Schiit Freya plus. Is this an upgrade?


Any opinions on this version versus the previous?

https://www.schiit.com/products/freya-2

"differential triode input with semi-circlotron follower stage"

????
recluse
Interesting, and I'd buy one if my "original version" seemed noisy or lacking in some way, but it's interesting that Schiit seems to be listening to their critics. Another note, I've found the Tung Sols to be consistent but somewhat duller sounding than the NOS RCAs and Sylvanias that I prefer to use in mine. Neither of these tubes are particularly expensive and actually can cost about the same as the new Tung Sols.
This should be a considerable upgrade. Maybe transformational for Schiit. Any time you lower the noise floor in any product by 20db over the outgoing model, that's significant. The ability to shut down the tubes when not in use is a big deal to many and the stepped volume knob I guess is nice. With the ability to cycle the tubes on/off, one can leave the preamp on all the time, sort of like a stand by status, and then turn on as necessary. The Freya S (without the tube stage) provides a pretty nice balanced remote controlled linestage for less than $600 and is likely all the non tube camp should need without spending alot more money.

Whether the Schiit sound (or lack thereof) floats your boat or not, what they are doing to make high quality audio gear affordable is refreshing.
@ghasley - 20 dB reduction is very surprising. I haven't been able to find that information.  Like @wolf_garcia , mine is very quiet. With the gear at idle, I measure 37dB room noise from my listening seat 11 feet away. Noisy is not an adjective I would use to describe my Freya. Curious that others have found it noisy.

Tom
A preamp that seems whisper quiet in a typical system can suddenly have very noticeable noise (from seating position) when placed in a system with high-sensitivity speakers & amps. If your speakers are below 90 dB, your system probably won’t be a stress test for preamps, and you’ll be wondering about others’ complaints of noise. My speakers are 96 dB / Watt, 8 ohm, and amps output almost 300 Watts at 1V input. It is definitely a stress test for preamps. Impressively, the ARC REF 6 is whisper quiet here.

The Freya +’s noise spec of -115dB, if legit, is superb. Stereophile measured the REF 6 at -100dB, A-weighted.
@mulveling - that makes sense, thanks for the clarification. My Vandy 2Cs sensitivity is on the low side, about 86 dB if memory serves me correctly.

Tom
Interesting, and I'd buy one if my "original version" seemed noisy or lacking in some way
If you have a look, there's 4 new preamps in the Freya/Saga range.

And by saying the old was/could be noisy, it could have been only with measurements you could see this, not by ear, but this is enough to put the fear of god into some users to upgrade to the newer ones! Great Schiit marketing!!!!

Should be some great used buying of older models coming up soon.

Cheers George  
I also have been shocked and rendered defensive by those with noisy Freyas, although those mostly seemed from tubes. Maybe I can stop being such a "Schitt Defender." My speakers are 99db efficient and I’d know it if a pesky hum showed up...does the new Freya seem to have returned to the 12 db or so jump in tube mode? I’m used to that in mine, although it seemed later versions had lessoned that somehow...and the "tube shut-off" feature doesn’t matter to me since I only use the non tube modes to check on my tubes, and I turn everything off when I’m not around. So now I’m back to simply being a "me" defender.
@tomcarr

From the FAQ section of the Freya + on Schiit's website:

"So what’s the difference between Freya+ and the original Freya?
Actually, quite a bit. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Freya+ has a completely new tube stage, with DC heaters and a noise-cancelling semi-circlotron output buffer, which reduces noise by more than 20dB when compared to the original Freya—a significant improvement!
  2. Freya+ has a completely new differential JFET buffer stage, which converts single-ended signals to balanced, which allows you to use more sources with mono Vidars or Aegirs.
  3. Freya+ has a tube shutdown mode—tubes are completely off unless Freya is in tube output mode (no B+, no heaters, off means off), so you can extend life of costly tubes.
  4. Freya+ has a motorized pot that tracks the remote control volume, which provides a continuous physical reference for the volume level.
  5. Freya+ uses our new “fastenerless” chassis for a sleeker overall look.
  6. Freya+ is sold only with new production Tung-Sol tubes, which we have found to be superior to affordable NOS tubes."
I've had a Freya and a couple of Sagas, amazing preamps for the money and its important to note that I also had an Audio Research Ref 5se at the same time. Make no mistake, the Freya/Saga did not play in the same league as the Ref 5se but you are talking orders of magnitude here. The Freya to me was noisier than the Saga but, (a) I only used the Freya single ended and (b) it was not noisy enough to cause me any issues and (c) I was using the Freya/Saga with non Schiit amps. The 5se is dead quiet and 3 dimensional in a way that defies reason, its that good BUT...and this is a big but, in a normal home with normal ambient noise, the Schiit preamps may be all the typical audiophile ever needs.

Any way you slice it, if this outperforms the original Freya, then it is a stone cold bargain. 
I’ve got an original Freya with NOS tubes (CBS Hytron and GE) feeding a pair of PS Audio M700 monoblocks and have used that with both Zu Omens and Klipsch Heresy III’s and there was Zero noise audible with my ear right up at the speaker.  The only complaint I had about the original is you can’t tell where the volume is set once you use the remote, and they seemed to have fixed that now, but that’s not enough to make me want to buy another one.  I’m more than satisfied with the one I’ve got.
I had a Freya and returned it during the trial period.
The noise heard when using the remote was too
annoying. 
This is what I've been waiting for, I bought the Saga instead of the original Freya just on the hopes that they would do this!!! Tube shut down is AWESOME.
@ghasley - wow, that is substantial. Thank you very much for taking the time to provide that information. I'm more than a little embarrassed that I obviously didn't do enough research of my own. I'm perfectly happy with my Freya, but I can see the draw of the Freya+ to those on the fence considering a purchase. Happy (quiet) listening :).

Tom
@tomcarr



No worries at all! I’m far from being a knowledge base for Schiit gear, just a casual observer. They make amazing gear that most everyone can afford and enjoy. Frankly, I wish they had come along before I went down the rabbit hole chasing sound in ever more expensive ways. All the best and enjoy your Freya, it is a truly fine piece of gear and when you factor in the price to value ratio, there may not be a better proposition anywhere.
I ordered a Freya on 3.30.2019 and received it about a month later because they were backordered. Went with the upgrade tubes which brought the price to just under $800.00. Now the price is significantly lower for that same unit. It would've been nice to know that they had an upgraded version coming in just a few weeks. No real complaints with the unit but having the ability to shut down the tubes without pulling them out  when using the jfet and passive mode would make things easier. I would've waited for the newer model had I known. Maybe they'll offer an upgrade sometime soon. 
PS
@ghasley - I applaud your common-sense statement: " in a normal home with normal ambient noise, the Schiit preamps may be all the typical audiophile ever needs". Well said.
We are quite the neurotic group, audiophiles, always chasing the unknown, always concerned something's not right, forever searching...

Tom
Not on point but relevant to Schiit. I have the original Freya with upgraded tubes. I’m very pleased with the performance.   I had a small cosmetic issue with the unit. I received two replacement parts and the tool necessary within five days. Says something about their customer support. 
Outstanding customer support. Nice to hear good news from time to time.
Aside from the usage of circlotron which caught my attention( maybe Ralph can chime in), I am also a little confused about no 2 of Ghasley's FAQ cut and paste:
Were there incompatability issues of single ended sources with balanced outputs or vice versa?

If so, I wasn’t aware of it on this forum
I did have to battle a Hum Issue with my Freya at first.Tube shutoff would be a big plus as well.I usually leave My Freya on from Friday Night thru Sunday Evening and make sure I am going thru the Passive or Jfet section.I'm not sure how much faster I will burn thru Tubes but,I am willing to roll the dice to keep the engine warmed up and ready to go to 11 at a moments notice.
@axememan- You mentioned a hum issue "at first". What, if anything, did you do to rectify that issue?
The Freya+ is a Thunderdome category product. It will only be produced as long as strong consumer demand exists for it.
tomcarr I basically built an Ebtech Hum Eliminator outlet box off of a Video from youtube,It was kickin my tail and I was very frustrated. I had read that other folks may have experienced the same thing.I researched and stumbled accross the youtube video.It worked like a champ!
Tomcarr

i also have Vang’s 2cig. What amplification are you using your with the Frey’s to drive your Vandys. Can you give your opinion on sound quality. Can you compare to other set ups with the Vandys?  I drive mine with a Rogue Chronus Mag., but I’m very interested what a Freya/ Vidar combo can do.
@axameman- excellent link, thank you.
@lobinero - I'm using a Vincent SP-331 stereo amp. I prefer the Freya in tube mode. My front end is an Oppo 103 as a transport and a Schiit Modi Multi for the DAC. I have run a dedicated AC line to a dedicated room with acoustic treatment on all four walls and the ceiling. I am very happy with the sound quality. YMMV.

Tom
An update on Freya models. I went on Schiit's website on 5/25 and purchased the Freya. Next thing i know its 5/29 and i see the above thread about a Freya upgrade. I went on the website and lo and behold, the Freya S-solid state & Freya + are listed. I was dumbfounded (not too difficult of a task) & needles to say i was upset because i thought i should have been contacted. A few emails later and i realized i had been contacted via email only it was an old email i rarely use but, it was the one on record.
Schiit Audio May 28, 2019, 10:37 AM
(2 days ago) 
to me 
Good Morning, We are sorry for the delay in shipping. The Freya now comes in two versions . The Freya S,Passive or Active Solid State Remote Balanced Preamp for $599.00 and the Freya Plus Passive or Active Solid State or Tube Remote Balanced Preamp which is $899.00. Please let us know which version you would like and we will charge you accordingly.
Thank You Schiit Audio
So, NO MORE FREYA as we knew it..
I opted for the upgrade so i am waiting with anticipation... 
They finally have pics of the internals on the schiit.com website. Lots of empty space in the Freya S compared to the +
Yeah - lots of empty space indeed! Those pics alone could score Freya+ the thunderdome victory - you know how superficial we audiophiles can be. 
If you don't need the remote their headphone amps (solid state and tube) can be used as preamps. 
I used headphone amps as preamps for a while. They can sound good, but a dedicated pre can be better optimized for that application because it never needs to drive loads below 10,000 ohms, which has implications for the choice of parts and design of the output stage. E.g. for many tube preamps that means the ability to use much higher quality, lower capacitance film caps (for output coupling) within budget.
I was just informed by Grover of Schiit Audio that Schiit has moved to using 7-10 thicker circuit boards "on some of their newer products." What this could mean for the Freya+ is less flex during tube rolling or changing..
    
I’d be interested in hearing the + version
Received the Freya plus and so far am very impressed. The volume clicks are louder than I thought, almost like a ratchet wrench but that is really not a problem for me. I don't move the volume while listening to music%-/

The led lighting of the 3 modes is a little too dim imo. My only gripe.

Initially preferred passive and jfet but after several hours the tubes started sounding much better. Will have to continue to evaluate over 2 weeks.

No noise hiss or hum, and so far not noticing a loss of resolution  or transparency which was a main concern with preexisting oppo 205 direct to amps.
Will be interesting to see which mode you go after a few weeks of analysing and listening to all modes recluse.

BTW Where are you on the volume position for normal loud listening.

Cheers George
Interesting about the LEDs being less bright after I nearly went insane trying to get them into the little holes after taking apart my original version Freya...trying to put green marker on the LEDs to dim them. The new Freya changed the way those LEDs are used. I guess now they cemented the thing shut? Or some sort of hidden fasteners? Too bad as I like to take things apart to see the innards...I also wonder if the tube gain jump is still to the degree it is with my Freya, as I noticed later versions had reduced the difference somehow...I'm used to it of course, and also wonder why people are surprised by the volume relay click after maybe 10,416 mentions about that here and there. Note to those considering a Freya...CLICKS...you get CLICKS...not to worry...
@recluse
Thanks for sharing.
What amp are you using it with?
Are the volume clicks a physical noise, or do they come through the speakers?
I've read that the Freya+ gets very warm.  Is it warm enough to be a concern about long term performance life?

The clicks come from the unit and are about as loud as a socket wrench. I don’t move the volume much after sitting but the mute button comes in handy. So far the volume has been at 12o,clock with tube gain. 2oclock without.

 I have been running tube and ss amps through, also using different speakers. So far am very impressed for the money. It gets a little warm but nothing like class A amps can get. The tubes are what’s hottest and I believe they shut down if not in use? - maybe someone else can clarify this.

I don’t think there is an amp that won’t mate well with it melm. It has three modes including gain and buffer so you can’t go wrong. I would definitely put it in the Best Buy category. You have 2 weeks to return for refund. There are others here on Agon that have more experience with the original Freya and other preamps in general....

I have owned both the Freya and Freya+.   The solid state on both the original and + are dead quiet and have excellent resolution.   The SS buffer is very good and in the class of the Adcom GFP-750 (Nelson Pass) and McCormack LD-2 that I have owned.  I sold these as I fell in love with tubes.   The best tube system I have owned to date is the ARC LS-26.   The original Freya was better than my Conrad Johnson ET-3SE.   The new Freya+ is a good as the LS-26.   The original Freya has a great balance and bloom.   With my system (Wyred4Sound Dac2 and self powered Martin Logan Purity Speakers), I loved the original Freya’s overall sound and bang for the buck but the noise floor and gain were a little too high with my very sensitive powered system (0.5 volts for full volume).   It was sweeter sounding than the CJ ET-3 SE so besting a $3500 Pre-amp.   The Freya+ is a nice step up.  It is Dead quiet with tubes.   Dynamics are greatly improved with the lower noise floor.  Resolution/Detail is also improved.  It is as good as the LS26.  If you are looking in the $1000 to $5500 and want to use tubes, you will be pleasantly surprised.  It is really good Schiit (lol).  
On the clicks, they do not come through the audio system.   Volume increase is very smooth.   It is just the physical relays engaging for the stepped attenuation.   This is the highest quality volume control you can have.  Both CJ and ARC use stepped attenuation.   
rrebello9,

Thanks for your comments about the Freya.  I have a GFP-750 and tried a Freya last year and was shocked at how much better the GFP-750 was, not subtle, but massive (in all modes).  I was not sure if the Freya I got was defective, and Schiit never advised it was when I returned it.  Seeing your post tells me that something was not right with my unit.  

Now the question is do I try the Freya +, or the Freya S?  I am leaning towards the S, as it has the Nexus active stage with no gain, and I traditionally run in passive on my GFP-750.  As I run balanced, I don't want (need) the extra 12db of gain from the tube section.  My system is a Schiit Gungir Multibit, Sunfire Stereo Amp, NHT active crossover, Magnapan 3.5s (factory rebuilt last year), Rythmik E15 subwoofer.  
Oh, I should note, I am looking at going from the GFP-750 because volume knob is scratchy in the right channel when using balanced and the remote is getting flaky.  The volume pot is still available, but other parts are becoming NLA (balance).  I am worried I will have a paperweight in a few more years.  
mcreyn,

I would try the Freya+.    I am running upgraded tubes (Sylvania NIB NOS for the gain section - with the Tung Sol at the buffer).   As I mentioned, I have a very sensitive amplifier section and the new Freya+ is dead quiet in the tube output for my system (Martin Logan Self Powered Purity).   Worst case, you get to try both SS and tube.   Have fun!   
I've recently found some NOS GE tubes here and there (mostly there), and having messed around with a bunch of 6SN7GTBs the GEs are my faves. My little Dennis Had SEP amp likes a little gain coming in so the tube output of my "original and possibly extremely valuable since they don't make this version anymore and it makes me very special and fortunate" Freya works nicely.