Schiit Wyrd USB ‘Decrapifier’ review


The message is a simple one: a consumer-grade PC or Mac’s circuits aren’t designed with electrical noise minimisation in mind. Inside your average Apple or Dell, numerous high-frequency fundamentals ring out before harmonics bring in the chorus. The result? A wide (frequency) spectrum of noise.

When deployed at the top of a digital audio playback chain, EMI and RFI can prove subtly troublesome to downstream connected devices. Getting more device specific: direct-connect said PC or Mac to your DAC via USB cable and that noise can work its way into the converter where it messes with the timing of sensitive (sample rate) clocks which in turn piles on the jitter.

The majority of USB receiver chips rely on the host computer’s 5V line for power. A direct electrical connection between the two is mostly unavoidable. And as we shall see, even a D/A converter that powers its USButler from within isn’t immune.

AudioQuest’s approach to tackling the noise that travels along USB’s power and data buses is to passively filter it. The JitterBug connects directly to the host computer’s USB port and attenuates internal electrical noise by sending (some of) it to ground. You can read this commentator’s findings on real-world JitterBug deployment here and here.

Also from California, Schiit Audio’s approach is a little more involved. Their US$99 Wyrd device – made entirely on US soil – is a single-port USB hub with low noise power supply. Sharp-eyed readers will already have noted that a second USB cable is required: one between computer and Wyrd and the other between Wyrd and DAC.


Company founders Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat are (wisely) making zero noise (ha!) about what it can/will do for your DAC’s USB input and the resulting sound.

“Some listeners say Wyrd improves the sound of their system. We’re not going to make any such claims. We remain Swiss on the matter—we don’t do the hard sell by promising sonic nirvana,” they say.

But this is Schiit Audio where ‘no promises’ implies the opposite. More likely that Moffat and Stoddard (again wisely) don’t wish to be drawn into the keyboard warrior’s favourite trap: the substantiation tangle. The more you struggle the tighter it gets.

Moffat and Stoddard refer to the Wyrd as a ‘Decrapifier’ on their website. In person the term they use is far less PG.

Pronunciation? “Wired”? “Weird”? “Word”? Anyone?

The Wyrd’s job is two-fold:

1) It allows data to pass through unhindered but cauterises the incoming Vbus. From the supplied linear wall wart the Wyrd slipstreams its own 5V feed. According to Schiit’s promo blurb this AC adaptor features “precision low-noise (2.5uV) voltage regulators”. The goal here is to lower the noise reaching the DAC over the Vbus not by filtration but by substitution.



2) The Wyrd also Reclocks* – or rather repeats – the USB data packets coming from the host computer, the aim of which is to maintain a more evenly timed flow of data between source and DAC and so improve overall signal quality.

Signal quality? Electrical noise riding along the data bus can cause the USB receiver chip’s physical layer (PHY) to work harder to determine a) the precise location of the signal’s edges and b) the arrival timing of those edges.

The USB signal repeating role of the Wyrd is for improving signal quality so that the PHY can make lighter work of reading the signal. A better quality USB data stream lowers the chance of the PHY activating its noise-creating pre-processing steps. Such thinking also holds true for Ethernet cables and the corresponding PHY in Ethernet receiver chips.

The theory being outlined here is both complicated and multi-layered. If you’re still struggling to understand all of it (as I am), don’t fret. I’ll be digging into it again when tackling Uptone’s Regen.

I’ve thus far avoided mention of dropped packets or data errors. Those of a ‘bits are bits’ persuasion might be surprised to learn that file transfer methods over USB – where time sensitivity isn’t an issue – differ from transfer methods used for digital audio where time sensitivity is an issue.

Transferring a file from computer to external hard drive deploys ‘bulk transfer mode’ which calls into effect data integrity checks, ensuring all packets sent are received (or else are resent). These data checks don’t take place within the isochronous USB data transfer method used for digital audio; it’s a real-time transmission method with no provision for packet resends. Transmission errors can and do happen.

For the sake of argument let’s assume all data transmitted by host computer (and repeated by Wyrd) is received by the DAC. When faced with a high-noise or high-jitter data stream the PHY has to work extra hard to play catch on the incoming data and in doing so can create more noise inside the DAC. That is, even when every last morsel of data arrives noise can still occur.


Enough theory, time to listen.

The Schiit Wyrd makes zero audible difference to DACs fronted by an Antipodes Audio DX, itself tuned for lower noise from the outset.You can’t attenuate/eradicate that which doesn’t present in the first place. If anything, the DX loses a little of the organic nature of its sound.

Improvements weren’t fully noted until the Wyrd played intermediary between a 2014 MacBook Air and a range of decoders – the Chord Hugo, the Hugo TT and the Resonessence Labs INVICTA – in a headphone setup headed up by HiFiMan’s HE-1000. Results were then confirmed on a late 2014 MacMini in the main system: a Vinnie Rossie LIO driving KEF LS50 standmounts where an Aqua La Voce subbed in for the Chord Hugo TT.

Splicing the Wyrd into the chain saw treble glare diminish, replaced by a better sense of clarity and avidity. To what degree proved to be DAC dependent. The original pocketable Hugo converter turned out to be the most easily seduced by the Schiit box’s charms.

The Wyrd matches the JitterBug’s improvements with music’s rhythmic suppleness and ease. With either in a playback chain committed to The Hold Steady’s Boys And Girls In America, Chad Keubler’s guitar work didn’t cut the air with quite as much edgy etch. Where the Schiit bests the JitterBug is on the amount of metaphorical liquidity a listener might ascribe to musical flow. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the extended electronic jams that make up the front half of Minilogue’s pulsing Blomma.

The mains powered unit also outstrips the less costly passive dongle on layer delineation, particularly front to back. Without the Wyrd, the KEF wall of sound is a little more two-dimensional and not quite as engaging in the long-term.


Do I think the Wyrd brings more of an improvement than the JitterBug? Yessireebob. Did it improve each and every scenario tested here? Yup, but the delta width varied.

In my listening tests, pre-pending the JitterBug to the Wyrd made not a jot of difference. If adding it post-Wyrd made the tiniest of improvements I didn’t always hear enough to put money where my mouth is.

Those hoping for a low-cost shortcut into Antipodes’ high-end performance territory will be disappointed: the Wyrd does not lift the MacMini to DX levels. Not even close. What it does do is strip away a good portion of the Apple computer’s treble glare (which I’d not properly noticed myself until reviewing the Antipodes DS Reference almost two years ago). You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone – isn’t that how the old saying goes? Here, gone is good and for which US$99 is money VERY well spent.

None of improvements exacted by the Wyrd are what you’d call huge. Feel free to call bullshit on anyone who trots out the night and day dichotomy. You get more than you might from swapping out a USB cable, less than changing the DAC itself. Even so, the Schiit earned its place in all manner of configurations here and there isn’t one in which I wouldn’t use it.

The Wyrd is staying put.

And whilst this ‘ere USB hub doesn’t render the Light Harmonic’s LightSpeed cable redundant it does erode some of Old Red’s edge. (Ironically, the Wyrd demands two). My advice? Get a Schiit Wyrd first, add exotic USB wire later.

Further information: Schiit Wyrd




*A USB data clock is not to be confused with a sample rate clock.

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


Leave a Reply
  1. Can you please do a review of the USB Regen as a companion piece to the Wyrd and jitterbug reviews? It seems to be a popular topic.

    • Not yet. Besides, I’ve already penned two pieces on the JB so new contributor Ken Micallef in NYC is scheduled to handle the next slice of JB review coverage.

  2. It is a pityy that the audio industry have chosen for USB as ‘the standard’ for interconnecting digital audiogear..I believe that by now it is time for a re-callibration and a new standard. We still have spdif and AES/EBU and optical but only a few companies acknowledged that the best sounding interface is actually I2S-I2S..! Time for a closer look (and listen) to what is available or possible for real improvement instead of filtering actively or passively the noise and timing errors out of the signal..

    • Consider this Peter: that USB audio has become the industry standard because people understand it and are familiar with it. Even a good number of computer audiophiles enjoy the comfort-through-familiarity of USB.

      Plenty of options out there for I2S connectivity for more advanced users.

      • Hi John,

        Besides Pink Faun and a few high end cd transports, do you have a list of other comapnies using I2S output in their music servers/streamers? Thanks.

        • I don’t have a list but off the top of my head: Sonore Rendu streamer and PS Audio’s disc spinner spring immediately to mind.

          • Thanks John.. There seems a lot more dacs with I2S inputs out there Vs transports/servers/streamers having them as outputs.

      • Hi John, I understand your point, but I have the impression that USB has been forced into the audio industry as the new ‘standard’ ever since we have been trying to connect computers into the audio chain. Yes, we are familiar with it, but it says a lot if a company like Schiit baptised their new product as ‘decrapifier’ … which proves to me that the USB standard itself is crappy and better solutions will sound better 🙂

        • That maybe the case but I think USB strikes the right balance between ease of use by newcomers and sound quality for more advanced users. What would you propose at a new standard?

    • Where does the i2s come from in the first place? No HDD nor NAS outputs i2s, they output in Ethernet or USB protocols. Thus one needs to first convert one of those to i2s. There is no free lunch. There are also quite a few things that can be done to improve USB, like the Regen.

      You should also consider the OPTICAL USB solution that Dietmar of Trinity has developed.

  3. I know the schiit wyrd is usb and costs 4 less than the remedy reclocker. However, both can be part of a mac based audio chain.

    Which one would you choose if cost is not an object?

    My dacs are cord hugo and nad m51.

    By the way, i also have the ps direct stream and i am nearly sure the remedy elevated the sound of the directstream, though my research is scarce.


    • Yes, but the Remedy is a S/PDIF reclocker. It re-clocks the *audio* samples. The Wyrd re-clocks the USB *data* packets. Money no object, the Remedy makes the more profound difference to my ears.

      • Thanks! I also believe the Remedy to be an awesome device. Is it revolutionary? Based on all the gear I have ever tried, it is. But who am I to say? I have had only limited access to gear. Sorry to talk about the Remedy and not the Wyrd (which I also own). I guess they do compete despite their price difference. Anyone spending on cables which cost more than USD$50 per meter, should get a Remedy instead (assuming those USD$50 are spent in many meters around your gear).

        John, do you also believe the Remedy is revolutionary? To me, it has made more of a difference than any upgrade (except for speakers and their matching amps). So it has made a larger difference than a 10K preamp or a 6K DAC.

  4. Good review. I think you nailed it. The Wyrd makes subtle, but noticeable improvement and takes an edge off.
    BTW, I now have a Wyrd in series with a Uptone Audio Regen (Regen connected on DAC USB input, Wyrd on computer source feeding Regen): results, for me, in another slight improvement. What the guys at Uptone say is that even the PHY on the Regen makes a bit of noise – it’s unavoidable. By feeding it a cleaner signal from the Wyrd, you reduce that “self noise” of the Regen a little, and your DAC then gets an even cleaner signal than it would otherwise.
    It will be interesting to see if you have the same results, John.

  5. Thanks for this review. I’ll have to try one of these in between my Mac Mini and Bifrost Uber. Experimenting is a lot more fun when it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

  6. So streaming is a different USB protocol?
    So capture a streamed file, archive it, and compare it bit by bit to the original file.
    Number of bits Different?
    Install favorite gadget or cable.
    Number of bits different?
    You have access, please do this so we can judge how effective these devices are.

    • Is this a lead-in to the game of ‘prove it’? 😉 If so, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But assuming I had the time and inclination, what device would you recommend I use to capture the USB stream?

      Besides, did you not see the section where I assume that ALL packets arrive in tact but that the amount of noise generated inside the DAC is determined by how hard the USB receiver chip has to work to play catch on those data packets? Even when ALL data arrives as sent, the resulting sound quality can still vary.

      • Yes John, this is a correct statement! We are not listening to bits, but to the analog signal after it has been processed by the DAC. The digital stream itself is also an analog signal and not pure one’s and zero’s. What is fascinating though, that even with all the RFI and EMI and jitter interferences which are being introduced in this analog bit-stream signal is that if the bits are stored on a medium, there will be no storage of errors and jitter etc… This is an intriguing fact which (to my opinion..) should be used by the audio industry in a design which will be much more robust and free of noise. If the data transport from our NAS or streaming device to our DAC via this ‘crappy’ USB cable is so sensitive to noise, why not bring and store the data much closer to the DAC before streaming it into this DAC? I am much looking forward to such a proper data storage (buffer?) design in which the bits are closely located to the DAC and transport to it , of at least one complete album, will be done by shortest signal path via ( here I go again..) I2S-I2S connection. In this way, the data transport will be much more robust and RFI and jitter introduction will be virtually impossible…! Is there something out there which intrinsically solves these transport problems?

    • Signal processing is an extremely hard topic, even the top DAC designers have hard time to fully understand it, let alone control it. Most DAC designers wouldn’t admit their designs are affected by noise and jitter problems, it seems to be a big no no to say as a DAC designer. See, even if you can put together a circuit board and make sounds coming out, it doesn’t mean you fully understand what’s going on under the hood. For twenty years, all of the DACs came out and claimed itself free from noise and jitter problems, but in reality, they never were perfect. Though, with more and more specific products coming out addressing the problems with various noise and jitter causing elements, AND more and more DAC designers openly admitting their products are not immune to those problems, I think the industry is on a good track.

  7. Thanks for this review.. It’d be interesting if ever Shchiit releases a Bifrost Uber Multibit, and lands on your hands too one of these days. Anyway, I hope recent Ifi products like the Ipurifier usb and Ipower wallwart get some review time here in the future..

    • Got me a multibit Gungnir here already and I believe a multibit Bifrost is due before EOY (but don’t quote me on that).

      • That’s cool.. If ever the Bifrost Multibit comes out maybe a shootout with the upcoming Musette and the most recent Audio-gd Dac-19 is feasible. Three sub $1k multibit r2r dacs.

        BTW, here’s an interesting article on USB Audio:

        Some of it is over my head but may be useful to some here.

  8. Out of interest, I would love to see this wonderful device, and AudioQuest Jitterbug, compared to iFi Audio’s iUSBPower supply (+ iPurifier if possible).
    Even better, add the dual headed Gemini USB cable from iFi Audio, or another manufacturer such as Kingrex.

    Furthermore, and contrary to belief, if you do use the iUSBPower and have the Gemini cable (or alternative) you do NOT need to use another USB cable:
    – From the data/audio head of Gemini connect to PC/MAC,
    – From the power head of Gemini connect to the Power out of iUSBPower,
    – connect the single combined USB head to DAC, or iPurifier device, then DAC.

    This setup negates and bypasses the iUSBPower’s ISOEarth switch, which is rendered mute.
    The point of above setup is to use one dual headed cable to connect between computer, USB accessories, and DAC. It also means the iUSBPower does not need to split the data and audio signals as the Gemini (or alternative) cable physically does this.

    If, however, you don’t own or can’t get a dual headed USB cable then two cables are necessary for the iUSBPower to work:
    – Connect one USB cable to your computer, and then to the input of iUSBPower,
    – connect a second USB cable from the dual power/audio (data) output of iUSBPower, and then to your DAC, or iPurifier (or Jitterbug) to DAC.

    This is where ISOEarth switch is used, and here the iUSBPower will split the audio data and power into two, get rid of the USB power from PC, and add clean USB power.
    In other words it does more work, and though this does work in my opinion, it is inferior to the former setup.

    The iPurifier is a device that is similar to what the Schiit Wyrd/AudioQuest Jitterbug does, predates both in terms of when it was released, and is well designed, but in my opinion it is not standalone and works best with a power regulator.
    Indeed, the Schiit Wyrd seems to be a combination of iFi Audio’s iUSBPower and iPurifier, so it would be awesome to hear your thoughts on this John.

    So, if you could review the iFi Audio product’s and compare different setups, and compare to Schiit Audio, AudioQuest, etc, offerings, as part of digital audio accessories reviews, I can only hope it helps reader’s seek the right upgrades or make their own informed opinion on the matter of USB audio technology.

    Cheers for the write up though! <3


    (Apologies to any grammar or spelling mistakes; I wrote this on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with autocorrect…).

  9. I’d like to see some some oscilloscope traces of the physical USB signal before and after the Wyrd. If the noise on the USB signal is above 20KHz, then it will have no audible impact on the audio signal.

  10. John,

    You mentioned that the Schiit Wyrd device didn’t improve the sound of the Antipodes DX since the Antipodes is already tuned for lower noise. Do you know if the same is true for an Aurender N100H?

  11. Any view on whether a Mac connected to the Schiit Wyrd with an onward USB connection to the DAC (say a Hugo) sounds ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than a Sonos/Squeezebox connected using SPDIF via a re-clocker like the Wyred 4 Sound Remedy to the same DAC?

    • My preference there would be for the SBT + Remedy. As good as it is, the Wyrd won’t clean up (a portion of) sample-rate clock jitter whereas the Remedy will.

  12. Would this device work for digital input, such as vinyl ripping from a focusright 2i2 To ccreate a cleaner signal?
    Thanks in advance!

          • The decrapifier seems to be designed to clean up playback. I would like to use it this way: turntable as source going into an analog to digital converter (focusrite scarlet 2i2) then the decrapifier, then finally into computer input via usb 2.0. Recording as opposed to playback.

          • OK. So the Focusrite will be clocking OUT USB data packets BUT in laying them down to the connected computer’s hard drive their arrival timing is not critical. Therefore, I don’t see the Wyrd as important to you as those moving USB data in the other direction where arrival timing can affect the noise in the DAC’s USB receiver.

  13. Dear John,
    what disturbs me ever since I am using a DAC (+ integrated AMP) in my audiochain is the fact that the integer (bitperfect) bits which I have present on my NAS or music server are getting polluted/noised during the transfer process from source to DAC…

    Both the computer / media server’s noise, USB cable which generates noise due to its power-loop design design as well as the RFI influences and the fact that both utilising their own clock rhythms. On top of that, both source(s) and DAC ‘s CPU utilise their own internal clocks, and synchronosation requires the asynchroneaous USB protocol.

    All these issues are influencing the way we feed our DACs with these precious ‘bits’ via a continously distorted stream, resuting in negative and audible effects.

    Its is a nice part of the hobby to search for improvements, which are preferably not expensive but provide a large improvement in our sound system ( like the jitterbug does in mine 🙂

    But why is it possible to send and download complete albums via the internet in bitperfect form via long and low-quality cables, where large distortion have been travelling with these packages of bites and still arrive in bitperfect and noise-free on our NAS or harddrives.. ?

    If the process of storage an collection of bits itself is intrinsically INERT to analog distortions and clock synchronisation issues, why isn’t there a PURISTIC solution available which will neutralise all these problems?

    If cloning a complete album from a server on the other side of the world is flawless, it should be no problem to clone the same album in the fifo RAM buffer of the DAC, disconnect the disturbing loop from the source, then command the DAC to play the album fully integer from RAM. Sounds to me like a logical and puristic approach..!

    There are some DAC manufacturers who offer the option to play from memory via SD card. Currently I am doing almost the same by playing from USB stick, with jitterbug in between by the way. This sounds in my setup NAD C39oDD, old MIT 750 MH loudspeaker cables and second hand Wilson Audio WP 5.0 actually better than streaming via TIDAL or playing a CD

    But I assume all audiophiles will be very glad to have such a ‘PURIST’option available. It is a bit like playing a CD or LP, just enyoing the best sound achievable in our own system, since external noise and exterenal jitter sources are not there anymore. Yes, the internal jitter of the DAC’s CPU and other internal sources will stay of influence, but at least the external ones are deleted..!

    Over the last 2,5 years, I started playing around with a laptop as music source. First with Foobar, later with JRiver mediaplayer. Lter I added the Jplay shell around Jplay in order to minimise the CPU usage of the laptop. Jplay offers even a HIBERNATED version of playing music, and indeed this sounds best.. But what a hassle this is..

    Then I purchased a better USB cable (audioquest Carbon) followed by the iFi micro USB power and Gemini USB cable. All small, but audible improvents for streaming my precious music towards and inside my DAC…

    Recently I upgraded the C390DD with the superb BlueOS MDC module and am now very glad to be able to stream lossless albums via TIDAL. This streamer option provides a lot of fun nd I am discovering lots of new- and rediscovering lots of old albums.

    But the ‘neurotic’ audiophile in me is never satisfied.. haha.. so the first thing I tested was this direct playing from USB memory of CD and HD material… it sounds excellent! But it was no surprise that when I purchsed the jitterbug, the quality improved again.

    All these small and larger ste are part of the fun.. I will never be able to purchase top-end material, but am very glad with the current situation. Just palying around with EQ settings again ( knowing this costs CPU power and probably affects again the sound.. but OK..)

    But anyway, my point is that it should be possible to transfer bits in 100% integer form towards a high quality buffer memory inside each DAC.. Improved software protocols might enable minimu latency and maximum data stream from memory to DAC. Utilising just 1 clock, 1 CPU, point-to-point transfer from IC to IC via internal I2S-I2S protocol ( no conversions required, puristic en minimal )

    I am just an enthousiastic and mediocre audiophile, trying to be critical to myself when I audition something new within my audiosete of during high-end shows. Always searching for new music which fits my appetite and thrills me.. If this music can be presentetd to my ears and brain in the purest form, it satisfies me and provide pleasure.. That’s the hobby I believe we all share here, readers of your blog.

    I am very curious of my search for ‘the truth’ is shared.. It should not depend on costly solutions to achieve logicl improvements in our digital to analo music systems, what do you think?

    • Let’s assume that bits *are* transferred to a FIFO buffer in a DAC, Peter. The Wyrd still has a place in the chain because it lowers the noise that reaches deep inside the DAC from 1) the source computer AND 2) the DAC’s own USB receiver chip.

  14. Is the Wyrd worth picking up to pair with a Hugo? Which USB cable to do you use with the Hugo btw. The white one that comes with the Hugo is absolute rubbish.

      • Was thinking of picking up the USB cables from Curious cables that you reviewed a while back. Does the Wyrd taken the Hugo to the next level?

        • It takes it up a notch but I wouldn’t call it next level. I’d peg the Curious as bringing an equal ‘amount’ of improvement.

          • Thanks John. Just picked one up from A2A, I’ll be happy if it just eliminates treble glare I get on some of the songs.