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.

According to Stereophile, Pre90 has 2K ohm input impedance.

Based on the 10 to 1 accepted guideline, be very sure that the output impedance of the source (DAC or other analogue input) is less than 200 ohms. Preferably much less like 100 ohms, for reasons.

Freya is much more forgiving at 10K ohm input impedance.