Schiit Freya+ Preamp and Bifrost 2 DAC

Keepers

Equipment report
Categories:
Tubed preamplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters
Schiit Freya+ Preamp and Bifrost 2 DAC

To finish up, I plugged in my Raspberry Pi 3 running RoPieee directly into the Bifrost 2’s Unison USB connection. The Raspberry Pi does not have the best USB, but I have to admit, I didn’t hear any of the glare that can come from using a low-quality output. I put on Jessie Ware’s new album What’s Your Pleasure? via Qobuz and straight up basked in the luxurious synths and shimmering vocals. It was another perfect example of spacious, upbeat music that worked right within the wheelhouse of the Schiit system. The wide, shimmering vocal pulse played right into the Freya+’s best qualities, while the tight, slamming bass benefitted from the Bifrost 2 running the show. The Unison USB certainly was a step up over other USB inputs that I’ve heard, in particular when paired with the relatively low-quality Raspberry Pi 3.

Sticking with the Pi and USB, I put on Ware’s stellar title track, with its unrelenting almost near-corny electro beat. It combined breathy vocals with sweeping orchestral undertones and created this absolutely huge, nightclub-sized soundscape. The potentially harsh hi-hat was toned down by the Freya+, which still allowed the general sound to remain tight and controlled. On its own, I found the Bifrost 2 could be unrelentingly sharp in its presentation, which can sometimes be a good thing, but very often can come across as too harsh or too focused. As a system, though, these two pieces of stellar equipment worked to elevate each other’s positive aspects while softening the potential negatives.

There’s something to be said for building a system from one manufacturer. In theory, manufacturers listen to the pieces of their gear in combination, and have the ability to tune their house sound so that each component will work well with all the others. More and more, people are buying their hi-fi equipment online, which means they aren’t necessarily able to demo multiple components together. On the flip side, buying online from manufacturers that value an in-home test period can make sure any given component works with all the others, and works in a given space.

One way to get a head start on that process would be to purchase a stack from Schiit. In particular, the Freya+ and the Bifrost 2 are fantastic companions, and really had me loving my digital front end over my treasured analog for weeks. As individual pieces, I think they’re both really solid performers, in particular the Bifrost 2. I could easily see myself keeping it in my system long term, truth be told. But taken together, I think they worked to elevate each other. In general, I’d say Schiit remains one of the best value propositions in the hi-fi game, and I’d highly recommend this little pairing for anyone looking for a truly outstanding DAC and a real no-joke tube preamplifier.

Specs & Pricing

Bifrost 2 DAC
Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz, +/-0.1dB, 2Hz–100kHz, -1dB 
Maximum output: 2.0V RMS single-ended and 4.0V RMS balanced
THD: <0.003%, 20Hz–20kHz, at max output
IMD: <0.004%, CCIR
S/N: >114dB, referenced to 2V RMS
Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, optical SPDIF, USB 
Input capability: Up to 24/192 for all inputs
Output: RCA (single-ended) and XLR (balanced)
Output impedance: 75 ohms for both
Remote control: Controls source selection, phase invert, and mute
Weight: 5 lbs.
Size: 9" x 2" x 6.75" 
Price: $699 

Freya+ Preamplifier
Input impedance: 10k ohms
Crosstalk: >85dB, 20–20kHz
Inputs: 2 XLR pairs plus 3 RCA pairs
Outputs: 1 XLR pair plus 2 RCA pairs
Weight: 11 lbs.
Size: 16" x 2" x 8" 
Price: $899

SCHIIT AUDIO
24900 Anza Drive
Unit A
Valencia, CA 91321
schiit.com