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2023 Golden Ear: Schiit Freya S Preamplifier

Schiit Freya S


Over the years I’ve found that the most sonically transparent preamplifier designs have always been passive ones. But sometimes, especially with my own live concert recordings, I need a bit of gain from a preamplifier to get the volume up to a satisfying level. The best solution I’ve found so far is the Schiit Freya S preamplifier. It is a full-function, stereo, solid-state preamp that offers both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs and three different circuit options. It can be a passive (meaning buffer only with 0dB gain) or an active gain stage with 0dB gain, or an active stage with up to 12dB gain. The passive mode sounds completely transparent to me after many listening sessions over many months. The unit comes with a five-year warranty and is built in California, which at this price is downright amazing.

Unlike most preamplifiers in its price range, instead of a standard off-the-shelf volume-pot volume control, the Freya S uses a 128-step resistor volume control, which is more accurate at keeping the correct balance between channels. And while the Freya S has no numeric volume display, the preamp emits a click every time the volume level is adjusted so you know that the supplied remote control’s instructions were received.

The Freya S is extremely similar in cosmetics to its sibling, the Freya+, which has a tube-based design for its active stages that replace the Freya S solid-state circuit. If you prefer a more euphonic presentation, it is an option, and as with the Freya S you will still have the passive circuit for ultimate transparency.

You can spend a lot more for a preamplifier, and you may require certain features (like a phase-reversal switch or balance control, which the Freya + does not offer), but in terms of overall transparency and WYSIWYG sonic performance (especially in passive mode), you will find it extremely difficult to do better sonically or find a superior value than the Schiit Freya S. (309)


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