Just a bit of background. My first 'portable DAC' was the HRT microstreamer. I always liked the HRT alot, but I always had a ton of issues with it and JRiver. When I got the MS, I already had the FiiO X3, but had yet to upgrade the firmware allowing the X3 to be used as a USB DAC.
When I finally did upgrade the FW on the X3, I A/B'ed it with the HRT, feeding both DACs into a FiiO E9 Amp feeding Sennheiser Amperiors and HD650s . On 44/16-96/24 music the MicroStreamer was always a little better than the X3: they both sounded really good but the MS sound had more substance, more weight.
When I played 174/25-192/24 music, I played it natively on the X3 and downsampled to 96/24 on the fly using JRiver for the MS (MS is limited to 96/24). Using this configuration the X3 was clearly better: the sound was more detailed, there was less background noise, the sound was more realistic.
At the time almost all of my music 44-96, so although the X3 sounded better on files that had a higher sample rate, it made sense to keep the MS as a laptop DAC and use the X3 strictly as my portable musc player.
Fast forward to 2 months ago. I buy a Shiit Asgard2, HD700s, and Schiit UberBifrost w. no usb for my computer, and a Schiit Magni for my laptop in the office. Needless to say, I absolutely went ape schiit over the sound of each and every single Schiit product I now owned.
One thing I noticed was how much the sound of the X3 (as a DAC) improved when it fed the Magni; the MS also sounded better, but now the X3 bested the MS, regardless of sample rate. On the desktop end, the UberFrost/A2 combo was aboslutely killin it with HD700 (when I first got the HD700 I was so disappointed that I nearly sent it right back, it sounded horrible playing off the X3 and MS through the E9 and the E12). The Uberfrost/A2 truly made the HD700 sound incredible. In fact, the HD700 paired very nicely with the Magni and X3 as well. Basically, all of my headphones sound much better when running with Schiit products!
So after that long-winded backstory, comes the real question: I am really interested in getting a Schiit Modi to replace the X3 as my laptop's DAC. So considering
a) that the Modi only plays up to 96/24 and
b) I now have many more 192/24 songs and
c) Downsampling 192/24 to 96/23 greatly affected the sound of the HRT Microstreamer and
d) When I had to lock the sample rate at 96 for all playback on the UberFrost when using the optical in (long story) , all music 44-192, sounded as spectacular as
e) Playing native all music natively on the UberFros when I upgraded the USB.
do you think there is something to be gained by going with the Modi as my laptop DAC and returning the X3 to strictly DAP status? My motivation/thought is that the Modi may sound better than the X3 because all of my Sennheisers have sounded better when using Schiit, and because the Modi and Magni might engineered specifically to work well with each other.
What do you guys think?
Edited by BruinAnteater - 3/16/14 at 2:30pm