mean, recommendations on these. Mike will loudly and happily proclaim he loves RCA 5692s in all 6SN7 applications." (source)
          • "Saga: technically you won't be hurting anything. The plate voltage and current are within typical 6922 operating points. However, you'll lose the distortion cancellation with the weird hybrid buffer. Some people might like this a bit better, as it will probably sound more 'tube-y.'" (source)
          • "Freya: I wouldn't do it. The plate voltages and currents are pretty hot for a 6922. In our experience, 6922s (like many tubes) tolerate operational points beyond their ratings, but we can't recommend using them like this, since it will have unknown effects on their lifespan. They'll also be less linear than the 6SN7." Id.
          • "Crotchety old dude answer (shaking cane): 'In the old days, we used the tubes it was designed for! We didn't swap around tubes in our TVs and crow about how much better the picture looked!'" Id.
        • Octal LISST will eventually be an option. See (source)
    • Both preamp models have selectable passive and active functionality. See PR.
        • "Aside: 'passive' refers to a preamp without a gain stage, or (to be blunt), a preamp without an amp. Yes, I know, the terminology makes no sense. It would be more accurate to call it a variable attenuator. And some companies do. And they probably confuse the hell out of many prospective customers. Hence, we'll keep calling it a 'passive preamp.'" See SH Preamps.
      • "The most important function of a preamp is volume control." See SH Preamps.
      • Infrared remote, not ultrasonic, Bluetooth, or RF. See id.
      • "No power switch on remote." (source)
      • "The remote control for the preamps is a small plastic credit-card sized thing that isn't really fancy." See Schiit 10/9; see also SH Preamps ("Yeah, it's a cheap plastic credit card remote. Consider how much the products cost. Would you like to add $100 to the cost of a Saga for a machined aluminum remote? Seriously, if enough of you want this, I'm sure we can make it happen. But it simply wasn't a priority. I've seen machined remotes that probably cost more to make than Gungnir. These aren't those kind of products.")
      • "Remote control is a certainty. Done and done." (source)
    • No headphone amp functionality: "Preamps are preamps, not headphone amps." (source); see also Schiit 10/9 ("No headphone jacks. Not the preamps' intent.").
    • "No 12V triggers." (source)
    • "No standby mode." Id.
    • "No home theater bypass." Id.
    • "All outputs are variable." (source)
    • "No power output." See Schiit 10/9.
    • No balance or tone controls. See "selections from US Blues' impressions" above.
    • Chassis/ventilation:
      • "[T]hese are the new-style, Jotunheim-esque chassis. There's no need for a lot of heat dissipation . . . so there's no need to use the chassis as a heat sink." See SH Preamps.
      • "They don't run all that hot, chassis-wise, you don't need a ton of ventilation--but the Freya tubes should have a few inches above them on a rack at least. When LISST is available, you can always go that way to make it run cooler, or leave the tubes out entirely." (source)
      • "Preamp outputs are not full preamp functionality. Yes, many of our headphone amps also have preamp outputs. This makes sense, since a lot of people use them to run powered monitors on their desktop, or to inject some tube flavor into their solid-state speaker-dedicated systems. But these aren't true preamps. They're missing a bunch of things, most notably:
        • Multiple input handling. Most of our headphone amps are single-input devices. Preamps usually accommodate multiple inputs. And by "multiple," we mean "more than the 2 of Mjolnir 2." Yeah, Ragnarok qualifies, but that's really not a preamp—that's an integrated amp. More on that below.
        • A focus on super low noise and other typical preamp concerns. Although most of our amps are quiet enough to be preamps, they weren't designed from the start for this duty. Some come with significant ease of use restrictions, such as Valhalla 2—which requires a specific start-up/shut-down sequence when used as a preamp, and the large-value output caps (necessary for headphone amp use) may cause DC-sensing circuitry on the input of some amplifiers to trigger, even though there's no actual DC on the line.
        • Remote control. And this is the killer. None of our headphone amps have remote control, because, well, they're supposed to be sitting on your desk, or near at hand (headphone cables are, in fact, not infinite in length). And Ragnarok doesn't have a remote, because it was conceptualized and designed too early in our thought process regarding 2-channel gear. 2-channel stuff (where you're sitting back in your easy chair, looking at speakers across the room) really benefits from a remote control." See SH Preamps.
      • "'But seriously, two tube preamps?' Well, I just explained how you can run them solid-state, and passive, but here's a longer (and more mercenary) answer: because there are a helluva lot of good affordable solid-state amps out there, but not so many affordable tube preamps. And when you start saying, 'affordable, remote-control tube preamps,' and 'affordable, remote tube preamps from a credible US manufacturer,' and, dare we say, 'an insanely low-priced preamp, period, even if it was just a remote attenuator,' well, the playing field gets down to a field of two very, very quickly. No. Seriously. Think about all the solid-state amps out there from companies like Emotiva and Outlaw. Think about even more that sell for a pricing tier just higher than those two companies. Then ask yourself how many tube preamps these guys make. Like, zero. I think you'll quickly come to the conclusion that I did...that the market to sell a tube preamp to these possibly 'tube-curious' audiences is much, much higher than a solid-state preamp. Yeah. There you go. Call me a businessman. That's OK." Id.

    "Saga" - Passive/Active Remote Preamp

      • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-200kHz, -3dB (active stage)
      • THD: <0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS (active stage)
      • IMD: <0.002%, CCIR (active stage)
      • SNR: >108db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
      • Crosstalk: >-75dB, 20Hz-20KHz
      • Output Impedance: 180 ohms
      • Gain: Approximately 1 (0dB) through either passive or active stage
      • Maximum Output: >10V RMS (active stage)
      • Inputs: 5 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
      • Outputs: 2 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
      • Buffer Stage: Hybrid push-pull 6SN7-BJT buffer stage with equalized transconductance
      • Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors , 64 1dB steps
      • Power Supply: One 24VA transformer with regulated +/-100V rails, plus 6.3VAC heaters and 5VDC for microprocessor
      • Power Consumption: 25W typical
      • Size: 9” x 6” x 2”
      • Weight: 6 lbs
      • * All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer
    • Saga Owner's Manual
    • Relay switched stepped attenuator (64 steps)
      • FAQ on product page: "Unlike a potentiometer, it gives you perfect channel matching down to the lowest level of the volume knob. And, the knob on the front of the preamp acts just like a normal volume knob—it stops at the bottom and top of its travel. No endlessly spinning encoders here. Just the same easy-to-use knob you’re used to, coupled with sophisticated microprocessor control."
    • Selectable passive or tube hybrid buffer operation. See FAQ on product page.
    • Tube hybrid buffer uses [one] 6SN7 tube and 200V rails
      • "I'm sure we'll have octal LISST available eventually." See SH Preamps.
        • "Suffice to say, it's a weird choice. It stacks the tube on top of a PNP transistor. The main reason I did it was to reduce output impedance even further...resulting in Saga's about 170 ohm output impedance. It also reduces distortion. And, in listening tests, I think it sounds better than a simple cathode follower. But a lot of people have told me I'm crazy, too." See SH Preamps.
        • FAQ on product page: "And this bizarre hybrid tube buffer? What’s that? There are plenty of tube buffers out there, but ours is unique. It’s actually a hybrid push-pull tube buffer, featuring a 6SN7 dual triode tube and a pair of BJTs (bipolar junction transistors), with a unique transconductance-equalizing network that pairs the tube and transistor more seamlessly, and helps cancel distortion. The result is a buffer that measures insanely well—better than some solid-state stages!"
        • HF thread: Schiit Saga Tube Rolling. Credit: @nedifer
          • @schiit post:
    • 5 inputs, 2 outputs
      • "Her name means ‘seeress’ or ‘ominiscience’ and is connected with the Norse word for history – thus, some call Her the Goddess of history. She is often assumed to be the sibyl or seeress who prophesizes Ragnarök. Sága’s name is most likely directly related to the word saga (epic story) which in turn comes from the Old Norse verb segja ‘to say, tell’." (source)
      • "Sága is one of the twelve major Goddesses, second only to Frigg according to Snorri in Prose Edda. She sits by the stream of memory and drinks from golden chalices at Her grand estate called Sökkvabekkr. Sökkvabekkr means ‘Sinking Beach’ and was a landscape of flowing waterfalls. There She and Oðin drink every day from golden chalices. The liquid is either the waters of memory, or pehaps from the Well of Urðr." Id.
      • The wife or daughter of Odin. See Grimm quoted in Wikipedia ("Saga may be taken as wife or as daughter of Oðinn"); (source) ("Daughter or consort of Odin").
        • Note: Freya is (also) Odin's wife, and Vidar is Odin's son (not by Freya). See relevant Norse mythology sections below.
      • FAQ on product page: "Saga is a seeress, or a goddess associated with wisdom."

    "Freya" - Balanced Passive/Active Remote Preamp

      • JFET Buffer
        • Gain: 1
        • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-500kHz, -3dB
        • THD: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
        • IMD: <0.0015%, CCIR
        • SNR: >110db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
        • Output Impedance: 75 ohms SE, 600 ohms balanced
        • Topology: Single pair JFET per phase with passive distortion cancellation, DC coupled
      • Tube Gain
        • Gain: 5 (14dB)
        • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-200kHz, -3dB
        • THD: <0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
        • IMD: <0.01%, CCIR
        • SNR: >95db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
        • Output Impedance: 210 ohms
        • Topology: differential input/output, pure triode, with low impedance followers
      • Crosstalk: >75dB, 20-20kHz
      • Inputs: 2 XLR pairs plus 3 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
      • Outputs: 1 XLR pair plus 2 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
      • Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors, 128 0.625dB steps
      • Power Supply: One 48VA transformer with regulated 300V rail, plus 24VA transformer with regulated +/-20C rails, plus 6.3VAC tube heaters and regulated 5VDC for microprocessor
      • Power Consumption: 40W typical
      • Size: 16” x 8” x 2” + tube height (about 2.5" more)
      • Weight: 11 lbs
      • * All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer
    • Freya Owner's Manual
    • Relay switched stepped attenuator (128 steps). See PR.
      • "We also decided to give Freya 128 volume steps, double that of Ragnarok and Saga—and 0.5dB steps, for finer control." See SH Preamps.
    • Selectable passive, JFET buffer, or tube gain operation. See PR.
        • "Bottom line: it's pretty much the same as the buffer we use in Yggdrasil. It's interesting to switch it in and out of the circuit in real time, while watching the display on the Stanford. Interesting in that it's essentially impossible to tell when it's switched in. Except for a 1-2dB increase in noise floor, the measurements are exactly the same at line level. The JFET buffer far, far outperforms the Stanford's (very) low-distortion signal source, in terms of THD. The only peaks in the measurement are from the Stanford." See SH Preamps.
        • "Freya does both balanced and single-ended—and, with tube gain, it converts everything to balanced output." See SH Preamps.
        • "First, by 'differential,' we mean 'differential.' This is a real, fully balanced, differential tube stage with tube buffered output. No solid-state in sight. No balanced-to-single-ended conversion. The relay attenuator is fully balanced as well. With a rail voltage of 300V, this differential stage has insane headroom for a line-level (2-4V RMS) device." Id.
    • Tube gain stage uses (4) 6SN7 tubes and 300V rail. See PR; see also "why the 6SN7?" above.
      • "Front tubes are voltage gain, rear tubes are output buffers." (source) (also discusses tube matching)
      • "[T]he front tubes are for the differential voltage gain stage. The rear tubes are for the cathode follower output stage." (Freya owner's manual)
    • 2 balanced inputs, 3 SE inputs, balanced and SE outputs. See PR.
      • "[F]ully balanced and differential all the way through. Run a balanced input into Freya, and it's never converted from balanced and back again. Run a single-ended input into Freya, and it's automatically converted to balanced by the inherent properties of the differential tube gain stage. Use the JFET buffer or passive options, though, and it remains single-ended." See SH Preamps.
      • "You get XLR and RCA output on Freya from all inputs and in all output modes, but SE input in passive mode and in buffer mode will result in SE output on the XLRs." (source)
      • Means "Lady." Freya is the goddess of love. See (source).
      • She's "one of the preeminent goddesses in Norse mythology." Id.
      • "Her husband, named Odr in late Old Norse literature, is certainly none other than Odin, and, accordingly, Freya is ultimately identical with Odin’s wife Frigg . . . ." Id. Odin was killed by the wolf Fenrir, "who was then killed by Vidar, Odin’s son and avenger." (source)
        • Note: Thus, Vidar is Freya's step-son. See (source).
      • "Freya is famous for her fondness of love, fertility, beauty, and fine material possessions – and, because of these predilections, she’s considered to be something of the 'party girl' of the Aesir. In one of the Eddic poems, for example, Loki accuses Freya (probably accurately) of having slept with all of the gods and elves, including her brother. She’s certainly a passionate seeker after pleasures and thrills, but she’s a lot more than only that. Freya is the archetype of the völva, a professional or semiprofessional practitioner of seidr, the most organized form of Norse magic. It was she who first brought this art to the gods, and, by extension, to humans as well. Given her expertise in controlling and manipulating the desires, health, and prosperity of others, she’s a being whose knowledge and power are almost without equal." (source)
      • FAQ on product page: "From Wikipedia, In Norse mythology, Freyja (/ˈfreɪə/; Old Norse for "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. We have no idea what seior is, and the war and death stuff doesn’t sound so fun, but the first five items we can go along with just fine. Disturbed? Don’t be. It’s just a name."
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    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  3. zonto

    zonto Friend

    Sep 30, 2015
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    "Vidar" - Intelligent Stereo/Mono Power Amplifier


      • Stereo, 8 Ohms: 100W RMS per channel
      • Stereo, 4 Ohms: 200W RMS per channel
      • Mono, 8 Ohms: 400W RMS
      • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 3Hz-500kHz, -3dB
      • THD: <0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 100W RMS into 8 ohms
      • IMD: <0.01%, CCIR, at 100W RMS into 8 ohms
      • SNR: >125db, A-weighted, referenced to full output
      • Damping Factor: >100 into 8 ohms, 20-20kHz
      • Gain: 22 (27dB)
      • Input Impedance: 22k ohms SE, 44k ohms balanced
      • Crosstalk: >-95dB, 20Hz-20KHz
      • Inputs: L/R RCA jacks for stereo input, single XLR for mono input
      • Topology: Fully complementary, all-BJT, current feedback, no coupling capacitors or DC servos
      • Oversight: microprocessor-controlled monitoring and management of critical operational points, including DC offset, with with relay shut-down for overcurrent, thermal, and other faults
      • Power Supply: 600VA transformer with dual mono main rails, plus boosted, regulated supply to input, voltage gain and driver stages, plus separate, isolated and regulated rails for microprocessor management
      • Power Consumption: 700W maximum
      • Size: 9” x 13” x 3.875”
      • Weight: 30 lbs
      • * All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer
      • The big deal is that this is a no-compromises design, at a price where there are usually a lot of compromises. Vidar uses a dual-mono-to-the-transformer design for the main output power supply (the most important place to use it). It has an exotic, high-speed, fully complementary, all-BJT current-feedback topology (no Class D or switching supplies here), and it has no coupling capacitors or DC servos in the signal path thanks to a sophisticated microprocessor oversight system, which also protects the amp—transparently, without fuses or active devices in the signal path—from common fault conditions.

        Or, to put it in “key features” speak:
        1. Power supply to output stage is dual mono—and this is where it matters. Modulation on one supply won’t affect the other.
        2. Massive overkill power supply topology—separate regulated HV rails to voltage gain and driver stages (not stacked, so no modulation with P/S load).
        3. No caps in the signal path, no DC servo in the signal path, nothing but music in the signal path.
        4. Current feedback topology is amazingly fast (-3dB above 1MHz before input filter) and measures well, especially for such a simple stage.
        5. Linear supply, not switching supply, no high-frequency noise to deal with.
        6. Class AB output stage, not D. Again, no noise or noise-shaping applied.
        7. 3 pairs of outputs per channel—1.5x more than typical for this power output.
        8. Rated power output doubles into 4 ohms.
        9. Microprocessor oversees all important aspects of amplifier operation: current, DC offset, temperature.
        10. Protection system uses a “least invasive methodology”—no active devices in signal path, no current limiting, no crowbars—just resistors and relays.
        11. No fan, just a massive amount of heatsinking.
    • "[Vidar] was designed to double its rated power from 8 ohms to 4 ohms, . . . uses an exotic current-feedback topology, . . . has no capacitors or DC servos in the signal path, and . . . is dual mono back to the transformer." See PR.
      • Note: First thing that came to my mind was the "What is the best amplifier for Magneplanars?" section of the Magnepan FAQ: "[A] Gold Standard for an amplifier would be to double the power at 4 ohms. This concept is important even if you are buying an 8 ohm speaker. If the amplifier is rated at 80 watts at 8 ohms, it should (ideally) produce 160 watts at 4 ohms (or close to it). None of the receivers will do that. However, this is the benchmark of a good amplifier design. A 10 watt amplifier that produces 20 watts at 4 ohms 'speaks volumes' about the PHILOSOPHY of the designer."
    • "[Vidar] also employs a 100% linear power supply (no switchers) and is class A/B (not Class D.)" See PR.
        • "And sorry, guys, I’ve never heard a Class D design that outmatches a conventional linear amp. Yes, even the ones that claim to do so. Call it what you will—confirmation bias, whatever—but I will take a linear design over a mathematically optimized switching approximation of it. Same as I’ll take multibit over delta-sigma. But I digress." (source) Credit: @Pyruvate
        • Note: "A new type of amplifier (Class D) has become more popular because it is a 'green' design and uses less power plus it is smaller in size compared to conventional amplifier designs. We have heard reports of Class D amplifiers shutting down when driving 4 ohm loads or sound quality that is less-than-desirable. Quite frankly, some sound very poor on Maggies. However, more recent designs of high-end models are much better. Because we do not have the time to determine which models of Class D designs are compatible with Maggies, we must take a conservative approach. Direct-coupled, Class A/B designs with high current capability have proven a good choice for many decades." See Magnepan FAQ above.
        • Old prediction: Won't be Class D or Class A. See Pricing above. See also Q6 of this interview with @schiit at GreenHiFi ("Well, to be blunt: [Class D amplifiers] sound like crap. Speakers are more forgiving than headphones, so the deficiencies of class D are less apparent.") and Q10 of the same ("I'm certain we won't be venturing into Class A again.")
    • "Microprocessor-controlled operational point management and protection." See PR.
    • "It overperforms on power output, delivers very low distortion, is dead-stable, and has a great 'Generation 2' control system that eliminates the stuff you don’t want in an amp (coupling caps and DC servos) but doesn’t de-bias on 1/3 power testing." SH Vidar Part I.
    • The prototype redesign with heatsinks led to other benefits in circuit layout, grounding, an additional heat sensor, etc. See (source).
    • Dimensions: 9" wide, 12.9" deep, and 3.85" tall. (source)
    • Weighs about 25 pounds. (source)
    • "Balanced in for monoblock mode only. That's what creates the monoblock mode, in fact." (source)
    • "Vidar is a single-ended current-feedback type of amplifier, 100% bipolar and 100% complementary from input to output, with constant feedback across the audio band and exotic 2SC/2SA parts used throughout. If this sounds familiar, it's because Jotunheim led us down the path to current feedback. It is not *technically* a single-ended Vidar, but it takes a lot of inspiration from the design." See Schiit 10/9.
        • "2-channel. I’m certain you’ll also see the first dedicated 2-channel products from us in 2016. As in preamps and amps. How many products, and when remain to be seen. But you will see some things from us. I hope. And they’ll be very, very cool. I think. At least in part because… New topology. It’s not often you see radically different stuff on the analog side of things, but I think we’re ready to unveil something I’ve been working on for a couple of years…a new, inherently balanced, current-feedback topology that is not a circlotron, and is not supersymmetry. This is by far the best-performing topology we have ever come up with, both in terms of measurements and (in our opinion) sonics. This topology can stretch from the 2-channel world to the headphone world pretty easily." (source)
    • Not Pivot Point. See Schiit 10/9 ("Why not a pivot-point amp? Because it would have to be balanced. Which means it's not mono-able. And price.").
    • Power ratings:
      • 100W RMS per channel into 8 ohms, 200W RMS per channel into 4 ohms (stereo). See PR.
      • 400W RMS into 8 ohms (mono). Id.
        • Roughly 600W into 4 ohms (mono). See "selections from US Blues' impressions" above.
      • "Current [10/24] power output is 243W RMS into 4 ohms at 1% THD (onset of clipping). 200W into 4 ohms clocks in at 0.005% THD. This may change with small tweaks, but it probably won't change much. Also, those tests were done on a 113V AC line through a variac, which will limit power output." (source)
    • "You are likely to run into protection if you're running Vidars mono into 4 ohm speakers at high levels, especially those that dip down far below 2 ohms at points. That shouldn't be surprising at this size and cost (and given the fact that we are rating it into 8 ohms only in mono mode.) What happens when the amplifier hits protection is that it will disconnect the load." See Schiit 10/9.
      • In response to question re: whether this holds true for Maggies (resistive 4 ohm load across the full audioband): "Unknown. We don't have enough test time in on it. I expect one Vidar will be just fine for Maggies in any case." (source)
      • "You could certainly use it [in monoblock 4ohm configuration], but we're not going to be rating it into 4 ohms. The reality is that, at very high levels, you will exceed the current limit and the amp will shut down. If you're not going to be running it at insane volumes all the time, sure, why not, same as every other amp on the planet." (source)
      • Vidar has survived torture-tests into Maggies at high volumes for hours. See SH Vidar Part I.
    • "[T]he amp is overdesigned for a 100W amp (Toshiba says it's fine to do a 100W amp with 1 pair of output devices; we used 3 [pairs of TO247-sized outputs].)" (source); see also (source) (discussing TO247-sized outputs and that Toshiba has an app note on a 100W amp using one pair and Sumo used two pairs in its 100W amps); SH Vidar Part I (discussing design move from MOSFETs to bipolar transistors (BJTs)).
    • Insane power supply (See SH Vidar Part 2):
      • 1 center-tapped transformer winding (for the HV regulated supply)
      • 4 transformer windings (for the high current supply)
      • 1 transformer winding (for the housekeeping stuff)
      • 1 bridge for the HV supply
      • 2 discrete-regulated HV supplies
      • 8 capacitors in the HV supplies
      • 4 bridges for the high-current supplies
      • 4 capacitors for the high-current supplies
      • 2 power diodes (for housekeeping rectification)
      • 2 capacitors for the housekeeping supplies
      • 3 separate regulated supplies for housekeeping functions
    • Some discussion re: speaker pop and EI core vs. toroidal transformers in 7/21 update summary.
    Cooling and Protection
    • Much more discussion of heatsink and clips in SH Vidar Part 2.
    • As of 11/9/16, vertical passive heat tunnel from second prototype scrapped in favor of external heatsinks. See SH Vidar Part I.
        • "[N]ew heatsink design that will probably end up being structural and external." May reduce price. See id.
        • Despite running an impressive array of torture tests (described in detail SH Vidar Part I), "the amps will make it through the 1/8 power for 1 hour plus 5 minutes at full output that the FTC mandates. But they make it only about 15 minutes into the 1/3 power testing before the thermal protection shuts them down." Id.
        • "A passive heat tunnel needs to have an extreme thermal gradient to be effective. Plus, the two heatsinks are facing each other—they are radiantly heating each other. Heatsinks on the sides of chassis radiate into an effectively infinite space. Big advantage. Plus, the high-density design of the heatsink actually means there is limited thermal gradient to work with. So, the design isn’t taking advantage of heatsinking as well as it could." Id.
        • "The fact that it gets VERY hot and still doesn’t fail is a big plus, because it won’t get that hot in final form." Id.
        • "[Moving to external heatsinks is] also an amazing boon, because it allows us more area to spread out the parts, reduce heat concentration, and eliminate heat spreaders." Id.
    • "The heatsinks are now literally part of the chassis--everything bolts to them. It should be running next week, thermally qualified shortly after, and then the parts ordering can begin. One aside: this sucker is now VERY dense. The new, larger heatsinks added a few pounds." (source)
    • "It will be very, very hard to get the production Vidars to [go into protection mode like the demo units did at RMAF]--where the show design ran 93 degrees C, the new design runs at 52 degrees C. No kidding." (source)
      • "As an interesting side-effect of the heat tunnel design, you can see entirely through the amp, like a donut." Heat tunnel is bolted to the top and bottom of the chassis. See Schiit 10/9; see also "Vidar chronological development history" below.
      • Protection is working on first-generation firmware used on prototypes at RMAF. "What happens when the amplifier hits protection is that it will disconnect the load." See Schiit 10/9.
      • "The amp also has over 600 square inches of heatsinking in the heatsinks themselves, plus 150 in the top chassis and 280 in the bottom (or something like that). That's not to say it will run cool under load--it's a fairly compact amp for its power, and the whole thing is aluminum, so it'll get plenty toasty." (source)
      • "[W]e're switching the bottom chassis to aluminum for better thermal performance. With both the top and bottom made out of aluminum, Vidar has a bit more dissipation area than the old Sumo Polaris 2, which was rated for 120/240 into 8 and 4 ohms, and 480W mono. So it should be fine." (source); see also (source) and (source) (discussing the same, with some more nuance, at HF)
      • "The Wide-Ruling One" (source)
      • "[O]ne of the younger generation of gods who survive Ragnarok, the cataclysmic end of the Norse mythological cycle." Id.
        • It is also assumed that Freya survived Ragnarok."None of the goddesses were mentioned in various accounts of Ragnarok, except Sol (Sun) swallowed by the giant wolf Garm before the battle, but there is assumption that Frigg, [Freya] and the other goddesses had survived." See (source).
      • Pronounced "VEE-dar." (source)
      • "Elsewhere, Vidar is called the 'silent god,' although no explanation for this epithet is given. He is said to be the strongest of the gods after Thor." Id.
      • "During Ragnarok, the gods – the divine forces who uphold the cosmic order – and the giants – the divine forces of chaos and destruction – battled, and most of those involved on both sides were slain. The god Odin was devoured by the wolf Fenrir. Vidar, a son of Odin by the giantess Gríðr, immediately set upon the wolf to avenge his father’s death. He wore a shoe that had been crafted for this particular moment. It was the strongest and sturdiest of all shoes, and surely also charged with magical properties. With it, Vidar kicked open the wolf’s lower jaw, and then, holding the beast’s upper jaw open, he sliced Fenrir’s mouth to pieces with his sword, killing the monster and ending his devastating rampage." (source)
        • Note: Vidar is Freya's step-son. See "Norse mythology re: Freya" above.
      • "[W]e know of Vidar only as the avenger of Odin and the slayer of Fenrir." Id.; see also (source) (" 'There sits Odin’s Son on the horse’s back; He will avenge his father.' -NORSE MYTHOLOGY (R. B. Anderson)")
      • "Vidar is tall, strong, and handsome, has a broad-bladed sword, and besides his armor wears a great leather shoe. Vidar's 'thick shoe' consists of all the leather waste pieces that Northern cobblers have cut from their own shoes at the toe and heel, collected by the God throughout all time. As it was very important that the shoe should be large and strong enough to resist the Fenri[r] wolf’s sharp teeth at the last day, it became a matter of religious observance among Northern shoe-makers to give away as many odds and ends of leather as possible." (source)
    • Vidar chronological development history
      • First for sale on July 21, 2017
      • See SH Vidar Part 2; 6/2/2017 update; 6/7 update; 6/23 update summary; 6/30 update summary; 7/8/17 update summary; and 7/12/17 update.
      • Production version in the works as of 3/6/17. Waiting for articles from parts manufacturer. (source)
      • Clip system in the works as of 02/18/2017 (source)
      • See January 2016 updates.
        • 6/10/16 post #1 (discussion of fan in prototype 1; fan scrapped in favor of "vertical passive heat tunnel, giving prototype 2 its nickname of 'donut.'")
        • 6/10/16 post #2 (prototype 1 scrapped)
        • 6/30/16 post (prototype 2 running)
        • 7/7/16 post (inference that prototype 3 is in the works and may be close to the final version: "And, finally, of course, we're in fast-track on getting the next amp prototype finalized. I think this one will be very close to what we'll run with.")
        • SH Vidar Part I (discussing in great detail the above and decisions moving forward from November 2016)
      • "Aside: this is what allowed Sumo amps to deliver 200A (that is, two hundred AMPS) peak current for short periods of time. Like I said, aggressively." (source) *drool*
      • Discussion of Sumo amp modding (source)
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    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
  4. zonto

    zonto Friend

    Sep 30, 2015
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  5. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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