Schiit Audio Aegir power amplifier Page 2

The Harbeth P3ESR's least good trait is how compressed it can sound on bass-charged, highly dynamic programs. To my surprise, Schiit's Aegir alleviated that shortcoming (at least somewhat) by demonstrating a vigorous class-D-like force, delivering strong momentum, clean bass detail, and articulate, open highs.

Like a child with a short-wave radio, what I seek from my audio system is a sense of something human—like a real person's voice from a faraway place, emerging miraculously from my speakers. Harbeth's P3ESR loudspeakers, driven by the Nelson Pass-designed class-A, zero-feedback First Watt SIT-3 amplifier ($4000), have a special talent for making voices feel like they come from genuine humans (with moist vocal cords). This combo is my current reference for authentic fidelity. But folks, at exactly one-fifth the SIT-3's price, the Schiit Aegir gave me a majority-portion, perhaps as much as 80%, of the SIT-3's detail-rich humanity. What is the argument against that?

Compared to PrimaLuna tubes
I apologize now for my lack of under-$1k basic amplifiers to which I can compare Schiit's Aegir. As usual, though, I will make comparisons to a couple of reasonably priced, well-reviewed amplifiers whose value and sonic character have been established by critical consensus.

I will start with the PrimaLuna's lowest-cost EL-34 tube amplifier, the ProLogue Premium, playing Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat (Columbia LP MS7093) through my reference Harbeth Monitor 30.2 loudspeakers. Compared to the Aegir, the ProLogue Premium transcribed a thinner but more transparent air through the top octaves. The PrimaLuna put more space and atmosphere into this Columbia Studio A recording. The Aegir located instruments on the soundstage with greater precision.


Both the Schiit and the PrimaLuna reproduced flutes and massed violins with tube-like elegance. Both amps activated the spaces around high-frequency sounds, but the Aegir's top octaves were more sharply focused. More detailed. Overall, the Aegir's sonic presentation was more precisely articulated than the PrimaLuna's.

Compared to the Rogue Sphinx
Let me start by saying, lest some of you forgot, that the Rogue Sphinx (footnote 2) is a modestly priced ($1295) integrated amplifier that drives most speakers and conveys a balance of beauty, delicacy, and authority that is outstanding in its price range. However:

As I listened at length to Cabaret Modern: Night at the Magic Mirror Tent, it became obvious: the Aegir's midrange was more fleshed-out, detail-wise; the Aegir's bass was denser and more completely described. With the Aegir, the overall sound was more complex and sophisticated— more naturally transparent and relaxed—than with the Rogue integrated.

Driving the Harbeth M30.2s, the Aegir cleared the last bits of haze from the Magic Mirror Tent. It made every track sound fresh and clean—almost raw.

Driving KEF LS50s
Ever since I reviewed it, Schiit's Ragnarok integrated amplifier ($1499) has been my No.1 favorite amp to power KEF's LS50s. The 60Wpc (8 ohms) Ragnarok plays the LS50s with major kick-ass jump and boogie. With the Raggy, the venerable KEFs lose their Brit-fi reserve and bust loose.

To impress me, the Schiit Aegir needed to be more invigorating than the Ragnarok. Otherwise, why not just take the basic Raggy-rock amp and throw it into a Schiit Vidar chassis? I also hoped the Aegir would excavate more nuance and microdynamics.


I wish you could have heard the Stanley Brothers airing it out on "Dickson County Breakdown" from The Complete Mercury Recordings (44.1/16 FLAC Mercury/Tidal). The Aegir went full-throttle on plucked acoustic bass and Ralph Stanley's psychedelic banjo. The sound literally jumped from the KEFs. I was almost impressed.

You tell me, is it fair to judge a component by how it plays two simple songs? I think it is. If an amp and speakers can't deliver enough authentic high fidelity for me to enjoy two of my favorite songs by two of my favorite singers, what good is it?

The Aegir needed to make the KEF LS50s deliver all the twisty yodeling harmonics and rich rustic tones of country legend Hank Williams' voice on "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," from 40 Greatest Hits (44.1/16 FLAC Mercury/ Tidal). No question, I would have wished I could cancel this review if it didn't—but it did. It reproduced Hank's iconic voice with the exact saxophone-like character I require for my enjoyment. Best of all, the Aegir-LS50 combo gave me the full dose of chilling spring reverb on the most haunting song ever: Lefty Frizzell's "Long Black Veil," from Look What Thoughts Will Do (44.1/16 FLAC Columbia/Tidal). I played this recording twice and cried three times. The LS50/Aegir combo is 100% recommendable.

Driving Klipsch RP-600Ms
I grew up in Chicago, watching Junior Wells at Theresa's Lounge and stealing Little Walter 45s from the Chess Records outlet where I worked. Those harmonica masters showed me that blowing the blues was the most directly expressive of all blues-music forms. Obviously, the "mouth harp" was invented to simulate the wailing of trains and the solitude of pain. The harmonica generates full-spectrum harmonics with extreme dynamics. I'd thought I knew all the best blues harp players (after the original Sonny Boy Williamson) until I found "Fast Train" by John Lee Thomas on Deep River of Song: Georgia, "I'm Gonna Make You Happy" (44.1/16 FLAC Rounder/Tidal). This simple recording peeled skin off my body, and the Aegir amp and $549/pair Klipsch RP-600M loudspeakers forced me to play it more than seven times in a row. It sounded physically lush and orgasmic. The Schiit-Klipsch duo did lively-fast and dead-slow. Dangerous. Hypnotizing. Best of all, it created a nuanced low-grain sound that I could live with forever. Total price for amp and speakers: under $1400.

Driving Magnepan .7s
40Wpc into 4 ohms should be enough to play the $1400/ pair Magnepan .7s in my small room—right? Well then, imagine "Po' Laz'us," also from Deep River of Song (singer unknown), at 80dB average with crazy 94dB peaks (C-weighted). Or better yet, how about Kortnie Heying making tears pour down my face at 86dB average while singing the title song from I'll Fly Away: Country Hymns and Songs of Faith (44.1/16 FLAC EMI CMG/Tidal)? Kortnie sounded pure and heavenly—but only at low SPLs. At higher volumes, the Aegir's clipping was frequent and easily noticeable, but not totally damning.

Thought and sound merge perfectly
If your system sounds like shit (not Schiit), you can be sure it is not a THD+noise issue (it never is). You must blame your speakers, their pathetic crossovers, and your room: All three are flinging poo at you, all the time! The problem is obvious, and the solution is easy: Get some proper (crossoverless) headphones (with a flat impedance) and connect them directly to the Schiit Aegir outputs. Good headphones enjoy abundant class-A power (footnote 3).

The first head-mounted transducers I connected to the Aegir were HiFiMan's $2999 HE1000 V2s: ruler-flat 32 ohm impedance, ruler-flat phase angle, and only 297mV RMS required to reach 90dB SPL (footnote 3). The V2s sounded so naturally fresh, clean, open, and uncompressed, I wondered why I've wasted so much time listening to emphysemic wood boxes.

Not surprisingly, poo-flinging distortions were reduced even further when I switched to the $4999 JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 Phi headphones: the Aegir-Abyss sound was as close to authentic fidelity as I have ever experienced.

In the end
What makes the Schiit Audio Aegir so special is how it generates class-D-like force and clarity plus the information-dense refinements of class-A. And how, at $799, it could dare to sound as trippy and lifelike as it does.

The Aegir struck me as a design that will withstand and even rejoice in the scrutiny of time—much like the affordable Wharfedale, KEF, Harbeth, and Magnepan loudspeakers I tested it with.

Unless you need more power or have an uncontrollable urge to spend more money, I can think of no arguments against Schiit's innovative Aegir.

Footnote 2: Recently replaced by the Sphinx v2, which we have not yet reviewed.

Footnote 3: Just remember to turn the volume down first.—Jim Austin

Footnote 3: See

Schiit Audio
24900 Anza Drive, Unit A
Valencia, CA 91355
(323) 230-0079

Anton's picture

Every once in a while, I will cross paths with a review that makes me wanna stop what I am doing, run out to a dealer, and impulse buy the product.

This is one of those times.

I am already trying to envision where I would put it!

I have a little loft above the barn with a pair of Heresy speakers and a pair of Infinty Intermezzo 2.6 speakers (purchased thanks to an ancient review from Stereophile!) that I am running with an Oppo 205 into an SMSL 98 dollar amp....and it sounds great. I'm thinking this piece of Schiit plus a home brew preamp a friend is building may be just the ticket...and affordable!

That's some good Schiit!

invaderzim's picture

It does get more dangerous when the items being reviewed are priced like this.
I like the looks, I like the size and I respect Herb's take on the sound.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The least expensive Class-A amplifier in the Stereophile 2019 October recommended components list, Schiit Audio Aegir ($799) .......... That is excellence in engineering :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also review the new Schiit Audio Freya+ ($899) pre-amp? :-) ...........

Travis's picture

This review is confusing to me. What preamp were you using, the 5K RP-7? Also, when hooking up headphones to the Schiit, how did you control the volume level. It doesn't have volume control, does it?


Herb Reichert's picture

I used the Rogue Audio RP-7 preamp

it is a fairly neutral but also radiant-sounding hybrid pre with a low output impedance


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Since HR mentions about hooking up the amplifier's speaker outputs directly driving the headphones, may be HR could review the RAAL SR1a ribbon headphones ($3,499), which are supplied with an amp/ribbon interface box ....... That interface box can be hooked up to an amp/integrated-amp speaker outputs :-) ........

Herb Reichert's picture

are on my head as I type this


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great ...... Eagerly waiting to read your (HR) review :-) ...........

JRT's picture

Benchmark Media AHB2 would seem to be a good amplifier for these RAAL SR1a headphones.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Rogue Audio Sphinx (100 WPC) which HR used for comparison with this Aegir review, could also possibly be used for the RAAL review :-) ........

JRT's picture

First strike is that the Rogue Audio Sphinx lacks balanced/differential inputs with high CMR.

Second strike is that it is an integrated amplifier, which lacks flexibility in later upgrades to proper separate components with less compromised functionality.

Third strike is that they wasted resources on integrating a phono preamplifier instead of using those resources to add a couple of additional balanced inputs to connect an outboard phono preamplifier (and providing ability to later upgrade to a better phono preamplifier) located near the turntable, and to provide a tape loop with balanced I/O for recording the output of the phono preamp with a high quality outboard AD converter.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

HR usually reviews with several different amplifiers ......... Let us wait and see what HR says in his review of the RAAL headphones :-) ........

JRT's picture

I too am looking forward to reading your opinion on the RAAL SR1A.

My AKG K 1000 headspeakers also require a power amplifier suitable for driving loudspeakers, though mostly for the larger voltage swing. Those are 120_Ohm, so don't draw much current, but the low power sensitivity is such that each side needs 1_Wrms to deliver 105_dB, 11_Vrms across the load, 22_Vrms for +6_dB headroom.

Two key reasons that I bought my Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC headphones are that they sound pretty good for what they are, for their type, and are easy to drive.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also review the new Revel Performa F226Be speakers ($7,000/pair) and compare them to some what similarly priced Harbeth M30.2 speakers, and many other bookshelf/stand-mount speakers and floor-standing speakers in this price range :-) .........

terzinator's picture

I'm with the others who have read the review and are itching to go out and get an Aegir -- or two!

Given the Harbeths' low sensitivity, would you recommend using a pair Aegirs as monoblocks? Or fine as a stereo amp? (Not a big room, and not super loud.)

Ortofan's picture

... Parasound NewClassic 2125 v.2.
150W/ch into 8Ω, 225W/ch into 4Ω and 400W bridged mono into 8Ω or 4Ω.

tonykaz's picture

----- "Best attainable sound for a component of it's kind, almost without practical considerations, with the least musical compromise" -----

I can trust Mr.HR on this, I've owned Schiit since 2011.

Schiit under-rate themselves, they underpromise yet they over deliver in performance and build quality.

They STILL put the dam power switch on the dam BACK of their devices where it's nearly impossible to reach if a person has special physical limitations . I have an outboard Levitron Illuminated Power Switch to easily control my Schiits and am envious of folks that have front chassis Power Switches ( like all normal people have ) dammit!


Schiits perform like Great Voices in Opera: Joan Sutherland & Pavarotti

There might be equally great gear out there.

There might be an equally great Company out there.

But they're rare.

PS Audio comes to mind.

I keep reading Stereophile for another Outstanding Discovery like this one that our Tyll & Steve G gave to me at RMAF 2011.

Tony in Venice

ps. I'm suggesting that our Mr.HR is a Class A Recommended Audio Writer & Philosopher

Jim Austin's picture

>>ps. I'm suggesting that our Mr.HR is a Class A Recommended Audio Writer & Philosopher

I agree. Good observation.

Jim Austin, Editor

tonykaz's picture

I was holding back a wee bit.

This issue has 5 outstanding pieces including two from HR, the AWSi, the Barton/ John Atkinson piece, and the Cary story.

I don't read or comment on any of the Phono pieces.

Back in the Day, early 1980s, I imported and sold British HiFiN&RR Subscriptions to our American Customer Base. I did this because it was the finest Audio Mag. ( I thought ). HP was somewhat inspired writing so I sold TAS as well. I advertised in Audio Mag. Writing, back then, was somewhat useful but lacking insight.

Since around 2011 when I returned to paying attention to Published Audio, Tyll, Steve G and Bob Katz and all things digital it became obvious that no Company ( like our IVOR at LINN ) had any sort of grip on Audio Press leaving JA a hand to encourage un-hindered brilliance which showed up in the form of Tyll Hersten ( and his pals ). Phew!!!

Now, look at all the greatness migrating to Stereophile for a few thousand words ( beautiful voices in a World of Corporate Censorship ). I look around and don't quite find much interesting reading in concentrations like is flowing out of Stereophile today.

Stereophile has become the finest Audio Publication in my memory.

Nice work Mr.Jim Austin

Tony in Venice

ps. I pass-on my Stereophile Magazines to my new One Barber, barber Shop where they end up getting seen by a hundred "heads" per week, it's probably the most well-read Magazine in Venice.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Jim Austin is the perfect person to review the relatively new JBL Synthesis S4700 floor-standing speakers ($15,000/pair) :-) ..........

Ortofan's picture

... Pavarotti, then I'll wait for one that sounds like Carlo Bergonzi.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That one got to be the D'Agostino Relentless mono-blocks :-) .........

tonykaz's picture

Why only one?


are you one of those Mono people ?

tony in venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I said 'mono-blocks' ...... that is two for stereo :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

Yea, you did, you're right, : BLOCKS not block !!!

I was just being silly

I didn't give this it's proper deserving thought.

Besides, those big Amps come in boxes that cost more than the Amplifier contained, making them Show-off Status & Ego type products.

They are great Amps but are they an improvement over a 1985 vintage Threshold Amp?

Tony in Venice

ps. Mr.D'Augustino is the Jeweler of Audio Gear

ps. the little Schiit Amp could be dressed up a bit by a Fab Shop doing Show Display Products.

tonykaz's picture

No Problem,

you can find his Voice by changing Tubes in your Valhalla 2 Preamp.

Tony in Venice

ps. might help to have access to a bit of wacky tobaccy .

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You mean 'wacky tobacky'? :-) .........

dial's picture

The Parasound is only 600 $ but no XLR. In the future, everything'll be class D. In France, they have the 3 D LABS NANO AMPLIFIER, 250 W per channel, also bridgeable, but 1630$. Not so many D Amps. It's a power amp too.
I don't like integrated amps (like JRT) : a lot of people don't use phono anymore (sad but true) but if they want they surely buy a separate RIAA preamp, from 20 to 20 000$. The sound can only be better than the phono boards in the pres sections. I've listened to an Atoll with phono and with their phono box, the box was way better, although it's the same circuitry.

jeffhenning's picture

...the preferred amp for the Raal headphones by their designer. Read about that here:

jeffhenning's picture would be fantastic if the made a simple 100 watt mono block. Not a stereo that bridges to mono.

In their line up, they have this model and another that is a stereo model that bridges to 400 watts. Neither really hits that sweet spot for my system since I have a pair of Rythmik servo subs that handle everything below 150Hz. I just don't need more than 100 watts for KEF LS50's across the front

I could use this amp quite well, but it's a gigantic power hog that can help heat a small room. Schiit makes no bones about this thing running hot at idle. It pulls up to 450 watts from the wall socket. Its efficiency is incredibly low. For my purposes, this won't do.

I'm looking for a mono block to power my center speaker and not waste a ton of energy or have 400% more power than necessary.

I noticed that a few companies in Europe now offer custom nCore and Purifi mono blocks for very reasonable prices.

I guess that's my route for a center channel amp.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Check out the PS Audio Stellar stereo or mono-blocks (Stereophile Class-A) or the Mytek Brooklyn Class-D amps (reviewed by Stereophile) :-) ..........

Ortofan's picture

... what is your objection to a two-channel amp running in bridged-mono mode?

jeffhenning's picture

Nothing wrong with a bridged mono block if you need 300 or 400 watts. Or wrong with it period.

I need around 100 watts to drive a KEF LS50 center channel. I could use a 400 bridged mode amp, but I'd be wasting money on the amp and money on the electricity to run it.

The LS50's can't really play any louder than 105dB (20dB louder than their 85dB@1 watt specification).

Again, this is for a center channel in a theater set up with two 12" servo subs (soon to be four subs).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Why not try a low power output home theater receiver? ........ Several companies sell such receivers, which cost less than $1,000 :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Denon HEOS AVR ($599) receiver is one such example :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... has a 200W output rating and is priced at $399.

bikerider1001's picture

How did you do it?

Travis's picture

like to know.

Herb Reichert's picture

in greater detail how to connect headphones to power amplifiers in my next Gramophone Dream were I discuss Grado's flagship headphone: the GS3000e and the Feliks Euphoria headphone amp.

the short version is you need a set of 4-pin XLR to banana cables.

Plus you got to stay cool, pray for grace, and turn the volume up s l o w l y.
thank you for reading my stories
stay tuned,

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could review the relatively new Denon HEOS Class-D, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capable integrated amp ($499)? :-) .........

Travis's picture

Love you and love your write ups.

Still can't find those volume pots on that Schiit power amp. I look forward to your next column, especially since I am a Grado fan man.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also review the Manley The Absolute Headphone Amplifier ($4,500)? :-) ..........

joemariano's picture

As always, a really nice review from Herb!!!!! He always makes me want to buy more equipment. I too own Harbeths! :D And good to see Stereophile covering product that us mortals can afford. Schiit is such a rebellious company.

Talking of rebellious, I’m curious to learn what new editor Jim Austin thinks about Stereophile’s sister site Inner-Fidelity using a Schiit employee to do “reviews” and “Canjam reports”?

tnargs's picture should have let go along with Joe Roberts. You peaked early with Casual Reactions, which was entertaining in its day.

But these days, most well-informed audiophiles don't fall for the spiel that amps have all these magical properties (other than hypnotically induced by the sales pitch coming from salesmen and reviewers), nor generic sonic attributes based on classification. Stuff like "spaces sound electronic" and "trippy and realistic".... let's hope that most readers aren't buying it. Not anymore.

And remind me never to reference anything you ever write about the technical side. Poor Bob Cordell, champion of Class AB MOSFET amps, finding himself referenced in a review of an essentially Class A BJT amplifier (with 3 dB of class B headroom and a "secret squirrel circuit" probably error correction applied to flatten the transconductance curve). My informed guess is that Cordell would probably argue that the topology, component choices and circuit gimmicks of the Aegir are completely unnecessary and have more negatives than positives.


georgehifi's picture

Great "little" amp, but why didn't Schiit make both this Aegir and the Vidar the exact same gains.
So that on bigger bi-amp'able speakers the Aegir could be used where it's best on the mids and highs and the Vidar on the bass, without any need for a gain matching passive volume control involved??

Shiit!!! bring out a MkII Aegir before it's too late with the same gain as the Vidar, and if mkI Aegir customers want, re-call the original to change the gain for a small fee???

Cheers George

jma78's picture

I bought the Aegir based on reviews, together with Freya + . They sound great. However, the Aegir has a 60hz like humming noise from the unit as well as going to the speakers. I tried only connecting the power cord to it (no interconnect, no speaker cables, etc), it still has the humming noise from the unit. Went through psAudio's page for getting rid of humming noise, it does not work for me.
I guess it's due to the quality of the transformer. The sound is not too loud, and might not bother much. But still, I decided to return them.

I hope they can provide better quality transformers and add cost to the price.

It does not feel right as they say the transformer is made in California, and yet the quality is inferior than transformers made elsewhere.

Other observations
- Aegir back panel has too little space to work with. I hope plugs are spaced further apart.
- Freya + runs very very hot, the panel is almost untouchable, and the hottest area is above the transformer, not around the tubes. It's hotter than the Aegir.
- The Freya + has a 128 step stepped attenuator. When using remote or turn manually, it seems has 3 clicks sound every time. I wonder if it goes 3 steps a time or just the sound, or it's just hard to make it one step / one click.

Update 1:
A day later, when I hook them up for last listening before sending them back. The right channel of Aegir is dead. Right channel SE plug had contact issue when I first setup them up, I had to push the plug in harder to make it work. I will not buy their product until I hear some news on quality improvement.

I also contact the brand about the issue I encounter besides a different email of return request. They responded with a return auth code but no other information. Now I got two emails from them for return auth code.

Schiit sounds like a really bad brand name when I have trouble with the product. Not funny.

JRT's picture

"Schiit sounds like a really bad brand name when I have trouble with the product. Not funny."

That seemed quotable, and maybe a little more funny if not the one suffering the trouble with the Schiit product.

georgehifi's picture

If it's physical noise from the actual amp, then that's an issue if too loud for you, Class-A amp do stress the transformers a little and they will hum sometimes, but if it's quite and you have to put your ear to it don't worry, big Krells do it too.

If the hum is from the speakers you could have an "earth loop" I believe only one piece of equipment should be earthed in the chain (with me it's the amp/s), and everything else feeds off that via all the interconnects. You could use earth cheater plugs and "leave one piece earthed" always.

Cheers George

sharbatgula's picture

As an engineer in electronics I very well understand the classes of operation of the output stages and all the intricacies of the crossover region, the feedback, complementary components matching matching, efficiency, etc.
But boy is this is the right dosage of just enough technical terms and meaningful language for subjective description of the aural quality.

Bravo Mr.Reichert!

JasonC's picture

I don't suppose anyone here has tried an Aegir, or a pair perhaps, with a pair of HiFiMan Susvara headphones?