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Are Measurements of Schiit Yggdrasil DAC Inconsistent?

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amirm

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#1
It is an understatement to say that my measurements of Schiit products create tons of discussions and arguments across multiple forms. So much so that I think they parallel any reality show on TV! Much of that is driven by passion people have on either side of the fence. What I like to address is the accusation that my measurement techniques are incorrect, or cooked in some ways as to generate unfavorable results for Schiit.

As a way of background, so far I have measured three different samples of Schiit Yggdrasil all from actual customers. You can see the review of the latest one here: https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...measurements-of-schiit-yggdrasil-v2-dac.3607/

As shown there, the performance of Schiit Yggdrasil DAC is simply not competitive at almost any price, let alone at its retail price of $2399. Importantly though, I always measure two devices side-by-side. This has two benefits:

1. Any errors in measurement technique translates into both products and as such, the relative performance most likely remains valid.

2. The second product provide an anchor/reference to judge the first. Without it, these are a bunch of graphs that is hard to internalize.

Given this, the data should be pretty compelling and lead the conclusion I stated. Alas, people still complain and go as far as call my competence or intentions into question. I think this is mainly generated by inability of people to truly understand the measurement data, aggravated by others bombarding the reader with tons of obtuse measurements. They then put a few words around it which people run with instead of trying to read and understand the graphs.

Note that in all the tests performed, no two measurements are made from the same unit. I have the units I have tested which all came from customers. They have the units they have tested with unknown origin -- mostly likely given to them by Schiit directly. So some variations cannot be helped. I asked to measure the devices tested by both Jude and Head-fi and AtomicBob (Bob Smith), neither one of whom has agreed to do so. This is very disappointing as Bob Smith lives in drive distance from me.

So how do we make progress? I thought I do something different which is to try to demonstrate that the faults that I see exist very much in the measurements performed by others, in this case, atomicbob. Let me repeat: I will try to make my case with the data presented by the other side.

To do that, I looked at the published tests by atomicbob and spent good bit of time getting my measurement settings to match his. This turned out to be more complicated than I thought due to very poor documentation provided by Bob Smith. And with terrible presentation of his low-contrast graphs. Still, I managed to get a few of them replicated before I had to return my Schiit Yggdrasil to its owner.

So let's dig in.

Measurements
All measurements are from balanced output and digital input.

Let's start with a simple test of 1 kHz tone at 0 dBFS (meaning full amplitude) with levels matched to Topping DX7s as a reference:
Schiit Yggdrasil DAC 1 kHz 0 dBFS compared to Topping DX7s Measurement.png


Top top graph with black background is from Bob Smith. Everything other than the main tall spike at 1 kHz is unwanted noise and distortion. If you look at the spectrum of distortion and noise from Schiit Yggdrasil in red, you see that there is tons of them. The performance of Topping DX7s is overlayed on top of it (in blue). As we see, all the distortion spikes that are the same frequency, have lower amplitude in Topping DX7s. What's more, the distortions die off sooner than they do on Schiit Yggdrasil.

Note something interesting though: the sampling rate selected by AtomicBob is 96 kHz. Why? That is not a common rate like 44.1 kHz. Why use 96 kHz? And why not note that clearly on measurement graphs? It is these kinds of ad-hoc choices that make it difficult or misleading to try to compare measurements.

That aside, now you see the value of show two devices simultaneously. If we did not have the Topping DX7s performance to compare, we wouldn't know necessarily how good or bad the Schiit Yggdrasil is. Here, we see as much as 30 dB reduction in second harmonic with Topping DX7s! Even the second harmonic is 15 dB better.

Next, let's look at the same 1 kHz tone, but this time at -60 dBFS (much lower level):

Schiit Yggdrasil DAC -60 dB 1 Khz distortion compared to Topping DX7s Measurement.png


The message is the same although sample rate now is 44.1 kHz. Here, the Yggdrasil has a noise floor advantage but it severely underperforms the Topping DX7s with a spray of both harmonic and inharmonic distortions (NOT multiples of 1 kHz). Between higher noise floor and higher distortion of both types, I take the former. :)

Next let's look at intermodulation distortion by feeding a DAC a pair of frequencies and see what comes out. Anything other than our two sine waves is unwanted noise and distortion. First, 19 Khz+20 kHz tones:

Schiit Yggdrasil DAC 19+20 kHz Intermodulation distortion compared to Topping DX7s Measurement.png


Once again the measurement is at 96 kHz without any due notice to reader. The Topping DX7s has clearly less non-linearities by the fact that it has far fewer and lower amplitude intermodulation products. The Schiit Yggdrasil in contrast creates a spray of unwanted frequencies before and after our dual tones.

Here is another with 50 Hz tone combined with 7 kHz:

Schiit Yggdrasil DAC 50+70 kHz Intermodulation distortion compared to Topping DX7s Measurement.png


Once again the Schiit Yggdrasil shows a slightly lower noise floor at lower frequencies but spits out massive spray of unwanted distortion products. So much so that they cluster into a solid mass. These all indicate a DAC that is not linear, i.e. it doesn't output what it is told to do. The Topping DX7s produces far cleaner output (in blue).

Finally let's look at harmonic distortion+noise versus level:

Schiit Yggdrasil DAC THD+N versus level compared to Topping DX7s Measurement.png


AtomicBob has two pairs of graphs one with just the THD and the other, THD+N. I went after the much more common THD+N and as you see, once again I achieved the same results he has. Then when overlayed with results of Topping DX7s, we see that once again the Schiit Yggdrasil underperforms.

The way THD+N works is that if a device has very little distortion, the THD+N keeps getting lower and lower as we increase the amplitude of our signal. When the graph changes direction and it goes back up, it indicates that distortion is dominant rather than noise. In the case of Topping DX7s, that happens a bit in the middle and then at the end of the scale where the output stage starts to saturate.

The Schiit Yggdrasil however, starts to show all kinds of odd distortion onsets with the graph being so chewed up, going up and down as distortion or noise become more dominant.

The Topping DX7s is actually not as good as state of the art devices. The RME is one such and let's look at its performance:
Schiit Yggdrasil DAC vs RME ADI-2 Pro THD+N vs Level measurements.png


See how perfect the ADI-2 Pro is (the ADI-2 DAC is even better). There are clear engineering and performance problems in Schiit Yggdrasil DAC.

For this last bit, let's review my measurements of Schiit THD+N at 1 kHz at full amplitude and SINAD (signal above power of noise+distortion):

1532296511336.png


Here is the spec from Schiit's own web site:
1532296596404.png


So my measurements are absolutely right on the money. And how do they compare to other DACs? Here is a comparison:
1532296357102.png


Every DAC from other manufacturers outperforms Schiit Yggdrasil regardless of price! Again, remember that my measurements are identical to what Schiit publishes here (SINAD is inverse of THD+N).

Summary
Direct comparison of my measurements and those performed by Bob Smith (atomicbob) show that the two show the same outcomes. Importantly, the performance as measured by him (and replicated by me) is simply not competitive. The difference is not small at all. We are talking 20 to 30 dB deficiency in the output of Schiit Yggdrasil DAC.


As always, comments, corrections or questions are welcome.
 

restorer-john

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#4
I remember back in the printed HiFi magazine review days, when heated arguments about the technical prowess and skills of the various reviewers ensued. People would diss Julian Hirsch, Len Feldman and the plethora of Australian and English reviewers, as being biased towards their own country's gear, particular brands, or had errors in their measurement gear/techniques.

I still read old reviews in magazines I have, dating back many decades and there clearly was bias, misinformation and poor presentation/testing regimes by some reviewers. That said, correlations can always be found by looking into the data, replicating the test parameters and interpreting the results in an objective way.

That's what Amir is doing here, with the benefit of a state-of-the-art, industry standard analyzer. It's a case of 'don't shoot the messenger' IMO.
 

mindbomb

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#6
Analog devices employees themselves were warning people not to make an audio dac with this chip for this reason. I like the -60dbfs graph here, and there was another -90db graph in another thread with the rme adi 2, where you can clearly see the trade-offs that come with these multibit dacs: a bit less noise for a bunch of huge spikes.

The lower end models (bifrost multibit and modi multibit) are using 16 bit dacs, so you don't even get the noise benefits.
 
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Timbo2

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#7
At some point when you get rid of your backlog you should measure the Topping D10 again with your new AP just to show what a properly engineered $80 DAC can do on your SINAD graph. I think everything currently there is three or four figures with the exception of the Sabaj.
 

Blumlein 88

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#9
So let me see if I have this right.

Once atomicbob has done his usual good and thorough job of measuring something, Amir can carefully copy exactly what atomicbob has done and get the same results. So we can trust Amir's measurements as long as atomicbob has already measured the gear first. Is that about the take away here?






Sorry, couldn't resist the cheap humor.
 

amirm

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#10
Here are the few words surrounding the measurements from atomicbob:

1532317272700.png


1532317285942.png


In a sea of low-contrast, eye-charts masquerading as educational measurements, is it any wonder that people just go by the above statements and assume my measurements must be wrong?

And how low of standards can one have to result in these kinds of accolades with respect to Schiit Yggdrasil. This:

1532317455481.png


How can you not box yourself in after saying this stuff? How can you possibly say anything bad about the measurements -- as they are -- after showing them with such praise in the past? You can't or I should say, he can't.

The only flatulence I am smelling comes from subpar measurements couched as an excellent job done by the company.
 

Grave

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#11
Ugh, people are still defending schiit? Dump your schiit and get something better. If you bought garbage equipment then don't feel like an idiot, we have probably all done that at some point. But if you are still defending this horrible performance, or you think that measurements are evil, then you are truly stupid.
 
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Grave

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#12
At some point when you get rid of your backlog you should measure the Topping D10 again with your new AP just to show what a properly engineered $80 DAC can do on your SINAD graph. I think everything currently there is three or four figures with the exception of the Sabaj.
Well, the D30 is only $100.
 

Blumlein 88

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#13
So how much do you handicap sigma-delta DACs to equivalency with the superior sounding inferior measuring multi-bits?

Why do the multitude of measurements atomicbob does if he then ignores what they are telling him?
 
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#14
Ugh, people are still defending schiit? Dump your schiit and get something better. If you bought garbage equipment then don't feel like an idiot, we have probably all done that at some point. But if you are still defending this horrible performance, then you should feel truly stupid.
My thoughts exactly.

I even have a Schiit Magni 3 (which I pretend stacking with a Topping D50 soon until the A50 shows off) and I'm overall happy with it, but I not blindfold myself with the brand's poor quality making DACs and other products because I bought something from they, that would be fanboyish in the full extent of the word.

Hell, I registered here because my love for objective and not biased scientific measurable opinions are far greater than my love for a random audio company (that all their want is my money).

Really sad the way that people takes all of this personal.
 

garbulky

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#15
So if let's say if people who are saying the Yggy sounds better than a better measuring delta sigma is true then.
The measurements made don't actually show what makes it sound better.
If so, then either
The current measurements aren't sensitive enough
The measurements haven't been interpreted correctly to show what is important in how we hear/process audio.
The current measurements are irrelevant to the part that people find better but may be measurable with a different type of measurement.
Or, there is no measurements that can accurately describe what they like about the Yggy versus a better performing DS DAC .
I.e.: The measurements aren't able to tell the whole story and inadequately describe what we hear.

However those are a lot of assumptions.

The assumption to the negative is
The people are imagining it. The measurements are correct and accurately point towards important interpretations of how a DAC should sound. The people are simply not hearing what they should be hearing.
I.e. They may think they hear it but they don't really. The measurements do tell the whole story but we are inadequate in perceiving accurately what is actually going in to our ears.
 

Grave

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#16
Measurements are evil to many people. They cannot comprehend that an audio analyzer can measure well beyond what is audible.
 

amirm

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#17
So if let's say if people who are saying the Yggy sounds better than a better measuring delta sigma is true then.
Why? That it the most false part of the question.

Demonstrate that being true and then we can see if measurements are in conflict with it.

It is like saying let's assume earth is flat and you explain why your measurements don't show that. :)
 

Wombat

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#18
Here are the few words surrounding the measurements from atomicbob:

View attachment 14146

View attachment 14147

In a sea of low-contrast, eye-charts masquerading as educational measurements, is it any wonder that people just go by the above statements and assume my measurements must be wrong?

And how low of standards can one have to result in these kinds of accolades with respect to Schiit Yggdrasil. This:

View attachment 14148

How can you not box yourself in after saying this stuff? How can you possibly say anything bad about the measurements -- as they are -- after showing them with such praise in the past? You can't or I should say, he can't.

The only flatulence I am smelling comes from subpar measurements couched as an excellent job done by the company.

Job or jobbie(English dictionary meaning)? ;)
 

March Audio

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#19
So if let's say if people who are saying the Yggy sounds better than a better measuring delta sigma is true then.
The measurements made don't actually show what makes it sound better.
If so, then either
The current measurements aren't sensitive enough
The measurements haven't been interpreted correctly to show what is important in how we hear/process audio.
The current measurements are irrelevant to the part that people find better but may be measurable with a different type of measurement.
Or, there is no measurements that can accurately describe what they like about the Yggy versus a better performing DS DAC .
I.e.: The measurements aren't able to tell the whole story and inadequately describe what we hear.

However those are a lot of assumptions.

The assumption to the negative is
The people are imagining it. The measurements are correct and accurately point towards important interpretations of how a DAC should sound. The people are simply not hearing what they should be hearing.
I.e. They may think they hear it but they don't really. The measurements do tell the whole story but we are inadequate in perceiving accurately what is actually going in to our ears.

Big and fundamental mistake Im afraid there. Some people "thinking" something sounds better doesnt actually make it so.

The second part of your post is the pertinent bit for all the reasons that have endlessly been discussed. Bias, the folly of sighted, uncontrolled listening comparisons and of course the variability of a humans aural perception.
 
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digititus

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#20
I think Schiit do a great job!
Let me clarify. They are a business and their success is measured by sales/profit. It think the idea was too concentrate all of their efforts into marketing knowing full well that sound quality is subjective and people are likely to follow the crowd and believe what they are told to be true. They even chose the company name "Schiit" to make their point! They may have even had a side bet regarding the success/failure of this project. So, well done Schiit!
 
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