Hel

High Power Gaming (and Music!) DAC/Amp

$189

In Stock, ships 1-3 days

Description

Specs

FAQ

Reviews

Downloads

If you want the ultimate in a transportable gaming DAC/amp, you’re looking at Hel. Yes, Hel. As in the Norse underworld. That’s why it’s black and red. Or something like that. In any case, Hel delivers like 40x the power of a typical computer headphone output, plus it has a podcast-quality stereo-compatible electret mic input. It’s also an amazing DAC/amp for music, and with a separate analog input, preamp output, and gain switch, it’s ready for all your desktop needs. 

Power and Quality to Spare
Hel delivers a full 1000mW into 32 ohms—enough to light up any gaming headphone you throw at it, and tons of power for virtually every audiophile headphone, too. With an all-new, DC-coupled, high-current output stage with feedforward, its performance is far beyond any computer or phone. In addition, the microphone input uses a stereo 24-bit AKM ADC with front-panel gain control for highest possible quality.
 
Total Flexibility for Gaming and Music
Plug Hel into virtually any USB port, connect the supplied USB power supply, connect your headphones and microphone, and you’re set for amazing gaming. But that’s only the start:
  • Use it as a great music DAC/amp. You don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate the quality of Hel. Use the front-panel gain switch to cover virtually every headphone need, from sensitive IEMs to low-efficiency planars.
  • Use it as a DAC/preamp. Connect to powered monitors or speaker amps using the variable outputs on the back.
  • Use it as an amp. Connect your phone (or any other analog source) to the convenient rear jack, and switch with a front-panel control. 
  • Use it with phones, tablets, or computers with low-powered USB ports. Hel reports as a 0mA device. We’ve included a second USB port for power input and a 2.1A USB power supply. 
Top-Shelf Components
Like DACs costing many times its price, Hel uses the AKM AK4490 D/A converter. Coupled with an Alps RK09 potentiometer, high-quality filter and amp stages from Texas Instruments, a sophisticated bipolar +/-12V supply, and precision thin-film resistors and film capacitors, Hel delivers amazing performance for its price. 
  
Designed and Built in California, 2-Year Warranty, Easy Returns
By “designed and built in California" this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Hel—chassis, boards, 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 Nevada. Hel is also covered by a 2-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Hel, you can send it back for a refund, minus 15% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.3db

Maximum Power, 16 Ohms: 1200mW RMS
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1000mW RMS
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 650mW RMS
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 200mW RMS
 
THD: <0.0015%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.0015%, CCIR
SNR: >108db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
 
Output Impedance (headphones): 0.25 ohms
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms
Input Impedance (rear 1/8" jack): 10k ohms
 
Gain: 1 (0dB) or 5 (14dB)
 
USB Receiver: C-Media CM6631A
DAC: AKM AK4490 with TI OPA1662-based filter stage
Sample Rates and Bit Depths: 16/44.1 to 24/192 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (UAC 2 device)
 
Output Stage: TI OPA1688 (4 amp stages per channel) 
 
Power Supply: Via USB, with +/- 12V rails via high-current dual-polarity switching regulator, with inductor filtering and local regulation
 
Power Consumption: 2.5W typical
 
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.375” (including knob)
Weight: 13oz
 

So why would I spend $90 more on this than Fulla 3?
Because you want more power or flexibility. Hel delivers 4x the power of Fulla 3, it has a gain switch for harder-to-drive or more sensitive headphones, it has a switchable analog input, and it has front-panel adjustable microphone gain and a stereo mic input. If any of those features are important, it might be worth $90 more than Fulla 3 for your needs.

Wow, a serious answer. What’s wrong with you?
Do you want a list?
 
Wait, you mean you're not perfect? I won't buy from an imperfect company!
Good luck on the wait, then. Also consider that people who think they are infallible are, well, usually a bit touched in the head. And we're being polite.
 
Let’s change the subject. Why is this black and red, when everything else you make is gray and silver?
Well, technically, we also do gray and black. Just not all the time. As far at this being black and red, we thought it would look kinda cool. Plus, it’s called “Hel.” As in the Norse underworld.
 
So is this a satanic product?
We sincerely doubt the Norse pantheon has anything to do with Christianity. We’re not dissing any religion, but seriously guys, this is just a name. It means pretty much nothing to most people on the planet. Just like “Schiit.”
 
So how does this thing work for gaming?
Plug in your headphones and mic (usually using the TRRS-to-dual-TRS adapter supplied with the headphones, and maybe the 1/8” to ¼” adapter, also provided), plug the included 2.1A USB power supply into the wall, connect it to Hel, then plug Hel into the computer, select “Schiit Hel” for both audio output and mic input, and you’re set. 
 
Sounds like this is for PCs. How about for consoles?
If your console supports UAC2 (USB Audio Class 2, the standard for USB audio these days), then you’re golden. However, we haven’t tested all consoles. But for Windows 10, most Linux distros, MacOS, iOS, and Android these days, you’re set.
 
What about Windows 7 and 8.1?
We provide drivers for this antique version of Windows that is slated to die in January 2020, and for 8.1. Seriously, though, Windows 10 is really good. Time to move on.
 
Okay. Fine. Let’s talk power. How much power does this need from my computer or phone?
None. Hel is powered by the included 2.1A USB power supply. It reports as a 0mA device from the data port.
 
So I have to plug in the USB power supply?
Yes. Hel draws nearly 2A at full clip, so it really needs a 2.1A supply. It won’t run off most USB ports or 1A chargers.
 
Instead of your 2.1A USB power supply, can I use a super-crazy linear supply that costs 3X as much as the Hel to get better performance?
Go back and read what you just asked. Seriously, just use the 2.1A supply we gave you. 
 
Yeah, I hear you, but I really really really want to spend a lot of money on a linear power supply that does nothing!
We understand. And you should be free to waste your money any way you'd like. But really, your super-pristine linear supply with the Regurgitson Ultraregulators isn't gonna do anything, since it's running through a switching supply anyway. You know, just like lots of other, more expensive products do...except we tell you this, and don't encourage you to throw money down the loo.
 
So I can use this with iDevices and Android phones with no powered hub?
Many of them, yes. However, note that Android devices are highly variable—just because they're running the latest OS doesn't mean the hardware is up to the task. Some will need helper software like UAPP. 
 
Can I use this with both headphones and powered monitors? 
Yep!
 
Can I use this as just an amp?
Yep!
 
Can I use this as just a DAC?
Yep! Just put it in low gain and turn it all the way up. Plug into the line out on the back panel and you’re set.
 
If I plug in headphones…
It automatically mutes the preamp outputs. See, we’re getting good at predicting what you’re gonna ask. Kinda like autocorrect. But with less embarrassing mistakes. We hope.
 
And the microphone input is stereo?
Yes. You can use an external stereo electret microphone if you’d like, or use the mono one built into your headset. Both work fine. But yes, there’s a really good 24-bit AKM ADC in there, together with an OPA1662 pre-amp with an Alps potentiometer for gain control, so it’s a very nice mic input.
 
Will it work with all of my headphones?
Pretty much anything, yeah. 1000mW is a ton of power. Even if you have planar headphones, it should run them to ear-bleeding levels. And if you have sensitive IEMs, you can use low gain for a vanishingly low noise floor.
 
Whoa. That’s a whole lot of features! How do you do it for $189 in the USA?
By making tons of them, selling direct, and not being greedy.
 
So why would I step up to a Magni/Modi stack? Or Vali? Or Asgard 3?
More power, more flexibility, bigger wallet, bigger desk—remember, Magni/Modi/Vali combos range from $198 to $398, and cover basic USB-powered DACs to True Multibit DACs, solid-state to tube amps. Also, they don’t provide microphone input for gaming. Asgard 3 is at least $299 with a DAC, and it doesn’t have a microphone input, either.
  
What comes in the box, besides the Hel? Do I get a cable with this?
Yes, we supply two 3’ micro USB (to standard USB) cables, as well as a 2.1A USB power supply and a 1/8” to 1/4” headphone adapters. Yeah, we know Apple and some other doods are going full-nuts on USB-C. One word: more adapters. Which, sorry, we don’t supply.
 
What about the 1/8” to XLR, or 1/8” to RCA, or 1/8” to 1/8”, or 1/8” to DIN, or whatever cables I need to connect to my speakers or DACs?
That’s a lot of cables. Check out Monoprice for 1/8" to dual RCA cables and all the other crazy cables you might need. 
 
Can I use a fancier cable to get better sound?
You can do whatever you’d like, including dancing by the light of the full moon and making small, non-living sacrifices to the audiophile gods.
 
No, seriously.
We are being serious.
 
I’m asking specifically about the cable.
As long as it’s a USB 2.0-rated cable, 2m or less in length, terminated with a micro USB plug on one end, you can use it, sure.
 
And it’ll sound better?
Probably about as much as taping $100 bills to your headphones. Or sending the $100 bills to us. We prefer the latter.
Schiit Audio Hel High Power Gaming DAC/Amp
Christopher Coke, MMORPG.com
"No matter what I threw at it, the Hel was able to drive it and sound incredible. The HD6XXs, the DT-990s, the HD58Xs, the AKG K7XXs, my new pair of Meze’s, the Audeze Mobius, any of my many gaming headsets; all of them were able to get and exceed a comfortable listening volume. Because the Hel had such headroom, I was able to game in confidence.
 
The understated all-star of the Hel is the microphone jack. The mic has its own 24-bit analog-to-digital converter, which allows for a pristine, high-resolution capture. It also has a gain knob for precise gain adjustments to your signal.
 
Most importantly, it’s quiet. I mean, game-changingly quiet. I tested it with my Audio-Technica ATH-PG1 gaming headset which we reviewed last year. Plugged directly into the PC, the mic had a very audible hiss, which is very common to 3.5mm mic inputs on even expensive gaming PCs. Plugged into the Hel, that white noise was gone. In fact, the PG1 went from being a pretty good headset mic to sounding like one of the best I’ve ever used. You could easily hop on a stream or podcast with it.
 
Between the improved clarity and quality of the 24-bit capture, the added volume for your recording, and the dramatically reduced noise, I can say this with confidence: If you’re a streamer or content creator that  uses a headset, you need the Hel. It really is that good.
 
No matter how you cut it, the current design leads me to believe the Hel is designed for audio-lovers who also happen to be gamers and streamers, not the other way around."
 

Read Full Review ->