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Review and Measurements of Schiit Saga Tube Pre-amp

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#41
Any suggestions for high efficiency speakers? Budget is Max 1k. Since I have a sub with a very good hi pass cross..I'm looking for monitors mostly. Thank you
 

garbulky

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#42
Any suggestions for high efficiency speakers? Budget is Max 1k. Since I have a sub with a very good hi pass cross..I'm looking for monitors mostly. Thank you
You are looking for volume - look for towers. I've never heard a monitor do loud - like really loud -cross over or not. I had some good experience with Tekton Pendragon speakers. You may be able to get them used for about 1.3 k . They will also work with little pwoer.
 
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#44
(Subjective impressions). I tried the Schiit Saga too. I did notice a difference between the two modes. The tube had a bit more well...something tubey in the treble. However I wasn't necessarily thrilled with the sound though nothing too bad stuck out to me. Interesting that these measurements show that theoretically there should have been no audible difference at all. Its measurements actually show it doing quite a bit better than some other preamps I've used. The guy that owned it sold it quickly though he mildly liked it best as I know.
This sort of encompasses something that occurred to me, in that I was always under the impression that tubes impart a certain sound signature, and that it would be nice to have some measurements that describe these characteristics. I suppose it would be something like the RMS level plots in some of the headphone reviews?.

@amirm Would any of the plots you already have be able to show something along the lines of what EQ effect the gear might have on the music? Am I just confused?...
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#45
Really glad to see this review today! I own a Saga. After 6 months of owning it, I decided to try another tube. I bought a Tung-Sol SN7 GTB from Tubedepot. I liked it better. Here's my issue; I can't seem to get my combo loud as I would like. I have a Linn LK 140. I just checked the input impedance and its 10K. I have a few sets of speakers, my Fave''s are Vandersteen VLR Wood. The efficiency is 86db. With the volume at max, my SPL is not as loud as I'd like it. Putting aside all the what? I listen to all kinds of music and sometimes like to play loud at LIVE levels as I am a Pro musician. The Linn is 140 w into 4 ohms and 95 at 8 ohms. I have a set of HSU bookshelf speakers 92 db and I can get things louder. I also have a HSU SUB and their hi-end xcross. Still I am at MAX and I'm wondering why it's not ear bleed level way before the MAX? I've been thinking of selling the Saga or the Linn or maybe both? With the input impedance at 10K is the SAGA a bad marriage? Thank you.
You turn up the preamp and do not get any clipping/distortion? Are the small speaker running full range, or are you using the highpass from the crossover?
 

andreasmaaan

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#46
Really glad to see this review today! I own a Saga. After 6 months of owning it, I decided to try another tube. I bought a Tung-Sol SN7 GTB from Tubedepot. I liked it better. Here's my issue; I can't seem to get my combo loud as I would like. I have a Linn LK 140. I just checked the input impedance and its 10K. I have a few sets of speakers, my Fave''s are Vandersteen VLR Wood. The efficiency is 86db. With the volume at max, my SPL is not as loud as I'd like it. Putting aside all the what? I listen to all kinds of music and sometimes like to play loud at LIVE levels as I am a Pro musician. The Linn is 140 w into 4 ohms and 95 at 8 ohms. I have a set of HSU bookshelf speakers 92 db and I can get things louder. I also have a HSU SUB and their hi-end xcross. Still I am at MAX and I'm wondering why it's not ear bleed level way before the MAX? I've been thinking of selling the Saga or the Linn or maybe both? With the input impedance at 10K is the SAGA a bad marriage? Thank you.
This is surprising. According to the Linn spec sheet, your amp requires only 870mV to reach its maximum output voltage of 23.5V. The Saga is capable of outputting much more than 870mV, so turning it up to max should not only clip your amp but should also drive your Vandersteens to well beyond their maximum recommended power.

Do you find you have the same issue with the stock tube?

And what’s your source?
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #47
@amirm Would any of the plots you already have be able to show something along the lines of what EQ effect the gear might have on the music? Am I just confused?...
Impedance variation with respect to frequency can do that and hence the reason I covered that in the review.
 
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#48
This is surprising. According to the Linn spec sheet, your amp requires only 870mV to reach its maximum output voltage of 23.5V. The Saga is capable of outputting much more than 870mV, so turning it up to max should not only clip your amp but should also drive your Vandersteens to well beyond their maximum recommended power.

Do you find you have the same issue with the stock tube?

And what’s your source?
I will put the stock tube back in and compare. I started thinking about my speaker wire. I don’t think it’s a problem but never know if the linn doesn’t like it. I am using Signal cable Silver resolution,,its a 10 gauge wire. Last year I had an NAD 326bee which I sold and I kinda regret it. That amp had lots of guts and power.
When I bought the Saga I slipped it into the pre out and used the nad amp section only. It was pretty sweet as I remember, oh well 20/20. I’m thinking of selling both to get another intregated amp and forget all the possible mis-match possibilities between different companies pre amp and power amps. Keep it simple and eliminate one rca cable. Switching components for the fun of it produces hit or mis results for sure. I could get a Schiit Vidar and have a matched set and better results? Has the Vidar been reviewed here? Amir or anyone reading I’m pretty new here. I have searched this site for reviews and find its hit and miss. Is there a section here with ALL the products that have been reviewed all in one place?
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#49
I will put the stock tube back in and compare. I started thinking about my speaker wire. I don’t think it’s a problem but never know if the linn doesn’t like it. I am using Signal cable Silver resolution,,its a 10 gauge wire. Last year I had an NAD 326bee which I sold and I kinda regret it. That amp had lots of guts and power.
When I bought the Saga I slipped it into the pre out and used the nad amp section only. It was pretty sweet as I remember, oh well 20/20. I’m thinking of selling both to get another intregated amp and forget all the possible mis-match possibilities between different companies pre amp and power amps. Keep it simple and eliminate one rca cable. Switching components for the fun of it produces hit or mis results for sure. I could get a Schiit Vidar and have a matched set and better results? Has the Vidar been reviewed here? Amir or anyone reading I’m pretty new here. I have searched this site for reviews and find its hit and miss. Is there a section here with ALL the products that have been reviewed all in one place?
The tube does not effect gain, try it passive, should be the same output wise? A mismatch would cause roll-off not low output.
 

rebbiputzmaker

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#50
I will put the stock tube back in and compare. I started thinking about my speaker wire. I don’t think it’s a problem but never know if the linn doesn’t like it. I am using Signal cable Silver resolution,,its a 10 gauge wire. Last year I had an NAD 326bee which I sold and I kinda regret it. That amp had lots of guts and power.
When I bought the Saga I slipped it into the pre out and used the nad amp section only. It was pretty sweet as I remember, oh well 20/20. I’m thinking of selling both to get another intregated amp and forget all the possible mis-match possibilities between different companies pre amp and power amps. Keep it simple and eliminate one rca cable. Switching components for the fun of it produces hit or mis results for sure. I could get a Schiit Vidar and have a matched set and better results? Has the Vidar been reviewed here? Amir or anyone reading I’m pretty new here. I have searched this site for reviews and find its hit and miss. Is there a section here with ALL the products that have been reviewed all in one place?
One more thing, I am guessing you purchased the Linn used? Is it 115 volts? Look on the back. If is working right you should be getting distortion at full volume, unless what is connected to the pre has low output. What are your input devices?
 

andreasmaaan

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#51
I will put the stock tube back in and compare. I started thinking about my speaker wire. I don’t think it’s a problem but never know if the linn doesn’t like it. I am using Signal cable Silver resolution,,its a 10 gauge wire. Last year I had an NAD 326bee which I sold and I kinda regret it. That amp had lots of guts and power.
It couldn't be the wire.

Are you using a computer as the source? My guess is it might be software-related.
 

soundwave76

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#52
Any suggestions for high efficiency speakers? Budget is Max 1k. Since I have a sub with a very good hi pass cross..I'm looking for monitors mostly. Thank you
Check out Genelec 8330 active monitors with DSP room correction. If you are strict on the budget, then 8030 without the DSP. The comment about monitors lacking volume is total BS. Most active monitors are tools for audio professionals and they certainly do not lack power, nor sound quality.
 
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#53
Hi all and thank YOU for your very helpful comments. I did not switch the tube yet, and will not. I agree it should not affect the output gain. The Linn is 115V. I am suspecting the SAGA, even though the spec's say it's capable to 10V output. AND/ OR the Linn's input sensitivity is kinda low ( 10K). I am using a CD player for the source an Onkyo 7030, ** which I was feeding the coax out to the M.F. V90 which is now sold. I am waiting for the refund from the NANO 1 I returned to buy the Topping D50. At full volume there is NO distortion. That is a very keen comment as if the amp was running out of power I would hear "clipping". I sold Hi-end audio for 6 years in the 90's and demo's equipment constantly plus had a great repair tech on site. The amp in not clipping. So it's a mystery.

Back to sources, depending on the Tidal music some has more output than others. Generally the CD player has the most output. I wish I had a SPL meter. I agree with the comment about monitors not having the ability to play loud. Again to touch on this; I play in many bands, big band jazz, orchestra, and I played professionally in many bands in Vegas, Atlantic City , night clubs, etc. I have a brain and memory of so much "live" situations and rooms to compare against. The NAD 326Bee played louder that the SAGA/Linn combo, strange that that piece was 50W , but we know that NAD has great dynamic power. I'm now thinking of sending the SAGA back to schiit for a "check up" and the LINN to an authorized dealer for a "bend test" just to certify it is putting out rated power.

I have the HSU monitor's in place at the moment, 92 SPL. The sound is good, very good, and loud enough. Please note I am never talking about "ear bleed levels". THE hair in my nose about ALL THIS RANT is, I feel I should not be getting to the SAGA's volume control at MAX. That should not be happening. I am listening only 8 ft away, speakers are 8 feet apart. Linn has 95W 8 ohms and 140 at 4 ohms.

The tower comment ( AMIR) is very well taken. I have a pair of Whafdale Diamond 240's I may put back in place today, they are 89SPL but are 3 way and throw more "quantity of sound." Come to think of it, I have an older Adcom 535II 60 watt power amp. I inserted in the system a few weeks ago and I could swear it played louder. Funny how talk therapy works, I may be finding my own answers in this discussion. I will insert that too, before I change to the 240's. If the Adcom plays louder, then it's a better match for the SAGA. The Linn does sound cleaner and more musical than the Adcom,,,not by too much. That particular Adcom is dual mono and one of the most successful amps they ever made. The dealer I worked in was an Adcom Dealer and it sold itself. The whole line. Later we got Rotel and sold them side by side.

The VLR's certainly resolve detail much more for sure. SOOOOO, I can take a few paths; Save up for a CLASS D 225 or 300W power amp and have no worries anymore about having a strong powerplant to run anything. I can sell SAGA and LINN and get another NAD or other integrated and do away with " separates and the mis-match possibilities would be over. Last would be speakers that are 95+ efficiency. I am more in favor of options 1 and 2.
 

andreasmaaan

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#54
AND/ OR the Linn's input sensitivity is kinda low ( 10K)
Actually that's not the input sensitivity, that's the input impedance. The Linn's input sensitivity is spec'd at 870mV, which is way way below the Saga's max output. This is the basis of my view that whatever the reason for your problem, it's upstream from the Saga.

In fact, here's where I think your problem is: the Saga is a unity gain device. That means that when the Saga's volume is on maximum, it outputs exactly the same voltage as it receives at its input. So if it's receiving for example an input signal of 200mV, it will output only 200mV when on max. volume.

In other words, your problem is most likely that the input driving the Saga (whether it's your PC or CD player) is outputting significantly less than 870mV.

The question is how to fix this. My next steps if I were you would be to check the output voltage from your PC and CD player. Do you use a DAC or external soundcard from your PC, or just the stock sound device in the motherboard? Whatever you use, can you find the spec for max. output voltage?

I'd also check your gain settings on Tidal (if it has them). I know that Spotify for example has a setting that can adjust the gain normalisation. Tidal may have a similar setting which may enable you to "normalise" the playback volume to a louder level.
 

RayDunzl

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#55
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#56
You are right. I know the input sensitivity...is not 10k.lol. I might do better with a pre amp that can amplify the input signal higher than the Saga. I guess I did not know the Saga was unit Gain. Whether I switch from passive or tube the volume does not change. I also have a Schiit SYS passive pre amp. Little sucker is quite good. I get about the same results as the Saga. Any suggestions for an inexpensive pre amp? I can sell the Saga and move on....and keep the Linn which is a very musical amp.
 

andreasmaaan

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You are right. I know the input sensitivity...is not 10k.lol. I might do better with a pre amp that can amplify the input signal higher than the Saga. I guess I did not know the Saga was unit Gain. Whether I switch from passive or tube the volume does not change. I also have a Schiit SYS passive pre amp. Little sucker is quite good. I get about the same results as the Saga. Any suggestions for an inexpensive pre amp? I can sell the Saga and move on....and keep the Linn which is a very musical amp.
I don't use preamps so I'm not the right person to answer that.

But just before you get rid of your Saga, can I ask whether you're you using a DAC or external sound card from your computer? Or just direct out from the earphone jack? And if the latter, what kind of computer is it?

It seems that all your sources are digital. Perhaps if the Saga can't be made to work correctly, a better solution would be to get a nice DAC with inbuilt volume control and run it effectively as a DAC/preamp receiving digital signals from both your computer and CD player.
 
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#58
Yes, I did say I'm using my CD player with no dac at this moment.since I just sold the DAC I was using...a Musical fidelity V90. My plan was to buy a Topping D50. As far as computer. I have a 4 year old Asus laptop running Windows 10. I use Tidal HiFi setting. Ah...yes I do have a USB Dac. For Tidal. An Audioquest Drangonfly Black for MQA. The volume is a little lower going down this path. It's still satisfying. Again my beef is running the SAGA full out to the end.

Now I am now thinking exactly as you suggest...running a DAC/preamp. I was looking at the Cambridge Dac magic for an unbelievable 349.00. This gives me a preamp and Dac. Twin Wolfson s....I'm hoping Amir has receiwed the latest version? That would be very helpful.
If not I will buy what seems to be the best DAC for under 1,000. The D50. And use the Schiit passive SYS while I figure out the rest. Which would be selling the Saga and Linn 140 for a good intergrated.
 
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#59
Actually that's not the input sensitivity, that's the input impedance. The Linn's input sensitivity is spec'd at 870mV, which is way way below the Saga's max output. This is the basis of my view that whatever the reason for your problem, it's upstream from the Saga.

In fact, here's where I think your problem is: the Saga is a unity gain device. That means that when the Saga's volume is on maximum, it outputs exactly the same voltage as it receives at its input. So if it's receiving for example an input signal of 200mV, it will output only 200mV when on max. volume.

In other words, your problem is most likely that the input driving the Saga (whether it's your PC or CD player) is outputting significantly less than 870mV.

The question is how to fix this. My next steps if I were you would be to check the output voltage from your PC and CD player. Do you use a DAC or external soundcard from your PC, or just the stock sound device in the motherboard? Whatever you use, can you find the spec for max. output voltage?

I'd also check your gain settings on Tidal (if it has them). I know that Spotify for example has a setting that can adjust the gain normalisation. Tidal may have a similar setting which may enable you to "normalise" the playback volume to a louder level.
I checked Tidal. And everything is Max output. I use a Drangonfly Black for Tidal. I have an Asus laptop running Windows 10. What I really need to do is open up JRiver and run Tidal through it. I just have not stopped to do yhst. Jriver may adjust and correct the interface. The Onkyo 7030 shoul be out putting 2v. I'll check that spec too. A few posts ago in this thread I mentioned the NAD was playing louder across the board with same CD player. No mismatch possibly because it's an intergrated.
 
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#60
I was looking as the DX3 PRO. Then I started reading users switching out resistors and some Caps. To improve it...or am I misinformed? The DX3 would cover all the bases and add BT.
 
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