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Continuity™ Modular Headphone Amp & Preamp

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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? Choose an internal DAC module to create an all-in-one system:
  • ES9028 DAC. Choose the ES9028 module with Unison USB™ for a world-class delta-sigma DAC for $100. 
  • True Multibit Unison USB™ DAC. Or choose our own True Multibit technology, with AD5547 DAC and proprietary DSP-based digital filter, as well as our own Unison USB interface, for $200.
Choose the ES9028 module with Unison USB™ for a world-class delta-sigma DAC for $100 more. Plus, this unique modular design means Asgard 3 won’t be dumpster-fodder when technology changes—just swap a card!
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 -82dB, 20Hz-20KHz, 300 ohm load
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
Optional ES9028 DAC:
USB Input Receiver: Schiit Unison USB™
D/A Conversion IC: ESS ES9028
Analog Output: differential I/V conversion based on LME49724, switchable summed SE mode
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.1dB
THD: <0.0008%, 20Hz-20KHz
IMD: <0.0008%, CCIR
S/N: >112dB, referenced to 2V RMS, unweighted

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.
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: 

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?
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?
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. 
What happened to the True Multibit DAC card option?
We're constrained on the Analog Devices ADSP parts, so we're afraid those are on hold for a while. Hopefully they'll be back at the end of 2022.
The $199 Schiit Asgard 3
Steve Guttenberg

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Schiit Audio Asgard 3 Headphone Amplifier with AK4490 DAC
Christopher Coke, MMORPG.com
"The effect the Asgard 3 had varied from headphone to headphone, but in general, there’s a few big things that it did apart from simply raising the volume. The dynamic over-ears immediately expanded the soundstage. There was also a clearer separation between instruments. Depending on the headphone, songs could be close and intimate or feel wide and spacious.
The frequency response of each headphone almost seemed to tighten, as if the slack were taken out of the speaker. Mids and highs have extra sparkle. Bass notes have more definition and control. It’s more musical and precise, making both music and games much more enjoyable to listen to.
As a test, I bypassed the AK4490 DAC and connected my work PC to the Asgard 3. The sound profile instantly changed.  Listening to the Meze 99s, that tight controlled bass suddenly became very fat and overwhelming, as if my HP Elitedesk with just sending ALL OF THE FREQUENCIES at one hundred percent. Even on my much more expensive gaming PC, the AK4490 dramatically improved my audio experience.
It’s not all about music, though. This effect of running a good amp even to a mid-level gaming headset is like jumping from an SD to an HD screen. The added sense of space and detail provides a legitimate advantage to your ability to hear enemies before they hear you and an added sense of immersion with that widened soundstage.
The combination of the Asgard 3 headphone amp with the AK4490 DAC is enough to elevate any content you’d care to enjoy, whether or not your headphones “need” amplification."

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Schiit Audio Asgard 3 Review
Sonis, Audiophilestyle.com

"A new model with more features and supposedly better performance than the earlier model, and at a lower price. This is almost unheard of, and it would be pretty academic if the manufacturer didn’t make good on the promise of better sound. Luckily, they do.

I thought that the pure Class A of the Asgard 2 would make it a tough (if not impossible) act for Schiit to follow, but I was completely wrong. While the manufacturer is very vague in their description about what a ‘Continuity Constant-transconductance Output’ actually is, but whatever it is it betters the pure Class A output stage of the Asgard 2 by a goodly margin because, at once it gives better sound, more output, and does so at a lower price than its predecessor!
With the Asgard 3’s larger feature set and improved performance over the Asgard 2, coupled with the US$50 drop in price to US$199, this thing is a steal. It punches way, way above it’s pocket-money price range and you should be ordering one for yourself right now. Get to it!"

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Schiit Asgard 3 Review
5 Watts of Cheap American Power
Josh Valour
Asgard 3/Bifrost vs Magni 3+/Modi Multibit

Excellent headphone drive. Doesn't require balanced to get the most out of it. Pre-amp function. Works with IEMs as well as insensitive headphones.

We’re used to saying that that products are over-priced these days, but I’d say that the Asgard 3 is under-priced given the sound quality. It sits in a very crowded market, in which it provides a solid performance and a noticeable upgrade from which is going to require at least 2-3x as much money. 



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Headfonia: Asgard 3
Matty Graham

"The Asgard 3 gives-off all the vibes of an American muscle car: it’s big, brash and burly and you feel like you’re getting a lot of metal for your money. It has an easy-to-love utilitarian design, and like the muscle cars of today, the Asgard has actually gone and gotten itself better at handling and packs a bunch more features in than it used to."

"At $199, it’s a stone-cold bargain and absolutely worth the step-up from the tier of entry-level amplifiers that sit below it. If you already have a DAC in your system and you’re happy with its performance, then simply add that to the bare-bones amplifier-only Asgard 3. The stock Asgard 3 amplifier earns a place on our recommended buy list where it sits in good company with other recommended desktop amplifiers."

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GreenAudioReview: Asgard 3

"At Green Audio Review we like value for money. We like versatility even more. The Asgard are all these things.

For amazing prize and performance; for serious versatility/functionality; and, perhaps most importantly, for modularity and longevity, we are very happy to award the Schiit Asgard 3 with our very first Green Award. Holy Schiit: Land of the Gods, indeed!"

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2020 HFN Best of Year Award


Schiit Asgard 3 Headphone Amp Review

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