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Modular Nexus™ and Continuity S™ Balanced Headphone Amp and Preamp

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Unique technology, unrivalled flexibility, and modular design—the Jotunheim 2 sets the standard for balanced headphone amps and preamps. It’s ready for any headphone—and fully enabled to be the centerpiece of a complete desktop system. 

The Best $2400 Headphone Amp—For $400?
If you’re talking fully discrete, truly balanced headphone amps, you’re usually talking big, big money. Not with Jotunheim 2. It meets—or even exceeds—the insane parts and build quality of boutique amps. A true balanced, 4-gang, silky-smooth Alps RK27114 potentiometer and 1% “supermatched” JFET inputs, 10% matched, paired BJT gain stage and output devices, and zero capacitors in the signal path is just a start. Jotunheim 2 also features our exclusive Nexus™ current-feedback, inherently differential, input/output agnostic topology. It also includes our Continuity S™ output stage for exceptional linearity and efficiency at high output. Or, in English, Jotunheim 2 connects seamlessly to all your sources without compromise, puts out an incredible amount of power, and is whisper-quiet on even the most sensitive IEMs.

Total. Desktop. Control.
Jotunheim 2 provides all the connections and control for your entire desktop. Choose balanced, single-ended, or an internal card source with one front panel switch. Enjoy all your headphones, from the most power-hungry to the most sensitive. Hook up to powered monitors or speaker power amps via the balanced and single-ended preamp outputs. And, enable or disable the preamp outputs with a convenient switch. Jotunheim is all you need for a state-of-the-art desktop.
Modularity: Tailored To Your Needs, Ready For the Future
Jotunheim 2 is the only modular, affordable balanced headphone amp available today. This means it’s the only amp that lets you tailor it perfectly to your needs. Choose from these optional modules: 
  • 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.
  • MM Phono. Or, choose the MM phono input module, for 42dB of gain and passive RIAA, for great phono sound, for $100. 
Also, Jotunheim 2’s modular design means you’re ready for the future. You won’t get stuck with dumpster fodder if DAC technology changes—just swap the module. And, you won’t get stuck with an amp that doesn’t work for you—change the module to meet your changing needs.
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 Jotunheim 2—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. Our transformers are made in NorCal. You get the picture. 
5-Year Warranty and Easy Return Policy
Jotunheim 2 is covered by a 5-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Jotunheim 2, you can send it back for a refund, minus 5% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.01db, 2Hz-700KHz, -3dB

Balanced Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 7.5W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 6W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 4W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 1.2W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 600mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.00015%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 4V RMS, 300 ohms
IMD: <0.0002%, CCIR, at 4V RMS, 300 ohms
THD: <0.0004% 20-20kHz at 2V RMS, 32 ohms
IMD: <0.0006%, CCIR, at 2V RMS, 32 ohms
SNR: >123db, unweighted, referenced to 4V RMS
Crosstalk: >-85dB, 20 Hz-20KHz, 300 ohms
Crosstalk: >-70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz, 32 ohms
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms, at either gain setting
Single-Ended Headphone Output:
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 2.4W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 2.0W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.2W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 330mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 165mW RMS per channel
THD: <0.006%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS, 300 ohms
IMD: <0.007%, CCIR, at 2V RMS, 300 ohms
THD: <0.03% 20-20kHz at 1V RMS, 32 ohms
IMD: <0.035%, CCIR, at 1V RMS, 32 ohms
SNR: >102db, unweighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Crosstalk: >-85dB, 20 Hz-20KHz, 300 ohms
Crosstalk: >-70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz, 32 ohms
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms, at either gain setting
Input Impedance: 50K ohms
Gain (balanced input): 2 (0dB) or 8 (18dB)
Gain (SE input): 1 (0dB) or 4 (12dB)
Inputs: Balanced XLR and Single-Ended RCA, relay switched
Outputs: Balanced headphone (4-pin XLR), single-ended headphone (1/4” TRS), switchable balanced and single-ended line preamp
Optional Inputs: ES9028 DAC or Passive MM Phono
Gain Stage: Nexus™ fully discrete differential current-feedback topology with Continuity S™ output stage
Power Supply: One 48VA transformer with four stacked rails, series two-stage ultra-low-noise regulation and over 65,000uF total filter capacitance
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: <0.0005%, 20Hz-20KHz
IMD: <0.0005%, CCIR
S/N: >116dB, referenced to 2V RMS, unweighted
Optional Passive Filtered Phono Stage:
Gain: 42dB
THD: <0.01%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >80dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -70dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 2.3mV for 400mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB
Input Impedance: 47k ohms 
Input Capacitance: 100pf
RIAA Accuracy: +/- 0.25dB, 20-20kHz
Topology: Fully passive RIAA network with AD8599 gain stages and PET film capacitors throughout, DC coupled, with DC servo
Power Consumption: 25W typical
Size: 9” x 6” x 2”
Weight: 6 lbs

So this “best $2400 amp for $400” is a bit of hype, isn’t it?
Hmm, well, you look some of the big-dollar amps and let us know. 

I’d prefer a less smartass answer, please.
Gotcha. But please have a look at what’s available that is (a) really truly balanced, (b) fully discrete, (c) using parts like Alps RK27114 “Blue Velvet” potentiometers (d) has a 100% internal, 100% linear power supply, (e) has insane attention paid to parts quality, including using matched parts throughout—in the input, voltage gain, and output stages, (f) provides tons of power for hard-to-drive headphones AND is super-quiet for the most sensitive IEMs. We think you’ll find there isn’t much out there.

Well, Jotunheim 2 does cost more if you add an optional module.
Wow, tough audience. Yep, you can get it up to $499 or $599. But that also highlights the fact that it’s the only affordable, customizable, future-proof balanced headphone amp out there.

So how come you guys are the only ones who can do this super duper value balanced amp?
Because we make a lot of them. Because we make sure they are easy to make. Because we also make sure they are super reliable. That’s basically it. No magic.

There are other balanced amps in Jotunheim 2’s price range. What about them?
What about them? They use IC-based topologies, like our Magnius. And may we remind you that Magnius costs far less than these other affordable balanced amps, while (a) far outstripping them in potentiometer quality (using the 27mm Alps RK27114 versus their 9mm potentiometers), and (b) being designed and made right here in California.

But they measure better than Jotunheim 2.
So does Magnius. So if you’re going for measured performance versus cost, Magnius is the logical choice. Get a Magnius and save $200 over a Jotunheim 2. Done.

I don’t get it—why would I want a Jotunheim 2 then?
Because, like us, you think there is something to fully discrete designs. Or you want a product without a wall-wart. Or you drank the Schiit Kool-Aid and you just gotta have Nexus and Continuity. Or you want to add a module for a single-box desktop system. Or maybe you just got money to burn. It’s cool. You can buy one, the other, neither, or both, and we’ll be perfectly happy.

So this is now a Nexus™ amp?
Yes, it is. Like Ragnarok 2 and Jotunheim R, Jotunheim 2 is our unique, current-feedback, inherently differential, input/output agnostic topology using matched parts throughout. 

Wow that’s a lot of words. What do they mean?
Fair enough. Let’s break it down:

  • Unique: as far as we know, nobody else is using a topology like Nexus. It isn’t a circlotron, it isn’t supersymmetry, it offers two high-impedance input terminals, is inherently differential, offers single-ended output…but hell, that’s a lot of words too. Sorry about that.
  • Current-feedback: as in, the feedback is taken to an inherently low-impedance node, which means the circuit is insanely fast and has very low noise.
  • Inherently differential: feed it a balanced signal, it stays balanced. Feed it single-ended, and it emerges balanced, because it is a differential amplifier. There’s no conversion before or after the stage.
  • Input/output agnostic: connect it to anything, and take anything out. Connect to balanced and use the single-ended outputs…that’s perfectly fine. SE to balanced…also fine. SE to SE and balanced to balanced…fine again. 
  • Matched parts throughout: Nexus requires obsessive parts matching. So instead of using any parts off the reel (which may vary up to 50-80%) the parts are either matched by the manufacturer to 10% in paired devices, or hand-matched by us to 1% for the input JFETs—literally the tightest matching on any audio device, at any price.

My head still hurts, can you break this down into non-technologese?
Unfortunately not much more, sorry. Basically, the thing to know is you can use any source, and connect to any headphone, powered monitor, or amp without nervosa.

And this is also a Continuity™ amp?
Close. Jotunheim 2 debuts Continuity S™, which is a simplified version of Continuity. Continuity S allows us to increase the linearity of our output stage, and also provides increased efficiency, to reduce distortion and higher output power. It is less focused on providing an exact transconductance splice to simulate Class A operation, and more focused on combatting transconductance droop…
You’re going into that technologese again!
Yes. Sorry about that. Let’s just say Continuity S reduces distortion and increases power output, but without requiring the higher standing bias of Continuity. Hence the better performance than the original Jotunheim, without massive heat.
Ah, that’s a good point—how is this amp different than Jotunheim?
It’s entirely different. Really the only common parts are the bottom chassis and the volume knob. Jotunheim 2 also takes the same modular cards as Jotunheim, Lyr 3, Asgard 3, and Ragnarok. Beyond that, however, literally everything is different. 
Can you upgrade Jotunheim to Jotunheim 2?
Nope, sorry. It would require a new main board and a new top chassis—upgrading would literally cost more than buying new.
Well, what about my original Jotunheim? Am I left behind?
Absolutely not. You still have our full warranty, service, and support, and you can continue to upgrade via modular cards. Jotunheim continues to be future-proof.
I see you can switch the preamp outputs on and off on Jotunheim 2.
Yes. We added that feature because it was a common request. Now, you can control the output to your powered monitors (or speaker power amps) with a front-panel switch.
Other than that, anything new?
Other than being completely different, you mean? No. Jotunheim was a game-changer when it showed up, and it continued as the only fully discrete, truly differential balanced amp for almost 5 years after it was introduced. Jotunheim 2 is a thorough re-thinking of Jotunheim, but it should remain familiar to anyone who’s ever used a Jotunheim.
How does it sound?
Come on, you know we don’t talk about that. You tell us.
Sigh. Okayfine. What’s the difference between the DAC modules?
About $100.
Sheesh. Smartasses. Besides that, what’s the difference between the DAC modules?
Okay, we’ll be serious. You can choose one of two different DAC modules for Jotunheim:
  • True Multibit™ DAC Module. This one uses Schiit’s unique time- and frequency-domain optimized DSP-based digital filter and deep multibit D/A converter architecture, with the AK5547 D/A converter.  
  • ES9028 DAC Module. This one uses an ESS ES9028Q2M D/A converter with our own Unison USB™digital input via a USB-C jack. Plan your cables accordingly on this one.

And the phono card?
It doesn’t play any digital at all, I’m afraid.

Double sigh. I see you’re getting tired of these questions. So, when would I need the phono module?
If you need a phono preamp for moving-magnet cartridges, the phono module provides a convenient, low-noise, high performance, passive equalized phono stage. Designed for use with the vast majority of moving-magnet cartridges, it turns Jotunheim 2 into a one-box phono headphone amp and preamp.
But if I choose the phono module, I don’t get any digital inputs?
Correct. Jotunheim 2 only takes one card at a time. If you want to add digital inputs as well as a phono card, Modius is an exceptionally high-performance, size-matched DAC for $199. Or if you want something in a smaller chassis, Modi is only $99.
What’s Jotunheim in Norse mythology?
It’s the land of the giants. Which we believe is very appropriate for this amp. But you tell us…
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.
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