Meze – Empyrean (100dB/mW; 31.6 Ohms)
At 100 decibels per Milliwatt the Empyrean is definitely not hard to push. It can even be used with digital audio players and doesn’t require a big amplifier to sound great. It however does scale nicely with desktop gear, and the Ragnarok 2 is no exception.
The Empyrean has a very full bass, that’s weighty and a bit slow in response. You get thick lows, with a bold and heavy sound. For some this might be too much, as the low-end definitely is the star of the show here. It stands out most, and creates an overall darkish signature.
The overall sound is more closed in, where the sound stage doesn’t stretch far on either axis. The thing about the Empyrean is, it keeps a more intimate presentation, but really surpasses when it comes to instrumental placement. All musicians are carefully placed on their spot and separated with good precision. This makes imaging a delight on the Empyrean.
You get a rich, thick and meaty midrange, with instruments that ooze of body. Mids are dense and superbly natural. The Meze really isn’t known for a fast, energetic or bright sounding treble. No, it keeps highs in a more shy place, where it doesn’t go out to pierce your ears.
AKG – K240 (94dB/mW; 600 Ohms)
The K240 from the early 1970’s is one of the headphones I have the longest in my possession. It also is one of the toughest nuts to crack when you look for a good pairing. It doesn’t play well with just any amp. It needs power. A lot of it. It however, is also picky about the amplifier you connect it to.
With the Ragnarok 2 the Sextett really doesn’t require any more power. There’s tons of room on the volume knob left to blast your ears with music. You get a flat and tight bass, that does come with good body and drive. It might not be the same excellent bass like good planars deliver, but for a headphone that’s almost 50 years old it’s very good.
The K240 delivers a clean, clear and transparent midrange. It’s smooth and organic, but highly resolving and precise. Instruments have good body and blood. Vocals sound emotional, airy and convincing to me.
Treble on the K240 is a bit hard at times, if it isn’t driven properly. With the Ragnarok there is no harshness, no sibilance and no hot notes anywhere. It’s well controlled and all safe of fatigue. It is energetic and crisp. It’s free of grain and comes out with a smoother sound.
All in all, the Ragnarok does a very good job at handling this vintage headphone.
The Ragnarok 2 is primarily a speaker amplifier, but it’s so much more than that. Select the fully loaded option and you get a DAC, pre-amp, integrated amp, MM phono amp and a headphone amplifier. All in one massive box. The build quality of the Ragnarok is very good, but you have to make sure you have the room for it. When I was reading the FAQ’s on Schiit’s website, I was a bit worried about Ragnarok producing a lot of heat. Well, that’s absolutely not the case. It does get warm, yes, but the dissipation and air-flow of the Ragnarok makes sure it stays safe.
During the last couple of months, I have played and enjoyed my time with the Ragnarok 2. It handles anything I throw at it and I’m sure my bookshelf speakers did not push the Schiit to its limits. Very far from it. With my HiFiMAN Susvara headphones that did look a bit different. But Ragnarok still had more than enough reserves to fire into my headphones to make my ears bleed.
Ragnarok sound smooth, organic and full through and through. It is a great amplifier for many products. The only thing I still want to see is a standby option or a front-seated power off button. The current location of the on/off switch is not very handy and why they have put it there is beyond me.