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Schiit KARA Preamp and Headphone Amp Review

Rate this preamp and headphone amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 5 2.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 17 7.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 90 39.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 117 51.1%

  • Total voters
    229

dzerig

Active Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2023
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Sorry, but no. The mute kicks in when switching gain settings. This is designed to protect the system and stabilize before unmuting.
Speaking of changes, if you get the Freya tube heater to turn off after say 2-3 minutes, rather than 1 minute or less, it'd be an improvement. Dunno if you can update that remotely on existing Freya, but although I appreciate not a/b ing my amp all the time, occasionally I want to compare tube sound to solid state, and I like to listen for too long before going back to the tubes, it shuts them down.

It just seems they shut off too fast, for no reason, when a few extra minutes won't .... I mean you guys didn't want standby switches on VIDAR! But run the tubes for a few extra seconds without listening to them, oh no!
 

dzerig

Active Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2023
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77
How can you be sure it isn't placebo?
How can you be sure measurements aren't a placebo, making you think you hear differences you don't hear?

I do not agree entirely.
In '70 and 80', people hardly listened to HiFi equipment before buying it and chose it on the basis of specification and aesthetics.
Then, somebody succeeded in convincing them that there was some "magic" not shown by measurements and only experienced during listening.
One such company was NAD which was lauded by magazines for it's 3020 amplifier as showing that specifications were not the be all and end all of audio quality, and that many components' power ratings were useless in actual operation as they had little dynamic power in real world operation.

Boy did they fool everyone!
 
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Moscardo

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
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17
How can you be sure measurements aren't a placebo, making you think you hear differences you don't hear?


One such company was NAD which was lauded by magazines for it's 3020 amplifier as showing that specifications were not the be all and end all of audio quality, and that many components' power ratings were useless in actual operation as they had little dynamic power in real world operation.

Boy did they fool everyone!
3020 advantages came basically from power reserve in power supply and soft clipping circuitry which made it able to manage much better instantaneous peaks typical of music signals. A clever design but not without defects, as to deliver much more transient power than nominal one it was also not well protected and prone to failures if abused.

However, that was not a fault of specifications, but of their interpretation. Now we know that instantaneous power is as important as continuous power and both parameters are needed to judge amplifiers quality.
 
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solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
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The Neitherlands
The NAD 3020 was plagued by thermal runaway of the 2N3055 output devices because NAD did not use emitter resistors.
Back in the day I saw quite a few of them with blown up output stages.
 

eigentone

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
9
Likes
4
I don't "live" on this forum (but I do love it) so my late reply to this review of the kara:

It occurs to me the Kara may have been inspired in part by the fact bridged Vidar 2 amps need a balanced input.

I also wonder if the insane rail voltage level of the Kara has something to do with driving bridged Vidar 2s? For those not familiar with Vidar 2's, the stereo 8 ohm output is rated at 100W, and in bridged mode 400W.
 

AaronJ

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2021
Messages
236
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367
I think Kara came along because someone on Head-Fi suggested a Freya S w/ headphone output and Jason liked the idea. I don't think anything about the Kara gets better performance from Vidar 2's bridged mono than Freya S did despite what the website reads.
 

Moth

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2023
Messages
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2
I wish Schiit would make a modular preamp. A Freya S/ Kara with optional/ upgradeable plug-in phono and DAC cards, sort of a preamp-only version of the Ragnarok or a better Jotunheim with the relay attenuator and remote.
Also wish the source input selector was rotary, or at least had two buttons to scroll back and forth between your most used sources without having to scroll all the way back through via one button.
 

Nick_L

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Oct 23, 2021
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Hello @Moth ,

I totally agree with your second topic on your wishlist. A rotary as input selector would be great - a direct change also via the IR remote would be a significant improvement for me. Regarding the first topic: I am fine connecting a dedicated DAC and phone pre-amp - but optional, why not?

Nick
 

pseudoid

Master Contributor
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I wish Schiit would make a modular preamp. A Freya S/ Kara with optional/ upgradeable plug-in phono and DAC cards, sort of a preamp-only version of the Ragnarok or a better Jotunheim with the relay attenuator and remote.
Also wish the source input selector was rotary, or at least had two buttons to scroll back and forth between your most used sources without having to scroll all the way back through via one button.
If we are talking about an audio "Wish List";
I'd be all over a fully-modular audio/video enclosure that is OpenSouce with standardized [non-proprietary] interfaces for both hardware modules and the software, which runs them.
Similar in fashion to what PC/Windows platform has achieved and Linux (and Raspberry) tried to normalize but couldn't!:(
Could you imagine popping-in a few more higher-power TPA-3255 modules, when you get tired of 5W versions (purchased on AliExpress for $5) and you want to go up-class to 16++ channels because you just bought a 8K TV with a plug-in/modular HDMI8.2 processor?:cool:
 

HoweSound

Active Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2021
Messages
137
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146
Location
BC, Canada
I think Kara came along because someone on Head-Fi suggested a Freya S w/ headphone output and Jason liked the idea. I don't think anything about the Kara gets better performance from Vidar 2's bridged mono than Freya S did despite what the website reads.
I'm still waiting for a comparison and measurements to show whether or not the Kara actually improves on the Freya S.
 
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