Schiit Freya + and S Impressions - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by purr1n, Jun 30, 2019.

  1. leafy

    leafy Rando

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    Very happy with Freya S, just one small item on my wishlist - The ability to go 1 click at a time with the volume knob/remote.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'd love a remote volume knob! Yes knob. Would pay $200 more for that.
     
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  3. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Kind of a common issue with motorized pots, I mean unless you go full feedback-control and wire up the relay board for sensing and drive the pot with a microcontroller using that.

    That or use really high precision (and expensive) stepper servos but those usually lock solid when not getting a signal.

    Rn pretty sure the remote just makes the motor turn the pot until you lift your finger and that's that.
     
  4. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    @purr1n Thanks for the graphic, but I was wondering where passive mode sits with the new Freyas.
     
  5. Cary

    Cary Acquaintance

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    Received my Freya S yesterday and hooked it up and let it run overnight so it would be nice and warmed up to compare this morning. For reference my system is as follows:

    Jriver Id (Intel Nuc) Music Server
    Schiit Gungir Multibit with Gen 5 USB
    Preamp- Was an Adcom GFP-750
    NHT X1 Active Crossover
    Sunfire Stereo Amp- Rebuilt last year
    Magnepan 3.5 on Mye Stands (also rebuilt last year)
    Rythmik E15 Subwoofer
    Room Treatments from GIK Acoustics
    Interconnects for the above are all XLR from Worlds Best Cables on Amazon, constructed with Mogami 2534 wire. I used Wireworld for my RCA connections for things like my turntable. Speaker cables are older Cardas Crosslink.

    My ears are 46 years old and still work pretty well, but not as well as when they were 25.

    I previously tried the original Freya pre-amp and returned it, as it sounded very veiled compared to my Adcom. I am now convinced there was something wrong with that unit. For my comparisons below, I matched volume levels as close as possible by ear and swapped cables between pre-amps while the music was paused and then would re-listen to section.

    In comparison to my GFP-750, across the board the Freya has much better imaging, with voices being clearly defined in space. I have to wonder if my GFP-750 (despite a crackly volume knob) has wandered out of spec being nearly 20 years old.

    Passive Comparison- The GFP-750 is a bit more lively sounding that the Freya S. The Freya was much better in the imaging department. The Freya definitely reduces the volume, even turned up all the way in passive compared to the Adcom. With the Adcom, when cranked up the volume knob is at 2:00-3:00 in passive mode, never needing full volume. On the Freya, I had it maxed at one point with a quietly recorded disc. This isn't all bad, I can stick it in that mode to prevent my wife from blowing speakers when she gets a hold of the volume knob (really, it has happened, twice, first to my MG-12s, then my MG2.7s. I told my wife the next time would cost a set of MG20s, that seems to have fixed the issue).

    Active Comparison- Again, the Freya was the clear winner in imaging. The Adcom was slightly smoother in the upper midrange and lower treble, with the Freya S sounding just like it had a little glare in that area. I wouldn't take the glare as final, as the unit has less than 12 hours on it and no cycling. The high gain mode on the Freya sounds a bit punchier than the low gain.

    Miscellaneous Regarding the Freya:

    Passive v. Low Gain Active- Despite both having zero gain, when you switch from passive to active, the sound level increases about 3-4 db. This is true with XLR and RCA. I would expect them to be the same. The step from low gain to high gain sounds smaller than the specified 12 db.

    Improvements from the original Freya- I really like the improvements from the original model. Specifically: 1) The pause and mute for 5 second going to high gain mode, no more oh crap moments. If you hit it by accident, you have time to hit the button again and go to passive. 2) The volume knob following with the remote. I like a visual reference and this provides it.

    For me this is a keeper. At some point in the future, I might try the + and see what I think with the tubes, but for the time being, I am happy and find it a step forward from the Adcom. Please keep in mind, I am no "golden ear", just someone who likes listening to music and loves how Schiit and some other manufactures have brought back 1) great equipment for reasonable prices, and 2) the idea that this should be fun.
     
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  6. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Thank for the impressions, but this part is very odd to me:

    If they are both passive preamps, then max volume should be 0 dB attenuation on both, and you should get unity gain. So from the same source, you should be getting the same volume level output...
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  7. Cary

    Cary Acquaintance

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    I agree and that is why I noted it. It appears the Freya when turned up all the way in passive has attenuation. I would guess between 3-6 db. Why I don’t know, but someone running single ended (so 6 db less than my XLRs) with inefficient speakers could run into volume limitations in passive mode.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Passive mode (assuming good match as sometimes passive can sound worse) would be the same as the JFET/BJT on Freya+, but slightly better in terms of omission (lack thereof).

    If source and DAC don't mesh well, passive will sound soft, sluggish, thin, weak, etc.
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Different input and output impedances of the volume resistor relays and source and amps. This could lead to slightly different volume levels.
     
  10. Cary

    Cary Acquaintance

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    Thanks for the explanation. Sold my GFA-750 this morning, so I am committed now.
     
  11. Whipples

    Whipples Rando

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    I've got the Freya+, never had the OG Freya, and I can add some additional thoughts to the mix. Music types I primarily listen to are electronic/EDM, 60-80s rock, grunge/alternative, and hip hop.

    Full analog chain ProJect Essential 3 TT with MP110 cartridge -> DJArt Pre phono-> Freya+ -> LSR305 powered monitors

    For digital (lossless WAV files and Spotify) Modi Multibit via SPDIF -> Freya+ -> LSR 305 (for 2 channel listening) or LYR 3/Jotunheim with HD650 balanced cable (using a 1/4 to 4pin XLR adapter in the Lyr).

    I originally planned to go with OG Saga but ended up with Freya+ because of the room to grow, cut down on adapters/interconnects, and they allowed you to turn off the tube stage when not in use.

    Forewarning: I am not so great at describing what I hear and am still working on that skill.

    4 stock Tung Sol 6SN7s: The first thing I noticed while listening to the monitors ("2 channel mode") fed via turn table was that the stereo image no longer felt between the speakers and got much wider with a much clearer image. The sound also had a better energy to it and I found myself nodding along to the beat more often than not. I put Led Zeppelin IV (the Jimmy Page remastered 180G vinyl) down and it felt like I was listening to it for the first time all over again. Really proved the point that using the preouts on a headamp, while they work, they were just that and nothing more. It really limited the sound to what I can only describe as being in a box versus being in a room. I had a lot of fun spinning several albums after that and just getting lost in each one all over again hearing that tube stage! The Tung Sols left me with a good overall experience and I hear no hum, microphonics, or other noise common from tubes with my headphones on, the volume up, and no source playing so they definitely improved the noise floor as they claimed.

    Similar experience when I switched to digital sources. I felt more "in" the music as opposed to "at" the music in 2 channel mode. I did not readily notice the sins of omission with the tube stage active but it did calm the Jotunheim down a bit to where I could listen without fatigue for much longer. This is not a miracle solution to the Jot if you are not a fan of the way it sounds and I don't recommend spending $899 to improve a $399 amp but I do like the Jot for electronic music and hip hop and the Freya+ made it more enjoyable with tube mode while still preserving what the Jot is known for. Freya+ into the Lyr3 with the Tung Sol in it was even more engaging to listen to, and when it came to headphones that was my go-to over the Jot. I could not get enough of it! My listening experiences with both the Jot and Lyr are consistent with their respective threads here so I won't go too crazy into it, but for Jot I would say you keep the aggressive up-front soundstage with just a bit more width, slightly better separation, and a little calming of the treble. For the Lyr it widened/deepened the soundstage a tad, but emphasized the holographic feeling and layering that tubes bring to the table. Again the biggest difference was using it as intended which is between source and amp/speakers.

    The JFET passive while I could not immediately tell the difference because it is hard to volume match with the tube gain I still found/find enjoyable. JFET Passive felt very transparent and listening to a few albums I am very familiar with had all of the same details I remember from before I put it into the system but I also didn't notice the tube stage omitting them like I was expecting to based on what folks had mentioned about OG Freya. JEFT into the Lyr3 was great for casual listening, didn't do much for the Jot from what I could tell, and I see myself sticking to the tube stage going forward.

    I listened to fully passive and it was good, but because I use the XLR outs for the monitors I think I have to run the JFET stage to do the SE ->BAL conversion in 2 channel mode so I haven't truthfully spent much time with it and likely won't going forward beyond maybe gaming or other activities that I don't need tubes for.

    I spent a weekend with the Tung Sols and the 4th of July holiday with the Westinghouse tubes and I can safely say I did not feel the need to tube roll, but wanted to try it. I rolled a pair of Westinghouse 6SN7GTBs from the 1960s into the gain stage of the Freya+ and they are probably still breaking in but it did bring (so far) a more holographic "tube sound" to the table, ahead of the Tung Sols (which again gave me no immediate reason to swap them out). The Tung Sols did feel a bit polite and more consistent with the overall Schiit house sound and the Westinghouse tubes brought a little more "tube magic" to the mix but the difference was not insane and took me quite some time to be able to pinpoint. Some sparkle up top, more air/holographic sound, better image/soundstage overall at the cost of some very minor mid-bass which was a fair trade to me.

    I can't hear the stepped attenuater with headphones on and the "clicks" don't come through my speakers like some folks reported on the OG Freya, motorized volume pot is a big plus, and the fastener-less design is really sleek. Overall I am very happy with it and am just excited to listen to music all over again!

    Downsides: Freya+ get's VERY warm when tubes are active on the transformer side of the case. Schiit said this is normal and while it is not too hot to touch it made me a little nervous so I cut a 3/8" riser for each foot out of PETG tubing I had for my water-cooled computer build to get it up off the desk more to improve cooling, and also have an 80MM fan mounted behind my computer monitor blowing down on the transformer part of the case for my peace of mind. In both passive modes it gets somewhat warm to the touch. Also I wish I did not have to cycle through ALL inputs each time and wish I could go backwards and forwards. Also it really demonstrated how, despite that I am very happy with my Modi Multibit, it is now the weakest part of my digital chain! Same for my phono stage. Not a bad problem to have and overall I'm very happy with the purchase.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
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  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I'll be taking delivery on a Freya S in about a week, to pair with Aegirs running in mono. I currently have an OG Saga with a Ken Rad tube and absolutely love it. It just gets out of the way. But, I hate how the volume works and I don't *need* a tube. I will say I was not impressed with it all that much until I stuck the Ken-rad in it. It really does live up to the hype. I don't recall the details from the before time, but it took it from a level of being inoffensive to thinking it was actually positively contributing to the performance of the system.
     
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  13. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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  14. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I thought about signing up for the Freya + loaner just to compare with my Freya S. I don't really have any desire for that now. I'm sure there would be differences, but I'm guessing it would be a matter of taste side grade. Maybe not. But I'm really liking the Freya S and Aegir right now.
     
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  15. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    So before the Freya+ loaner came to my house, I never used any other preamp. Being a brand new piece of gear, I debated for a while on offering my impressions of it. But heck, I'll just put in my 2 cents. I had it hooked up to an inexpensive Audio Technica turntable and Audioengine A5+ speakers (those who perused the two channel threads know I'm trying to get a better system in place).

    Notes in no particular order (I only really used the tube mode):
    • Compared to not having the Freya+ and just going turntable -> A5+, the Freya+ is an upgrade in literally every sonic area. The sound becomes much more 3D, the stage becomes very forward (seems like a typical Schiit trait), and everything just sounds crisper and clearer. Only real complaint is that with these speakers, the high mids can get a touch strident on certain records. It's really hard to tell if the Freya+ in tube mode commits any sins of omission; I certainly couldn't tell if any information was missing. A touch of tube bloom and "magic," and just honestly sounded really good.
    • The remote works well, although keep in mind volume up/down on the remote will constantly move the pot when held down. Takes a bit of getting used to.
    • I'm not uncomfortable with the heat it outputs, although if you're thinking of pairing this with Aegir I'd highly recommend keeping them separate from each other.
    • Compared to the Feliks Euforia (when used as a preamp, crossfeed on), it seems to be a trading of blows and a matter of preference really. The Freya+ has a close stage, the Euforia is noticeably much further away. The Euforia is more tubey (can be a bit much, and indeed I thought it was a touch too much for my taste, but I had my mom listen and she loved this), and also seems to have slightly rolled highs to go with slightly boosted lows. However, the Euforia seems to better be able to differntiate depth in recordings. Strictly as a preamp, I do NOT recommend the Euforia over the Freya+, but I do think that the Euforia might have a place on lean-sounding systems where the flexibility of having the headphone-out is required.
    So yeah, I recommend the Freya+, but be mindful that my recommendation probably means nothing since it's the first of its kind for me. As such, it's really now the standard of which I hold other preamps.
     
  16. Neward Thelman

    Neward Thelman Rando

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  17. Neward Thelman

    Neward Thelman Rando

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    "I want to say that there is some plankton missing...sins of omission (discernably less plankton)...while the plankton is being retained...I strongly value the technicalities, at the least the plankton and the micro-stuffs..."

    WTF are you talking about? Plankton? Wha???

    "Continuity is an output stage topology..."

    What's "continuity"? I checked the Schiit website. They don't make any such product.
     
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  18. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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