Guides

CHOOSING AN AMP

Magni 2/Magni 2 Uber

When we say "this may be the only headphone amp you ever need," we really mean it. Magni 2 and Magni 2 Uber will drive almost any headphone out there, including hard-to-drive planar magnetic headphones, and provide a gain switch for sensitive headphones, including IEMs.

Choose Magni 2/Magni 2 Uber for:

Most bang for the buck

Most headphones, from IEMs to planars

A complete desktop system with Magni 2 Uber's preamp outputs

Vali

Want to get a taste of great tube sound, without the wallet-exploding price? Vali's for you. It's a very serious tube amp! It's a great choice for most full-size headphones, but it's too noisy with IEMs. It also has plenty of power for even some planar dynamic models and 300 and 600 ohm cans.

Choose Vali for:

Great tube sound, at a very low cost

Most over-ear, full-size headphones

Asgard 2

This is a pretty big step up from the Magni in terms of performance and functionality. Asgard 2 adds a gain switch, for better compatibility with earbuds and IEMs, and variable preamp outs so you can connect it to a set of desktop powered monitors, or a speaker amp.

Choose Asgard 2 for:

Exceptional resolution and performance

A complete desktop control center

Most headphones, from sensitive IEMs to planars

Valhalla 2

Now we get into tubes, and the old arguments about whether tubes sound better or not. We don't get into those arguments. We will say that tubes sound different. Some people like tubes, and some people don't. Valhalla 2 is a great tube amp that works very well with a wide range of headphones.

Choose Valhalla for:

Exceptionally accurate tube sound

A complete desktop control center

High-impedance and low-impedance, high-sensitivity headphones

Lyr 2

With it's very high power output thanks to a hybrid design. Lyr 2 gives you more power than virtually any headphone needs, and is quite versatile for a wide variety of headphones.

Choose to run 100% solid-state, or "roll" tubes to your preference.

Choose Lyr for:

Exceptional power and headroom

A complete desktop control center

A wide range of headphones, including very hard to drive orthodynamics

Choice between solid state (Lisst) or tubes you have a choice

Mjolnir 2

Mjolnir 2 is an end-game amplifier, offering end-game tube and solid-state performance, as well as both balanced and single-ended input and output. Choose to run 100% solid-state, or "roll" tubes to your preference. Use both single-ended and balanced headphones. It's your choice!

Choose Mjolnir for:

Unsurpassed flexibility

Exceptional power, dynamics, detail, and resolution

An end-game headphone/powered monitor system

Ragnarok

Ragnarok is a do-all integrated amp for headphones and speakers, providing the ultimate end-game performance for both. Compare to any amp on the market, at any price. With 5 inputs, balanced and single-ended headphone outputs, balanced and single-ended preamp outputs, and speaker terminals, it's one amp that is suitable for pretty much anything.

Choose Ragnarok for:

Ultimate detail, resolution, and accuracy

Ultimate power and headroom for headphones and for many speakers

Balanced and single-ended headphones and speakers

CHOOSING A DAC

Modi 2/Modi 2 Uber

Plug Modi 2 into virtually any computer (PC, Mac, some Linux machines, some Chromebooks, iPods, iPhones, etc) to instantly improve the audio output quality—no drivers needed. There's also the three-input Modi 2 Uber available for other digital inputs.

Choose Modi 2/Modi 2 Uber for:

Most bang for the buck

Easy setup and great flexibility

Loki

Loki is a standalone, pure DSD DAC. If you don't know what DSD is, it's probably not for you. If you're really excited about DSD, this is a great way to add DSD playback capability to any DAC, thanks to Loki's integrated switching system. Alternately, you can use JRiver to convert all your PCM to DSD on the fly and use Loki as your only DAC.

Choose Loki for:

Pure DSD playback with no conversion to PCM

Adding DSD playback capability to any DAC

Systems where you're converting all your PCM to DSD in software

Bi Frost

Where Modi is about bang for the buck, Bifrost is a complete platform—an upgradable platform that you can use for many, many years in the future. Maybe decades. Because Bifrost is modular, we can change out the USB input card and the DAC/Analog card. So, when technology changes, Bifrost will change with it. No other DAC at this price point offers true upgradability like Bifrost.

Choose Bifrost for:

Exceptional performance

Multiple inputs: optical, coaxial, and optional USB

Assurance of upgradability in the future

Gungnir and Gungnir Multibit

Available in both Gungnir Multibit and standard Gungnir configurations. Gungnir Multibit offers the same digital filter and similar DACs as Yggdrasil, while both models have Adapticlock regeneration, the most sophisticated clock regeneration scheme in the industry.

Choose Gungnir for:

Excellent performance in both balanced and single-ended systems

Multiple inputs: optical, coaxial, BNC, and optional USB

Assurance of upgradability in the future

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is a complete re-thinking of what an "end game" DAC should be. As a true multi-bit DAC with a unique digital filter algorithm using D/A converters not used in any other product, it is truly like nothing else out there. It is designed to provide optimal performance for the vast majority of music you already own, without the need for repurchasing everything in exotic formats. Like all of our DACs, Yggdrasil is completely modular and upgradable to meet future needs.

Choose Yggdrasil for:

Ultimate performance in both balanced and single-ended systems

Multiple inputs: USB, AES/EBU, optical, coaxial, and BNC

Assurance of upgradability in the future

GETTING CONNECTED

Connecting to a computer

Okay, so you're new to this whole game. You don't know an LOD from a 30-pin, or what a USB A-B cable is. Where the heck do you start? Well, here's a brief guide to how to connect our stuff to some common sources and systems, together with some links to cables you might need.

Connecting to a Computer

Analog: You can connect a headphone amp to your computer via the headphone or line-out jack. Most computers have a 3.5mm stereo jack, and our gear uses RCA inputs, So you'll need a cable like this one:

3.5mm Male Jack Plug to Dual RCA Cable

Digital: You can connect our DACs to Windows, Mac, many Linux computers, and some Chromebooks via USB, optical, or coaxial digital output, depending on what the computer has. USB is the most universal. To use USB, you'll need a USB A-B cable, like our USB cable.

Most Apple computers also have optical digital output via the headphone jack. To use it, you'll need a cable like this:

3.5mm to Standard Toslink Cable

Connecting to an iPod/iPhone/iPad

Analog: You can connect a headphone amp via the headphone jack. iPhones and iPods use a 3.5mm stereo jack, and our gear uses RCA inputs, so you'll need a cable like this one:

3.5mm to Dual RCA Cable

Digital: If you have an older iPhone, iPod, or iPad with the 30-pin connector (the 1" wide one, not the new Lightning connector), you can connect to our optical-input DACs with a digital out dock.

30-Pin connector and iPad: If you have an iPad with the 30-pin connector, you can connect via USB with the Apple 30-pin Camera Connection Kit, together with a powered hub (Schiit Wyrd) to avoid the "this device draws too much power" error. You'll also need a USB cable.

Lightning connector: if you have an iPhone running iOS7 or iPad running iOS6 or iOS7 with the new Lightning connector, you can use the Lightning to USB Adapter from Apple, together with a powered hub (Schiit Wyrd) to avoid the "this device draws too much power" error. You'll also need a USB cable.

Connecting to an Android Phone or Tablet

Analog: You can connect a headphone amp via the headphone jack. iPads use a 3.5mm stereo jack, and our gear uses RCA inputs, So you'll need a cable like this one:

3.5mm to Dual RCA Cable

Digital: You can connect our DACs to many Android devices (5.0 and up) using a USB On The Go cable. Some Android devices will need to be connected through a USB powered hub, since they cannot supply enough power to run the DAC.

Mirco Cable USB - USB

USB A-B Cable

Powered Hub (for some systems, Schiit Wyrd)

Connecting a DAC to an Amp, Preamp, AV Preamp, or Receiver

Most equipment uses RCA cables. You'll need a stereo pair of RCA cables—we sell really short ones (PYST) for connecting our own gear together when it's stacked—or you can buy all kinds of lengths.

Connecting a Preamp to a Headphone Amp

Many preamps still have what they call a "tape out," which bypasses the internal volume control of the preamp. This is where you'd want to connect a headphone amp. All you need is a pair of RCA cables.

If your preamp does not have a clearly labeled "tape out," contact the manufacturer and ask them if they have an output that bypasses the volume control.

Connecting a Receiver or AV Preamp to a Headphone Amp

Many receivers and AV preamps have what they call a "stereo mix" output. This is where you'd connect a headphone amp, with RCA cables.

If your receiver or AV preamp does not have a clearly labeled stereo output, contact the manufacturer for their recommendation as to where to connect a headphone amp.

Connecting to More Than One Device

Let's say you have one of our DACs and you want to connect it to both your headphone amp and a set of powered speakers on your desk (or any other group of two different products, like a headphone amp and a receiver, etc. To do this, you'll need what we call a set of RCA Y-Cables.