Yes, that would be an interesting one about which to learn. I myself have never heard an R2R DAC (at least, not that I know of ). I’m not interested in buying one, but if I ever get myself to a meet or something I’d certainly love to try it.
One of the things I love about our forum vs some others is that we tend not to go overboard on generalities. Someone can have a bad experience with a brand without it becoming a pariah and someone can have a great experience with a brand without it getting labeled as the second coming of Christ.
Based on my limited personal experience with Schiit, along with stuff I read online, I get the impression that Schiit aims to provide somewhat special, bespoke designed equipment, built in the expensive U.S. labor market, all at a competitive price. In a field as niche as desktop headphone DACs and amps, this seems like a tall order since they can’t just rely on copying some reference designs and so need to invest at least a little in R&D. I don’t know what their sales figures are in Europe but it sounds like they’re not very widespread over there, and I’m guessing they don’t have a big presence in Asia, so they seem to be mostly limited to the U.S. market. That makes it hard to amortize development costs over a large volume of goods sold, so some cost cutting in materials, build and/or QA seems inevitable.
Some of the recent Schiit hate stems from comparisons to Chinese made equipment like that from Topping, in which Schiit equipment often measures objectively worse by “traditional” measures. I find these comparisons interesting, because they’re a bit of an apples to oranges comparison:
A lot of Topping’s stuff relies heavily on integrated circuits (ICs) from big names like TI, Sabre, etc. whereas at least some of Schiit’s stuff (like the Magni 3) uses discrete circuits, which require more effort to design and build to a consistent quality
Topping uses relatively cheaper Chinese labor whereas Schiit uses expensive U.S. labor
Topping has an international presence, not to mention a giant home market, so they likely get better economies of scale
Now, the IC vs discrete thing is interesting because IMHO discrete doesn’t necessarily offer tangible advantages over IC and imposes quite a few costs, but from an audiophile perspective, discrete implementations are certainly more “special”.
I also find it counterproductive that people sometimes criticize Schiit for being too marketing oriented. The reality is that the more successful Schiit becomes at expanding their sales volume through marketing, the more they can afford to spend on continuing to design interesting products and hitting a price/quality balance that works.
Sometimes I feel like we audiophiles want fully discrete, bespoke circuits that sound amazing and measure well, all for $99 shipped and with a 5 year warranty. The only way that can conceivably happen is VOLUME.
In the meantime, I feel like we need to be willing to either:
- Accept more use of ICs
- Accept some cost cutting on build and/or QC (assuming the manufacturer still stands behind the product to a certain extent)
- Accept stuff that doesn’t always measure well
I personally prefer options 1 and 2, but reasonable people can disagree.