Freya S

Passive or Active Solid State Remote Balanced Preamp

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$599

In Stock, ships 1-3 days

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Freya S is, quite simply, a solid-state Freya+. Like Freya+, it’s a true no-excuses, balanced, remote-control preamp! Switch between passive mode and Nexus™ differential gain stage, 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.

Nexus™—The Seamless Discrete, Differential Gain Stage
Freya S brings our unique Nexus™ gain stage to a preamp—meaning you get seamless handling of all of your sources, whether balanced or single-ended. Nexus seamlessly converts single-ended to balanced and balanced to single-ended, in a single, discrete, current-feedback gain stage. In Freya, the Nexus gain stage offers two different gain levels—a gain of 1, so it behaves like a differential buffer, and a gain of 4, for systems that need more volume.
 
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 S. Freya S 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 S 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 S and Gungnir Multibit or Freya S and Yggdrasil (or any other of our DACs) for a true no-compromise remote-controlled system.
 
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 Freya S—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 S is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Freya S, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Nexus Differential Stage

Gain: 1 (0dB)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 3Hz-500KHz, -3dB
THD: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS 
IMD: <0.001%, CCIR 
SNR: >115db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms SE, 600 ohms balanced
 
Gain: 4 (12dB)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 3Hz-200KHz, -3dB 
THD: <0.002%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS 
IMD: <0.002%, CCIR 
SNR: >110db, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS 
Output Impedance: 75 ohms SE, 600 ohms balanced
 
Topology: Nexus™ topology; current feedback with nested differential stages 
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 24VA transformer with regulated +/-18V rails, plus regulated 5VDC for microprocessor 
Power Consumption: 20W typical
Size: 16” x 8” x 2” 
Weight: 11 lbs
 
 

So what’s the difference between Freya S and Freya+?
It’s pretty straightforward. Freya S uses our new Nexus™ differential gain stage to replace Freya’s tube stage. Otherwise they are functionally the same.

Wow, it’s a whole lot less expensive than Freya+!
Yep, because it has a whole lot less inside of it. Heck, it doesn’t have a whole 300V supply, from transformer onward, nor the management of tube power, nor the DC heaters. Plus no tubes. It’s simpler, and therefore less expensive.
 
Then why should I buy Freya+?
Because you like tubes—and because Freya+ is still one insane bargain in the tube preamp world.
 
No, seriously, sell me on Freya+.
You should know we don’t do that. We provide information, you make your own decisions. Even if that decision is to not buy our stuff. It’s cool. There’s plenty of good gear out there.
  
I don’t get preamps. 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. 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 S 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. Just don’t expect it to convert single-ended to balanced or anything like that. It is, after all, passive.
 
But Nexus gives me differential output, right?
Right. Nexus converts single-ended inputs to balanced (and balanced to SE, for that matter.) It provides two levels of gain: 1 (like a buffer) or 5 (for systems that need more gain.)  
 
What is this Nexus thing? More Schiit blathering?
Nexus is what we’ve been referring to as the “holy grail gain stage” internally, during development. Now, maybe we’re a little too much into Monty Python, or maybe we’re a bit touched in the head. But it took a long time to come up with Nexus, which is a current-feedback stage with nested differential amplification, and has the following interesting qualities:
  1. It does not exhibit the N/N+1 gain relationship when fed a single-ended signal, so it seamlessly converts single-ended to balanced.
  2. It also converts balanced to single-ended. 
  3. It also is quite happy to amplify, differentially, a differential signal for differential output.
  4. It does this without summers, op-amps, or any other tricks; it is a single, discrete, differential stage.
So it’s supersymmetry?
Nope.
 
So it’s a circlotron?
Nope.
 
Hmm. So it really is different?
As far as we can tell. Of course, we don’t know everything, nor are we perfect.
 
Okay. Moving on. 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’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 S is part of our "Product Thunderdome" idea. As in, "two or more products enter, maybe none leaves." If you buy a lot of Freya S, 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 S, 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!

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+.)

"The solid-state version of the Freya introduced significantly larger, and fuller sound to the lineup. Radiohead’s song 15 Steps appeared as a crisp, dynamic jump from 0 to loud along with vocals that reached out just a bit more. In a back-to-back comparison with the test track from Queen, the performance of the “S” landed somewhere between 75%-100% of the Freya + at times."

Read Full Review ->