Two new updates were announced today from Schiit Audio, pushing both their original headphone amplifier – the Asgard – into its third generation and the mid-tier multi-bit Bifrost DAC into its second.
The first revision for the Asgard comes in the form of 350% more power (3.5W RMS into 32 ohms), a bigger power supply and promises of an overall lower noise floor. Also on the docket for the headphone amplifier is the option for a digital section, in turn making the little box a one stop audio solution for the computer-oriented desktop. Both a AK4490 option and Schiit’s own True Multibit DAC section are available for addition cost. This is the first time this sort of option has not been available in this model.
The biggest aesthetic change for the new generation of Bifrost will be the inclusion of a selectable remote control. While the size does lend itself to the more compact space, no doubt some will use the AD5781-equipped multibit unit for use in larger systems with loudspeaker options. The Los Angeles based company has seen much success with their expansion into the two channel speaker market, with the release of recent power amplifiers, pre amps and even an upcoming turntable in the works.
Also a “bigger system” bonus, balanced outputs are now available on the rear panel along with Schiit’s new “Autonomy” platform which allows for upgrades to be done in the field. Previously all firmware and hardware updates had to shipped back to Schiit for the changeout. Perhaps the biggest new upgrade for the Bifrost 2 is the use of a custom USB interface Schiit is calling “Unison USB”. Many manufacturers (especially at lower pricepoints) use off the shelf options that require less programming and implementation. While much weight is placed on the DAC chipsets, the way the USB socket in integrated into the system can also have a big impact on the overall sound. According to the press release, the move here has founder Jason Stoddard’s opinion sway to a USB preference over SPDIF inputs for the new model. Perhaps the historically troubled digital connection is finally reaching its maturity in the high fidelity audio market.
The Schiit Asgard 3 headphone amplifier costs a budget-focused $199 with a 5 year warranty, the AK4490 module add on is $299 with the True Multibit version at $399. The Bifrost 2 also boasts a 5 year warranty and costs $699, both units are available today on the Schiit site.