Status: backordered. Orders placed now expected to ship in approximately 3 weeks.
Forget everything you know about DACs. Yggdrasil is the world’s only closed-form multibit DAC, delivering 21 bits of resolution with no guessing anywhere in the digital or analog path. We’ve thrown out delta-sigma D/As and traditional digital filters to preserve the original samples all the way through from input to output. Let’s take a closer look:
Closed-Form Digital Filter Preserves Original Samples
Most DACs simply use the stock digital filters embedded in their D/A converters. But even the most sophisticated ones, using their own digital filter algorithms, don’t have what Yggdrasil has—a time- and frequency-domain optimized digital filter with a true closed-form solution. This means it retains all the original samples, performing a true interpolation. This digital filter gives you the best of both NOS (all original samples retained) and upsampling (easier filtering of out-of-band noise) designs—and it is only available on Yggdrasil.
21 Bits, No Guessing: Mission-Critical D/A Technology
When doctors are trying to diagnose whether you have gas or cancer from MRI results, or when the military is trying to ensure a missile hits an ammo dump and not a nunnery next door, they don’t use “24 bit” or “32 bit” delta-sigma D/A converters. Instead, they rely on precision, multibit ladder DACs, like the Analog Devices AD5791. This allows them the bit-perfect precision they need for critical applications, rather than the guesswork of a delta-sigma. We chose this same critical technology for Yggdrasil. Following these unique D/A converters are sophisticated discrete JFET buffers and summers.
Adapticlock and USB Gen 3: Advanced Input Optimization
Yggdrasil accepts up to 5 digital inputs and carefully manages them with our Adapticlock™ clock regeneration system. Adapticlock is the most sophisticated clock management system in the world. It assesses the quality of all inputs, measures their incoming center frequency and jitter, and automatically routes the input to the best clock regeneration system. Yggdrasil also features our all-new USB Gen 3 input module, for exceptional USB input performance.
Made in USA
By “made in USA,” we mean made in USA. The vast majority of the total production cost of Yggdrasil—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.
Yggdrasil 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 Yggdrasil 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.
So this is your bestest brightest DAC? For only $2299?
Yes. We don't believe in fancy casework, nor in blingy displays, nor in any kind of complication that just ups the price for the sake of upping the price. So yes, this is our top DAC. A DAC that can look any other DAC in the world in the face and not flinch. That is, if it was human. And if DACs had faces. Hell, you know what we mean.
How can this possibly be better than, say, the Arglebargle $15,000 DAC when this is so much less expensive?
Because the Arglebargle was most likely designed to the expectations of today, using commonly available parts in a super-fancy case, while we started with a clean sheet of paper.
But the Arglebargle has like twelve 32-bit DACs in it! Yours only has 21 bits! Hell, that’s not a full 24 bits even! What about my 24-bit recordings?
If your 24 bit recordings actually have 24 bits of resolution, we’ll eat a hat. And those "32-bit" DACs? Well, they have this measurement known as “equivalent number of bits.” This means, in English, how many bits of resolution they really have. And that number is 19.5. And 21 is better than 19.5, in all the math books we know.
But it’s only 21 bits! I can’t get over that!
We can’t get over the fact that delta-sigma DACs throw away all the original samples. Different strokes for different folks.
What about DSD?
Yggdrasil won’t do DSD, no way, no how.
But what if I want DSD?
If DSD becomes a significant part of the market, where “significant” is defined as “more than 1% of total sales,” then we will support it via a separate dedicated DSD decoding box. Today, when it is less than 0.01% of recorded music, well, hey, we're not so interested.
What? But I hear DSD is the future!
Yeah, and reel-to-reel was the future in the 1970s, and it’s dead now, and DAT was the future in the 1980s, and it’s dead now, and HDCD was the future in the 1990s, and it’s dead now, and SACD was the future in the 2000s, and it’s dead now. But, let's say Sony suddenly opens their vaults and offers 30,000 DSD albums with guaranteed direct-from-DSD provenance at $5.99 each, and Apple starts streaming DSD as its de facto format for iTunes, (yes, we know, stop laughing) then hey, Yggy is fully upgradable...and then we just change it up to be the best DSD DAC out there.
What’s this bullschiit about a closed form digital filter, and why does it matter?
Most digital filters destroy the original samples in the process of upsampling. They’re just like sample rate converters or delta-sigma DACs. We’re all about the original samples, so we created a digital filter with a true closed-form solution, which means it retains all the original samples. This is a major difference between Yggdrasil and every other DAC in the world.
I don't believe you!
Then ask Mike Moffat, the father of audiophile digital playback, about his 5-year quest to perfect this digital filter, involving 1917 Western Electric papers on pulse-code modulation, a professor emeritus of mathematics who devised a way to get around the divide-by-zero problem, a RAND corp mathematician to implement it, and a master programmer to get it to run on our SHARC processor engine. In his words:
"The below are the claims of the digital filter/interpolator/sample rate converter in Yggy:
1. The filter is absolutely proprietary.
2. The development tools and coefficient calculator to derive the above filters are also proprietary.
3. The math involved in developing the filter and calculating has a closed form solution. It is not an approximation, as all other filters I have studied (most, if not all of them). Therefore, all of the original samples are output. This could be referred to fairly as bit perfect; what comes in goes out.
4. Oversimplified, however essentially correct: The filter is also time domain optimized which means the phase info in the original samples are averaged in the time domain with the filter generated interpolated samples to for corrected minimum phase shift as a function of frequency from DC to the percentage of nyquist - in our case .968. Time domain is well defined at DC - the playback device behaves as a window fan at DC - it either blows (in phase) or sucks (out). It is our time domain optimization that gives the uncanny sonic hologram. (It also allows the filter to disappear. Has to be heard to understand.) Since lower frequency wavelengths are measured in tens of feet, placement in image gets increasingly wrong as a function of decreasing frequency in non time domain optimized recordings - these keep the listener's ability to hear the venue - not to mention the sum of all of the phase errors in the microphones, mixing boards, eq, etc on the record side. An absolute phase switch is of little to no value in a non time domain optimized, stochastic time domain replay system. It makes a huge difference with an Yggy.
5. This is combined with a frequency domain optimization which does not otherwise affect the phase optimization. The 0.968 of Nyquist also gives us a small advantage that none of the off-the shelf FIR filters (0.907) provide: frequency response out to 21.344KHz, 42.688KHz, 85.3776KHz, and 170.5772KHz bandwidth for native 1,2,4, and 8x 44.1KHz SR multiple recordings - the 48KHz table is 23.232, 46.464, 92.868, and 185.856KHz respectively for 1,2,4, and 8x. This was the portion of the filter that had the divide by zero problem which John Lediaev worked out, to combine with #4 above AND retain the original samples.
This is what other DACs typically offer:
1. Frequency domain optimization FIR filters with Parks-McClellan optimization. The development tools for these types of filters can be downloaded for a price range of free to $300 on the internet. Parks-McClellan is the goto filter optimization for audio design. These filters are derived with no closed form math; only successive approximation. The original samples are lost. The output is approximated. An educated guess. This optimization is ubiquitous in the front end of delta sigma dacs as well as standalone digital filters. While there is no inherent phase shift within Parks-McClellan filters, there is no optimization of phase either. The listener is left with what remains from the mixing boards, transducers, brick-wall filters, etc which can and usually do destroy proper phase/position information. Finally, it is processor efficient and economical to implement. Read cheap.
Any avoidance of the Parks-McClellan pablum requires a lot of original DSP work. Am I a prophet who received the tablets from God or some other high-end audio drivel. Hell, no. I was the producer and director of this project and worked with Dave Kerstetter (hardware-software), John Lediaev (Math), Tom Lippiat (DSP Code), Warren Goldman (Coefficient Generator and development tools) for a total of 15 or so man years. These folks either taught math at The University of Iowa, Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University, worked at think tanks like the Rand Corporation – you get the idea. We did this for no money - What we all had in common was that we loved audio. All other audio pros were interested in Parks-McClellan and pointed and laughed at us. That's the way it happened.
It was worth it, every hour, day, and year. So go for it if you want. For what it is, it is not a lot of money."
I still don't believe you!
You won't anyway. Why waste more time talking? Anyone else have any real questions?
Sure, how about the DACs and analog stage?
The DACs we're using—AD5791—were billed as "the industry's first true 20-bit DAC" by Analog Devices when it was introduced in 2010. Note the words "first" and "true." This is not 20-bit as defined for audio applications, this is not 24-bit delta-sigma, this is not (nudge, snicker) "32 bit" complete fantasy stuff. These DACs have never been used in an audio product until now. Normally, they are used for medical device imaging and weapons targeting—applications in which accuracy is absolutely paramount. Now, we're using 4 of the highest-spec AD5791BRUZ in this product—2 each per channel, for true differential hardware balanced design. Beyond that, an uber-simple discrete JFET buffer stage and discrete JFET summers (for the single-ended output) complete the picture.
So why haven't the AD5791s been used before?
Because they require very, very special care and feeding. AD5791s aren't "bolt in and go" DACs, with pleasant little paint-by-numbers application notes for use with audio. They don't even accept normal digital audio formats. Managing their use with multiple input bit depths and sample rates is, well, challenging. And special care has to be taken with their output. Plus, people are more focused on silly claims like "32-bit" DACs and "Giga-Rate" DSD. "21 real bits," doesn't sound real sexy in that context.
Wait, what is this about 32-bit music?
How much 32 bit music do you have? (Not that it will ever exist—we can't get the noise floor that low. Period. Unless Dr. Who pays us a visit and drops some alien tech on us...) Also, how many giga-rate DSD recordings do you have? None, because they don't exist.
You guys are crazy!
Yes. We know that. And so are you. You're considering a $2,300, 25-lb product that does the same basic thing as a $0.32 chip in your iPhone.
So why would I want this instead of the 24-bit DAC in my iPhone?
Okay, fine, I get the picture. Change of subject: is this thing upgradable?
Yes. Like all of our DACs from Bifrost and up, Yggdrasil is built for the future. The main board is nothing more than a motherboard and power supply. From there, separate, plug-in modules are used for the input board, the USB board, the processor/DSP board, and the separate analog boards. This means that any part of Yggdrasil can be updated as standards change. Better USB? Sure. Better SPDIF? Sure. More processing power? Sure. Different DAC and analog section? Sure. This is one DAC you won't be throwing away when things change.
The Absolute Sound's 10 Most Significant Products
In The Absolute Sound's show report for Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, Yggdrasil was chosen as one of the "10 Most Significant Products."
"Schiit is one of those companies whose products have an edge. For RMAF Schiit introduced a new flagship DAC, the Yggodrasil (say that fast three times) that is touted as “the world’s only bit-perfect DAC.” To achieve this lofty goal the Yggodrasil uses proprietary “adapti-clock” topology combined with VCO and VCXO re-clocking. The DAC’s analog stage uses differential current-feedback topology with a fully discrete design populated by both JFET and bipolar transistors. For $2299 the Yggdrasil delivers a lot of unique technology and flexible functionality. It sounded great driving a pair of Audeze LCD-2 headphones."
Read Full Review ->
A Short Preview of Your Next DAC
"tl;dr: Buy this DAC*. Spot on tonality, perfect timbre, perfect rendition of every freaking detail you could ever want, speed, resolution, I’ve never heard anything like it."
"I firmly believe Schiit’s claim that the Yggdrasil “resets the bar for DACs” to be accurate. Without DSD support, without noise-shaping, the Yggdrasil shames every DAC I’ve had the pleasure of auditioning. Forget high res files, I don’t think I’ve ever truly heard 16 perfect bits before.
The Yggdrasil really kicks ass: gobs of detail, from the particular character of tizzy noise of the tape in a Tom Petty recording (yes you could hear it), to the quick little breaths (not the big ones) Gil Shaham takes as he’s getting into something extremely complicated, it’s all there. Perfect tonality, with bass hitting hard and deep, Isaac 'Dickie' Freeman’s voice really comes alive when listening. The sense of space is ridiculous; I can pick out where the audience members are cheering from in Live in Japan.
I think exploring my experiences with my system now that the Yggdrasil is gone from my rack is the best way to understand how phenomenal a DAC the Yggy really is. All of my music feels a little lifeless and I can't find myself enjoying the same recordings that I listened to during my extended audition. Details are just missing (I'm straining to find them and coming up short) and that sense of cohesiveness and realism I got with the Yggdrasil is just gone. A week and a half after it's gone and I'm a ruined man."
Note: based on preproduction sample.
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Thoughts on a bunch of DACs
"Just when you think the Gen V is good, the Yggdrasil is even better. You wouldn't believe how much musical information is contained in those 44/16 files; and just how much lesser DACs leave behind. Brings those old or even bad recordings into a new light. Monster dynamics, bass that stops on a dime, tight precision, decay and ambient cues that don't suddenly disappear when they are not supposed to. No digital crap. Makes me reminisce of vinyl in my youth. The Yggdrasil is the 2015 update to the Theta V by the same guys. The Yggdrasil is really beyond words.
The downside? Kinda sounds like **** in the first few hours. 24-48 hours at minimum to warm up. One week for best results."
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ComputerAudiophile Yggdrasil Review
Chris Connaker, ComputerAudiophile.com
"Based on my experience with countless DACs and after spending a couple months with the Yggdrasil, I can say without a doubt that this DAC is very special. It's one of my favorite DACs available today. In fact, I will happily mention the Yggdrasil in the same sentence as some of my other favorites, the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS ($16,000) and the EMM Labs DAC2X ($15,500), when talking to fellow audio enthusiasts. The Yggdrasil is one of those products that subtly grabs hold of the listener, yet the listener is the one who can't let go. I couldn't stop listening through the Yggdrasil enough to write this review on time."
"The Yggdrasil has a really solid yet simplistic build quality on the outside and very selective component use on the inside. However, I believe the Yggdrasil's performance has much more to do with intellectual property than any other factor. Any manufacturer can use identical hardware in a competing product, but only Schiit Audio has its closed-form filter."
"The Yggdrasil is a disruptive product that I can't recommend enough to both new and experienced music aficionados. Add to cart and enjoy."
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"The Yggdrasil has an amazing way of reproducing the sound of three dimensional space....Breaths taking by the four musicians and movements of the arms and feet are all amplified creating a much more intimate listening experience. It is even possible to hear the clothes that the players are wearing as they perform – movements of the sleeves and trousers! I also got a sense of the size of the concert hall, echoes of sound and microphone placement were precisely picked up which easily created images of the depth of the hall as the sounds are reflected from wall to wall."
"In my opinion it surpasses similarly priced DACs like the Eximus DP1, Chord Hugo and Arcam FMJ D33. It seemed superior even to DACs like the Lampizator Generation 4. The Yggdrasil’s advantages in price to performance peak at around the level of DACs like the Bricasti M1 which is an unbelievable achievement when you consider that the M1 is 3 times the price of the Yggdrasil.
"One of the crowning achievements of this DAC is how it can take regular CD quality (Redbook) recordings and squeeze every last drop of detail from them. I was floored when I went through my old rock collection."
"The Yggdrasil sets a new benchmark in price for performance. I believe that it is the best DAC on the market for the money."
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