UPDATE: I don't recommend buying anything from Schiit Audio until they address the quality control issues they are obviously experiencing and are certainly aware of. While i was writing this review i was listening to music and my Schiit Hel 2 started having the same 'popping' every few seconds that several people in this Reddit thread mentioned.
Following is my original review...
First of all, dealing with Schiit Audio was not entirely a pleasant experience. Perhaps some of my frustration can be chalked up to the alleged COVID-19 "plandemic" (yes, the spelling is intentional), but i'm not sure that accounts for all the trouble.
Second of all, i'm not very technically knowledgeable regarding audio, but i do have a basic understanding of digital audio and i just wanted to share a potentially unique and early review of the Schiit Hel 2, "early" meaning i've only had the unit in my hands for a week or so.
The Hel 2 Gaming AMP/DAC is primarily aimed at headphone and headset users who also want to run their microphone through the unit. Basically the $199 USD Hel is an upgrade to the $109 Fulla 4 (up from $99) for those who require more power and options. I no longer do much gaming, nor is that why i bought it. From all of the reviews i've read and watched, virtually all of them enthusiastically positive, the Hel is more than just a gaming quality sound card; it seems to be a very worthy addition to the budding audiophiles tool kit. It seems to be built with high quality parts and nothing about its weighty steel and aluminum exterior feels the least bit cheap. However, while writing this review i ran across several people on Reddit that have had problems similar to what i experienced, both with Schiit and its products. Here's a couple partial quotes from the beginning of the thread...
'HuskySlim' opened the thread with...
All i’ve seen so far are a lot of people with a lot of issues on their new Fulla 4 / Hel 2 units. Is this something that Schiit is aware of and actively correcting with the outgoing units? Seems like a lot of units are effected.
'b34tn1k' replied with...
I got my Hel 2 yesterday and it's cut out a bunch of times. I've emailed their support detailing the steps I've taken to trouble shoot and their reply was to ask if if I'd taken any of the steps that I already detailed.... It was like they didn't read my email beyond the subject line.
The Fulla i received was DOA which is why i went with the Hel. There's no excuse for this. Schiit is shipping product which they know may be faulty. In Schiit's defense however, 'HuskySlim' apparently wasn't using the required power supply and this may have been an issue with 'b34tn1k' also, i don't know. What i do know is that i completely agree with the statement, "It was like they didn't read my email beyond the subject line". I'm certain this is what happened in my case, no less than three times.
Here's the specs for the Schiit Hel 2...
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.3db
Maximum Power, 16 Ohms: 1350mW RMS
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1200mW RMS
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 800mW RMS
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 200mW RMS
THD: <0.0008%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.0008%, CCIR
SNR: >110db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance (headphones): 0.25 ohms
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms
Gain: Low and High, selectable via front panel. Low has maximum output of 1.3V RMS, high has maximum output of 8VRMS.
USB Receiver: C-Media CM6635
DAC: AKM AK4490 with TI OPA1656-based filter stage
Sample Rates and Bit Depths:
USB Playback: 16/44.1 to 32/384 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (any UAC 2 device) with autoswitching to UAC1 for PS4, PS5, and Switch consoles.
USB Input: 48kHz
Optical Input: 16/44.1 to 24/192
Output Stage: TI OPA1656 (4 amp stages per channel)
Power Supply: Via USB, with +/- 12V rails via high-current dual-polarity switching regulator, with inductor filtering and local regulation
Power Consumption: 2.5W typical
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.375” (including knob)
APx Report for Hel 2
I purchased the Hel because i wanted to see if i could achieve better sound quality than my motherboard's sound system offers, but primarily i needed to clean up the horrible noise floor for my microphone. Having a nice, big, mechanical volume knob is also welcome.
As for the sound quality on the headphone output, it's hard for me to say whether the Hel outshines the onboard sound which is actually pretty decent with the MSI B450 Tomahawk Max. It certainly is not any worse, that's for sure. The microphone for my headset is an order of magnitude better with the Hel, which has pretty much eliminated the noise floor.
The Hel seems very well built with smooth controls and there is no static when adjusting the large aluminum, top-mounted volume knob. Apparently this annoyance is somewhat common among some headphone AMPs, even good ones.
One of the problems i had with the Hel was latency. Listening to music or doing voice chats was absolutely fine, however watching videos resulted in roughly a 200-300 ms delay between someones lips moving and the sound hitting my ears. I don't know whether Schiit could have done anything different regarding design however. In my case i run a Linux box (Manjaro) with PulseAudio and once i screwed around with the configuration file for PulseAudio, the latency issue seems to be resolved, or at least nearly so. Here's what i did...
- Make a
folder in the
directory of my
- Make sure the
option is either set to
or commented out
- In the
default-sample-format = s16le
(the 'le' could be 'be) to
default-sample-format = s24le
- After saving the file, open a terminal and restart PulseAudio:
If you want to double check that the
setting matches the spec for the Hel 2, or if you're tweaking your config for another sound card, open a terminal and run
and look for the
line for the card you want to configure. For the Hel 2 the spec is:
s24le 2ch 44100Hz
, thus why i used the
Here's the resources that helped me:
Overall i like the Hel, however after reading some of the more recent reviews which i missed earlier, i'm feeling less confidant about potential quality control issues. Had i found the Reddit thread i linked earlier, i would not have bought from Schiit. That said, maybe the company was having a problem with quality control issues during the manufactured "pandemic". Whatever the case, if you're interested in any Schiit product, i'd recommend finding the most recent reviews before you decide to pull the trigger.
- Made in the U.S.
- All metal, solid build quality with silky smooth volume controls and quality toggle switches
- Flexible in terms of input/output capability
- Can drive most any headphones thanks to the hi/lo gain switch
- Microphone volume knob
- Unlike the Fulla, the Hel has a mechanical switch to toggle between the USB and optical inputs
- Power switch
- Requires a separate (included) power supply - the data USB cable alone won't cut it
- Microphone gain is weak, but OK, at least for me
- The microphone gain knob is positioned on the front of the unit which makes it a bit difficult to adjust - i think they should have stuck it on top near the output volume
- Price may be an issue for a dedicated gamer who is not an audiophile or doesn't need the feature-set of the Hel
- Quality control issues in some cases, at least with the latest revision of units shipped around June, 2021