Pros: Compact, Has the footprint of a golden lotus, matches macbook pro
Cons: Low price means anyone can have one, only one box, I have a dell
Schiit Magni Review
-please contact me for a one millimeter version of this review downloadable onto a microdot that can be smuggled and hidden from even the most prying eyes.
As a free-thinking maverick who bucks trends and rides bulls, I have really never been one of the multitude of Schiit fans. Ever since the first Asgard was hyped to high heaven, I've been averse to their products and never impressed with their offerings. That said, I decided to try their newer product, their cheapest to date, to see if its stripped-down bare-bones nature would somehow change my roguishly independent mind.
About Schiit: Schiit Audio may be grounded in solid engineering, founded by a disciple of Ampzilla's James Bon Jovi and a Thetan, but don't let that fool you: in front of the scenes is gimmicky marketing and infantile humour.
Running Springs Power Conditioner -> Esoteric K-01 -> Magni
Yakkety Sax (Quad Rate DSD) - On Repeat for Six Weeks
The Magni is a whole lot of amp for $99. That said, this weekend I went to the Dollar Store with a nephew (not my nephew, he was just this kid who has an uncle,) and made it rain. I initially tried to offer them fifteen cents for some of their products but they said that I was nickle-and-diming them. When I finally walked out of there, I had more stuff than I could shake a stick at and my fingers stuck in a chinese finger trap. I didn't think it would work on me as I wasn't Chinese but I guess it was an international version. This is all to say that there's a whole lot $99 can buy, so one amp's perceived "value" is kind of lame in that light. Sure, it's made in America, but so is a lot of crap like synthetic viruses and Green Day.
As a lone wolf who has veered off the beaten path and taken the one less cliched, I knew that there was no way my skepticality on value was going to affect my perception of sound quality. Just like I didn't let race affect my thoughts on Hillary Clinton. Upon receiving my Magni I promptly hooked it up to my Esoteric transport which I have reviewed extensively (see my review index) to see if it was up to snuff. I eschewed my Nordost Frey cabling for some Redco wire and sat down on my exercise ball to spin some tunes. My AKG K1000's never sounded so bad. Headphones that should sound expansive sounded closed in. Instead of lively sound all I got was a plodding mess that trudged along as if weighed down by a ring of power that knew it was nearing it's doom.
The Red Wedding:
It was at this point that I decided to use the Freys to see if they could serve as a proper bridge between my source and my amp. Suddenly everything was glorious. The highs tinkled. The lows gravelled. Then the Freys "malfunctioned" and blew up my 25K source. I have a feeling this was out of spite that I spurned them. I hope Nordost gets their comeuppance. Still, before the total meltdown, the Magni acquitted itself fairly well.
Technical jargon for us engineers:
As a social engineer working in a demanding industry, I know how tough it can be to pair good engineering with a price that is right. Here is what I'd like to have seen from the Magni:
- To my ear, the left ear always seemed softer while the right ear always seemed louder and more suicidal. This suggests an imbalance, and the only way I can see around it is an Alps RK50.
- The chassis on my class D speaker amp is cool and puts out 500 watts. Yet this amp puts out a measly watt and gets uncomfortably warm after I keep my hand on it for a few minutes. This can be rectified by using massive internal heatsinks (external would ruin the looks.) The footprint may now resemble a Yeti, but at least I know these egregious heat errors are fixed.
- Wall-wart. If I wanted one I would have spent 10 times the price on a Meridian Prime. I want an external linear power supply in a matching box. And it needs more caps than a political comment on a yahoo.com news article.
- Speaker taps. This amp needs them so I can plug my HE-6 in and experience epiphany. Pursuant to that it needs a resistance network to fix impudence issues.
- Cloud. This needs to connect to it. I don't care how.
The Magni is a little entry level amp with a lot of potential. It just needs to be bigger and end-game. I've sent Jason a full list of cool things available for $99 (a glowing review from me for example) and he has agreed that the Magni's value was possibly overstated. I applaud Jason for his use of marketing but as he knows I am a dissident who won't be drowned out by the yes-men and lemmings who insist $99 for an amp that can drive 80% of the headphone market to ear-piercing levels is a good deal.
As always, thanks to Jason and co for the loaner unit that I command as an in-demand reviewer.