Schiit Vidar Impression Thread - UPDATED WITH REVIEW (CHECK FIRST POST)

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by Rotijon, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Moving this here.

    So are you using the NAD currently in that room/setup? If so, a single Vidar should easily increase the output and headroom without an issue, and I’m going to bet will sound better overall. Although I know the NAD stuff punches above its weight, it’s pretty limited on power - a single Vidar will probably put out 2-3x the power of the NAD or more depending on the frequency since it doubles its power output into 4 ohms. And based on measurements Jason has posted in the past, it will push significantly more power than its specifications. And the nice thing is with Freya you could always upgrade to monoblocks down the road if you felt you needed even moar power.
     
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  2. dmckean44

    dmckean44 In a Sherwood S6040CP relationship

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    Cerwin Vegas are junk and so are most of the crap marketed as "PA Speakers" at Guitar Center, Monoprice, etc...

    Real PA Speakers can sound pretty amazing but typically start at $2k/speaker.
     
  3. Samac

    Samac Rando

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    @rlow

    Yes, currently using the NAD. It does a great job and I’ve never pushed it to clipping or had it lose control of the speakers. It plays bigger than its 50 watts suggest. I had another 50 watt integrated lose control and bottom out a woofer. I never want to hear that “clack” again.:eek:

    Everything about the Vidar looks excellent. I believe I’ll let the Freya S settle another week and if all goes well order a Vidar. If that goes as well as the Freya S then I’ll add a Gungnir MB. If that goes well......... Well, that would be fantastic.

    Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about gear and the possibilities in years.

    Cheers,

    Scott
     
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  4. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    I love the sound of my new Vidar, but my Boenicke W5se monitors still drive it into clipping, which surprises me.

    I received my new Bifrost 2 + Freya S + Vidar combo a week ago. It's a much-needed upgrade to my old Peachtree Nova which clipped with my newish Boenickes a lot. (And they deserve higher-quality electronics anyway.) But I don't know what to do about the clipping.

    On many tracks it doesn't clip at a healthy volume. But on several, including acoustic guitar songs, it goes into clipping. Not necessarily death metal or anything. It seems to happen particularly on resonant notes in the music?

    The Boenicke W5se is nominal 4 ohm impedance, dipping down to 2 ohms in higher frequencies. Sensitivity is in the low-to-mid 80dB range. I knew I needed a high-power amp, which led me to the Vidar. Voltage gain is fine. With the Freya on 1x gain, I get healthy volume at 2 o'clock on the volume dial. I'm guessing they need more current? Jason's chapter on Head-Fi about developing the Jotunheim R for high current makes me think I may be in a similar situation in the speaker world. But the fact that Vidar doubles from 100W to 200W from 8 ohm to 4 ohm made me think it put out plenty of current. That kind of power-doubling is generally considered sufficient for Maggies. Am I wrong?

    I can think of 4 options, and I'm stumped on how to proceed:

    1) Get a 2nd Vidar and use them as monoblocks. But Vidar doesn't even have a power rating for 4 ohm as monos. Would they put out close to 800W? That seems insane for my little monitors. I don't know if that would address a need for more current anyway, IF that's the issue.

    2) Enjoy the Vidar at lower volumes and wait for the inevitable speaker (Jot R / OG trickle-up) + Nexus + Continuity + (Quantum Pixie Dust) Schiit amp. I probably will want to try this whenever it comes out, regardless.

    3) Get a different higher-power amp. I've read good things about the Kinki EX-M1, particularly with other Boenicke speakers. I found a used EX-M1+ for $2300. @rlow wrote a great review here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/kinki-ex-m1.7712/#post-253587 It's a lot of money, but I've come this far, and I want my fancy speakers to play to their potential.

    4) ???

    I've had a decent system since the early aughts, but I'm new to swapping around components like this. I'm still in the window where I can return the Vidar to Schiit. With an amp like Vidar clipping, I'm lost as to where to go. As a n00b here, I'm grateful for any thoughts.
     
  5. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    A couple of basic things come to mind that may be worth double checking:
    • What mode do you have Freya S operating in? If you're experiencing clipping, there's a chance it has more to do with insufficient gain than power. So make sure you've got Freya S in 4X gain mode (extra 12 dB).
    • You mentioned you're running Bifrost 2 as the DAC, but what is feeding the Bifrost? You've probably already done this, but make sure that there is no digital attenuation coming from your PC or streamer, i.e., make sure the digital volume is turned all the way up. Use Freya to control the volume.
    • How are you connecting the Bifrost to Freya? If you're currently using a single-ended connection to Freya (RCA), maybe try using the balanced Bifrost outputs (XLR). Balanced outputs tend to run hotter on most DACs. Whether you see an improvement from this will depend on downstream gear (the details of how the Nexus stage converts differential signals to single-ended). Worth a shot if you already have the XLR cables laying around.
    I took a look at your speakers, and even though they're pretty small they have quite a low sensitivity ~83 dB/W. Combined with a low nominal impedance (and even lower dips), that is likely not a recipe for success with monoblock Vidars. If adjusting the digital source and the preamp gain stage don't solve your issues, then you might need some more juice. This thread comes to mind where @purr1n shares his thoughts on the Crown CDi1000 [link here]. Good luck~
     
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  6. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    • I tried Freya S in 4x gain mode, and had the same clipping, just at a lower point with the volume control.
    • The Bifrost is fed by an Apple Airport Express, Qobuz streaming from an iPhone. I have the volume maxed on the phone, so all the volume attenuation should be through the Freya.
    • I have the Bifrost hooked up to the Freya through the XLR connections, as you suggest.
    One area where I'm ignorant/confused is the difference between more power and more current. Is 500W just 500W regardless, or how does damping factor play into this?

    Thanks for the tip on the Crown, I'll read @purr1n's post. I've never seen Phoenix connectors before.

    Appreciate the help!
     
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  7. yonson

    yonson Facebook Friend

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    Unless you are playing at volumes that are too high for the amp to keep up, I would double check that your source isn't possibly to blame here before swapping out equipment. Try lowering the output volume on it and see if you can get to the same volume level without it clipping.

    I believe Jason stated that Vidar (while not officially rated at 4 ohm mono) put out 600ish watts into 4 ohm mono. I currently have 3 vidar, 2 are running at 4 ohm mono in my main system, the other is in my office running 4 ohm stereo. Either setup will play at levels that are way higher than what I care to listen at (over 100dB at listening position with 88 and 87 dB sensitivity) . The only issue I've run into at 4 ohm mono with Vidar is when I had the one in my office running my center channel in my main system I could push it into over-current protection during battle scenes etc... watching movies at much higher than THX standard levels.
     
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  8. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Another thing you can try is to simplify the chain to narrow down the potential cause. Try a simple 1/8 stereo plug to two rcas to feed the preamp from the iphone and lower volume a bit from max. Then see what the pre and amp do. One caveat is if your iphone does not have a headphone jack, ergh!
     
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  9. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Tried lowering the volume from the source, turning up the volume on the Freya, but still got the same clipping.

    Well, happy for once to have a phone that's over 5 years old! Good idea, I tried that, ran into the clipping anyway. It was a fun thing to try anyway, because it really made me appreciate the Bifrost 2. I mean, an old iPhone DAC vs a Bifrost 2, it shouldn't be in the same realm, and it isn't. But I'm relatively new to swapping components a lot, and damn I'd be bummed if I couldn't tell the difference. Yeah, the Bifrost 2 is really nice.

    @monacelli reached out to me and pointed me to a FAQ on the Boenicke website I'd forgotten about (doh!):

    "In our 140 square meter demo room, for instance, a very good 200W solid state amplifier can quite easily clip on a W5 with a dynamically recorded piano in the midrange, or a uncompressed female voice. Our W5 can handle 1500W on such music program, short term in the midrange."

    It goes on to say how in some rooms, with some music, 30W tube amps have driven the W5 to high levels, etc.

    I think I just need more power. That's not any sort of knock on the Vidar, these little beasties appear to be really power hungry. The Freya S and Vidar combo sound wonderful most of the time, it's just that occasional level that demands more.
     
  10. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    So how much power do you think you need? I don’t think the monoblock Vidars are the way to go if the main reason for clipping is due to very low impedance. One way you could test I suppose is to run mono into a single speaker at near (or slightly above) the same volume level you generally hear clipping - be aware you are getting +6dB of gain going balanced into monoblock, so you’ll probably need to lower the volume knob like 8-10 steps from running stereo.

    The recco on the/a Crown amp might be a good one for sure. Otherwise you might need to go to something class D unless you want to spend a ton more money for lots of class A/B power (although I’m sure there are plenty of potential used options that can push out over 200+watts). Something like the Red Dragon class D monoblocks might be something to consider.

    One amp I’ve heard that sounds very, very similar to the Vidar is the Cambridge 851W - it’s rated at 200w into 8ohms stereo, and 350 into 4ohms. You can generally get them used for a very good price. Not sure if that would be enough power still though. Could the Kinki handle it? Possibly, I’ve not looked into how well they perform on the really tough to drive stuff, but I think 6 Moons May use them with Boenicke.
     
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  11. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Something about the Crown having a fan weirds me out a little. Not a particularly rational fear--if people say it's good, it's good--but I'm uneasy about that even if it's cheap. Just looked at the Red Dragon site... looks like they're all sold out of amplifiers!

    Hifi Knights reviewed the Kinki with the older brother Boenicke W8s and had very positive things to say. Unless I damaged by drivers with the clipping, I imagine it ought to work well with mine. It's a chunk more money, but hey... it's important for me to get something good, and if it lasts a while, it's a worthwhile investment.

    I just like the sound, aesthetics, and ergonomics of the Schiit gear I've owned so far. But I guess it's time to branch out a little.

    Thanks for the tips.
     
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  12. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    One thing I will warn about the Kinki stuff is that of course they are out of China, and their distributor/dealer network has been a shitshow for the last couple years. And although their casework etc looks heroic, there is no telling whether they will be reliable in the long term. One thing I didn’t mention in my review is that, in addition to the knobs not feeling particularly stable in use, is that one of the knobs was rubbing as it turned - I had to open the unit and re-adjust the position of the knob to get it to be smooth. A small thing really, but I do have some concerns about their potential reliability. Although Mike Powell Audio I think may have a bone to pick with the Kinki/Vinshine stuff in general (which he used to distribute), you may want to ask him his honest opinion of reliability or if he saw a lot of issues with any of the units he sold.

    I would encourage trying the Vidar in monoblock mode on a single speaker to see the result. I love my monoblock Vidars.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
  13. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Glad to hear you tried the iphone as a source and heard a noticeable difference vs the bifrost. :cool:

    A few more questions and thoughts. How big is listening room and how far from speakers are you? DL one of the SPL meter apps and get a reading of how many db SPL you have at listening position just before clipping. Just remember every 3db above that reading is a doubling of power. It could be the inefficiency of the speakers as @rlow has mentioned.

    I used to have some 85 db monitors that I ran with a 4 channel Bel Canto amp (still own and like it a lot) bridged to mono at 400 watts per channel. That worked great. Then again, I rarely listen to over 90db avg. SPL. Using just 2 channels at 100 watts per it never got the speakers to sing like they could. You could probably find a used EVO 4 and run it bridged for about $1500 or so. Or try the Crown. I would not worry so much about fans. I have two computers in my sound room with two fans each and never hear them when music is playing even at 75-80db.

    Good luck!
     
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  14. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Good idea, @rlow . I gave it a try, running my Vidar as a monoblock into one speaker. There's still some clipping, although slightly less or I'm imagining it? The woofer on the W5se is high-excursion, maybe it needs a high damping factor to control it? It sounded good out of that one speaker, and not noticeably louder.

    @bixby , my listening room is about 300 sq ft. Not huge. I'm at the GF's right now, can't test the SPL, but that's a neat idea. Looking forward to trying it when I'm home.

    Thanks for the advice!
     
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  15. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Hi @bixby, so I downloaded an SPL meter to my iPhone the other day, and I've tried it on the main track I've been using to test clipping. It's a clear recording, acoustic guitar and vocals, but generates a lot of clipping.

    The listening level I really like for it ranges mostly from mid 50dBs to mid-high 60dBs, with an occasional peak into the low 70dBs. I don't notice a strong correlation between the loudness and the clipping, however. Could be that the app has a lag, but I'm not convinced that it necessarily clips on the louder moments. I'm measuring roughly 12ft from the speakers.

    I also tried with the volume turned down a couple notches, so the music was playing in the low 40dBs to mid 50dBs range. There's still a little clipping, but way less. If I listen for it where I've heard it before, it's definitely there. For purely casual listening I'm not sure I'd notice it.

    I ordered a used Kinki EX-M1+ amp, should be arriving today. I'll update here if it fixes the clipping issue. I'm a little confused about the relationship between damping factor, power-doubling into lower impedance speakers, and "high-current" amps. I wonder whether the advertised 2000 damping factor will be the determining spec.
     
  16. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    @porkosphere

    Something is seriously wrong with your chain. There is no way any moderately powered amp could be clipping at those levels.

    Going back to the bifrost. Assuming you are feeding it with the Apple Airport express via a Quobuz track and is this going Toslink into the bifrost? Althought Toslink and the AE are a bit jittery it should not be that bad sounding.

    I would try an altogether different source and player. Maybe a few ripped from CD lossless files played back via a decent computer based player and yes run it via USB into the bifrost to see what happens.

    This situation is perplexing and hard to figure out, could it be a defect in the Schiit amp? I guess you will know soon enough.

    As for damping factor that will have no bearing on the sound vis a vis clipping.

    EDIT: One thing that can contribute to this sound is a long shot but it does happen. A burned voice coil in the woofer can cause a clipping type of distortion. A simple test would be to gently push evenly with fingers on the woofer cone while not playing to hear if there is any scraping sound. Generally you would have to play speakers really loud and for fair amount of time to get a voice coil wires to heat up to the extent that the wires start to melt. That scrape is the the melted deformed wire hitting the gap in the woofers magnet. It is rare but I replaced a number of woofers over the years that had this problem. Goes with the territory when selling to college kids.

    ANOTHER THOUGHT: The more I think about it the more I am inclined to say something may be wrong with the phone, have you tried playing the same song on the phone with Qobuz and headphones? I know it may be fairly loud, but any distortion?
     
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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
  17. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I agree, they seem pretty inefficient and low impedance, but this seems a little extraordinary. I'd bring it up with Schiit in case there's something wrong with your particular Vidar as well.
     
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  18. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    Glad we got some numbers thrown into this discussion.

    Vidar is putting out less then 1 Watt at the volume levels you are talking about..

    is it both channels.
    I woulda advise you to check your cable connections. Maybe something is loose....

    I had a cable once that introduced clipping esque sound. It was the cable itself. I thought it was the speaker or amp for the longest time. Either the cable oxidized or the copper had been cracked or something from years of use. Replacing the cable fixed the problem.

    Do you have tubes anywhere in the chain? Could be a bad tube, either old or bad solder.

    Could be the amp itself too. Shit, it could be the RCA to 1/8 cable. So many possibilities..... Crack a beer or three and have fun troubleshooting.
     
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  19. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    I agree with the guys. These levels suggest something is a little off somewhere. Do you have any funny stuff going on in your system, like power conditioners/filters or maybe exotic speaker cables? I recall that one reviewer had an issue with Vidar driving itself into protection (or some such) when used with really expensive speaker cables.
     
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  20. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    He said his previous Peachtree amp also clipped a lot, so that could indicate it’s something other Vidar or the preamp (Freya S) at play here since they replaced the previous amp.

    I think as @tranq says, need to experiment and try process of elimination. Go down to the simplest setup possible eliminating everything possible from the system and then swap out anything in that remaining system that you can. Like @monacelli says as well, try plugging straight into the wall as well. A cheap CD player would be an ideal source to eliminate that end of things. Something definitely off here...
     
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