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Schiit Jotunheim 2 Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Jotunheim 2 balanced headphone amplifier including the optional DAC. Without the DAC the unit costs US $399. With the included (multibit?) DAC, it costs $599. The unit was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me.

Edit: as it has happened in the past, I misspelled Jotunheim with a Y. I fixed the test but the graphs are still wrong.

I tend to like the serious, look of the black edition although the silver volume control stands out a bit much:

Schiit Yotunheim 2 Review DAC balanced headphone amplifier.jpg


You can select between the DAC, balanced and unbalanced inputs. Adjust the gain between low and high. And enable or disable the rear pre-amp output. For headphone out, you have a choice of 1/4 HP out and XLR balanced.

I was a bit disappointed that like a number of other Schiit units I have tested, they arrive with the volume control knob pushed in too far, causing it to rub against the chassis and feel rough. Pulling it out slightly solves that problem and the control feels nice then.

Rear controls are as you expect:

Schiit Yotunheim 2 Review DAC XLR balanced headphone amplifier.jpg


The inclusion of mains power supply gives the unit substantial heft which should keep it from walking if you tug on the headphone cord.

Schiit Jotunheim 2 DAC Measurement
Let's get the bad news out of the way first with respect to the performance of this old, DAC design:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements DAC balanced out.png


I didn't see a reason to continue testing this subsystem.

Schiit Jotunheim 2 Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of 1 kHz driven by XLR in and measured with XLR headphone out:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements.png


Distortion is below -120 dB which is utterly inaudible. Performance is competent but doesn't play in the race to the top of the chart:
Best Balanced Headphone Amplifier Reivew.png


Signal to noise ratio is good enough at 4 volt but average with just 50 mv:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements SNR.png


Lowest noise balanced headphone amplifier review.png


To win these races, they need to add a very low gain mode to reduce noise further.

Frequency response is dead flat in audible band:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements Frequency Response.png


This is a strong amplifier when it comes to delivering power into 300 ohm using balanced output:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements power into 300 ohm balanced.png


There is some rise in distortion which gets worse with 50 ohm load:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements power into 50 ohm balanced.png


Sweeping with progressively reducing load shows that the amplifier is more at east in higher impedances than low:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements power vs distortion vs impedance balanced.png


Running the same using unbalanced mode, distortion sets in earlier:
Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements unbalanced power vs distortion vs impedance balanced.png


Finally, channel balance:

Schiit Yotunheim 2 Measurements channel balance.png


Schiit Jotunheim 2 Listening Tests
I started with my low impedance Drop Ether CX headphone. I could get the Yotunheim 2 to get distorted but that was well beyond reasonable level of listening.

Using unbalanced out with my Sennheiser HD-650 showed plenty of clean power with satisfying performance. Yes, I could get the amp to distort again but it was at super elevated volume.

So subjectively, experience is fine.

Conclusions
The headphone amplifier part of the Jotunheim 2 is competently designed, able to provide tons of power with low noise and distortion. Best performance is with balanced output and high impedance headphones however (from measurement point of view at least). The DAC is an older design and is simply not competitive from numerical point of view. Subjectively it was fine in my brief listening tests.

Overall, I am going to put the Schiit Jotunheim 2 on my recommended list. It is a practical, western produce unit that delivers competent performance. I would leave the DAC option behind if you wanted the best performance and use one of Schiit's (newer) excellent DACs.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Lambda

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#4
Why is the Balanced out so bad but the headphone out ok?
is it clipping at ~4V?
Edit:
ah its driven by the external analog in :facepalm:
 

Chromatischism

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#5
Sweeping with progressively reducing load shows that the amplifier is more at east in higher impedances than low:
View attachment 117735

Running the same using unbalanced mode, distortion sets in earlier:


Schiit Yotunheim 2 Listening Tests
I started with my low impedance Drop Ether CX headphone. I could get the Yotunheim 2 to get distorted but that was well beyond reasonable level of listening.
I was about to say: if you have low impedance earphones, no way are you even putting 1 watt into your ears so performance is about the same for all of them where all the lines overlap.
 
Last edited:
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #6
I think it’s spelled with a J not Y.
Gosh, this is the second time I think I have made that mistake. Fixed the text but graphs have to wait.... Thanks for pointing it out.
 

Martin

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#8
That DAC performance is utterly disappointing. Is it the multibit or AK4490 module? It seems that anyone adding “DAC modules” to preamp / headphone amps is interested in only checking a box, no matter what the price. Unfortunate. I’d love someone to actually get it right.

Martin
 

Matias

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#9
Channel imbalance?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #10
That DAC performance is utterly disappointing. Is it the multibit or AK4490 module?
It is hard to tell but says "MB" on the box which I took to mean multibit.
 

Matias

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#11
That DAC performance is utterly disappointing. Is it the multibit or AK4490 module? It seems that anyone adding “DAC modules” to preamp / headphone amps is interested in only checking a box, no matter what the price. Unfortunate. I’d love someone to actually get it right.

Martin
Mola Mola Makua. You did not restrict price. :)
 

Jimbob54

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#13
I really think its time they binned all those DAC modules. Although, when folks still pay $200 a pop for the privilege, perhaps they never will.

@Martin, stick with plan RME
 

Matias

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#14

Martin

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#16
I really think its time they binned all those DAC modules. Although, when folks still pay $200 a pop for the privilege, perhaps they never will.

@Martin, stick with plan RME
Yeah. The DAC module on that Mola Mola thingie is $8,200! That’s insane.

Martin
 

Matias

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#19
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