Schiit not that Good?

Schiit was at AXPONA again this year. They were showing a Salk music server streaming into a Gungnir Multibit (?) feeding a Freya and two Vidars. Speakers were the Salk Song 3As.


So what happened?

Esoteric was just next door. This allowed attendees to move immediately from one room to another. Esoteric was showing a full stack of thier latest separates plus a VPI Avenger for analog. Speakers were a pair of Cantons I didn’t get the model of.


The Schiit room, while not bad, was completely destroyed by the Esoteric room. Esoteric played one SACD that unfurled a massive soundstage that I could sense even not being in the best seat. The sound of the Esoteric system, both via SACD and vinyl was dynamic, resolving, extremely musical, collected, vibrant, both large and delicately structured. It was a system that got all the minor details right. Such a good setup. The Schiit setup, while unoffensive, clean, and musical in its own right, simply couldn’t face the Esoteric in inner detail, soundstage, reality and low-level dynamics.


Why did the Schiit system fail so hard vs the Esoteric? Part of the reason might have been the junk cabling used by Schiit. Peaking behind the system I was Blue Jeans speaker cables and mess of power bricks, basic cabling, etc. I don’t know how much of the Schiit’s performance was compromised by inferior cabling, but I’m curious how close it would have come to the Esoteric had Schiit paid some basic attention to that area.

Hi madavid0.

Wish I were there at AXPONA to see/hear first hand myself. Kewl that you are/were, and remain appreciative of your feedback.

As both a Schiit DAC owner (Yggdrasil) and Blue Jeans speaker cable owner (Belden 5T00UP), I certainly understand that I don't have a "reference" audio system. Moreover, Esoteric is no slouch.

So, in my opinion, the answer to your question - Why did the Schiit system fail so hard vs the Esoteric? is "I don't know". 

Having stated that, I imagine you would agree that your opinion, review, assessment, etc. is just that - your opinion, review, and assessment.

It'l be interesting to hear/read from others too... 
I agree that the Esoteric room was awesome. The size of the sound was top notch. The Schiit/ Salk room was fantastic though. It was a crisp and clean sound for a fraction of the cost. 
It is a very unfortunate product name...
Shiit v Esoteric??? Bet the price difference was massive!

Cheers George
I have heard Schiit DACs and really like them. Not as much as Myteck though. :) I have not heard the rest of their electronic stack though.

Also, room acoustics matter!  Last show I went to was sponsored by ASC and frankly, they all sucked. If you know how big a fan I am of room acoustics, this may shock you, but the end result was awful. Every heavily treated room was one-note bass and too bright.

The best sounding rooms were either only lightly treated with ASC, or used other brands of room acoustic treatment entirely.

I would put that up above cables as being the cause first.


I wish i was in Chicago this week.....  my wife was there for work.  I sometimes attend her functions with her but unfortunately not this weekend.    

I've been to a few shows as a vendor,  one year we were between MBL and Steinway/ Lyndorf.....  not exactly the best positioning for a brand known for value.   That said many people commented on how good our room sounded but the MBL room was just incredible, it slayed every room around it, and it should be as was Lyngdorf, good stuff !  Way beyond my means though.

I was going to buy a Schiit headphone amp, and I very well just might but in the meantime I bought a $94 Massdrop O2 Headphone amp which is quite good for the money.   If for no other reason than it's made in USA I am going to order one of their better HP amps to try them out.   I like their business model and the fact they really try to source just about everything in the states.
I was just reading Mark Henninger’s show coverage on the AVS forums and he stated the Schiit/Salk room sounded considerably better than the Esoteric room with $100k worth of gear. Apparently the master clock alone in the Esoteric cost $20k. No matter what you think of the sound from either room, from a cost standpoint it’s hardly a fair comparison in my opinion.
I’m inclined to read something like madavid0’s writeup as a not so subtle slap at Schiit. Damning with faint praise (e.g., "unoffensive, clean and musical") while asking why the Schitt system "failed so hard" vs the Esoteric. To suggest it was due to use of Belden cabling without including any price info about the two systems being compared seems disingenuous to me. Yeah, I own several pieces of Schiit so you could say I’m "emotionally invested" (and you might be right) but then I’m not the one making ridiculous comparisons.
It’s unfortunate that honest assessments like this get such blowback. The offended fanboys always pile on. Schiit gear is decent, but often overhyped.

Having owned some Schiit, and having heard a number of systems with Esoteric pieces, I certainly don’t doubt the veracity of op’s observations. And it’s just that - his observations posted in an online forum. He doesn’t need to justify or qualify his opinions, and I don’t care that there’s a gigantic price differential (op didn't mislead anyone in to believing the 2 systems were similarly priced); it’s still an interesting comparison - especially with Schiit pushers continually barking about their "giant killer" gear. Well, then go fight giants!
Uh....your joking right? Honest assessment? Maybe you should look at the threads started by this poster they are all the same and then he jumps ship. I do not own ant Schiit gear BTW I was merely pointing out the obvious. Good day :)
Yeah, I just noticed he started a thread at computer audiophile using the same first post.  I wonder how many forums he's done this to, and why does he feel the need to wage some kind of campaign?  Get a life, GUTB!
(op didn’t mislead anyone in to believing the 2 systems were similarly priced);
He also didn’t say they were miles apart either, but he did hint at it with the cabling.

Shiit products are the best bang for buck by along way that I have come across. It’s the Schiit!!!
If you want to spend much more then it "may" (and I emphasise may) not be the Schiit.

There are a lot of $$$$K manufacturers that are anti Schiit, that are being hurt by Mike Moffat and his Schiit, I had experience with it first hand with my product, it will prevail if it’s got the goods, which to me it has, so long as bad management doesn't **** it up. 

Cheers George
I just bought a vidar/saga/modi 2 multibit setup.  I'm broke and on a budget. The total for all 3 pieces was $1340.  For the price it is a fantastic value.  It sounds and looks great. Plus made in the US. 
Shows are worth very little for judging playback quality of one component in a demo system!

And what that component will sound like in your own system!

There are hundreds of user reviews on the web that love Shiit D/A converters.

What a surprise @madavid0, would initiate this thread.

Past efforts by the Norman Vincent Peale of Audiogon:
Anticables: Scam?
Rega and Proac: Bad?
Class D = Trash?
Synergistic Research: SCAM
CD players = dead?
Basis Turntables: Worth it or Ripoff?
Cartridges: Complete Scam?
Mapleshade Isolation: Does Nothing?
Integrateds: Why do they all SUCK?
Isolation stands: snakeoil?

Esoteric is a far more expensive setup,
and better cablesdo make a noticeable difference .
i had blue jeans for a home theatre setup ,ok. But far from great.
I was there for three days primarily to go to Schiit rooms and Ginko rooms, to hear yagdrassil and And Denafrips products, On the Salk schiit room, they are using Gumby, no yaggy the sound is descent, volume is too low, the Schiit products are good, the Gumby is a very good dac...but it did not sound good in that room.I agree the esoteric room is only descent for the price of that expo hall the Lyr and the Yaggy partnered with Mr speaker headphone did both sound spectacular...
OK, I didn't take the time to look at OP's handle; the post content itself looked legit. I goofed, and you guys are right for calling out these serial bad/troll posters. Guys like this, vinny55, and taters, etc all have to be the same person. Mea culpa. 
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elizabeth - Audiophiles are a passionate lot.
So too are dead-heads.  🎵😃

Yeah you guys trelja and 213runnin- sniffed out the crap from maddivid0. I did not see all the troll posts he had generated. I have a Shiit Bifrost Uber and think those guys do a great job with DACs.
But I guess the OP has problems with Anticables, Rega, Mapleshade, Integrateds, Cartridges, Basis turntables, Proac. Class D... and who knows what else????

Perhaps he just wants to see people argue??? Seems like a loser.
If you have any confidence in your own ears, anybody providing less than positive comments on gear you own really shouldn’t matter, unless maybe it’s seen as a fire hazard. I’ve heard very well regarded gear at high end hifi "salons" or friend’s homes that sounded "meh," but since it’s not in my house being listened to carefully over time it will merely provide a moment’s entertainment, and for me it usually points out how much I like my personally sorted rig. Sorted over years of sorting...Commenting on how much one likes a piece of gear they own isn’t necessarily "pushing" it as personally I don’t care what other people buy, but in the case of the Schiit products I own, a Freya and a Loki EQ, I am guilty of pointing out my experience with these specific things as sounding world class in my rig. If they’re not "giant killers," they’re at least "giant embarrassers" if based only on the quality of construction and the price. Something that works really well and sounds great at a fraction of the cost of its competition (or based on design, cost, and performance seemingly having no competition) is fairly rare around here, and that factor alone will fuel some positive commentary, and so what? Audio stuff often has arbitrary pricing based less on manufacturing costs than simple greed…not disclosing inexpensive Chinese manufacturing, relying on the reputation of "being expensive" to be expensive…that’s the retail high end world. I own a Dennis Had hand made tube amp that has premium parts and sounds astonishingly good…why is it less expensive than a Shindo or Audio Note amp? Who knows, but its being WAY less expensive should be noted as at least an interesting fact. WOOF!
Now that we’ve gotten the "OP is a troll" ceremony out of the way, have any of you guys actually listened to the rooms? If so, what are your thoughts?
Amen to that Wolf,  and cutting to the chase of the matter. I appreciate it particularly in a seemingly growing climate of silly narratives and out and out nonsense. Go Schitt just faster, need to generate more dust!

Disclaimer no fanboy or vested interest other than "what is the point of this thread"? 
As trelja pointed out.
What a surprise @madavid0, would initiate this thread.

Past efforts by the Norman Vincent Peale of Audiogon:
Anticables: Scam?
Rega and Proac: Bad?
Class D = Trash?
Synergistic Research: SCAM
CD players = dead?
Basis Turntables: Worth it or Ripoff?
Cartridges: Complete Scam?
Mapleshade Isolation: Does Nothing?
Integrateds: Why do they all SUCK?
Isolation stands: snakeoil?

What is the point to incite or inflame?

What about "Schiit embarrassed"?

Sorry I am not part of that stuff.... I am out.

This is probably a legitimate off-topic question so please feel free to ignore - How come the iFi products don't get much respect around here? They seem to follow the same business model as schiit does with very innovative designs at reasonable prices.
Sorry, just crossed my mind.....
How come the iFi products don’t get much respect around here?
I don’t know about their other products, but the iESL (electrostatic headphone amp for Stax headphones) has been panned on the basis of its circuitry and design by the high-end Stax amp building DIY crowd -- they are rough on their critiques but they make the best electrostatic headphone amps.

Electrostatic headphone amps is a tough niche to pick up, because it’s easy to get caught with your pants down if you don’t know VERY well what you’re doing there. And the Stax DIY crowd (known semi-affectionately as the "Stax mafia") will certainly call you out on it.
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@mulveling actually, I wanted to apologize to you...

You made an excellent point on discussing gear in an open and honest manner, and I agree with your sentiments completely.  I see it's always season to criticize a handful of brands like Adcom, ARC, B&W, Rega, Wilson, etc.  I can enumerate myriad flaws and faults in every component I have ever bought.  Whenever I do so for my Cary, Dynaco, Jadis, Quad, Quicksilver, or Sony gear, it produces no blowback.  But we all know a lot of brands that bring people out of the woodwork with hatchets if anyone dare speak in anything but the most effusive terms.  And believe me, there are a lot of opinions I hold back on various companies simply because I'm no longer looking for the aggravation.

I'm absolutely for honest opinion, good and bad.  And I lament the emergence of the positive only publications, as they have come to represent paid advertising by the manufacturers in a pretty dirty game.

This thread simply became an outlier for me in terms of calling out a non-positive reaction due to the issue I raised in my first post
@trelja I commend you for the public apology. Thanks for setting a good example of treating others with respect. You have mine.

It is very unfortunate that the OP is a legend in his own lunchtime as ,despite the obnoxious thread titles, there could be some meat to be worthy of discussion.
However fortunately the majority have seen way to much from the OP in the same vein to care to treat any further posts with serious respect.
The OP has made his bed and now finds he lies in it.
In my eyes he’s wrong with this thread Schiit is the best bang for buck there is as I explained in my last post. But he can get things right too below. There way too much voodoo in this industry.

Cheers George

Soooo ... Is madavid0 also known as GUTB on the forum, or did he copy and paste that post to stir up Schiit here?
johhnyb53- Have a look at 213runnin’s post and my last one.
But were they playing the same material so you could A/B?
The best sounding rooms were either only lightly treated with ASC, or used other brands of room acoustic treatment entirely.

I would put that up above cables as being the cause first.



I don't know E. Maybe speakers might be the cause first? Maybe edging out even the speaker cables? Tough call. It's a challenge to make a cable that passes sound intact. I'm surprised there aren't more patents on this tech. 
Esoteric is up  there with the best digital gear.

Shiit still beleive oversampling is a bad thing...  when we all know the best digital players are  << pcm ing >> everything to dsd.
As the old line goes "YMMV" on every piece of gear out there. I have two Schiit boxes and love them....Esoteric gear sounds great to me as well. A true Apples to Oranges comparison, cool to be at a show and enjoy so many different ways to reproduce music at so many price points in one place...I attend RMAF in Denver every Oct. for many this hifi world, there is Truly Something For Everyone who keeps their ears and minds open....Love to all
I have cycled through a number of pieces of gear over the past 5 years from various brands and now have a Schiit stack. There is no doubt that the Schiit gear is very good value and sounds fantastic with my current ATC-SCM’s. I think that the Vidar power amp is particularly nice value for it’s output, the Saga/Freya preamps great sounding but wonky UI (why can’t I turn off the tubes to save life!), Gumby DAC top notch (but maybe not as good a value?). Hard to go wrong with their stuff - at least you know you aren’t getting taken to the audiophile cleaners .... ;)
There's barely any reason to turn off the tubes as preamp tubes generally last a fairly long time anyway, and if you are switching from one of the other modes you don't want to wait a minute for the tubes to warm up…if the passive or FET mode is where you want to stay, I think you can remove the tubes, although I found with rolling some NOS Sylvanias in there the tube mode seems to sound better than the other 2, and I need the gain anyway with my single ended little amp.
Gotta love any AG member with the name of wolf_garcia!!! The first several times I heard Jerry play live Wolf was the guitar he played, still remember that sweet, beautiful sound....

Just so damn pretty and expressive....
Rule of thumb:
Sound quality depends on:
1. Room acoustics -- 40%
2. Recording Quality -- 30 %
3. Speakers -- 25%
4. Electronics -- 4%
5. Cables -- 1% (proper shielding and grounding only. Rest is snake oil)
So, if the sound quality difference was so prominent, it has nothing to do with DAC... Shiit is a great DAC.
Both companies do a great job and have their own strengths and weaknesses as everyone. The room acoustics at these shows have so much to do with the perceived performance that it makes a direct comparison extremely tough. 
My name has zero to do with Jerry Garcia as I borrowed the last names of 2 friends (Dave Wolf and Tom Garcia) for a one off open mike gig, and I liked the results so I kept the name for music related things including mixing and playing shows. Using that name for over 20 years...
trelja, a little off topic, but how do you like your dynaco you mention above?  Is it a sweet sounding amp, being so old school?

That was actually my blurb from those rooms, Mark aggregated the content from the AVS members who attended the show.  

I stand behind my comments, the Salk/Schiit room sounded far better than the Canton/Esoteric room.  I don’t really blame that on the Esoteric gear, i’m sure it’s quality stuff, and it sounded phenomenal combined with Vac gear and the Von Schweikert VR11s in the big Von Schweikert ballroom (that was probably the best sounding room at the show).  

The big problem with the Canton/Esoteric room was acoustics.  Those big Cantons were overdriving the room hard and there were some really bad room modes.  If that demo had been in a room with two or three times the space it would’ve likely sounded far better.  

Poor acoustics were a killer for many rooms at the show.  It could also be that i like the ribbon tweeter sound, many of my favorite rooms were using ribbon tweeters.  
@jetter Hello, and thank you for asking.

Actually, I really love my Dynaco ST70. I’ve owned and own a lot of amps over the years, and most of them have another zero in their price tags, including my Jadis amplifiers. Over the years, I learned that my beloved Jadis Orchestra Reference and Quicksilver's initial and what many call their best sounding amplifier the 8417 are just Dynaco amplifiers.  In my opinion, there’s no more fun audio component than an ST70. Of course, one could have the same feelings for the very similar MKII, MKIII, and MKIV.

In terms of sonics, mine is not a classic ST70. Those are as you mentioned, very old school sounding in that vintage lush, warm, caramel colored, slow, tubby sort of sound. I have had that.

I’ve built a few ST70s, and have experimented, pondered, and learned from each section of this very simple amplifier. It’s taught me more than anything else in audio. Personally, I find it beautiful in its simplicity on many levels, and from many directions. Where I’ve ended up is discovering what differentiates vintage and modern tube amplifiers is the metal film resistors used in today’s products compared with the vintage carbon composition resistors. People, especially those who build and sell amplifiers love to tell everyone about their ingenuity and innovation regarding their circuits. That’s all fiction, these circuits all originated in the 1930s - 1950s. In fact, apart from SETs, 99% of today’s tube amplifiers use the Mullard long-tail pair driver circuit given freely to generate sales of their tubes. And most of the ST70 "upgrade" boards use this circuit as well, with the intent of fixing so much of what Dynaco poorly implemented. However, working through all of those things brought me full circle. It’s the concertina driver circuit Dynaco took from the guitar amplifier industry that’s the better implementation, in my opinion. But that ended up being so obvious that I felt stupid upon coming to that conclusion. I don’t want to bore folks, and write too much except to say simple usually is better, and that’s a big reason so many have come to treasure what an SET provides.

So my ST70 is a mostly stock implementation of the original, but with metal film resistors that give it the clarity, openness, and neutrality of a modern amplifier, with the speed and lithe nature their more complex circuitry never will. It can possess the sweetness you mentioned, but that’s a reflection of the tubes employed. I happen to like that quality, and I pursue it. One ST70 weakness was the low-end, and there are some logical reasons for that. One should jump out as completely obvious to anyone familiar with tube amplifiers, and the other one is not at all obvious. Taking care of those two things brings a heft the original longs for, though the obvious mod also must be done with a sort of a judicious hand, as it also causes some of the magic of the original to dissipate. Another mod I’ve discovered of late is one I’m infinitely thankful for, as it protects the rectifier tube from blowing upon initial turn on. And for anyone who loves the sound of the vintage Mullard 5AR4, the peace of mind of not blowing a $120 tube when powering up the amp is a true gift. What weaknesses remain? Mostly that it never was the sort of monster power amplifier, and it remains that way. That said, like most any decent push-pull tube amplifier, despite what most folks worry over, it will drive any reasonable loudspeaker to lease breaking volume without a second thought.
Hi Treljia, thank you for your detailed response.  I very much enjoyed reading your description of the circuits and the comparison of their simplicity to more modern designs.  The reason I asked was that I remember reading your posts years ago that you really enjoy your ST-70 and somehow it stuck with me that Ralph (atmosphere) also had made favorable comments regarding the Dynaco.  There are always units for sale here and on ebay.  And one cannot help but notice that their are still tubes on sale that are labeled Dynaco from units built years ago.
Isn't it great when a system costing 5 times more sounded 5 times better?