Ragnarok

INTELLIGENT AMPLIFIER FOR HEADPHONES & SPEAKERS

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$1,699

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Backordered, shipping by week of  July 14th


Ragnarok is the first truly universal amplifier, fully capable of powering everything from IEMs to loudspeakers. With up to 100 watts per channel into 4 ohms, 3 selectable gains, a sophisticated relay-switched stepped attenuator volume control, complete microprocessor management of all operational points, including bias and DC offset, and Schiit’s Crossfet™ circlotron-style output topology, Ragnarok completely befits its name—in Norse legend, Ragnarok was the “end of the world.”

From IEMs to Loudspeakers
Go ahead. Plug in your sensitive headphones and set Ragnarok’s gain to 1. You’ll enjoy a silent background, and the fine control that a 64-step attenuator can provide. Or run it with the most power-hungry orthos you know. With gain set at 20, and 15W RMS into 32 ohms, you’re ready for an amazing performance. Speakers? No problem. With 60W per channel into 8 ohms, Ragnarok delivers amazing performance with most popular speakers.
 
A Complete Integrated Amp
Ragnarok includes 5 relay-switched inputs—two balanced and three single-ended, as well as balanced and single-ended preamp outputs for use as a preamp. For outputs, both balanced and single-ended outputs are provided for headphones, and balanced speaker terminal outputs for loudspeakers.
 
Nothing In the Signal Path Except Signal
Ragnarok is an "intelligent" amplifier, using a microprocessor to oversee every aspect of its operation—from quiescent bias, to DC offset, to complete fault protection. It’s also designed so that any major problem mutes all the outputs and reverts the amp to its low-gain, zero volume mode. This means we can dispense with coupling caps and DC servos entirely, for a gain stage that has nothing in the signal path—except for your music.
 
Made in USA 
By “made in USA,” we mean made in USA. Ragnarok is built to order in Valencia, CA, by our most experienced assemblers, subjected to a rigorous series of both instrumented and listening tests, and burnt in for 100+ hours before being re-tested and shipped. As with all of our products, the vast majority of the total production cost of Ragnarok—chassis, boards, transformers, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our board house is 20 minutes away from our office in Newhall. Our chassis guys are just over the hill in the Valley.
 
5-Year Warranty
Ragnarok is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for five years. That’s 5 years. Yes. FIVE. Which is up to 5X that of our competition, if you weren’t so hot at math. Note the marketing weasel-wording “up to.”
 
15-Day Satisfaction Guarantee
Try Ragnarok in your own house for 15 days. If you don’t like it, simply send it back for a refund, minus a 5% transaction fee. Try spending 15 days in an audio store. They’ll kick you out. Unless you buy them donuts. Maybe.
 
On B Stock
When we have products with minor cosmetic flaws, we will sell them here as "B-Stock". If you choose the B-Stock option to save some money, please note that it is not eligible for the 15-day return. However, the full warranty applies.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.25db, 2Hz-110KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 4 ohms: 100W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 8 ohms: 60W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 15W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 10W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 1.7W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 850mW RMS per channel
THD: Less than 0.006%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: Less than 0.008%, CCIF at 1V RMS, high gain mode (worst case)
SNR: More than 103db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, in gain = 1 mode
Crosstalk: Less than -80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: 0.03 ohms
Gain: 20 (26dB), 5 (14dB), 1 (0db) via front panel switch. 
Topology: Fully discrete Crossfet™ circlotron-style output stage with solid state voltage gain stage, microprocessor management of quiescent current and DC offset, as well as discrete summing stages for single-ended output
Protection: microprocessor monitoring of fault conditions including DC, overcurrent, and transient phenomena, with relay muting on any fault.
Power Supply: 400VA transformer with 4 separate circlotron output rails, plus 56VA separate transformer for high voltage rails; seven separate regulated supplies for front end and control section; over 100,000uF filter capacitance total.
Power Consumption: 75W quiescent, 500W max
Size: 16 x 12 x 3.75”
Weight: 32 lbs

So is this a integrated amp, or a headphone amp?
Yes and yes.

So which one is it?
Both.
 
Well, I’m an old-school audiophile who doesn’t like this “do-all” idea. How can it be a great integrated amp and a great headphone amp at the same time?
How can your phone be a phone and a compass and a camera and a voice recorder? It’s magic. 
 
No, seriously.
Because there’s really no difference between a great integrated amp and a great headphone amp, except for the special care and feeding needed for very sensitive headphones—IEMs need a low-noise amp with fine-grained volume control, while speakers need more brute force. We found that by incorporating multiple gain levels with a relay-switched stepped attenuator, we could create an amp that is truly universal—from sensitive headphones to speakers.
 
Well, I already got a 1979 receiver with a headphone out and speaker outs, whatcha think about that?
We think good for you! People should keep their gear longer. However, your receiver has little in common with Ragnarok—the headphone outputs may be run from a resistor divider, or may be a separate low-power op-amp circuit. Ragnarok uses the same balanced output stage for both speakers and headphones—there is no difference.
 
Wait, I thought you said circlotrons didn’t do single-ended output?
They don’t. That’s why Ragnarok has separate discrete summing circuits to transform its balanced output back to single-ended, for single-ended headphones and for RCA outputs. 
 
What if I want to run speakers and headphones together?
Sure, no problem. You can also run just speaker output or just headphone output by holding down the source select button. Ragnarok will cycle through all three modes.
 
Talk to me about this relay-switched stepped attenuator thing. What is that?
It’s a volume control. Unlike the continuous, potentiometer-based volume controls in all of our other amps, it uses relays to switch in and out a set of precision resistors based on the volume setting on the front panel. The result is perfect channel tracking down to very low levels, with 64 steps of 1.2dB available at each gain level—much more than most stepped attenuators. Note that our attenuator also works just like a regular potentiometer—there are no continually-spinning encoders, but an actual knob with stops at the low end and high end of the gain.
 
Let’s talk "intelligent" microprocessors. What’s the big deal?
Lots of amps use microprocessors to oversee their fault protection. That’s fancy speak for when you accidentally short the speaker wires together. But Ragnarok goes much farther than that. It uses a 16-bit PIC micro controller and 12-bit DACs to monitor and regulate all operational points of the amplifier, including quiescent current, DC offset, and overcurrent protection. It samples key operational points about 30 times a second, and provides continuously updated control inputs to the gain stage about 3 times per second (or faster, in the case of a fault.) The benefits of this are threefold:
 
1. Ragnarok's operating points are set in stone. They won't drift over time. Once it's on, and the control system has settled to its thermal operating point, Ragnarok's performance is consistent and predictable.
 
2. We can throw out the DC servo entirely. DC servos are a technique that many amps use to eliminate DC offset on the output without coupling capacitors. A good DC servo is very good, but the best DC servo is no DC servo at all. Ragnarok’s signal path is DC-coupled from input to output, with no DC servo—and no worries that the DC operating point will drift over time.
 
3. If there is ever any fault (shorted speaker cables, Dr. Pepper spill through the top grate, AC power loss, etc), Ragnarok is engineered to provide a hard shutdown to protect speakers and headphones—disconnecting all outputs, reducing the input volume to minimum, and defaulting to the lowest gain mode.
 
Is this a Class A amp?
For most headphones, this is technically a Class A amp. It runs about 4W of Class A bias. For speakers, it reverts to Class AB operation.
 
Q: Over the past decade and a half, I have been assembling the highest-performance system in the universe, comprised of a Scintillant Mega-Complex Uber-Transport, a Pinnacassio Modum 14 TransQuantum DAC, quad Puissance Series Seven Monoblocks (Rev 2 with new Series Z Output Transformers, hand-wound by Buddhist monks, of course), Bi-wired through Cantessa Gate Limited Edition Oxidized Gold cables to Stratoz Kemplaflammar Gas-Plasma full-range speakers. Do you think your new amp has the performance to match this system, and why? Please include a 1550-word or more dissertation on the design principles employed in this amplifier, including cryo-treating (which components), types of premium fuses used, type of wiring used internally, whether or not the PC board has been treated for maximum neutrality in a Black Gate Field, and other important considerations.
A: What? I fell asleep reading this.
 
Q: Ahem, I am a very important person! I have spend $55,000 last year alone in assembling the ultimate listening system on planet Earth. I—
A: Ah, right. Gotcha. Unfortunately, we are not qualified to dispense psychoactive medications nor consult in matters of psychology. Nor do our products come with a psychologist, either standard or as an option. The shipping is brutal, and the psychologists don’t like it too much.
 
Q: Why, I never! What cheek! I will tell all my friends about your lack of respect for a true audiophile! You’ll never work in this town again!
A: Cool. Please do. Remind them we make cheap gear, maybe they need presents for their less-fortunate relatives.
 
Q: No audio component should cost this much! This is absolutely outrageous! If you apply the principles of transparency espoused by M. David Gartner, Senior, M.Sc. Ph.D, author of the book, Audio Can and Should be Be Hella Cheep, then all you need is a couple of op-amps and some LM7815s. This thing could cost $50! And it’d probably perform better! All you guys are just using snake oil to pull the wool over our eyes and deceive less discerning audiophiles! all just a bunch of poorly-engineered hoo-ha, and it’ll probably just blow up your speakers!
A: Was there a question there?
 
Q: Ah. Well. But it’s outrageous, you see! You’re ripping people off! You could do this a lot cheaper if you just used 40-cent op-amps and 10-cent regulators in a plastic chassis. How can making something like this possibly be fair? 
A: Corvette. Viper.
 
Q: Corvette Viper what?
A: You can get around town just as well in a 10-year-old Civic as a Corvette or Viper.

Q: I fail to see the connection here!
A: You can rail against people buying expensive cars all you want, you can show them all the charts and graphs that they won’t get there any faster in their Corvette or Viper or Porsche or Mercedes or Bentley or what-have-you, you can regurgitate all the Consumer Reports stuff you want showing how high-end cars just cost a lot more money to buy and repair and maintain and insure and that in the end they don’t do a damn thing for the owner’s ego or attractiveness to the opposite sex. And you know what? They’ll still want the Corvette, Mercedes, Porsche, whatever. Same with audio. Bottom line, there’s great stuff available very inexpensively, and there are options that cost a lot more.
 
Q: Well, I’ll still never buy your stuff! What do you think about that?
A: You wouldn’t anyway. 
Ragnarok Review from Jude Mansilla (Founder, Head-Fi.org)
Jude Mansilla

"The Schiit Audio Ragnarok is neutral and dazzlingly revealing of the music you feed it. It's capable of lifting veils you may not have known were there, and scaring away the discordant sounds of bad pairings with a few headphones that have earned reputations for being very challenging mates. When it does these things--when it allows the great headphones to be great--it's capable of helping convey some pretty heady high-end Summit-Fi sound.

 
What makes the Ragnarok even more of a keeper are those loudspeaker outputs out back. I hitched up one of my pairs of KEF LS50 loudspeakers to the Ragnarok using Nordost Frey 2 speaker cables, and the results with the Ragnarok have been impressive enough to keep one of my two beloved pairs of LS50's--easily one of the best sounding mini-monitor type loudspeakers I've heard at any price--permanently tethered to the Ragnarok.
 
Is the Ragnarok Summit-Fi stuff? Oh yeah. Big time. Do I recommend it? Unhesitatingly. To do all it does, as fantastically as it does it, for only $1699, makes it a remarkable high-end value."

Read Full Review ->

Changstar Sneak Peak: Ragnarok
Marv Chen, Founder, Changstar.com
"Rag is astonishing. Bass, mids, treble. Love the bite. Love the clang and attack of metal percussion. Love the smack of the snares. If you want something forgiving, this amp is not for you. Yet so smooth. No grain. Electrons sliding on smooth ice rather than being forced through a layer of sand. I've heard many claims of other amps being "transparent", but that usually equates to antiseptic or sometimes just downright nasty (blaming the source, transducers, whatever, etc.) I've never heard anything transparent, but the beauty of the Rag's treble is its honesty without adding anything. It's like the real thing. Real rock concerts, in the local tavern, with a ton of treble, a lot of treble energy, cymbals crashing, drumsticks smacking against the rim of the snare, yet it doesn't hurt.
 
Mids are not lush. They are not bloomy. But you can hear the smoke arising from David Byrnes' throat. Liquid smoke. Blackness, sounds arising from nothing and decaying back to nothing. Fast. Out of nowhere. So clean - and also the space in between sounds. Bass is nuanced. Varying volumes. Sustain. Timbre, pitch down low - not thuds. You can hear how the bass drums and toms are tuned. I'm sitting in the first row. I close my eyes and realize the stage is deeper than I though yesterday - just that I'm sitting in the front row. Crank it up - loud - louder - not a problem - so refreshing since I've never been table to do that with the flea powered tube amps.
 
SUBLIME."
 

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Headphone.Guru Writer's Choice Award
Dubstep Girl

"One of my favorite headphone amplifiers of all time is the Headamp GSX MK2. It is still my reference solid-state amplifier and can drive almost any headphone to its full potential. The sound is almost perfect: neutral and grain-free with a tiny hint of warmth and enough speed and dynamics to avoid any congestion. The Schiit Ragnarok which was just recently released, is very, very good and is near identical in sound to the GSX; in fact, I myself was unable to tell them apart in a side-by-side blind test comparison! Careful listening told me that the Ragnarok had a more punchy and authoritative bass and the GSX had a more refined high end, but the differences were so small it might have just been my mind playing tricks on me.

The Ragnarok costs only $1700, which is over $1000 less than the GSX and performs much better than any other solid-state I’ve heard at this price; and it can drive speakers too! For me, this is a no brainer.

Schiit Audio has finally created a high-end statement amp that like many of their other products, is practical, affordable, and offers tremendous value for the money. The Schiit Ragnarok receives my highest recommendation for Product of the Year. 

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CNET Audiophiliac Component of the Year
Steve Guttenberg

 First-ever "Audiophiliac Component of the Year" for Ragnarok

"Magnepans aren't known for their bass prowess, but teamed with the Ragnarok the .7's low-end was magnificent. Even so, the .7 still isn't a rock-and-roller's dream speaker, but bass oomph was ahead of what I've heard from the .7 speakers with reasonably priced amps."

"Paired with my KEF LS50 bookshelf speakers again the Ragnarok kicked butt, the speakers really came alive with this amp, dynamics and bass slam were hugely impressive for a small speaker. I also had great results with my Zu Druid V speakers, and it's with those speakers I totally rocked out with the Ragnarok. Bass punch, truly visceral dynamics, combined with a sweet midrange tonality were the fruits of this amp/speaker combo."

 

"My high-end headphones from Abyss, Audeze, Hifiman, MrSpeakers and Sennheiser can all be fitted with balanced cables with XLR plugs, so I was eager to hear how the Ragnarok would sound with them, and yes sir, the amp's transparency was exceptional. Throw the hardest to drive headphones at the Ragnarok, and it'll take them all in stride."

"It would be worth the price if it were just a headphone amp, but it also does an exceptional job with speakers."

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Stereophile
Herb Reichert

"The Schiit Audio Ragnarok plus KEF LS50s ($1299) is the most enjoyable stereo system I've used in the 21st century."

"Even if the Ragnarok were only a headphone amp or only a loudspeaker amp, it would be worth more than $1700."

"Most important, it's the first amplifier of my experience that plays earth and sky, mind and body, brown eyes and blue, speakers and headphones, with equal narcotic intensity. It likes every type of music."

 

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