Schiit Freya + Class A in Stereophile

I know there are a lot of audiophiles who don't think sterophile knows what they are talking about but I think its' pretty impressive that a 1000 preamp is put in the same category as 50K and up.  I can't really believe that the Freya + is that good.  I have one and do think it's pretty amazing for all that you get and you can really make it even better with some better tubes.  I am constantly blown away at the sound of the Freya + into the Decware Zen triode amp. 2K for the combo and just about the best sound I have ever had in my home.  Great news for less well heeled audiophiles.  


Definitely good news for schiit and audiophiles looking to spend less.  however the idea that it competes with $50k preamps is simply not true.  

Owning many class A products past and present whether stated or implied the rating applies to products within its range more or less.  

It would be unrealistic to say a pair of KEF LS50 meta can compete with a pair of Wilson Sabrinas, for example.  

It would be unrealistic to say a pair of KEF LS50 meta can compete with a pair of Wilson Sabrinas, for example.

Exactly. There is class A then there is class A. I do think that if you could get a good match with your system you could be knocking on the door of a very fine system with the Freya+ or Topping Pre90. Knowing what gear work might work with your system is half the battle. 

I have the Freya + and it replaced a Parasound SS amp. A long while back I had a Odyssey Candela. What a disaster! Hum issues that plague that company. The Freya has been the best sounding but it's really just breaking end. I have a low power exhaust fan above it to keep it cool. I don't think of it as a Class A component, I just think it's a great sounding bargain audio piece of gear!

Yes I can attest to the comparison between the LS50 and Wilson speakers.  I had been running some LS50 for a few months moving them around from room to room as I was doing some remodeling.  I thought wow these rooms really sound bad, hopeless for audio.  I got a deal on some Wilson duettes and put them in the system that had the LS50 in on of the rooms and OMG what a massive difference. We need to re do the alphabet if LS50 and Wilson are both considered class A.  

I am pretty happy overall with the sound of my Freya + and when you read that it's considered to be in the same ballpark of sound at the 16K Audio Research pre then I think why bother.  

OP: this is exactly why i stopped my subscription to Stereophile many many years ago. Their rating system is absurd, or I'm just too dumm to understand it. keep on rockin'!

+1 @avanti1960 . I noticed that in the latest Recommended Components, there is very little recommended that is not in Class A or Class B. Grade inflation?

I sold my Freya+ last week because I had 2 other preamps that I liked better. However, the Freya+ was very good. I was surprised at how quiet it was.

Someone mentioned the Freya+ and Topping pre90 in a post above. I had both and they are both really good with a Benchmark AHB2.  Add a KEF LS50 and KEF KC62 sub and you can get some excellent sound for not too high a price.

You need to understand what class A means. It means for the money. I have compared Class A equipment from Stereophile and The Absolute Sound for decades. A class A component that cost $200 is class A against other $200 components… not against $20,000 Class A components. I have confirmed this many times.

Been a long time since I looked at a Stereophile (or other audio mag), but didn't they used to put the "for the money" components in a separate class or something?  I'd swear I remember something like that.

Most, but not all, people who post here don't listen to music. They listen to equipment instead.

Most, but not all, people who post here don't listen to music. They listen to equipment instead.

I have made the same observation myself

You need to understand what class A means. It means for the money.

Nowhere in the description for recommended components does Stereophile say classes are cost dependent. You guys are making this up. Stereophile says:

Class A
Best attainable sound for a component of its kind, almost without practical considerations; "the least musical compromise."

They only reference that some components may be a bargain for their performance level by listing dollars signs, one through 4 ($$$$) as an indicator of cost. The key is "component of its kind" meaning bookshelf speaker vs bookshelf speaker. If you have seen something different, please share your source.

Component of its kind extends to the dollar sign icon you mentioned. 
Yes, price is part of the definition. The least musical compromise for the $. 

Most, but not all, people who post here don't listen to music. They listen to equipment instead.

I have made the same observation myself

People enjoy what they enjoy.  As long as they're not hurting anybody . . .

@pdreher The Topping pre90 ($600) worked with 2 amps I tried it with, the Benchmark AHB2 and Parasound A21+. Both of them have gain adjustments. I tried 5 other amps with the pre90 and the volume was too hot on all of them. When the pre90 works it sounds like the Benchmark LA4 preamp (or HPA4). The LA4 is more robust than the pre90 in that it works with all amps, and it has more features. I kept the LA4 to replace the pre90. I actually sold the Benchmark HPA4 to try the pre90 but I then found out the volume issues and bought the LA4. When the pre90 works it is excellent but bare bones.

I bought the Freya+ to try a tube preamp with my gear. I knew I could sell it easily. The Freya+ compares more to my tubey CODA 07x preamp. The Freya+ is actually quieter than the SS 07x. However, the CODA 07x is more detailed, not as warm but does add warmth to the sound (unlike the LA4). I find the 07x a much better preamp over the Freya+, but it also costs about 7x more.

When I have my best combos, I prefer my LA4 over the 07x by a bit. I love the neutrality and pure silence of the LA4. However, there are gear combos I have where the LA4 does not work, the 07x always works with every combo.

The Freya+ also worked with all my combos and is a very good preamp.  Great features and very good sound (I used the stock tubes). It was a revelation with my bright RAAL SR1a headphones | AHB2 | Muertec 005 DAC. Much better than the LA4 and a bit better than the 07x.



Wow! Thanks for the good news. I actually like Stereophile; and while no one magazine can be all things to all people, I take their opinion on the things they do review seriously.

Component of its kind extends to the dollar sign icon you mentioned. 
Yes, price is part of the definition. The least musical compromise for the $. 

Stereophile is very precise about explaining their process but nowhere do they mention that price is a consideration, you are making assumptions that don't exist. 

I remember a Freya thread where a Freya owner also bought a Don Dachs Model 2 preamp and admitted that it was, in fact, a better preamp. He got a lot of grief for that... even though he praised the Freya’s performance. The most outspoken criticism came from someone who never owned or heard the Don Sachs preamp.

The short of it is that, after a certain point, they all sound pretty good...but you really gotta hear the components for yourselves.

 its' pretty impressive that a 1000 preamp is put in the same category as 50K and up.  I can't really believe that the Freya + is that good. 

I can.  Knowledge is power.

This is, however, not a comment about the merits or otherwise of Stereophile.


Stereophile also put the Exposure 2010S integrated in Class A. I own one and I‘m an Exposure fanboy, and it‘s a POS.

The musical fidelity v90 dac was reviewed in Stereophile and was placed in the class A category as well. It is $299! I own 2 , one as a back up as it is now unavailable.  I think it is an Outstanding product.

I have a Freya+ and like it a lot. Did have to send it in for repair once, though.

After trying both JJ and Tung Sol tubes I noticed it doesn't have the utmost high or low-end frequency extension when compared to my PS Audio GCP-200 preamp. Mid-range is great but some times you want it all... the Freya+ is not Class A in my eyes but an overachiever... just don't compare it against something better or your bubble will burst. Just an opinion.

Anyway, the Freya+ is a keeper for me. 


Ive replaced the freya with a rogue RP 7 and at first I was hugely disappointed and put the freya back in, but now have the rouge in place for  several months and will remove it in April and go back with the freya plus, to really compare these two. At five times the price I would've thought the rouge would've shamed the freya.

@brunomarcs I have intended doing just the same, upgrading from Freya+ to the RP-7 or even the RP-9. Though I am not sure the dealer's trial period really allows enough time for a full A/B workout. Sounds like you have bought the Rogue for better or worse, so please report when trial is finished including what tubes you consider optimal for the Freya. 

Again this will turn into the argument that more money gives you better sound. To a certain degree that is correct but also needs to be broken down. Yes the Freya is considered to be a “ bargain” for what it does at it price. Yes you can spend a little or a lot more and get better sound. Now look at the sound gain as a return on investment. Is it wise to spend twice as much in cost to achieve a 10% gain in sound or return on investment? Some will say yes some will say no. This is user discretion and only the buyer can make this decision. Bottom line if it sounds good to you no matter what you paid sit back and enjoy the music!

Hi Brunomarcs.  I was thinking of trying the Rogue RP7 to upgrade the Freya +.  I am really wondering how much improvement it's going to be and maybe not worth the trouble.  I like all the features of the RP7 or 9.  I really like the Freya + in tube mode best and I have upgraded my tubes to the CBS Hytron which cost almost as much as the preamp.  The tubes made it a lot better I thought.  I didn't go back and forth a lot but my initial impression was wow.  You might try some better tubes there is a lot of info on tube rolling in the Freya + out there.   

I also own the Benchmark LA4 which is really good too right up there with the Freya.  The Benchmark is a cleaner leaner sound. I still overall like the tube mode on the Freya slightly best.  I was thinking there has to be some big bad tube pre Lamm, CJ, AR that is going to be a lot better than this little guy.  

Anyway amazing and lucky we can get such a great product at a low price.  Good job Schiit 


Stereophile needs to do this to drive and create interest in the low end market. The better your gear is the less interest you have regarding reviews,opinions or snake oil nonsense, you become your own reviewer!

I don't blame Steeophile for producing the Recommended Components, but they are dealing with a minefield of comparisons, approximations, and expectations in doing so.  It should be read as a field guide, not a bible.  Hopefully, all of us have been around the block enough to know you can't just buy the cheapest item in the same grade of each category and automatically expect great sound.

What I appreciate about Stereophile is that:

1. They do both an extensive subjective & objective analysis of the reviewed equipment.

2. The subjective testing generally includes direct comparisons to both reference & competitively priced gear.

3. Most pieces end up having more than one reviewer weigh in on the sound, as the measurement guys will also give their subjective assessment, as well as trying to correlate the subjective findings with the objective measurements.

4. The same reviewers are there for many years, giving the reader a chance to get to know their sound systems, choice of music, & listening preferences.  Reviews by someone that you're often in agreement with on familiar gear are far more compelling on kit that is new to you.


It's my understanding that the issues that contain the Recommended Components section sell off the newstand in much higher numbers than the other issues.  They're bought by people looking for a quick fix and have decided to take a step up from Consumer Reports.

They do not have enough categories (ABCD) to get a ranking.  Its an A recommendation, not a ranking.

I've had an original version Freya for years and it astonishes me with how great it sounds every day...NOS GE 6SN7GTBs boogie my sneakers away.

Fwiw I own a stereophile "a" piece of kit ( AQ dragonfly cobalt) and can vouch that it does perform well and sound great. It may be the one of their cheapest recommendations but it has surprised a couple listeners with it's SQ. 

The Freya+ really is a remarkable preamp not just of the sound quality but for the features. Lots of inputs and outputs both balanced and single ended. The remote is quite nice. It's nice to have a remote controlled stepped attenuator despite the clacking involved with it. It has "passive", buffered, and active modes of operation. I'm pretty sure the active tube section is the Aikido circuit designed by John Broskie of TubeCad Journal fame. 

I put the passive mode in quotes because it does actually go through some minimal active circuitry so that single ended inputs can be converted to balanced. It's a clever design. So while it still is a passive stage in that there is no buffering, the fact that no signal goes through it when the power is off means that there is some active circuitry. 

All that said, I'm selling mine. My Supratek Cabernet gives me more of what I'm looking for in a preamp. I'm very happy with it. At 4 times the price I try not to think about the ugly reality of diminishing returns but I am happy with it. 

@bsme85 , 1000% true.

I love the Freya+, best $1k spent. That matches so well with my Yamaha MX-1, I'm blown away by its warm sound with so much details in mids and vocal.  I think its sounds better than my AS3200. 

Some here are getting it all wrong.

Reference to Stereophile April 2022:  "Class ratings are based on performance...[including performance on the test bench]."

Nowhere is it suggested price or value for money have any relevance.

This irrelevance of price in determining Class is why the $$$ symbol is employed to highlight products that strongly outperform at their price point.

That's all.


So, to move to OP's point.  Products in Class A obviously do not all have exactly the same level of sound quality.  There is a range.  Some just scrape in.  Others are state of the art.  So you do not just buy the cheapest one and expect the performance to be as good as the most expensive.

Stereophile publishes two pages of explanation of the ratings.  It does pay to read them.


I cannot write about Stereophile without including high praise for John Atkinson, possibly the best hi-fi journalist of the last 50 years (about the time he has been working).  He holds very balanced, sensible, well thought out views on all the controversies and is thus to be trusted.  He is a listener and a techie.  Indeed, and a musician.  And a recordist.  I have been reading him since he started in the 1970s in UK's Hi-Fi News and Record Review.



I think they should divide it into three categories. Budget, Mid-Priced and High End. You can then categorize the Freya+ as Class A Budget.

I had one of these that I took on trade.  They must score these things and divide by price to put it in a tier.  It is the only possible explanation. 

The Freya+ was a step down from the onboard preamp in the Chord Hugo2 (not TT2, the headphone amp).  I cannot see how it is a Class A component without the context of price.  Literally, my wife asked what was wrong with my system with the Schiit in it. 

When I went direct from the DAC it returned to a more normal sound.  Admittedly, she is used to much more expensive preamps from Ayre, PS Audio, AVM and Art Audio but I guess that is the literal point here.  

+1  @verdantaudio   Many of us know it's the only way to market budget gear. There is such fear(to some)in HEA about being overcharged due to DIY/snake oil proponents, dealer profits, law of diminishing returns ect.  Stereophile is capitalizing on this fear awarding questionable components class A status. Basically telling you your only paying for build quality/cosmetics and status if you purchase a true hi end product. This is what the mid-fi buyer believes thus verifying his purchase with "so-called" experts opinions.

Lots of posters on this board who are obviously unfamiliar with the concept of the sunk cost fallacy.

I am happy with Freya+ for what it can deliver after replacing JJ tubes with Tung sol.

it sounds clean, detailed without any hum or external noise, it is not the most engaging or warm comforting, smooth sounding preamp( AR ref6, CJ )but for my desktop system it is perfect.

i have Revel,BE126speakers connected via Chord Etude AMP,OPPO105 as CD player,,i also listen to Qobuz via Mc MB20( Blue tooth).

one has to wait few weeks for delivery of Freya+ preamp.


I think their rating system should have a class A low, medium and high high rating. This should be for all A,B,C,D. Clearly this preamp doesn’t have to build quality or reach the level of class A $10,000-100,000. Sonically. What this reviewer heard was probably very fine $1000. Preamp work well in his system. I bet if he put that preamp in ultra high end class A system it probably sound like Shcitt.

@hiendmmoe +1


Some form of clarification from Stereophile would be useful. I have frequently listened (and many times owned) cheap Class A and expensive Class A stuff… no comparison… but in general, if there is a Class A at $200, $1000, $5000, and $10,000, and $22,000 they are spot on worth their price at each price point. It is an attractive delusion that you can buy a $200 component that sounds as good as a $5000… but in reality it doesn’t happen. A company getting started can sell a product with exceptional sound quality… but this is not something that happens often or for long… great sounding equipment requires competent designs and costly components.


"Most, but not all, people who post here don’t listen to music. They listen to equipment instead."

Never were truer words spoken!

I’m one of those with OCD, which is driven to seek excellent sound quality and all that means, which mostly focuses on the equipment. Though, it also focuses on the type and quality of the song and how it was recorded and engineered - but - not so much on the lyrics and music. In other words, I prize how real the sound is, and how much of the artifacts of the performance are present - can I hear all the details of the performance, as the recording engineers might.

Though, I do appreciate and prefer certain types of musical genres (e.g. classical, jazz, blues, country, etc. - all things acoustic - in which those details are more apparent in the live performances - say in a jazz club, or hall, etc.

So... yes... you are so right about the typical "audiophile."

I've ben impressed with my Freya+.  Upgraded the tubes of course to a nice matched quad of Tung-Sol.

I do not care for the volume/gain though.  Both in that I have to turn it way up to nearly the 1 or 2 o-clock position to get to decent volume levels, and I do not like the clickity click noise it makes when adjusting it.  Seems to have a lag to it as well when using the remote.

As good & thorough & informative as many Stereophile reviews & ratings can be, they have their shortcomings. John Atkinson seems to be heavily steered towards solid state electronics because they almost always test better or at least closer to their specs. For sure specs have some value but great sound is really the only true test. There are many relatively inexpensive solid state amps (class A/B & especially class D) that test better than many excellent sounding tube amps but in 5 seconds w/ virtually any kind of music, it would be clear which sounds vastly superior. Are we truly supposed to believe that the Benchmark Preamp that he said tested better than any other preamp he's ever tried actually sounds better than the really expensive, high solid state & tubed units they also recommend?  I doubt it.  I also think any equipment review should include tube & solid state ancillary equipment because as we know, synergy between things can create vastly different results in any direction  there's often no predicting how things will turn out. . 

I also think Stereophile should mention in an equipment what other other competing products are in a similar price range & worth comparing to. They rarely do this & I think many would that valuable. I just hope that those company's who advertise in their magazine don't get preference for favorable reviews. For example, Basis Turntables have long been amongst the very best you can get for build & sound quality but they never list any of them at any of their price ranges in their recommended lists? The Absolute Sound has thought very highly of them since they first came around in the 80"s. I did notice a full page ad in Stereophile for Basis so let's see if that changes.......

The Freya is good as a passive preamp but mediocre in its tube mode. Definitely doesn’t compete with top-tier tube pres.