Schiit Freya S or Freya +?


Hello,

What are the sound characteristics of the Freya preamps? Is there a big difference in sound between the Solid state Freya S and the Tube Freya +.
How is bass on both?
My system consists of Aerial 10T speakers with Bel Canto Ref 1000 mono-blocs. Source component is an Oppo 105D player.
alpha3
The difference between the two stated components is that the Freya+
features a tube stage as well.
So three Pre-Amps in one.
Passive / Differential Buffer (SS) / Tube Stage.
Freya+ is promoted as "Refinement" over the previous generation.
Using the ’Tube Gain Mode’ was important for me when I owned the first
generation Freya / Vidar combo.
I don’t think that Bass would change due to any particular Pre.
Except for any sound difference between tube and SS.
Still relying on Schiit for my Headphone Gear ... Valhalla 2 / Mjolnir /
Gungnir,Multibit and Delta-Sigma.
In my experience.
I will say that the Bass is handled much better with the Schiit DAC’s.
My suggestion would be to look for a used SS Pre that would complement the level of the Reference 1000 Mono-Bloc’s.
I think that the ICE Power Amplification is well worth building on.






There is an audiophile on youtube that reviewed the original Freya.  He goes by the handle "Thomas & Stereo" and thinks the Freya gives him 90% of what his $3500 preamp does, at 1/5th the price.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwMXMtSprxI

Now the Freya+, with several refinements and spec improvements will do even better than that.  I don't have deep pockets for audio these days, but I'll be picking up the Freya+ by the end of the year.  I really don't think one can go wrong with either Freya version, but I want the XLR connections for my Gungnir DAC.  
I have the original Freya which offers three choices: passive, JFET buffer, and tubes with 12 dB gain. My source is the Oppo 103 out to a Schiit Modi Multi DAC. I MUCH prefer the tubes. Highly recommend the Freya. It makes MUSIC.

Tom
PS- bass is definitely more "organic" with the tube output...
I like to roll through the 3 output options on my "original version" Freya from time to time although it's in the tube mode normally...it's a way to see if your tubes are in good shape, and that's possible instantly on my Freya. To satisfy some critics, Schiit decided to allow the tubes to be shut off in the non tube modes with the Freya +, allowing the thing to be on without tube wear...I suppose that's a good idea to many, but it eliminates my instant mode switching thing, and helps my decision to not upgrade! My Freya is already very quiet in tube mode, and although I'd buy a Freya + if I needed another system, I like the one I have just fine. Nothing like it out there at any price...I do wonder why anybody wouldn't spend the extra 200 bucks over the Freya S since it actually won't burn tubes or whatever people worry about, but hey...to each his or her own I suppose.
I went with the Freya S. It arrived yesterday afternoon. Here’s couple quick impressions. So, it’s been on for a bit over 24 hours. A bunch of internet radio and selections from the music library along with 4 episodes of Monk have been run through it. The interconnect for the output of the Freya S has been sitting dormant for a number of years so I’m sure it’s going through some settling in itself.

So far I’m pleased. The Freya S started opening up and blooming a bit a couple hours ago. Many things are an improvement over the pre section of the NAD C320BEE. There is excellent detail, tone and timbre and very good dynamics. The micro detail and ambient retrieval is great and music sounds very natural.

The C320BEE on its own has a bit weightier, slightly warmer and a slightly bigger sound to it and the music is a bit more artificial and mechanical. There is a slight veil and graininess to it.  The Freya S on the other hand is smooth and refined. Brass and cymbals sound real and less splashy and more like brass. The one reservation I have at this early stage is that I want the Freya to open up a bit more and flesh out a bit from the lower mids through the bass.

I am impressed with the build quality and look of the Freya. It’s very well made. The relay switch volume control is excellent, just excellent. Perfect tracking and such fine adjustments to get the perfect volume you desire. Of course it has those infamous clicks people talk about. I happen to love it but my wife and daughters are not fans.:-)

I’ll add some more impressions after the Freya S has had a few more days of settling in. 

Cheers,

Scott
So , I wanted to wait until I was a week in with the Freya S before I added more impressions. It has just shy of 200 hours playing time. There was a couple of challenging days of break-in over the weekend. But by Monday night I was really enjoying the stereo with the Freya S. 

I haven’t enjoyed a piece of equipment this much in a long time. As far as musically satisfying I’d put it up there with the deHavilland UtraVerve pre-amp and Art Audio Carissa 845 SET I had at one time. Two pieces of gear I should have never let go.

Don’t think I’ll let go of the Freya S. It has me seriously considering adding a Gumby and a Vidar or two to the system. Wait, I thought I wanted an integrated.

I may still go that route but the integrated Amps I am considering go for between $4k and $7k. A Schiit combination might make me happy for whole lot less. We’ll see after I live with Freya S a few more weeks.

Cheers,

Scott
I totally agree with your assessment, though I recently picked up the Freya +.  "I haven't enjoyed a piece of equipment this much in a long time".   I too found that it needed to burn in a bit, somewhere after the 50 hr mark depth to the soundstage showed up, and along the way the highs have become so articulate.  It reached a point early on when the sound was a little shrill as it burned in, but that was just one listening session.

One point on Wolf's comment about the tubes in turned off mode.  With the Freya +, if you're in tube mode, you can cycle through the other 2 modes and then toggle back to tube mode with no interruptions, but you've only got 10 or 15 seconds allowed out of tube mode.  Upon which time the Freya will warm up the circuit again.  It's a fair trade off and allows the tubes to be saved.

I've got the Vidar and can assure Samac that it's head and shoulders above the mid-fi amps I've owned from Adcom and Nad.  If you're thinking about a Gumby, I'd suggest waiting until the new year when it's to be updated with their latest version of USB, Unison.  Or check out the Bimby, which with its new version apparently comes within a hair of the current Gumby for hundreds less.


Thanks for the heads-up on the Gumby and Bimby, 213running.

The Bluesound Node 2 and NAD C320BEE I’m using have a full lower mid sound which I really appreciate. The Freya S seems pretty neutral to me and really lets that through. 

From what I’ve read the Vidar has excellent low bass. How would you describe the lower mids of the Vidar. Thanks 

Cheers,

Scott
213...thanks for the clarification regarding the Freya + tube mode.
I purchased the Freya S, it will be arriving this Monday. It will be replacing my old Acurus LS11.  The amp is a ARC Classic 60, that’s why I didn’t get the + version. I’ve had good success mixing Tube and SS, in this case a Tube amp with a solid state pre.

I hope my expectations are met.
@last_lemming 

I've had the Freya S  for a month now. I had high expectations when I went with it and it has met those expectations. 
It took about a week for it to settle and for me to get to know it. I hope you’ll be as satisfied as I am with it.

Cheers,

Scott
Samac,

got my Freya S tonight and have it up and running. Very nice for just a few hours on it.
In your experience how long is break in, and what should I expect to change during that time?
@last_lemming 

In my system the Freya S took about a week to settle in. The first three days it was a bit hard, flat and bright. After that it opened up and tone/timbre, dynamics and sound stage really developed.

Cheers,

Scott
Thanks Scott. I have my tuner running through it right now but the amp is off (it tubed). 
I’m hoping this will accelerate any break in. 
That should do the trick. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me. Enjoy.....

Cheers,

Scott
My Freya S arrived today. I am VERY impressed! It is in my basement workout room and signal is from a Classe CDP.5 cd player via Black Cat IC's into the Freya into a fully SMcAudio modded McCormack DNA.5 amp and then into circa 1977 Large Advents that have been modded (cross-overs, internal wiring) on small stands that tilt the loudspeakers upwards. Speaker cable is Monoprice bulk 12 ga stranded and I am using no connectors-just bare wire. 
The sound right out of the gate was smooth, dynamic, detailed, and spacious, nothing out of place at all. I listen down there while riding a bike on a smart trainer to a program called Zwift so it is a different type of listening-my blood is pumping and I'm sweating and up and down out of the saddle. Not exactly critical listening. But after five years of riding Zwift five to six days a week during winter time, always to music with a multitude of different amps, sources, and loudspeakers, I think I know when there is a marked improvement. This is one impressive $600 preamp. I am a fan. 
Listening tonite, maybe 28 hrs on the unit. I’ve noticed it’s very clear and smooth, with a nice soundstage, but mid bass seems a bit less pronounced than my old Acurus. Not sure that will change much, I doubt it, so I may need to move the speakers closer to the wall.  Though I might loose a bit of depth by doing that. Might give it a few more days of break in. 
In my system around  the 75-100 hr mark the mid-bass down and tonality really opened up and filled in.

Cheers,

Scott
Keep reading the Freya + runs hot to the point that part of the casing cannot be touched. Is this normal ?
I do want to buy one when funds allow
It is normal.  You CAN touch it.  The Freya+ is filled with a lot of components.  Go to the Schiit site and compare the pictures of the Freya+ and Freya S circuit boards.   The Freya S looks almost empty in comparison.  The heat is not from the tubes, but from the 300 volt rectification for the tubes, I think.  Will the heat affect the long term life of the Plus?  For that answer you'll have to ask Schiit.

This had been looking like a Freya S thread,  The Plus with a good pair of gain tubes sounds great, far better then the SS buffer stage alone.  I suppose the latter is comparable to the S (less the SS gain).  Am I correct?
I much prefer the tube mode of my "original version and no, you can't get one" Freya, and it does get surprisingly warm over the transformers....however, after a couple of years with this thing I've decided that's part of its charm, and the many vent holes seem to insure it will never melt. In my humble (!) opinion I remain a fan as it's a great preamp.