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Number two reaches number one: Schiit Audio factory tour & interview

Schiit Audio. Sounds like a bad Dad joke doesn’t it – but not quite. Schiit launched with a nod and a wink in 2010 and in only six years co-founders Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat have expanded their operation from a single car garage to a 12,000+ square foot workshop in Valencia, California.

The secret to this improbably named company’s success is an ongoing commitment to extremely high value DACs and (headphone) amplifiers. Moffat is nominally charged with designing the former, Stoddard the latter. Moffat is ex-Theta Digital, Stoddard ex-Sumo. If you’ve not heard of either company, don’t sweat it, just know that these guys come with serious pedigree.

All of Schiit Audio’s products are made entirely in the USA. And with a lower than average BOM multiplier coupled to ever improving economies of scale, Moffat and Stoddard are able to lay down what 99% of the audio world does not: a bridge to the mass market. Check out the recently announced Fulla 2 as a prime example.

This bridge-building ability is why Schiit enjoy abundant coverage on DAR. Ditto – but to a lesser extent – AudioQuest, ELAC and Peachtree Audio.

Schiit have also demonstrated that their thirst for a high value quotient can also be applied to more expensive models. Their flagship DAC – the Yggdrasil – sells for US$2299 but plays in the same league as considerably more expensive fare like AURALiC’s Vega or Resonessence Labs’ INVICTA.

Occasionally, we hear of some long-time audiophile selling his Meitner or dCS in favour of the Yggdrasil. Or that Schiit’s top of the line headphone amplifier, Ragnarok (US$1699), has knocked a pair of Woo Audio monoblocks from their perch.

In case you’d not pegged it by now, every Schiit product is named after a character from Norse mythology.

To these eyes (and ears), Schiit seem to have zero fear of a newer, less expensive product potentially cannibalising the sales of a more e$tablished model.

Chances are, this year’s Jotunheim headphone amplifier throws a long shadow over the more costly Mjolnir 2. I don’t know for sure…but what I do know is that the Jotunheim’s modular phono board easily bests that found within the guts of the Pioneer PLX-500 – better frequency extension, separation and tonality.

With a Chord Mojo hooked into its single-ended input, the Jotunheim’s amplifier section adds some much needed connective tissue when turning out Booka Shade’s Movements through a pair of Sennheiser HD800S and/or the AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon.

On a more personal note, I find email interviews with manufacturers and engineers a little stilted, the outcome too easily scripted and revised by company PR bods. Having previously caught Moffat and Stoddard on camera earlier this year at CanJam SoCal, I took the opportunity to visit them at their California headquarters before the dust had even settled on RMAF 2016.

In this first video, Stoddard talks and walks us from product inception to loading dock:

Moffat didn’t arrive until early afternoon, at which point the three of us sat down for a chin wag about their recent re-imagining of multibit D/A conversion. Moffat has resurrected a century-old digital filter and paired it with non-audio silicon to provide an alternative to delta-sigma conversion in the majority of the company’s DAC range.

Click here to read Audio-Head’s excellent coverage of how each DAC topology differs in Schiit’s entry-level decoder, the Modi.

Such innovation is possible because Schiit can choose their chip provider and whether or not they subscribe (or not) to emerging digital file formats. Moffat and Stoddard are accountable only to themselves; and, if the following video is anything to go by, they would very much prefer it remain that way.

Brace yrselves:

Few audio industry characters are more charismatic than Mike Moffat, right? Long may he and Jason Stoddard and Schiit Audio run…

…and it will be very interesting to see how Schiit’s RMAF 2016 teaser of two new pre-amplifiers (Sega and Freya) and a monoblock configurable power amplifier (Vidar) play out in the world of two-channel (loudspeaker) audio.

Further information: Schiit Audio

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Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR from which he derives an income from its ad revenues. John is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

21 Comments

  1. Okay, that was a great speech by Moffat. Reminded me of Mel Gibson in Braveheart. “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!”

    That movie sounded awesome in Dubly.

  2. Thanks for that tour, John – I got the impression that Schiit would be a highly organised operation and the contrast with the infamous Audionote factory tour is striking. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Do you consider then Mojo -> Jotunheim -> HD800 or Nightowl good audio chains? Based on this article, it seems that way.

  4. High quality sound at high value pricing. I am waiting for the 2-channel Schiit to hit the market, and upset many an applecart. Thanks for giving these guys the airtime they deserve.

  5. Sensational!
    From my 1970’s perspective when Dolby arrived on cassette decks, it appeared to be designed to reduce the pops and crackles on LPs that weren’t treated with respect and achieved this by cutting the higher frequencies thus making my system of the day sound lifeless.
    With a higher than average system (average being the Japanese stuff bought from department stores by my friends) and well maintained LPs that didn’t pop and crackle, all taping was done without it and played back without it.
    Never needed it, never used it.
    More power to Schiit for refusing to play with the iyi’s.
    There will be Schitt in my living room one day but it won’t be rabbit shit!

  6. I only have one problem with Mike’s stance on Dolby – and I accept that he has firsthand experience and I dont – and that problem is the success of Oppo Digital in designing and marketing products that would sell in tiny volumes compared to Samsung, Sony etc. I dont know how they do it either, but they do

    • Maybe when they charge more for each unit? But then Ethernet connectivity is such a marginal concern for Schiit’s customer base that most would be paying for a feature they don’t want/need.

      • Ethernet is growing in popularity (and practicality) due to on-line services like Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, etc… For most of Schiit’s products, it will probably won’t make a difference as you mentioned but it will be most welcome in a product like the Yggdrasil.

  7. Love the open, honest talk –is it Mike Moffat –gray-haired guy ?

    Insight; What it’s all about !

    And the one guy speaks openly, honestly –while the reserved guy winces, but deep down wishes, he could speak so freely and honestly.

    Great stuff,

    peter jasz

Schiit Fulla 2 – a $99 pooper scooper

In-flight entertainment, to Saturn and beyond…