Schiit Aegir Power Amp Impressions

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by rlow, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    Isn't that the truth. Arcam SA20 is already on the way back (I probably would have been perfectly happy with it if I hadn't A/B'd it with the Raggy) - it's been a crazy learning experience for me, and I think why this has been so tough - there's no right answer, there's just a right answer for you, and I didn't expect it to be so hard to dial in exactly what that is.
     
  2. Maximum_Softness

    Maximum_Softness New

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    I'm 100% with it. Super appreciate you guys. Aegir is ordered and I'm sticking with it!
     
  3. Darlig1218

    Darlig1218 New

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    Ok, so this is it. I’ve been living with the Aegir now for four weeks. The main goal here was to test if it would be a significant improvement from the Yamaha M-45 overhauled that I have and that is only running tweeters. Since I understand many people think that Yamaha is worse than buying an amazon chi-fi kit to run your speakers, I had added an Aragon 8008 to the mix. At least, it has a reputation and the guts to back it up, just to add to the comparison and the credibility of any impression. Very hard to provide an impression when everyone would think any change would be an obvious upgrade.

    [​IMG]


    So, I will start talking about the caveats, and then share some thoughts on the impressions I had from it, and how it compares to the others available.

    I only have three things to put as caveats overall (and do not apply to me) First, I used the Aegir on it’s own to hear how it sings fullrange. I will adhere to the most of the folks that state that it lacks punch. Yes, it does, or at least with the woofers I could try it with (6.5” and 8”) - I’ve got rid of the Klipsch Heresy III, so nothing I can try there. However, the lack of punch is something that might only come as a problem during playback on EDM, Funk, or Rock genres. It would take away from the excitement that it brings to the table. However, it’s not to say that it lacks dynamic expression or anything of this sort. For classical, orchestras, and chamber unamplified music is fantastic and provides a very satisfying sense of depth. Second is related to the sense of extension of the top end. So let me put it this way. I’ve noticed there are some amplifiers that have a bit of a more ringing, sparkly, extended, airier nature on the end. Many associate this sound with a more Hi-Fi transparent sound. In that regard, you might be disappointed if you are looking for that sound signature (as a matter of fact, it is more the sound signature for the Aragon) The Aegir has a more neutral, laid back, drier, smoother sound. In that regard, it is much closer in sound signature to the Yamaha. Third is that Aegir seems not to like all wires. I have a pair of Wireworld cables, and whatever it is about its insulated multi-thread type pf cable, the Aegir does not like it at all. It trips the protection circuit and would not work with those cables, so be mindful to use a more conventional cable. I ended up placing some solid core I had at hand, and that was that.


    [​IMG]
    About the amplifier itself, I can say that the feature that impressed me the most is that running the Freya on passive, and allowing the sources to come through straight, it had a depth that only the Yamaha MX-1 can also achieve. However, the tone is a bit different. The aegir is a very mellow sounding amplifier, and the thing here is that it would work considering a matter of either taste and/or synergy. Why? Well, let's say that if you have soft-sounding speakers already, the tone would be almost vintage-ish. No lack of detail at all, but the speakers would feel a bit mid centric. I figure that the usually thin and bright character of KEF (reason Why I got rid of mine) would benefit from these traits. Stuff like that. So, that's something to keep in mind. The decaying echo on the cymbals has this sense of simmering sparkle, instead of a gritty sizzling sparkle. But all the details are there. “From now on” from Supertramp can be enjoyed full steam and it is just lovely. The sense of depth that the Aegir provides is really good. This can be attributed to maybe excellent microdynamics? Think that little subtle changes in volume are what tricks the ear into believing the placement of the things are closer and further from the listener. Due to the lack of impactful bass, but no lack of retrieval of information, it actually provides an extreme sense of depth. Even for EDM, if it does not put the party mood, what it does is to provide a very trippy painting of sounds coming from a black background, and fading slowly and with grace. It pulls off crazy stunts, by example, take “Morning Glory” from Jamiroquai, around the 5:40 mark, there is a cowbell that literally goes around behind your head, circles back to the left behind the speakers, one can follow the circle with the eyes, and goes AGAIN around behind your head, from right to left. That’s just off the charts coming from a 2 channel set up. Compared to the Aragon 8008, the Aegir provides better focus, and the layering of the space is more coherent. The Aragon 8008 has a massive concussive bass and that makes the highs to fall back, but the lower part to be upfront, and that is somewhat odd in some scenarios. Anyhow, think of what speakers you would be pairing it with. For a darkish speaker, it might prove to be too soft and laid back. I guess that is why people are liking it with KEF speakers, as I remember I got rid of mine because they seemed too thin, bright, and forward to me. Another peculiar feature, "Black dog" from Led Zeppelin. The guitar can sound toyish on the wrong amp/speaker mix. Just thin and lame. None of my speakers turned to sound this way with the Aegir. It has a full-meaty sounding midrange, that's great.

    Anyhow, I purchased the Aegir to run Tweeters, so I am not very affected by the lack of punch. Aegir is being used to run titanium tweeters with a neodymium magnet on a deep waveguide. That can get nasty very fast. The reason why I do not use the Aragon here, but on soft domes, is that extension I was speaking about at the beginning. With the Titanium tweeters, it provides an extra ringing, extra echo sparkle, and air that for some people might be desirable. Not for me, it sounds too rich on the top end, it gets fatiguing after some time, and it simply doesn’t sound all that natural to me on wood or membranes played with bare hands and mallets, by example. I prefer the 8008 with a soft dome. So, that’s why I ended up using a Yamaha M-45 in class A. Yamaha has a mellow tone, very natural, neutral, and satisfying. I thought it had great depth already and it had a fantastic natural tonality for wood and brass. However, Aegir is something else. Little minuscules changes on voice volume, little accents, little efforts on the throat, the way the decay expands on cymbals, the attack of strings on guitars, all of these things are incredibly evident, well-rendered in space, snappy, yet soft and natural in tone. Going back to the Yamaha M-45 shows how excellent layering is diminished, and the front to back presentation feels chunky by comparison. Aegir feels more continuous. I am very happy with the Aegir where it is at the moment. I also consider it more dynamic than any of the other two amplifiers. I am getting more explosiveness on the voice of singers and brass instruments, and I am getting no nasality or any nasty peaks from it. It is really expressive making it challenging to listen to music at night. Since its nature is not fatiguing at all, cracking it to a bit past 82dB at the listening position and it lends itself just adequate and comfortable still, but then crescendos happen past midnight and it gets tricky living in an apartment. It takes you to past 91dB in a heartbeat.

    So there you have it. It does a fantastic job dealing with scenarios where you have a rather picky speaker that can be provoked into brightness and listening fatigue. Instead, it delivers a pinpoint imaging, with astonishing depth, lavish detail, it does make the pair of large speakers disappear, the depth perceived among voices is amazing, the layering of instruments and all that is there, yet there is no listening fatigue and a very natural, mellow, tone out of a metal dome tweeter on a waveguide. For good or for bad, it sounds much like Sudgen or Yamaha. Lovely.

    Why not leave the Aegir on its own? Fyne speakers are 3 Ohm at low frequencies, and I listen to loudish levels sometimes (Peaks of 93dB with a listening position at about 3 Mts from the speakers) . I used to clip a 70WPC with the Tannoy Precision 6.2, and that one was also 91 dB efficiency with a dip around 80hz at 3.4 ohm. These are just worse, so… there you go. And the Yamaha MX-1 is still my favourite amplifier of the bunch, except the Aegir sounds warmer. The mix is just heavenly.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  4. Adrien

    Adrien RobS / neomax

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    I read in the SR1a thread or somewhere that you strongly disliked the XA25 with your JBL speakers. Do you think that is just a bad pairing or the XA25 can work with a different set of speakers? I'm thinking about demoing a few Pass amplifiers and the XA25 is on my shortlist. Are you of the opinion that the Aegir does microdynamics better than the XA25? Or is it more a matter of different than better?
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    XA25 was disjointed with murky thicker lows but good highs. However XA25 had more slam. Aegir sounded more cohesive and also had far superior microdynamics. XA25 just didn't do well with the big JBLs. Sounded like a bad tube amp. Actually felt the AliExpress JLH 1969 amp sounded better than the XA25 with the JBLs if one wanted that thicker sound.
     
  6. Buff Hamster

    Buff Hamster New

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    I'm currently using Pass Labs XA30.5 with KEF R3 and wondering would 2 Aegir mono blocks be a good alternative to the pass labs.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The KEF3 has serious impedance dips down to 3-ohms at two spots in the bass ~40 and 150Hz. They are fudging their official impedance specs again, although they sort of denote this in their specsheet "8Ω (min.3.2Ω)"

    It's rated sensitivity is 87db at 2.83V. However, at 4-ohms, this is actually 2 watts. To translate to efficiency, this is 84db at 1W, which is rather poor. All assuming KEF didn't take liberties in stating their sensitivity in the first place.

    Given the poor efficiency and impedance dips in the bass to 3-ohms, magic eight ball says Aegir is a bad idea.

    The XA30.5 may fare better. It's class AB that can pump 400 watts into 2-ohms / 200 watts into 4-ohms, with the first 30 watts being class A. My experience is that the XA30.5 sounds better after the first watt, hence why my super efficient JBLs sucked, but way less efficient SR1a with converter box sounded better.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  8. Darlig1218

    Darlig1218 New

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    "Given the poor efficiency and impedance dips in the bass to 3-ohms, magic eight ball says Aegir is a bad idea."

    Why not using the Aegir on the Mid/High Frequencies, and anything really on the lower driver? KEF R3 is bi-amplifiable. It can do the trick to mix the nice midrange and highs from the Aegir with some more muscle in the bottom end. It does wonders for me.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Yes, but the concept of biamping and necessary steps to make it work (padding if amps are different gain) can be confusing to many people. I believe a Aegir / Vidar / Sys biamping approach was mentioned earlier in this thread.
     
  10. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    While we are on the topic of pairings that work with the Aegir, I am curious if anyone has tried the Aegir with any of the BBC minimonitors (LS3/5a, Harbeth P3ESR, etc).

    I am leaning this way for my nearfield setup. I know Herb from Stereophile liked the Aegir with the P3ESR, but that monitor is 6ohms. The LS3/5a variants are usually 11/15ohm impedance and pretty inefficient...yet people act like they like low WPC amps.

    Currently have a single Aegir, it plays nice with the Ascend Acoustics CBM 170se I have setup while I figure out what speakers I really want. Willing to go monoblock Aegir or another amp if necessary for a LS3/5a pairing.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Add +10db to efficiency for nearfield monitor to get a relative sense of power requirements. I mean, your face is just in front of the monitors. Harbeth says P3ESR is 6-ohms, but they are being careful, not fudgemeisters like KEF. Harbeth's efficiency are probably more honest too. They have a presence in pro audio where you can't dick your customers around like with consumers. The P3ESR impedance only dips to 6-ohms at spot in the high bass. It would effectively be 8-ohms nominal. I see no reason why the Aegir cannot be used.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020
  12. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Check out some of @saint.panda experiences starting here (read ahead a couple of pages as well): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...audiophile-listening.1466/page-81#post-294826

    TL;DR he didn’t find Aegir dynamic enough for his tastes with the P3ESRs and preferred Vidar with them.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    He did found Aegir to be better for the mids and highs, but settled for the Vidar. Aegir isn't a slammer anyway, just a quality of that amp or any low powered amp.

    Copied and modified from another thread and I think may have already mentioned this or similar a few times already in this thread. I'm just going to keep pasting this below over and over.

    IMO, Aegir is a niche amp meant more for the full-rangers, wide-banders, back-loaded horns, front horns with big efficient woofers, and transmission-line speakers. Zu, Omega, Voxactiv, Klipsch, big JBL, Pi speakers, Fostex BLHs, etc. At least that's what I imagined when I suggested to Jason that he make a flea powered Class A' Continuity version from Vidar.

    ADD: Or if you are a level 28 audiophile, biamp with the Aegir on the highs, and deal with the complexities of biamping.
     
  14. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    I just made my way through that thread last week, totally forgot about his post. I would say some of the positives he lists though are exactly what I am looking for and worth the tradeoff. Some of those things are kind of just the character of these speakers. (Having done a decent amount of listening to some Graham Chartwell LS3/5a locally...spooky accurate midrange) If I want attack and extended bass I will slap on my verites. So at least for my particular use case this might work out.

    That being said though, I think some of what he is experiencing is definitely from being a bit underpowered (I notice the same thing with my current speakers after moving from a much more powerful power amp before the Aegir). A lot more nuance and better phantom center with the Aegir, but sometime things sound a bit gutless. My nearfield/listening room is tiny though, so that may alleviate some of the issue he brings up.

    Lots to think about, thanks for digging up that post.
     
  15. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    Ok, I sent back the Ragnarok for an Aegir and I am so glad I did. Just hooked it up (just threw a Modi 3 -> SYS** in front of it) and some initial observations:

    - Completely fine with my Paradigms 85f's power-wise even with the 3.8 ohm dip. I can get the SYS up to about 3/4 of the way before it gets to 80 db with spikes into the mid-high 80s. I'm never going to be listening louder than this.
    - The mids and highs are beautiful. The Ragnarok was no slouch, but the detail and separation of the Aegir is really next level, with a really lovely presentation - I've heard delicate thrown around and I agree.
    - Biggest tradeoffs are bass and soundstage. I loved the deep soundstage on the Raggy, but then again it also placed the vocals so forward it got annoying. Aegir also places guitars further back - it's more balanced than the Raggy which, while a great rock amp, felt kind of flashy and distracting. The bass on the Aegir just flat out isn't as good - it's there, and the detail and tone is fine, it's just kind of gutless. Personally I'm ok with this - the accuracy is great, and I have a sub when I want more punch.
    - @Darlig1218 is spot on with his comments on bright speakers and fatigue. This was what I was hoping for, and Aegir has so far delivered - I was almost at the point of considering selling these speakers after all these amps*, and this pairing has seemingly fixed all my problems. Nothing is going to make them warm or relaxing, but it takes the edge off just enough to where it's still hyper-detailed and engaging, but not harsh or fatiguing or shouty. You lose a little of the dynamics and punch of other amps I've paired them with but the tradeoff is so, so worth it.

    Now to actually do some longer-format listening, but so far so good!

    * "All these amps" also includes an Arcam SA20 which was the first one to go back - yawn. If a jar of mayonnaise got reincarnated as an amp...
    ** SYS makes a pretty rad passive preamp
     
  16. Smipau29

    Smipau29 New

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    Would like to touch on this again purr1n, running the heresy III and am wandering about the complexities of biamping. I would like to run my Vidar and aegir as described previously in the thread horizontally (passive?) biamped.

    From my understanding I can biamp with the H3 but not understanding the external crossover and eliminating the internal crossover. I’m assuming that’s what you were meaning by the complexities of biamping.

    We have tested the Vidars mono and then the Aegir mon. To our ears, the Vidar gives more punch all around while Aegir sounds great with brass and gives a sense of more distinction in the mids. It was recommended to me a month or so ago if I went to H3 to do Vidar for the lows and Aegir for mid/highs as those speakers lack in bass. I really want to give this a try while we can.

    Also, the company I buy my wires from locally states splitting signals up so much might result in a loss of performance, is this true as well?

    edit* if anyone knows of a good post or solution on how to run Aegir/Vidar biamped with balances setup that would be awesome. Amps are being fed from a freya+.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  17. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    @Smipau29 I'm not seeing anything in the Klipsch lit or online manual that would indicate you can bi-amp Heresy IIIs. Plus I think if PWK were alive today he might bitch slap someone for that. A single Aegir is perfect for those speakers. If you want MOAR then add a sub or move up to Cornwalls.
     
  18. Smipau29

    Smipau29 New

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    Thanks for the input, we did try stereo Vidar and stereo Aegir but it just sounded better to us in mono. We loved the dynamics on the mono Aegir but felt like we were missing out on the low end that the Vidar were giving us. If we can’t by amp Aegir/Vidar without messing with the speakers internal crossovers then we will stick to mono Aegir.
    We wanted to get the heresy iii sound fine tuned to our ears and then mix a sub into the equation.

    On the klipsch website they generally speak of biamping but don’t consular bi-passing the internal cross over. I wish we had the space for cornwalls @crazychile ha

    Anyway, I’m going to move this to the general discussions as to not jack this thread.
     
  19. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Wait, why can’t you bi-amp the Heresy III with an Aegir on the highs/mids and Vidar on the bass? I would think that would be a good combo. Of course you need to level match each amp (attenuate the Vidar) with a SYS or something, but where’s the issue? The crossover is still going to kick in in for each set of drivers...
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  20. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    @rlow , unless I'm mistaken, there is only one pair of inputs on each H3. I could be wrong, but I couldn't find any rear view photos and the owners manual doesn't mention otherwise. The manual could be a little confusing because it includes other models. The Heresy has traditionally had a single pair of inputs on the V1 and V2.
     

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