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New Schiit SYN - Analog Surround Sound Processor

soundtrane

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You're thinking of the Surround Master from Involve Audio.

I'm not much interested in it because it has no HDMI connectivity. Does this new piece of Schiit's have it?

from the FAQ:

What about HDMI?
What about it? Plug those damn HDMI cables into your smart TV, then connect the smart TV to Syn with an optical cable. Let video do its video thing, let us do the analog thing.
 
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Sal1950

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From
Imagine surround sound that’s easy, fun, and works with everything. That’s Syn. Well, Syn is also a DAC, remote control preamp, and headphone amp as well. Oh yeah, and it won’t become a paperweight when standards change. Head exploded? That’s OK. We’ll break it down.

Surround Set Free
Forget worrying about whether your surround works with the latest standards or if you’ve spent enough Sundays tweaking umpteen 31-band EQs and uploading the latest room correction files because you moved a chair. Plug Syn into the optical output of any smart TV, twist a couple of knobs, and then sit back and enjoy great surround. Or plug in via USB, or use the analog input—Syn provides surround from any stereo source.

Gaming Unleashed
Whether you’re using speakers or headphones, Syn adds another dimension to your gaming. Immerse yourself by adding surround speakers. Or focus in on the tiniest details with crossfeed-like headphone processing. Or move gaming to the living room or media room. We’re not gonna stop you!

Stereo Redefined
Just want stereo? Syn is an exceptional remote control DAC/preamp. With USB, optical, and analog inputs, as well as a fully discrete main stage for the stereo channels and motorized Alps potentiometer for volume control, it delivers amazing quality. Want to try surround? Syn allows you to simply add the surround, sub, and center channels—without touching the mains at all. Try it—it’s pretty amazing!

All On Your Head
Syn also includes a powerful (1000mW) fully discrete headphone amp, as well as a frequency-dependent, crossfeed-like soundstage mixing capability that help combat the “in your head” feeling from headphone listening. Whether you’re looking for a good headphone DAC/amp, or
want the headphone output for late-night movie watching, Syn delivers.

Developed Through Listening
Syn isn’t like any other surround processor. It’s not digital. It supports no standard. Its all-analog processing doesn’t use any steering. It was developed by producing a simple matrix prototype, then tweaking it with analog computing techniques until it provided enjoyable, realistic results. This meant the development of two exclusive controls—Width and Presence—as well as specific headphone shaping and matrix cross-mixing.

So what surround standards does this support? ATOMS? DSDTS? MQANON?
None of them.

How can you call this a surround processor?
Because it creates surround from any stereo source.

How does that work?
We get it. But it’s really no different than the old Hafler matrix idea, which derives L+R and L-R from any stereo signal. But we’ve added a whole lot of tricks of our own. No steering and no delays, so there’s nothing based on any proprietary art. Bottom line, feed Syn a stereo signal and you’ll get:

  • Front Left and Right. Also known as the stereo signal you fed in. You even have the option of running this without any processing at all—in other words, the other channels just add in to the mix, and we don’t mess with the stereo signal at all.
  • Center. Or, Left and right together. This gives you the ability to establish a solid center channel for dialogue in movies and shows.
  • Surround Left and Right. Or, the difference between left and right. This is the natural ambience that’s present in every stereo signal. This ambience can help establish a sense of space and provide surround cues.
  • Subwoofer. This is a filtered low-frequency output you can run to any subwoofer’s LFE input and get extended low-frequency results from.
Matrix surround? That’s it?
Nope. Syn was developed through listening and tweaking—not as in audiophile tweaking, but as in “hey, we’re already doing some analog computing stuff here, what can we do to address some of the weaknesses of matrix while we’re at it?” So we’ve added a bunch of our own tweaks to it, including:

  • Width control. Allows you to pull common content out of the main channels, and solidify the center image when used in a home theater or media application.
  • Presence control. Allows you to better integrate main and center channels, and to tame the forwardness of some mixes. Sometimes it seems like movie sound guys love to have it sound like everyone’s yelling at each other through traffic cones. This is not realistic.
  • Crossfeed-ish. Use the Width control the other way to reduce stereo separation, and you can do some crossfeed-y trickery with headphones. Because Syn senses when headphones are connected and does some frequency shaping on Width only in that instance.
  • Proprietary matrix. It’s not such a simple matrix anymore—we tweaked how some of the channels are combined, and how they combine when you change settings.
Only 5 channels?
How 1970. :facepalm:
;)
 

juliangst

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I know what this is. Schiit brought up what it isn't, and I'm just trying to find out what sensible reasons they have to not make a product that would have decent demand.

The fact that there are few DACs with HDMI is more reason to make one. The new miniDSP Flex HT is one and it unfortunately only handles PCM signals. Some of us don't want a giant AVR that measures rather subpar compared to separates, and the separate HDMI processors out there with Dolby decoding, etc. are usually ridiculously priced and/or poorly designed.
What’s wrong with using optical? HDMI would just add cost because of licensing.

For surround sound you need all those Dolby licenses of course.
If it was easy to make an inexpensive processor then we would see a lot more of them. There is not a large enough market for surround processors so why would companies make a product that won’t sell?
 

Oldvalvemic

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Wow …much polarised opinion here ..as a passionate listener to the matrix output of my 70s quadraphonic amps Im intrigued with this product. I have a few Schiit products already and have marvelled at the fact that they are 1 very reasonably priced and 2 never disappoint in sound quality.
Such hate earlier from one “reviewer” who hasn’t heard the product but thrives on actively wanting the company to fail for some reason. Like they are patronising the public or something.
Id like to know more about the matrix output from this device which to me seems like a good deal for a preamp DAC headphone amp with a very interesting ability to bring immersive in a musical way to the listening experience. I have found that listening to the matrix outputs in pseudo quadraphonic has greatly enhanced my stereo experience of digital and analogue audio in recent times and i have no great desire to listen to digital audio in 5.1 as most of the mixes seem really underwhelming to me. Ken Scotts Ziggy stardust mixes being an exception but let’s not go there too much. 4 channel audio from my SACD player and Vocalion Dutton SACDs has been an edifying experience in what could be achieved in the 70’s.
The simple fact of using these circuits which have been unavailable to the general public as a new product for many years is exciting in itself.
it wasn’t broke when quadraphonic died in the 70s and still brings pleasure now. Ive been looking at the Involve company in Australia as a trail blazer for musical immersivity recently and this Schiit product seems like a very interesting addition to the new idea of what can be pleasurable in surround. Sure its a niche product but it seems like a musical idea not a theatrical AV one and from my experience with old quad receivers I am all for this idea. Often a more edifying experience than someone’s idea of 5.1/Atmos
Please Schiit if you are monitoring this ..can you explain further the method of decoding and what you have done and are trying to achieve with the surround aspect. What are we buying exactly. An SQ/QS decoder Or something more matrix enhanced.
Im positive the result will be pleasurable but despite the lure of a half decent dac, some widthening tools and a useful remote i wonder if it will give me any more pleasure than my TOTL JVC quadraphonic amp with 2 types of Matrix decoding. Please persuade me it will.
 

Kal Rubinson

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You also don't need to pay 10x the price ;-)
And it still would not compete any better than an old Dynaco QD-1. It's something different.

 

ThatGuyYouKnow

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In general schiit produce things with 'free' or their own standards. Hence no hdmi, no dolby, no MQA and so on
Even no DSD, which is baffling given how much native DSD content is out there. Definitely understand no MQA despite its following, as I consider it a virus to audio delivery.
 

juliangst

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What’s the point in getting something higher than 16 bit flac?
I‘ve also never seen any of my music including a lot of classical music being available in DSD. Saying that there is a lot of DSD out there is quite an overstatement imho
 

Kal Rubinson

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What’s the point in getting something higher than 16 bit flac?
I‘ve also never seen any of my music including a lot of classical music being available in DSD. Saying that there is a lot of DSD out there is quite an overstatement imho
What's a lot? What's not?
 

juliangst

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What's a lot? What's not?
For me it’s about 10.000 tracks without a single one being available as DSD.
This of course heavily depends on what music you have.
I just browsed around HDtracks and they offer around 400 DSD tracks in total while the classical music category alone has almost 100.000 tracks in total.
 

dartinbout

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As a DM7 owner (and a former Okto DAC8 Pro owner), I find this product just a prolonged April Fool's joke. I have a 20 year old Auzentech sound card that would do everything (and much more) then this absolutely ridiculous piece of kit's stated abilities.

As for multichannel classical music, there is a ton if you look for it. My local classical school SFCM, just bought https://www.pentatonemusic.com/shop/ and it's 3 blocks away. I am hoping for some wild levels of convergence. A retail store with listening booths or maybe some live MC recording sessions.
 

Chaconne

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It seems like Schiit is trying to take a page from the Apple playbook in developing new products that customers don't know they want—until they invent it. I guess we'll see how successful they are in this paradigm.

Actually, I'm kind of interested in the Syn because I've enjoyed ambiance extraction in the past. I just wish the Syn had a delay to the rear channels. Maybe even an adjustable one.
 
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It seems like Schiit is trying to take a page from the Apple playbook in developing new products that customers don't know they want—until they invent it. I guess we'll see how successful they are in this paradigm.

Actually, I'm kind of interested in the Syn because I've enjoyed ambiance extraction in the past. I just wish the Syn had a delay to the rear channels. Maybe even an adjustable one.
I agree--delay to the rear channels would be the whole point (for me anyway). I prefer using Audio Hijack and multiple DACs to achieve this. Then you can correct for so many other things (room EQ + preferred EQ, low pass, high pass, etc.). Even better (in some ways) is a decent AVR. Once you add all the amps you need to drive the channels, do you really have less of a footprint on your desk than a decent Yamaha/Denon AVR? Not to mention all the cables. Plus the latter has DTS, Dolby, etc. And I may be in a minority, but I like the Yamaha sound fields ('Hall in Vienna,' etc.). Esp. if you play recordings actually created in the soundfield spaces. Schiit offers none of this IMHO.

That said, if it was 1/4 the price I'd bite. Because sound retrieval can be fun to play with too.
 

Kal Rubinson

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For me it’s about 10.000 tracks without a single one being available as DSD.
I have >40,000 tracks in DSD/DSF/DFF and, probably, another couple of thousand in PCM but available as DSD.
This of course heavily depends on what music you have.
Indeed, all those totaled above are classical.
I just browsed around HDtracks and they offer around 400 DSD tracks in total while the classical music category alone has almost 100.000 tracks in total.
In addition, I have >16,000 non-classical tracks in DSD/DSF.
Not sure that HDTracks is comprehensive in either category.
 

dartinbout

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I have >40,000 tracks in DSD/DSF/DFF and, probably, another couple of thousand in PCM but available as DSD.

Indeed, all those totaled above are classical.

In addition, I have >16,000 non-classical tracks in DSD/DSF.
Not sure that HDTracks is comprehensive in either category.
13k dff\dsf here, a lot of classical but a hefty amount of re-issued jazz from the heyday's of the 1950\60s. I don't know nuttin' about HDTracks but I do know "Edward Teach" very well. There is plenty of bounty to be found.
 

juliangst

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I have >40,000 tracks in DSD/DSF/DFF and, probably, another couple of thousand in PCM but available as DSD.

Indeed, all those totaled above are classical.

In addition, I have >16,000 non-classical tracks in DSD/DSF.
Not sure that HDTracks is comprehensive in either category.
What’s the best place to get DSD from?
 

MAB

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It seems like Schiit is trying to take a page from the Apple playbook in developing new products that customers don't know they want—until they invent it. I guess we'll see how successful they are in this paradigm.
This is a cross-fed difference circuit, and has shown up in various forms for 50 years. It's not a new product or innovation, but a copy of an old and not very useful or interesting idea, packaged to be part of Schiit's aesthetic.
Actually, I'm kind of interested in the Syn because I've enjoyed ambiance extraction in the past. I just wish the Syn had a delay to the rear channels. Maybe even an adjustable one.
Based on your description, a Yamaha DSP-1 is way more interesting (and way cheaper):

DSP-1 plus a stack of Yamaha Amps:

DSP-1 are really fun, they actually synthesize an ambient signal from a 2-channel input, they have venues pre-mapped, the signal effects and delays are massively customizable.

It's a bit disappointing in this day that Schiit boxed a DAC with an ancient circuit and called it Syn.
 

krabapple

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from the FAQ:

What about HDMI?
What about it? Plug those damn HDMI cables into your smart TV, then connect the smart TV to Syn with an optical cable. Let video do its video thing, let us do the analog thing.
What does that even mean? it doesn't address anything I'm concerned about.

Namely, for me to care about an upmixing device like this, it has to be able to pass its multichannel audio output digitally to my AVR, so I can apply DSP (e.g. Audyssey).

The only way this could happen via optical, is if the box coverts the multichannel signal to (lossy) Dolby or DTS surround. Which would be fine by me, but I don't see it claiming to do this.

Stupid brand name, stupid answer to connectivity concerns, stupid product. Analog out multichannel is so 2000.
 
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