Schiit Asgard 3 Headphone Amp with Continuity Output Stage

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I just got my Bifrost 2 today too and let it warm up a few hours before listening with Asgard 3 & Verite open. Which gain setting do you prefer for HD800? Do you have SDR mod in? On only a few tracks I detected some slight treble unpleasantness but only on high gain, I noticed it before with Modi 3 and assumed it was the DS stuff, but now think it is Asgard 3.
    Edit: I just needed to leave the Asgard on for a few minutes prior to listening. Now beautifully smooth with no treble nasties.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  2. magicscreen

    magicscreen Rando

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    If I would buy the Asgard 3 with the AK4490 DAC module, can I use it as DAC-only device with another headphone amplifier?
    I see the pre-out connectors, but is that the output of the DAC or the AMP?
     
  3. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    The pre outs will be whatever input you select - internal DAC or rca input.
     
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  4. bboris77

    bboris77 Almost "Made"

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    Just to clarify then, if the Asgard 3 is pumping out less than 500mW at any impedance in either of the two gain modes, it remains in Class A mode. Correct?
     
  5. crenca

    crenca Almost "Made"

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    Surely not at "any" impedance. "Most headphones", meaning probably 32 ohms (to pick a number) and up, possibly down into the 20 ohm range of some planars? Could it stay class A with 6 ohm HP like the Verum at half a watt?
     
  6. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Considering Asgard is "still" $199, and the next-up Continuity amp is $499 with Lyr 3 (which is also still single-ended). I'm debating between the two but having a hard time justifying the $300 going Lyr over Asgard. I found Vtory mentioning "tiny bit better macrodynamics", but then I find ChaChaRealSmooth preferring A3 over Lyr 3. But he used the stock tube...

    Anyone else has some experience comparing these amps? Having a hard time. Slightly edging towards Lyr but I'm really not so sure. most listening done with HD650 and hifiman ananda.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  7. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    off thread a bit- with those 2 headphones and at a price in between, the Shortest Way 51+ amp should be seriously considered also.
     
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  8. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    The lyr3 even with stock tubes was easily my preference over the Asgard 3. And yes, it would be worth the price difference even if it was a stretch to buy the lyr3. The Asgard 3 never struck home with me. While better than the earlier iterations, it just didn't do enough for me to get a level of enjoyment that made me content despite the low price. The reviews and impressions here had me excited for an amp that promised a lot for the money. But honestly, I just wasn't hearing it. Like the original, it still sounded somewhat "slow" and overly warm. Considering the entire stage with all instruments and voices, it was a bit too congested for my taste.

    On the other hand, the lyr 3 was and is an exceptional amp. Stock Tung sol was good enough to call it quits without spending tons on NOS glass. Great drive, grunt and clarity. Good for both dynamic drivers and planars. The lyr 3 actually sounds better than the mjolnir 2 in several regards. Give me a mjo 2 chassis, lyr 3 sound and make it fully balanced and I'd be a happy boy.
     
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  9. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Thanks Ice-man. You addressed of all my concerns! Indeed, only thing missing from the package is balanced input and/or output but it is what it is. I think I made up my mind.. :)

    Shortest way looks good, perhaps ideal for HD650, but I want to buy another Schiit product. Just my current state of mind. Thanks guys.
     
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  10. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I used to own Lyr 3. I was not a fan, with HD650K. I have opposite opinion of @Ice-man I guess. I own Asgard 3, probably my favorite Schiit amp along with Vali 2. I like Asgard 3 with Verite, Auteur and Grado SR80. Haven’t tried HD650 since I don’t have one now.
    However, like @jexby suggests, if your budget fits, I would strongly consider SW51+. I have one ordered but haven’t heard it yet.
     
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  11. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    The opinions of people here I trust, make me want to question my own impressions of the Asgard 3. But unless there was something wrong with the amp that I had, I don't think my evaluation was off base. Warm amps and warm headphones usually don't make a great match. I just wasn't hearing any finesse with the Asgard 3 and was not having any "wow" moments. Doesn't make it a bad amp. Just probably didn't fit my preferences.
     
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  12. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Lyr 3 can also change personality with different NOS tubes. I know this group is not big on tube rolling, but there is even a big difference between the Russian stock tube and the Tung-Sol upgrade. The TS is a bit slow and warm as @Ice-man describes.

    However, there is a myriad of 6SN7's, and they all add a bit more personality to the amp that you can get to a) match your tastes and also to b) match your headphones. The second part is more or less synergy, but it is a real thing. Some tubes that sound amazing with my LCD2C's, depending, they may not be a good match with HD650's or HD600's.

    But both of the above reasons are what pushed me to the Lyr 3 over the Asgard 3 and the Gilmore Lite MK2.
     
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  13. redrich2000

    redrich2000 Almost "Made"

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    I think it's just a question of preference and maybe synergy between amps that are on a roughly equal level. I definitely prefer my Jot to my A3, but I think that's just because I prefer a bit more firmness through the upper mids and treble and my main headphones benefit from that. I assume those who were glowing about the A3 have more of a preference for it's smooth but still clear tonality.

    I use the jot at home with 650K/AFO and the A3 at work with Elegia and am pretty happy.
     
  14. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    Asgard 3 Impressions:

    Listening Chain: Pi2AES > Bifrost 2 > Asgard 3 | Black Widow | SW51+ > JAR600 | JAR650 | Verum 1

    When I saw that this amp was compared against 3F, it got me curious and picked up an Asgard 3 from @pure5152 . Long story short, this ain’t no mini 3F lol Sorry I just don’t hear it like that. It’s a good amp that may share minor characteristics to the 3F, but I think its overall tonality is more akin to the Black Widow if anything. I’ll mainly compare the A3 with the other amps I have, since this amp has been out for a while.

    - First thing I noticed was this amp slams with the Verum 1. Not a slam monster, but very good macrodynamics. Verum sounds more full bodied and snappy with A3.
    - Good microdynamics, but I think the SW51+ is more involving and nuanced than the A3.
    - Verum’s mids can sound a bit withdrawn along with diffuse headstage with the Black Widow, but with the A3 mids are brought up which makes it sound more balanced in my ears.
    - no funky treble issue. Very smooth sounding, yet extended on both ends.
    - Decent clarity and transients. Respectable. It doesn’t sound overly-smoothed out like on the Black Widow or too zippy like the THX789
    - headstage is ..okay, but it’s not like I expect much at this price range. At first I didn’t think it was bad until I switched back to SW51+. Not good with Sennheisers, but with the Verum it’s less diffuse sounding and palpable, which I prefer. Not to sound like a shill, but SW51+ sounds more holographic with better depth and width.
    - Impressive macrodetail, but plankton goes to SW51+.
    - Out of the 3 headphones I had, I think it synergizes best with Verum 1. I thought it sounded ok with the Sennheisers. I think amps like BW and SW51+ matched better for them. A3 was Waaaay too forward sounding with the JAR650/600. I felt like it was smothering me with sound inside my head.
    - I don’t have the Auteur or Verite anymore, but I feel like it may be a better match than the Senns.

    Overall, I think this is a competent amp for the price, as long as you can match the synergy. I really like this with the Verum 1, but did NOT like it with the JAR600/650. A3 a good all arounder for the price, but I think my preference still gears towards tubes for dynamics. If your main headphones are Sennheisers, I don’t think I can recommend this amp, as there are many amps that synergize better with it around similar price points (Valhalla 2, ZDT Jr., SW51+, just to name a few) However, for planars like Verum 1 and maybe ZMF? I think this can be a respectable setup that brings you musical enjoyment.
     
  15. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Facebook Friend

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    I'm interested in the Asgard 3 and am looking for help triangulating the sound vs what I know. I own the Lyr 2 & Heresy now, owned a Ragnarok 1 until recently. I'm still making up my mind on the Heresy but I have hinted it may be too explicit(energetic) for me; I sold the Ragnarok because of the gritty forward mid-range & generally like the Lyr 2 except I don't like how tubes stage(I like a more silent blackground) or how it portrays classical(it seems to suck away impact from acoustic instruments although its still dynamic with metal, its hard to describe.)

    I've been buried deep in the thread here & on HF, please correct me if my understandings of this amp's sound are wrong: The Asgard 3 will have SS bass impact at least as proficient as the Heresy. Treble is NOT the focus as its a touch veiled. Transients have a touch of roundness but are still faster than some hybrid amps. Stage is unmistakably SS but not as aggressive as the measurement focused SS amps. The midrange I'm struggling to get a read on, I've seen it described both as forward & laid-back; this is my point of hesitation.
     
  16. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    I haven't heard the Heresy, but probably not. The Asgard 3 isn't a slamming amp. Yeah, it still does bass pretty well, but it's not the grippy and dynamic experience of something like DSHA-3F (although saying that amp is pretty expensive is an understatement).

    Mid-centric is how I'd describe its sound. Midrange performance is the focal point of this amp; it's more emphasized in this region than the bass and treble.

    I think where you're getting confused is the forward staging that is characteristic of Schiit stuff and the laid-back sonic characteristics of the Asgard 3. In other words, forward staging, but is a bit rounded and not zippy fast in transients along with having a mid-centric tonality.
     
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  17. bboris77

    bboris77 Almost "Made"

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    I personally think that Asgard 3's midrange is its strongest point - it sounds very natural. A small caveat - I am using the HD800S, and with it, it sounds absolutely perfect. I have tried the HD800S with other solid state amps, such as the Magni 3+, the Heresy and El Amp II. The Magni 3+ was good, but the Asgard 3 definitely has a wider soundstage without sacrificing any of the 3-dimensionality. The Heresy was ok, but it did not pair that well with the HD800s - the soundstage was too wide, not enough depth, and the treble was piercing. El Amp II was almost identical to the Heresy, and it simply did not sound great in the high gain mode.

    One thing is important to realize about the Asgard 3 - for whatever reason, I much prefer listening to it in the high gain mode with the HD800S. It is more lively, more impactful, with much better staging. Low gain mode sounds slightly more veiled and damped. Like someone put a limiter on the fun factor. I know it measures better and it should theoretically sound cleaner and better than the high gain mode at the same volume level, but I always keep coming back to the high gain setting. I think that the low gain mode should only be used with extremely sensitive earphones as it seems to suck the life out of any higher impedance/low sensitivity headphones.

    By the way, I have ran the Asgard 3 with both the Bifrost 2 (a touch warm) and the D70 (more neutral, with a touch of AK4497 velvet sound approach). The Asgard behaved very uniformly with these 2 DACs, meaning that it preserved its own sound character.

    Honestly, for $199, it is an unreal deal and I would just get it. Out of all the amps that I have tried over the years, including the Lyr 3, the Valhalla 2, the Bottlehead Crack, the Vali 2, various Magnis and the Burson Soloist 2, it is my favourite. It has the least amount of quirks, it is very predictable unlike the tube amps, and it combines the best qualities of tube amps (tonal richness, 3-dimensionality) with the best solid state qualities (quiet, resistant to RFI, good transients and bass impact). If I had to nitpick, it does get pretty warm on the bottom of the case (more than the top) as there is a thermal pad there to dissipate heat as it runs in Class A mode most of the time. However, it is still nowhere as hot as any tube amp that can burn your finger if you touch the tubes.

    I am not sure how any of the DAC cards sound in it as I have always used external DACs. I wish Schiit would bring their RCA input card back and include it in all of their amps as a default thus giving us a second input. It's kind of sad to see that input switch on the front of the unit that does nothing :) I guess I could use it as a mute switch.
     
  18. RedFuneral

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    That explains my confusion, I was seeing 'forward' and 'laid-back' as opposite ends of a single spectrum, I appreciate the clarification. The combination of mid-centric sound, forwardness, and roundness reminds me of the vintage receivers I've used. Is it free of grain? Any of that inner-warmth/rose-glow that some warmer sounding amps have?

    That's what brought my attention to the A3, most of the modern affordable SS amps seem to be within spitting distance of one another, this seems to be the one budget amp going its own way.

    Would you say the Asgard is closer in sound to the Magnis, the Burson, or different from both? I'm not familiar with their newer amps but word on the street is that Burson has stuck with their house-sound. It's been awhile but I'm pretty sure I sold my Burson 160DS for the same reason I'm not really digging the Heresy; too lit up and jumpy. The Burson was a warm amp & the Heresy isn't but they shared a few traits from memory.

    I agree with your comments on gain so far as my experience with the Heresy & Lyr 2 goes. Seems to be a feature of Schiit amps in that you get two subtlety different sounds based on gain(feedback.) The Rag was the exception, it got more forward & grainy as you went up in gain.
     
  19. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Not surprising. Low gain utilizes a form of feedback, which deadens the sound.

    I think this would depend more on your transducers (I lean towards grainy vs plasticky in that stuff), but I've certainly never heard the Asgard 3 as not conveying sonic textures adequately (it's smooth when it is called upon by the recording).

    It would be closer to the Magni, but is in reality a different amp. Unsure how familiar you are with two-channel stuff, but it's a bit like the Aegir (emphasis on a bit; it's not 100% an Aegir for headphones but it's not unfair to call it as such).

    Put it this way; it's kind of like a SS amp with some tube characteristics, with some resulting tradeoffs.
     
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  20. will_f

    will_f Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Have you had a chance to compare the A3 to the Lyr3? Curious how they stack up. I’ve read some opinions that put the Lyr3 a little ahead of the A3 but I’ve been tempted to get an A3 anyway just for my own edification.
     

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