Jotunheim

Configurable Balanced Desktop Headamp & Preamp

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$399

Description

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STATUS: Shipping in 5-7 days.

You asked for it—a one-box, do-all, no-excuses desktop system that’s ready for any headphone and powered monitor on the planet. Done. At the same time, why don’t we make the conventional, non-upgradable DAC/amp idea seem, well, a bit outdated? Done and done. Welcome to Jotunheim!
 
DAC/Amps: They’re Sooooo Last Decade
Don’t get stuck with dumpster fodder when DAC technology changes—choose Jotunheim and be ready for today…and the future. Configure Jotunheim to your needs: use it as just an amp, or add an internal DAC or phono preamp. In the future, you’ll be able to easily upgrade to a different module—maybe even something beyond a DAC or phono preamp.
 
Ready For Any Headphone
IEMs? Sure. HE-6? Sure. If this means nothing to you, just be confident that you can plug any headphone into Jotunheim and get great sound, with ultimate power and authority. Balanced or single-ended—it doesn’t matter. With 5W output into 32 ohms from the balanced outputs, Jotunheim has tons of power to spare.
 
Ready for Any Powered Monitor or Power Amp
Balanced and single-ended preamp outs mean that Jotunheim is ready for any powered desktop monitor—or to plug into those gigadollar monoblocks you’ve been eyeing. 
 
Unrivaled Flexibility
Select high or low gain with the flick of a front-panel switch, for compatibility with both easy-to-drive and hard-to-drive headphones. Select balanced input, single-ended input, and an optional DAC, phono, or input module:
  • AK4490 DAC Module. Jotunheim’s optional DAC module uses two AK4490 DACs in a hardware-balanced configuration, with a passive-filtered output stage and asynchronous USB Gen 2 input. Add it to Jotunheim for a true “best of both worlds” amp and DAC. 
  • MM Phono Input Module. Or, choose the optional MM phono input module, for 42dB of gain and exceptional low-noise performance from a phono stage with fully passive RIAA, for great phono sound right on your desk.

Unique Pivot Point Gain Stage
Jotunheim's gain stage is a unique, inherently balanced, fully discrete current feedback topology that provides both balanced and single-ended output without the need for splitters or summers. It provides extremely wide bandwidth and excellent measured performance—together with the advantages of constant, low feedback across the entire audio band. What does all this techno-talk mean? In English, excellent performance from all inputs and outputs.

Made in USA. Really.
By “made in USA,” we mean made in USA. The vast majority of the total production cost of Jotunheim—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. 
 
5-Year Warranty and Easy Return Policy
Jotunheim is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Jotunheim, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Amplifier:
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-700KHz, -3dB
Balanced Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 7500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 5000mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 3000mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 900mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 500mW RMS per channel
Single-Ended Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 2500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1500mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 800mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 350mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 175mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.0015%, CCIR
SNR: >109db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms, balanced or SE, at both gain settings
Gain: 2 (6dB) or 8 (14dB), selectable via front switch
Inputs: Balanced XLR and Single-Ended RCA, selectable via front switch
Outputs: Balanced headphone (4-pin XLR), single-ended headphone (1/4” TRS), balanced line preamp, single-ended line preamp
Optional Inputs: AK4490 Balanced USB DAC or Passive MM Phono
Gain Stage: Proprietary Schiit Pivot Point™ fully discrete differential current-feedback topology
Power Supply: One 48VA transformer with 6 stages of discrete or integrated regulation and over 70,000uF total filter capacitance

Optional Dual AK4490 DAC:
USB Input Receiver: C-Media CM6631A
D/A Conversion IC: AK4490 x 2
Input Capability: up to 24/192, including 24/176.4
Analog Output: fully differential, passive summing and passive filtering
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB, 2-100kHz, -3dB
Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS

THD: <0.0015%, 20Hz-20KHz, full scale
IMD: <0.002%, CCIR

S/N: >106dB, referenced to 2V RMS, unweighted
 
Optional Passive Filtered Phono Stage:
Gain: 42dB
THD: <0.01%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >80dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -70dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 2.3mV for 400mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB
Input Impedance: 47k ohms 
Input Capacitance: 100pf
RIAA Accuracy: +/- 0.25dB, 20-20kHz
Topology: Fully passive RIAA network with AD8599 gain stages and PET film capacitors throughout, DC coupled, with DC servo
 
Power Consumption: 25W typical
Size: 9” x 6” x 2”
Weight: 6 lbs
 
*All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer

I thought you guys said you’d never do a DAC/Amp!
This isn’t a DAC/amp. This is a configurable desktop control center. 

But if you choose the DAC card, it’s a DAC/amp!
Yep, it is. And if you choose a different card, or no card, it’s a phono/amp or just an amp/preamp. The main point is that it doesn’t have to be a DAC/amp.
 
I don’t see the difference.
Here’s the difference: buy a DAC/amp that isn’t modular and upgradable, and you’ll be chucking it in the can in a couple of years when digital technology changes. With Jotunheim, you just swap in a new DAC card. Or decide, “heck with it, let’s do phono now.” Or never have a DAC. Or never have a phono. It’s up to you…and it’s updatable for the future…and it’s got a modular slot that, well, who knows what we’ll decide to put in it next?
 
But you said amp/DACs were inferior!
Nope. We said we didn’t like combined products due to obsolescence, and we didn’t like a noisy DAC section sharing power supplies with an amp. We killed the obsolescence issue with modular architecture, and we’ve gone to huge lengths to isolate the Jotunheim’s amp section from digital noise, including RF-suppressing, 4-layer board layout and multiple isolated, regulated supplies. Boom. Problems solved.
 
Holy hell, this thing is cheap for a real balanced differential amp/DAC!
Well, maybe not in the grand scheme of things. I mean, you can get a decent laptop for what Jotunheim costs. But yes, we are very proud of the value we’ve been able to pack into Jotunheim. An all-new, proprietary Pivot Point™ differential discrete topology, multiple switchable inputs and preamp outputs, balanced and single-ended headphone outs, a big 27mm Alps 4-gang balanced pot, and an optional differential DAC module with passive filtering. And a ton of power. And a 5-year warranty. And…but we’re getting tedious, aren’t we? 
 
But this is probably a “fake” balanced amp, right, where you convert from balanced to single-ended and back again?
Nope. When we say, “balanced, differential,” we say what we mean, and mean what we say. 
 
Wait a sec, there are a lot of combined amp/DACs out there using op-amps and digital volume, or converting to single-ended internally, or all of the above, that cost a whole lot more than this, right?
Right.
 
Aaaannd?
And they ain’t Schiit.
 
So, if we get the DAC module, is this an amp/DAC or DAC/amp?
Yes.
 
Ah hell, here we go again. Is this more of an amp with a DAC stuck in it or more of a DAC with an amp stuck in it?
Both.
 
Okay, we’ll bite. Explain.
We know there’s a lot of debate out there over whether a combined product is a better amp or a better DAC, but this doesn’t apply to Jotunheim. Used together, it’s a single, integrated, no-compromise product that is both a great amp and a great DAC.
 
And how did you achieve this magical no-compromise bullschiit?
By not simply sticking a headphone amp chip in a DAC or sticking a half-assed DAC in a headphone amp. Jotunheim’s DAC section uses two of AKM’s latest AK4490 D/A converters in a hardware-balanced configuration to provide a fully differential signal to the Jotunheim’s gain stage. What’s more, that balanced signal is passively filtered, so there’s absolutely no IC or separate gain stage in the signal path. Used as a DAC, it operates no differently than Bifrost or Gungnir—but with the added functionality of a volume control, and, of course, a headphone output. 
 
So I can use this as just a DAC?
Sure. If you get the optional DAC module.
 
Or can I use it as just an amp?
Yep, you can do that too. You can also use it as a great preamp. And you can even use it as a phono preamp with the phono input card. You just can’t have both DAC and phono at the same time, sorry.
 
What is this “Pivot Point topology?”
It’s a new, Schiit-proprietary, differential current-feedback topology that provides exceptional performance—low distortion, high bandwidth, inherently balanced output, and the ability to use one side of the topology as a single-ended output, to eliminate the need for summers. It’s also fully discrete, with no op-amps (except the DC servo) or integrated “chip” outputs, and is completely DC-coupled from input to output. It is, quite simply, the highest-performing, most flexible gain stage we’ve ever created. And it’s like nothing else out there.
 
So it’s not a circlotron?
No. It is inherently differential and balanced, but it is not a circlotron, nor is it supersymmetric. Beyond that, buy one and reverse-engineer it, like any other company with no imagination.
 
I’m frustrated! I want to know everything about this magic gain stage!
Go to college. Learn engineering. Be nice. Stop by at shows. Then maybe we’ll tell you more. 
 
You’re screwing with me!
Yep. We probably won’t tell you anything, even at shows. Yes, I know, we’re dinosaurs in this open-source age. 
 
Hey, this isn’t the same old Schiit chassis you’ve been using forever. What gives?
Oh, you noticed. This new, more efficient chassis is sleeker than our previous products, isn’t it? It’s also a big part of the Jotunheim’s attractive price. We’re not about putting the same old stuff in bejeweled boxes. In this case, there’s a whole lot of insanely-new-and-cool stuff in a very simple, affordable box.
 
What’s Jotunheim in Norse mythology?
It’s the land of the giants. Which we believe is very appropriate for this all-new concept. But you tell us…
Hifi+
Chris Martens

How does the Jotunheim sound? The answer is that the amp sounds powerful, refined, and accomplished—almost absurdly so in light of its price. You enjoy the punch and authority for which well-designed solid state amps are known, ample detail and resolution, plus the quiet backgrounds and precise control over the leading and trailing edges of notes that are the hallmarks of first-rate fully balanced designs.

In sum, the Schiit Jotunheim offers heavyweight performance in a middleweight-sized chassis for a bantamweight price. If that’s not an irresistible combination of virtues, I don’t know what would be. Try one, soon!

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Digital Audio Review
John Darko

For its five-hundred dollar asking price (US$399 if you don’t want the DAC or phono module), it’s unlikely there exists a headphone amplifier that can compete with the Jotunheim’s combined audible performance and feature set. 

 
One of the most effortlessly earned DAR-KO awards to date. Wallop. Thump. Kapow.

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Robb Report
Alexander Lamascus

If your desktop-audio setup involves a turntable, the new Schiit Jotunheim should be your headphone amplifier of choice. 

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