Schiit AudioFreyausedSchiit Audio FreyaI purchased this unit new in March 1919. The Freya is a nice sounding preamp with several virtues and one vice that prospective buyers should think about. First the virtues: The Freya has thre...525.00

Schiit Audio Freya [Expired]

no longer for sale

I purchased this unit new in March 1919.  The Freya is a nice sounding preamp with several virtues and one vice that prospective buyers should think about.  First the virtues:

The Freya has three output modes, passive, JFET buffer, and tube gain.  Each mode sounds good, but they sound different from one another.  The passive output doesn’t do anything to the signal except allow you to regulate the volume.  The JFET buffer send the signal through a solid-state preamplifier that I think sounds richer than the passive stage.  The tube output gives you a sound that has more bloom, transparency, and delicacy.  I prefer the tube sound, but I have seen several reviews by owners who prefer one of the other outputs.  I have listened to all of the outputs for extended periods.  Passive is useful if you really want to hear what your upstream components (DAC, phono preamp, etc.) sound like, but I preferred the JFET and the tube outputs. 

The Freya has two balanced inputs and one balanced output.  I regard this as a major benefit because balanced operation generally lowers the noise floor.  If you don’t have balanced cables the Freya also has three singled ended (RCA) inputs and one single ended output.  You can use a combination of balanced and single-ended inputs. 

The Freya comes with nice a little aluminum remote that selects inputs, outputs, and controls volume and mute.  Changing volume causes little clicking sounds that are normal.  The clicks are caused by mechanical relays in the relay-switched stepped attenuator.  Other than the aforementioned clicks the volume control is silent and allows extremely fine adjustment.

The Freya’s vice depends on your listening habits. If you use the passive or JFET buffer, the tubes will burn, and this will shorten their life.   The Freya MUST have tubes in sockets in order to operate, so there is no practical way to conserve tube life.  Consequently, if you are like me and turn on your rig in the morning and listen to it as background music all day long you will quickly go through tubes regardless of your output selection.  On the other hand, if you listen only for a few hours in the evening after dinner, or whatever, constant tube replacement shouldn’t be a major issue.  But you should understand that tubes must be replaced on a regular basis. 

I am shipping the original "No Name" 6H8C tubes that came with the unit.  They still sound pretty good.   Four matched 6NS7 JJ tubes purchased through Schiitt will cost you $100.  They sound better than the 6H8Cs.  They are also better in my experience than Tung Sol 6NS7 tubes (that Schiit no longer uses).  You will notice a faint hum or crackle with the 6H8C tubes if you put your ear next to the speaker (or if you have better ears than I do) but it should not be noticeable under realistic listening conditions.  JJ tubes were quiet until they wore out and developed a hum. 

Tubes aside, at the price, the Freya is a very good solid-state preamp operating in passive or JFET.  I’ve been playing it in JFET for months and it sounds fine.  You may never want to buy tubes, or maybe you will become fascinated with tube rolling. 

Overall, I have been quite happy with the Freya.  I may not be your forever preamp, but it has virtues that will allow you to experiment and learn what sound qualities you appreciate most. You can evaluate your sources with passive mode, and maybe get into building a balanced system.  I don’t know of another fully balanced preamp for under two grand.

As for me, I am replacing the Freya with a Freya +.  The new version turns off the tubes when one of the other modes is selected so I can have it both ways – JFET all day and tubes for listening with a little bourbon at night. 

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