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Universal Surround DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amp

AC Adapter


Ships 1-3 days






Imagine surround sound that’s easy, fun, and works with everything. That’s Syn. Well, Syn is also a DAC, remote control preamp, and headphone amp as well. Oh yeah, and it won’t become a paperweight when standards change. Head exploded? That’s OK. We’ll break it down.

Surround Set Free
Forget worrying about whether your surround works with the latest standards or if you’ve spent enough Sundays tweaking umpteen 31-band EQs and uploading the latest room correction files because you moved a chair. Plug Syn into the optical output of any smart TV, twist a couple of knobs, and then sit back and enjoy great surround. Or plug in via USB, or use the analog input—Syn provides surround from any stereo source.
Gaming Unleashed
Whether you’re using speakers or headphones, Syn adds another dimension to your gaming. Immerse yourself by adding surround speakers. Or focus in on the tiniest details with crossfeed-like headphone processing. Or move gaming to the living room or media room. We’re not gonna stop you!
Stereo Redefined
Just want stereo? Syn is an exceptional remote control DAC/preamp. With USB, optical, and analog inputs, as well as a fully discrete main stage for the stereo channels and motorized Alps potentiometer for volume control, it delivers amazing quality. Want to try surround? Syn allows you to simply add the surround, sub, and center channels—without touching the mains at all. Try it—it’s pretty amazing!
All On Your Head
Syn also includes a powerful (1000mW) fully discrete headphone amp, as well as a frequency-dependent, crossfeed-like soundstage mixing capability that help combat the “in your head” feeling from headphone listening. Whether you’re looking for a good headphone DAC/amp, or
want the headphone output for late-night movie watching, Syn delivers.
Developed Through Listening
Syn isn’t like any other surround processor. It’s not digital. It supports no standard. Its all-analog processing doesn’t use any steering. It was developed by producing a simple matrix prototype, then tweaking it with analog computing techniques until it provided enjoyable, realistic results. This meant the development of two exclusive controls—Width and Presence—as well as specific headphone shaping and matrix cross-mixing.
Designed and Built in Texas
By "designed and built in Texas," this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Syn—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made in California. Our PCBs are made in Utah or Nevada, and it all comes together in Texas.
2-Year Warranty, Easy Returns 
Syn is also covered by a 2-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Syn, you can send it back for a refund, minus 15% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Main L/R
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.02db
THD: <0.0005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
IMD: <0.0005%, CCIR
SNR: >118dB, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
Topology: fully discrete voltage feedback, high current/high power output for headphone amp
Gain: 0dB
Output Impedance: 75 ohms

Headphone Out (from Main L/R)
Maximum Power, 16 Ohms: 1000mW RMS
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1000mW RMS
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 700mW RMS
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 180mW RMS
Output Impedance (headphones): 0.1 ohms

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.02db
THD: <0.0005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
IMD: <0.0005%, CCIR
SNR: >118dB, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Topology: based on OPA1656/OPA1678
Gain: 0dB in absence of processing, up to 12dB with processing
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms

Frequency Response: -3dB at 7kHz
THD: <0.0006%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
IMD: <0.0006%, CCIR
SNR: >114dB, A-weighted, referenced to 2V RMS
Topology: based on OPA1656/OPA1678
Gain: 0dB in absence of processing, up to 12dB with processing
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms

Subwoofer Out
Frequency Response: -3dB at 80 Hz
THD: <0.0008%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 2V RMS
IMD: <0.0008%, CCIR
SNR: >112dB referenced to 2V RMS
Topology: based on OPA1656/OPA1678
Gain: 10dB referenced to mains
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms

USB Receiver: C-Media CM6635

DAC: ESS ES9018 with LM4562 I/V and filter stages

Sample Rates and Bit Depths
USB Playback: 16/44.1 to 32/384 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (any UAC 2 device) with autoswitching to UAC1 for PS4, PS5, and Switch consoles.
Mic Input: 48kHz
Optical Input: 16/44.1 to 24/192

Inputs: Digital Optical, Digital USB, Analog RCA

Outputs: Analog Main L/R, Center, Surround L/R, Subwoofer

Volume Control: analog, motorized Alps RK16812 series potentiometer

Remote Control: input select, mode select, master volume, mute

Other Controls: Center Level, Surround Level, Width, Presence, all done in analog with Alps RK09 or RK097 potentiometers

Power Supply: full linear supply with external power supply, wall-wart, internal filtering and regulation with dual-stage, ultra-quiet main supply and separate logic supply for microprocessor and digital section.

Power Consumption: 7W typical

Size: 9” x 6” x 1.5”

Weight: 2 lbs

APx Report for Syn

So what surround standards does this support? ATOMS? DSDTS? MQANON?
None of them.

How can you call this a surround processor?
Because it creates surround from any stereo source.

Wait a sec. This works with anything?

Like, I plug in a TV and I get surround?
Yep! Or a computer. Or a streamer. Or a tablet. Or any analog source. Syn has inputs for optical and USB digital, as well as analog stereo.

But you don’t support any standards?
No. And by not supporting any standards, Syn never goes obsolete when standards change.

Wait a sec. Never obsolete? You mean I don’t have to get a whole new AVR every other year to keep up with the latest thing? You mean I don’t need to find a place for 7 new speakers every time the standards change?
Absolutely correct.

Holy heck, my head just exploded.
We understand how you feel. But do you have a question? 

Yeah. Tons. First, now that I think about it, I’m super-skeptical about this “surround from anything” claim. How does that work?
We get it. But it’s really no different than the old Hafler matrix idea, which derives L+R and L-R from any stereo signal. But we’ve added a whole lot of tricks of our own. No steering and no delays, so there’s nothing based on any proprietary art. Bottom line, feed Syn a stereo signal and you’ll get:

  • Front Left and Right. Also known as the stereo signal you fed in. You even have the option of running this without any processing at all—in other words, the other channels just add in to the mix, and we don’t mess with the stereo signal at all.
  • Center. Or, Left and right together. This gives you the ability to establish a solid center channel for dialogue in movies and shows.
  • Surround Left and Right. Or, the difference between left and right. This is the natural ambience that’s present in every stereo signal. This ambience can help establish a sense of space and provide surround cues.
  • Subwoofer. This is a filtered low-frequency output you can run to any subwoofer’s LFE input and get extended low-frequency results from.

Matrix surround? That’s it?
Nope. Syn was developed through listening and tweaking—not as in audiophile tweaking, but as in “hey, we’re already doing some analog computing stuff here, what can we do to address some of the weaknesses of matrix while we’re at it?” So we’ve added a bunch of our own tweaks to it, including:

  • Width control. Allows you to pull common content out of the main channels, and solidify the center image when used in a home theater or media application.
  • Presence control. Allows you to better integrate main and center channels, and to tame the forwardness of some mixes. Sometimes it seems like movie sound guys love to have it sound like everyone’s yelling at each other through traffic cones. This is not realistic.
  • Crossfeed-ish. Use the Width control the other way to reduce stereo separation, and you can do some crossfeed-y trickery with headphones. Because Syn senses when headphones are connected and does some frequency shaping on Width only in that instance.
  • Proprietary matrix. It’s not such a simple matrix anymore—we tweaked how some of the channels are combined, and how they combine when you change settings.

You can’t hope to get the same kind of results as a real ATOMS system out of this, right?
If you’re asking about the ability to decode the precise location of a virtual 3D sound object at the correct height behind your head, nope. But if you want a sense of ambience that includes some very surprisingly realistic surround effects from well-mixed shows, we got ya covered.

Hmm. Convince me this is better than a “real” standards-based surround system.
Okay. Here you go:

  1. It’s better because it’s designed around how normal people enjoy shows. Plug it into any smart TV’s optical outlet, set the digital audio to PCM, tweak a few knobs, and you’re done forever.
  2. It’s better because it doesn’t encourage nervosa. No room measurements. No 31-band EQ for 16 channels. No infinitely variable bass management. No worries about what’s coming next year.
  3. It’s better because it only needs 5 speakers and one sub, and no more. That’s a lot easier to deal with than a full-boat 11-32 channel system.
  4. It’s better because it won’t go obsolete when surround standards change.
  5. It’s better because, let’s face it, you’re still looking at a flat screen, and super-precise 3D sound might pull you out of the immersion.
  6. It’s better because you can add channels without messing with the mains, preserving the integrity of the original signal.
  7. It’s better because it’s designed for gaming as well as theater, and stereo as well as theater, and headphones as well as theater, and pretty much any use you can think of, because it’s designed to be a universal product, with all of our knowledge of DACs and discrete analog stages and headphone ampery put into it.
  8. It’s better because it’s easy. Surround, to us, should be fun—getting a bunch of friends together and seeing and feeling things go boom on the screen. Not spending a month of Sundays calibrating your system and worrying if you can deal with the latest surround version on the newest hot movie. Almost nobody sees or hears that—and nobody cares after a couple beers.

Wait a sec, did you say discrete?
Yes, the main stage is discrete. The other channels are derived using op-amps.

A discrete stage in something this inexpensive?
Sure. We’re crazy.

What DAC?
ES9018. Similar to Modi+. Also has an ADC for mic input if you’re using it for gaming.

Wait, this is a gaming device too?
Sure. Here’s how you can use Syn:

  • As a surround processor in a media room (or living room, we aren’t picky.)
  • As a gaming DAC/amp that also has surround capabilities on the desktop.
  • As a remote-control DAC/amp/preamp in a stereo system. Hint: try music in surround. Not kidding. Seriously.
  • As a headphone amp/DAC on the desktop that is ready for stereo monitors, or stereo and sub, or more.

You don’t seriously use this thing with music, do you?
Absolutely! Don’t dismiss it if you haven’t heard it.

What about HDMI?
What about it? Plug those damn HDMI cables into your smart TV, then connect the smart TV to Syn with an optical cable. Let video do its video thing, let us do the analog thing.

What if I’m using a projector with no optical output, smartass?
Then you’ll need an HDMI de-embedder to split out the sound—there are tons of them out there. Just be sure to get one that supports your current HDMI resolution. Some don’t do 4K, etc. Check Amazon for what’s available now.

How did you come up with this crazy-ass idea?
Jason and Mike, the founders of Schiit, have been involved with surround for almost 30 years, doing the earliest upgradable digital Dolby Pro-Logic processor, the Angstrom 200, and the first Dolby Digital/DTS processor, the Angstrom 205. Both were uncomfortable with the proliferation of new standards and the resulting obsolescence of their surround components. Jason long thought about doing a standards-less processor, so, when faced with the latest upgrade, decided to put together something simple. That “something simple” became, through several iterations, Syn, and it’s worked so well that he has no desire to go back to conventional surround. However, as he states, he may be insane.

What is Syn?
Syn, in Norse mythology, is a goddess associated with defensive refusal. And we’re defensively refusing to participate in the nervosa game known as standards-based surround.

Schiit Destroyed Home Theater?

Read Full Review ->

Schiit Syn: 91/100

Schiit Syn in a nutshell: Stupid surround for dumb or lazy people (like me who are too old or busy to F with stuff). 91/100 Official SBAF Rating.

Read Full Review ->

Actual Human User Review of Syn

The short, TLDR version: the other members of your household would never even consider asking if the sound was a discrete 5.1/7.1 mix or not. The surround sound you get from the Syn is fully immersive, engaging, and leaves nothing to be desired.

I went with the first race scene in Ready Player One, the freeway scene in The Matrix Reloaded, and the mini cooper scene from The Bourne Identity. In all 3 cases, I was so impressed with not only the sound from left and right, but also front and back. As cars zoom by, they track from front to back or back to front. Its pretty crazy how the math must work on the matrix logic for that to happen. Most memorably, in the Matrix Reloaded, there is a point where Morpheus gets flipped over backwards while fighting an agent on top of a semi. Its a slow motion shot, and the Syn had the flipping whoosh start in the front channels and clearly finish in the rear channels. I guess my main point is that its not just extra ambience you get with these scenes. You get actual sound effects from the surround channels.

Read Full Review ->