If you primarily listen to LPs, this blog won't be of much interest. But for everybody listening to digital music at home, the Schiit Bifrost Multibit digital converter can make a big difference.
The Bifrost Multibit is small enough to fit on a shelf or desktop -- it's just 9 x 6.75 x 2.25 inches (228 x 171 x 57mm). The all-metal chassis feels solidly built, and this little guy weighs just five pounds (2.3 kg). Digital connectivity is limited to three inputs: one optical, one coax, and one USB so you can hook up to a computer, CD or Blu-ray player or game console. There are stereo RCA analog outputs to connect to a receiver, amplifier or powered speakers.
I listened first to the Bifrost Multibit on my desktop, hooked up to my Adam F5 speakers, and the sound was clear and sweet. I then spent a lot more time evaluating the Bifrost with my main system, with my Oppo HA1, First Watt J2 power amp and Druid V speakers.
Comparing the Bifrost Multibit to my older, identical-looking Schiit Bifrost Uber the first differences I noted were scale and resolution. The Bifrost Multibit's sound was more dynamically alive, the sound had more palpable texture, and resolution of quiet details was much better. The Bifrost Multibit makes my system sound more powerful, the Bifrost Uber sounds "grayed out" by comparison. Bifrost Uber sounds great, until you hear what the Bifrost Multibit can do, then there's no turning back!
With the CD "Satie: Oeuvres Pour Piano", the Bifrost Multibit decoded Patrick Cohen's subtlest dynamic shadings of touch on the piano keys. The exquisite delicacy of the recording draws you in as Cohen barely touches the keys, then plays them ever so slightly louder, then you realize he's hammering the keys and the sound is mesmerizing.
Listening to Austin Wintory's majestic orchestral score for "The Banner Saga", the Bifrost Multibit produced a bigger, more expansive soundstage than the Arcam irDAC converter; that one posed no threat to the Bifrost Multibit's sound.
So what's going on here is this: the better the digital converter the more you'll hear -- it's a matter of resolution/clarity. If you're an attentive listener, it's a worthwhile difference. That said, it still makes more sense to first invest in the best speakers/headphones and amplifier you can, before upgrading to a better converter.
The Schiit Bifrost Multibit retails for $599, £520, AU$979. The Bifrost, like all Schiit products, is made in California, and the warranty runs five years. The Bifrost is sold direct from Schiit with a 15-day, money-back guarantee. Schiit offers a number of converters, from a lot less expensive to more so. Check the company's website to see Schiit's complete range of converters and amplifiers.