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Schiit Freya S Preamplifier Review

gvl

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If there is odd equipment out there that doesn't produce more than 600mV on their balanced outputs the Freya seems like a safe bet for it - distortion is low and channels will perform the same. I am, however, no longer interested.
 
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Thanks for the recommendations. These don't appear to have multiple ins though?
The JDS Atom ($99) has two inputs. In low gain mode it would serve as a perfectly fine pre-amp.

If you only need to switch between two input's, JDS also sells a passive pre-amp & switch ($45). I use one to toggle between a Sony HAP-S1 and an Oppo 105 to a pair of active speakers. The former holds my music library, the latter serves as a DAC for streaming from my computer and a Fire TV.

JDS pre-amp also switches two outs, which I use to toggle between my active speakers and the Atom headphone amp. Though, as I said, in theory the Atom is quiet enough I could have it inline to the active speakers all the time w/o degrading the signal from either the Sony or the Oppo. But since I have a passive output switch, I use that.

HTH
 
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Willem

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Is there any point in a systematic comparison of a number of cheap (below e.g. $100) passives/volume controls? I use a discontinued Emotiva Control Freak in my desktop system and I think the use case is obvious. But how do these perform in a system with otherwise transparent electronics?
 

LTig

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In your opinion is it similarly perfect , when tasked with reproducing music ?
Of course. Actually it's made for reproducing music, not for baking eggs.;)
If its not perfect reproducing music, can you contribute why that might be - and can you possibly identify if you have time, which part of the schematic is causing that disagreement with measurements then countering listening experience.
I don't know of any disagreements between measurements and listening experience, which have been proven by controlled and unsighted listening tests. And I haven't seen any schematics so far. Can you deliver both?

BTW: The developer of this preamp does not perform subjective listening tests. He knows that those test are less reliable than measurements. Of course this is quite a provocation for most audiophiles. OTOH he sells all his equipment to the pros who use it to make recordings. If the signal passes through his equipment and still sounds fantastic it will do the same when you use his equipment in your home.
 

LTig

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Does its measurements also reflect as 'works great " in its ability reproducing music - if so can you describe what you think is good about it relative to other preamps and other forms of attenuation, that you have tried.
Your insisting on unreliable subjective listening experience starts to get boring.:facepalm:
Try in another forum, there are lots of them who like this.
 

LTig

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His measurements are over ppm. Apx555 here has distortion harmonics of near -150db which is 30db less than ppm. Any precision analogue designer knows that sub ppm is a completely different world.
Just reread the chapter in his book. You're right, the noise floor of his measureing equipment is at 0.0004% (= -108 dB?).
 

restorer-john

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Just reread the chapter in his book. You're right, the noise floor of his measureing equipment is at 0.0004% (= -108 dB?).
Do you think any numbers below 0.0004% have any significance whatsoever? Just askin' ;)
 

stereo coffee

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Remembering it is a pre amplifier/ passive attenuator that is being measured, not a amplifier. End users would likely never use full volume at all with levels of 4V, not even at a Black Sabbath reunion party. :D

It can be seen full volume tests with 4v in and 4v out, mainly just tests the devices wiring that it has in place input to output, and indeed you would expect, as seen in the graphs, excellent distortion figures are the result, being a wire and a RCA plug or two and a attenuator full on and fancy gear measuring.

What is needed then in the future , is measurements indicative of actual use as a volume control, over many levels as this is how the product,if its an attenuator is going to be used by consumers.

IMO, measurements for evaluation of passive attenuators needs to occur much lower, and I would suggest 50mv to 500mv is more indicative of actual output levels occurring in consumer source equipment when playing regular music. The times I have measured AC music signals from the output of a CD player I have not seen any at all above 290mv

If I am wrong with this, does anyone have a voltage graph, to show min to maximum voltage ranges, of a standard CD player playing lets say Getz /Gilberto ? ....er how did they get such a good recording - particularly the vocals.

The exception though might be Oldfield's Amarok that momentarily fully tests a CD players output ability, and certainly higher levels can occur momentarily perhaps to 1.5v over a second or two's duration with such pieces of music, but these moments on CD's are very rare indeed, inferring level testing should IMO be much lower.
 

stereo coffee

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Of course. Actually it's made for reproducing music, not for baking eggs.;)

I don't know of any disagreements between measurements and listening experience, which have been proven by controlled and unsighted listening tests. And I haven't seen any schematics so far. Can you deliver both?

BTW: The developer of this preamp does not perform subjective listening tests. He knows that those test are less reliable than measurements. Of course this is quite a provocation for most audiophiles. OTOH he sells all his equipment to the pros who use it to make recordings. If the signal passes through his equipment and still sounds fantastic it will do the same when you use his equipment in your home.
So you don't actually have one ?
 

gvl

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Remembering it is a pre amplifier/ passive attenuator that is being measured, not a amplifier. End users would likely never use full volume at all with levels of 4V, not even at a Black Sabbath reunion party.


It appears that it is the input stage that clips at 4V as lowering the volume doesn't seem to help all that much. We've seen some devices that have low output levels on the XLRs e.g. the Hegel HD-12, but the majority will put out 4V or more at 0dB. Not that it matters audibly, but they should have been able to make it more linear to 4V in unity gain without a lot of effort, it is not a power amp after all as you say. :confused: I guess it is fine, it is Schiit after all.

Edit: unsure if that bar chart included noise, if it did then lowering the volume seems to help to lower the THD a bit. @amirm ?
 
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So the SAGA is still the better pre-amp?
No.

Although there is a significant distortion difference between the Freya S's two channels in relative terms, the channel with the higher level of distortion (and lower SINAD) is still better than the either of the Saga's channel's distortion/SINAD measurements (in active mode).

Also, the THD vs. frequency performance of the Freya S is better than that of the Saga, and unless I'm mistaken, the Freya S doesn't exhibit the same drooping frequency response curve as the Saga with decreasing impedance loads. Of course the Saga's tubes likely plays a significant role in it's diminished performance; it would be interesting to see how the newer Saga S measures, since the "S" model forgoes the tubes.

Considering that the Freya S's distortion disparity between channels is inaudible, I agree with LTig: With the caveat of the channel disparity, the Freya S measures well and it certainly meets my criteria for acceptability. I happen to be looking for a pre-amp with balanced outputs, but without a built-in DAC, since I already have a DAC; the Freya S is the only analog pre-amp I know of under 700 USD that meets this criteria, and that has also been reviewed/measured to perform respectably. Thanks for this review Amir!
 
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Is there any point in a systematic comparison of a number of cheap (below e.g. $100) passives/volume controls? I use a discontinued Emotiva Control Freak in my desktop system and I think the use case is obvious. But how do these perform in a system with otherwise transparent electronics?
Heh. I also have a Control Freak between my aforementioned HAP-S1 and my aforementioned JDS passive pre-amp & switch. :) It feels great. Like buttah.
 

gvl

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I happen to be looking for a pre-amp with balanced outputs, but without a built-in DAC, since I already have a DAC; the Freya S is the only analog pre-amp I know of under 700 USD that meets this criteria
I paid less than $10 for this, shipped. No distortion. Probably some channel imbalance on low levels.

DSC_4509s.jpg
 
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I paid less than $10 for this, shipped. No distortion. Probably some channel imbalance on low levels.

View attachment 46539
10, bucks eh? Now you're speaking my language (that of a super cheapskate, of course)!

Aside from its exceptionally beautiful aesthetics, I'm guessing this thing is is passive switcher with volume control, correct? I forgot to mention that I need an active pre-amp; my speakers are extremely inefficient, so a passive pre isn't going to work. Also I really do like the Freya S's (and Saga's) stepped attenuator. Seems like a useful differentiator that neatly solves the channel imbalance (vs volume position) problem.
 
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It appears that it is the input stage that clips at 4V as lowering the volume doesn't seem to help all that much. We've seen some devices that have low output levels on the XLRs e.g. the Hegel HD-12, but the majority will put out 4V or more at 0dB. Not that it matters audibly, but they should have been able to make it more linear to 4V in unity gain without a lot of effort, it is not a power amp after all as you say. :confused: I guess it is fine, it is Schiit after all.

Edit: unsure if that bar chart included noise, if it did then lowering the volume seems to help to lower the THD a bit. @amirm ?
The chart shows the average SINAD between the Freya S's two channels in "0 DB" active mode for different gain levels (unless I'm mistaken)
 

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