New DAC issues

I have been on a steady system upgrade path over the last year and one of the last pieces to be updated is my DAC, a Schiit Gungnir Multibit. I have no complaints with it, but I am always in search of more and better. The majority of my upgrades have been a big success.

I recently purchased a new DAC that shall remain unnamed, I don't want to throw it and the builder under the bus, but it is about a 5x multiple in cost over the Gungnir. I have had the new DAC for four days now, and I have been playing it continuously. When I installed it, I simply unplugged the other DAC and substituted this one, so minimal change. Initial impressions were that it sounded pretty lean and the soundstage was not great, but I figured it would sound better after warming up. There has been some improvement, but it is not significant.

Playing music with the Gungnir in place, bass was plentiful without being overbearing, and very clean. With the new DAC, bass is almost an afterthought. The Gungnir presented a beautiful soundstage and my speakers disappeared. The new DAC presents a good center image, though smaller than the Gungnir, and the speakers are pretty apparent on most tracks. In general, the magic is gone from the music, there is detail in the mids and highs, but not a lot of life.

I expected a different sound of course, but I cannot imagine that this is the way a DAC at this level is supposed to sound. I think that the Gungnir is considered a warmer DAC, but the contrast in this case is extreme. I am wondering if there is either an issue with the unit or somehow a mismatch with my gear. It provides a 3V output vs the Gungnir's 4V, which may make it a little less lively, but 3V is not out of the ordinary.

The rest of my systems is Pass XP-12 -> Coda #8 -> KEF Reference 1. I am in between streamers right now and using my DigiOne/Pi with LPS over RCA SP/DIF. One could question the streamer, but it sounds great with the Gungnir. I had an Aurender N10, but I did not get along with the Conductor software and now have an Innuos Zenith on the way. Connections are all balanced with Wireworld Eclipse 8's, Acoustic Zen speaker cables and an Acoustic Zen digital cable. Power is dedicated and runs through a Furman Elite 20.

I listen mostly to jazz and lower levels and I have always had a full sound, however with the new DAC the system is no longer engaging. Thoughts? Can a DAC just be incredibly lean?




I guess, first thing would be to get at least 200 hours on the DAC. Some require more… 300 to 400 or more. Most of my components took 600 hours to get really close to their final sound and did not stop improving until 1,000 hours. This is particularly true with better components. It is really hard to stop one’s self from making early conclusions. Making such a large investment makes instant improvement more gratifying but can often not happen.


It would be very helpful to know what your new DAC is. I would not think it represents “throwing them under the bus”… but gives us information on if the direction you took that represents a misstep or is just time to burn in.

I own a Gungnir multibit (office system) and used it as a jumping off point to help a friend buy a Yggdrasil. More recently we upgraded him from the Yggdrasil… which sounded very low end in comparison to +$5K DACs… which it should. Refinement, coherence, and dynamics should come with a better DAC. All aspects should improve… although some DACs compromise the natural / musical sound in search of greater detail.

sometimes price isn't proportional to the quality.

if it does not sound great out of the box, then it is perhaps how it sounds and will sound after few hundreds or thousands of hours or days.

What led you to choose this DAC? Did your dealer recommend it? Did you buy it based on specs? Is it returnable?

If you bought this DAC used, then all bets are off because you don't know its service history.

I'm with Czarivey on this.  

With most component changes I've made, the difference, if any, has been very pronounced, right out of the box.  Usually Wife will comment, one way or the other.

Happened with my Innous Zenith Mk 3, Yggdrasil LIM, and upgrading my Khorns with all new Volti guts.  Even swapping in Hexfred rectifiers to my amp made quite a noticeable improvement.

Likely, with the components mentioned, there was continued improvement with time and temperature, but the majority of the increase in SQ was apparent to me "right out of the box".

Components that did not offer immediate improvement, or improvement that I was struggling to hear, went back.  Couple of DAC's went back, minus restocking fees, which are fair, in my opinion.


@zlone was the same streaming device used with both the old and the new dacs. 
dac needs about 200hrs to break in. During this time it can evolve tonally but if the soundstage is only limited to the center image that’s unlikely to improve 

Thanks for the responses. I will be giving the unit some more time as I am familiar with longer break in times as my Coda amp took a full week to sound decent. I will also be switching to the Innuos Zenith next week, and USB as opposed to SP/DIF, so perhaps there will be some change using the DAC's onboard clock. 

I have heard other DAC's in this line and I did speak with a couple dealers, however I did not specifically audition it. I had not planned on replacing my DAC just yet, but it was very high on my list when I came across it as a demo unit for an attractive price and decided after a few days to pick it up.

To be fair it does produce some very nice sound, but overall it just is not doing it for me, especially in the lower registers. Probably just not the DAC that I had hoped it was, and I will have to continue my search. 

@audphile1 was the same streaming device used with both the old and the new dacs. dac needs about 200hrs to break in. During this time it can evolve tonally but if the soundstage is only limited to the center image that’s unlikely to improve 

Yes. I literally removed the old DAC and using the same cables plugged the new one into the system. No other changes. I will be giving it some more time for sure. Part of my motivation here was to see if there are technical reasons that some DAC's do not play well with certain equipment.


Also if you have an aftermarket power cord on the new dac, go back to stock cord to get a baseline. If you used the same cord on Schiit and new dac it’s possible there’s no synergy with that cord.

Though your new DAC might need to be 'burnt in', I think it telling that you didn't notice a significant upgrade from you Schitt Gungy.

I went from the Bifrost to Gungnir and heard a definite improvement in sound quality. I also had the Ayre Codex, which was very close to the Yggy.

My final jump was to the Brinkmann Nyquist II. In every change, I noticed the sound quality improved, no questions asked.

So, IMHO, if you don't find this new DAC smoking the last one, it might be a reason to look to another brand.


I noticed that your streamer might be changing to Innuos, which happens to be my streamer. I think you should wait and see if the Innuos improves upon the sound. Streamers can make a huge difference, too.


Any good dac will take about 300 hours to show its true character.

and always leave it on unless all tube

the T+A200 is the go to dac reference quality that can be had for under $7k ,by many that competes with anything at 2 x it’s cost pretty well.

with a very good resistive ladder preamp section. The digital front end is the most important part of the system since all music starts here and once sonics are produced can’t be fixed down stream. The Loudspeaker too is very close in most important component .

Can a DAC just be incredibly lean?

Yup, it can, and some people will like it, but horses for courses.

Buying high priced gear, with positive reviews, from a well-respected manufacturer is not a guarantee that you are going to like how it sounds in your system.  By all means, give it a week or so to burn in and then, instead of convincing yourself to keep it, return it or sell it, and go find something that sounds good to you.

DACs sound vastly differently depending on the chip they use (or being R2R without chip) as well as filter implementations. If it doesn’t sound right to you it does not mean its bad. I personally know that most probably I will not like DAC based on ESS but will like AKM or Burr-Brown. But it does not mean ESS is bad. Just not to my taste.

Also, make sure you ARE getting an upgrade rather than just paying more for brand name. Say, you are getting ESS 9038 over 9018 and not the same (or lower!) chip.

My DAC is now R2R which is the best IMO.

The Gugnir is designed by one of the best digital engineers in the business whose company does not have a dealer and distribution network to take half of the sales price, so a price based comparison is not a good metric. Sure, there could be something wrong with the new DAC but in most likelihood you simply have a better mousetrap in the Gugnir.


There is nothing wrong with naming the dac. In fact it is a disservice to everyone here.

First of all, you can't compare the price of the Schiit to your newer DAC because the newer one has had to go through a distributor and retailer with each level marking up the price.  If you double the price of the Gugnir, that would be closer to the price you'd have paid if it was sold at retail. Secondly, price doesn't always indicate quality. Thirdly, electrical components don't "break in" but our ears do get used to the sound. Claiming that an item needs the equivalent of 20 or more days, operating 24 hours a day to sound it's best is simply ludicrous and unprovable. I guess, like any other religion, maybe I don't have enough faith. 🙄

I went "down" from a $15k DAC to the latest Schitt Yggi+ LIM. It was bit better than the prior DAC (more details). The LIM is a slightly rolled off DAC and did not work great with my slightly warm Yamaha NS5000. However, the same DAC on the slightly bright Magnepan LRS+ is incredible. I use a Sanders Magtech as the amp. I previously used the CODA #16 as the amp but moved that to the NS5000. The preamp is a Holo Serene.

There is a sweetness or juiciness to the LIM that is amazing with the LRS+. I liked that DAC so much that I bought the last available Schitt Yggi+ OG (discontinued) for my Yamaha NS5000. The OG has over 100 hours and sounds better than the LIM with the NS5000. However, I am not sure if that is the DAC for the long-term. The OG sounds good with the LRS+ but the LIM is my preference.

I moved the OG to my office and stacked it on top of the LIM. I put the OG with my RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp. That is a killer combo and will stay that way long-term because I have a 10k headphone coming home soon and I need a killer DAC for that. The LIM was not my preference with the VM-1a tube amp.

As of now I have my Benchmark DAC3B + Benchmark HPA4 preamp + CODA #16 on the NS5000. It is rather good. Not as good as the OG but good until I figure out what DAC to get for the NS5000.

I am thinking of a Playback Designs DAC because the designer, Andreas Koch, is a star like Mike Moffet of Schitt.


Thanks for all the responses, many valid points here. @audphile1 You read my mind and I did try the stock cord, no difference. I agree that price is not a guaranteed indicator of performance, and I have always believed that the Gungnir punches above its cost class. 

Yesterday I received a new power cord that I had ordered and I installed in place of the stock cord on my preamp. In the process I disconnected the interconnects on the preamp side and reseated them. At the same time I moved the preamp output cables over to the other balanced out just to see if something had happened to channel one. Voile, I suddenly had a much fuller sound, with bass.

I spent this morning backing out changes, putting the stock cord back on the preamp, switching back to output one, still decent sound. The cables are all of decent quality, and I had checked that they were firmly seated several times. I cannot explain it. Just the universe deciding I need some egg on my face.

I appreciate all the responses, I put great stock in all the experience in this forum. I will continue the break in process, something I have experienced with other components, and I believe is real. Still not sure I will keep the DAC, time will tell, just glad to be over this issue. Introducing the Innuos next week, and USB, will be a whole new test. Breaking all the rules of limiting changes, but sometimes that is the way it happens.

And for the curious, the DAC is the Merason Reuss. I was hesitant to speak poorly of it since it is so new and this problem was so apparent. I felt it had to be something other than the product itself.


Even Schiit says to play their DACs for about a month before you even listen to them.  I had an Yggdrasil and they were right.  Sounded terrible for the first two weeks of continuous playing.

After 4 weeks it was incredibly good for the money.

Yes, on the break in of the Schitt Yggi+ OG. It is easy to hear this break-in process with my uber detailed RAAL CA-1a heaphone.

The OP stated, "I had not planned on replacing my DAC just yet, but it was very high on my list when I came across it as a demo unit for an attractive price and decided after a few days to pick it up."

The thing is, if this was a "demo" DAC, shouldn’t it already have 200+ hours on it, and isn’t likely to change any going forward? Just a thought.

@dougthebiker -- "Even Schiit says to play their DACs for about a month before you even listen to them."

Do you have a reference for that? I've read Jason Stoddard's book and follow his online missives over at Headfi, and never seen him or Mike Moffat say anything about their gear needing a long break-in. I have a bunch of their gear and have never seen anything in an owners manual, either.

If nothing else, the trial period on their gear is only two weeks long.

@zlone I agree with all the others who have posted on this stream.  Over the years I've enjoyed my path, upgrading DACs from time to time and when I did a PS Audio P10 PowerPlant to their P15 model, I immediately noticed quite a few improvements to the two DACs I had at the time; tighter more defined bass, better soundstage especially front-to-back and more "distinctness" in the individual instruments and voices.  I'm not sure if that helps, but I suspect that, when you get your digital setup to a certain point, cleaner AC power might make a significant difference.


Are there settings that need to be adjusted or tried? Sometimes there can be an "oversampling" or " non oversampling", and "fast" and "slow" filter settings to be adjusted.

I've never heard they made a DAC sound bad, but they certainly do change the sound. Additionally try different inputs, some are always superior with different DACs.

I would expect that adding a considerably more expensive DAC would provide a immediate improvement over the Schiit DAC with the equipment you have, nothing else changing. If it doesn't, why keep it? Forget listening to it for 2-400 hours, that's ridiculous. Either the new unit is significantly better out of the box or it isn't worth even as much as the Gungnir it replaced.

@mlsstl   I bought the Yggy just as it was coming out.  As I recall, Jason said that in an interview.

Regardless, there are plenty of DACs that aren’t broken in after 400 hours.  My Chord Dave comes to mind.

The 2017 TAS review of the Yggi that raved about it and compared it $20k DACs said it needed 1 month of break-in. My Yggi+ OG has about 100 hours and a few days ago I was getting some fatigue while using my slightly bright RAAL CA-1a phones with a tube amp. However, last night after some more hours that fatigue I experienced did not reoccur with the same gear. I am assuming the DAC is still breaking in.

Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC - The Absolute Sound

Although Moffatt warned me that the Yggy wouldn’t sound good right out of the box, I gave it a quick listen anyway after an hour of warm-up. He was right; the Yggy was hard, bright, forward, and flat. I checked in with it a couple of times over the next week and heard it improving somewhat, but it was still disappointing. I decided to let it sit in my rack, powered up, for a full month before revisiting it.

When I returned to the Yggy I discovered a DAC that wasn’t superb. It wasn’t even good. And it certainly wasn’t “good for the money.” What I discovered, to my amazement, was a DAC that was stunningly great, period. Price aside, the Yggy turned out to be a world-class contender in the same league as cost-no-object digital-to-analog converters—and I’ve heard some good ones. How could this be?

I can’t tell you how Moffatt did it, but I can describe how the Yggy sounds, and why its one of the three best DACs I’ve heard regardless of price. (The other two are the $19,500 Berkeley Alpha Reference and the $35,000 dCS Vivaldi. I suspect that the MSB Select is outstanding, after hearing it many times at shows, but I haven’t evaluated it in my own system.)

The Yggy is not just a tremendous value in today’s DACs, it’s one of the greatest bargains in the history of high-end audio.

The DAC has to fit your system and your ears. That has to be the final determination despite a DAC's reputation. I've had a used ifi iDSD Pro for several years now and I think it sounds great. I got sucked into the buy a more expensive DAC ethos and I bought a T+A 200 DAC and I didn't like it. I was able to very quickly A/B test it with my ifi and it didn't sound any better. All it did is add a digital glare which was annoying. 

@ejr1953 I'm not sure if that helps, but I suspect that, when you get your digital setup to a certain point, cleaner AC power might make a significant difference.


Clean power is super important. I just moved into a new room and I now have two dedicated lines, one for the amp and one for a Furman Elite that handles everything else. Maybe a Puritan someday?

@gkelly Might I suggest a AES/EBU Cable for the Innuos to that sweet looking Merason DAC. 

An excellent suggestion, and I have an Acoustic Zen MC2 in my cable bin just waiting for the right streamer. Unfortunately the Innuos Zenith only supports USB, my new one is coming with a DH Labs USB cable, probably a good place to start. I have never used USB before, so I will be interested to hear it.

As for the Yggy, I have seriously considered just going up the Schiit chain, (sounds like something from Trailer Park Boys :-), but thought I would venture out and see what other vendors sound like. My favorite room at AXPONA this year featured Merason, and a friend has one, so it seemed like a good path. Soix and I have a side chat going on other things and he suggested a look at the LAIV DAC, quite intriguing.

I will say that I am relieved that things are now working, however I am not satisfied that I do not know what caused the change. My feeling is there is a bad connection either in the Merason or the Pass, nothing else makes sense. Gonna pop the lids and check it out today.




I haven't found many reviews of the Reuss so will be interested to hear your impressions of how it sounds once the bugs are ironed out. 

@dz13 Thanks for sharing your experience with the T+A DAC200. I am in the process of looking for a new DAC, and a used T+A 200 is as high as I am willing to go price wise - lower would be better :)  Seems like everyone online claims you can't go wrong with the T+A 200, yet I am finding out that high praise and/or high price are no guarantee that a given component will sound good to our ears in our system and room.

@zlone, the first couple of things that jumped out at me when I looked up the Merason Reuss DAC was that it uses an Amanero based USB technology with two Burr Brown 1794A converter modules. I purposely bypass using the Amanero USB input on my Chord DAC because to me using the BNC inputs sounds a whole lot better. It’s nice that the unit has its own purpose built-in power supplies, and it also looks well made as most electronics from Switzerland tend to be. I’ve just never been a fan of the sound of Burr Brown chip based digital audio converters that I’ve listened to in the past. 
 Your absolutely right that having the cleanest power going thru your system is crucial to getting the best sound out of your system. I suggest taking some time to let your brain get used to how things sound with the Merason Reuss before deciding yeah or nay. 

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What input to use on the DAC depends on the transport/streamer clock quality. In example, if you are using a streamer with high quality clock such as OCXO, then AES or SPDIF would most likely sound better than USB. But if you have a streamer optimized for USB, you will be using the clock that’s in the DAC and if that sucks, you’re out of luck. When you get your new streamer try both the USB and the AES. 

@adasdad Good comments. I recently owned an Aurender N10 and purposely used the SPDIF outputs because the designers included a very good OCXO clock, it sounded great. However, I could not deal with the Conductor software, and they recently made it clear that the N10 would never be Roon ready. We will see how good the USB interface is when I plug in the Innuos coming this week. As for Burr Brown, I don't have any experience with them before this, my Gungnir is ASIC based(I think) R2R. All I know is that I have heard the Merason's in a couple settings and they are quite natural, which is my goal. I am not a freak about high resolution, I want the sound to be real and not wear on me. It will take some time, on the order of months, to decide if I like the unit or not. At some point I will pops the Gungnir back in and assess the contrast.

@audphile1 Unfortunately, Innuos Zenith only offers USB. I think you have to get to the Statement to get SPDIF of any flavor. Makes me a little nervous having no options, and some really nice SPDIF cables, but it is a well reviewed unit and I expect it will be decent.

@stuartk  I will provide my thoughts on the Reuss after some time. Unlike other components, I am not sure I am a good judge of DAC's, I just don't have broad experience in that space. When I get to the point of plugging the Gungnir back in to the system and hearing contrast, I will be able to put some thoughts together.


Okay, big day yesterday! I said I was going to pop the lids on the preamp and the DAC and see if I could find anything amiss. I started with the Pass preamp and it took me about five seconds to discover the issue, a very incomplete solder joint, on Pin 1 of one of the balanced outputs. Like, you could not miss it when comparing it to others. I have only had the preamp for a month or so, and I suspect that the limited connection was holding on and functioning, probably at a reduced level, during that time. When introducing the new DAC, it is my guess that I jarred the solder connection loose and it was now functioning simply by pressing against the pin. Pulling and reseating cables must have improved this, hence the better sound I heard the other night.

Being handy enough with a soldering iron, I fixed the connection. Wow! Everything is back and big! It makes me feel better that I was not imagining this after all. I only had 60/40 solder available, I hope that will be sufficient for a rather critical connection, I am not sure what Pass uses. Makes me wonder if I should have them look the whole thing over.

Thanks for all the comments. This was not quite the journey I expected when adding a new DAC, but really glad I got it resolved. On to listening...

@zlone good work! Goad to hear the preamp is back in business.

Innuous USB output should be decent. Not sure how Merason implements that portion of the DAC - you won’t know until you try

@zlone I would have PASS look at it or send you the solder they use. When I was putting back together my totally messed up Thiel CS3.7 speaker the Thiel tech in Kentucky (forgot his name) sent me some solder they use on the Thiel speakers. That was so easy to use, and the tech told me they liked it the best over other solder. Maybe Pass has they own secret sauce for solder. Seems like an important part of the gear.

BTW - I did some more testing with my new Yggdrasil+ OG. I set it up in my office on top of the Yggdrasil+ Less Is More DAC. I wanted something that worked better than the LIM on a tube headphone amp.

The OG was giving me a bit of fatigue last week on the bright RAAL CA-1a headphones. I spent the past week playing the OG a lot on both my LRS+ speakers and the RAAL CA-1a headphones. Now after another week of playing the OG it sounds spectacular on both the LRS+ and the CA-1a. Now I need to decide if I keep the warmer LIM, which is also great in a different way on the LRS+. Not so great on the tube amp (too warm for me).


In the Schiit line, the OG Yggdrasil takes weeks to burn in, until it does, it really sounds bad. That said, the lower end Lampizator DACs sound the best I have heard, at lower prices. I imagine there are others. They dumb down their analog sections because the DAC is the same one they use in their 30K or so DACs. Bypassing the output caps with V-Caps, ODAM for lows and an amazing midrange, and the CuTF caps for highs and you'll have an amazing DAC for the money. Frankly at the lower high end range it's hard to beat the OG Yggdrasil though the Lampizator smokes it, more so with mods. The Spring 3 KTE somehow is similar, though it has an odd characteristic in that instruments suddenly drop off rather than tapering off in space. Music being personal, some will love that, I don't but I represent me, as others do their own taste. So 2 weeks 24 x 7 before I could listen to the Yggdrasil, and while it can be harsh with bright music, I had mine for many years.

@classic8 You should also consider a used Big7 or other direct heated tube Lampizator DAC. I am sure that there are other great DACs, but Don Sachs, who designs the pricy amps and preamps Spatial Audio Lab  is selling, loves his Big7 DAC. He referred other previous DACs he's owned as "toys". I have a modified Amber 3, so even with mods, it's not a Big7, but it is pretty awesome. As always, opinions will vary and musical taste is personal, so all opinions should be seen in that light.

I think the Yggi+ LIM is likely closer to the Lampi sound. I was debating whether to convert my LIM to the OG replacement, the More Is Better. It is a hard decision since the LIM sounds so good with my Magnepan LRS+. Not so good on my Yamaha NS5000 in the Livingroom. Even though the LIM is not as revealing as the Yggi+ OG the LIM has some magic synergy in my office system, except with my office headphones. I would hate to lose that sound on the LRS+. It is not the best DAC by a long shot, but I love listening to it. It kind of reminds me how much I enjoyed the KRELLL DUO 175XD amp. The Yggi+ OG that I now have over a month of playback is good as any DAC I have heard. A shame they had to stop making it.

 I am about to buy what people are now thinking are the world's best headphones, and I need a DAC to hang with it, The LIM will not do that, the OG can but it is not in the office. I may end up buying a 3rd Yggi+ DAC, the More Is Better.

Minor update, the Merason Reuss is integrating very nicely with the Innuos Zenith. I will be listening for some time to get my impressions and then swap the Gungnir back into the system to see what I think. I shall report more at that time.

@yyzsantabarbara I considered "upgrading" to the More is Better before finding the Lampizator. I was on the list early on, but they reluctantly admittedly that it was less detailed. I love detail. 

@lous "they reluctantly admittedly that it was less detailed"

Are you referring to the Schitt MIB?


Yes, the MIB board, the Schiit rep I spoke to said that, so I canceled the order for the board. I am sure it's not night and day, but some early reviews said they preferred the OG slightly, and that's why I pressed them on the issue. I figured it was the loss of detail driving them to prefer the OG, but I don't believe that they stated that, they just said that they slightly preferred the OG. Mind you, these are old memories, but I think that the reviews didn't mention details. Mind you, not too many "professionals" were doing reviews as it was all new to market back then.

I had an interesting conversation with a musician that worked for Schitt at the SchittR in Newhall, CA. I wanted to drive up and listen to the MIB since I was considering it as a DAC for my slightly warm Livingroom system. He had not heard the MIB, and they did not have it at the SchittR, but he had heard the OG and the LIM. He hated the LIM (which I like a lot). I understood why he did not like the LIM, however, as an audio consumer my needs are sometimes different from a musician.

He loved the Yggi+ OG and was lamenting that Schitt had to discontinue the unit because an important part was no longer going to be available for them. He urged me to buy the last OG on the Discontinued page of their website. He was not able to buy the last OG himself due to the cost. Now a month+ later, I can understand the praise he had for the OG. Best DAC I have owned.