Freya +

Passive or Active Solid State or Tube Remote Balanced Preamp

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$899

Backordered, Ships 9-23

Description

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Freya+ is a refinement of the original Freya, with higher performance, more features, and enhanced ease of use. But it’s still a true no-excuses, balanced, remote-control preamp. Switch between passive, differential buffer, and differential tube gain modes, enjoy the fine control of a 128-step relay-switched stepped attenuator volume control with perfect channel matching, and control it all from the comfort of your favorite chair.
 
Whisper-Silent Tube Stage—With Tube Shutdown
Now, you can enjoy a tube preamp without the hiss and hum of classic designs. Freya+’s all-new tube stage with new-production 6SN7 tubes, DC heaters and semi-circlotron, noise-cancelling output stage is whisper-silent. Better yet, it turns off when you’re not using it! That’s right, both the tube heater and high voltage rails go away when not in use, so you can preserve lifetime of costly tubes. 
 
Differential Buffer Stage—Versatile Interface
Freya+’s buffers aren’t just buffers—they’re differential. That means they convert single-ended signals to balanced, so you can interface more easily throughout your system. In addition, you can use it to convert SE sources to drive mono Vidars and Aegirs. 
 
Easiest 128-Step Relay-Switched Volume, Ever
The benefits of a relay-switched stepped attenuator for volume are clear. Compared to a potentiometer, they give you essentially perfect channel matching and near-unmeasurable distortion. However, some preamps with relay-stepped attenuators confuse you with buttons and screens. Not Freya+. Freya+ has a volume knob that works just like a volume knob—just grab and turn. And if you use the remote control, the motorized potentiometer changes to match the remote setting. 
 
Yes, Remote Control Included
When you’re talking about gear that doesn’t sit on your desktop (like our headphone amps), you need the convenience of remote control for volume, input switching, output switching, and muting. Freya+ includes a custom remote control, standard.
 
Perfect Companion to Our DACs
Want a remote-controlled system to interface your digital gear with the rest of your system? Stack Freya+ and Gungnir Multibit or Freya+ and Yggdrasil (or any other of our DACs) for a true no-compromise remote-controlled system.
 
Designed and Assembled In USA
By “designed and assembled in USA" this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Freya+—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. 
 
5-Year Warranty and Easy Return Policy
Freya+ is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. One exception: the tubes. Those we cover for 3 months. And if you don’t like your Freya+, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.
Compound Differential Buffer
Gain: 1 (0dB)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-500KHz, -3dB
THD: <0.004%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS 
IMD: <0.0055%, CCIR 
SNR: >120db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms SE, 600 ohms balanced
Topology: JFET differential amplifier compound pair with equalized-gm followers 
 
Tube Gain
Gain: 4 (12dB)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.2db, 3Hz-200KHz, -3dB 
THD: <0.01%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS 
IMD: <0.01%, CCIR 
SNR: >115db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms SE, 600 ohms balanced
Topology: differential triode input with semi-circlotron follower stage
 
Input Impedance: 10K ohms
Crosstalk: >85dB, 20-20kHz
Inputs: 2 XLR pairs plus 3 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote
Outputs: 1 XLR pair plus 2 RCA pairs, selectable via front switch or remote 
Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors, 128 0.625dB steps
Power Supply: One 48VA transformer with regulated 300V rail, plus 24VA transformer with regulated +/-18V rails, plus 6.3VDC tube heaters and regulated 5VDC for microprocessor 
Power Consumption: 40W typical
Size: 16” x 8” x 2” + tube height (about 2.5" more)
Weight: 11 lbs
 
 

So what’s the difference between Freya+ and the original Freya?
Actually, quite a bit. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Freya+ has a completely new tube stage, with DC heaters and a noise-cancelling semi-circlotron output buffer, which reduces noise by more than 20dB when compared to the original Freya—a significant improvement!
  2. Freya+ has a completely new differential JFET buffer stage, which converts single-ended signals to balanced, which allows you to use more sources with mono Vidars or Aegirs.
  3. Freya+ has a tube shutdown mode—tubes are completely off unless Freya is in tube output mode (no B+, no heaters, off means off), so you can extend life of costly tubes.
  4. Freya+ has a motorized pot that tracks the remote control volume, which provides a continuous physical reference for the volume level.
  5. Freya+ uses our new “fastenerless” chassis for a sleeker overall look.
  6. Freya+ is sold only with new production Tung-Sol tubes, which we have found to be superior to affordable NOS tubes.
Holy moly, that’s a whole new preamp!
Exactly.
 
Hence the price increase?
Hence the price increase. 
 
Well, hell, this thing still has tubes, and I still don’t want tubes!
Then you want a Freya S. Or you can use this as a passive preamp or differential buffer preamp, and still have the option to use tubes from time to time.
 
Why so many options?
Why 31 flavors of ice cream? Why 173 different kinds of toothpaste on the store shelf? Why more than one color of car? Because choices. Choices are cool. We should have more choices. Except maybe in toothpaste. We don’t really understand that one. Or why there’s like 500 different kinds of bread on the bread aisle. But hey, those are mysteries that we shouldn’t perhaps delve too deeply into. 
 
So what can I use a preamp for?
If you have only one source, and it has a volume control, maybe you don’t need a preamp. But if you have a system with more than one source, and you want convenient remote input switching and remote volume control, a preamp is a good idea. You can also pair it with our DACs for convenient remote volume control, since our preamps don’t cost like the total debt of a small nation-state.
 
So cheap is good?
Absolutely. Because in the last 20 years or so, audio pricing has gotten really stupid. Go ahead. Look around for a remote passive preamp, and check the prices. Now add a buffer stage. And a tube gain stage. Oh, wait, there really isn’t anything like that. And then start looking at preamps that use a sophisticated, perfectly-matched relay-switched stepped attenuator instead of a volume pot, and you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that Freya is in a class by itself. That is, a class with a three-digit price tag, not a four-digit price tag (that doesn’t start with, like “5,” either.)
 
I don’t like cheap. I distrust cheap. I like nice things.
That’s cool. We like smart design and efficient construction that make great sound affordable to more people. But if you literally have $100 bills hand-stitched into toilet paper so you can wipe your butt in wretched excess, then by all means, find something that costs more. Just don’t think it’ll automatically be any better. 
 
So I can run this fully passive, no gain stage at all?
Yes, no problem at all. Just don’t expect it to convert single-ended to balanced or anything like that. It is, after all, passive.
 
But I can use the buffers to get differential output, right?
Right. The differential JFET buffers will convert single-ended to balanced, which is very handy if you want to run, say, a pair of Vidars from a single-ended source. They’re also pretty cool designs, with a compound feedback pair front end and an equalized-transconductance output stage.  
 
And the differential tube gain stage—tell me about that.
This one is also pretty neat, with a differential triode front end feeding a semi-circlotron output stage for lower distortion and noise cancellation. That trick, together with DC heaters, provides a much, much lower noise floor than most tube preamplifiers. 
 
So what’s the big deal about a relay-stepped attenuator?
Unlike a typical potentiometer, a relay-stepped attenuator gives you perfect channel matching down to the lowest level of the volume knob. It also makes cool clicking noises when you turn the knob. In our minds, this is the best way of doing volume control. There’s only a couple of thin-film resistors in the signal path at all times, rather than a potentiometer wiper. And it doesn’t use a “volume control chip,” which we believe proper only to cheap receivers. But then again, a lot of people think we’re crazy. 
 
What if I don’t need balanced inputs and outputs?
Then you need Saga+ or Saga S, Freya+’s little sisters.
 
So what’s a Freya?
From Wikipedia, In Norse mythology, Freyja (/ˈfreɪə/; Old Norse for "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. We have no idea what seior is, and the war and death stuff doesn’t sound so fun, but the first five items we can go along with just fine. Disturbed? Don’t be. It’s just a name.
 

On Product Thunderdome:

What is this weird red T logo on the page?
It indicates that Freya+ is part of our "Product Thunderdome" idea. As in, "two or more products enter, maybe none leaves." If you buy a lot of Freya+, we will make a bunch more. If you don't, it'll disappear after this run. So, if you like the idea of a Freya+, buy one now. Because it might not be around forever. 

Why the hell are you doing this crazy thing?
Because we want to try some new ideas. And to do some gear that may be different or special. Think of it as kinda like getting a whole bunch of people to commit to buying something that doesn't exist to get a lower price. Except in this case, the product exists, and the price is already low. 

Thunderdome? Really? You got something for 80s scifi flicks?
What would you call it? No, seriously, let us know, we might change it. Even the name can be thunderdomed!

Positive Feedback: Schiit Freya+ Preamplifier
Smit Patel

"For example, the Freya + captivates more of a warm sound with some midrange thump and smoother vocal delivery. The tube gain is also noticeably quieter which is more evident across sensitive audio gear; a complaint which the old Freya had often received. As with the previous model, the passive mode offers a solid-state flavor with a more transparent and revealing sound albeit with less soundstage and harmonic bloom compared to the tube gain. The tube gain also impacts a more holographic sound stage with height and depth while also adding some weight to the lower frequency spectrum."

:...I would strongly urge readers to try this product for those seeking a smart preamplifier solution to their audiophile needs."

Read Full Review ->

Audio-Head: A Four-Way Schiit Shootout
Brian Hunter

From a blind test at the Schiitr between all four preamps (Saga S, Saga+, Freya S, Freya+.)

"After the first run of Tracy’s Chapman’s Fast Car it was readily apparent that the Freya + was earning its keep as the most expensive option of the lot. A flushed out, full representation of everything from bass to treble produced focused instruments that were never flimsy, vocals that drew you in and tonal beauty that both delighted and entertained the small crowd that was gathered. The guitar parts from 15 Steps translated as a smooth, euphonic sound – thick with both detail and dimensionality."

Read Full Review ->