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Excellent entry level performer

A Review On: Schiit Magni

Schiit Magni

Rated # 21 in Desktop Amps
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Pros: Great value, excellent support from Schiit, well built, looks good

Cons: Channel imbalance, sensitive volume pot,slightly bright/forward sound

I think this review was long overdue. Magni was one of the first headphone amps I've ever owned and I kept it almost always throughout my audio journey. Through the past two years, I've had it head to head with amps that exceed its value by 5x+,yet, I still find Magni to be an excellent entry level amp even after direct comparisons.


Build: Schiit always has stellar build quality. I've used all of their amps, including Ragnarok. I have owned Valhalla, Lyr (twice), and Magni (three times). Every amp I used was well built and Schiit always responds to my sometimes stupid questions quickly. It really says something about how much they care, I've sent them emails that get answered in less than an hour on some occasions.


Unboxing the Magni you get a manual, four stick on feet, and a plain old white box. There is no special packaging.


The amp itself is constructed well and is heavy considering its tiny size. Volume control is smooth, the enclosure looks and feels good, no wobbly RCA ports or anything poor. However, one of the compromises made for such a low cost amp was to use a cheapo, Chinese wall wart which worried me a bit at first. However, it works fine and doesn't get too hot or make any bad noises. 


Sound quality: I'd describe Magni as fairly neutral but it does have a bright tone to it. I've found that every headphone I've hooked it up to does receive a very slight boost in the treble and the overall sound is forward and detailed. Personally, I found it to be a great match with headphones like the Sennheiser HD600, Audeze LCD3, and Hifiman HE500/560 where they are neutral to slightly dark. However, I have used it with an HD800 and a Grado SR80i and the treble boost isn't welcome with headphones that are already bright. Apart from the treble coloration and forward soundstage, the amp itself is pretty much flat without any other significant colorations.


One of the most significant things about the sound quality (that I mentioned in the first sentence of my review) is how it's almost end game with certain headphones, like the HD600. I've tried Valhalla, Lyr, and the Burson Soloist SL (I have owned some more expensive ones as well but no direct comparisons were done). I kept Magni as sort of a back up amp and to be honest, it isn't too much different when I used the HD600 side by side with the big boy amps.


I will admit the treble is brighter in comparison to the other amps and the soundstage is a bit smaller and more forward, but, the differences are minor. For $99, it does come close in sound to some of the more higher end amps and the level of diminishing returns is huge. I think we over exaggerate the differences amps make here. I agree they do sound different, but I don't think low end amps like Magni are miles apart from more expensive amps.


The ugly...


Now, it seems like I'm praising the Magni as a giant $99 amp killer, I'm not trying to do that here. I do have a couple issues with it. One, the volume control: It doesn't bode well with sensitive devices. Using an SR80i or IEMs gives you little play on the volume control and a tiny bump on the pot can increase volume significantly. Also, there is channel imbalance where either the left or right channel will be louder at very low volumes when using high sensitivity headphones.The channel imbalance can be solved simply by reducing the volume on your computer or phone, giving you additional play on the knob or you can by RCA attenuators which are resistors hooked up to RCA plugs to reduce gain.


And, of course, Magni is basic and not versatile. You don't get preouts, multiple inputs, and all of those bells and whistles. It also, like I said before, doesn't pair well with sensitive or brighter headphones.


Conclusion: Magni is a great amp, especially if you enjoy a more energetic sound. I find it to be a perfect match with inefficient headphones or neutral to slightly dark cans where some of its flaws like gain, volume control, and a treble tilt aren't noticeable.



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