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. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    Well I have had my Asgard 3 for sometime now and I am very happy with it, its everything one could possibly want in a amp. It powers everything you throw at it well and it has no hiss whatsoever even with sensitive headphones which is absolutely crazy for such a powerful Class A amp.

    I would agree with all the previous impressions, it sounds very natural and has the ability to bring about great detail without being irritating. The only thing I would add is that it seems like it kind of softens midbass punch a bit. I dont feel like my eardrums are being assaulted by bass the way some other amps do.

    This is true with my bass lightish Hifiman HE5se as well as my Koss headphones which have quite a bit of midbass hump to them which would make them pretty aggressively punchy on most amps. Bass is more subbass/deep bass focused than midbass IMO, as the rumble/deep fundamentals of a bass guitar really pop with the Asgard giving everything a nice amount of force or weight without actually beating your eardrums to death.

    For me this is a amazing thing because I am pretty sensitive to bass, I actually get a headache if its overly aggressive. I find the Asgard to be extremely engaging without fatiguing me at all, a tough balance to strike for sure.

    I personally dont notice much of a difference with high or low gain other than being louder obviously. Both sound stellar. if pressed I would say low gain is softer/pleasant sounding and high gain more aggressive/exciting sounding but differences are subtle IMO.

    For $199 I dont think you can get anything else near as good as this. Only thing I have personally tried that would compete at all would be the Burson Fun and I like the Asgard 3 better than the Fun from memory at least.

    This with the Modi 3 is the value king setup IMO, get a Asgard 3, a Modi 3 and either a HD6xx or a Beyer DT880 600 ohm (according to taste) and you will very likely have the best cost versus performance setup you can get in audio.

    I havent heard the Magni 3+ so I cant compare but I can say the Asgard 3 spanks the original Magni 3 pretty hard IMO. I thought the Magni 3 sounded quite compressed. Some people describe as forward which I guess is another way of looking at it. The Asgard 3 sounds dynamic and has plenty of depth to the sound-stage much more so than the Magni 3. I would definitely consider it a upgrade over the original 3.
     
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  2. dematted

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

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    The Asgard 3 - A Mixed Review.

    I've been listening to this Amp for around a week now, and I have to say, I have fundamentally mixed thoughts about it. On some music, and on certain headphones, it sounds fantastic: on others headphones, and with other music, not so much. Let me preface this by saying that I've never heard an amp this expensive, and have thus far owned the Magni 2, Magni 3, Liquid Spark, JDS Atom, and Asgard 3. The two headphones I demo'd the Asgard 3 with were the Focal Elex and the Sennheiser HD 600. I'd also like to note I'm a beginner at this hobby, especially compared to other people on this forum, so please take everything I say with a grain (or two, or three...) of salt.

    The Elex/Asgard 3 Pairing

    Let me begin with the Elex. I did not think the Elex worked with this headphone. While the Asgard 3 did some positive things, like bring out the vocals and add some nuance to them, I found that it added a timbral richness to much of the mid-range (a "lushness", one might say) that muddied the music and it them lose a significant amount of detail (or at least "perceived" detail). When I plugged my Elex into my $100 dollar Liquid Spark and Magni 3, music felt tighter, more precise, and punchier. In fact, it's the punchiness that I really love about the Elex, and I found that the Asgard 3 made them feel a bit tame. Mid-bass and treble did not have the "bite" that I wanted them to have, and while the mid-range's timbre did sound a bit better, I felt that this was an unacceptable trade-off for me. Although the Asgard 3 is certainly a more technically sophisticated amp than the Magni 3 and Liquid Spark, I preferred the Elex on both of these cheaper amps. The music felt clearer, less muddied, and more dynamic.

    That being said, the Asgard 3 did do a good job of depicting certain mid-range instruments: violin in particular sounded richer and more full on the Asgard 3 than on any of the other amps. When I listen to classical, especially smaller pieces, I find myself upset that I have to choose between the dynamism and punchiness of my cheaper amps and the Asgard 3's rich depiction of violin. Overall, though, I do reach most often for my Magni 3 when deciding what amp to pair my Elex with. I find that the criticisms most often levelled against this amp ring either ring false or don't bother me when I'm listening to the Elex: for one, I don't hear any "dynamic compression" compared to other amps. The soundstage is somewhat smaller than on other amps, but that doesn't bother me, because the Elex feels like it's meant to have a intimate, concentrated sound. And though the sound has lots of "body" to it, I don't feel like that detracts from the speed of the sound, which it seems like it does (to my ears, anyways) with the Asgard 3. I suppose what's surprising here is that out of a range of amps from $60 to $200 dollars, the one that works best with the Elex (again, to my ears) is the cheapest one! I do look forward to receiving the Magni 3+, and seeing how it compares with the earlier Magni 3.

    The HD 600/Asgard 3 Pairing

    Now let's talk about the HD 600 - what a difference! On the Liquid Spark, Magni, and (especially) the atom, the HD 600 sounded thin and boring. I felt in particular like the HD 600's vocals were a bit ephemeral on these amps (especially the two op-amps), an area that's typically seen as a strength of the HD 600. The HD 600 sounds "just fine" on these amps - it's still fundamentally an enjoyable headphone. But the Asgard 3 takes the HD 600 to another level, particularly with timbre. I find myself hearing nuances in instruments I didn't hear before. Overall, the sound as a whole is just more pleasing, and, dare I say, more "euphonic".

    I also find that though the treble on the HD 600 is somewhat less prominent with the Asgard 3, that does not detract from the overall sonic presentation of the headphone. On the contrary, the HD 600 already has a somewhat relaxed treble (what some people call a "veil") and I found that the Asgard 3, what someone else in this thread called a "mid-centric" amplifier, complemented and enhanced some of the HD 600's strengths without doing anything to exacerbate its weaknesses.

    Conclusion

    Do I recommend this amplifier? I think I'm far too new to this hobby to issue recommendations, and I really only think I'd be confident issuing them for two headphone pairings. I do think this is the sort of amplifier that has a very unique sonic presentation, and so it might be a risky buy. However, Schiit does have a 15-day return period, so one can always return it if it doesn't jive with one's headphones and/or listening preferences.

    Let me just say that, despite my mixed thoughts about sound, this is a very premium looking and feeling product. It's clearly made very well, and as long as one keeps it on a hard surface, it also doesn't run particularly hot, even in high-gain.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Dude, this is good stuff. Never apologize for being a beginner if you can write like this. You made me understand and realize certain things about the Asgard 3 that I may have skipped. I loved how you made clear why Elex and Asgard 3 didn't work despite in theory the pairing being synergistic (rich amp + dry headphones): it simply took away too much of what the Elex does well.

    Excellent, excellent! You are strong in the Force. Don't be afraid to sign up on any upcoming loaners. I probably speak for others when I say that I look forward to more of your impressions.
     
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  4. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    For the record, I still feel this way and I don't that's going to change anytime soon (I find it crazy you all read my posts). I agree with Marv; I couldn't figure out what I didn't quite like the Utopia with the Asgard (it's the same problem; should work in theory but the Asgard ends up doing a disservice to too many of the Utopia's strengths).

    Rereading my impressions, I apologize to everyone if I made it seem like the Asgard 3 is a small DSHA-3F. They don't actually sound that alike, and actually synergize with different headphones.
     
  5. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    FWIW the best pairing with Agard 3 was Code-X. I preferred it to Mjolnir 2 and Lyr 3 for this particular headphone. Mjolnir 2 was better suited for very inefficient phones (e.g. K1K, HE-6, Susvara) and Lyr 3 for darker phones (e.g. Audeze). I think Asgard 3 works best with neutral-to-slightly bright phones that benefit from plenty of power, but not overly so.
     
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  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The 7 stages of audiophoolery:

    -Very confused and easily mislead by the overwhelming number of products, good and bad information, and varying opinions.

    -Acquiring experience and discovering one's place in the world as you read, test gear, and participate in online communities.

    -Gathering trust and reputation by sharing well-written insights, but still being very humble. A lot of learning and growing, together, as you find a community you like most.

    -Inflation of ego over time as your influence seems to grow in a particular community.

    -Not being particularly interested in the hobby for a while, suddenly.

    -Anger.

    -Shit and/or senile posting.

    Often those last 3 or 4 stages repeat; sometimes in that order, sometimes not.

    @dematted I wanted to let you know I agree with @purr1n and offer the above to show you that you're on the right track. You're in the best stage of the hobby!
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
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  7. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    This is like a 7 step program to financial ruin.

    Looks like I'm at the shitpost stage.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'm in senile posting stage.
     
  9. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I am definitely deep in the shit posting stage, whether it be literal, over the top antics, subtle, or me shit posting, in any way, while shitting.
     
  10. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I would not read into the steps too much.
     
  11. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    Too late. Definitely leads to financial ruin.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2019
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  12. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    realizes he skipped straight from 2 to 7 :confused:
     
  13. dematted

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

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    Well, thank you all for the kind words, and merry christmas! I do hope to avoid some of the last stages of audiophoolery, but I have a feeling they're sort of inevitable...best thing to do is to simply resign oneself to the eventuality of an inflated ego and senile shitposting, I suppose. With this post, I can already feel it coming on...
     
    Hands likes this.
  14. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio; recovering HFM addict

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    I'm somewhere between suddenly disinterested and angry. Maybe that just comes from working in retail.

    That was a truly excellent review.
     
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  15. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    Hi everyone. I have two quick technical questions about the Asgard 3.

    1. According to Jason it runs in Class A up to 500mW at 32 Ohm. The voltage at these specs is 4 Volts. If I am using 300 Ohm headphones, does that mean that it will stay in Class A all the way up to 500mW or would it transition into Class B at 53mW? This would be at the 4V point at 300 Ohm. I am not a technical expert so excuse my ignorance.

    2. Does the Asgard 3 have any type of short protection other than a simple relay? I know their more advanced amps such as the Lyr 3 have very sophisticated DC offset and short protection but the entry level stuff only has simple muting relays.
     
  16. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    1. Continuity doesn't work by voltage (like a Class G amp), it works by current. Which means that for 300 ohm headphones (and most headphones, and most listening levels, it is technically "Class A." Class A push-pull, yep, not SE like the old Asgards, no.

    2. Asgard 3 has a muting relay and DC servo and passive over-current limiting, but does not have DC sensing. It has never been needed in an amplifier not using tubes. Asgard 3 already provides significantly more protection than any other amplifier at its price and performance level.
     
  17. RatSalad

    RatSalad Friend

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    Thanks for that info. I always wondered how that worked with class A 500mW with different headphones.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    You guys can always do the math. Math is fun.

    V=IR
    P=V^2 / R

    Bonus Question: What is P in terms of I and R. Don't search. Do simple algebra.

    All SBAF denizens are required to know the above formulas. Knowing will make you extremely powerful in understanding a great many more things. I am dead serious here.
     
  19. Superexchanger

    Superexchanger Friend

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    There was a thread floating around that was titled "R vs. V" or something like that, and I was disappointed when I clicked through to see it was a member fight and not a primer on Ohm's Law.
     
  20. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Can you make that part of the signup/captcha for new registrants?
     

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