No Schiit: Versatile amp for Yggdrasil and Focal Clear OG, planar-approved - tube hybrid?

Good evening everybody,
it’s time, now. I have got me an Yggi to take care of my DAC needs for a long time now. Also owning a Mojo and a Dethonray Honey H1, i really, really shouldn’t be in need for a DAC for quite some time, from now on. My main headphone is a Focal Clear OG (not MG). I’m already quite a happy man. But what i need now, is an adequate piece of gear you put in the middle. You know, between the DAC and the headphone. What’s it called again? Aaaas yes, that was it… an AMP! B-But what do i currently have there? Well … gulp … nevermind. Something with thx on it. The sticker got me. Melp… Yes, ok, i admin it… i currently drive my Yggi into an SP200… that must be the most inappropriate stack ever built. Duh. Now this has to change ASAP. The problem now comes with the question - what is an appropriate AMP für Yggi?! Now… i know. Obvious answer would be to build a stack with the Ragnarok. Trouble is though, that i live in Europe. Schiit hass immense problems getting stuff to Europe currently. This is really bad because i would also consider something like Mjolnir. So i’m afraid Schiit is out of the
equation. Having listened to pure solid state for a while now, i’m also ready to sail a different sea now and go tube hybrid… especially since many Focal Clear owners seem to be very happy with i.e. a Lyr3 amp. The thing is, in terms of synergy between headphones and the stack-to-build, i would like to keep things versatile. Stuff should sound amazing with different types of headphones, i own i.e. a grado hemp, HD600, NDH20 and an Audeze EL8C - ideally, the amp should be highly approved by Focal Clear owners and high-end planar-dudes alike, i.e. for something like the Arya. Since buying the Yggdrasil, my wallet doesn’t want to talk to me anymore. So does my entire family. And my friends. And my colleagues. Shaking heads is all i get atm. So budget-wise, i wouldn’t go higher then Yggdrasil itself. Going higher would come with the risk of people theorizing about my pee-pee. Let’s say 2000€ max. I had a look at the Pathos Aurium, but then came accross this thread Life after Yggdrasil? where it’s clearly stated, that the very neutral Yggi and the very neutral Aurium are quite the boring combination. So i need something that adds more colour, maybe warmth, fun … so again, something like the Violectric V280 comes into mind. I really would love to try this one out, but … maybe you guys have some, or many more suggestions?

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Sorry guys for the cringy wall of text, let’s state the question in the most simple way:

What would you guys put between an Yggdrasil and a Focal Clear, if Schiit-stuff is not available? I should also work really well with a planar like the Arya…

To make sure I understand you correctly: You are looking for a pure headphone amp. No pre-amp features needed?

Since you are way outside my price range, best I can provide is a few pointers: LakePeople/Vioelectric, Lehmann Audio, Pro-Ject, LittleLabs, SPL, Cayin.

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thanks for the reply! Yes, i don’t need a pre-amp and also don’t need any speaker-amp-capabilities, my speaker- and headphone setups are seperated. But having an Yggi, size doesn’t matter that much, if it is a speaker-amp, then it is. As i said, the Violectric V280/281 are like currently on top of my list, but i wonder, if there’s anything in that price range, or a bit higher, or even lower (like the SinXer SA-1) that would be even better in terms of synergy with the Yggi and the Clear - and, as an amp, is well-known for having great synergy with a broad range of headphones, including high-end planars…

I think the Yggy would pair well with quite a bit of amps, since I have no experience with the Clear I haven’t responded. IMO though the Headphone to Amp synergy should come before the DAC to Amp synergy. Both important, but start with the headphone pairing.

Take a look at the 🔶 Focal Clear here and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of amp recommendations there.

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well, digging deeper into the topic, i think i might have a huge advantage. I’m currently listening with my Clears and the smol THX box in the middle. Both should be quite neutral and thus a boring combination, but - my headphones aren’t! I think my preferences for the search shifted again somehow. The chain can stay quite dead neutral because i have so many different headphones to cycle through - to let the HPs be what changes the experience, so to speak. And the second thing about this is, most of my HPs are rather “fun” oriented… so the question changes to: which AMP would you choose for the following freaking LIST of headphones:

  • Focal Clear OG
  • Audeze EL8C
  • Neumann NDH-20
  • Grado Hemp
  • Bowers & Wilkins P9
  • Bowers & Wilkins P7
  • Bowers & Wilkins P5
  • Sennheiser HD700
  • Sennheiser HD600
  • Sennheiser HD565 Ovation
  • Sennheiser HD414
  • Sennheiser HD424
  • Koss KPH30i

→ i would like to add a high end planar in the future, the amp should be ready for that!
→ i also have a couple of IEMs (P1, P2, L3 etc.) If the amp could drive those as well - great! But it’s not a criteria for the amp, since i have enough portable gear to drive them properly.

I’m currently even considering a Audiovalve Solaris, it won’t get any more future-proof then that. But it’s actually way out of my comfortable price range…

Firstly I wouldn’t really consider that a neutral combo, to me that would be somewhat analytical lean leaning (given the brighter more brittle leaning nature of the thx with also a pretty flat stage that I wouldn’t consider neutral, but the thx is the bigger bottleneck there). Also secondly just because something is neutral doesn’t mean it has to be boring

Generally a chain being neutral signature wise doesn’t mean it will automatically pair well with all headphones, you have to consider things like timbre, spatial recreation, dynamics, presentation, speed, etc when thinking about synergy. You also can’t avoid coloration on the amp and dac side of things, you just have to properly match that coloration together to better achieve the desired result, but it’s still colored nonetheless, and that’s not taking into account the headphones as the entire chain should really be considered when talking about final coloration

Out of that list, I would end up wanting to prioritize the clear the most, with the ndh20, 600/ovation/700 the most. The hemp is also a consideration but I haven’t heard that one yet so I can’t comment there. From my experience the B&W headphones aren’t too amp picky but you don’t want to lean too fun there lol. The El8C isn’t too picky either. For the 414/424/and 30i I wouldn’t consider too dark of an amp, but given you have a yggy a1 I don’t know if you will have a problem with that

What planars are you specifically looking at? Still the arya?

Depending on the amp, you can grab an iematch and get away with it possibly

If you didn’t want to lean fun, I personally wouldn’t suggest that, also I don’t know if I’d call it future proof either lol (well most amps are indeed “future proof” in the high end since there’s not really a whole lot of innovation or massive change from year to year when it comes to high end amps, but I’m guessing you are more looking for the word “all rounder” and while it is somewhat of an allrounder, I wouldn’t say it’s worthwhile to go with right off the bat, I would rather suggest you wait until you get higher end cans and then decide what’s best synergy wise instead of trying to predict what you want now, it’s better to wait it out and move up after you have heard something in the 1-2k range amp wise and fully know how you want to progress)

Out of the headphones you have and given you have a yggy a1, I think you have a few options to consider. A v281 or 280 if you can’t find a 281 would probably be a good pick, paired with the a1, you would get a more neutral with a slight warmer smoother sound overall with great technical performance with a wide stage, good slam, nice control, good micro and macrodynamics, a bit smoother presentation in the treble, and solid resolution. Good synergy with the clear, arya, el8c, 700/600/565, and the neumann. The 414/424/and 30i might seem a bit too warmer smoother leaning but still enjoyable, the b&w should also be fine but it’s not a stack with them in mind exactly. Grado I can’t comment on.

I think a burson soloist 3xp with the a1 could be a solid option if you wanted to focus something a bit more fun leaning with a more very full and thick sound, with lots of impact at the slight expense of some control, and a wide stage with a bit more smoothed out placement, pretty nice timbre, and a macrodynamics focus. This would favor the arya the most, but also does do a pretty decent job with the clear surprisingly, works pretty well with the sennheiser but slightly unremarkable there, I’ve never tried the b&w on there so I can’t comment. I wasn’t the biggest fan of most grado I tried on there of being too full sounding.

An xi broadway + a1 would give you a more neutral with a slight bit warmer forward lean signature that pairs well with most things, it would focus on control and speed, texture, spatial accuracy, and still good timbre and organicness, with decent impact and a larger focus on microdynamics. This would pair well with the clear for sure, pretty nicely with the sennheisers (given you balance them). I don’t think I’ve tried a grado on this amp, and regarding the arya, I do think it would be pretty nice but might lack some slam and macrodynamics but it would have good control, but not a whole ton of headroom

I would give a nod to the gsx mini, but I might worry it would be too bright/analytical leaning with the arya, but overall while it is more bright analytical leaning when paired with the a1, it still has good tonal density and body, a smaller stage but great depth, lots of detail and speed, good control, slightly softer impact though. It does work pretty well with the clear and sennheiser imo, pretty decent with the grado I have tried on there, 30i gets much more clean and controlled lol


@M0N you’re simply the best. I cannot state enough how grateful i am of people like you, just taking care about others. <3 The amount of knowledge you have and you’re willing to pass to others is quite incredible. Since you might have already discovered, i’m new to these levels of performance, getting a bit more serious about it and i’m having great fun, though money is certainly limited. On the other hand, i have the same mindset for the amp as for the Yggi - if it doesn’t please me, it just gets sold for a decent resell value. I’m quite sure Violectric will be my pick. Being german and even living relatively near to the lake of peoples, i like this idea very much - supporting my “local” (170 km) audiophilia supplier sounds awesome lol … and i especially like the idea of listening to a headphone made in France, with an amp made in Germany and a DAC made in USA. Jeez. I’ll think about all this until next month now, but i think i’ll settle with a Vio. The xi broadway is less tempting for me, even if it’s really, really good afaik. Especially approved by the Abyss guys. The GSX mini sure is less tempting since Z’s review but also might be a bit too bright with the clears, from what i’ve heard. The Burson is the second most tempting, i like your description of fullness. Let’s see. Again, thank you so much.

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That’s the way to do it

Oh nice, there you go lol

Most likely not as easy to get where you are I would assume as well, and yes the limitation of only balanced would be a concern here

Pretty sure anything high end would be less tempting after a z review. It would be brighter leaning with the clears as well, but not passing the threshold of too much imo, but it def does with the arya

They generally go for a good all around signature that might be what you are after, so a look is worth for sure

np :+1:

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Eventually there will be a Violectric V340. That could be a potential option to consider.

If it sonically like the rest of the series V380,V550,V590 then I’d totally rec with the Clears. Tho I can’t speak for how it pairs with the Yggy.

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@M0N well, sometimes other factors come in and knock. I currently have the option to get either a used Schiit Mjolnir 2 or a Ragnarok V1 for a reasonable price. Though the Rag is a bit less tempting, i’d rather wait and jump on a Rag 2 when possible. I currently don’t need speaker amp capabilities but it might be a good invest for future desk-hifi-fun. And the obvious factor is: optical sinergy. In this regard, they are both great, but the Rag 2 is the obvious choice. The humongous Yggi feeding my smol smol thx box gives me sexual thoughts. On the other hand, the Mjolnir 2 is loved by many, adds tube fun (and rolling) into the mix and is a very versatile amp, from my understanding. And the price is tempting. What are your thoughts about these? Can they compete with the Vio and the Burson? My current choice is the V280, but the price for a new unit is just a bit high. Getting a large Rag 2 for a bit more or a fun M2 for way less just feels better, if the aesthetical result is like A++

The rag 2 is nice but not super special, and the mjolnir 2 is pretty meh imo, I wouldn’t go for the mjolnir.

The rag 2 can, although I’d personally still say with the majority of headphones the vio and burson edge the rag out a bit in things like detail, dynamics, and some overall control

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ok thanks for the realtiy talk, thought so.

@M0N i just ordered a SILVER V280! To be honest, if i had known these are also available in silver, i might have pulled the trigger faster. Let’s see, if the colours match halfway decently or not, if not, whatever… no problemo. Now i’m exited again. One benefit of adding new gear is, that you can always switch back to the old gear (thx box) if you feel like it and if you don’t have to sell it for financial reasons. So A/B’ing on the amp side will become a thing now if i want. A second, substantial benefit for me is, that i can now build two indepentend, legit stacks - one on the desk (Yggi/Vio) and a second one for the couch area (Mojo/THX or Dethonray). Let’s see, maybe relaxing on the couch with music will become addictive and i’ll switch the setups. This would have the huge benefit of Yggi also serving my speaker setup, which is impossible atm. There are always reasons to justify spending money, i’m waaay too good at that. Thanks again for the recommendation!!