This review and comparison of the Schiit Bifrost 2 vs Bifrost 2/64 took place at a hosted event at Schiit Audio’s retail location called the SchiitR in Newhall, CA. An update to our multipart series of blind A/B comparisons, the latest Bifrost 2/64 DAC from the budget friendly brand lands right in the middle of the company’s digital decoder offerings.
Decked out with Schiit’s multi-bit tech (also sometimes known as R2R or ladder DACs) the new Bifrost 2/64 features “four DAC8812 D/A converters – the same basic chip used in Yggdrasil Less is More – while the digital filter is implemented on an Analog Devices SHARC DSP”. The digital filter can now be bypassed in the switchable NOS mode (non-oversampling mode). Also included in the pricing tier is Schiit’s custom USB processing called Unison and modular card upgrades and the original Bifrost 2 can be upgraded to 2/64.
To conduct the “blind” comparison, identical Bifrost 2 casework was used to hide the identity of the two options. Both DAC units were connected via RCA analog connections to the back of the upcoming Schiit Lyr+ acting as a headphone amplifier. Switching between the two SE inputs allowed for quick comparisons and digital streaming was fed via USB from an iPad serving Qobuz high resolution audio.
Attendees described and contrasted the two inputs on the Schiit Lyr+ after a freeform listening session from selection of songs of their choosing, with no time limit or structured playlist to choose from. Upon completion, an exit interview was performed to see what each DAC sounded like, both compared to each other and overall the overall preference. Participants did not know which input was either the Schiit Bifrost 2 vs Bifrost 2/64 until the identity was revealed at the very end.
Schiit Bifrost 2
Listeners described the overall difference between the two digital feeds as both subtle and offering only a very slight change in tone, like “the difference between a Gala or a Fuji apple”. While the sound of the original Bifrost 2 was articulated as more “full” or warmer, many people described it as just a little less crisp, and perhaps a little more smeared compared to the Bifrost 2/64.
Schiit Bifrost 2/64 Review
Detail was most often brought up when talking about the 2/64. Participants used expressions like more refinement and greater depth to describe the overall weight of fidelity, but also “thinner” by direct contrast to the Bifrost 2. One listener felt there might have been a slight bump in the frequency range around the vocals as well. Another felt there was more “grain” present on the Bifrost 2/64 retrieval.
Like many of these A/B comparisons that are conducted as collection from a group, when asked for a preference, the reaction is almost always split. Sonic preferences never seems to reach a consensus when it comes to people’s personal taste. However, what differentiated this little experiment was the collective agreement as to the overall sound. Observations were surprisingly consistent, whereas the opinion as to if those changes garnered “the best sound” were not. Based on those observations, it would appear from this exercise that some people prefer sound that leans towards “warmth” and fullness, while other prefer a slight bump in detail and refinement. It’s important to remember this is most represented here in the digital realm, where this same scale of dry-to-sweet (to borrow a wine analogy) most likely doesn’t sound the same from other components like amps, analog sources and especially headphones/speakers.
If I were to interject my own opinion to the mix here, I would offer up just a small smidge of advice that might provide some comfort to new buyers of the Bifrost 2/64. More detail over fullness is best sought at the digital input level. If you would like more thickness in the tonality, play with that variable at the amp or transducer level for fine tuning. Once it is in the chain, it is much harder to try to work it out than in.
On a final note, most observations that came back from the NOS mode (no digital filter) both at the recent Schiit Audio and Emotiva Texas Roundup and this meet have unanimously returned with a preference for Schiit’s digital filter to be in the on position. A good nod to the digital design on Schiit’s part, but perhaps more just a fun new experiment for buyers to A/B on their own than a purists go to for the digital signal.
More info: Schiit Audio Bifrost
If you want to check out some more of our blind A/Bs from Schiit Meets: