It has been too lengthy since I wrote a Schiit evaluate. I say that as a result of this California based mostly firm makes a speciality of high-performance audio parts that promote for real-world costs. Take this one, the Jotunheim stereo preamplifier/headphone amp, bought along with your alternative of a built-in, 192-kHz/24-bit high-resolution digital converter, or a moving-magnet phono preamp for consumers utilizing turntables. My pattern had the converter, and straight away it sounded spectacular enjoying headphones starting from myall the best way as much as the .
Jotunheim shares an identical design aesthetic with the opposite Schiit merchandise. The all-metal chassis measures a trim 9x6x2 inches (229x152x51mm), and it has a built-in energy provide, so it would not use an exterior wall wart. Connectivity choices aren’t plentiful, although the Jotunheim has balanced stereo analog XLR inputs and outputs, together with stereo RCA ins and outs. The non-compulsory moving-magnet phono enter for turntables has stereo RCA inputs, or you’ll be able to order the non-compulsory USB enter, however you’ll be able to’t have phono and the USB choices within the Jotunheim. The work-around to that downside is straightforward sufficient: You would simply purchase an outboard phono preamp just like the Schiit Mani or a Schiit Modi digital converter to make use of with the Jotunheim.
Construct high quality of this made within the US part may be very respectable, and Jotunheim is bought with a five-year guarantee. There’s one hitch: It would not include a distant management, and that is likely to be a deal breaker for some potential consumers.
The entrance panel has a 3 place enter selector change, and a low/excessive achieve change so you need to use the Jotunheim with in-ear or full-size headphones, plus two headphone jacks, a 6.3mm and a balanced four-pin XLR one. That is the place the Jotunheim will get actually fascinating, it is a fully-balanced stereo preamp-headphone amplifier, with an outline from Schiit that claims, “Jotunheim’s achieve stage is a novel, inherently balanced, totally discrete present suggestions topology that gives each balanced and single-ended output with out the necessity for splitters or summers. It offers extraordinarily large bandwidth and glorious measured efficiency — along with the benefits of fixed, low suggestions throughout the complete audio band.” Translation: The balanced output may sound higher with headphones that may be fitted with balanced cables.
One factor is for certain, the balanced XLR headphone jack delivers gobs of energy to hard-to-drive headphones, as much as 7.5 watts for 16 ohm headphones! I used a Hifiman Version X headphone so I might simply swap between cables fitted with XLR and 6.3mm plugs to judge the sound variations. Here is what I heard on Alt J’s “Relaxer” album: The XLR jack sounded barely extra dynamically alive than the 6.3mm jack. I am not claiming it is a large distinction, however one you’ll wish to benefit from when you’ve got a headphone that can be utilized with balanced cables.
I additionally listened with my high-impedance (300 ohm) Sennheiser HD 580 headphones, which might sound a bit of boring and lifeless plugged right into a stereo or AV receiver, however right here with the Jotunheim the HD 580 had been reworked. They rocked and rolled with gusto with the Nationwide’s new “Sleep Properly Beast” album. That stated, the compressed sound is grating and harsh, and the Jotunheim-Sennheiser HD 580 pairing did nothing to disguise the album’s nasty sound combine. With a greater recording comparable to Wilco’s “A Ghost is Born” the harshness was changed with a clean readability. The Jotunheim tells it like it’s.
I subsequent pitted an($799, £495, AU$899) stereo preamp/headphone amp towards the Jotunheim, beginning with Sennheiser HD 580 headphones and Beck’s beautiful “Morning Section” album. The irDAC-II projected an enormous stereo soundstage that prolonged nicely exterior my head, however element and readability had been softer than what the Jotenheim delivered, and Beck’s music had extra life over the Jotunheim. Persevering with with a pair of a lot simpler to drive AudioQuest NightOwl headphones, the irDAC-II sounded candy, very listenable for positive, however the Jotunheim’s superior transparency clinched the deal for me.
The amp additionally shined with in-ear headphones like my. The treble was hyper clear, vocal sounded pure and bass definition was outstanding. You get all of that, plus the iSine’s out-of-head imaging that trumps all different in-ear headphones paired with the Jotunheim.
To complete up I performed the Jotunheim over my-powered desktop audio system with glorious outcomes. Alternatively you need to use the Jotunheim with any stereo energy amplifier to drive the audio system of your alternative.
Schiit Jotunheim costs begin at $399, £420 and AU$649 for the essential model with out the non-compulsory digital converter or phono preamp, which every add a average upcharge to the worth. So if you have already got a good phono preamp or converter, all you want is the essential Jotunheim.