Schiit drops new consonant-heavy high-end DAC

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Creator Mike Moffat says that the Yggdrasil is the best DAC he knows how to make

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No need for a second take, the company is indeed called Schiit Audio and it's pronounced just as you'd expect. Though rather suggestive of audio products best avoided at all costs, the company actually has excellent pedigree in the shape of Mike Moffat. The firm's co-founder is the inventor of the DS Pre, the first DSP-based outboard digital to analog converter on the market. Moffat and company have spent the last five years researching digital filter algorithms, a quest that has ended with Yggdrasil, a flagship multi-bit DAC with a true closed form filter.

Despite its Norse name, the Yggdrasil DAC (or Yggy for short) is designed, engineered, and manufactured in the USA. The company says that while most DACs on the market simply use the stock digital filters that come embedded in their digital-to-analog converters, Yggy is the only one with a true closed form digital filter. This means that all the original samples are retained from the input stage, through filtering, interpolation and conversion and on through to the analog output stage.

Continuing the break from the norm, Schiit also employs multi-bit rather than delta-sigma processing, supporting all PCM-encoded music formats from 16-bit/44.1 kHz up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution. At Yggy's heart are an Analog Devices SHARC DSP processor and four 20-bit Analog Devices DACs (two per channel in a hardware balanced configuration).

Schiit uses AD5791 DACs, which, at the time of release, were billed as the industry's first true 20-bit DACs. The key word here, according to the company, is true, saying that "if your 24-bit recordings actually have 24 bits of resolution, we'll eat a hat." On the subject of 32-bit DACs on sale, Schiit says that they're not really 32 bits, but are based on a measurement that gives an equivalent number of bits. The actual number is reported to be 19.5, which is less than the effective 21-bit resolution of the Yggdrasil.

The new DAC accepts up to five digital inputs over USB, AES/EBU, BNC, Coaxial, and Toslink optical, after which the incoming signal is routed through proprietary Adapticlock topology, which the company says determines the quality of the incoming audio, measures the center frequencies and jitter and then routes the input to the best possible (VCO/VCXO) clock regeneration system.

Then it's onward to the SHARC DSP where the digital filter algorithms are applied at sampling rates of either 352.8 or 384 kHz and 20-bit depth, before being sent on to the AD5791 DACs and discrete JFET output buffer and summing. The Yggdrasil outputs both balanced XLR and RCA analog simultaneously.

"It's the best DAC I know how to build," says Mike Moffat. "We're very proud of its performance – and we're very excited to be able to deliver this level of performance to the overwhelming majority of PCM music that everyone already owns."

The Yggdrasil is available now direct from Schiit for US$2,299.

Product page: Yggdrasil

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