Bifrost

FULLY UPGRADEABLE 24/192 DAC

Plug Type (?)
Voltage (?)
Analog Stage
USB Input

$349

Description

Specs

FAQ

Reviews

Downloads

STATUS: In stock. Orders placed now will ship in 1-3 business days.

Bifrost is the world's most affordable fully upgradable DAC, featuring 32-bit D/A conversion, a fully discrete analog section, and a sophisticated bit-perfect clock management system, together with one of the most advanced asynchronous USB 2.0 inputs available, as well as SPDIF coaxial and optical inputs, all with 24/192 capability.

And now, we’ve made our first major upgrades available for Bifrost: the new Gen 2 USB input board, offering 24/176 playback and improved USB performance, and the new Bifrost Uber, using the more advanced discrete analog output stage from Gungnir. The Gen 2 USB board ships with every new Bifrost or Gungnir ordered with USB.

Bifrost Uber: Even More Impressive Performance
Order the Bifrost Uber option, and you get a discrete analog stage based on the more advanced Gungnir DAC, with a sophisticated topology that improves sonic and measured performance, and a DC servo to eliminate capacitors in the signal path. Not that the base Bifrost is any slouch—it’s frequently been compared to DACs that cost 3-8x as much.

Fully Upgradable: The Future-Proof DAC

Worried about rapidly-changing USB input technology? Concerned about future advances in D/A conversion? Bifrost's modular design uses separate, USB Input and DAC/Analog cards. The result? A virtually future-proof DAC that won't end up in the dumpster.

AKM4399 D/A Converter and Discrete Analog Section

Even without considering upgradability, Bifrost offers incredible value. Consider its AKM4399 32 bit D/A converter, one of the highest performance DACs in the world. Also consider that our both Bifrost and Bifrost Uber use a fully discrete, low noise JFET analog section—just like multi-thousand-dollar DACs.

Advanced Bitperfect Clock Management

Most DACs in this price range sacrifice every single one of your original music samples to get their 192kHz spec. Every input is routed through a sample rate converter and upsampled to 24/192. Bifrost dispenses with the sample rate converter and uses a sophisticated master clock management system to deliver bit-perfect data to the DAC, preserving all the original samples--whether it's 16/44.1 or 24/192.

USB 2.0, 24/192, Async, Completely Buzzword Compliant

Have high-res music? No problem. Bifrost offers a full range of inputs: Coaxial and optical SPDIF, as well as USB. Bifrost's USB features a high-speed Gen 2 USB 2.0 interface and asynchronous data transfer to 24/192, including 24/176. No drivers are required for Macs and popular Linux distros like Ubuntu, as well as iDevices such as iPhones and iPads, and Windows drivers are downloadable for Windows 8, 7, and XP.

Don't Need USB? Cool.

Order Bifrost without the USB Input Card and save some money! Add it in for $150 if you need it later.

5-Year Warranty

Bifrost is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for five years. That’s 5 years. Yes. FIVE. Compare that to the competition. Please note this doesn't mean free upgrades for five years!

15-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

Don’t like your Bifrost? No problem. Call us for an RA and send it back for a full refund, minus 5% transaction fee, within 15 days of receiving your DAC. When was the last time you spent a couple of weeks in an audio store? With your own equipment? Thought so.

Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional)

Input Capability: up to 24/192 for all inputs, including 24/176.4

Input Receiver, SPDIF: Crystal Semiconductor CS8416
Input Receiver, USB: C-Media CM6631A

D/A Conversion IC: AKM4399

Analog Summing, Filtering: Fully Discrete, JFET-input differential topology
Output: RCA (single-ended)

Output Impedance: 75 ohms
 
Bifrost:
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB, 2Hz-100KHz, -1dB 

Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS

THD: <0.005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output

IMD: <0.007%, CCIR

S/N: >106dB, referenced to 2V RMS
 
Bifrost Uber:
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB, 2Hz-100KHz, -1dB 

Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS

THD: <0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output

IMD: <0.002%, CCIR

S/N: >110dB, referenced to 2V RMS
 
Power supply: 5 stages of regulation, including separate supplies for critical digital and analog sections.
Upgradability: Separate, modular USB Input Card and DAC/Analog Card are snap-in replaceable.
 
Power Consumption: 12W

Size: 9 x 6.75 x 2.25”

Weight: 5 lbs

So, what the heck is a DAC and why do I need one?

Man, if you’re asking this question, you may be in the wrong place. But to keep it simple: if you trust your music to be faithfully reproduced by a $2 floor-sweeping D/A IC that the overworked laptop designer threw in as an afterthought on a motherboard swimming in gigahertz noise, more power to you.
 
What’s so special about your DAC?
It’s upgradable, which means it’s virtually future-proof, and it’s cheap, which means you don’t need a second mortgage to buy it.
 
So what about these here upgrades you’re talking about?
Bifrost can have its Analog Output Card or USB Card upgraded. We’ve already announced our first two upgrades: Bifrost Uber, which is a Gungnir analog stage in a Bifrost chassis, and a 24/176 capable USB input card. 
 
How about DSD?
Loki is for DSD, and it integrates easily with Bifrost.
 
What’s a Bifrost Uber?
A Bifrost Uber is a Bifrost with Gungnir’s more sophisticated analog output stage. It ups the performance of the Bifrost pretty significantly. And, since Bifrost is upgradable, you can turn any Bifrost, old or new, into a Bifrost Uber—or order it that way to start. Ubers are designated by a small holographic serial number on the back panel.
 
Why aren’t there any balanced outputs?
At this price point, balanced lost to upgradability. If you want balanced outputs, we have Gungnir, which has real hardware balancing and hardware summing for the single-ended outputs.
 
I heard about this upsampling stuff, where they take 16/44.1 and magically make it into 24/192. Does your DAC do that?
Not just no but hell no. None of our DACs will ever do sample rate conversion. Our goal is to perfectly reproduce the original music samples, not to throw them away and turn everything into a mystery-meat soufflé. Sample rate conversion destroys all the original samples. What goes in isn’t what comes out. We worked hard on a microprocessor-controlled, bit-perfect clock management system to ensure that all the original music samples going into Bifrost are delivered to the D/A converter, whether you’re running 16/44.1 or 24/192, rather than cheaping out and throwing in a sample-rate converter so we could use a single clock.
 
Well, hey, you may be delivering bit-perfect data to your delta-sigma D/A converter, but the D/A converter itself doesn’t necessarily reproduce the original samples, but rather a mathematical guess, which is why they call them “successive approximation” D/A converters, what about that?
I had to delete Mike Moffat’s response, because even given our name and flippant attitude, it wasn’t appropriate for public consumption. But, here’s the gist: just because you have to cook your turkey in the microwave doesn’t mean you have to run it through a food processor first.
 
But what about Advanced Segment, Super Voodoo, WowieMatic 24/32 bit converters out there?
They’re still delta-sigma. And they’re all lying about 24 bits anyway. A true 24 bit converter would have a -144dB noise floor. The best of the delta-sigma D/A converters are missing at least a couple of bits. Yes, even the “32 bit” ones like ours.
 
I’d rather have a (insert flavor-of-the-month D/A converter IC name here) than AKM, will you make a special board for me?
Do you see a sign that says, “Burger King?”* This ain’t “Have it your way.” Nope, sorry, at this price point, there ain’t no custom.
 
Well then, how about your USB? Is it fully buzzword compliant? 24/192? Async?
It is absolutely buzzword compliant! Not only is it USB async, but it’s USB 2.0 async that’ll do up to 24 bits/192 kHz sampling rates. It works without drivers on Mac and we provide drivers for Windows 8, 7, and XP.
 
How does your USB input compare to a fancy USB-SPDIF converter?
We don’t comment on competitive products, but it’s probably better than most of them.
 
How about Linux and iDevices?
We’ve used Modi on Ubuntu 12.04 and 13.04, and we’ve had owners report that Mint and Debian 3.8 and 3.10 work well. Please note these are “vanilla” installs and we’re not able to provide troubleshooting or support of Linux issues. For iPhones running iOS7, you can connect digitally with the Lightning to USB adapter sold by Apple, but you may need a powered USB hub to avoid the "this device draws too much power" error.

And Android?
Yes. Many Android devices (4.0 and up) can work with our DACs using a USB On The Go Cable and Audio Player Pro app (a paid app, about $10.) You'll need to apply Audio Tweak 1, and you may have to use an externally powered USB 2.0 hub for some phones or tablets that don't supply enough power to run the Modi.

What are your credentials when it comes to digital products?
Well, other than having one of the “fathers of the DAC,” Mike Moffat, formerly of Theta Digital, as a company partner, who created the first standalone digital preamp, made the first DACs with custom digital filters running on Motorola DSPs, was one of the first to measure and minimize jitter, and introduced the first DTS surround processor, and a test suite that includes one of a handful of the lowest-jitter audio analyzers on the market, well, not much.
 
Hey, this Bifrost I got clicks! What’s up with that?
It’s just the muting relay, operating normally. We chose a relay rather than relying on the D/A chip’s soft mute, since it’s safer and less sonically invasive. You'll thank us when you accidentally send some Dolby Digital content down the line and your speakers don't explode because of full-scale noise on the output.
 
*What’s with all the food references? Hell, we don’t know. Maybe we were hungry. This is one of the ways you know you’re dealing with real humans here, rather than faceless corporate drones who’d have to have this copy destroyed by a dozen lawyers.
New York Times
Roy Furchgott

“The crowd favorite…The outstanding difference was that the Bifrost reliably made the soundstage larger in each dimension. Ed Dorsey, co-owner of Soundscape, said that switching from the DAC while listening to a CD of “All Right Now,” a classic rock song by Free, “was like going from stereo to mono.”

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Lifehacker
Alan Henry

 “Schiit doesn’t mess around. Just read through their FAQ page, and specifically their FAQs on the Bifrost—they’re serious about audio, and they don’t pull punches. Just as well—The Bifrost is a powerhouse. It’s actually an upgradable DAC that you can pair with other Schiit audio gear, like their amplifiers. The Bifrost accepts optical, USB, and S/PDIF inputs and outputs via RCA for speakers (so it’s not like the other DACs here, designed to drive headphones). The unit is modular and customizable, so you can get one with or without a USB input card, or upgrade the onboard USB to their Gen2 card.”

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InnerFidelity
Steve Guttenberg

“With a great jazz piano recording, like Milcho Leviev’s Man From Plovdiv I’m so much more aware of the room the piano is in. I sense Leviev’s touch, exactly how hard he’s hitting the keys. Some listeners might confuse this level of hyper detail with a tipped up treble response or bright balance, but the Bifrost is quite neutral. I also equate transparency with low distortion, and here it’s apparent when I compared the Bifrost with another DAC, like the CEntrance DACport ($399). I love that DAC, but the Bifrost is more see-through transparent.

I briefly compared the Bifrost teamed up with the Schiit Valhalla tube headphone amp ($349) with the Antelope Zodiac DAC/headphone amp ($1,500). The Zodiac sounded leaner, dimensionally flatter and generally less engaging. I tried to give it a fair shake, but it couldn’t hold my attention.”

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Absolute Sound
Steven Stone
Best Budget Gear of RMAF: Greatest Bargain (individual product)
 

"The Schitt BiFrost DAC with fully upgradeable/replaceable USB and DAC boards wins this category hands down. It’s the first budget USB DAC that won’t be obsolete in less than a year. For $349 w/o a USB card and $449 with, it makes you wonder why other manufacturers don’t offer obsolescence–proof DACs."

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6moons
Srajan Ebaen

 “Judging the Bifrost purely on its own merits—inserting it into the usual system and leaving it there to play—I quickly forgot about the Eximus DP1. That’s because like Zu’s Essence, Schiit’s DAC covered the timing essentials of continuous flow to avoid all edgy choppiness or pixilation. Yet one never feels shortchanged on organically nutritious calories. This particular take on what’s essential differs from the detail-über-alles obsession that’s currently en vogue.”

 
“From the very beginning it gives us more advanced goods like temporal coherence which has music play straight in the pocket. That the Bifrost can cover those bases for $450 inclusive of asynchronous USB 2.0 is unexpected (192kHz files play without fuss). This catches us up with Schiit’s engineers. Despite dude talk, they know how to tap true essentials even when allowable parts costs are slim.”
 
“The greatest compliment is that in my usual reference system—grotesquely mismatched on price but review etiquette only changes one item at a time—I wasn’t at all unhappy to listen to it.”
 
“USB direct was superior to performing external USB to S/PDIF conversion, then sending the results down two connectors and a digital cable of Stereovox caliber. As a computer audio user I’d thus not worry about the—very minor—trash talk Schiit has aimed at USB in general. Their implementation is clearly solid.”
 
“Given that the Bifrost had to tough it out in my big system rather than via headphones, I was simply more surprised than I perhaps should have been. After all, class A bias, no feedback, discrete FET-based outputs – these are suggestive items with in the right hands predictive outcomes. The Bifrost delivers. It thus plays outside what its spartan appearance or low price might predict.”

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Tone Audio
John Darko
“For listeners that enjoy a warmer musical bath or whose setup is already (over)-enthusiastic at the top end, the Bifrost could well be the DAC to obtain. It doesn’t suffer the usual—and sometimes predictable—sonic compromises commonly found at its price point…”
 
“Additional applause goes to Stoddard and Moffat for making it all happen at a USA-based manufacturing facility. Excellent work, chaps.”

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Head-fi
Skylab

 “The very holographic soundstage on the Porcupine Tree song “Stars Die” was very satisfying, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything via the Bifrost.  It was very well fleshed out, and Steven Wilson’s voice was well defined and centered, versus the much more spread out harmony vocals.”

“First, the Bifrost absolutely stomps the iStreamer.  The iStreamer seems grainy, veiled, threadbare, and thin sounding by comparison.  It’s not even close.”

“Frankly, the Bifrost turned me off so much to the Havana that I sold it.  It’s just too colored, in the end.  Pretty sounding, but untruthful.  The Bifrost is more truthful, even if sometimes there is less beauty in the truth.”
 
“At its price, it is a very nice piece of kit, and a good value. Schiit should be commended for providing a high performance product at this price.”

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Stereophile
Jon Iverson

Stereophile Recommended Component, Class B!

"Regardless of price, the Schiit Bifrost is a carefully designed and beautifully built DAC. I can see its appeal. In fact, the Bifrost has the highest ratio of value to price of any product I've reviewed."

 
"...when we drop to DACs for $1000 or less—where, let's face it, sonic compromises are unavoidable—the Bifrost with Uber Analog upgrade is near the top of the stack. For around $449 or $519, depending on whether or not the USB option is fitted, it shoots over the top. And at the price, you won't find anything better built."
 
"Put the Schiit Bifrost with Uber Analog board on your short list."

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Another Knockout Award from Digital Audio Review
John Darko

"Right now the Bifrost Uber w/ Gen 2 USB is without peer; it’s my goto recommendation for ANYONE seeking out a high quality decoder at five hundred clams."

 

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Positive Feedback: Neoteric Listener
Dean Seislove

"I compared the Schiit combo with other headphone amp/DAC solutions. Travel size contenders included the Light Harmonic Geek Out, CEntrance DACport LX, the aforementioned ADL X1, and the Devilsound DAC v2.1. The larger amp/DACs used included the Audioengine D2 and Peachtree Audio iNova integrated...the Lyr 2 and Bifrost Uber DAC simply bests the competition in every aspect that matters. The Schiit opened the soundstage dramatically to fill the headphones with space and sound, as if the musicians stopped playing in the backstage waiting room and started again on the stage."

 

"All three Schiit products [Lyr 2, Bifrost Uber, Valhalla 2] are stellar accomplishments that should please even the fussiest headphone audio enthusiast."

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