The Schiit Yggdrasil 2 DAC

ack

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The Summary

We have praised its virtues in many a thread, but after some 6 months of ownership, I felt it deserved its own thread.

Initial thoughts were posted under Al M's system thread https://whatsbestforum.com/threads/my-monitor-subwoofer-system.25101/page-18#post-623618 with his own unit in my system, and I am just going to paste a couple of things that described it best:

Me: So far, the Yggy2 fed through AES/EBU and this Spectral SDR-3000SL transport offers the cleanest, most resolving redbook sound I have heard to date [in here, and that includes the dCS Vivaldi 2.0, the Spectral SDR-4000SV player and the MSB Premier+outboard PS & stock clock; I don't do tube DACs]​

Harley: "It’s a spectacular performer on an absolute level, and an out-of-this world bargain. The Yggy is not just a tremendous value in today’s DACs, it’s one of the greatest bargains in the history of high-end audio."

I have determined that the Yggy2's RCA outputs are a little colored, partly due to its summation circuit, so I run it XLR-to-RCA, and always AES/EBU in. In addition, as wonderful and super dynamic as it sounds with that connection (for a claimed max 4V output), it does cause the preamp to distort at loud crescendos, so I have to engage the preamp's -6dB filter for that input.

The Yggy2 (v2.01 analog board) via AES/EBU and as connected is a new benchmark for me in here. Let me explain:

1) it has enabled me to fine-tune my speakers' crossover, to a point that analog sounds best as is as well
2) it has pushed me to fix that Pass XP-25 phono preamp, and I can now use its 76dB gain plus 47K "loading" for additional dynamic headroom, with simultaneous very low noise at loud levels and very life-like timbre and articulation; other changes were also necessary
3) it has enabled me to voice my modded Berkeley Alpha DAC even further to a point that it actually surpasses the Yggy2 with HDCD material

Let me start with #3; here's how I recently summarized the two DACs on HDCD (the Yggy does not decode HDCD, the Alpha does):

a) The Alpha outshines the Yggy2 with HDCD in terms of dynamic headroom and harmonic structure (at least with strings); the difference in macro-dynamics is really staggering
b) It does so - especially the macro-dynamics - even with its output volume slightly less than the Yggy's (51.5; output voltages are equal at 52.5)
c) By virtue of their analog section designs, the Yggy's bass is rounder and more well defined, with all material (HDCD or not)
d) The HDCD encoding is responsible for raising the Alpha's performance and dumbing down the Yggy's, and in addition, the HDCD process does affect timbre. One of the HDCD algorithms is to compress and expand dynamics
e) The Alpha's superiority with HDCD (excepting the bass) is evident despite the SPDIF input and the "lesser" Shunyata Venom RCA interconnects, which I think are a fascinating cable for some $400 on the street. I use the famed Illuminations D-60 SPDIF cable
Along the way and over the past few months, the Yggy2 with redbook guided me how to best voice the Alpha with HDCD, in terms of mods and output volume setting (51.5)

Among the DACs I've had in here, the modified Alpha, Yggy2 and MSB Premier stand out because they have an extremely similar sound character, which indicates truth to the recording. They are not euphonic, they are not lush, they are not fake, just limited in what they can do with the format. The Yggy2 and Premier stand out for their clean sound with redbook.

Regarding #2, and how it compares to my analog now, there is no mistaking that analog is still the higher resolution format over redbook (with or without HDCD). But it took a lot of analog tweaking to get that: from anti-skating, to the XP-25 mods, to a new turntable suspension, and cartridge isolation with Isodamp. All these have been described elsewhere on this site.

The Sound

As compared to the other DACs, excepting the 4000SV player, the Yggy2 excels at rendering complete notes which raises truth of timbre and articulation, thus realism. It does piano unlike anything else so far in here but the 4000SV - but the latter's presentation is still slightly euphonic (which for me kills its rendition of complete notes), though less so than their old SDR-2000 DAC and much less than the Vivaldi's. It is incredibly low in noise, which increases transparency, palpability, realism and separation of instruments. It does still require a very low-noise and -jitter digital source, despite the manufacturer's reclocking claims. No experience so far with the Unison USB.

Its bass matches that of the 4000SV in tightness, roundness and musicality, and leaves the Alpha far behind in that respect. It is really very well defined and refined, but perhaps not as deep as other DACs. With the right recordings, strings can be phenomenal, with real palpability - out of redbook. This DAC has LIFE.

I posted sonic impressions with certain music material under Al's thread, but one thing that stands out is the BSO/Shostakovich recordings on DG (of all!), which render a very good replica of Boston Symphony Hall's acoustics as experienced from near and above the orchestra (basically, Balcony 1, seats A1-3), very much where the microphones would be. Symphony #11's second movement is just Wow material.

Al himself does a better job at describing sonic attributes, and he's done a very good job at that over the years; so I defer to him, plus I am out of time... I hope he'll chime in.

At the end of the day, I can listen to this DAC all day, every day; and I am obviously keeping the Alpha for HDCD.

-ack
 
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Al M.

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Thanks for starting this thread, Ack, with a great opening post. I had written down some thoughts of Yggdrasil 2 DAC vs.your modified Berkeley Alpha DAC (which is better than my stock Berkeley Alpha 2 DAC) on your system thread. It is clear to me that the Yggdrasil is vastly superior to the Berkeley Alpha DAC on Redbook CD, see my post there:

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/acks-system-end-of-round-1.2740/page-45#post-626231

I cannot comment on Berkeley playing HDCD vs. Yggdrasil playing Redbook CD.

All I can say from my experience, which appears to match yours, is that analog (vinyl) playback needs to be on a very high level, which requires significant investment, in order to compete with, or even beat, the Yggdrasil 2 DAC playing Redbook CD.

I say this as someone who has been impressed with top vinyl over the years and loves it. I don't necessarily have a pro digital bias, and have even until a few years ago thought that in certain areas great analog hopelessly beats digital. Old posts of mine on WBF will undoubtedly prove that, if someone would care to look them up (I don't at this point).
 
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Al M.

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Ok, after posting I started to listen to a new CD that I got a day or two ago, Life Goes On by Carla Bley/ Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow (2020). I was struck by how incredible Andy Sheppard's tenor sax sounds through the Yggdrasil. This prompted me, after I said above that I wouldn't do it ;), to actually look up old posts of mine on WBF about the deficiencies of digital compared to analog, in particular as it pertains to tenor sax. I stumbled on one that turns out to be my first listen to Peter A.'s system back in 2014:

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/sublime-sound.12853/page-3#post-274475

There I talk about the difficulties of digital to portray the raspiness and breathiness of tenor sax compared to analog.

Well, the Yggdrasil does this exceptionally well with tenor sax on this recording. The sax has also a fantastic physical presence on the recording, and the dynamics of the instrument just are outrageous.
 
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MadFloyd

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You neglected to mention that the album is fantastic.
 

Al M.

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matthias

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@ack ,
thank you for this thread :)

The Yggdrasil is on top of my shortlist for a new DAC. It has to be mentioned that it has the excellent Unison USB input and Schiit will launch this year a CD transport with USB output which will be a perfect match for Yggdrasil. After listening with this combo Mike Moffat claims the best digital he has heard, so at least promising.
BTW, Life Goes On by Carla Bley/ Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow (2020) is a great album via Qobuz as well :)

Matt
 
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Lagonda

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I have had the Yggy 2 in my system for about a month now, i got it for my all digital brother and have not given it to him yet :rolleyes: It is the best dac i have heard, very analog sounding. Plenty of details without getting tiring like some dacs do. In my opinion it needs to be paired with a good transport or server, it will not magically repair shitty source material. It shows color and tone better than what i have heard from digital before, without saturating everything with the same palette like some tube dacs do. It is bright when the source material is, it does not prettify. Rhythm is excellent, and bass is very balanced, it does not fall in the camp that wants to impress in the deep bas (like Krell) but has a mid bass agility that makes you get involved with the music. For me it is a perfect addition to my normal preference of analog at a no brain price .Yes i still prefer analog by a wide margin. But a lot of my favorite music has only been issued in digital, and the Yggy makes even the shitty recordings listenable, without making the good ones to soft:)
 

MadFloyd

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It shows color and tone better than what i have heard from digital before, without saturating everything with the same palette like some tube dacs do.

Very astute observation. ;)
 

ack

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It is worth noting that at the bottom of the list of current DACs I've had in here is the Berkeley Alpha Reference series (1 through 3) - fairly bland sounding overall
 

ack

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caesar

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I have had the Yggy 2 in my system for about a month now, i got it for my all digital brother and have not given it to him yet :rolleyes: It is the best dac i have heard, very analog sounding. Plenty of details without getting tiring like some dacs do. In my opinion it needs to be paired with a good transport or server, it will not magically repair shitty source material. It shows color and tone better than what i have heard from digital before, without saturating everything with the same palette like some tube dacs do. It is bright when the source material is, it does not prettify. Rhythm is excellent, and bass is very balanced, it does not fall in the camp that wants to impress in the deep bas (like Krell) but has a mid bass agility that makes you get involved with the music. For me it is a perfect addition to my normal preference of analog at a no brain price .Yes i still prefer analog by a wide margin. But a lot of my favorite music has only been issued in digital, and the Yggy makes even the shitty recordings listenable, without making the good ones to soft:)

Nice post! Out of curiosity, with an MBL system, have you tried the MBL Reference DAC? It's killer, despite being in the marketplace for what seems like a decade. It competes with and defeats, upon one's taste, all the uber-priced and hyped-up DACs out there today. (I won't name names so people's feelings don't get hurt.) Obviously, it's in a different price bracket than the Schitt.
 

Lagonda

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Nice post! Out of curiosity, with an MBL system, have you tried the MBL Reference DAC? It's killer, despite being in the marketplace for what seems like a decade. It competes with and defeats, upon one's taste, all the uber-priced and hyped-up DACs out there today. (I won't name names so people's feelings don't get hurt.) Obviously, it's in a different price bracket than the Schitt.
I have heard the complete MBL reference setup on several occasions and both their dac and transport are truly exceptional, and there is a special synergy in a complete MBL setup. But i will not buy until i find a combo at the right price :rolleyes: And i doubt the sound is much better than the Krell KPS 25sc i use as transport with the Yggy 2 dac, the Yggy actually sounds more analog, and the MBL combo more impressive to my ears. With the caveat that i have not heard them side by side. Main focus is improving my analog, even with a humble Benz LPS cartridge and a mongrel TT it still gives me more of that live in the room feeling than any digital i have heard. But the Yggy lets me enjoy my many CD’s that have been basically left unused since re-entered the path of vinyl again 4 years ago :)
 
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bonzo75

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Nice post! Out of curiosity, with an MBL system, have you tried the MBL Reference DAC? It's killer, despite being in the marketplace for what seems like a decade. It competes with and defeats, upon one's taste, all the uber-priced and hyped-up DACs out there today. (I won't name names so people's feelings don't get hurt.) Obviously, it's in a different price bracket than the Schitt.

MBL vs accuphase CD player comparison at Marslo's friend's place in Poland, back in Jan

D32ACB38-AA57-47C7-A80B-DBCD244CFC89.jpeg
 
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Lagonda

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ack

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I came across this post #184 on SBAF:

https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...n-inconvenient-truth.9480/page-10#post-308061

Usually the members on this forum are well informed about all things Schiit and many have Yggdrasils.

Have you guys heard about a new Yggdrasil this year?

Thanks

Matt

I have not heard anything about a new Yggy, but I am looking forward to it, if it were to happen and if current owners do get that alleged "love" as the link said. The architecture is such that they just swap boards in and out, which is very powerful.
 

bonzo75

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Transport only Ked ?

He had the accuphase combo, MBL transport, and Emm labs dac. I don't remember which dac we compared the transports in (lockdown had made me rusty) but I remember preferring the MBL transport to the accuphase
 
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Joe Whip

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I would seriously doubt that there will be a Yggy3 this year. Mike has had a ton on his plate in the past year with his health, the new DACs, Unison and the transport. Now, if the chips they use are no longer available, I could see it then. I could see it the second half of 2021 or more likely Q1 2022. I would anticipate an update to the megaburrito filter, activation of native DXD (the 8x light on the front) and a better power supply. As for piano on the Yggy It is as good as it gets as Al can attest. Ask him about the Benny Green CDs. Same for tenor sax. Mesmerizing, listen to Ben Webster on meets Oscar Peterson, Encounters Coleman Hawkins and the fantastic recording with Gerry Mulligan. They are right there in the room with you. Also, the Yggy excels At high rez too!
 

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