Timing is everything. The Schiit Audio Folkvangr Headphone Amplifier being released when energy costs are at an all-time high and replacement tubes are not exactly inexpensive, is the ultimate display of chutzpah.

We like it. A lot. Go bold or go home.

The $1,800 Folkvangr is the most expensive Schiit headphone amplifier so far and an interesting move by a brand that has made its name offering high-end components that are very affordable and made in America.

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Front Black
The Schiit Audio Folkvangr comes in black or silver

We expect nothing less from Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat and fresh off our review of the Schiit Audio Ragnarok 2 Integrated Amplifier that has one of the best internal headphone amplifiers of any integrated amplifier currently available, the Folkvangr looks even more intriguing.

The Schiit Folkvangr uses 10 tubes and that’s likely to raise some eyebrows at a time when supply chain issues exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have made tube rolling extremely problematic and expensive.

The last time I had to worry about 10 tubes was back in 2001 when I owned the Emotive Audio Sira Pre-Amplifier which utilized 18 tubes and as wonderful as that component was — the tube situation was less than ideal.

Jason Stoddard has always been quite funny and his announcement of the $1,800 USD Schiit Audio Folkvangr makes us want to try it even more.

So, how do you explain a 10-tube headphone amp that, gets super hot, measures terribly, connects your headphones directly to the tubes, and is launching at a time when tubes, well, are still kinda stinky to get ahold of? In short: you don’t.”Jason Stoddard, Schiit Audio

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Silver Front Right

The first DC-coupled, output transformerless (OTL) and output capacitorless (OCL) headphone amp, the Folkvangr also includes an 8X impedance multiplier to increase versatility with low-impedance headphones. The tube burning Folkvangr is limited to a 250-piece run.

“Folkvangr is completely bonkers,” Jason Stoddard, Schiit’s co-founder and head of analog development, said. “There’s no other way to put it. There’s no reason for a 10-tube amp that dissipates 100 watts at idle, to produce only about a watt or so at its best. It measures very badly, and it’s not what we’d use for any kind of IEM. But it’s the answer to a question that’s bugged me for years–what do tubes really sound like–and, at least to me, it sounds very good.”

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Silver Top Angle

Stoddard further explained that he’s always wondered what a direct-coupled tube amp would sound like, so, a few years ago, spurred on by their surplus stock of 6N1P and 6N6P tubes, he decided to design one. Design iteration led to what he considered a great-sounding amp, so he started the process of putting it into production.

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“We didn’t intend this to be a limited-edition amp at first,” Jason Stoddard admitted. “But tubes have become more expensive and much harder to get. So, to keep classic designs like Valhalla 2 in production, we decided to limit the number of Folkvangrs we would make.”

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Rear

Stoddard also explained he didn’t expect Folkvangr to be a big seller in any case, since it’s a very hot-running, impractical amplifier that doesn’t put out an especially large amount of power.

For those who are interested in Schiit’s all-out tube headphone amp, Folkvangr uses a total of 10 tubes–two matched 6N1Ps for input and voltage gain, and eight 6N6Ps for output. Eight separate DC servos keep the output tubes at a low level of offset, and an analog-computer-style protection system monitors and mutes the output in case of any tube mishaps.

At idle, the 10 tubes run 7.2A of heater current and 100mA of standing bias.

In addition to the tubes, Folkvangr offers a switchable impedance multiplier—an electronic circuit that operates similar to a transformer. Stoddard emphasizes this is “not a buffer, it’s output is in parallel with the tube stage, and has the same distortion profile.”

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Front Black with Headphones

The impedance multiplier makes 32 ohm headphones look like 256 ohm headphones to the amp, which is a much better load for tubes. The impedance multiplier is also completely switchable out of the circuit, so owners can choose to use only tubes.

The Folkvangr also features an oversized, 400VA transformer and discrete-regulated high-voltage rails at +/-100V and +200V. Coupled with over 10,000uF of filter capacitance (yes, on a tube amp), the headphone amplifier is definitely overkill.

Schiit Audio Folkvangr Tube Headphone Amplifier Internal

Prospective customers may also notice the new-style, new-form-factor chassis design, which provides maximum tube exposure for best heat dissipation.

Like all Schiit products, Folkvangr is made in the USA—specifically, designed and and built in California. The vast majority of the total cost of the product, including chassis and PC boards, go to US-based companies manufacturing in the USA.

Folkvangr is available to order now at Schiit.com for $1799.

Related reading: See all headphone amplifier articles



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