Musica Acoustics is the sales arm of a very unusual headphone/earphone manufacturer named Fischer Audio GmbH. What makes Fischer so unusual? Well, for starters we have a company based in Russia (where all Fischer products are designed and many are manufactured, with a seemingly German name (Fischer Audio, GmbH), whose sales offices are based in Japan (go figure).
Musica Acoustics was showing a representative sampler of products from Fischer including:
Earlier this year our online sister publication Playback reviewed Ray Samuel’s SR-71B fully balanced portable headphone amp and pronounced it one of the two best products of its type on today’s market: click here to read the review. Now, however, Samuels is back with what is arguably an even better product: namely, the Intruder fully balanced portable headphone amp/DAC ($650).
Here are the key things that are changed in the Intruder vis-à-vis the SR-71B. First, the Intruder offers a three-position master gain control whose highest gain setting offers much high gain (a gain of 21) than the SR-71B did. This is important because the SR-71B, powerful though it is, has only just barely enough gain to drive extremely inefficient headphones such as the HiFiMAN HE-6—a headphone the Intruder now drives with the greatest of ease. Second, the Intruder adds a 16/44-capable USB DAC, which the SR-71B. But perhaps the coolest point of all is that the Intruder is offered at exactly the same price as the original SR-71B; you get more, but without paying more. Who wouldn’t appreciate that math?
Schiit Audio (yeah, it’s pronounced pretty much the way you think it would be) is a company that designs and manufactures serious headphone amp and DAC products in the U.S., yet sells them for modest prices. Indeed, looking at and hearing Schiit gear with their price tags left out in the open can cause a split brain experience of sorts; your eyes and ears behold high-end products, while your mind drinks in the price tag and wonders if there’s a significant digit missing somewhere.
Two great cases in point would be a pair of products that Schiit was highlighting at Can-Jam: the Mjolnir fully-balanced desktop headphone amp ($749) and the companion Gungnir balanced output 32/192-capable DAC ($749 for the standard version or $849 for the model equipped with optional USB inputs). The Mjolnir uses distinctive “circlotron” circuit topology and is based on a beefy power supply with 90V supply rails feeding 100V JFET devices. In practice, this means the Mjolnir should be perfect for “problem headphones” that have terrific sonic potential but are—at least for lesser amps—almost impossibly difficult to drive.