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There are many ways to make a brand name stick in someone's mind, and Schiit Audio has definitely managed to do this well among audio enthusiasts. The all-American audio company branding might carry a whiff of self-deprecating humor, but their products are one of the favorites globally when it comes to audiophiles who are serious about their gear.

Among the various modules that Schiit Audio makes, the Jotunheim 2 is its fully balanced headphone amp designed to incorporate an internal modular DAC, making it a standalone headphone DAC/Amp. Equipped with the company's own True Multibit DAC Module, this is quite a different device from the other Schiit modules that work in stack configurations. Should this standalone device be your next music source to upgrade your home office? Let's dive in to find out.


Simple, Rugged and Detailed Build

Like the rest of the Schiit range of modules, the Jotunheim 2 comes with the iconic 'L shaped faceplate that forms the top and front panel of the device. The polished utilitarian brushed 3 mm thick solid plate is more than a pretty face, but also acts as a heatsink to draw temperature from the power supply and other electronics inside.

Other than the industrial looking header, the hardware on the Jotunheim 2 also gives off an air of simplicity and reliability.


The machined volume knob has a satin finish on the side, as well as a fine, spun metal finish on its face. Since it's the component that's always man-handled, the finish allows it to be completely free from fingerprints (same goes for the brush metal finish on the top plates). At 3 cm diameter, this might not be the biggest volume knob that I've seen on a headphone amp, but its turning resistance, smoothness and sensitivity is on-par with TOTL amps that I've used. The fine-tuning of volume that I can get on these are impressive - which can't be said for some of the even more expensive sound sources I've handled.

All switches on the Jotunheim 2 are classic stainless steel toggle switches, including the rear mounted power toggle. They are very satisfying to use, a reminder of the 'good'o days' of analogue audio gear and the tactility is a nice break from touch screens and push buttons.


Versatile Range of I/O Ports

The front output of the Jotunheim 2 is a single ended 1/4" port, and a 4-pin XLR for balanced headphone connections. On the rear, other than the expected power port, there are also left/right XLR and single-ended outputs that allow it to be used as a preamp for speakers. Compared to its predecessor, the Jotunheim 2 has an added preamp on/off toggle that allows you to turn the speaker feed on and off easily.

When it comes to the input, the Jotunheim 2 can also take both balanced XLR as well as single-ended input, allowing it to be used on the receiving end of the audio setup.

The most significant feature in this discrete headphone amplifier is its ability to incorporate a built-in DAC module. The modular design is meant to make it upgradable to new or simply alternative DACs - between the True Multibit (which uses an AK5547 DAC chip) and the ES9028 DAC Module for example - without modifying the rest of the unit.


True Multibit DAC Sound

The Jotunheim 2 featured here is equipped with the True Multibit DAC module, which at the time of publishing of this article is temporarily not available for purchase on Schiit's website due to a limited supply of parts. The company states that it should be available again in late 2022.

So how does the Jotunheim 2 sound? In spending a considerable amount of time with the Schiit DAC/Amp, we've tested multiple headphones, including Audeze LCD-2C, Sennheiser HD660S, Focal Clear MG and Celestee, Beyerdynamics DT 900 Pro X to name a few.

We found that what was common between the performance of different pairings, is that it has more than enough power to drive all of the mentioned headphones, proving to be a versatile sound source. If there is a lack of power, it brings the oomph by toggling on the gain and will usually get the headphone singing. Instead of lacking power, especially on dynamic driver headphones, it was more common that the Jotunheim 2 was too powerful, to the point of producing harshness in the sound quality. The powerful all-American amplifier is easily tamed by toggling the gain off, and turning up the volume, offering a clean output.

Compared with other DAC/Amps, the Jotunheim 2 has less advantage when it comes to soundstage and separation. Its strength is in how dynamic its sound is, accentuating things like the attack on drum heads, gritty and distorted bass and guitar lines.


When it comes to powering planar headphones like the Audeze LCD-2C, the standard single ended 1/4" yielded a lackluster sound and I found the listening experience wanting. By swapping out the standard cable for a Fog City Audio balanced 4-pin XLR cable, the LCD-2C finally opened up to produce an impressive sparkle in its sound. There is even a good amount of improvement in the staging and separation. Especially with the LCD-2C, which is an expert when it comes to reproducing vocals, the power of the Jotunheim 2's balanced output maximizes its performance, bringing out an amazing amount of detail and texture in vocals.

To make the most of the Jotunheim 2, especially when it comes to planar headphones, my suggestion is to utilize the balanced output.


Final Verdict

Not everyone who loves music wants a stack of metallic units to show off their enthusiasm. Schiit provides a compact, one-box desktop solution with the Jotunheim 2 that packs a serious punch, with the ability to open up the dynamic sound of hard to drive headphones.


With its analogue toggles, hefty chassis and powerful output, the Schiit Jotunheim 2 is the American muscle car equivalent of DAC/Amps. We're awarding it with the IBTimes Recommended Badge, as our recommended desktop DAC/Amp for home office set ups.

Check out the Schiit Jotunheim 2 on its official website.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move, but since the pandemic is on a mission to explore gadgets to improve his 'home work'. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Home Productivity.