It seems like just last month that Schiit hit us with two new products, because it was, and here were are looking at a trio of new Schiits—Skoll Phono Preamp, Midgard Headphone Amp, and Hel+ Gaming DAC/Amp.
The new Schiit Skoll is a blanced phono preamp, according to Schiit the world’s least expensive, and supports both MM and MC cartridges.
The Skoll includes a remote to control input selection, adjust gain settings (40, 50, 60, or 70dB), resistive loading (47k, or 10, 50, 100, or 150 ohms), capacitive loading (50, 100, 150, or 200pF), and LF Filter (no LF filter or engage the 2-pole/15 Hz passive network).
The Midgard sits in the lower middle of Schitt’s 6-strong headphone amp lineup and offers the new Halo mixed-mode feedback topology that incorporates your headphone driver into the feedback loop, offering the potential for better control at driver resonance and improved acoustic results, according to the company. The front panel XLR jack is Halo-endowed while the TRS jack is Halo-free so you can A/B yourself silly.
I have a confession—gaming has never been for me. It could be that Pong failed to keep my attention back in the 1970s or that I prefer to drag charcoal, ink, and paint over wax-infused paper.
The new Schiit Hel+ lights up any headphone with 1.4W of power, while delivering every detail with a 32-bit ESS DAC.
In typical Schiit fashion, the Skoll comes in at $399, the Midgard at $229, and the Hel+ at $199 and the trio are available now, direct from Schiit.
Here’s the press release from Schiit:
Introducing the Skoll Phono Preamp, Midgard Headphone Amp, and Hel+ Gaming DAC/Amp
October 11, 2023, Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, Schiit Audio introduced the the Skoll phono preamp, the least expensive balanced headphone preamp in the world, the Midgard headphone amp, the first Halo™ topology headphone amp and preamp, and Hel+, the mission-critical gaming DAC/amp. All products are available to order now, Skoll at $399, Midgard at $229, and Hel+ at $199.
“Skoll is more than just the least expensive balanced phono preamp,” said Jason Stoddard, Schiit’s Co-Founder and head of analog design. “It’s a true end-game phono preamp, fully worthy of being used in giga-priced turntable systems.”
Supporting these assertions is Skoll’s long list of features found only on ultra-expensive phono preamps:
- Balanced. Skoll is balanced and differential all the way through, with both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs.
- Discrete. Skoll is fully discrete. As in, individual transistors, capacitors, resistors, all the way through, in a unique topology Schiit refers to as Equipoise.
- No feedback. Skoll uses complementary pairs of bipolar transistors to keep distortion tamed. That means there’s no need for feedback. No feedback in either gain stage, and a passive RIAA network in-between.
- High voltage rails. Skoll runs on 64V rails to further increase linearity, which also means it has extremely high headroom and overload margin.
- Relay switching, gain, and loading. There are no electronic switches or other shortcuts in the signal path. All input switching, gain switching, and loading are done by precision relays, controlled by a microprocessor running custom firmware.
- Uber-quiet power supply and microprocessor. The power supply is dual regulated for extremely low noise, and the microprocessor itself sleeps between commands, its clock turned off to eliminate any potential interference.
- Remote control. All functions are adjustable via the included remote: input, R and C loading, gain, and LF filter, allowing easy adjustment from your listening chair.
“Midgard is maybe the most interesting headphone amp out there, at the most boring price,” added Jason. “It debuts a new topology we are calling Halo™, which is a mixed-mode motion feedback scheme that puts the driver in the feedback loop, and may provide improved acoustic measurements.”
Stoddard acknowledges that this is a controversial claim, and asks potential customers to first consider the value of Midgard without Halo—as in, a 5W RMS per channel, ultra-high-performance, all-discrete, all-linear-supply, made-in-USA headphone amp at $229—before considering the benefits of Halo.
“Halo is something that some designers say can enhance measured results at the driver itself. Which, if true, is a holy grail. Our measurements are inconclusive, though many have noted that the Halo output sounds better. So, in the spirit of not spending a decade chasing this down (and having to pass along the R&D cost), we decided to do something pretty bizarre: release the product at an industry-leading price, and offer anyone who has an acoustic measurement rig the chance to measure a Midgard themselves at no cost. We’ll be happy to publish all data, positive or negative.”
Midgard allows owners to quickly compare Halo output for themselves, as Halo is only compatible with a 4-pin output jack. Since Midgard provides both a 4-pin XLR and 3-pin TRS, customers can swap between XLR and TRS to compare the amp with Halo and without.
To get a Midgard for measurement, please contact Denise Martin, [email protected], and provide details of your test setup.
“Hel+ is, quite simply, the mission-critical gaming DAC/amp,” said Jason Stoddard. “It’s been completely reengineered for extreme reliability and flexibility, and it includes the longest warranty we’ve ever offered on a USB-powered product, as well as the longest hot-swap period.”
Hel+ adds a new negative gain mode to enhance compatibility with IEMs and high-sensitivity headphones, as well as a broad array of protection systems and high-reliability USB-C connectors to a new, optimized layout to ensure it’s always ready for the game.
Hel+’s 3-year warranty is a year longer than most Schiit wall-wart powered products, and its hot-swap period is a 1 full year, to help keep owners in the game no matter what happens.
All products are available to order at schiit.com. Skoll and Midgard ship by the end of October 2023. Hel+ is expected to ship by October 18.
About Schiit Audio
Founded in 2010 by Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat, Schiit has grown into a leader in affordable high-end audio, with a wide range of products spanning DACs, headphone amplifiers, and preamplifiers, from $49 to $2799.
Company Website: Schiit Audio