Schiit Saga Thread

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by HitmanFluffy, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    Thanks for the reasurance.

    Any suggestion on a tube to open up soundstage?

    I've also got a maxed out foreplay 3 that I need to finish refurbing, going to enjoy comparing the two,
     
  2. RiddleyWalker

    RiddleyWalker Friend

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    Just got my Saga in. Currently just running it as a preamp to my Black Widow, but it will also serve my JBL monitors. Oddly, it seems like I need to have the volume pot turned all the way up in order to get decent volume. And even then, it's about the same volume as if I had connected my RCAs directly from source to amp. Is this to be expected, or is something amiss?
     
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  3. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    From the Schiit website under specs for the Saga:

    Gain: Approximately 1 (0dB) through either passive or active stage​

    So yep, that's what to expect...max output same as the source direct. No gain.
     
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  4. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    While the Saga is transparent for speakers, I would not use it in between a dac and a resolving headphone amp. When I tried it with the ZDT, there was a loss in max volume (likely due to the impedance interactions b/t pre-amp and headphone amp) and a loss in overall resolution.
     
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  5. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    That makes a lot of sense. I also don't find it makes much of a tube buffer either in my experience. Saga is subtle enough on its own WRT the tube-loob it adds on, and I found it's even less apparent going through another preamp (the character of the next preamp marks it's stamp on the signature as well).
     
  6. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    Saga arrived today... along with Vidar. My rig is Yggy Gen5 -> Saga -> Vidar -> KEF LS50.

    Stock tube.

    Notes:
    • Active vs Passive. Subjective: Highs reverb just a bit more, most noticable on cymbals. Mids seem to come up a couple of db in active but not much. Does nothing for sound stage, liquidity, dynamics. Really can't tell the difference.
    • Active vs passive. Test with Audiophile Test CD. I was expecting some roll off in active mode in the bass but in both active and passive level testing for bass was equal down to 31 hz. Well below the rated bottom lows frequency of the ls50's so tube doesn't seem to have a problem there.
    • Relay attenuator volume is not smooth. There are some spots where the db level jumps unevenly and a spot right after the 12 o clock position where the signal cuts out for a split second while moving between relays. This occurs less severly at 1 o clock and 3 o clock. I don't care cause I don't adjust volume alot.
    • Whole system ( with Saga in both passive and active mode ) is transparent enough to make 256k mp3 very annoying to listen to. ( The Yggy is known for being extremely unforgiving the Saga isn't smoothing or hiding that ).
    • I feel like, if the attenuator is going to be that noisy the Saga should be less clean and high tech looking, and have more of a mad scientist lab aesthetic. But that's just me being ... well mad - waa haa haaa.
    • Am very happy the tube isn't as sunk in as far is it is one MJ2 and Lyr 2. It's nice to see the glow and not leave fingernail shavings in the amp when removing the tube.
    I have a Sylvania Bad Boy and some Russians from Upscale Audio on the way... will see if they make any difference. Sure hope they do or I'll just stare angrily a that useless button.

    Also have a heavily upgraded Bottlehead Foreplay 3, that I'm restoring. I'll compare it against that at a later date.

    So far I'm happy depite the useless button.
     
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  7. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    You really need to give those new components some time to burn in to get their true sound. Not saying you will necessarily find it better or worse, but my Vidar changed quite a bit after about 30 hours of play time at moderate volume, and more so up to 75-100 hours. With a new Saga and tube on top of that, I think you will likely hear quite a change over time. And that's not just having the units plugged in, but pushing amps (in particular with Vidar).

    I agree the Saga volume steps/attenuator seems to jump around a bit sometimes moving a couple of steps instead of one, and it's also a bit blurry/scratchy going between steps. But like you, I don't change that often, doesn't bother me at all.

    Also regarding Saga tubes - my experience with a half-dozen tubes of various quality is that ALL are fairly subtle - they do each have their own signature but it is not dramatic at all (it's only one tube) so if you're trying to significantly shape your sound with Saga's tube buffer, you may be dissapointed. That said, I did find the stock tube a bit rough/bright, there's definitely better.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  8. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    Ya figured that'd be the case. Intend to update post after a weekend of burn in. Also the expecation of required burn in on the Vidar is why I've not posted anything about it. I'd expect a "passive" component that has little more than a couple of resistors in the signal path to require very little burn in. That said the tube stage should need some.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  9. Lenroot77

    Lenroot77 Friend

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    Just received a saga, my pot seems to be a bit “stiff” like something is rubbing? Anyone else experience this? Maybe they all are like this when they are new?

    Thanks!
     
  10. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    Use a 1/16 hex to loosen the pot and re-align it. If it's not straight, the pot will rub against the metal behind it.
     
  11. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    Rig burned in all weekend in active mode - vidar/saga now at 75+ hours of music. I stand by everything above. The burn in increased the smoothness up and down the range - everything feel more natural. Though I suspect that was a result of the Vidar, not the Saga. Clicking the useless button is still pretty useless. Don't get me wrong, I'm prone to hyperbole, there is a difference, but it is very very very sublte... not worth actually pushing the button. My guess is that it's going to take some very liquid tubes to make a difference. Perhaps coating those tubes with a bit of of Mrs. Butterworth will help. I recall this from my MJ2, where the gooey Orange Globes sound fantastic while the more natural Telefunkens sound much like the LSST. Though I also recall smashing the stock tubes with a hammer out spite ( again remember I I'm hyperbolic, I smashed them out of joy of seeing them die, not from spite. )

    Tube is essentially a slight bump in the midband EQ. Nothing like actually using a tube. At this stage, I feel like Schiit could have forgone the extra cost associated with adding a tube stage and either enjjoyed the profit from having producted an excellent passive stepped attenuator or investied the money into smoothing out the attenuator. Either way, a passive attenuator with a remote control for this price is unheard of, totally worth what I paid for it - if I think about the button on the front as an implementation of Claude Shannon's "Ultimate Machine" I feel like I got a hipster/irony bonus. We'll see, new tubes come in this week.... plus I'm sure somebody is going to say, "You need to let the passive equipment burn in for 300 hours."
     
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  12. Jokko

    Jokko Friend

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    Is using a Saga with xlr-monitors a bad idea, you know, being rca and all.
    Does anyone have a good alternative to Freya, would like a smaller footprint for desk use.
     
  13. GanGreinke

    GanGreinke Almost "Made"

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    You'd have to check on the specific monitor, but some monitors are designed to take both balanced and unbalanced inputs (you can just use an XLR-to-RCA cable). Some monitors have a specific switch that allows you to choose balanced/unbalanced, but others don't have the switch. Just know that the signal for unbalanced will be -10 dB while the balanced will be +4 dB.
     
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  14. mrflibble

    mrflibble Friend

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    Or RCA cables with TRS (phono) adapters if the monitors have TRS sockets. That was the method I used to connect my phono stage to my JBL LSR305's.
     
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  15. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    Ordered a Freya to test difference figured I'd send one of the two back. Didn't figure I'd decide this fast but the Freya stays the Saga is going back. Tube stage in the Freya is really just more what I was expecting from the Saga Not syrupy, still very clean, but more spatial and with an increase in dynamics, immediately noticiable on percussion.
    Also perhaps it's psycological but going balanced from Yggy to Feya seems to be yeilding a more accurate sound stage even when not using the tube buffer, perhaps a result of balancing through more of the chain.
    This is all with the Freya only running signal for 4 hours before I started listening. Cruft on the Tube heaters isn't even burned off yet.
    I think the Saga is a very good Passive Attenuator, for a good price - maybe the best on the market. But the tube stage reminds me of the tube in the Aune T1 Mk2, it glows. ( Yes I get the implementations have nothing in common. )
     
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  16. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Funny timing, I just acquired (within the last hour) a used Freya along with some funky looking Northern Electric 6SN7 tubes. It'll probably arrive late next week. I plan to compare with Saga which I've become very familiar with at this point. I am looking to get a bit more tube sound in my system, and also to be able to used balanced going from Gumby to Freya. I'll report back once I've had some time with it.

    P.S. Sorry to hear about your Vidar, but glad to hear Schiit is being proactive about replacing potential problems.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  17. deserat

    deserat Acquaintance

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    My last note in this Saga will be that I loaned the Saga to a friend who couldn't have disagreed with me more. He disagreed with me enough to buy it from me plus the cost of the upgraded tube I put in it. I've not seen him post here so I'll relay that his words to me were that he, "Could clearly hear the tubes impact and enjoyed the holographic sound it produced." I hope he posts here, but we'll see. In the end, I've plugged the Bottlehead Foreplay 3 Extended with upgraded capacitors into my rig in place of both the Saga and the Freya.... and my take was:

    Note: My chain is Yggy ( Analog 2 ), Preamp ( Saga, Freya, Foreplay 3 Extended ), Vidar ( on recall for some obscurre reason ), KEF LS50.

    The Saga is a good Passive, a passive with a remote non-the-less. Offered at a price I can't imagine beating. I don't know what the tolorances are on the reistors on the atenuators ladder but 64 steps remote controlled? Wow. I'd like to see what Schiit could do wil a pure headphone amp plugged into this thing ( maybe the that's the ragnorock but imagine the Saga as the volume control to a heaphone amp and a speaker amp ). Pots suck, I'll never own another, both Bottlehead and Schiit have conviced me of that, but good stepped attenuators are expensive.

    The Freya, well it images better than the Saga. Not even a question. The tubes tube better than the Saga ( definately not even a question ). Not sure what he JFET does, will talk more about that when I start writing about the Freya. For people wondering about whether you shoudl Saga or Freya, Freya if you like tubes, Saga if you have tubes in your Amplifier and need purity. It's not that the Saga is more pure than the Freya, it's not, It's just less expesive if all you want is a passive. I'll leave it to others to expound on the Saga's impact with the tube buffer, but for me, with the Vidar and LS50, the Freya is obviously better.

    The Bottlehead Foreplay.

    Note: Yes I just made this multiparagraph. The foreplay is a discontinued amp that is also DIY. Most people will bypass it just on those merits. Those people should buy Beats heaphones and listen to music in their rattle-traps as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand, I'm not trained in this stuff so if you care about what I say, you're taking your life in your own hands.

    I bought the foreplay on ebay from a guy selling both it and a S.E.X. amp. Yes SEX! Like Schiit! Get over it. The foreplay has all the bells an wistles from Bottlehead, plus Mundorf Supreme capacitors. The build was bad, so far I've reflowed about 1/2 the joints and stared in wonder as I realized the builder used solder like Gorrila Glue ( no mechanical connection, just glueing new leads to old leads ). When put in place of the Freya or Saga, I can only use one position on the left and right potentiometers. The volume is way to high and I need to get higher ohm resistors.

    All that said. The Foreplay eats both the other pre-amps alive in terms of, "Holly fuck I'm being consumed by the music, instead of consuming the music." And that's without being able to finely posistion the volume. I'm running new JJ's as tubes. For anybody who likes tubes, you know JJ's aren't anything special. Their only asset is that they are low noise. Everything is just "OK"

    Which leads me to some musing. I also have a Bottlehead Mainline, I spent 2 months with it stock, then I upgraded the Capacitors to some Mudorf Supremes. The capacitors took the Mainline from being a tiny bit more interesting than the HDVA 600 I owned, to "Woooooohhhh this is otherworldly. This is me in the world of the music." As somebody who had the best tubes I could get int the Mainline and upon putting them in said, "Well ok." I'm guessing that not nearly enough attention is paid to the capacitors in an amp... I could be totally delusional here - so don't quote me.

    Anyway, I'm knocking the Saga out. Won't be posting here again unless anybody has questions. Saga vs Freya - with the Yggy, Vidar ( on recall ) and LS50, Freya wins. Better imaging, more holographic, almost equal detial in tube mode. Freya with stock tubes is noisy, but worth it ( I'ma replace those, microphonic peices of ************ ).

    OK lastly. The attenuator. My friend also noticed the "WTF JUST HAPPEND" at 12'oclock. The Freya is smoother. It has drops and jumps but not like the Saga. But 128 vs 64.... really? Not sure why. .5 db vs 1db... that's just silly. Perphaps chaining with downstream equpment that also has volume control? The remote on the Freya feels so much nicer and better built than the Saga... but so what. If I can throw the remote at my wall and dent it vs put a hole in it... doesn't make anyting sound any better and I'm happy to get my lazy self up and turn the knob, or insult the recording engineer that couldn't atune the level to my exact liking 40 years after he died!

    Peace. Out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  18. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I built an original Bottlehead Foreplay about 20 years ago when they were $99. Then I added the CCS upgrades. I was using a Dynaco Stereo 70 reissue amp and together the sound was very classic tube sounding with the long decays, etc. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but not the most accurate or anything. I haven't heard the Schiit preamps but if they sound like I imagine from all the descriptions I've read then I could see someone having strong preferences for one or the other because they are likely completely different animals.
     
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  19. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Saga and Freya are both supposed to come with the same all-metal remote currently (as of mid last year I believe). In the past they both came with the little plastic remotes. I assume your Saga is older than your Freya, which is why you have the crappy remote for Saga?
     
  20. defiant00

    defiant00 Rando

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    So, with the announcement of octal LISSTs, is there any reason to use one in Saga since both active and passive modes have unity gain?
     

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