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For quite some time, Schiit, pronounced as “split,” has garnered a strong following among audiophiles for their headphone amplifiers and USB digital converters. The newly revamped Valhalla 2 stands out as their sole all-tube amplifier. It truly shines when paired with high-impedance headphones like the Sennheiser HD 580 (300 ohms) and the Beyerdynamic T-1 (600 ohms), though it also delivers excellent results with lower impedance models such as the Grado RS-1 (32 ohms). While any well-designed amplifier or AV receiver can drive headphones, the Valhalla 2 excels in fully unleashing the potential of the headphones.

The Valhalla 2 boasts an all-metal chassis reminiscent of other Schiit products in my setup. However, unlike its predecessors, this model features preamplifier outputs, enabling its use with a stereo amplifier for driving speakers or powered desktop speakers. Sporting an all-tube design with specific technical enhancements, including a DC-coupled input, the Valhalla 2 is optimized for exceptional sound quality. Its compact size, measuring just 9 x 6 x 3.25 inches (229 x 153 x 82 mm) and weighing 7 pounds (3.2 kg), makes it suitable for desktop placement. It’s worth noting that the amp can get hot to the touch during operation, so caution is advised, especially around children.

Listening to my Sennheiser HD 700 (150 ohms) headphones through the Valhalla 2, the sound can be best described as “beautiful.” Beyond its clarity and cleanliness, this amplifier adds a sense of beauty to the reproduction of well-recorded acoustic instruments. There’s a richness and organic quality to the sound that mirrors the true essence of live instruments.

While some may argue that the Valhalla 2 introduces a slightly warmer and fuller sound that deviates from absolute accuracy, there’s an undeniable liveliness and authenticity it brings to music playback. For a more straightforward sound reproduction, the solid-state Schiit Asgard 2 at a lower price point could be a viable alternative.

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Transitioning to the Beyerdynamic T-1 headphones, the Valhalla 2 elevates the listening experience by offering a more substantial sound with increased detail and air compared to the HD 700. Far from being dull, this amplifier has the potential to elevate the sound quality of already decent headphones.

Unlike some tube headphone amps that may not pair well with in-ear headphones, the Valhalla 2 proved compatible with my Logitech UE 900 in-ears, delivering a warm yet pleasant sound balance.

Manufactured in California like all Schiit products, the Valhalla 2 comes with a five-year warranty. Priced at $349 (US), £265 (UK), and AU$579 (Australia), it’s available in 115/230 volt models and can be shipped worldwide.