Van Alstine Trans 10RB vs. Freya Schiit. Which do you prefer and why??

Looks like they're in the same league, pricewise. But how about soundwise? Anyone have any experience with these two head to head or on their own?



Hi SD,

Freya has remote include for the price, Transcendence is $ 299 extra
Freya has passive, JFET and tubes, Transcendence has tubes only
Freya is balanced and SE, Transcendence is only single ended.
Freya has stepped attenuator, Transcendence has pot
Freya is $ 200 cheaper, when you include the remote with the Transcendence it's even $ 500 cheaper

Looks a no brainer to me.
I'm still waiting for my Freya to be delivered. Ordered end december.
Expected to be delivered next week, but not sure yet.
Will let you know my impression.
It is going to replace my old Quad 44 pre-amp
This will be my 4th Schiit audio gear on top of Mani (phono pre-amp), Sys and Gungnir Multibit (Gumby) DAC. That last one will never go, or it must be replaced by a Yggdrasil (Yggy) from the same company.
And when Vidar will come available in several months that will probably be the next item to replace my Quad 520f
Update on compare.
Transcendence has headphone out. If you need this Freya is NOT your product, you should look at another Schiit product like Mjolnir 2 or Jotunheim for $ 399.
Or is you only need SE input and output see Saga for $ 349

Freya has 5 inputs,2 balanced, 3 SE, Transcendence only has 4 SE
Freya has 1 balanced and 2 SE outputs, Transcendence only 2 SE outputs

WOUT:  sounds good. im looking forward to hearing your assessment of the Freya.  Thanks again.


Have had a Freya for about a week now. Never heard a Van Alstine Trans 10RB. Bought the Freya mainly to have a balanced, solid state pre. Didn’t really want tube output but at least it didn’t have a DAC or phono pre. I wanted those less. Initially one of the tubes was microphonic. Schiit provided a replacement set but in the interim I listened to it in passive mode: Gungnir DAC>>Cabledyne Copper Ref. XLR>>Freya>>AQ Columbia XLR>>Taranis amp>>Totem Forests. Things sounded excellent. WAY better than I expected from passive. None of the thin, bleached-out sound sometimes associated with passive. A few days later, got the replacement 6SN7 tubes installed. Immediately struck by a delicacy and refinement to the sound compared to the 6H30 tubed preamp I’d been using. There’s more detail but no harshness. On female vocals performed at higher volume, a kind of hardness I’d sometimes hear with the other pre seems gone. I am very pleased. From new, out-of-the-box, the sound has opened up. Nice air. Have been listening only to tube mode since they arrived.

The unit is very quiet. Between tracks it’s like somebody shut off the system. Tap the unit with volume up, nothing. Ear up to speaker with volume up and nothing playing, dead silent. Very pleased. Seems like a very good value for just $700 bucks. Schiit does have a 15 day return policy (less 5% restocking fee). I do not hesitate to recommend auditioning Freya.

Like wout, I got a couple other pieces of Schiit (Asgard 2 as well as the stock Gungnir).  Guess you could say I'm a fan of Schiit.

ghosthouse:  you rock, man.  that's exactly what i was looking for. great description of your experience.   i'll be replacing my old, noisy pre-amp fairly soon, narrowing it down to the freya and AVA RB10.  it just might be my first piece of schiit.   I really can't wait.   thanks again!


Glad the comments were helpful, 'dog  Good luck with your purchase.  Hope whatever you choose gives you a lot of listening enjoyment.
shtinkydog - 
Late arriving thoughts.  Wanted to comment about a couple of things.  Volume control does "click" as you change levels.  The sound is inherent to the stepped attenuator design.  Heard the same thing with a CJ Premier preamp.  The other item was about the remote.  It's a little plastic thing.  Doesn't look like much but "works a treat" for mute, volume, input and output.  Personally, if the design budget target is tight, I'd rather pay for essential components and not a massive metal remote that can double as a paper weight or door stop.  Anyway, just thought I'd mention a couple of things that some might find less than optimal.   

After reading this thread and looking up the candidates, it's easy to see why Schiit products are appealing.  What I find missing though is any discussion or comparison of sound quality and character.  In my book  sound quality matters and takes precedent.

One  post remarked that the Freya was not good because it did not have the headphone section (???) that a few other Schiit models have.  It is unclear what he/she meant.  Aren't those small openings in the faceplate for phones? 

The opening in the front panel on Freya is the receiver for the remote, not phones plug.
To compare you have to have both units present. That's very often a problem. So I can't make any quality sound character statement.
My compare was just on features. And YES I do like the Schiit products and even more their filosify about ridiculous HiFi pricing not related to the sound quality but only to bling bling. I love these guys and the products I own. That's why I ordered my Freya blind and recommend the brand.
Mechans - the OP’s inquiry did allow for observations about the individual preamps (i.e., "on their own"). Not owning a Van Alstine, I was only able to provide comparison to a 6H30-based preamp that I had found very satisfactory sound-wise.  

wout31 has explained the single opening at the right end of the face of the Freya. I’ll add that along with 3 push buttons for mute, output and input selection and the volume knob, there are 9 LEDs: 1 for mute, 2 for output mode (JFET buffer mode or tube mode; none lit = passive mode), 5 for input selection (2 balanced; 3 SE), and a final LED to indicate remote control of volume. When this last is lit, the volume control knob is disabled.

wout - I hope you will be as pleased as I am with the Freya. Will be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.
News is there, my Freya will be in beginning of next week. :-) :-)

I will be testing with:
Qobuz (like Tidal) music player 16 bit 44.1 kHz files on my PC and Musicbee player for HiRes audio files
RME AIO soundcard Transformer separated SP-DIF out to
Schiit Gungnir MB DAC balanced out to
New Schiit Freya balanced out to
Quad 520f amplifier out to
Quad ESL 63 (definitely NO sub)
Nothing special in cables, just standard to standard+ audio cables.

I will be playing song like:
Norah Jones (difficult voice to reproduce well, especially multi tracks)
- Turn me on
- I’ve got to see you again
- How many times have you broken my heart
Lisa Simone - Child in me (even more difficult voice)
Stacey Kent (the most difficult voice)
- The boy next door
- I wish I we’re in love again.
Diana Krall many different tracks from different albums
Secaria Evora - Sodade
Curtis Stigers
Dean Martin
Frank Sinatra
Kovacs - 50 shades of black
Oscar Peterson trio - You look good to me
and many many more.

I listened to the newly arrived Freya today and I can only think of one word: WOW!!!!
This is not a little difference, this is not a difference, this is not a big difference. This is a HUGE difference.
I know my old unit the Quad 44 was dated, but it was designed by one of the audio wonders of the sixties to eighties, Peter Walker. But I have to say it is no match whatsoever  to the Schiit Freya.
The differences are everywhere. The high is more billiant, cymbals sound so brittle. And the decay times ........... The bass is so tight it surprises met with every new track I play.  I always thought bass was no fun to play as it was so monotone, now I hear all the nuances in acoustic as well as electric and electronic bass. And the midds are so laid back that I sometimes think I'm missing something. And I am, the (even little) harshness I had before is now totally gone. The voices are so intimate it's like you're having a private concert in your own living room. This pre-amp is a miracle to me.
This is my second Schiit device that will never leave my audio system unless it is replaced by something new Jason Stoddard en Mike Moffatt come up with in future. I adore these guys for what they are doing for the audio world. Thumbs up.
The comparison between the 3 stages, passive, JFET and tube are very difficult to distinct because of the gain difference between them. Output on passive is low, JFET is higher and tube is much higher. So it's not easy to make A-B compare in a track playing. You have to replay the track in every mode and try to find the right volume level to compare. Not easy in my opinion.
My first impression is that JFET is my favourite, has a little bit more punch over the passive mode. The tubes sound very impressive at first but it looks like they are a little more work for my ears and give earlier listening fatigue. But especially on old analogue recordings the performance in tube mode is just phenomenal as it gives that little more juice to the recording.
The sound stage overall is double the wide it was before. The instruments that used to swerve in the sound image before are put in place and never move. There is more depth in the image, more top and bottom.It's holographic and immensely realistic.
I realise now that I have never heard the Gumby to it's full potential before now.
The clicking of the stepped attenuator is nowhere to be heard in audio signal. Big difference to the Khozmo I tried so time ago. The clicking was over the speakers. You can sometimes hear that the first step is released before the next is engaged by a very short silence as I experience it. The clicking sound itself is no bother to me.
The most amazing track I played so far was St. James infirmary blues by Yo Yo Ma and the silk road ensemble from the Sing me home album. I saw in the Ted presentation of this performance that there were many instruments in the recording, now I can see them all with my eyes closed when I play the recording. Truly amazing.
So back to what started this conversation. I can't say anything about the Van Alstine Trans 10RB SD because I have never heard it, but I can say about the Schiit Freya that it rocks the world for me. At this price the Freya is a real bargain.On a scale of 10 I would give it 11-12.
wout:  im happy for you in that the freya totally blew you mind.  i'm sold on it. i'll be ordering mine very soon.   fantastic report!!! thanks!
@mechans, a belated reply.
In another thread, I bemoaned the fact that Schiit doesn't provide any information relative to sound benefits of their products. Which seems counter-productive, to me.
@shtinkydog, I don't think you will be disappointed in any of the Schiit products. I own 2 of their DAC's and couldn't be happier. Well maybe if had 2-3 times the money to spend.
gdnrbob: ive read a lot of good stuff about the schiit dacs. but where I can really use some improvement is in the pre-amp.  perhaps later on the dac.   thanks!
Good to read your positive comments.  Have now had my Freya for two weeks and have somewhere in the range of 75 - 100 hours on it.  In my system gain differences between pure passive and JFET are minor compared to tube mode.  Apart from gain, I do find sonic differences between the modes somewhat subtle.  While tube mode does not strike me as fatiguing at all (some further hours for your tubes to "burn in"?), I, like you, prefer it for vinyl.  Am using JFET for digital sources.  Sonics from all modes are very good to my ear.  

You might be interested in this Schiit Freya thread at HeadFi:
Ghosthouse, I looked at the thread on  head-fi but I find it is not interesting at all because it is all about tubes tubes and more tubes. Tubes was interesting after the early release of the the transistor that at that stage was inferior to tubes.But now is 2016 guys, not 1976! Why don't they change over resistors, capacitors or other electronic parts? Easy because they can't and that's why all the talk is about changing tubes. Where the passive and JFET options is far more superior sound wise to the tube stage. The longer I play it, the more I prefer passive, as this is most neutral in sound. I prefer "the closest approach to the original sound". And with my Quad ESL 63 full range planars that is passive.
That's your call, wout.  You are not a "tube-o-phile", I take it.  Don't think I am least not to any exclusive extent.  Consider ways to elevate and advance that discussion beyond the fixation on tubes.  Provide further input similar to what you already left there ( I did read it).  I entered the Freya buying process actually disinclined to go with a tube-based pre.  Bought Freya despite the tube mode.   After a couple of weeks now, I am finding the Freya's tube mode preferable when listening to vinyl but use JFET buffered for digital.  Passive is NOT far behind to my ear...perhaps a little less "heft" compared to JFET though I'm not certain I could identify either in blind listening.  Different strokes for different folks, as "they" say.  Hope you are enjoying music even more with the Freya in your system.  
Can any of you Freya owners compare this somewhat budget priced preamp to $3000 models from 20 years ago?  I'm thinking Krell KRC-3 (my current pre) or AI Modulus 3A in particular.  Main source is Ayre C5xe mp running in balanced mode. Through the Krell, i'm getting sufficient volume at only 8 or 9 o'clock and i'd like more range out of the volume control. Therefore the Schiit's passive stage appeals to me.  How do you think the J-fet section of the Freya compares to the Krell?  If it would be a lateral move I might go for it but I don't want to step down.   Fwiw, I particularly like the firmware based stepped volume control on the KRC-3 as there is no mechanical contact, is noise free, and in theory should last the life of the unit. Thanks.