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Schiit Lokius Review (Equalizer)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Lokius balanced (I/O) analog 6-band equalizer. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $299 from the company direct (plus shipping).

The Lokius looks like other Schiit products in their mid-sized configuration:

Schiit Lokius Review  Equalizer Tone Control.jpg


There is a bypass button and selection between balanced and unbalanced inputs:

Schiit Lokius Review Back Panel  Equalizer Tone Control.jpg


The standard (giant and heavy) Schiit AC transformer is supplied to power the unit.

I must say, I hated operating the Lokius. The knobs are too close together and even my skinny fingers can't fit between them. This means you have to move the knob a bit then pick up your finger, move it back and repeat. The knobs are kind of slippery so you have to put some pressure on them to turn them. The combination of these literally made the bones in my fingers hurt. For a device where you want to fiddle with all the time and possibly per track you are listening to, this is very annoying. I realize that they wanted to keep the box small and cost low but this is a compromise I would not have made in this type of product.

The markers on the silver knobs is also very hard to see causing you to waste time when a dial is not where you think it is.

Schiit Lokius Measurements
This is a rather tricky device to test but let's go through some basic process. First, let's see how it does in pass-through mode (i.e. none of the controls active):

Schiit Lokius Measurements Bypass Equalizer Tone Control.png


Very nice. It is transparent and is essentially reflecting the performance of my Audio Precision analyzer.

Now let's set all the control to the center detent and activate the controls:

Schiit Lokius Measurements Equalizer Tone Control.png


Ah, I was hoping for less distortion than this, seeing how we have not yet boosted any frequencies. Indeed bosting one control to max takes another bite out of its performance:

Schiit Lokius Measurements 3rd control max Equalizer Tone Control.png


Continuing with basic tests, I set the controls back to center and measured SNR:

Schiit Lokius Measurements SNR Equalizer Tone Control.png


This is very good performance but again, keep in mind that I have not boosted any of the levels. That will surely lower the SNR. The right side by the way reflects the performance of Audio Precision. So we have lost 22 dB of dynamic range.

Frequency response with the unit being active was flat and balanced enough:

Schiit Lokius Measurements Frequency Response Equalizer Tone Control.png


This will be unit specific though.

To see the effect of various controls, I increased each one by a quarter turn one by one and got this:

Schiit Lokius Measurements Center Frequencies Equalizer Tone Control.png


I was surprised how low the first band is, and how high the last. They are also quite broad meaning what you think is changing, i.e. the center frequency, is just a small part of the story. The 500 Hz for example has a range of 20 to 10 kHz! Someone less lazy than me can compute the Q. So forget about using the Lokius for any kind of speaker or headphone equalization. It is like using a jack hammer as a screw driver!

Crosstalk is OK:
Schiit Lokius Measurements Crosstalk Equalizer Tone Control.png


Back to our basic measurements, here is our IMD vs level:

Schiit Lokius Measurements IMD Equalizer Tone Control.png


The saturation concerns me as again, we have the controls in the middle. Crank them up and you see that earlier and earlier.

Sweeping the frequency unfortunately showed that our dashboard was testing almost the best case scenario:

Schiit Lokius Measurements THD+N vs frequency Equalizer Tone Control.png


Schiit Lokius Listening Tests
I made a chain of my every day RME ADI-2 DAC FS through Lokius and then Topping A90 to drive my test headphones. I set the controls to the middle. I could induce audible hiss with A90 in highest gain and volume to max. That would be exceptionally loud though. Turning the #3 to #5 controls to max though, induced hiss in the middle position of the volume. Testing with music with Sennheiser HD650 showed that was about 10 to 20% higher than the max volume I wanted to listen to so I don't think it is a problem. Noise was much more audible with pair of Dan Clark Stealth and Ether CX headphones likely due to their closed back/noise isolation. But again, not a practical problem.

Using my Stealth headphone, I cranked the lowest knob (#1) and it would add a bit of sub-bass. The next control however was way to high a frequency causing bloated bass. In other words, one was too low of a frequency and the next, too high. Likewise the last control didn't do much for me as I cranked it up but lowering it did cut out the highs.

Controls 4 through 5 caused hiss in content and any distortion to get magnified. You would not want them more than 10 to 20% boosted.

Overall, I did not like the experience at all. I much rather use a software EQ with proper controls over what is being changed. The device can be educational though to teach you in an instant if you want more sub-bass for example and value of such.

Conclusions
Objective performance using standard metrics seems good enough here. Usability both in what the device does and actual feel of it is very poor in my opinion. As I noted, forget about using it for EQ of speakers or headphones. If you were going to use such, you would want some kind of memory to remember them anyway. Is it good to mess around with music? I guess it could be if the knobs were easier to manipulate. I can't see reaching for these controls as I listen to music and then have to change them for the next piece of music.

The device is also boring to look at. The older versions of this box had dancing LEDs that added fun to the experience if not some data as to what the thing was doing.

You have to have very strong aversion to using software EQ to want to use the Lokius. I am a strong fan of physical controls of the past and if this device was well done, I would line up to praise it but it just doesn't feel good to play with it.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Schiit Lokius. That said, if its functionality and physical aspects don't bother you, and you have a user for it, performance is good enough that I can't dismiss it seeing how there are hardly any options at this price range available.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Shant

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Thanks for the reviewing this. It's very interesting.

Can this be used to mimic the "Loudness" button to boost low frequencies when listening at low volume through the loudspeakers?
 
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dfuller

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Home audio non-parametric EQs like this just strike me as kind of silly. They're not versatile enough to be useful for actually dialing something in, and their performance is often lacking. That said at $300 beggars can't be choosers, good pro EQs cost a freakin' lot more than that.
 

nagster

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We would like to thank Schiit for releasing such an unpopular device at a low price. We would also like to thank amirm for reviewing such equipment. I thought I would buy 100% until I scrolled the page.
But unfortunately there is too much deterioration. I have no choice but to wait for the successor model. I have high expectations for Schiit.
 

Lambda

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At first i was WOW this looks clean, then i saw it was in Bypass...

Nice to see something "Different" being tested
 

RickSanchez

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The 500 Hz for example has a range of 20 to 10 kHz! ... It is like using a jack hammer as a screw driver!

Those vintage stereo receivers with separate bass and treble controls are so passé. Now you can have one dial that can do it all!
 

Vini darko

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Ooo this is an intresting one. I was considering the original loki for an eq. However due to limited supply and the realisation that it simply doesn't have enough bands. I got a behringer ultragraph instead. It's very noisy and not transparent but has been very useful.
Thanks for the review amir been very curious about the objective preformance of the loki eq's.
 

Veri

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Great, now we can get the frequency response with a measurement mic, find the problematic spots, and make it worse by turning the knobs on this medieval device.


Let's hope it's the last of the bloodline.
Unnecessarily harsh. For those that want hardware EQs knobs, this gives them it in balanced configuration at "okay" fair price.
No, it's not perfect. Yes, software is free/easier and much more precise. But this thing exists for those that want it.
 

Ralf Stocker

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Analog sound control engineering is a separate chapter. I guess the Chinese can't do that yet. Good DACs build, yes, but there is still no expertise in the rest. It's a challenge to keep the distortion under control when the knobs are turned up.
 

m8o

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Wish this existed when I bought two Lokis.

Great use case for me is Cable Box HDMI out -> NAD M51 DAC -> Balanced Out -> 50 foot balanced Mogami cables in-wall -> to balanced it to both McIntosh MHA-100 and Woo Audio WA-22 head amps at both my desk/listening station and bed. With this I can remain in the balanced domain and EQ the audio; a necessity for musical TV broadcast performances.

I have a terrible hum from my in-wall wiring if I were to default to use an unbalanced signal to EQ with a conventional 3-band Perreaux tone control or the Loki. Must use a FiiO buffer that has a wall wort power supply which is the only thing I ever found to squelch the hum.

So for me, this thing is sweet even given its less than pristine bench test results.
 

GimeDsp

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I had the unbalanced version.
Besides having the left channel cut out intermittently for 30 seconds I did not like the sound and thought I heard distortion.
 

beefkabob

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Analog sound control engineering is a separate chapter. I guess the Chinese can't do that yet. Good DACs build, yes, but there is still no expertise in the rest. It's a challenge to keep the distortion under control when the knobs are turned up.
And that's your random racist remark of the day, folks!
 

Helicopter

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Thanks Amir.

This actually looks like something I would enjoy playing around with. The dead silent pass through mode is a huge plus, the active mode is way better than many analog devices, and I thought that quarter turn chart with all the bands looked fantastic for tone control with the nice smile overall.

Agree it is not suitable for most speaker, headphone, and room stuff, digital EQ is exceptionally good, etc.

But still, seems the lower bass would improve a lot of material and headphones, and the other bands could improve music if I was in a mood to fiddle.

Also, price seems good for what you get here.
 
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