SchiitrMeet: Power Amp Thunderdome! (7/11/19)

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by purr1n, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Well, this was a lot of fun and I'm glad that I participated. There were a half dozen people in the room for an informal blind test of the Vidar, Aegir, and Ragnarok 2. This wasn't a formal blind test with strict controls. This was just for shits and giggles. Level matching was done by very roughly by ear or not at all because of the amps' different gain levels. But this approach is still better than a sighted one. Tony was at the controls changing the cables, adjusting the controls, and playing the tracks. These kinds of small meets are always fun.

    IMG_20190711_192547.jpg

    The speakers used were these moderately priced Salks. Generally, they are very capable of good quality bass because the drivers are too small. And I can bitch about the lack of integration between the metal cones and moderately priced ribbon tweeter. But from the upper bass on up, these speakers are fairly resolving. As we can see below, the amps are covered under a black sheet, with the exception of the Ragnarok 2. Note that we didn't use the planar speaker in the back for this test.

    IMG_20190711_192725.jpg

    I came into this blind test with limited experience with the Vidar (my Vidar is only used as a woofer amp), a lot of experience with the Aegir, and no experience with the Ragnarok 2. I did feel that the lack of bass capability of these speakers did not do the Vidar any favors because they couldn't translate the Vidar's strengths.

    Tony labeled the amps A, B, and C. My scribbles are below.
    upload_2019-7-11_23-51-29.png

    By the time of the second recording, it was pretty much clear to me which was which. All of them would have sounded good had we never directly compared the gear to each other. I got a chuckle when after the second recording was played through each of the amps, the fellow I was sitting next to said "Fuck A". "Yeah, A sucks ass" I replied, "you better not let Jason know."

    My notes translate as follows:
    • A: Warm, thick, flat and boring. (First experience was fine, I thought it sounded good, but after comparing to the others, it started to lag behind.
    • B: Deep soundstage placement (is this a Schiit amp?) Lows rich throughout to highs. Tone is dense. Also not written but discussed with others: delicate, subdued mids (or bold lows and structured highs).
    • C: Upfront soundstage placement, but better layering. Mid-centric (compared to the others). Super immediate, emotionally involved, could hear the smoke from Ella Fitzgerald's throat.
    In the end, Tony tallied the results:
    • 4 votes for C, 1 vote for A, 1 vote for B.
    • B and C were the most consistently the top two.
    I'll let you guys guess which was which. BTW, I spent most of my time in the other room listening to the RAAL Requisite SR1a.

    P.S. After you guys guess, please remind me to talk more about B, which was surprising for me.
     
  2. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Okay, I have no experience with Schiit speaker amps (or speaker amps in general), but here goes my guesses:

    A: Vidar
    B: Ragnarok 2
    C: Aegir
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    What really surprised me was the Ragnarok 2. I know the Nexus stuff to have a certain sound, a bold rich dense sound. However, what I did not expect was the Ragnarok 2's ability to be so delicate. Yes, it's plankton and microdynamic swings are a step behind the Aegir, but that deep soundstage localization was a big surprise. Schiit has sort of gotten a reputation of making gear where the headstage or soundstage is upfront, for better or worse, but this threw me in for a curve.
     
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  4. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Thanks for sharing! What was the source used and which preamp fed the Vidar and Aegir?

    Any chance for an SBAF Ragnarok 2 loaner?
     
  5. androxylo

    androxylo Rando

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    I'm surprised Aegir can power towers. It was 2 monoblocks?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Everything was a single amp running in stereo. No monoblocks.

    Preamp was Freya S in 1X Nexus. I believe source was Yggdrasil. We can ask @schiit about a Rag 2 loaner.
     
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  7. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    Marv, thanks again for coming by and writing this up!

    We can certainly get you a Ragnarok 2 loaner. For once, our production has caught up with demand, so shortages are not a problem. I'd definitely like to hear what other Friends have to say!
     
  8. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    that loaner might disappear if it comes to my house.
     
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  9. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    @jexby usually claims the same; must be a CO thing.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Will share a little story. I know a blind test such as this isn't rigorous enough to pass objectivist's criteria, which isn't the point anyway. One fellow who was at the test was a Vidar owner. He remarked to me that during the test, he was hoping that what he thought was his least preferred amp wasn't the Vidar. I think he knew already but was doing the wishful thinking thing. I thought this was pretty funny. These are the kinds of things that made the test fun.

    Finally, don't all go selling your VIdars yet. I think those speakers just couldn't take advantage of the Vidar's specific strengths. I still have the VIdar running the woofers on my OB system and have no intention to change. Also, certain kinds of speakers are going to need Vidar's power. In any event, Schiit has never not shown a willingness to develop better products that may cannibalize their existing products.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Oh yeah, before the meet, we few of us gathered at the Smokehouse on Main for dinner. Who would have thought there would be a legit BBQ place in Santa Clarita of all places? (Actually, the old part has some very good gastro pubs).

    For reference, I think Lucille's, the chain is barely passable, and the Woodfire Grill (local to me), is meh. That's The Smokehouse's brisket below. I realized I didn't need the knife. The meat just fell apart with a fork. I'm inspired to do something like this myself.

    IMG_20190711_172949.jpg
     
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  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    That's a solid brisket. I just did one last weekend and am doing two more in a couple weeks. Still working on it, it's a finicky cut of meat to smoke.

    Thanks for writing this up and sharing. I've basically made up my mind that I need to try out Vidar or Aegir. I have Dynaudio Focus 260 towers and while I'd love to Freya S > Aegir Mono the crap out of them, I actually think they'd respond better to either one Vidar, or maybe biamped vidars in SE from an OG Saga tube. I'll be trying out the Convert 2 DAC, so that plays into the overall thought process as well.

    Decisions

    Current amp is an upgraded Odyssey Stratos. It's the only SS amp I've had in quite awhile, so wanting to see what else is out there.
     
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  13. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    After reading over @purr1n's impressions again, I'm quite curious about the Ragnarok 2. To be honest, I expected it to kind of blend what I read about Vidar and Aegir together, but it seems like the Ragnarok 2 is not only its own thing, but also is something that isn't necessarily typical Schiit sound.

    Also, if the Aegir is more mid-centric, the Ragnarok 2 seems like it would be more bass and treble focused in direct comparison to the Aegir. I'm wondering if it's slightly V or U shaped, and perhaps more neutral than the Aegir.

    @purr1n, would you say that the Ragnarok 2, had you not known it was a Schiit amp, could have fooled you into thinking it wasn't?
     
  14. yonson

    yonson Acquaintance

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    How would you bi-amp your F260's, bypass the crossovers and run them active?

    I've been running monoblock Vidar on my C4's for almost 2 years now, and while I have been really happy with the Vidar, I've really been wanting to try a pair of Aegir on them...

    I'd enjoy to see this same shootout done with a pair of Vidar and Aegir as well.
     
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  15. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    T'was a misunderstanding on my part with respect to bi-amping and how the Schiit amps could be configured. The only way would be to do as you suggest and honestly I'm not going to go that route. Talking with another gentleman on here with a similar setup, we both agree going from my current Stratos Extreme to a Vidar would be a sideways move. Monoblock Vidars might be a slight improvement. Are your C4s also 4 ohm? And no issue on the Vidars run mono? That's good to know.
     
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  16. yonson

    yonson Acquaintance

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    Yeah, the C4's are 4 ohm, and the Vidar in 4 ohm mono don't have any issue running them even at insane volumes, I tried getting them to go into thermal protection but I gave up well before they did. I also have a Vidar running my center channel which is 4 ohm mono as well and while it hasn't gone into thermal protection either, I can push it into over-current protection when watching movies at higher than reference levels...
     
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  17. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    That's good to hear. Hopefully Dyns are just a relatively easy load despite a nominal 4-ohm load. No Thiels, here perhaps.

    I am sizing up a new amp for a couple reasons. I feel like my Odyssey just needs to go back to Klaus for a once-over and maybe he and I can work out some upgrades. He's got an old Khartago of mine still that I don't know what to do with. But in the meantime, I've got nothing really to listen with if I don't have my Stratos.

    I'd love to get an Aegir with the end goal to get two and a Freya S to run them off, but I'm a little concerned, and feel a little silly saying so, that even 2 x 120 the rated 4-ohm mono spec for them won't be "enough." Dyns seem to prefer arc welders parading as amplifiers. Per usual I am likely overthinking it.
     
  18. artur9

    artur9 Rando

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    I have been using a Vidar to power some Janszen zA2.1 while I waited for my Stratos monoblocks to be upgraded. Got my Stratos back last week and I find them better than a single Vidar. But my hearing is going fast ;-(
     
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  19. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I found something interesting:

    Freya S + dual mono Aegirs - amazing sound, could live with it for the rest of my life IF they worked in my setup. They didn't, I was sad.
    Freya S + my Stratos Stereo Extreme with upgrades - good sound, not amazing, but hardly offensive. Just not as lively or engaging, or as clear and precise as the Freya S + Aegirs. My theory is that Schiit gear designed to run balanced should be run as such. I had to use SE out from Freya S or run XLR, but they weren't balanced into my Odyssey
    OG Saga + a good tube (just swapped in a RAD-Tel, but have a black Ken-Rad that is the damn business) + Stratos - excellent, engaging sound. Very lively and dynamic. Not as much detail or image stability as Freya S + Aegir but DAMN close.

    Next week I see what an old school amp that runs a ton of current and a heavy bias toward Class A operation even outside it's class A spec will do with the OG Saga.

    I was unfortunately taken to a clinic the last couple weeks in system synergy. And to Schiit's credit, they did not penalize me much at all for the gear I bought and returned. I will always support this company.
     
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