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An affordable audiophile amplifier wows the Audiophiliac

The Audiophiliac checks out another piece of Schiit audio gear, the Vidar stereo amp.

I reviewed Schiit's overachieving $699 Freya all-tube preamplifier last weekend, now it's the matching $699 Vidar solid-state power amplifier's turn, and it's a honey!

Let's start with a quick rundown of the things that set Vidar apart from similarly priced amps, first it's a Class AB, not 'D amp, and audiophiles such as myself tend to prefer the sound of AB designs. Vidar doubles its power output from 100 watts into 8 ohm speakers to 200 watts per channel into 4 ohm speakers. Again, 4 ohm drive capability isn't a sure thing for amps in the Vidar's price class. And it's made in the US, with parts mostly sourced from US companies.

The Schiit Vidar power amplifier.

Lee Shelly

Connectivity is straightforward, there's a pair of RCA inputs, one XLR input for mono operation, and a pair of speaker wire binding posts. One snag, the power on/off switch is inconveniently located on the amp's rear end.

You can start with one Vidar, but if you crave more power you can buy a second Vidar to use the two of them as single channel mono amps each delivering 400 watts into 8 ohm speakers (there's no 4 ohm power rating). The two amps won't take up that much space, Vidar is considerably more compact than average, it's just 9 by 13 by 3.8 inches. It's a beefy, little guy.

To test out the Vidar, I set it up with the Schiit Freya preamp, the Oppo BDP-105 Blu ray player, Schiit Bifrost or Mytek Brooklyn digital converters and switched between Magnepan .7 and KEF LS50 speakers for all of my Vidar listening tests.

Vidar comes with a five-year warranty, and it's sold direct from Schiit with a 15-day return policy.

Listening to Schiit sound

Vidar was a perfect match with the Magnepan .7 flat panel speakers, so that's what I used for my first round of auditions. Bingo, the best of the .7s sound --  transparency, big as outdoors soundstage, gorgeous midrange -- they were all there, and I noted the treble was better than I've heard in a while. Magnepan treble can sound soft, but here with Vidar the cymbals were brilliant. Vidar's skillset dazzled with the Magnepans and it's rare to hear such an affordable amp do this well with these speakers.

The Schiit Vidar's rear panel.

Lee Shelly

The KEF LS50 speakers also loved the Vidar, and bass output of this little speaker really surprised me. With Kid Koala's sampled and synthesized "12 Bar Blues" CD, the LS50s low-end slam belied their size.

With the stereo mix on Kraftwerk's "3D" Blu-ray, the soundstaging was in fact remarkably three-dimensional, and the palpable textures of the synths and their super tight basslines demonstrated Vidar's grip on the LS50s' woofers. It's a great recording.

 Staying with German prog rock I played Can's "Future Days" CD, and the hallucinatory soundscapes occupying my listening room made me smile, this 1973 masterpiece still surprises me.

Pair the Vidar with Schiit's smaller tube preamp, the $349 Saga, and that pair together runs just over $1,000. Add a set of $500 ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 monitor speakers, and that would be a hell of a system!