Asgard

Continuity™ Modular Headphone Amp & Preamp

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$199

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Asgard 3 is a highly powerful, highly affordable, modular headphone amp and preamp that gives you a complete, single-box solution for all your desktop needs. It’s a re-thinking of the headphone amp that started it all (for Schiit, anyway—the original Asgard, introduced in June 2010, was our first product.) Asgard 3 features our unique Continuity™ topology that extends the benefits of Class A output, and accepts all the same modules as Jotunheim and Lyr 3.
 
The Strong, Silent Type
Asgard 3’s all-new Continuity output stage delivers 3.5W into 32 ohms—a whopping 3.5X more than any previous Asgard—while also running 500mW of Class A bias. What this means is you have tons of power for virtually any headphone—and, since full power is delivered to the ¼” jack, you don’t need balanced headphone cables to take advantage of it. At the same time, Asgard 3’s low noise floor means you are ready for the most sensitive IEMs. 
 
A Complete Desktop Control Center
Select from the internal card or rear-panel analog input, and pick high or low gain with convenient front switches. Connect the preamp output to your powered monitors for a complete desktop system—or use it as a front end to your speaker power amplifier. Asgard 3 provides all the flexibility you need.
 
Customize to Your Specific Needs
Want more than an amp, without a bunch of boxes on your desk? Select from two different DAC modules, or no module at all to tailor Asgard 3 exactly to your needs. Plus, this unique modular design means Asgard 3 won’t be dumpster-fodder when technology changes—just swap a card!
  • AK4490 DAC Module. Choose the AK4490 G2 DAC module for a world-class delta-sigma DAC for $100. 
  • Multibit DAC Module. Or, choose the optional True Multibit™ DAC Module to get Schiit’s unique digital filter and multibit DAC architecture for $200.
Designed and Built in California
By “designed and built in California" this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Asgard 3—chassis, boards, transformers, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made minutes from our facility. Our PCBs are done just over the hill from us, or done in NorCal. Our transformers are also made in California. You get the picture. 
 
5-Year Warranty and Easy Return Policy
Asgard 3 is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Asgard 3, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-400KHz, -3dB

Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 5W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 3.5W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 2.5W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 600mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 300mW RMS per channel

THD: Less than 0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS, high gain mode (worst case)
IMD: Less than 0.002%, CCIF at 1V RMS, high gain mode (worst case)
 
SNR: More than 115db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS, in low gain mode
 
Crosstalk: Less than -87dB, 20Hz-20KHz
 
Output Impedance: Less than 0.2 ohms in high or low gain mode
 
Input Impedance: 22K ohms
 
Gain: High = 6 (15.6dB) or Low = 1 (0dB), via rear switch
 
Topology: Fully discrete, current feedback with Continuity™ constant-transconductance output stage and stacked power supply rails
 
Protection: Standard muting relay for delayed turn-on and fast turn-off
 
Power Supply: Internal 48VA power transformer with 4 separate power supply rails and over 20,000uf of filter capacitance
 
Power Consumption: 30W
 
Size: 9 x 6 x 2"
 
Weight: 5 lbs
 

Waaaahhhhh! You killed Class A! Why did you do that, you terrible people?
Because sometimes you have to change. The original Asgard was introduced in June 2010. It was a good amp for its time, and we improved it with the introduction of the Asgard 2 in 2012, which added gain switching and preamp outputs. But since then, Asgard has kinda run in place, while Magni has doubled its power output, and its bigger sisters have become modular. And so, with the development of our Continuity constant-transconductance output stage, it was time to think about giving Asgard 2 an extreme makeover—one that would result in performance far above and beyond anything any previous Asgard could deliver.

I still don't like change, even if it's good!
That's cool. Think of Asgard 3 as a 500mW Class A amp with a 3.5W "turbo mode." Does that help?
 
Okay, fine. How is Asgard 3 different than Asgard 2?
In short, it’s a completely different amp. Here’s the breakdown:
  1. More power: Asgard 3 provides 3.5X the power output of previous Asgards.
  2. Higher performance: Asgard 3 is also far quieter, and has less distortion than previous Asgards.
  3. Modular, configurable, upgradable: Asgard 3 accepts all the same modules as Jotunheim and Lyr 3, so you can add an internal DAC or phono stage.
  4. Continuity, not Class A: Asgard 3 uses our unique Continuity output stage to extend the benefits of Class A operation. It’s still biased heavily into Class A, with over 500mW of Class A operation into 32 ohms.
  5. Bigger power supply: Asgard 3 now has a 48VA transformer, 50% larger than any previous Asgard, plus over 20,000uF of filter capacitance and low-noise series regulation of stacked power supply rails, plus separate supplies just for the oversight and the cards. 
  6. More convenience: Now you can select the input and gain from the front of the amplifier. Previous Asgards didn’t even have selectable input, and gain was on the back.
  7. Lower cost: Asgard 3 costs $50 less than previous Asgards, despite all these years of depreciating dollars and all the new features.
Oh holy hell, I want a Class A amp, not a Continuity amp, whatever that is.
Before you pass judgement, you may want to try Asgard 3 out. For what it’s worth, any output class has its advantages and disadvantages. In addition to other benefits, Class A also has the benefit of being called Class A, which makes it seem like it's inherently better than AB, B, C, D, and H. Oh wait, what is H? Look it up. There's a bunch of different amp classes out there, some of which you'll never see in audio (Class B and C are really not suited for such an application.) Continuity is our way of extending the benefit of Class A past the Class A bias region—to keep the transconductance from "drooping" outside of Class A. John Broskie and Bob Cordell have written a whole lot about this problem, and we're just trying to address it. As an added benefit, our Continuity output stage also has both NPN and PNP conducting at the same time on both sides of the rail, which mitigates mismatch between these devices (again, N and P devices are never really complementary.)
 
Are there any other Continuity amps out there in your lineup?
Asgard 3 joins Lyr 3 and Aegir in our Continuity amp roster.
 
Where do I learn more about what you're doing with Continuity?
You can pick up Bob Cordell's book on amp design here, where he discusses the problem of "gm-doubling," (which is what we call "transconductance droop," and he even proposes his own solution to it (called DX or "DoubleCross."  https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Audio-Power-Amplifiers-Cordell/dp/1138555444
 
You can also read several articles on John Broskie's website: 

https://www.tubecad.com/2015/10/blog0331.htm
https://www.tubecad.com/2015/11/blog0332.htm
https://www.tubecad.com/2015/11/blog0333.htm
 
Will Asgard 3 drive “difficult” inefficient headphones?
Asgard 3 has plenty of power for pretty much anything. Whether you’re talking 300 or 600 ohm headphones or relatively inefficient planars, Asgard has plenty of power for both.
 
And high-efficiency IEMs?
Yes. We’ve tested extensively with IEMs, and Asgard 3’s very low noise floor is ideal for them in low gain mode.
 
And other headphones?
Of course.
 
Does the volume control adjust the preamp outputs?
Yes.

Can I turn off the headphone outs when I’m using the preamp outputs?
Plugging in headphones automatically disconnects the pre-outs.
 
How do I switch the gain?
There’s a toggle switch on the front of the amp.
 
So, if this has your fancy-smantchy new Continuity thing, it finally runs cool to the touch, rather than requiring oven mitts to operate, like previous Asgards? 
Cool? Nope. It’s still running 500mW Class A bias at 32 ohms, which is quite a bit. Cooler than older Asgards? Yes. But it’s still gonna be a warm-running amp. You shouldn't be blocking the ventilation holes.
 
And you’re not concerned with the heat?
Nope. 
 
But it still runs hot!
And technically, that’s still not a question. If you want an amp that runs cold, it’s best to look elsewhere.
 
Speaking of holes, I noticed there's no front LED. Did you forget something?
Nope. Lots of people thought it was too bright, so we got rid of it. We did put a white LED inside so you can see that it's running, and also maybe to project a nice pattern on your ceiling at night. 
The $199 Schiit Asgard 3
Steve Guttenberg

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