Schiit Yggdrasil Less is More (and MIL and OG) Impressions + Measurements

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Sep 9, 2021.

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Should SBAF get a loaner Yggdrasil Less Is More?

  1. Yes, please!

    74.8%
  2. Only if there isn't anything else more interesting

    12.2%
  3. No, I would prefer for a loaner an overpriced planar that looks like it's from House Harkonnen

    6.1%
  4. Save up for something better

    7.0%
  1. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    I will second the sharp attacks on LiM and just more uppper end energy (microdynamics). LiM just sounds a bit more "alive" and energetic. And of course Gungnir A1 just is going to be more laid back and can totally understand the darker comments more. Even A2 I can see a bit more laid back than LiM.
     
  2. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I think he meant the sharper attacks are on the Gungnir (which I believe having owned it), unless I'm mistaken.
     
  3. Josh Schor

    Josh Schor Friend

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    I agree with the sharper attack on the Gungnir, also Marv is correct that the Gungnir is denser (I have been saying darker) which is a better way to describe it without a any loss of detail.
     
  4. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Yeah I always thought Gungnir A2 sounded more athletic/propulsive/incisive(but not the bad kind), while Yggdrasil A2 was more stately/elegant/seductive.
     
  5. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Copied from Yggdrasil LIM impressions thread:

    YGGDRASIL LIM vs HOLO SPRING 3 KTE

    Magnavox CDB650 CD transport + USB from computer ---> Schiit Yggdrasil LIM + Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE (USB + AES input via BNC to AES adapter.... SE output used on both) ---> Eddie Current ZDSE ---> Focal Utopia + Focal Clear + Sennheiser HD650 KISS Modded

    I've been lucky enough to have both the Yggdrasil LIM and Holo Spring 3 KTE loaners at the same time. Both of these DACs have been on my radar as my potential next DAC purchase and I'm very thankful to this community for the opportunity to try and compare them both.

    Let me start out by saying I have a long history with Schiit DACs so have an immediate bias, but for good reason. I started my headphone journey with them after buying a Magni/Modi combo back in 2014 or so, and eventually worked my way up to a modi multibit, Bifrost 4490, Gungnir Multibit A1, Bifrost 2, and eventually an A2 Gungnir and A2 Yggdrasil. All of these DACs have been amazing in one way or another, but the Yggdrasil blew me away more than any of them. In fact, to this day the Yggdrasil A2 may be the most impressive piece of gear I've heard outside my old Eddie Current 445 and current ZDSE.

    The Yggdrasil is just beyond words in its ability to portray a realistic and pleasing soundscape. Doubly so with classical music. My only gripes with the Yggdrasil A2 was the long warmup time (yes, I noticed continuous changes until it settled after 3 weeks of being left on), and gimped single ended outputs.

    The LIM was supposed to solve all these problems as well as present a blacker background, so you can imagine how excited I was to receive this loaner.

    NOS is the wild card in this situation because I don't have a ton of experience with it. NOS DACs have become all the rage lately, and I had to know what all the fuss was about. @Erroneous was nice enough to loan me his modded MHDT Paradisea+, a very nice implementation of NOS I've come to realize, but decidedly mid-fi and not enough DAC for my ZDSE longterm. Hence my interest in exploring the NOS sound in better implementations via the Holo Spring 3 KTE and seeing if it can seduce me away from the Schiit camp.

    Both of these DACs are extremely competitive. They take the sound of the ZDSE up a major notch, creating a very enticing and at times, magical listening experience. But they are also different in how they present music.

    But before we get to the sound, let's talk looks and functionality. I mean, these are very different design philosophies in not only sound but looks. On the surface, the Holo just looks cooler because there is more going on... more functionality. And I really like the bronze on black aesthetic. It is a much more modern looking piece of gear. But I still really like the give no fucks, utilitarian, iconoclastic look of Schiit gear. The Holo will satisfy those after a more "lifestyle" looking piece of gear... not meant as an insult, but it is what it is. The Yggdrasil has its own thing going on and I still like it. I honestly don't prefer one to the other in the looks department as they are both very visually pleasing. In fact, they each kind of visually reinforce their sound philosophies. Modern vs. classic. I do like that the Holo comes with a remote though and has more input and sampling rate options.

    On the Yggdrasil single ended and XLR sounded 99% identical. The Holo's SE sounded slightly worse than XLR, but did not sound gimped. I also felt Unison was better implemented than whatever USB the Holo was using... not bad at all, but Unison is j

    Upon first being switched on, both DACs sounded pretty good. The Yggdrasil kind of congested and the Holo a little bright and edgy but both listenable. The LIM settled after 24 hours and I didn't detect any changes after that, something I was very happy about, as I'm used to longer warm up times with the TOTL Schiit DACs. The Holo on the other hand didn't sound great to me until day 6, when it finally seemed to settle... before that it was shouty and lacking nuance. I was actually close to writing it off, as the LIM was clearly superior in every way during those 6 days, but I'm happy to report it did settle after about a week and became more competitive.

    The Holo is the more vivid of the two. It is a more "showy" sounding DAC, with cleaner/sharper leading edges, richer, more colorful overtones and ultimately a more "hi-fi" tuning. That's going to be some people's thing and other people's deal breaker. The Yggdrasil was more "normal" sounding (not to be confused with boring), in the sense that it does not call attention to itself... I found it to be more even handed in its delivery of musical information (by a significant margin) and more "mature" sounding overall... as if one is designed by an up and coming ace technical genius eager to show off (this is not an insult btw), and the other designed by an older wise sage, who has seen it all and is tired of drama and just wants to get back to basics (guess which DAC designer is which). Both approaches are completely worthy of consideration and it's going to come down to priorities for people looking to up their DAC game (or simplify it).

    Blackground was truly impressive on the Holo, blackest I've heard but with no "black hole sucking in plankton" effect I've heard with other blackground inducing gear. Yggdrasil is close, and has a noticeably blacker background than the A2, but slightly falls short of the Holo. Honestly, I'm not too bothered by the whole blackground thing unless the greyness is truly distracting and so far it hasn't been with any DAC I've heard. But I do appreciate the darker backgrounds since they seem to allow the music to "pop" more... this is doubly so on the Holo.

    The major takeaway in this comparison is that the Yggdrasil seems to resolve noticeably more musical information, the stuff buried under the surface of notes. The Holo has brighter overtones, a kind of "hi-fi sheen" to the sound that pushes everything to the forefront. The Yggdrasil is more nuanced in that there are more layers to notes.... soft notes have a more gradual progression to bigger notes, leading to crescendos which are more impactful since there is more contrast between sounds... the ebbs and flows of a track more faithfully reproduced. The Holo seems to place a little more emphasis on everything both big and small to the point where the intensity and velocity of notes was a little too similar to sound totally realistic to me... a more vivid/surreal approach to music, which some may like. Reminds me of Convert 2. The Holo is more nuanced than the Convert 2, but it has the same kind of aggressive overtly macro bias I heard with that DAC. The Holo is also very good at highlighting specific musical moments and making them distinct. Like the rattle of a tambourine or the sizzle of an electronic note. As a result, the entire soundscape becomes more "exciting", as if one is watching a digitally shot 3-D movie. Yggdrasil is more 70mm film with its liquid grainy textures and endlessly nuanced layers.

    All this was subtle but noticeable on the gear I was using... really most stuff involving DACs is subtle, but these subtleties can completely color a listening experience so it's important to address it. Reviews are always going to magnify issues out of proportion though, relative to what is ultimately going to be someone's DAC listening in isolation... where there are just enjoying the gear they're using. In isolation, the Holo is an insanely compelling piece of gear... the blackground was actually incredible to witness... sounds just emanating from nothing... there is also a ton of resolution, competitive with Yggdrasil, with noticeably better clarity and bass slam than the LIM (which is no slouch). So my seemingly backhanded compliments like "3D" and "hi-fi" with regard to the Holo should be taken with a grain of salt. But I heard more plankton and spatial cues on the Yggdrasil... the fine grit of a violin was more audibly rendered... voices sounded more fleshed out and the Yggdrasil was slightly thicker overall, with a more organic sound, but not unrealistic in any way. Piano especially sounded strikingly better on Yggdrasil.

    Staging is kind of a non issue since I was using headphones, but even still, The Holo had a deeper stage, with more air between notes, giving the impression of a larger stage, but they were too close to call one better or more accurate.

    The Yggdrasil ultimately revealed itself as more magical and beguiling, having the ability to maintain a level of engagement that was extremely satisfying... it has this impressive liquid smoothness without anything being goo-ified or truncated. While remaining very clear and distinct. It just sounded much closer to live music, like most of the Schiit multibit DACs, but this one feeling more even tempered. The Spring on the other hand, while exciting and grand, seemed a bit more "gimmicky" for lack of a better term, in its presentation... having a "vivid mode" quality. The Yggdrasil was much more of a chameleon.

    With the Yggdrasil LIM it just felt like I was always hearing what the musician intended. The Holo seemed to have its own interpretation of music, perfectly valid for those who are into that interpretation which is exciting and dazzling. And I do think it is absolutely worth auditioning the Holo to come to your own conclusions here. It is a worthy piece of gear.

    Pricing has to be taken into account here, since the Spring 3 is more expensive than the Yggdrasil, but I felt the Yggdrasil was the better performing DAC on a technical level. Emotionally it's going to come down to the subjective feelings of the listener, but Yggdrasil was more emotionally engaging to me. On the other hand, the Holo's greater feature set (NOS/OS/DSD/I2S, etc) may make up the difference, so it's going to come down to what people are after. Anyone running CD transports or simple USB without the need for a bunch of extras and who are not into hi-fi/vivid-mode tuning should seriously look at the Yggdrasil LIM. Anyone looking for all the bells and whistles and likes a kind of amped up presentation would be wise to seriously consider the Spring 3.

    That said, a choice must be made and I've chosen the Yggdrasil LIM as my next DAC purchase. It's just a crazy, extraordinary piece of gear I can't pass up the opportunity to have in my system.

    NOTE: My thoughts about the Holo were consistent over NOS/44.1 Redbook and NOS/upsampling 44.1 redbook to 8x, 16x rates as well as DSD. The upsampled material fared slightly better but the issues remained consistent regardless.
     
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  6. gefski

    gefski Facebook Friend

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    Thanks for a fun read focusing on listening to music with the compared products. A refreshing change from the BMT (‘bass-midrange-treble’) approach that is far too common among many reviewers.
     
  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Yeah I try and shy away from that because often those reviews don't inform me about the product. Not always, some are good, but too often it sounds like they could be talking about any piece of gear. Don't even get me started on your average head-fi review.
     
  8. internethandle

    internethandle Facebook Friend

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    Yes, good review, very valuable information given these DAC's relative price range similarities and how du jour they are. Thank you!

    How do you feel the LIM compares to the BF2? I think you went directly from that, if I'm recalling correctly. It took me a bit to calibrate going directly from the BF2 to A2, mostly because I had a reaction to blackground differences. That changed when I self-installed LIM in terms of blackground, but my sonic memory of BF2 had faded enough for it to be difficult for me to feel like I had an honest handle on the differences. Timbre/tonality was definitely better with LIM, as was plankton, imaging, and macrodynamics, no surprises there. Blackground probably equal, maybe? BF2 is more tilted up in the highs, from what I remembered, similar to A2 but maybe not as pronounced.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2022
  9. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I honestly felt BF2 was kind of boring sounding. It is an approximation of the Yggdrasil sound, but a simplification of it... and I never felt it was as engaging as that DAC or the Gungnir MB. BF2 is great in isolation and I'm not saying it sucks at all, but it wasn't until I switched to Yggdrasil where I realized I was being far more moved by music. I would honestly get a used Gungnir MB over a BF2.
     
  10. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    @ColtMrFire, how long has it been since you owned the Yggdrasil Analog 2? And did you own the same amp and headphones at the time? Curious as to your impressions with both Yggdrasil versions on the Focal headphones.
     
  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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  12. Wojciech Czupta

    Wojciech Czupta Rando

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    Guys, I've had Yggdrasil OG for almost 2 years. I ordered MIL and LIM September last year. LIM has just got delivered. I'm pretty sure after 1 day of listening that original OG is my favorite. That means I'll be selling both LIM and MIL. I'm based in EU Poland. Anyone interested to get it without all the customs trouble (import from US) ping me on priva
     
  13. Josh Schor

    Josh Schor Friend

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    If you can it needs to break in. I ran mine for 4-5 days before it settled down, you may want to do that first. It may not be for you but then you would know for sure.
     
  14. sp33ls

    sp33ls Facebook Friend

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    I agree with Josh.

    I'd be really interested to hear what you think after a week.
     
  15. exocer

    exocer Acquaintance

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    Give it at least 10 days. Leave it on as well.
     
  16. Greg121986

    Greg121986 Almost "Made"

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    OK, sorry I got a bit excited here but I believe I have solved the mystery. The Yggdrasil was not playing DSD files, and in fact MPD is smarter than me.

    I incorrectly recalled that MPD played DSD files natively by default. In fact, this is not the case as MPD is able to identify whether or not a USB DAC can play DSD files. If the DAC will not play native DSD, MPD will resample the DSD file to the maximum PCM rate indicated by the USB audio device. So, it seems the excellent Schiit Unison USB is working as designed here.

    I played some DSD files and tried this command to show me the info of the soundcard being used (Unison USB)

    Code:
    cat /proc/asound/card*/pcm*p/sub*/hw_params
    It came back with this, indicating that the file is being played as 24 bit, 192 Khz. Or, the max allowable by the Unison USB input.

    Code:
    access: RW_INTERLEAVED
    format: S24_3LE
    subformat: STD
    channels: 2
    rate: 192000 (192000/1)
    period_size: 24000
    buffer_size: 96000
    Hello? 911?

    I am listening to the Yggdrasil LIM from the loaner program with my reference playlist which includes a few .DFF DSD files. Normally I skip over these files as I know the Yggdrasil shouldn't play them, but a DSD64 .DFF file just came up before I could intervene and the loaner Yggdrasil LIM played the file perfectly. My recollection of Schiit being unenthused by DSD files is confirmed by page 3 of the Yggdrasil manual which states

    I just tried a DSD128 .DSF file and that is being played as well. Hello? This is an emergency and I need immediate ass-istance. My Holo Spring 3 KTE is identifying these files in their native DSD format. As I switch back and forth from DSD64, 128, and to a 24:352.8 PCM file, I hear no clicking from the Yggdrasil USB input. Does this mean it is taking the DSD file as 352.8 PCM and resampling somehow?

    I am using MPD 0.21.5 on Debian Linux and there is no trickery of resampling, DoP, or anything here. MPD should be doing native DSD by default which I can confirm because the Holo identifies the files in their native DSD format.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2022
  17. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    From the documentation : "Native DSD playback is used automatically if available. DoP is only used if enabled explicitly using the dop option, because there is no way for MPD to find out whether the DAC supports it. DSD to PCM conversion is the fallback if DSD cannot be used directly."
     
  18. ilikebananafudge_

    ilikebananafudge_ Facebook Friend

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    Where would the BF2 fall on this graph?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2022
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Take LIM, but bit more bassy below 80Hz, less rolloff past 2kHz. Tonally most similar to LIM among the DACs listed.
     
  20. ext1

    ext1 MOT: Jupiter Audio Research

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    Just thought I would share something- I really really love my LIM, and after it had its right channel mysteriously die, I was using the BF2. Sound aside, the BF2 starts playback immediately and that was really nice. Having the LIM back now, I was happy to have the sound back, but wanted to somehow solve the issue of missing the first few seconds of a track due to LIM playing after a delay when it meets different sample rates. I finally found a solution! (only for foobar users though, I use foobar..)

    First download this component:
    https://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_scheduler
    And install it onto your foobar.

    Now go to File > Scheduler > Preferences.
    On Event list window, click the Add button, Add player event.
    Select Event: On new track, Final action: Re-enable event.
    On Action lists window, click the Add button, name the event anything you want, click OK. Don't check Restart after completion.
    Now you'll see your action that you named show up in the Action lists window. Right click it, and click Add action.
    There's a list of stuff you can add, add these in order:
    Pause/unpause playback,
    Delay
    (set to 2 seconds)
    Start playback.

    Now on Event list window, right click the On new track event you created, go to Assign action list > whatever you named your action list as.
    Make sure Scheduler enabled is checked on Status control window.. and you're done!

    This basically gives LIM time to process and foobar restarts the playback for you.
    Enjoy LIM without missing the first bits of a track!!
     
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