A little passive preamp help: Schiit vs Khozmo

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by okc_craft, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I came to love the passive mode of a Schiit Freya which lead me to simplify to a Saga S which I exclusively run passive. I am happy with the sound I am getting now, but wonder about the Khozmo. I believe the Khozmo is as basic and well built of a design as one could hope for considering the price. I also like the fact that it has no power running through it, unlike the Schiit, but is it actually an upgrade or just a lateral move. My goal would be ultimate transparency at an affordable price. Anyone have any experience with Schiit passives and Khozmo?
     
  2. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    I have a OG Freya, a SYS, and a Khozmo. My Khozmo is configured as follows:

    Inputs: 3xRCA
    Outputs: 2xRCA
    64-step attenuator: YES
    Remote: YES
    Resistors: Vishay Zfoil, TAKMAN Rex

    I think the Khozmo is a fantastic piece of gear.

    I tried replacing my OG Freya in my main system with the Khozmo and had favorable results. I liked the Khozmo better than the Freya’s passive or JFET modes. It was slightly more detailed and transparent. It was tougher to choose between tube gain Freya and Khozmo. Tube mode seemed a little bit harder hitting, but the quiet background and seeming transparency of the Khozmo were tough to beat. I like the tube gain of Freya and the Khozmo. No winner between the two.

    I like the numerical volume indicator of the Khozmo, and the Khozmo’s pot seems to be of better quality. The Khozmo’s overall knob, case, and remote build quality is a slight cut above the Freya.

    OG Freya has more inputs and outputs, and was a little more expensive than the Khozmo. The new Freya+ will run you about $300 more than a Khozmo outfitted with some XLR IN/OUT.

    Khozmo gave me enough volume when it it connected to my Rotel RB-1582 MkII. I plan on using it with a Schiit Vidar (if it ever gets shipped to me - haha... been waiting for over a month). I like my Khozmo so much that I am considering ordering another (2 XLR/1 RCA in; 1 XLR/1 RCA out) to replace OG Freya. I’m in no hurry, as new speakers are a priority.
     
  3. BillWojo

    BillWojo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burlington, NJ
    The Khozmo is a very high end device. Schiit isn't even in the same league as the Khozmo, I know which one I'd buy if I were in the market for a passive.

    BillWojo
     
    jusbe, Kray and luckybaer like this.
  4. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    That’s great feedback, and a good comparison to the OG Freya as that’s a preamp I have owned. It sounds like you think it’s more than a lateral move... but only slightly?
     
  5. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    It seems that way on the surface to me, but I haven’t the technical prowess to know why.
     
  6. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    Build and Components: Khozmo
    Passive Mode: Khozmo
    JFET vs Khozmo Passive: Khozmo
    Tube Gain vs Khozmo Passive: Both sound good in their own way
    Inputs/Outputs: OG Freya
    If something goes wrong: OG Freya (Schiit is in CA, so domestic for those in US; Khozmo is in Poland)
    Warranty: OG Freya (5 yr); Khozmo is 2 years
    Miscellaneous: Khozmo emails answered by the owner/designer/craftsman (Arek Kallas); Schiit emails not answered by Mike or Jason :)
    Price: Khozmo less expensive $300-$400 less, depending on configuration.

    If you don’t need all the connections and/or the gain, Khozmo is a better choice - IMHO. I am considering a Khozmo for main system because I like the one in my secondary system so much. OG Freya will be a back up.

    TL;DR
    Khozmo is better, unless you need gain and more inputs/outputs.
     
  7. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    [​IMG]
    Here is my Khozmo. I don't leave the PSU on the unit... I left it there for the photo. Also, the DAC in the background (Modi MB) is no longer on the unit.

    I can’t say enough good about the Khozmo. I love mine!
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
    trd and jusbe like this.
  8. BillWojo

    BillWojo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Burlington, NJ
    The Khozmo attenuator is a very precision built unit that uses closely matched resistors to adjust gain using a multi position switch.
    Actually, I'm not sure what approach Schiit is using for gain adjustment. Could be carbon tracks with a wiper (cheapest and prone to problems), something like the Khozmo using a multi position switch with resistors or it may be done with relays switching resistors in and out of circuit. I know the SYS uses a tiny little potentiometer (very cheap) that instill no confidence in me. Maybe someone familiar with Schiits design can chime in.

    BillWojo
     
    luckybaer likes this.
  9. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    It seems that Khozmo and Hattor audio are more or less the same product ... someone knows something about it?

    Other new product it's the topping pre90 ... balanced circuit at 500 usd.
     
  10. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I believe I saw your assessment on AudioKarma maybe. It certainly is a great looking piece of gear, and to hear it is more transparent than the Freya in your system is certainly saying something. I’ve tried to put an active pre back into my system on a couple of occasions now, including a Marantz Model7, but something about the added gain turns me off now.

    Schiit describes it as a relay switched volume control. I’m sure the Saga I have is a solid performer, but the Khozmo seems to be several notches up in quality.
     
    luckybaer and jusbe like this.
  11. Donivey

    Donivey Forum Resident

    Location:
    NC
    I've heard the Hattor is to Khozmo as Lexus is to Toyota.
     
    Mike70 and luckybaer like this.
  12. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    Based on ASR’s measurements of the Freya S, and my experience comparing my DAC running directly into my power amp, vs passive Schiit in the chain, I’m doubtful the Khozmo would yield an audible improvement. Even the Freyas’ JFET mode is almost completely transparent from a measurement perspective.

    Running my Topping D90 at full output straight into my amp (which I can get away with due to the amp’s minimal gain option) the improvement in transparency is negligible.
     
    wrat likes this.
  13. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I wondered what your opinion might be... If my goal is a huge step forward I believe this purchase makes zero sense. If I am looking for the best that passive can offer in my price level than maybe it starts to make a bit of sense? I have read many praises of how Schiit handle the volume pot in the Saga, and have no doubt that it is very good. The question is how much better, if at all, is the Khozmo? At this point I feel confident that passive is the preferred approach for me and I would like the ring that last 10 percent out.
     
    Omarstringer likes this.
  14. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    Passive definitely has its strengths. I just wouldn’t expect a 10% improvement over the Saga...possibly 5 percent.

    A measurements-are-everything person (which I am not) would look at the FreyaS and conclude their could be no possible advantage in the Khozmo.

    What I heard when bypassing my Freya’s passive section was a slight improvement in top-end refinement. Of course, adding a Khozmo would only add to that signal path and increase potential for distortion and noise. No doubt the Khozmo is as clean as it gets when it comes to input-switching/volume control, I just have my doubts about the practicality. At least they’re not terribly expensive.
     
  15. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    If you already have a Saga and don't need to upgrade, I'd hold off. I bought my Khozmo because I wanted to pair it with a Vidar amp to replace an old Onkyo integrated (unfortunately the Vidar has yet to arrive). I'm considering a 2nd Khozmo because I'm in the market for replacing my OG Freya.

    Much will depend on whether or not the Vidar + Khozmo combo makes my old Polk bookshelf speakers sing better than the Onkyo. If they do, I could spring for a second Khozmo. If not, I'll spend the $$ on speakers.

    If you are starting from scratch, and you want to go passive, the Khozmo is tough to beat at the price. I think the build quality is exceptional and I like the way it sounds (or doesn't sound!) in my primary system.
     
  16. unclefred

    unclefred Coastie with the Moastie

    Location:
    Oregon Coast
    In my system the Khozmo is the most transparent and pleasing sounding pre I've had, even better than my very good zero gain ss pre and tubes. It matches well with the Coda amp with a 50kohm input impedance. I haven't tried the Saga but I don't doubt it's very good as well and is in the same league as the Khozmo. I also like not having to plug the khozmo in at all, one less power supply. I'm not interested in a lighted display of the volume steps.

    Another good thing about the Saga is if you change your system up and get a new amp that doesn't match as well, as many SS amps don'T due to inadequate input impedance, it has that buffer mode that you could switch in to fix that rather than having to buy a different pre.

    A lot of manufacturers design their amps to match the active preamps they make and the input impedance can be tricky with a passive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
    luckybaer and 33na3rd like this.
  17. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I don’t need to upgrade, mostly I’m just curious. I should probably sleep on the decision for a couple of nights. I will admit that I have a soft spot for boutique hand made items and obviously the Khozmo fits that bill. I like the idea of building a system based on these sorts of components.
     
  18. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    Location:
    Missouri
    @Helom is correct. The difference between OG Freya's passive and Khozmo is not huge. I have read that Saga's passive mode is very transparent, and that many prefer it to OG Freya's passive mode. Sleeping on it for a while is probably a good idea, but I understand completely why Khozmo is so tempting!
     
  19. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    Saga+ burns the tube even in passive mode ... that's a pity. Freya+ only applys current to the tubes in tube mode.
     
  20. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
    I currently have 5 passive preamps, 2 of them from Schiit, and I still want one of the Khozmo's!

    @unclefred brings up a good point about Schiit's buffer modes. I'm very careful about impedance matching, but I do have a DAC that has a 600 ohm output impedance. That DAC sounds fine when using a passive with a power amp that has 47K ohm input impedance or higher, but with my 22K ohm Vidar it sounds anemic. The buffer mode makes this a non issue, and everything plays nice together. I have actually toyed with the idea of getting the Loki+ just to use as a $149 buffer behind my DAC, then I could use any of my passive preamps with any of my amps without impedance issues. Of course, getting a different DAC with a lower Zout would take care of that too.
     
    unclefred likes this.
  21. unclefred

    unclefred Coastie with the Moastie

    Location:
    Oregon Coast
    That's a great idea. I have a Loki but I seldom use it except to cut a bit with the 4k pot on terribly loud CD's or to fatten up anemic LP's.
     
    33na3rd likes this.
  22. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    You are correct about the Saga+, but I purchased the Saga S before they discontinued it. Theoretically I am only using the power for a motorized remote volume control, that’s my hang up though, the Khozmo is a completely power free circuit. One could even get the Khozmo with remote and run it with a battery supply I suspect.
     
  23. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I am running a Hagerman Cornet 3 with an output of 1k, my McIntosh MC 60 (running my full range drivers) have an extremely high input and are really of no concern here. My Parasound have an input of 33k, so more careful matching would be required. I assumed the Khozmo pot should be the 20k.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
    33na3rd likes this.
  24. Mike70

    Mike70 Forum Resident

    I don't understand why Schiit discontinued both S models (Saga and Freya).
    Freya S was a tremendous value.

    In the future i'm interested in class D amplification, and balanced connections are usually reported to have better quality in that projects. So, a balanced preamp it's a good thing.
     
  25. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile Thread Starter

    Location:
    Okc
    I agree the Saga S was a tremendous value. I actually bought one of the last few that they had after they announced that they were going to discontinue them.
     
    Mike70 likes this.

Share This Page

molar-endocrine