The Schiit Emovita Texas Audio Roundup took place this weekend in Austin. Along with the two headlining brands, a whole slew of personal audio and two channel audiophile favorites turned up in the 104 degree heat to have a good time, listen to some eclectic tunes and show off some new gear.
The good news was the hotel was pumping a solid 72 of AC indoors, so the environment was as comfortable as the overtly friendly vibe that permeated the hallways. It was a different type of audio show, to be sure. Although you might not know it from the overall size, which took place over three floors of the Double Tree Suites close to the state capitol. By far the most generous of any audio show I’ve attended, admittance was free. And every show goer was showered with a plethora of free t-shirts, non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, significant daily giveaways and even a 20% discount code for Emotiva.
While there was a ton of gear and audio news to cover, perhaps the biggest from the headphone side was two new items from Schiit, the BiFrost 2/64 DAC and the Lyr+ headphone amplifier. Schiit founder Jason Stoddard words on the new releases:
Here’s what we got:
Bifrost 2/64. The first upgrade to Bifrost 2 brings an all-new analog section that throws 64 bits of DACness at each channel to bring hardware-balanced performance to our most affordable upgradable DAC. And it adds an NOS mode. And everyone who owns a Bifrost 2 can upgrade without the DAC coming back to us, thanks to a slide-in analog module and SDcard based firmware. Oh, and this $799, not $7999. Upgrades are $300. And it’s available now.
Lyr+. Introducing the first tube hybrid amp that ends tube nervosa, forever. Use it with a tube…or pull the tube out and it’ll happily switch over to internal depletion-mode MOSFETs–while preserving the same Coherence topology, the same high voltage tube rails, the same output distortion profile. Our all-new Fusion Architecture means Lyr+ is equally capable…with or without tube! Oh yeah, and it has remote control and relay ladder volume. We estimate Lyr+ will ship in 4 weeks, for $599 without a tube, or $699 with a selected premium 6SN7.
At the show the new Schiit Lyr+ was located on the second floor at the far end of the hallway. Tucked carefully into a packed conference room for most of the show, the Lyr+ on active display was equipped with a special 6SN7 tube. The updated top panel includes a more recessed cooling grill around the glass, and of course the new capability to perform sans-tube.
The fresh Bifrost 2/64 doesn’t offer up much change from the outside, but the new NOS mode and updated analog output section mixes things up a bit and further expands the digital decoding options from the company’s already robust lineup of DACs.
Also available to listen to was Schiit Audio’s extremely limited-release Folkvangr headphone amplifier. Sporting a full 10 tubes of amplification, the one-off flagship doesn’t measure the best according to Jason – but sounds pretty unique next to his other amps. Although I wasn’t able to get any time with the piece at the show due to long queues, everyone who came off a listening session said the sound was fairly amazing, usually “warm” and pushing a very rich and pleasing tonal structure.
In another room across the show, Schiit’s gaming products were connected to a series of computers offering up the opportunity to play three unique video games. Both the Hel and smaller Fulla act as an external DAC/headphone amplifier, with a microphone input to allow for full two way audio through a USB connection.
More info: Schiit Audio
We will have continuing coverage of the show posting all week (including a ton of new product information from Emotiva that was unveiled at the event) so stay tuned to the site for all the updates.