Schiit Bifrost DAC

       I just got myself a Schiit Bifrost DAC and what better way to christen it... Bring out the screwdriver and let's see what's inside!

DAC sitting on top of my High Power P101 home amp.

Test setup: Lenovo laptop, USB-SPDIF converter, Schiit Bifrost, P101 amp and Mordaunt classic speakers.

The fresh new DAC on the operating table:

Pop the case open and we see a bright red circuit board:

Analog board with nice quality Dale resistors, polymer caps end Toshiba JFETs:

SPDIF receiver chip:

Another shot of the analog board with DAC chip:

100uF Nichicon VZ caps for the regulator outputs:

470uF Panasonic M series caps for the analog board local decoupling:

The Nichicon VZ caps (wide temp range, standard) replaced with Nichicon FW audio grade caps:

The Panasonic M series caps (standard range) replaced with Panasonic FM low impedance caps:

Besides those caps, the other parts were already good quality so I left them alone:

       The DAC has been burned in for about a month use and I've heard it before. I'll listen to it some more before I'll post how it sounds after the mod, although initial impressions appear to be good.

25 Feb 2013:

       I finally got my USB module for the Bifrost. I would have sent it to Schiit for them to install but shipping would be killer so I ordered the USB module and installed it myself. Here are some crappy pictures from my old phone.

Before I got the USB module, I was using a USB DAC (see pic) which has optical and coaxial SPDIF out from ebay.
It sounds pretty good but can only do 44.1/48kHz sampling rate.
It was OK as I only have lossless copies of wav files from audiophile CD's:

Here is the box that the USB module came in:

This is what I received. The USB module and a pair of standoffs:

Standoffs attached in their place on the main board:

Unfortunately, the header pins were soldered a little too far so I couldn't
screw the module onto the standoffs but couldn't wait so I used my Bifrost naked:

       I'll get clearer pics on the weekend when I get access to a better cam and show why the module wouldn't fit properly.

       Good thing though is it is plug and play. I didn't have to do anything with the Bifrost firmware. Just plugged the module in, installed the driver for the laptop running windows 7 and it's playing! Sound wise in comparison with the PCM2704 based USB dac, I find the difference very subtle during moderate to loud passages. But during dynamic music and low levels, the onboard USB receiver wins in detail, pianos sound more natural and the keystroke is more defined. With orchestral music, everything is there along with the image of the background details. The onboard USB receiver also has better dynamics and impact on the low mid - midbass range. I can do without a sub with my B&W 686's (though a sub will definitely still help) Overall I'm quite happy with it.

01 Mar 2013:

       Here are the clearer pics promised for the installation of the Bifrost USB module.

Here are the contents of the box: The USB module and a small bag containing the standoffs.

Top picture of the USB module (Large pic)

Bottom of the USB module (Large pic)

Here's the problem. The header pins are longer than the standoffs by about 1.5mm so the USB module sits above the standoffs by about 1.5mm

To remove the header pins, a hot air tool is on one side to preheat the PCB to make the solder easy to melt using a soldering iron on the other side.

Pins removed and PCB holes cleaned. No damage on the hole platings!

Pin headers inserted into the sockets on the main Bifrost board

USB module mounted but the pins not yet soldered to check for alignment on the chassis

Bwahahaha! Turned out, the pin headers were about the right height and the standoffs were short.

Simple fix - add thick 1.5mm washers under the standoffs to increase height.

The USB module is now a little taller than the DAC module.

USB socket now goes through the chassis hole

A little cosmetic mod - add shrink tube on the LEDs. This mod eliminates light leakage to the unlit LEDs.

Here is a pic of the fuse clips. This one is raised so there is less risk of shorting to the ground (which happened to the Asgard that I repaired recently.

But the mains lines and ground lines are too close! clearance is under 0.5mm. I don't think I'd want to use this dac with an ungrounded outlet. A Three prong grounded outlet is a must for safety incase the miniscule clearance shorts live to chassis.

Page created and copyright R.Quan © 12 Aug 2012.