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

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

  1. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Hey y'all, thanks for all the help! I wasn't expecting SBAF to be quite this super and friendly.

    @bixby, you're right I'm playing Qobuz on my iPhone, AirPlay to the Apple AE, which feeds into the Bifrost via Toslink. Per your suggestion I tried streaming Apple Music (I know, lossy, but we're troubleshooting) from my MacBook Pro, and the same clipping at the same point in the track (at least the first minute). I can't find a USB A -> USB B cable in the house right now, to try something other than Toslink. I have one in my office on campus, but can't get there right now. Shit, it just occurred to me that the MBP has optical out, so I could bypass the Airport Express that way. I can't test that right now, I'll try it later.

    I tried gently pushing in on the woofers, didn't hear any scraping, thank god. I've had a niggling sense of dread that maybe I damaged my speakers with the Peachtree. It's possible I did, but I didn't hear anything pushing the woofers. The W5 does have a tiny tweeter on its back that's protected, and I can't press on directly.

    @tranq and @monacelli, I'm using new Blue Jeans cables. Not super cheap, but no quantum crystal tesseract magic. I have the Vidar and Freya S plugged into a Tripp-Lite power surge protector, but I got the clipping with my Peachtree (as @rlow mentioned) plugged into a regular power strip. No fancy power conditioning.

    Couple other great suggestions here that I'll get to later. Gotta finish some work before I can play. I could have waited to post until I had a more complete picture, but I'm grateful for all the support.
     
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  2. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    DO NOT push on the tweeter. You can listen to it and hear if more distortion there than woofer, but chances are it is something else in the chain.

    The Macbook via optical could rule out the phone and the express if it is clean.

    Also, assuming you are trying more than one track and getting distortion.
     
  3. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    I was going to ask the same thing. If one song is causing the issue, it's likely the song.

    Why not share the test track.

    A lot of the stuff I listened to in high school and college is full of crazy harsh sounds.
     
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  4. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    I got the used Kinki EX-M1+ yesterday, and got to play with it last night. I hooked it up between the Bifrost 2 and the speakers. Apple Airport Express to Bifrost 2 via Toslink, Bifrost to Kinki via balanced connectors. Still get clipping, in the same places and on the same songs. The Kinki puts out 215W into 8 ohms.

    The Kinki sounds great with the Boenickes, by the way. When there's no distortion, it's immensely satisfying. The HifiKnights guy reviewed the Kinki with Boenicke W8s (larger model), and gave it a glowing review, no mention of distortion or clipping.

    As far as test tracks go, here are a couple I've been using. This is for both Vidar and the Kinki (and the old Peachtree). I've mostly been using the first Josh Ritter track, as the distortion comes in very early, and it's a really spare, clean, acoustic song. [It's a very political song; I agree with the sentiment, but I'm not trying to make a statement here or anything.]

    Tracks and some times that cause distortion:
    • Josh Ritter, "The Gospel Of Mary", pretty much right away, starting 4 seconds in
    • Radiohead, In Rainbows, "Faust Arp", pretty much right away, can definitely hear it at 0:16
    • Radiohead, In Rainbows, "Videotape", 0:30. Clean until then, but the distortion is very noticeable
    • Metallica, ... And Justice For All, "One", around 4:22
    • Russian Circles, Guidance, "Asa", 0:50 and onwards
    • The National, I Am Easy To Find, "Not In Kansas", briefly at 0:41, piano chords at 2:25, 2:27...
    • M. Ward, Migration Stories, "Heaven's Nail And Hammer", 0:05, 0:13...
    • Elliott Smith, XO, "Pitseleh", 1:00
    Tracks where I don't hear distortion:
    • Yusuf Lateef, Into Something (Remastered), "Rasheed"
    • Hilary Hahn, Brahms Violin Concerto, "II. Adagio"
    • Interpol, Our Love To Admire, "Pioneer To The Falls"
    • JP Harris, I'll Keep Calling, "Badly Bent"
    • Elliott Smith, XO, "Waltz #2 (XO)"
    Not exhaustive lists, but whether I hear distortion or not doesn't seem to correlate with genre or electric/acoustic or such.

    I can't put my finger on it, but there's something similar about when the distortion occurs. Like a particular resonance or frequency, maybe? Might be interesting to look at the spectra of the tracks, but I don't know where to begin there. Comparing the spectrum of one second to another second sounds hard. It seems like tracks that don't have the instruments separated as much, that sound a little "flatter", are more likely to have some distortion. But the Yusuf Lateef above sounds pretty 3-dimensional and separated without distortion.

    At this point (thanks largely to all the advice!), beyond the old Peachtree, I've tried both the Freya S + Vidar and Kinki EX-M1+. I tried running Vidar as a monoblock into one speaker. I bypassed the Bifrost from headphone out on my phone (1/8" to RCA). I bypassed the Airport Express with optical out from my MacBook to the Bifrost. I've only been using my new speaker cables from Blue Jeans with the Vidar and Kinki, but I had the same distortion places with the Peachtree using different (cheap) speaker cables.

    I'm stumped. I don't have experience troubleshooting a system like this. It seems I've ruled out the source, DAC, or amp as the problem. That leaves the electricity, or the speakers. I didn't have distortion problems with the old Peachtree and my previous speakers (Gallo Micros and MPS-150), so I doubt it's the electricity.

    The idea that the Boenicke W5se's might be damaged hurts, even just to type. I don't recall hearing distortion with them when I first got them. But that was years ago, and my memory is crap, so I'm not sure. Is it possible that I gradually damaged them by playing them with the Peachtree? I tried @bixby's advice about gently pushing the woofers, but didn't hear any scraping.
     
  5. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I listened to the Radiohead tracks, the National, and Josh Ritter. These offending time points all seem to have some decent energy between 200-800hz (by ear). No problems on my simple desktop setup. I am leaning toward acoustic resonance at this point.

    First, I would disconnect one speaker and listen closely to all sides of the remaining one for any buzzing or resonance. Also I would remove speaker from the stand and place on a blanket to rule out the stand. Possibilities include, crossover board inside may be loose or wires resonating against something inside or screws for drivers loose. The latter seems unlikely though. After that I am stumped.

    Were the Boenickes used? Is it time to acquire another set of speakers?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
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  6. Metro

    Metro Friend

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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Can you describe the "clipping"? Are you hearing a crackling even at moderate or even soft volumes. I finally caught up to this thread and was going to say that even the Kinki amp isn't going to help. (The fact that is sounds great is a good thing though!) I wanted to verify because "clipping" could mean different things in terms of sound.

    It happens with speaker drivers. Sometimes the glue holding the coil on the former gets loosened up. Sometimes the coils melt into each other. Do you can have a DMM to measure DC resistance of your speakers? It's not a full impedance plot, but it can find problems.
     
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  8. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    Hahahahahaha, @bixby nailed it, problem solved!! Was it new electronics, cables, etc? Nope, it was hand towels.

    My place is small, and I have my monitors on low shelves that I put together in a fancier version of the ol' college cinderblock-and-plywood design. I have plants, etc on the shelves as well. It's not the best placement for the speakers, I'm sure they'd sound better pulled into the room a little more, but this setup is how I solved my 550 sq.ft. jigsaw puzzle. [Can't figure out how to upload a photo.]

    As suggested, I put a towel under one of the speakers, and the distortion went away. I guess my "feeling" of resonance really was coupling between speaker and shelves (and plants, etc), that caused the distortion.

    I ran a frequency sweep like @Metro suggested before I tried the towels, and noticed around 1000Hz I got a "tick... tick... " sound which increased to "tick. tick. tick" at higher frequencies, and then went back and forth between slow and fast ticks. Each tick must represent a resonant frequency with the shelving. With towels under the speakers the ticking is gone in the frequency sweep.

    @purr1n, I guess that wasn't "clipping" then. "Distortion" is the correct term? It wasn't the amplifier struggling to provide power, and the Kinki didn't make a difference as several Friends predicted. I thought the amplifier was struggling, when actually it was easily pumping out the "decent energy" @bixby points out was enough to couple with the shelving.

    I don't think the towels (charming as they are) are the long-term solution. My place is on a concrete slab. I placed the speakers on the concrete floor, and again no distortion, but they sounded slightly clearer than they had on the towels. I didn't listen that carefully, as I had to run out the door to the GF's place, I'll give it a closer listen when I get back home.

    The W5 has small circular indentations on the bottom of the cabinets that are intended to attach it to optional stands. Boenicke also sells springs that fit into the same indentations to provide some isolation: On their floor standers they sell a "SwingBase" system that partially suspends the speaker and lets it float. It wouldn't apply to the W5 anyway, but I assumed it was somewhere between I-couldn't-tell-the-difference and gimmick. Now I'm open to believing that decoupling like that can make a difference. I'll see if I can find the W5 springs for less than the price of an organ. It's definitely cheaper than an amp.

    So I have an amp too many. I'll do some more comparative listening between the Vidar and Kinki when I get back home. My quick impression is that the Kinki is a little more resolving, I can hear more air and space around the instruments. Vidar is no slouch in that department, but it doesn't strike me as much as the Kinki. On the other hand, Vidar has a fuller, richer tone that I like. I think that's consistent with @rlow's review.

    @bixby, you're the man. Thanks to everyone who reached out here, and in DMs, with help. I was starting to freak out that my precious speakers were junk. This was really superfriendly, y'all saved my system, I'm grateful!
     
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  9. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    YEA! I am glad you got it resolved.

    As for decoupling, I recommend Herbies fat dots. They do a great job decoupling from a stand or other device you place the speakers on (not counting carpet of course). I use 3 per speaker.

    Link is here: https://herbiesaudiolab.com/products/herbies-fat-dot
     
  10. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Usually you'd just call it resonance. I usually describe the sound it produces as a rattling sound.
     
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  11. yonson

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    Glad to hear you got it figured out!

    Check out the Isoacoustics stands they have them in all different sizes/heights (you can even tilt them to aim the tweeters etc...) and they are designed to decouple them from the surface you have them sitting on. I've got a couple pair of them that came with some Dynaudio studio monitors and they seem to work quite well.
     
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  12. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    New problems... sigh.

    The resonance/distortion due to my speakers not being isolated from their shelf is still fixed. I don't have that distortion at high "energies" anymore.

    I was planning on doing some back-and-forth listening between the Kinki EX-M1+, and the Freya S + Vidar combo, and post my newb impressions here. But I've got something weird going on with the Schiit combo. The Kinki is driving the W5SEs beautifully. Here's what I'm getting with the Schiit:

    Vidar
    It occasionally goes into protection. It doesn't happen often, but it's occurred 2-3 times since Monday. Hard to predict when it happens, it seems random. This morning it happened less than a minute into "God's Favorite Customer" by Father John Misty. Loudness was in the 60dBs about 12 ft from the speakers. The sound just went away, with the front LED blinking. I was using the Kinki as a preamp (it has preamp outputs), so this should isolate it to the Vidar. The top of the Vidar didn't feel hot to the touch at all. Of the potential reasons listed in the owner's manual, the only one that made sense to me was the speakers trying to draw too much current. They're apparently a tricky load, but the music wasn't very loud or anything.

    Freya S
    I don't recall this happening last week. When I turn the volume knob up to around 1-2 o'clock (which isn't particularly loud on this system), I get some crackling through the speakers, and then it does really quiet. As I keep turning up the knob to maximum, the sound gets a little louder again, but with some crackling/distortion. At maximum the loudness is roughly where it was at 1-2 o'clock. It's almost as though the volume resets at 1-2 o'clock, just with some distortion after that point. This happens on both 1x and 4x gain. The Kinki has HT bypass, and I tried it with the Freya S hooked up to the Kinki as an amp, same problem at about the same angle on the knob. Definitely has something to do with the Freya. I don't recall having this problem last week, I think I was able to turn up the volume on the Freya S + Vidar combo just fine, and get to fairly loud (not-frat-party-esque) levels. Weird.

    I can still return the Vidar by Monday. I wonder whether using a second Vidar as mono blocks would solve any current problems (if that's what it is). I'm guessing there's something wrong with the Freya S that needs to be checked out by Schiit. I dunno. SBAF was so helpful with troubleshooting the speakers, any thoughts?
     
  13. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    I recommend writing a short, polite message to the Schiit support folks describing your issues [link here].
     
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  14. yonson

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    Did it start working again on it's own, or did you have to power cycle it for it to come back on? It sounds like it went into over-current protection especially if it wasn't very hot to the touch. Do you know how low the impedance dips on your speakers? I've only gotten my Vidar to go into over-current once in 4 ohm stereo however that was with it cranked to 11 for a couple hours, I must have just hit a song that pushed it over the edge because I power cycled it and it went right back to playing (on a new track).
     
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  15. porkosphere

    porkosphere Rando

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    No, I power cycled it. My speakers are Boenicke W5SE monitors, 4 ohm nominal impedance, supposedly can dip to 2 ohm at high frequencies (where not much current is required?). They have sensitivity about 83-86 dB/w/m. They're small, but apparently not so easy to drive. So it does sound like too much current to you. Thanks, that's helpful.

    @monacelli, I think you're right, I'll email Schiit tech support. This community has been so helpful for me recently, I thought i'd check I'm not doing something stupid.
     
  16. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    I am currently pairing Vidar and the Zu Omen DW. Is anyone else using them in conjunction? The other day I was hearing things on my living room system (KLH Kendalls, Marantz PM6006) that I wasn't on the basement Zu/Schiit rig ( DW's, Vidar, OG Saga, Bifrost 2).

    So I decided to add in the snubbers from Zu for the first time. I ordered them with the speakers, and hadn't ever used em.

    It was crazy to me how big the effect was. Separation and Imaging took a huge leap forward. It became immediately easier to pick out background vocals and intricate harmonizing.

    Has anyone else experienced something similar with the Zu/vidar/snubber combo?
     
  17. Zurvv

    Zurvv Rando

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    It sounds like the vidar is going into overvolt protection. (not heat)
    At this price point it would be super impressive if the vidar didn't blow up at 2 ohm continuous RMS. :D
     
  18. GoodSchiit

    GoodSchiit Acquaintance

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    This answers my question about what is enough power? I had Aegir on my list but have picked up on rumblings around here that one may not be enough and two in Mono would be the way to go. So a Freya S with one Vidar would be a good entry point for me. Eventually if I get into a higher spec system with mono blocks I could sell the Vidar and get two Aegirs.
     
  19. archerious

    archerious Rando

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    I may need to get one of these, my Vidar had no hum at first but now it does. Thought it was my DAC causing it, then interconnects, finally went 3.5mm to RCA and still the hum is there.

    Here is a video of it:
     
  20. tranq

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    that seems really high pitched. hard to tell if that sound is coming from amp or speakers.

    my vidar had 60hz transformer hum/buzz. sounded like an old fluorescent light fixture with the ballast going out. yours sounded like a ringing
     
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