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Schiit Freya + passive mode, Bechmark LA4, Topping pre90

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dlovesmusic

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Curious to know what Schiit says.

It all depends. When your tube mode is fixed, try listening to any of the vocal songs from La La Land. I find that tubes really help “sweeten” the sound in that the recording itself reproduced with full transparency feels like the phantom center is too tight and narrow and running the tubes, perhaps through crosstalk or microphonics made the phantom center width a bit wider and reverberant which makes it sound like you’re in an intimate live club as opposed to a multitrack’d studio session.



I have a remote control speaker-level switch that I sent Amir to test which is supposed to allow one amp to multiple speakers or multiple amps to one speaker.
The La La Land!!! One of my favorite movies, I have watched it in atmos 5 times and everytime me and my wife would cry at the end...
 
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I too am a Freya Noval owner and while the tube stage did not fail, the tubes themselves (or, at least one of the tubes) have started to exhibit the signs of failure--a sometimes violent random pop. So I'm using the passive mode with no problem while I decide what to do.

While we are at it, would someone please explain what the "Solid State Differential" mode is supposed to do for me. I'm using XLR connections, so that it outputs at the same volume as the passive to the point where they are indistinguishable--at least to me. Someone please advise.
 
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dlovesmusic

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I too am a Freya Noval owner and while the tube stage did not fail, the tubes themselves (or, at least one of the tubes) have started to exhibit the signs of failure--a sometimes violent random pop. So I'm using the passive mode with no problem while I decide what to do.

While we are at it, would someone please explain what the "Solid State Differential" mode is supposed to do for me. I'm using XLR connections, so that it outputs at the same volume as the passive to the point where they are indistinguishable--at least to me. Someone please advise.
Don't quote me on it, with the passive mode, its meant to be a direct pass through. With the Solid State Differential mode, its an active mode that provides enough voltage for 1) longer distance of interconnects without interruption - i.e. say if you connect your subs 50' away or something; 2) it allows differential conversion between RCA and XLR inputs and outputs or vice versa that you can't do with a passive mode.

When I first bought my Freya +, I got 2 bad tubes from the quad JJ set as well. Schiit was excellent and gave me another tested quad set of good tubes and that worked fine.

FYI, the two tube slots on the left side of the Freya are for the cathode follower and the two tube slots on the right side of the Freya are for the gain stage, which has a bigger impact on the sound quality as well as noise.
You can (at least for now) put the bad tubes on the left hand side and the good tubes to the gain stage and that should address the random pop...

You should still replace the bad tubes with a pair of matched tubes tho.

Seriously I don't blame Schiit for the tube stage issues. It functioned perfectly for the past 3 years, and I had a lot of fun rolling in different 6SN7 tubes in that span... Anything can happen in electronics. I see it as a bonus - that when the tube stage broke down, I still have a SOTA passive preamp that I thoroughly enjoy!!!
 
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Don't quote me on it, with the passive mode, its meant to be a direct pass through. With the Solid State Differential mode, its an active mode that provides enough voltage for 1) longer distance of interconnects without interruption - i.e. say if you connect your subs 50' away or something; 2) it allows differential conversion between RCA and XLR inputs and outputs or vice versa that you can't do with a passive mode.

When I first bought my Freya +, I got 2 bad tubes from the quad JJ set as well. Schiit was excellent and gave me another tested quad set of good tubes and that worked fine.

FYI, the two tube slots on the left side of the Freya are for the cathode follower and the two tube slots on the right side of the Freya are for the gain stage, which has a bigger impact on the sound quality as well as noise.
You can (at least for now) put the bad tubes on the left hand side and the good tubes to the gain stage and that should address the random pop...

You should still replace the bad tubes with a pair of matched tubes tho.

Seriously I don't blame Schiit for the tube stage issues. It functioned perfectly for the past 3 years, and I had a lot of fun rolling in different 6SN7 tubes in that span... Anything can happen in electronics. I see it as a bonus - that when the tube stage broke down, I still have a SOTA passive preamp that I thoroughly enjoy!!!
Thank you for this. As for your suggestion about replacing the tubes, is it good assumption then that the "bad tube" is on the gain stage? If so, I would just want to replace that pair. Some of those pops were pretty loud and I've become a bit gun shy about turning them on again in either capacity, so I'm afraid to simply swap them into the "cathode follower" position.
 
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dlovesmusic

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Thank you for this. As for your suggestion about replacing the tubes, is it good assumption then that the "bad tube" is on the gain stage? If so, I would just want to replace that pair. Some of those pops were pretty loud and I've become a bit gun shy about turning them on again in either capacity, so I'm afraid to simply swap them into the "cathode follower" position.
The fact is you don't know how many out of the 4 tubes you have are bad. What you can do is to test them by swapping them diagonally - i.e. first swap out your top right tube with the bottom left tube and see if that fixes the pop.

If that did not do it, you know your bottom right tube is bad, swap that out with the top left tube. If that did not do it, perhaps your previously top left tube is also bad, swap your bottom right tube with the previously bottom left tube...
 
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dlovesmusic

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So tonight I had an audiophile buddy came over for dinner and listening session after. He was a tube guy, with a Primaluna Evo 400 int amp, into vinyl and only uses a Node 2i for Qobuz exploring new music...
I did not tell him initially my tube stage is dead and was using the passive mode for the entire session. We stepped out for a smoke break and he told me he was thoroughly impressed with what my "tiny tube preamp" was able to achieve - "a very refined, natural, organic, coherent sound that is free from digital glare as he called it". I then told him actually there were no tubes I was using the preamp mode which is just a direct pass through between my dac and the power amp.

So after the intermission, we went back in for more listening, he started telling me how he's now hearing a lack of "tube magic", smoothness and the holographic soundstage. Its sounding too clean with a narrow soundstage that it sounded "artificial" as if the music was compiled by "AI"... I just smiled at him like whatever... ;)
 

Mikig

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So tonight I had an audiophile buddy came over for dinner and listening session after. He was a tube guy, with a Primaluna Evo 400 int amp, into vinyl and only uses a Node 2i for Qobuz exploring new music...
I did not tell him initially my tube stage is dead and was using the passive mode for the entire session. We stepped out for a smoke break and he told me he was thoroughly impressed with what my "tiny tube preamp" was able to achieve - "a very refined, natural, organic, coherent sound that is free from digital glare as he called it". I then told him actually there were no tubes I was using the preamp mode which is just a direct pass through between my dac and the power amp.

So after the intermission, we went back in for more listening, he started telling me how he's now hearing a lack of "tube magic", smoothness and the holographic soundstage. Its sounding too clean with a narrow soundstage that it sounded "artificial" as if the music was compiled by "AI"... I just smiled at him like whatever... ;)

well, you unintentionally conducted a scientific test.
This gave you one of the answers to the questions asked at the beginning of the thread. Your friend gave you proof that your system sounds good even with preamp in passive mode...
after you explained the situation to him, the mental artifacts that occur when someone are prejudiced on some aspect took over!
 
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dlovesmusic

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well, you unintentionally conducted a scientific test.
This gave you one of the answers to the questions asked at the beginning of the thread. Your friend gave you proof that your system sounds good even with preamp in passive mode...
after you explained the situation to him, the mental artifacts that occur when someone are prejudiced on some aspect took over!
That’s part of the audio hobby I guess that people listen with their eyes not their ears… the moment he saw my preamp turned on and has four tubes in the unit, expectation bias kicked in imagining the tube sound……
 
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dlovesmusic

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Update: so just came back from my amp tech buddy, it took him like 5 minutes to get the tube mode up and running again. He said Schiit had pretty thin layer of soldering for the tube stage and he noticed some “cold joint”.

He added some soldering it’s up and running again!!
 

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Mikig

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Update: so just came back from my amp tech buddy, it took him like 5 minutes to get the tube mode up and running again. He said Schiit had pretty thin layer of soldering for the tube stage and he noticed some “cold joint”.

He added some soldering it’s up and running again!!
to have proof, call again your friend and do the opposite!!! :)
make him listen to the tubes telling him it's passive, go for a cigarette break, and then make him listen to the passive saying it's the tube!!!
 
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dlovesmusic

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to have proof, call again your friend and do the opposite!!! :)
make him listen to the tubes telling him it's passive, go for a cigarette break, and then make him listen to the passive saying it's the tube!!!
Will definitely do some critical listening for the next little while to see how I feel about the tube stage…

Cheers
 
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dlovesmusic

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So I have been listening to the tubes mode since I got my tube stage back on Saturday. It really was not bad but at the end of each listening session, I would turn off the tube mode and set to the passive preamp mode and played a couple of songs before I shut down the system, and the passive mode is just plain better - that clarity, natural, organic sound. What I used to think as rich, textured and warm sounding from the tubes now sounded like "coloration, exaggeration" to me.

I will give the tube mode a few more days but I honestly think I have converted!!!
 

Mikig

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So I have been listening to the tubes mode since I got my tube stage back on Saturday. It really was not bad but at the end of each listening session, I would turn off the tube mode and set to the passive preamp mode and played a couple of songs before I shut down the system, and the passive mode is just plain better - that clarity, natural, organic sound. What I used to think as rich, textured and warm sounding from the tubes now sounded like "coloration, exaggeration" to me.

I will give the tube mode a few more days but I honestly think I have converted!!!

I also attack the active preamp from time to time, looking for who knows what revelations....
then I put the passive back on...and, nothing! I like it more!
 
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Thank you for this. As for your suggestion about replacing the tubes, is it good assumption then that the "bad tube" is on the gain stage? If so, I would just want to replace that pair. Some of those pops were pretty loud and I've become a bit gun shy about turning them on again in either capacity, so I'm afraid to simply swap them into the "cathode follower" position.
For anyone interested, here is an update: I bought a matched pair of 6922 tubes and swapped them for the gain stage tubes on the Freya. The popping sound continued, so I assumed that the bad tube, if there was one, was one for the "Cathode Follower Output Stage". I reinstalled the original tubes on the gain stage and then installed my new pair on the follower output stage. The popping sound continued, so I concluded that the problem was not a bad tube but with the unit itself. Schiit agreed, and gave me an RMA number. I shipped the unit out to them the cheapest way (about $60 believe it or not) and it is now on the way back to me with the following assessment:

"We have replaced the Transformer, tube heater resistors, regulator in the -18v circuit, and we changed some resistor values in the tube stage for stability. We tested Freya on our APx555 after repair and performance checks 100%."

It seems to me that they had no idea what the problem is (or hopefully was) and essentially rebuilt the thing. How could so many things fail? Please comment.
 
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dlovesmusic

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For anyone interested, here is an update: I bought a matched pair of 6922 tubes and swapped them for the gain stage tubes on the Freya. The popping sound continued, so I assumed that the bad tube, if there was one, was one for the "Cathode Follower Output Stage". I reinstalled the original tubes on the gain stage and then installed my new pair on the follower output stage. The popping sound continued, so I concluded that the problem was not a bad tube but with the unit itself. Schiit agreed, and gave me an RMA number. I shipped the unit out to them the cheapest way (about $60 believe it or not) and it is now on the way back to me with the following assessment:

"We have replaced the Transformer, tube heater resistors, regulator in the -18v circuit, and we changed some resistor values in the tube stage for stability. We tested Freya on our APx555 after repair and performance checks 100%."

It seems to me that they had no idea what the problem is (or hopefully was) and essentially rebuilt the thing. How could so many things fail? Please comment.
All I can say is wow!!! I guess it’s not a bad thing they pretty much rebuild it for you with a new transformer, tube heater resistors and the regulator… they might as well just give you a new unit!!
 
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