I got my Magni shortly before my Vali. So they each only have a handful of hours on them.
I'll, therefore, give a short preliminary impression of the two compared to each other (realizing that the sound may change with more hours).
Right off the bat, the Vali is more involving. No question. This is with HD598, DT770, PSB M4U1, and JVC HA-S400, and fed from the line out of a FiiO X3.
It's not only the wetness. There's also better articulation between notes and beats, better expressiveness. Also, the bass of the Vali has more balls and impact. The Magni, by comparison, sound kind of "samey" and bland. Kind of homogenous. Textures were not very differentiated and instruments and voices tended to sound too texturally similar. It didn't have that sense that the music is breathing.
In my setup, there was no obvious flaw with the Vali's sound that came to mind when listening.
With the Magni, the sound was warm. More clouded than the Vali. Again, kind of homogenous.
I wouldn't say my Magni was much brighter, but there was something in the sound that caused me to feel uncomfortable. Like there was some high frequency glare that kept my body from fully relaxing while listening to music. This was immediately apparent after changing back to the Vali.
With the Magni, I found myself thinking a lot about the sound of the music; what the amp and system were doing right or wrong. With the Vali, I simply enjoyed the music. Because of the glare from the Magni, or whatever it was, my ears felt fatigued, and my body felt uncomfortable, after a short time.
So Magni put me in a more analytical mode, thinking about the particulars of the sound reproduction; Vali just got me involved in the emotional experience of the music.
It's funny, but for about 30 seconds after starting up the Magni, I thought that the two had a fairly similar flavor, albiet the Magni sounding noticeably cloudier. But the differences were apparent very soon afterward.
So if I had to do it over again, I would definitely go with the Vali for the phones, system, and ears I have.
I had purchased and received the Magni shortly before I even knew of the Vali's existence. I was tempted to return the Magni, but with the 15% restocking fee and cost of shipping too and fro lost, I figured it would be a better value to keep it around to use here and there.
The Magni is not a bad amp. Pretty decent and worth the $99 price. But the Vali is an exceptional amp, especially considering its price point. If your phones are known to pair well with the Vali, I'd say don't even consider the Magni and go with the Vali.
My hope is that the glare from the Magni will disappear with more hours. I'll report back when both have had time to settle and stabilize.
Edited by K.T. - 12/6/13 at 10:34am