The Schiit Yggdrasil Makes Music…
And it makes me groove more than any other bit of gear before it.
We’ve been together three weeks now, and I think it’s enough, at least, to share some thoughts. And, as much as I do appreciate a detailed technical exercise, I’ll be staying where I’m most comfortable, and leaving the engineering debate to those qualified to do so.
The Yggdrasil does everything the Gungnir multibit does, but betters it in ways. Many would argue otherwise, or that the dac has untapped potential I am currently missing, and that’s all good. I’m sure I’ll pursue the preferred digital inputs, balanced outputs and, upgrade to the Sonore Microrendu at some point. I would expect these improvements to sound quality to be subtle – being inputs and outputs – and, would not affect the Yggdrasils core processing and overall character. If you’re reading this, you’re not going to simply take my word for it. I do hope to provide some value to like-minded enthusiasts. I lived with the Gmb for a year or so, and posted about it elsewhere. I love that dac, but being committed to a ‘fund new gear with sales’ plan, it went toward the analog chain upgrades. I knew I’d come full circle. Here we are.
These impressions are based on my experience listening to both dacs for extended periods with the same associated equipment* and music – take it for what it’s worth. I’m not qualified to discuss in detail the technical reasons why they perform this way. I could regurgitate technical specs and forum commentary from more informed folks, but that would be tedious. Frankly, I tire of hearing people do the same. Too much time on the forums will do this – my fault. If you are sensing frustration from me, it’s just that I’m annoyed with myself for getting sidetracked. Also, context is crucial – what music is used for evaluation certainly provides insight for readers.
A dedicated Win10 machine (wired) – Fidelizer Pro (Purist/Network Render setting) – Tidal music – Roon server. Android tablet with Roon Remote. Anticables USB cable direct to the Yggdrasils USB input, with a Jitterbug betwixt. Single-ended outputs using Anticables RCA interconnects to both a modified Bottlehead S.Ex. headamp (stepped attenuator and recently added *Jupiter Copper&Foil caps…holy balls!) and Ampsandsound Mogwai amp (killer entry level 3 watt amp for tube rollers). Audioquest Nighthawks for private listening, and the Tekton Lore for two channel rocking.
Now, I’m just going to talk about music from here on, so you can stop reading if that sounds like no fun. But, it is the reason I’m here – music. The Yggdrasil was made to make music, yes? Ok, here we go. The results vary from record to record.
So, far I’ve not heard a dac in this system make such convincing music. That’s it, really. This is the first time I’ve felt that I had a seat at the recording desk, or could simulate the experience of sitting in on these sessions. It’s more apparent with better quality, live acoustic recordings – the tone, nuance, and dynamics put me in touch with the players in a way I’ve not experienced at home. Yes. Improvised music shines most brightly for this listener – to translate a master musicians performance, the detail and nuance must be communicated without losing cohesion. The Yggdrasil does present a more ‘real’ image and listening experience overall. This of course applies to other styles of music – I listen to a lot of experimental rock and pop, jazz, some electronic music.
The Gmb and Yggdrasil do sound similar, of course, and the latters improvements are subtle. The Gmb sounds ‘warmer’, and perhaps more humid – maybe because it’s not quite as resolving. It’s time domain performance falls slightly behind the Yggdrasil, staging is not quite as refined. Some people prefer the sound of the Gmb – maybe for these reasons.
Yggdrasil excels at decoding complex music, presenting layers of instruments more deliberately, though without dissecting the whole. Deeper, more well lit, and solid staging. Tonal weight is more convincing – instruments have more weight and dimension, without sounding unnaturally chunky. Gravity is the word I used in my Gmb post, and I keep returning to the idea. If you’ve been in the room with acoustic instruments, your body remembers what it feels like…again, this is the first time I’ve felt that kind of presence. The combined frequency extension and dynamics are thrilling…and that’s everything for me. It better conveys the tone, attitude and power of an improvising musicians performance.
Mono jazz recordings from the 50’s are a great test of both dacs talents. Ellingtons ‘Masterpieces By Ellington’ is popular among audiophiles, and is one record I frequently return to. In the past I struggled with mono recordings – I couldn’t connect with the music – it felt small, congealed and distant. Not so now. I’m digging into these recordings and experiencing the music on a whole new level with this system. Yggdrasil is excavating musical history for my enjoyment and education.
I plan to post future adventures, as I make upgrades or experience new associated gear. A Double Helix cable is in my near future, and I will be back with impressions then.