After reading the thread up to this point, it seems that the jury is still out deciding on the overall superiority of the Vali over the Magni on the budget amp category. One would be preferable over the other depending on sound preferences, headphones used, etc. In the meantime, Christmas is approaching, and I have the feeling that I will get a present that might improve my current sound system. I would like to ask those who have experience with Schiit products if you can help me decide on this present.
I currently send music from an iMac, through an Airport Express, to a Naim NAC92+NAP90 combo. Because these amplifiers have no headphone output, the music flows through a JDS Labs's cMoyBB 2.03 to my modded Denon D2000 (the modding procedure is detailed here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/350721/denon-d2000-d5000-md2000-md5000-appreciation-thread/3105#post_10063200). I'm pretty happy with my modded Denon. There is greater depth and coherence in the soundstage. Better instrument separation. The sound is more out-of-the-head and true to reality. The volume levels of bass and treble are more in line with the frequency curve. Differently from the original markl mod, I believe that the treble is less harsh and smeared in my Denon due to the use of felt covering the FatMat's shinny surface. Sibiliance was significant decreased, but not eliminated.
Yet, I keep reading impressions on this site that trigger my imagination about how the sound produced by my system could become even better. Now, please bear in mind that I live in Brazil, and availability and affordability of hi-fi equipment are not among the qualities of this otherwise wonderful land. For now, I can only dream about such things as the bass of the Audeze LCD-2.2, the soundstage of the Sennheiser HD800, the transparency of the Stax SR-009, etc. What I mean to say is that my first-hand knowledge of the sound possibilities afforded by different headphone systems is rather limited.
In any case, I am sure that US$1000+ could bring me to another level of headphone experience. But I am not ready for that sort of commitment. I'm more thinking of spending, like, 350 dollars, approximately the cost of having Schiit's Modi + Vali/Magni in my possession. So, my present doubts are the following:
1. By using one of the Schiit combos to bypass the iMac's DAC > Airport Express > Naim > cMoyBB chain, am I likely to perceive significant gains in terms of sound quality? In what ways specifically?
2. Should I opt for the Vali or the Magni? From the very few impressions I've read of the Vali with Fostexes and Denons similar to mine, the floor level hiss was not an issue. Nor do I think that tube microphonics will be. Or I am mistaken? I do hope that sibilance in human voices could be further decreased -- that could be the most important achievement of new sourcing equipment for me. Secondly, the bass could become better textured and highs, smoother. And other improvements are welcome too.
Thanks in advance!