Schiit Audio - Bifrost DAC - Official Thread

schiit
dac

#1

Schiit’s Bifrost is one of their line of upgradeable DACs … and was the 2nd of their products that I originally purchased when I got back into headphone-listening in 2012 (or so). Back then it was offered with an optional USB-input and an AKM 4399 D/S chipset. Today the USB Gen 5 input is standard, it runs an updated analog section and a 4490 series DAC and comes in at the original price.

Since it’s launch it has received the largest number of upgrades of any of Schiit’s upgradeable products (Uber DAC/Analog board, AKM 4490 DAC/Analog board, Multi-bit DAC/Analog board, USB Gen 2 board and USB Gen 5 board).

It is the multi-bit version I am most interested in here, however.

And, for a while, the multi-bit version was rather hard to distinguish from the much less-expensive Modi Multi-bit. There were, for sure, benefits to the Bifrost multi-bi (Bifrost MB), especially with the advent of the USB Gen 5 option, most notably in terms of resolution and clarity, but it was a close run thing.

Having spent a good amount of time with a bang-up-to-date version (October this year) iteration, it is very interesting to hear how things have changed.

So … ahead of a formal review, and comparison to the rest of the Schiit multi-bit line-up, this is the spot to discuss the Bifrost … in both D/S and Multi-Bit forms.


#2

The first thing I should say, here, is that the latest shipping models of the multi-bit version of Bifrost sound markedly different to the initial multi-bit version.

From measurements alone, it is clear that the original Modi MB (multi-bit) has been updated, at least in terms of firmware, never mind that it sounds more refined than the original. What’s most interesting here, however, is that the latest shipping units of the Bifrost are now clearly distinguishable in sound from the latest Modi MB units (I’ve had them all back-to-back, on loan, with the kind indulgence of Schiit):

And it’s not just that you can now relatively easily tell the difference between Modi MB and Bifrost MB, but the Bifrost Multi-bit now has renewed purpose, as it is clearly better than the latest Modi MB units.

Where before little separated them, now there is a virtual gulf of difference, with today’s Bifrost MB sounding very close to the original Gungnir multi-bit. In some ways, it even exceeds it … clarity is better for one, and the background is blacker. Today’s Bifrost MB is closer to pure-neutral than yesterday’s Gungnir MB, which means it gives up a bit of low-end oomph to it’s bigger brother, though compared to today’s Gungnir MB (which also sounds rather different to units from a year or so back) it’s a wash in that regard.

This Bifrost MB also sounds markedly smoother than the prior version. Some piddling around with HQPlayer, and various other test-scenarios, makes me suspect it is operating with 8x oversampling instead of 4x.

It’s really only in micro-dynamics that this Bifrost MB is giving up anything to the original Gungnir MB - unless of course you need a balanced output. And you get a more neutral delivery to boot.

More details will have to wait for my full-review, and all-up comparison (not very far away) … but right now it seems that buying a new Bifrost MB gets you what a year ago would have required a Gungnir MB to equal. And that really restores the value proposition of Bifrost MB, which had been eroded somewhat by Modi MB, particularly in the context of a single-ended setup.


#3

Nice Review. I have always liked the look of their products


#4

Another great review and I learnt plenty as always. Thank you.


#5

Thanks!

This isn’t really a review though … I just wanted to comment on the fact that the Bifrost Multi-Bit that Schiit are shipping today (actually at least as of October, which is when the units I was listening with were shipped to me), both measures and sounds different (better) than the model I had from a few weeks after the original multi-bit upgrade/version was offered.

In essence, the point is that a) Bifrost MB is not longer nearly indistinguishable from Modi MB - it’s a clear upgrade, and b) that it’s gone from being a bit out of place, bang/buck wise, to you getting most of what used to be a $1249 DAC (the Gungnir MB) for less than half of that.


#6

reallly really really looking forward to this review … i’m trying to decide if I beef up my desktop set up to full yggy-ness or start investing in portable rig built around CF atlas or solaris. If the bifrost = old gumby, maybe I do some slight upgrades to the desktop (say bimby / GOTL) and then build something portable around an Atlas (maybe the hugo 2 or WA8) … always so many choices.

Anyway, thanks for the always great help Torq!


#7

Well, crap. Now seems like as good a time as any for my Bifrost MB to find a new home, haha. Much as I’m tempted to go Gungnir, though, I feel I’m sticking with SE for the foreseeable future, not to mention I hardly have the space for anything larger.

Or I suppose I could just be content with having a competent desktop DAC that’s none too shabby considering it’s a 2015 model.

Looking forward to the full review!