Schiit v Topping

Bought the original Schiit Freya several years ago and was delighted with the sound, especially in tube mode. After a few years had passed it started making soft popping intermittent sounds. That got me to thinking about either new tubes, or a new SS preamp. After reading Kalman Rubinson's review of the Topping Pre90 in Stereophile, I ordered one with the intention of doing a shootout and then either selling the Freya or returning the Topping.

And the results? Both sound very good. (Both are rated class A in Stereophile).

Both are good choices in my opinion.

The Freya offers a little more "tube magic" presentation of timbres.

The Topping offers a little more clarity.

Decided to keep the Topping and sold the Freya here on Audiogon.



I also A/B'd the Schiit Freya + with the Topping Pre90. I prefer the Topping Pre90 with the Jolida SSX tube buffer in front of it. No loss in transperancy with the tube buffer. I find that when I listen to the Pre90 on it's own I can't relax (slight upper mid hardness) like I can when the tube buffer is in the chain. I sold the Schiit Freya +

The Pre90 is beautifly transparent, but in my system rendered a portion of my music collection thin, harsh, and fatiguing. I will  try a tube buffer, but that might reduce the transparency. We'll see. I am interested in enjoying my music collection more than good specs.