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Mjolnir is the only dedicated headphone amp using an Circlotron-style topology with high-voltage JFET inputs and MOSFET outputs. Unlike other balanced headphone amps, Mjolnir is not simply two of the same amps in a box, with one run inverted. It’s a unique, inherently balanced stage that delivers both low complexity and very high performance.
“So what the heck does that mean in English?” You ask. Here it is: 8 times the output power, 8X lower distortion, and less noise than Asgard. Mjolnir is a super-powerful amp, but it’s also quiet enough to be used with the most sensitive headphones. And, since it’s all solid-state, it’s set-and forget. No tubes to replace. No tube rolling.
So, what’s the catch? Only this: Mjolnir is ONLY a balanced amp. There are no single-ended outputs. Welcome to the wonders of cross-shunt push-pull topologies.
No-Excuses, End-Game Balanced Amp
You won’t find any balanced-to-single-ended conversion or vice-versa in Mjolnir. It’s balanced in and balanced out, with a 4-gang RK27 Alps volume pot--providing end-game performance for a mid-level price.
High Power for Any Headphones
High-gain amps can be noisy. This doesn’t matter for low-efficiency orthodynamics, but if you have, say, Denons, it may not be ideal. Mjolnir delivers both 8W RMS per channel, and exceptionally low noise.
Unique, Simple Crossfet™ Topology
Mjolnir is the only dedicated headphone amp using a Circlotron-style, or cross-shunt push-pull topology. This Crossfet™ topology allows us to use only N-channel MOSFETs, for better matching and lower distortion. It also significantly simplifies the output stage.
Fully Discrete, DC-In and DC-Out Design
Mjolnir uses high-voltage JFETs running on 90V rails to achieve low distortion with only a single voltage gain stage and no feedback. It’s also DC-coupled at both input and output, with a precision DC servo and relay protection for all outputs.
Mjolnir 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. As close-out products, though, there is no 15-day return offered.
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-400KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 8.0W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 5.0W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 850mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 425mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.006%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.008%, CCIF
SNR: >104db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-75dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: 1.5 ohms
Gain: 8 (18db)
Topology: Fully discrete FET, cross-shunt push-pull Crossfet output stage, no overall feedback, noninverting, single voltage gain stage
Power Supply: specific Circlotron 4-primary output stage transformer with over 65,000uF filter capacitance, plus dedicated transformer for high-voltage asymmetrical discrete-regulated front end stage with 90V/25V rails and over 15,000uf of filter capacitance
Inputs: one pair balanced XLR, one pair single-ended RCAs, choose one
Outputs: one 4-pin balanced female XLR, one pair dual 3-pin female XLR, and one pair male XLR preamp outs
Power Consumption: 45W
Size: 16 x 8.75 x 2.25”
Weight: 13 lbs
All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer
Muh-, uh, muggle-, uh, I mean, how the hell do you pronounce this damn name anyway?
Say “mule-ner.” We’re sure it’s not quite the correct Norse pronunciation, but hey, it’s close enough.
What the heck, why such a stupid name?
It ain’t stupid. Mjolnir is Thor’s hammer. Which is a very appropriate name for a headphone amp putting out 8 watts RMS per channel into 32 ohms (or 5W into 50 ohms, for most popular orthos.)
I thought you guys already had a powerful amp. Why another?
Because we like the near-infinite headroom a powerful amp can provide. And we like the noise floor of solid state. Consider this: even though Mjolnir puts out more power than Lyr, it’s quieter than Asgard. Go ahead and use it on super-sensitive cans!
Whoa, a serious answer. What’s with that?
Aliens. Definitely aliens. We’re all pod people now.
Okay, fine, another balanced amp. Who cares?
Wait a sec, bub! This isn’t just another balanced amp where they throw two of the same gain stages in and run one inverted. It isn’t a balanced-to-single-ended-to-balanced amp either. It’s a real balanced amp from input to output, and it’s the only dedicated headphone amp based on a Circlotron-style topology.
What the hell is a Circlotron, and why do I need it?
“Circlotron” was the first commercial name for a cross-shunt push-pull output stage. At the time, it used tubes. We use JFET inputs and MOSFET outputs, so we call our topology Crossfet™.
Crossfet™? Are the FETs angry?
No. They’re thrilled. N-channel MOSFETs and P-channel MOSFETs usually don’t match too well (and that’s putting it mildly.) Crossfet allows us to use only N-Channel MOSFETs, for better matching, and for an elegantly simple output stage with great performance.
So, besides this Crossfet thing, what you got goin for ya?
High-voltage JFET front-end, with low distortion from an open-loop, single-gain-stage design.
You’re speaking too much engineerese!
We know. Sorry about that. Too much time behind the bench. You don’t get a chance to see those alien pods sneaking up on you. But, to translate: a high-voltage front end allows us to have better performance in the range the JFETs operate in. This means THD of less than 0.006% at 1V across the audio band, as compared to Asgard’s 0.06%.
Oh crap, you’re meter-readers now!
There’s nothing wrong with using measurements to improve designs, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to start using op-amps and bragging about parts-per-million THD. We still have ears.
Why no single-ended outputs?
The circlotron-style topology is inherently balanced. You can’t get a single-ended output from it easily. To do that, we’d have to have an entirely separate gain stage, or sum the outputs, or have some kinda wacked out output-stage-switching arrangement—all of which we tried, and decided they screwed up the basic performance of the amp too much. So, no single-ended, sorry.
That’s cool, I’ll just use an adapter for my single-ended headphones, right?
One word: boom. Well, not actually, but you will trigger the internal protection.
You know, this sucker runs warm?
Yeah, and let us refer you to the Asgard . . .
High Fidelity Magazine
“…not even the best speakers ever gave me such incredible insight into the music as Mjolnir driving LCD3 did.”
“Not only the bottom played by this new Schiit is so amazing, spectacular, but the treble as well. Even though some people claim that Audeze cans sound bit dark, but in fact there is absolutely nothing missing in the treble, that is extended to the very top, very detailed but also very rich, dense and smooth…Details are exposed, presented in a more distinct way, music starts to… shine with that wonderful ‘magical’ halo, that makes you open your eyes wider, and your heart bit fast when a stick hits a cymbal, or triangle, or bell and suddenly you can ‘see’ the air vibrating, and hear the decay suspended in this air almost indefinitely.”
“What about midrange?…there was nothing special about it – by that I mean that it was exactly as it was supposed to be – palpable, rich, colorful, with great resolution and so on – fabulous in one word, like in the real life. I can’t remember such a palpable, intimate contact with human voices as relayed by LCD3 driven by Mjolnir.”
“Many companies after creating such a great performer as Mjolnir would call it the end-game performer, place a sticker with at least 2k USD on it and just kept delivering and checking their bank account. But that not the way of Schiit Audio…Mjolnir already seems to be a complete, amazingly well sounding device, and it’s hard to imagine what could get even better.”
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Audiophile Perspectives Quarterly
Sir Denis Eton-Hogg
“Indeed the Schiit may appear at times, depending upon the structural counterpoise of one’s favored transducer, to be ever so slightly dogmatically vigilant in rendering the tone colour of a multitude of musical instruments and human voice.”
Of course, this person and journal are entirely fictional. However, this is a real review from an experienced reviewer. Thank Purrin at Changstar.com for the quote.
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"Getting involved with the music is important, and I found that whatever music I played through the Mjolnir, it pulled me in. One of the amp's strengths, besides the dark background, was keeping up the rhythmic pace and timing."
"In the end, this amp gives you the tools to make up a serious listening package. Schiit Audio definitely put time in creating something that is capable of making someone happy for the foreseeable future. What is even better is that both guys are determined to provide the best customer service and support."
"Thor's hammer delivers and strikes a blow for those looking to go balanced and have a sneaking suspicion that a little more power is necessary to make your headphones come alive."
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Head-Fi Summer 2013 Buyer's Guide
"The Mjolnir is awesome. It's very powerful, yet exceptionally quiet (in terms of background noise). With 8W RMS per channel, it'll drive pretty much any headphone (not including electrostats, of course). Though it'll drive just about anything, what I have plugged into it pretty much all the time are a variety of planar magnetic headphones. My favorite headphone to pair with the Mjolnir so far is the Audeze LCD-3, the pair of them making for a forceful, highly resolving, world-class powerhouse of a system."
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Note: original review is in French. This is a machine translation of a few highlights.
"Sound reproduction of the highest level, even exceptional as we have said, the Scottish Fantasy Bruch, so which one is immersed in a musical flow of beauty with a violin who sings beautifully, accompanied by an orchestra a sumptuous beauty, even pushing the level where any time the strong do not give the impression that Thor's hammer will fall on our heads. Great art.
And as the music is not just that Max Bruch and Vivaldi, dives us in hyper synthetic sounds worked on the album Random Access Memories Daft Punk we almost rediscovered with Mjolnir amplifier (headphones There is a bit for something too).
In conclusion, single amplifier in the world to offer a real symmetric amplification using a proprietary schema for headphone listening, the Schiit Mjolnir won us the highest point of its outstanding sound performance, and also for the rest! Congratulations, Schiit, and big big Qobuzissime award!"
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