Schiit Freya
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Thread: Schiit Freya

  1. #1
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    Schiit Freya

    Now that I have had the Freya for a while and believe it is breaking in and I thought this might be a good time to dig a little deeper. I have done some comparisons; different tubes, balanced versus unbalanced cabling, running straight from my DAC to the amplifiers versus going through the pre-amp, solid state amps versus the SET amplifiers, etc.

    Running the Freya in either passive or FET buffer was not nearly as good as the tube output when used with the SET amplifiers. However, both passive and FET worked very well with either of the T+A or McIntosh amplifiers. I still prefer the tube output with any of the three amplifiers though, with a caveat.

    The Freya seems to be very good at tube rolling, but it is also very sensitive to certain tubes. Maybe this is the trade off for how inexpensive it is. It is very much dependent on tubes. The standard tubes that come with it work well, but are a little noisy. The same with certain NOS tubes like a later generation Sylvania. The RCA "Grey Glass" are particularly noisy for example. Matched with very good NOS tubes and it shines. Having a very quite tube in the Voltage Gain Stage is a must and having a great sounding NOS tube in the Output Stage really seems to make a huge difference. I have found that the early 1950's Sylvania "Chrome Dome" work very well in the Gain Stage and the CBS 5692 "Brown Base" tubes work fantastic in the Output Stage. With these the pre-amp shines and is as black of back ground as I have heard in any pre-amp... absolutely quite in every way!

    Another thing I have noticed is that the Freya sounds much better using Balanced cables. I have directly compared RCA cables coming from my DAC with XLR cables and it was a fairly big difference. The RCA cables were a much higher level cable however I felt the balanced cables sounded much better. I performed the exact same test with the outputs to the SET monoblocks. Again, the XLR was much better. In this case the XLR were a better cable then the RCA. In my opinion using balanced connections seemed to make a big difference. I have had other "Fully Balanced" pre-amplifiers that the difference in XLR versus RCA cables was fairly minimal. Maybe this is another trade off with this piece being so inexpensive.

    I also compared going straight from the T+A DAC to the amplifiers versus using the pre-amp in line. The T+A is rated to have a very good pre-amp section and an excellent volume control. However I felt the system sounded quite a bit better when being controlled by the Schiit versus going direct from the DAC.

    Other personal notes and opinions;
    • The unit does get fairly hot, but not excessively so. I do believe that it gets hotter than any other pre-amplifier that I have used. Not terrible but worth mentioning.
    • I like the little remote, it is very functional and has a nice feel in my view. Nice metal casing, but some people have complained about the little buttons. I like them ...
    • Some people complain about the clicking noise when changing any of the controls, including volume. This does not bother me at all and actually I like it because it is very nice feedback.
    • I also love the 128 relay volume control; very fine control indeed.
    • Being thin means that the connectors in the back are close with very little room. Not a terrible issue but one that you may want to consider.
    • I do not like that the tubes are recessed in the top of the case. This limits using some tubes, for example the "Chrome Domes" barely fit through the hole, but they work fine. It was just a very tight fit getting them in. The Black Treasures can not be used since their oversize porcelain base is to large. This is too bad since I really wanted to try them .
    • I like the way that the unit always comes on at the volume that is set on the volume knob, not where ever you had it changed to with the remote.
    • Some people have complained about the small or useless labels on the front of the unit. It does not bother me at all... I mean, after ten minutes with the unit it is obvious how everything works and what every light and control are.
    • I hear a very slight low level sound when the mute in engaged. Not really an issue for me but I could see some people complaining.


    So the bottom line, to really see what this very inexpensive pre-amplifier can do requires using some good NOS tubes. In my view forget whatever Schiit offers. With some nice NOS tubes this inexpensive pre-amp can be magic.

    Using solid quality XLR cables wherever and whenever possible; use good NOS tubes (good ones in my view, like those mentioned above) and this pre-amp can become an amazing sounding audiophile piece. I truly believe the biggest trade off with it being inexpensive, ok cheap, is that it is picky, not as forgiving. But with the right match it is truly amazing. At this point, with the Schiit, my system has never sounded so good. I have had a lot more expensive pre-amps but I do not believe any better sounding one. I say this knowing full well that I have not been able to directly compare it against others that I have had such as the ARC LS-17se or W4S STP-SE.

    It is startling quite in my system which I do not expect with a tube pre-amp and SET mono block amplifiers. Separation and sound stage is to die for, as good as I have heard anywhere. Base is deep and smooth, but in no way boomy. I have heard that this is a weak point with tube gear, but not with this combo. Very airy and open sounding; it draws me in and I get more involved with the music then I ever have in the past. It really enhances what SET amps are all about.

    All in all I cannot imagine a better pre-amplifier without going many times the price. Honestly I feel it is rather shocking. At some point I may replace it; not because I think I am going to get remarkably better performance, but more so because having a $699 pre-amp powering the rest of my system might just seem weird . Yes, it is that good in my view... but in the long run it may not give me the warm and fuzzies I get from say, an Audio Research or a McIntosh, for example!
    Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; T+A DAC 8 DSD; T+A AMP 8; Audio Mirror SET 45s; KEF R700; AudioQuest Niagara 1000; Falcon Northwest Tiki; W4S Recovery; Oppo BDP-105; Technics ST-9030; Astell & Kern AK240; Ayres Pono; Focal Clear; Audeze iSine 10

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  3. #2
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    For the money, it is an amazing little pre. I like mine.

  4. #3
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    thanks so much randy for posting this . i have been using the freya for some months . in tube form and more recently passive. its a super thing with tremendous transparency . the remote is rather plasticky but works well . the sense of realism is very good .

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  6. #4
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    If you order the remote they have listed for sale on their site you get a much nicer remote.

    Quote Originally Posted by hifinutt View Post
    thanks so much randy for posting this . i have been using the freya for some months . in tube form and more recently passive. its a super thing with tremendous transparency . the remote is rather plasticky but works well . the sense of realism is very good .

    P1060454 by , on Flickr
    Marty
    Main system: SGC sonicTransporter I7, microRendu,Terminator DAC, Hattor active preamp, Nord B&O 1200as mono amps, Von Schweikert VR5 Anniversary MKII, JPS Labs, Furutech cabling and connectors, PS Audio P15
    Office System: Linn LP12, Aurender N100H, Audio Research LS27, Oppo Sonica, Nord NC500, KEF R500

  7. #5
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    The nicer remote is now included. I like the feel of it. Nothing special but definitely a decent remote!
    Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; T+A DAC 8 DSD; T+A AMP 8; Audio Mirror SET 45s; KEF R700; AudioQuest Niagara 1000; Falcon Northwest Tiki; W4S Recovery; Oppo BDP-105; Technics ST-9030; Astell & Kern AK240; Ayres Pono; Focal Clear; Audeze iSine 10

  8. #6
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    Thanks to OP for the detailed post. What had put me off buying a Freya were the reports of noisy tubes etc.
    Debating whether to partner the Freya with Emotiva PA-1 monoblocks, seeing as both have balanced XLR. Cd be a killer combo

  9. #7
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    My new freya plus arrives tommorrow. looks like there is some solid upgrades from original fraya. cant wait to pair it this weekened with my Mac MC-302 and 7ft. line arrays at camp. Let you know.....

  10. #8
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    Quote Originally Posted by WillinBangkok View Post
    Thanks to OP for the detailed post. What had put me off buying a Freya were the reports of noisy tubes etc.
    Debating whether to partner the Freya with Emotiva PA-1 monoblocks, seeing as both have balanced XLR. Cd be a killer combo
    My new freya plus arrives tommorrow. word has its much quieter than old freya .let you know this weekened.

  11. #9
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    Welcome to the forum jimmyc, thank you for joining.
    Joe

    Misho Myronov Wooden Amp and Wooden preamp, AkitikA GT-102 power amplifier, Valvet E2, Avantgarde Duo XD, First Watt SIT-3, Luxman MQ-300, Job INTegrated, Job 250 Monos, Cary 300B SE, Klipsch RP-160M, Klipsch RB-75, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES, ASL Wave monos, Kimber Kables, Siltech, Cardas, Avanti Audio cables, Burmester 948, Linear Tube Audio MZ2, Bricasti M1SE, Naim Supernait 2, Lumin U1 mini, McIntosh MCLK12, Conrad Johnson GAT2, Pass Labs XA25.

  12. #10
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    Re: Schiit Freya

    As a follow up. The Freya was a very nice pre-amp, especially for the price. Wonderful piece for someone trying to get into better gear at a budget. I had an opportunity of getting a world class reasonably priced pre-amp (that I have wanted for a while now) so I took it. Since I am at the stage where I can not really keep multiple pieces I had to move the Freya. But I still do recommend it for people looking for a nice pre on a budget!
    Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2; T+A DAC 8 DSD; T+A AMP 8; Audio Mirror SET 45s; KEF R700; AudioQuest Niagara 1000; Falcon Northwest Tiki; W4S Recovery; Oppo BDP-105; Technics ST-9030; Astell & Kern AK240; Ayres Pono; Focal Clear; Audeze iSine 10

 

 
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