Schiit Aegir Power Amp Impressions

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

  1. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    Good suggestion - I did play with my speaker position a while back and while toe in actually didn't seem to do _that_ much, it did improve the sound (pulling them away from the walls helped a lot) - I feel like it's pretty dialed in at this point, but worth a shot for sure.
     
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  2. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Part of the problem may also have to do with burn-in and the difference between your original Aegir and the new one. Part of the way great soundstaging and imaging is achieved is by exact matching between the right and left channels. When there are differences, this can collapse. You might find it improves (along with other things) once the new one has a decent chance to burn in and equalize with the other one.

    Also what’s your preamp again I forget? (and too lazy to read backward)- suggest that impressions should always restate your chain.
     
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  3. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    Just as another data point, dual mono Aegirs don't make firm punchy bass. Doubling up on Aegirs will only turn wimpy bass into less wimpy bass.
     
  4. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    Preamp is an Emotiva XSP-1 (I always have to google this - why would you make both an XSP-1 and XPS-1). That's a really good point, I warmed them both up for the same amount of time, but you're right, that will likely make a difference. I'll give them some time, honestly I'm keeping both regardless of how I hook them up - I'm planning on holding on to these for a while and I'd hate for it to go out of production and be stuck with only a single one in the future if I swapped to less efficient or more laid back speakers.

    I'm going to run some more in-depth testing/impressions over the weekend and I'll make sure to include full chain/tracks. I definitely need more time getting used to the mono before really writing impressions - after writing up my initial impressions I listened to some Miles Davis and was really impressed, and I expect that dual mono is also going to kick major ass for home theater. Steve Guttenberg had a good take - "do you want to be in the hard-nosed reality side, or do you want things to be prettier, and softer and sweeter".

    And yeah, "punchier"! These things aren't bass machines, but I'm pretty damn happy with the monos bass output.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
  5. moriya

    moriya Acquaintance

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    My friends, I have returned from hell. A hell of my own making - of endless tangled cables and crawling behind cabinets, where the soundtrack is the same terrible Dave Matthews Band and Wiz Khalifa songs on repeat. I'm not even sure I'm leaving with answers, but here we go:

    Chain: Sonos port -> Schiit Modi 3 -> Emotiva XSP-1 -> Aegir(s) -> Paradigm 85f's.

    I listened to a variety of music (Radiohead, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem, Thelonious Monk, and yes, DMB and Wiz Khalifa) at pretty low volumes (high 60's with swings to the low 70s) which is normal for me. I had to reduce the gain by 6db on the monoblocks to match volume (assuming this is due to the XLR outs), which was mericifully easy compared to switching the cables around. The biggest pain in the ass was the horizontal bi-amp configuration, and unfortunately due to the time it took to switch between some of these (horizontal bi-amp vs monoblocks in particular), these were far from straight A/B comparisons.

    The contenders:
    1 Aegir: Again, I'm assuming everyone knows what an Aegir sounds like by this point. It's great.

    Vertically biamped (1 Aegir on each speaker): This was the most disappointing configuration to me. It honestly was marginally better than 1 Aegir with these speakers - a bit tighter bass, and that's really it. I'm willing to bet if I really pushed the volume it would do better, but at modest volumes this is a dud for me.

    Horizontally biamped (1 Aegir on bass/mid duty, 1 on highs): This was the most surprising, and sounded really good. The bass got cleaned up significantly, with more grip and control (none of the sloppy, wooly bass), more dynamic, separation was better when things got crazy (some of the more complicated radiohead songs). Bob Marley, which was my favorite point of comparison with my previous bi-amp experiment, sounded much less boomy and more like, well, actual bass. A nice improvement.

    Monoblocks: This one grew on me a lot. A couple observations: first, they're really revealing. All of the stereo configurations did a good job smoothing out harsh recordings, but these did not - I always thought Crash (the DMB album) was a good recording, and it is, but it tilts somewhat harsh on the treble and the monoblocks let you know it. A Moon Shaped Pool (Radiohead) on the other hand was a sonic delight and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor at several points. The bass is much better, and while yeah, the kick drum isn't going to kick you in the chest it's the best of any configuration. They're not as warm and inviting as the stereos, yes, but the tradeoff is you get a much more competent (for lack of a better word) and composed presentation - livelier and more dynamic as well. After getting used to the soundstage and imaging I greatly preferred it, and it actually reminds me a lot of the Ragnarok 2 - vocals planted front and center and slightly forward - but with the depth and width and uncanny placement of the Aegir. Detail was phenomenal as well, especially in vocals (in general, vocals were my favorite part of the monoblocks).

    It turns out the most interesting comparison is horizontal bi-amp vs monoblocks. They're both great in their own ways - the warmer, smoother horizontal bi-amp configuration still retains the "special" sound of the Aegir, but adds a bit more punch and grip to the bass, resulting in a much more lively, dynamic presentation. Going back to a single Aegir sounds more recessed and "dead" by comparison - definitely a significant improvement. The monos take those dynamics and bass to the next level, and also improve imaging and placement, especially in the vocals. On great recordings the monos really sing, but the tradeoff is you lose some of that warmth and buttery smoothness in the high mids and trebles that take the edge off harsher recordings. I found it easier to listen to the bi-amped configuration louder, which honestly isn't necessarily a good thing for me - being able to listen at lower volumes is definitely a plus in a flat.

    So, I think my original comparison is not wrong, but it's also not as cut and dry as I thought. It's like a white tablecloth fine dining restaurant vs eating really good BBQ at a picnic table - they're both great, there's no "right" answer, especially if you listen to a ton of genres.

    Me? I'm hooking them up as monoblocks just because I'm so sick and tired of messing around with effing cables.
     
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  6. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    This! Early on after I purchased Aegir pair I endeavored to do a similar comparison, mono via balanced, and (at least) trying vertical bi-amping. I didn't write anything up mostly because I figured most folks would just run balanced monoblock, and not fuss with bi-amping and because I kinda think vertical bi-amping sounds like garbage. On my speakers (AN AZ-two hemps with upgraded x-over and silver VC tweeters) I thought the vertical bi-amp sounded muddy and THICC. It was like the woofers were being over-driven. Switching back to pure (and simple) monoblock via XLR was like a breath of fresh air. No more constricted soundstage and there was actual treble nuance.
     
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  7. Kevin Smith

    Kevin Smith Rando

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    Update: I stated that the Aegir playback was perceptively ‘louder’ than the output of the Naim Atom (set at the same db). No…I didn’t measure the loudness with any calibrated equipment…just by ear. To be fair…I get it…as others have stated…that can be (or is) a flawed comparison between the two components…as there are other variables at play in the signal chain.

    My current desktop set up is: PC>Topping D90>LTA MZ3 preamp>Aegir>Omega Super High Output monitors. I also have an EVGA Nu audio sound card and a Hafler H75 HP/DAC for alternate DAC options.

    The Aegir is still an easy (right) pick if you have highly efficient monitors…the closer to 100 db…the ‘better’…particularly if you’re running one unit in stereo mode (as I’ve settled on). It has sufficient supply to fill an above garage bonus room (with efficient speakers). I don’t have any real world experience with (2) units as mono-blocks. I would expect it to offer more headroom against clipping for those with thirstier speakers? It could also possibly be a mistake to buy if the amp RMS and speaker efficiency rating is a mismatch.

    Note: I do lust for P3ESR XDs in a walnut finish (if possible)…just an opinion…but I would think the Vidar or a PAIR of Aegirs would be ‘better’ suited for that set up (less efficient speakers). However…I wouldn’t rule out pairing the Aegir (stereo or mono block) with less efficient speakers (<95 db)…as always…depends on what the user desires and can live with (without wanting more or feeling their system isn’t optimized to their liking).

    The Aegir amp is a wonderful marvel at its price point. I still think it’s a remarkable amp since my initial posting. As with any gear…there are trade offs…cause and effect….in any real world case…I think you have to properly match the speaker efficiency rating with the amp capacity (RMS)…as the Aegir is not a one size fits all kind of amp. When I think about it there are none…only trade offs (pluses and minuses…gains vs losses…increases & decreases).

    I just love the fact that there are people who continue to push the envelope to bring enthusiast level audio gear to audiophiles on a budget (Schiit).
     
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    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
  8. econaut

    econaut Facebook Friend

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    If you feel the bass is lacking with your Aegir(s) and your speakers are placed on a "moving" floor, a wooden "floating" parquet floor, for example, then I highly recommend to decouple your speakers from the floor with absorbers.

    I have mono Aegirs and Klipsch RF7 IIIs and this made my wish to add subwoofers obsolete. Now there's the thump and you can feel the bass what I expected these speakers to do in the first place. But that does not happen when the bass energy is going into the floor. I just learned this by doing.

    You probably don't have that much room for improvement when your floor is concrete, though.

    Additional improvement is possible with clean power, albeit on a smaller scale. Bass got less boomy, bass quality was improved, texture was better.
     
  9. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    I thought using monoblocks was called vertical preamplification (one mono amplifier for each speaker, each driving HF and LF at the same time, in a vertical fashion). You of course need a preamplifier that can be connected to two power amplifiers, not all are able to do that.

    We seem to agree on horizontal biamplification, two stereo amplifiers connected to both speakers, one HF and one LF. Again you need a preamp able to do that, you need to run another set of speaker cables and you need speakers with separate terminals. Everything is horizontal here, you can even stack the power amplifiers for better visualization (HF amp on top of LF amp).

    But the way vertical biamplification is used in this thread looks confusing to me. I even searched for this and found the same confusion in other forums: "Vertical bi-amping is a practice I touched on yesterday–one channel of a stereo amplifier for the tweeter, the other for the woofer."

    Surely you cannot use the two channels of one stereo amplifier in the same speaker. One channel is Right and the other channel is Left, doing this would kill the stage and presentation, as a matter of fact you would not have stereo music anymore.

    No wonder somebody says this sounds like garbage...
     
  10. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    To remain within the thread topic, I have an Aegir and I consider it a beautiful amplifier. I bought it recently and one nice motivation was reading this thread (now going on for 42 pages and several years, very impressive). So first thing first, a big thanks to you all for the inspiration.

    My main amplifier is a Naim SuperUniti, I will post a review of the Aegir soon, but I think it is excellent for the price.

    If I may and without criticizing anybody, I think sometimes the Aegir is not used properly.

    The Aegir can be used as a traditional stereo amplifier, using the single ended RCA connectors. I have used this configuration and it works very well with many preamplifiers. The specifications say this is 20 Wpc, more than enought in many cases.

    The Aegir can also be used as a monoblock if you use XLR connectors (one per channel). Obviously you need a preamplifier with at least one pair of XLR output connections.

    I have seen people using a Saga+ to drive two Aegirs (of course, I would hope, with the necessary RCA to XLR cables). But I am unsure this fully activates the monoblock circuit, may have an impact in sound quality and may have created confusion and disappointment to some people here. The balanced circuit uses three pins per channel and you need a balanced preamplifier to provide that.

    I believe the Aegirs as monoblocks have a ground common circuit. You must ensure this circuit is closed to provide the 80 W promised in the specifications.

    I apologize if this sounds banal or arrogant to many of you, but I post because I see it can help some people with their experiments.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Vertical biamping with one amp per side can still be used very easily by simply splitting the Lch from the pre into the two inputs of the L amp and Rch from the pre into the two inputs of the R amp. Channels are channels. Just because something is labeled R on the amp doesn't mean it only works with the right channel of a stereo signal. Vertical biamping could actually be because better L/R crosstalk and making more use of the amps' power supplies since the it's the lows that will draw the most current. I think the point is that folks were saying that Aegir in monoblock configuration sounded better than biamping.

    Vertical biamping will probably sound closer to a single Aegir than monoblock. Aegir in monoblock form actually sounds slightly different from a single Aegir. There's more oomph in the lows, better articulation, and less warmth. This is because of more power and cancellation of the second harmonic (what differential signals do).

    I don't think anyone on SBAF would be dumb enough to hook up L and R into one Aegir's inputs and put the L speaker output on the tweeter and R output on the woofer. If they were, let me know so I can ban them or all of us can collectively roast and ridicule them.

    Aegir as monoblocks should be driven with a proper differential signal. Readers are constantly reminded to not Improperly go from BAL to SE and vice versa. Many RCA <-> XLR cables short pins 2 and 3 - some gear may not like this.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  12. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    I cannot see how spliting the Lch from the pre into the two inputs of the L amp (and same for Rch and R amp) can produce any music. If we do this we are just shorting the inputs of the amp, and no amplification is possible irrespective of the signal that we apply to the (now single because shorted) input terminal. I send a picture of the most simple power amplifier I have at hand to help the description.

    How do you add a picture here?

    In other words, you cannot biamplify with a preamplifier that has only one SE output terminal. Balanced is different of course and the Aegir is beautifully though, when changing the input it automatically changes the output (without having to operate a switch like in most power amplifiers that can switch between stereo and monoblock). This was another motivation to buy one.

    Definitely the point here is that people prefer monoblock biamplification than stereo biamplification (another, older way to say vertical or horizontal biamplification).

    I am interested to know if anybody in SBAF has tested the new Naim Atom HE driving two Aegirs. It is a configuration that may be very interesting and I am considering now.
     
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  13. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Dude, know who you’re talking to before you tell them they don’t know what they’re taking about.

    Google image search “vertical biamping”. This is the very first image I got:

    upload_2021-9-15_16-0-8.jpeg
     
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  14. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    Wow! This is fantastic, I am going to try this and will report back. Thank you very much @rlow.
     
  15. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    If I could learn how to post a picture...
     
  16. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    [​IMG]

    Guys,

    I really apologize, I am dumb and do not know how to post a picture.

    Anyway, the rig is ready according to Google instructions. I am sorry to report it does not work. It is very visual that using Google we just shortcut the input of the amplifiers. This can damage equipment, be careful please.

    Will continue to attempt to upload a picture, if anybody can assist I will be grateful.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  17. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    Put it on Imgur, then link it here.
     
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  18. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    As an update, the rig sounds beautifully using a Saga+ preamplifier, which has two (independent) SE outputs.

    La vita è bella!
     
  19. Rafael

    Rafael Rando

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    Big problems, big solutions!

    I put the pic of the rig as my avatar, where it is at everybody's disposal.

    The rig with the other preamp and Google configuration is not very inspiring, I will try to upload using Imgur as suggested.

    Anybody has any opinion about an Atom HE plus 2 Aegirs?
     
  20. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    I think it is unlikely many folks here have tried that setup. I tried out the Naim Uniti Nova for a while, and initially loved it, but over time I found it tiresome. I feel like the profile of Naim front end paired with Aegirs might not mesh in the best ways. Not bad, but a bit too different. Different can be good, make up for other component deficiencies and all that, but I am just having a hard time imagining that component synergizing. I could be wrong, but at the very least, there are a lot better DAC/preamps you could snag rather than the Atom unless the Naim app/ecosystem is something you are really tied to.
     
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