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Measurement and Review of Schiit BiFrost Multibit DAC

drconopoima

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#42
I bought their products, too. I wanted to believe that a small US company really could make a decent product here. Yes, it could have been done with competent design, but that seems to be beyond their capability.
You were correct that a small US company is making a decent product, but it appears to be JDS Labs, not Schiit Audio.
 

Candlesticks

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#43
There is no chance of improvement just by warming it up a bit.

http://www.schiit.com/products/bifrost

Bifrost Multibit

D/A Conversion IC: Analog Devices AD5547CRUZ
Digital Filter: proprietary Schiit bitperfect closed-form digital filter implemented on Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor
Analog Stage: precision I/V converter and output buffer based on AD8512

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB, 2Hz-150KHz, -1dB
Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS

THD: <0.005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output
IMD: <0.008%, CCIR
S/N: >109dB, referenced to 2V RMS
Is it possible this is test signal related? All the multibit products have a proprietary digital filter and the Yggdrasil did not do well in some tests as a result of that. That was the reason that was given anyway.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's bad but 58db of dynamic range seems too terrible.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#44
7777777
Where? I just read the manual and didn't see anything about warming it up.
Pretty much all over the net, common knowledge. Just leave it plugged in and playing music for a few days. Give it a listen then.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#45
This is a review and measurements of Schiit BiFrost Multibit DAC. It retails for $599 plus shipping and is on loan to me from a kind member of the forum. For this review I will be comparing it to the Topping DX7 which retails for $200 less ($399).

Note that this is the special "multi-bit" version of the BiFrost DAC which uses a R2R ladder DAC from analog devices (AD5547). This is an extra cost option.

The Schiit BiFrost Multi-bit comes in a plain looking silver box. It is more substantial than the smaller DACs they offer like the Modi 2 but it still does not give one feeling of high-end or high-quality.


Connectivity is very sparse with USB, Coax and Toslink inputs and only unbalanced RCA output. No AES/EBU digital input or balanced outputs. In contrast the Topping DX7 has all of these other inputs/outputs in addition to headphone output.


A cheezy toggle switch in the back turns the unit on and off. There is only one button in the front which selects the input with cryptic symbols instead of names of the inputs. It is as if they think no one knows what USB means outside of English speaking countries!

Unfortunately no teardown will be coming as the owner wants to preserve the 5 year warranty which comes with this unit. From the bit that I see, build quality leaves something to be desired. A single tiny screw holds the RCA jacks to the back and it was at least two turns loose. When I tried to plug in my RCA cable into it as it was, the jacks started to move backward. Fortunately I stopped and tightened the screw. Still I kept getting the feeling I was going to break those jacks with my rather stiff interconnects.

USB class compliance is good with Roon/Windows recognizing the device without any software installs on Windows 10:

View attachment 10373

We see that sample rates up to 192 Khz are supported.

Device identity was "Schiit USB Gen 2" which was nice as opposed to some generic Xmos indicator or such.

Let's get into measurements and see how it performs.

Measurement
For comparisons I picked the Topping DX7 as mentioned. Let's get started with our usual J-Test for jitter and noise. First the USB input:

View attachment 10374

As we see, tons of jitter and distortion products are visible together with higher noise floor. Even the Topping D30 at $129 shipped runs circles around it in how clean its output is relative to Schiit BiFrost Multi-bit.

There are serious design problems here to cause this many distortion products. Samples are just being stepped on. Fortunately levels are low so not a huge audible concern but massive engineering black eye.

Let's test the two units using S/PDIF digital input and see what that shows:

View attachment 10375

We see a subset of problems but still way, way too many distortion products in the output of Schiit BiFrost Multibit. The Topping DX-7 performance is again squeaky clean compared to it.

For the rest of these tests I continued to use S/PDIF which should give the benefit of doubt to the Schiit DAC.

First our new favorite, the linearity test:

View attachment 10376

What the heck is the Schiit DAC doing??? Look at that Cyan line. It shows the analog output of the DAC vs digital PCM value. An ideal DAC would have flat line. On Schiit BiFrost Multibit it all of a sudden refuses to obey the input values and follows its own direction! The massive error causes the red line which shows the differential to go wilde and off the chart.

Using my criteria of 0.1 dB error from ideal, the Schiit DAC only manages 58 dB or less than 10 bits of resolution! Did you read that? 10 bits! So even when playing ordinary 16-bit CD, you are sacrificing the low order 6 bits.

In sharp contrast the Topping DX7 shows almost an ideal flat line! From run to run it changes a bit which means it is dominated by tiny amount of noise. Computing its equiv number of bits, we get 19 bits of resolution. That means this DAC does justice to high-resolution audio.

Next let's look at intermodulation test using SMPTE test tones:

View attachment 10377

That is a stunning difference in performance. The Topping DX7 is some 25 db cleaner than Schiit BiFrost Multibit. That is a massive gulf between them.

Looking at the spectrum of noise and distortion a similar picture shows up:
View attachment 10378

I changed the vertical scale to percentages to give a more familiar feel to the numbers. As we see, the Topping DX7 is some two orders of magnitude cleaner than the Schiit BiFrost Multibit.

Looking at this measurement with a spectrum analyzer we see this:

View attachment 10379

Look at the horrible output of the Schiit BiFrost Multibit DAC. Its output has a mix of noise and distortion well above that of DX-7.

Finally a boring frequency response measurement:

View attachment 10380

0.6 dB of droop is visible by 20 Khz. Not a great sin but would be nice to get a flat response.

Conclusion
It is no secret that the previous Schiit products have not done well on my workbench. But I was hoping as suggested by many that their high-end products would do better. Alas, what is shown above is just unacceptable. It shows a product that simply has no design hygiene. Either wrong DACs are used or driven incorrectly in the implementation. There are DACs literally at 10% of the cost that do much better.

Yes I know the subjectivists go by what these devices "sound like." But I want one of them with a straight face tell me how their music is better where a spray of distortion and noise is added to any single tone in their music. How can any of this be euphonic???

I have no choice but to give the Schiit BiFrost Multibit a failing grade. NOT Recommended.

As always, I welcome correction, feedback, questions, etc.

If you like this review, please consider donating funds for these types of hardware purchase using Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/audiosciencereview), or upgrading your membership here though Paypal (https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.2164/page-3#post-59054).
If you really want to be seen as the honest broker you portray, and are truly interested in learning. Let the DACs burn in, you stated you also have the higher end Yaggi DAC in house. Listen through a good SPDIF source with your best transducer, you say you have Stax correct? Use the discerning ear and your knowledge of live music that you have also mentioned, and please report your results. You, (like most) are accustom to the sound of delta sigma dacs, they do not sound at all natural, just give it a honest try.

 

Candlesticks

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#47
So its thermally unstable as well ...omg:)
There are people who write logs about how the Schiit Yggdrasil changes in sound over days, weeks and months. Always getting better of course. Even if there is some degree of change when measured after warming up it's not going to be much.
 
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#49
If you really want to be seen as the honest broker you portray, and are truly interested in learning. Let the DACs burn in, you stated you also have the higher end Yaggi DAC in house. Listen through a good SPDIF source with your best transducer, you say you have Stax correct? Use the discerning ear and your knowledge of live music that you have also mentioned, and please report your results. You, (like most) are accustom to the sound of delta sigma dacs, they do not sound at all natural, just give it a honest try.

There are no doubt many reviewers who have done as you suggested.
The point, as I understand, of this forum is to do what no other does, that is use measurements, not “discerning ears”.
Why would you want to change that? It is this forum’s USP.
 

Dismayed

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#50
7777777

Pretty much all over the net, common knowledge. Just leave it plugged in and playing music for a few days. Give it a listen then.
But this isn't a brand new unit! It was already 'burned in' (the whole idea is absurd, of course, and really just gives people time to become accustomed to Schiity sound quality).
 
Last edited:

Thomas savage

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#53
There are no doubt many reviewers who have done as you suggested.
The point, as I understand, of this forum is to do what no other does, that is use measurements, not “discerning ears”.
Why would you want to change that? It is this forum’s USP.
Iv no intrest in anyone’s listening impressions of a dac That has 10bits of resolution.

You can put them onto a technical review as a ‘ appendage’ a caveat just for the sake of it but they are just indulgent froth and should be treated as such.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#55
But this isn't a brand new unit! It was already 'burned in' (the whole idea is absurd, of course, and really just people time to become accustomed to Schiity sound quality).
That is not how it works. Sorry.
 

Cosmik

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#56
Question:
What's the low level sine look like?
Indeed. I want to see those glitches and the possible non-monotonicity/DC shift at zero crossing (or any other failures to patch over the problems of cobbling together an audio DAC from non-audio chips just for the sake of it). This will make me feel nostalgic for when I was a teenager and used to try to do that sort of thing, too.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#57
Iv no intrest in anyone’s listening impressions of a dac That has 10bits of resolution.

You can put them onto a technical review as a ‘ appendage’ a caveat just for the sake of it but they are just indulgent froth and should be treated as such.

 

rebbiputzmaker

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#58
Indeed. I want to see those glitches and the possible non-monotonicity/DC shift at zero crossing (or any other results of a failed scheme they've hatched for patching over the problems of cobbling together your own audio DAC from non-audio chips just for the sake of it). This will make me feel nostalgic for when I was a teenager and used to try to do that sort of thing, too.
 
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