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Schiit Freya+ Pre-amp Review

Rate this preamp:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 93 48.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 61 31.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 24 12.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 13 6.8%

  • Total voters
    191

don'ttrustauthority

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It's not "any particular brand" It's the model that comes with the product they are selling.
Which has been at least 3 different options including Tung Sol, JJ, and NOS of various brands, not to mention the 'solid state' tubes.
 

fivecolors

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What's the deal with this forum? If you have criticism of Amir's methods, or findings, your post is deleted?
 

Doodski

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What's the deal with this forum? If you have criticism of Amir's methods, or findings, your post is deleted?
The review threads are for reviews. At one time peeps where allowed to criticize in the review threads but that changed some time ago. Can somebody please direct @fivecolors to the complaints and criticism thread for reviews. I near never use the thread and don't know what it is called.
 

U_J

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I purchased the Freya + on the basis that I wanted to add a little bit of that tubey "goodness" to try and fatten up my sound a little as it was on the slightly thin/clinical end of the spectrum also with the bonus to be able to switch to passive and active modes to do back to back comparisons. In practice the passive mode performed as expected but did little for me apart from getting a nice remote volume , I found the active mode dissapointing as it added a kind of hard glare to the sound and lastly I was dissapointed with the tube sound that the Freya produced with the stock tubes, there was a general loss of detail and sparkle and only a minimal fattening of the sound with an odd grain to the sound. I had a bunch of 6SN7's I could tube roll with to try and improve the sound and certainly there are gains to be had but this comes at even more cost than the original staring point. I opted for a NOS Raytheons in the output and a nice PSVANE CV-181T II in the input but really buying NOS tubes can be fraught with dissapointment and by changing the 4 tubes I effectively added 50% more cost to the pre-amp ! The sound was still on the kind of grainy side so not being one to give up I pulled the Freya apart and whilst the build quality of the circuit board is first class the space constraints from the slim line housing meant that there were compromises to the power supply design, the 300V rail is derived directly from just a series of resistors and capacitors. I added a choke to the supply ( not easy in the limited space ) and changed the output caps to better quality caps , these changes brought the detail and air back that was missing and cleaned up the grain but I sacrificed the balanced output to fit it in. You could also argue that the common cathode output topology will never give you the best SQ. Tuning the sound to your liking can be done by changing valves and the valves I selected give me what I was after without loss of detail.
All up I ended up with a pre that is pretty good and might compete with a $2K pre. but I do not recommend doing what I did, you would be much better off getting a pre that works as it should in the first place at a lesser cost than my path.
 
D

Deleted member 50971

Guest
I purchased the Freya + on the basis that I wanted to add a little bit of that tubey "goodness" to try and fatten up my sound a little as it was on the slightly thin/clinical end of the spectrum also with the bonus to be able to switch to passive and active modes to do back to back comparisons. In practice the passive mode performed as expected but did little for me apart from getting a nice remote volume , I found the active mode dissapointing as it added a kind of hard glare to the sound and lastly I was dissapointed with the tube sound that the Freya produced with the stock tubes, there was a general loss of detail and sparkle and only a minimal fattening of the sound with an odd grain to the sound. I had a bunch of 6SN7's I could tube roll with to try and improve the sound and certainly there are gains to be had but this comes at even more cost than the original staring point. I opted for a NOS Raytheons in the output and a nice PSVANE CV-181T II in the input but really buying NOS tubes can be fraught with dissapointment and by changing the 4 tubes I effectively added 50% more cost to the pre-amp ! The sound was still on the kind of grainy side so not being one to give up I pulled the Freya apart and whilst the build quality of the circuit board is first class the space constraints from the slim line housing meant that there were compromises to the power supply design, the 300V rail is derived directly from just a series of resistors and capacitors. I added a choke to the supply ( not easy in the limited space ) and changed the output caps to better quality caps , these changes brought the detail and air back that was missing and cleaned up the grain but I sacrificed the balanced output to fit it in. You could also argue that the common cathode output topology will never give you the best SQ. Tuning the sound to your liking can be done by changing valves and the valves I selected give me what I was after without loss of detail.
All up I ended up with a pre that is pretty good and might compete with a $2K pre. but I do not recommend doing what I did, you would be much better off getting a pre that works as it should in the first place at a lesser cost than my path.
Hi, I don’t find any difference between the stock JJ tubes, and an NOS set of Sylvania 6SN7 GTB tubes in my Freya +. This is going into a pretty resolving system, that I know is accurate enough to show differences. I don’t want to tell you what you’re hearing, but in my experience I couldn’t hear a difference. I do like the fact that I’m using a set of what I know are NOS tubes, but I honestly think sonic difference is nonexistent or minuscule. This said there’s a coolness factor about the NOS tubes thats unmistakable.

After getting the Benchmark LA4 preamp recently I’ll be putting my Freya + up for sale. With the Benchmark I know that whatever I put in I’m getting out, zero coloration and just lovely sounding with the right source. Just my thoughts, so I do understand the NOS part of tubes, and I think the Freya + does tubes well. I just wasn’t happy with the measurements here on ASR for the solid-state part, and not that I could probably pick out a difference between the Benchmark and the Freya + in solid state, I just wanted something that measured better.
 
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DMill

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I honestly think sonic difference is nonexistent or minuscule. This said there’s a coolness factor about the NOS tubes thats unmistakable
I’ve tried rolling 6SN7 tubes for 25+ years in an integrated tube amp. At least 6 or 7 different brands/years. I’ve not noticed any major differences in any kind of listening “test” I’ve done. It’s very difficult to do any kind of listening test cause It takes a few minutes between each listen to swap out the tubes. The only way I would reco one over another would be using testing equipment which I don’t have. But yes, the thought of a 60 year old light bulb working in a circuit is cool IMO.
 
D

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I’ve tried rolling 6SN7 tubes for 25+ years in an integrated tube amp. At least 6 or 7 different brands/years. I’ve not noticed any major differences in any kind of listening “test” I’ve done. It’s very difficult to do any kind of listening test cause It takes a few minutes between each listen to swap out the tubes. The only way I would reco one over another would be using testing equipment which I don’t have. But yes, the thought of a 60 year old light bulb working in a circuit is cool IMO.
I think your analysis is right on the money. It’s very difficult to A/B tubes even sighted, let alone blind. I admit to chasing the NOS dream tube, bugle boys and ones like them. What I’ve come up with is I basically don’t hear any difference, but who am I to argue if others say they do.

One day I’ll go through my tubes, of which I don’t have a huge amount, but I’ll list them on eBay or Audiomart. I have a great supplier for them and if he tells you they test as new… they do.

Thanks for replying and enjoy your day.
 

U_J

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Hi, I don’t find any difference between the stock JJ tubes, and an NOS set of Sylvania 6SN7 GTB tubes in my Freya +. This is going into a pretty resolving system, that I know is accurate enough to show differences. I don’t want to tell you what you’re hearing, but in my experience I couldn’t hear a difference. I do like the fact that I’m using a set of what I know are NOS tubes, but I honestly think sonic difference is nonexistent or minuscule. This said there’s a coolness factor about the NOS tubes thats unmistakable.

After getting the Benchmark LA4 preamp recently I’ll be putting my Freya + up for sale. With the Benchmark I know that whatever I put in I’m getting out, zero coloration and just lovely sounding with the right source. Just my thoughts, so I do understand the NOS part of tubes, and I think the Freya + does tubes well. I just wasn’t happy with the measurements here on ASR for the solid-state part, and not that I could probably pick out a difference between the Benchmark and the Freya + in solid state, I just wanted something that measured better.
In all honesty you are unlikely to hear much difference in the Freya with any change of tubes because a) the poorly implemented power supply for the tubes, b) the common cathode output and c) the average quality output caps , this is borne out in the measurements , in a better design of pre or tube amp it is easy to hear a difference with NOS tubes but not necessarily for the better ! I have a stack of NOS tubes that are best described as rubbish including a set of RCA's and Sylvanias which are supposed to be good but are just dead sounding mush. NOS does not mean better they are just old tubes that may or may not be any better than their modern counterpart, my preference is for new tubes where possible because at least they have repeatable specs and sound so should one break you can be assured you are changing like for like.
 
D

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In all honesty you are unlikely to hear much difference in the Freya with any change of tubes because a) the poorly implemented power supply for the tubes, b) the common cathode output and c) the average quality output caps , this is borne out in the measurements , in a better design of pre or tube amp it is easy to hear a difference with NOS tubes but not necessarily for the better ! I have a stack of NOS tubes that are best described as rubbish including a set of RCA's and Sylvanias which are supposed to be good but are just dead sounding mush. NOS does not mean better they are just old tubes that may or may not be any better than their modern counterpart, my preference is for new tubes where possible because at least they have repeatable specs and sound so should one break you can be assured you are changing like for like.
I appreciate the reply thanks. My beliefs are if a tube (NOS or new production) is within spec, that no one will hear any difference between tubes no matter how good the amp or preamp. If you did the testing level matched and double blind then your test is valid, if not by definition it’s flawed. I’m not picking on your claims, and people hear all kind of things when it’s sighted, it’s happened to me. I have NOS Sylvania tubes from the 60s or early 70s in a Tubes4hifi preamp and they are dead silent, I mean full volume dead silent, no weird sounds, not microphonic. As I would expect a new set of tubes would be also. I went over the top with that preamp, and it has the best components that the builder offered. I just don’t believe that tubes sound different, if their output is the same. It’s online folklore, just like 99% of the other tweaks we all hear about.
 
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don'ttrustauthority

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Only in audio folks sell muddy water as a better substitute for clean and clear water. :(
Untrue.

Soda is a form of muddy water. It is less healthy, harms the body, and contains no nutritional value.

You keep singling out audio as though it is unique in capitalism to have products be sold that have questionable value.

Why? You certainly are old enough and experienced enough to know this simply is your biased view.

How about the new patents for medicines like insulin that only raise the price?

More or less egregious?
 

bill poster

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I don't understand why this product exists. If you have a passive, you shouldn't have long interconnects to drive, but if you do, switching it to 'active' should be an effort to provide the same performance and SQ. It doesn't do that, so for me this is simply broken. More so when one considers the output voltage behavior between passive and active mode and whether a downstream amp can handle a 15V input without clipping. As this is aimed at domestic audiophiles, and most domestic amps wish to see 4Vrms on XLR, how is this ever going to work to sound good in an audio shop and shift units? And if an audiophile likes it in 'passive' mode, but does have long interconnects to drive, how is this going to satisfy them in 'active' mode when sounding different? I just cannot see that it can.

Can we have an outright "FAIL" category below 'Poor'? I'd vote this one goes there.
Shdnt be a problem with high gain dac. Unless v long runs
 

Rottmannash

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Sorry about the late question, but isn't the active mode required in going from single-ended inputs to balanced out outputs?
No. But when using XLR out from the Freya+ the output if much weaker w/o active mode. There's a noticeable increase in volume when switching from passive to active mode using XLR out.
 

GoldenYear

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New Schiit Freya+ owner here. I'm having an issue with low volume on a powered subwoofer (KEF KC62) connected via single-ended RCA out to a Schiit Freya+ I bought used.

My previous setup is Schiit Yggdrasil > Schiit Ragnorak 1 (via balanced XLR; max gain setting at 20db) > KEF LS50 Meta (connected via speaker posts) + KEF KC62 (connected via SE RCA preamp out, into subwoofer line-in; subwoofer volume at 12 o'clock; HPF at 50hz). Things sound good and subwoofer volume is normal and balanced.

My new setup is Schiit Yggdrasil > Schiit Freya+ (via balanced XLR) > Schiit Tyr Monoblocks (connected to Freya+ via balanced XLR out) > KEF LS50 Meta + KEF KC62 (connected to the Freya+ via SE RCA preamp output). The volume of the subwoofer is massively reduced, and does not match the volume of my original setup even if I turn the KC62 volume knob to the max gain setting.

A few further observations:

1. The Freya+ performs the same in passive, differential or tube modes. The 12db gain in tube mode does not solve the subwoofer volume issue.
2. As a test, connecting the powered subwoofer directly to Schiit Yggdrasil's SE RCA out makes the subwoofer behave at normal volume.
3. If I use the Freya+ single ended RCA out to connect my Schiit Ragnorak (at 20db gain setting) as a dedicated amp to drive my (already powered) sub, the volume returns to normal. Obviously this setup is not ideal.
4. I also tried to do Freya+ single ended RCA out to my monoblocks/speakers. There is no difference in gain for the speakers going from balanced XLR to single ended RCA.

Do I have a defective Freya+? Any idea what might be the problem?

I should note my speakers sound just fine driven by monoblocks via Freya+'s XLR out.
 
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