Schiit Folkvangr Review - Measures like shit, but sounds GRRREAT

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jun 30, 2022.

  1. Johnny Opps

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    Background: Have been listening to my FV extensively with HD800s, HD6xx, Focal Clear OG with stock tubes. All good, nothing really interesting to add - I agree with many impressions here. Really glad I bought my first $1k+ headphone amp and it was this one. It's largely displaced my Mjolnir 2 except for LCD-3.

    More interestingly, wanted to experiment with a very high impedance headphone. Bought a secondhand pair of Beyerdynamic 880 Premium 600 Ohms. Made the mistake / good mistake of plugging them into my Folkvangr first - I don't have any experience with this set of cans, just what I've read. It was great - V shape was nicely used/shaped by FV, very impactful bass that was rounded without feeling muddy, highly articulate treble that wasn't shouty/honky/too much. Some mid-bass bloominess, but not so much it drove me crazy. Listened to a bunch of Medeski Martin & Wood, Cannonball Adderly, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Smiths, Charlie Hunter Trio, RTJ. Liked it more with acoustic music than Hip-Hop / Pop because of the treble treatment. Suffice it to say that in high gain I really liked the pairing, and thought "man, these are some comfortable fucking cans, not sure what the big deal is about, they're not near my better cans, but I like them and can see spending a day working in them they're so damn comfy."

    Then plugged 'em into my Mjolnir 2 to compare. Ugh. Lasted 3 minutes. Can't stand 'em. Also tried out of iPhone/Fiio X3, awful. Congested, agonizingly trebley. No fun-o-rama. Not again.

    Got 'em so cheap, I keep 'em for the Folkvangr. Frankly it's goof to have a pair of cans that are this comfortable I can forget I'm wearing them, and they're both engaging and get out of the way. But not with another amp, thanks very much.
     
  2. tranq

    tranq Friend

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    Does the FV have even output impedance across the spectrum? Ive got Focal Clear OGs and I cant use them on my tube amp.... They get damn bloaty in the mid bass for most music types unless I use tubes that have even or recessed bass. Just asking for the future, used market.
     
  3. Biodegraded

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    The Clear has a big impedance bump in the bass, so its frequency response is exaggerated there by high output-impedance tube amps (here are a few examples).

    The Folkvangr though isn't bad in that respect: with its impedance multiplier switched off, its output Z at high gain is 18 Ohms and at low gain is & 7 Ohms; with the impedance multiplier switched on (so it'll play well with low-impedance planars), it's 8 Ohms & 3.5 Ohms, respectively. Here's how those settings would boost the Clear's bass if its FR from a notional zero-impedance amp is represented by a flat line:

    [​IMG]

    Even at Folkvangr's highest output impedance, the peak around 50 Hz would be exaggerated by less than 2 dB.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  4. Johnny Opps

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    Quick question - I've been loving the FV with the ZMF Verite Open's. Listening at reasonable volume to acoustic bass/piano, low gain, impedance multiplier off, I have been getting occasional cut-outs. Like 10-15 seconds long, a couple times an hour. No audible click or pop before or after, just goes silent and then comes back on. Listened to my Mjolnir 2 off the same Gungnir Multibit/Ropieee combo for a couple hours to make sure, and though it's not scientific, I didn't get any cutouts.

    Could it be a protection mode? Tube with issues (I've removed and reseated them all carefully)? Something specific to my Gungnir Multibit's output (I could try a different DAC, but this seems so weird). It's so occasional and unpredictable.

    Thanks for any ideas.
     
  5. rfernand

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    Hi there! Happy member of The Mjolnir 2 and Folvanger Owners Society. I’ve been spending quality time with the Folkvanger for about a month now and I have some impressions to share.

    Yep! So far, the “highest” wow for each set of cans I’ve tried looked like this: (where “wow” is about how fun it gets, not how neutral/detailed).

    Code:
    +——————————-———-+—————-+—————————————————————-+—————————--+
    | Headphone     | Gain | Impedance Multiplier | Wow?      |
    +——————————-———-+—————-+—————————————————————-+—————————--|
    | HD600/6xx     | High | Off                  | Very Nice |
    | DCA Stealth   | High | Off                  | Very Nice |                 
    | F.Utopia ‘22  | High | Off                  | Very Nice |               
    | LCD-X 2021    | Low  | On                   | Nice      |
    | Grado 325x    | High | On                   | Very Nice |
    | Grado PS500e  | High | On                   | Baller    |
    | Grado GS1000e | High | On                   | Very Nice |                   
    +———————————————+—————-+——————————————————————+——————————-+
    
    

    - My opinions may change as I listen more. I’m still in honeymoon period.
    - Stock tubes. I won’t get to rolling until I get to know the toy better.
    - MJ2 vs Folkvangr is a hard fight to behold. Like when Batman and Superman fought until one of them said “Martha”. They definitely have different character - earlier in the thread someone said FV is “vintagey”, and I agree. MJ2 is more refined. Let’s say FV is self taught and super competent, MJ2 is just as good but went to college and has a more fastidiously precise handwriting. Or something like that. Also, FV punches and slams harder at a bar fight, MJ2 does judo. #nonsense
    - LCD-X is not that happy here, but in general I think LCD-X is best used with solid state for me. It seems to be rather sensitive to the tube character and get slightly confused. I noticed this the most with Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street”, the placement and detail is not as good as these cans do with other amps. It sounded best with the impedance multiplier on. With higher gain I start hearing the noise floor hiss at reasonable listening levels.
    - I’ve had Folkvangr both with Gungnir MB and Yggdrassil OG A2. No educated preference with this amp so far.
    - On/off with the multiplier, I can hear something done to vocals (especially with Grados). Not sure what else folks are hearing. Definitely preferred it for some.
    - I’ve never heard the PS500e sound this happy before. This was a golden combo for me, especially for Hard Rock.

    @atomicbob: PM me if you want to measure it. I believe we’re in the same metro area.
     
  6. MisterRogers

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    Just returned from an extended and much needed holiday break. After ~6 awesome hours this morning of Pavane >> Folkvangr >> Maze 109 Pro's - I thought I'd share a few more thoughts on this awesome amp (in no priority / order):
    • This chain (Pavane >> Folkvangr >> 109 Pro) has stupid synergy. Seriously. It is stealing listening time from my customized TU-8900, Empyrean Elite (though @jexby has been enjoying them with Oor over the holidays), Spring 3 and HQPlayer.
    • Whether I'm listening to Elite or 109 Pro with Folkvangr, I starting to trust its presentation over other amps. It may be flawed thinking on my part, but it's OCL design with nothing between tube output and headphones, seems to better preserve music in both time & frequency domains. While presentations can vary with DAC, filter, headphones, etc. FV gives what it gets. I never run with the Impedance Multiplier for partly this reason. This amp is truth in amplification - why mess with it?
    • I'm running telefunkens as drivers. The stock tubes are just fine, but drop in some quality NOS for the best FV can render.
    If you can assemble a synergistic chain with Folkvangr in it, this amp can complete with (by audio memory) the best I've owned / heard (EC's, Donald Norths, custom builds). Thanks again for scratching this itch @schiit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2023
  7. rfernand

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    It’s time to create the Folkvanger Owners Association for reals, hehehe.

    @MisterRogers : have you had a chance to play with Grados? I agree with your sentiment re:impedance multiplier, but I am genuinely surprised at how much fun Grados get with it.
     
  8. MisterRogers

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    No, I've never been a fan of the ergonomics of 'on ear' headphones, so apart from a brief listen here or there at meets, Grado's haven't been in my collection.
     
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  9. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    I would like to measure the Folkvangr but my lab queue is so backed up it might be several months before I could possibly get to it. When I feel I have an opening that would involve a reasonable time away from your enjoying the amp, I'll contact you.
     

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