By Dan Browdy
“Come one! Come all! Come see the amazing world of wonders at the Schiit Show! What’s inside this this gaily painted circus tent? Three new products, two new ideas, and one blown mind!”
Okay, there wasn’t really a carnival barker announcing the Schiit Show. But you wouldn’t know it from the excitement the announcement has generated. Simply knowing that there are new Schiit Audio products on the way with no idea of what they are has stirred up tremendous buzz in the community.
Schiit Audio is a company that never fails to grab our attention with its new products. From the humble Magni and Modi, often recommended as the best entry-level audiophile stack available, to the mighty Yggdrasil that brought R-2R multibit DAC’s back into the spotlight, Schiit Audio seems to aim for the best-in-class performance at all times. They have a rabidly loyal fan base, an irreverent sense of humor, and an understated sense of style.
So it’s no wonder people were excited when Schiit Audio announced the “Schiit Show”, an audio show with just one manufacturer. There they would be announcing “three new products [and] two new ideas.” Speculation ran rampant for four long weeks (full of all the Schiity puns you would expect). Fans of the brand were preparing to empty their wallets long before the products were even announced. To heighten the excitement even more, it was announced a few days before the show that a headphone manufacturer would also be introducing a new product there! More puns were penned and the hype train thundered onward.
“Behind this curtain you will find the new Mjolnir 2! Like the legendary hammer of Thor for which it was named, the Mjolnir has the power to shake the earth or take you far away. This Mjolnir has travelled back and forth through time and is imbued with the power of vacuum tubes! Enter and be amazed!”
The first of the new products announced is the Mjolnir 2 amplifier. The original Mjolnir at one time was Schiit’s top-of-the-line amplifier. Balanced and solid-state, it was a beloved product but not without a few weaknesses. Notably, it was only balanced. Without the ability to output both single-ended (SE) and balanced, people who purchased the Mjolnir had to commit to upgrading their entire audio chain for balanced use. The Mjolnir 2 addresses this problem by introducing SE inputs and outputs to the device. With this new flexibility, someone wishing to purchase the Mjolnir can take their time upgrading the rest of their chain to balanced. It allows people to dip their toe in the waters of high end without needing to jump in with both feet.
The amp puts out 8 watts per channel into 32 ohms through the balanced connection and 2 watts per channel through the SE connection. While that may seem like a big drop, it’s important to remember that 2 watts is more than enough for most headphones on the market. And if you need more power, simply upgrade to a balanced headphone cable. If you’re worried that all that power will make it too loud for your sensitive devices, you’ll be happy to know that the Mjolnir 2 also features a gain switch on the front. You can select 1x or 8x gain, allowing to use this with a much wider variety of headphones than before. This addresses another one of the weaknesses of the previous model.
Speaking of switches, the input switch that was inconveniently placed on the back of the unit has been repositioned to the front. The power switch is still on the back, though. Schiit recommends that you keep the gear on at all times, which is why the switch is on the back. Not everyone wants to leave a space heater on all summer, however, so I know this decision might be a disappointment for some.
The biggest change, of course, is that the Mjolnir 2 is a hybrid solid-state and tube amplifier! It comes with 6BZ7 tubes and it supports anything in the 6DJ8, 6922, ECC88, and 2492 families of tubes. This should allow plenty of tube rolling, for those so inclined. Based on my initial impressions, the Mjolnir 2 retains the Schiit house sound but with that added tube smoothness that many people adore.
The Mjolnir 2 starts at $849 and come with a pair of 6BZ7 tubes, as mentioned.
What’s that you say? You can’t believe that they switched from SS to tubes and you don’t want to voluntarily introduce distortion into your perfect audio chain? Well, I’ve got some good news for you!
“Enter, if you dare, the mysterious cavern of the LISST! Be careful if you bring your Mjolnir 2 or Lyr 2; one encounter with the LISST could turn them solid state!”
The second product announced is something Schiit is calling the LISST (linear, integrated solid-state tube). This is a device that plugs into your tube sockets to turn your tube amp into a solid-state amp. Currently, these solid-state tubes are compatible with the new Mjolnir 2, as well as the Lyr and Lyr 2 hybrid tube amps. That’s right, all of Schiit’s hybrid tube amps can now be used as tube OR solid-state. When used with the LISST, the amps will also run cooler than with conventional tubes.
I auditioned both the Lyr 2 and the Mjolnir 2 with the LISST tubes and the effect was exactly what you’d expect: a more crisp and analytical sound, where before it was smoother and more musical. If you want that classic Mjolnir sound, get the LISST and you’re golden.
Flexibility, once again, is the name of the game here. Many people are not interested in the tube sound or “rolling” tubes to achieve the perfect complement for a given system. This new product lets consumers purchase a single amp that has the functionality of two different amps in one; this saves money and allows users to avoid tubes, dabble in them, or just dive in to the hobby completely.
The LISST cost $99 for a pair. However, you can also purchase new Lyr 2 or Mjolnir 2 amps with the LISST. The upgrade is $60 or you can pay $80 to get the LISST and the tubes.
More Info: http://schiit.com