Schiit Bifrost 2

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by RobS, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. Ksorota

    Ksorota Rando

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    Keep in mind that they are going to create a Unison Upgrade path for the original Bifrost...so basically still getting upgraded. You could try to sell the Oppo 103 to cover the cost of the upgrade in a few months time.
     
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  2. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Almost "Made"

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    Yeah, that's plan B. I'm at least going to try and sell both together to upgrade to the new version.... y'know, since the new one is actually upgradeable as promised. I don't just mean USB--the upgradeability of the DAC section was one of the primary reasons I went with Bifrost. If they don't sell together then yeah, I'll just sell the Oppo to upgrade to Unison for Bifrost Multibit 1. That said, I think it's a fair price for both units.

    I have also toyed with using the balanced outputs on the Bifrost 2 to run XLR cables ~40 ft from my speaker rig to my headphone amp, rather than having two separate DACs for the two rigs. I try to avoid running single ended cables for more than 2m, but XLR should have no problem over long runs like that.
     
  3. RobS

    RobS The Friend formerly known as treboR

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    Why not just wait until January when Unison is available for the Bifrost? From impressions/reviews I have read, there is a much more dramatic difference with the new USB implementation than the multibit card in the Bifrost 2 save for the bass.

    And why not wait until more impressions/reviews of the Bifrost 2 comes out before getting upset? If there's only a 10-20% net increase in performance, then is it really worth the hassle to sell what you have, unless you need balanced outs?

    The latest revision of the Bifrost Multibit has been claimed by various folks here as being a lot closer to the Gungnir Multibit A1, except in bass and microdynamics. In Balanced, Gungnir would be more resolving. The Bifrost 2 still hasn't eclipsed the Gungnir Multibit either.

    I also don't understand why Schiit would get flak when the Bifrost has had plenty of upgrades over the years. It's not like they made it upgradeable for 1 year and then introduced the Bifrost 2. And nowhere has Jason said the upgrades to Bifrost are ending either. It might be unlikely to see another new analog card, but hey at least you can get Unison or upgrade to Multibit if you have a 4490 version. Also they had the Bifrost on backorder for about a month to prevent a possible backlash when Bifrost 2 released. Then there's the $100 off if you had an existing Bifrost.

    Bifrost has had a long product cycle. You have an excellent DAC, be happy with what you have. You bought what you wanted when it was available. New products come out all the time. Doesn't diminish what you bought.

    Myself I look at what's available, do a little bit of research, look for what I would like to have and purchase. No buyer's remorse here.

    If the Schiit DAC lineup is a matter of splitting hairs, then this just makes the whining all the more embarrassing.
     
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  4. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Almost "Made"

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    Just to be clear, when I said "upgradeability" I meant the DAC/analog sections. I recognize and respect that Schiit is offering Unison to Bifrost 1. That's great. And, also, I totally respect what Schiit has done here with the Bifrost 2. I think they did the right thing by making it modular, and that wasn't going to be possible with Bifrost 1. From their perspective, I get it.

    All I am saying is that it stings because when I bought the Bifrost, I bought it because I knew Schiit would keep improving their DACs over the years and I thought I'd gotten a DAC that I could keep ugprading whenever an improvement came out without shelling out the full price tag. You say "You bought what you wanted when it was available," but part of what I bought into was upgradeability. Those were the thoughts that were literally going through my mind when I made the purchase, "This is going to be upgradeable so I'll always have the latest DAC tech from them."... and that didn't even last six months. Ouch.

    I'm not trying to knock Schiit down a few notches. I have tremendous respect for the work that they do, and again, I totally get why they made another Bifrost that could live up to the promise of upgradeability in a way that the old one couldn't have. It's just that the timing of the whole thing really sucks for me, and the ability to upgrade the analog section and keep it up to date was one of the major reasons for my purchase of Bifrost 1.
     
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  5. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    And this is exactly why to this day Schiit will not confirm whether any upgrade was made to the Gungnir Multibit. Bummer your dac sucks now.
     
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  6. RobS

    RobS The Friend formerly known as treboR

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    That's fair. I didn't think about it from the perspective of a new customer who had no idea how long the Bifrost has been in production. I apologize if my reply upset you. I just don't have any patience for people who whine about new products, but I understand your frustrations. Sorry.

    So I guess if you really wanted the Bifrost 2 you'll just have to sell your Bifrost Multibit, get the $100 off from Schiit and eat whatever the difference is in cost. It's better than spending another $699.

    Oh and "latest DAC tech", you do realize that the AD5547 is a nearly 10 year old DAC chip right? (Referring to Bifrost Multibit, not Bifrost 2) It probably took a lot of R&D time to implement that for audio use. The only improvement I could see is a fully discrete analog stage (no op-amps) but that seems reserved for their higher priced DAC units, understandably.

    At least there is still a USB upgrade next year, which seems pretty damn significant.

    I think Schiit made the right decision on a new platform for Bifrost 2, oh well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  7. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    A couple of corrections:

    1. Bifrost 2 isn't AD5547, it's AD5781 (like in Gungnir, but ARUZ rather than BRUZ spec). Before you start getting in a tizzy about ARUZ vs BRUZ, see my earlier comments.
    2. Bifrost 2 is iOS compatible just fine, we test them with iOS. Not sure what happened there at the Schiitr. But just to set the record straight, if you want to use iOS, you should be fine. Now, Apple can decide to break this non-Apple-approved-device compatibility at any time, so it's best to stick to Linux/Windows/MacOS if you want more assurance.

    With respect to what's happening in the future with Bifrost 2 ("holding discrete back for higher-end products," "if we thought there was some way to improve the analog section,") we have no idea. That's the point. Mike and Dave work on a lot of different things. Some of them may result in improvements. Some may not. We don't send out anything that isn't 100% the best we can do at the time we do it, nor do we send out anything that isn't 100% the best it can be in the form factor it can be. The reality is that DACs that are dependent on insanely stable reference voltages (or multiplying DACs for that matter) require super high precision gain stages--and many of them. Discrete doesn't fit on Bifrost 2. Period. Hell, discrete may be scotched in future high-end products, I don't know yet--it depends entirely on what is best for the application, and what fits. If I needed to do, say, 8 really super-high-end gain stages (for 4 multiplying DAC channels), there ain't any wishing in the world that will make that fit on even an Yggdrasil-sized card. Not saying that's a thing, it's just an example.
     
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  8. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Almost "Made"

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    I didn't mean to imply that the Bifrost 2 was intentionally being gimped in the analog section for the purpose of selling later upgrades, or that you guys were selling a product that was less than 100% the best you could make it. My point was more about the fact that it is modular means future upgrades are possible--even if no one knows what form those upgrades will take.

    I am a research scientist, I know how research goes. I know what it's like to spend months working on something that ends up being a dead end, or to work for months on something only to find that a tangential aspect of what you were working on ends up being groundbreaking. Regarding research, the road forward isn't a road, it's hacking your way through the jungle brush with a machete and a poorly drawn map having no real idea whether you're even going in the right direction.

    In any case, I will be very excited to get my hands on the Bifrost 2.
     
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  9. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    @ohshitgorillas I think if you add up the cost of things, actually you probably come out at a similar price as an upgrade to existing Bifrost Multibit.

    For example, the existing Bifrost Multibit upgrade was $250. Let’s assume just the Analog board upgrade (for the new AD5781ARUZ chips) was a bit less at $200 (which, maybe it would have been the same price).

    Gen 5 USB upgrade is $150. Unison could be the same price. Or maybe it would be a bit less when combined with the Bifrost analog board upgrade, dunno. Or maybe more because the tech is more expensive. For argument sake however let’s say the same at $150.

    You’ll also pay $100 less for Bifrost 2 as well because you have proof of purchase of your original Bifrost.

    Add that up, and you’re looking at probably 400-$450 difference to go the upgrade route vs selling your existing Bifrost and buying Bifrost 2. $350 at the very least. Can you sell your Bifrost for ~$300? If you sell it for more, you may even come out ahead of paying for all those upgrades, plus normally you would lose your DAC for weeks while you waited.

    IMO there is virtually no downside to this situation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  10. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    We haven't discussed Unison USB upgrade pricing yet. I wouldn't think it would be too different than the old boards. Maybe slightly more? Maybe the same? I haven't looked at the BOM recently.
     
  11. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    For the Bifrost 2 users out here: does Roon work with Unison in WASAPI/Exclusive mode?
    I can't get my Yggdrasil A2/Unison to work more than 4 seconds, each time.
     
  12. ohshitgorillas

    ohshitgorillas Almost "Made"

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    @rlow My Bifrost 1 is already the multibit version with the Gen5 and all the upgrades. It was purchased earlier this year, I think March or April, so I'm positive it's the newest version of Bifrost Multibit 1. I did actually think about getting a used unit and paying for the upgrades--I rarely buy new to be honest--but I also did the math and it just seemed much easier and more warranty-er to just buy new in this case.

    To me, selling my old Bifrost Multibit and the Oppo for 600, then claiming the $100 off, is an ideal and painless way to make the upgrade. I think it's a fair price for both together, although it's hard to know what price the Oppo will go for, being out of production. Personally I think it is a hell of a swiss army knife, and I'm definitely keeping at least one of them, but have no qualms whatsoever about selling the second unit, especially if it's being replaced by Unison. I think the MSRP was $500, but they also released the 105 and I think a 203/205 series after that, so it's not exactly brand new and exciting. Who knows? Personally I think it's worth at least $200, but we'll see what the head-fi for sale forums think.

    Last but not least, I could potentially use the balanced outputs on Bifrost 2 to run long XLR cables to my headphone amp, which would allow me to sell the second DAC hooked up to my headphones, and if I did that I'd actually end up with more money in my pocket than when I started this dance.

    Worst case scenario, all this falls through and I stick with the Oppo>Bifrost Multibit 1 combination, which, in truth, is still very very good.
     
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  13. EraserXIV

    EraserXIV Friend

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    While the Bifrost wasn't originally available with Multibit and an "upgrade" from 4490 to Multibit was released. Those who bought a MB Bifrost bought it with the implicit understanding that a change in the DAC section, like AD5547 to AD5781, is exactly how the upgradability was marketed.
     
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  14. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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    I'm running Yggdrasil A2/Unison in Wasapi mode in Roon with zero issues. Also worked with every Apple device I tried.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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  15. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    In Exclusive mode?
     
  16. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    You’re not getting what I’m saying. I’m saying If Schiit had offered Bifrost 2 as a traditional set of upgrades (e.g a new analog board for the new chips, a new unison USB board, etc), financially it would be the same outlay, or maybe more, as just selling your existing Bifrost and buying new (with the $100 off). And you certainly wouldn’t have gotten balanced outs and the remote as part of that. So saying this doesn’t hold water:

    For basically the same price as traditional upgrades you get a brand new unit and better features.
     
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  17. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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  18. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Marv, I just want to clarify a few points when you said the SE outputs are not gimped.

    But before anything, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil have 4, not 8, DAC chips (2 per channel), while Bifrost 2 has 2. Therefore, Bifrost has 2 fewer chips. I’m saying this because this pertains to my questions below.

    Yes, having used them myself I know for a fact that the balanced outputs are noticeably superior to SE outputs in Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil A2. In other words, the SE outputs sound gimped in comparison. On the other hand, you praised the Bifrost for its SE outputs sounding almost, if not just as good as, the balanced outputs.

    However, has it ever occurred to you that maybe that’s not because there’s some magic to vastly improve the quality of the SE outs to make it equal in performance to the balanced outputs, but rather, the balanced outputs of Bifrost 2 are not true balanced, but cheap-ass balanced?

    I’m not making cheap-ass up to sound like an ass, perhaps @schiit could chime in on this but that’s the word Jason and Mike actually said in the Head-Fi thread. To elaborate, because the Bifrost 2 has only 2 DAC chips and not 4 like Gungnir Multibit or Yggdrasil, it cannot have “true” balanced outputs.

    In other words, I’m wondering whether you felt that the SE outs are non-gimped in comparison to the balanced outs, when in fact, it should be more precise to say that it’s the balanced outs that are somewhat gimped. Bifrost 2 wouldn’t need summing or processing balanced signals to provide single-ended signals... it has only 2 DAC chips so we could get an inherently SE signal from them. On the contrary, it would require some form of processing to deliver a balanced signal from 2 DAC chips.

    Because both the SE and balanced outputs of Bifrost 2 uses only 2 DAC chips, it is understandable that the balanced outputs are not noticeably superior to the SE outputs, while the balanced outputs of Gungnir Multibit and Yggdrasil (which use 4 chips) are indeed superior to SE. I can’t help but wonder if you perceived this lack of difference in sound quality between the SE and balanced outs of Bifrost 2 as the SE being non-gimped.
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Put it this way: I felt the SE outs of the Bifrost 2 > SE outs of the Gungnir Multibit and SE outs of Yggdrasil, all other things being equal and taking into account differences in tonal balance.
     
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  20. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

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    I said no such thing.

    I constructed an example of a very specific kind of output stage that would not fit on an Yggdrasil card when done discrete, and specifically said that this was not a thing.

    This is how internet rumors get started.

    But in terms of the opamp, it is inherently differential. As is Nexus™. As is Nelson Pass's Supersymmetry. As is the unnamed differential buffer used in Freya+. As in a circlotron. There are many ways to get inherently differential topologies, and all have their pluses and minuses. Some are good with you taking one phase off of them, and some aren't. Some sound better summed, even if they're stable with one phase loaded, and some don't.

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to generalize performance of a differential stage, or a summed differential stage, or separate single-ended stages. It has to be taken as a whole, in the design.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
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