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Review: Schiit Audio Aegir 2

Schiit Aegir 2 review

There has quite a lot of anticipation for the second generation of Schiit Audio’s Aegir power amplifier online. Way back in the CA+TX based company’s history, they kept new product announces under lock and key. The premise made plenty of sense, don’t cannibalize the current slate of products with buzz about something that might come out “soon” that might be better.

With the Aegir 2 however, things seem a little different. It appears as though Schiit Audio’s exceedingly loyal fanbase has been waiting in the wings for the next big thing on the loudspeaker front for a few months at a minimum, with rumors swirling around for more than that. The old Aegir has been listed on the company site in the “Last Call” section since the holiday season, and several announcements have been made online about a follow up to the original as well.

The pricepoint dictates most of where the product lies in Schiit Audio’s overall approach to the speaker category, and it might be easy to forget that those seeking the brand’s best efforts in amplification might want to look at their Tyr amp that launched stealthily last year for $3.2k a pair. With an ever expanding list of feature sets within the Schiit Audio stable, the simple answer to “what is the new Aegir” is a Tyr without the 12 lb. custom inductor “choke” input. That still leaves plenty of learnings from upstream to add to the mix here, and with the Schiit audio Nexus™ and Continuity™ Topology to circumvent calling it a traditional Class A/B amplifier, there might be quite a bit to love at a significantly lower pricepoint. And let’s not forget, in the world of high-end audio, even $900 a unit or $1800 a pair is considered fairly conservative pricing for monoblocks.

Like the previous generation, the Aegir 2 does handle single ended stereo input into a individual unit. This is not the case for the Tyr model, which only does stereo in a true monoblock formation (but both SE and balanced). Monoblock arrangement with the Aegir is possible via 3 pin XLR balanced connection For most intents and purposes, this is probably how it should be run in most use cases. From our experience with the Schiit Aegir 2, a single box will deliver some audiophile fun with efficient setups, but the true colors shine best with a dual mono two amp situation – more on that later.

Externally the casework remains much the same as the rest of Schiit’s offerings. A quick once over revals very little difference between generations other than a slightly deeper chamfer on the aluminum top and darker hue to the silk screen branding. There is a simple standby mode button on the front panel (if the urge should move you) and much the same design remains for the heavy heatsinks that line the sides. The half width size of the Aegir 2 is very desirable from a storage standpoint, as two can fit side-by-size on a typical HiFi shelf with very few issues. The top of the unit does heat up slightly with use, but nothing as serious as your typical class A device. Overall, the use case is very manageable for a pair of monoblocks, just make sure you have an available balanced connection from your pre amp to bring out the best from the setup.

In my case for the review, this included the use of a PASS Labs XP-12 line level preamp ($6,100). While this might feel a bit overkill for the Aegir 2, the inherent transparency of the PASS design (in my opinion) gives the new Schiit its best shake at putting the foot forward. I started with the house NAIM Uniti Star Integrated, but the SE pre outputs of that all-in-one didn’t really feel like it was doing full justice to the monos. Switching it up to the Pass Labs via balanced XLR really brought out the clarity and influence of the power stage to full visibility.

So what collectively does the Schiit Aegir 2 amplifier sound like? I found the tonality closer to the Naim house sound than I expected, but slightly different in a few ways as well. From my time with Schiit’s Vidar offering, the sound is more rich and thick (but still defined). This lands on par with some of Naim’s sonic delightfulness on a similar metric, but neither breach the doorway into muddiness or a metaphoric cloud.

Utilizing a pair of 8-ohm QLN Prestige 3 floorstanders, I did have to push the volume knob up to roughly 75 out of a hundred to get things to a good listening level. But from there things accelerated quickly and was more than sufficient to push the drivers to loud listening levels. The QLN speakers aren’t overly demanding in their power requirements to get going, but they do respond well to whatever gear one decides to lash them to. Moving things over from a digital source to the Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck Turntable and Ultraphono pre proved to be a fascinating change for the evaluation as well. The analog-based rig brought out some of the small details in a manageable, but energetic way, all the while maintaining a solid sense of control and care for the sound. That usually equates to a more believable, dimensional presentation, and this case was no exception.

Overlapping with the Aegir review was our take on recent Atlantic and Rhino records 15th anniversary reissue of Jason Mraz’s We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. The album offers up a diverse array of measuring sticks for auditory consumption, from slow acoustic rollers like the stripped down Lucky and I’m Yours to the full band funkiness of Butterfly. The latter particularly impressed me with its dynamic range and capabilities for start/stop sonic motion. The leading edge through the Aegirs was better than I had heard from any Schiit product to date, and coupled with a deep texture supplying ample heaps of measured sweetness, the setup matched my expectations for high end sonic retrieval at this price point and above.

There is always a litany of standard questions that audio reviewers get when we venture out into the web. One of the most common “is it worth the upgrade?” finds itself firmly planted in many comment sections. Luckily, we happened to get our hands on a pair of generation one Aegirs at the same time and do have a few notes to share. In fact, much of the allure and key takeaways from this new product are adequately summarized in the subtle nuances between the two. I use the term subtle here intentionally. The original Aegir did a great job at turning heads (and ears) for its unique sound, budget and monoblock design. The new version is similar in thought, but somewhat different in execution.

I have somewhat reluctantly attended many concerts in Los Angeles that fall under that category of “yatch rock” cover bands. One of the biggest bands in this genre is a group out of Atlanta, GA called Yatche Rock Review. Their shows are of the utmost professionalism and performance polished to a high chrome shine. When they decided to release an album of original songs, I was perhaps a little skeptical but still had high expectations from a production standpoint. I streamed the debut album and was acoustically delighted. Shortly thereafter (at my last concert before the pandemic hit) I was able to purchase the vinyl directly from the source at a merch booth. This is one of my favorite ways to support a band. Stream for convenience, vote with vinyl purchases. The songs aren’t quite the ruckus that some of my favorites from other eras are, but its remains a great sounding album with very palatable songwriting – centered around having a good time and upbeat anthems. Listening through the Mobile Fidelity table, it was easy to pick out some noticeable changes from V1 to V2.

The very first thing that one might notice about the V2 is that it takes a little longer to boot up, once turned on. A small difference, but a change nonetheless. The actual loudness at the same volume is equal from the Schiit Audio Aegir 1 to Aegir 2. Locked in around 75 on the XP-12 dial, the playback level didn’t see any major jumps or dips when switching from unit to unit. It is possible to max out the Aegir and even Schiit’s Vidar amps with enough draw and volume. Low efficiency speakers that need big wattage are capable of pushing Schiit’s mid-tier options into protection mode, but my experience with this is quite rare. Those who fall into that category might want to take a look at the previously mentioned 200W (into 8 ohms) Tyr from Schiit. The 8 ohm QLN Prestige 4 was masterfully handled by the Aegir this time around.

Newcomers to the hobby might first think that the definition of audio fidelity is merely wrapped around an idea of resolution. While resolution is supremely important to many aspects of modern high fidelity listening, it is not the only observation placed under a microscope. As things have evolved digitally over the years, fidelity in this regard has progressed quite easily. The 80s brought leaps in technology that let us peer into the music even further. But as your audiophile journey might mature, I find myself looking at other elements to answer the question “why does this sound better?”. One of those options is dynamics. And that is perhaps what sets this amp apart from its previous version the most. Bass is much more controlled. Leading edges are significantly more defined. Objects in space “jump out” from the baseline quicker and with more authority than almost any other Schiit product I can recall (although I have admittedly not heard the Tyr for comparison). This is something I find very pleasing in my quickly maturing journey with audio. Resolution feels necessary but only the first hurdle. Fantastic dynamics on the other hand, much more elusive.

There is also a very well executed lack of dryness or “thin” character from the Schiit Aegir 2 amps. This was a talking point for the original, and carries over even more so with V2. Vocals feel lifelike and tangible from both versions, but forced to make a statement, I would say that Aegir G1 might have just an teeny/tiny edge in clarity at this slice in the midband, but that could be from significantly more burn in (if you believe in that kind of thing) as this pair of G1s had many hours of use and the G2 were theoretically factory fresh when they arrived. For those of you that heartily believe in burn in, we always play all components extensively before any critical testing, with different setups, but also with the final listening rig to warm things up again, just in case.

So should one upgrade? That depends on your use case and speaker choice. Is this the amplifier now the perfect choice for high demand electrostatics? Probably not. But pairing with high-to-mid efficiency options like Zu Audio and Devore could be a very good time. The 8-ohm QLN two-ways certainly had a fun time at the party. If you find yourself intrigued by the tonal structure of the Aegir G1 but want something new to pursue, then I would highly recommend checking out the V2 for its increased dynamics and low end control. The overall frequency response didn’t appear flawed, skewed or otherwise from either generation – which is a very nice “red flag” to avoid in a power amplifier.

The Schiit Audio Aegir 2 is a power amp that has a nice overall tone. To complement this, it brings along a strong dynamic profile, dimensionality and power for most performance speakers on the market. Its price lands on the more budget side for monoblock amplification in the audiophile market, and therefore holds a significant amount of presentable value by default. Will a $200 Class D integrated be able to perform the same general function for much less…yes. But if you are already willing to entertain the necessary cable, components and space that it takes to accommodate a product in this category, I’m willing to guess that options like that aren’t really flopping around in your “evoked set” of choices. The Aegir 2 is fun, the hobby of hifi is fun, and that’s ultimately what spending the time and money on something like this really is about. Just look at the company name if you have any doubt.

More info: Schiit Aegir 2

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