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Desktop Amps item created by jacksonchansf, Dec 25, 2012
Pros - Good sub-bass. Transparent of source. Powerful. $99!
Cons - Volume pot makes noise when touched, channel imbalance at first quarter levels, highs can be harsh on many phones. USB noise comes through on Beyers
I'm writing this because I feel the need to defend this little giant-killer.
There are a lot of negative reviews, and while I am not on the "Schiit-wagon" at all, or a fanboy of their products, I now have a better idea of what kind of amps are out there, after owning this for two years and having upgraded dramatically to the Lehmann Rhinelander (around $500) and then the Lehmann BCL Linear (around $1200 or more). Guys who have been into hifi for years are shocked when they hear I have a headphone amp that costs $100 and basically reflects the source with no extra frills.
First of all, there is a sense in which no, I would not recommend this amp for IEMs, particularly super low-impedance Shures (I have the 425 which has 18 Ohms!). They have to be listened to very loud before the channels are balanced. BUT, and this is a big BUT, most solid-state headphone amps without a gain switch are going to give you the same problem of low volume channel imbalance (including the Lehmann Rhinelander which is 5X the price), and it is still probably better than a headphone output on a CD player or home receiver, so it may be worth it for that. Otherwise, if you listen to iPods or iPhones or better DAP sources you are probably not going to gain much through your IEMs. (This problem may be less dramatic with the new Schiit Magni 2, which I have not tried yet, but is reported to have a gain switch.)
Efficient headphones like Grados likewise, don't seem to benefit that much, but the Magni does add significant sub-bass as long as the extra high-range energy doesn't bother you.
I do not have the accompanying Modi and have generally used HRT products for my USB output sources. Unfortunately, from my Lenovo laptop, I often got a very high noise floor when listening to Beyerdynamic phones, which are notoriously sensitive to that.
With dynamic phones that have over say 70 Ohms, and from what I've read, efficient Orthos, the extra power does only good things for headphones over a regular headphone jack. Assuming you have a decent source and cables, such as a non-portable CD player or relatively good DAC, you are going to find the Magni a fantastic value. Even if it's just a stop along the path of searching for a better amp, I think this is a good value as a very punchy, fast, dynamic, and powerful, headphone amp.
Every amp has a sound, and this is probably just a bit on the V-shaped side of things, with slightly cooler mids and warmer lows and highs. This is well-known by now, which is why I had to get rid of my Beyer 990 Pros, but on the other hand, my more balanced sounding Beyer DT 150s sound fine.
Now that I have tried better amps, I realize that power filtering is really vital for sensitive headphones, and for some reason the Magni does not seem to have a very good soundstage, but this could be less of a problem with headphones that are not really oriented towards that direction.
After years of IEMs and dynamic headphones, I think I'm going to finally go for some Orthos, and I'm definitely keeping my Magni. I highly suspect that with a decent CD player (even an older used Marantz, Sony, or Denon, Phillips, etc.) or a record player with some sort of clean phono stage and the Magni, plus any number of mid-range impedance dynamic phones (80-300 Ohms) that are relatively dark in signature, one of the many efficient Orthos like the Hifiman line or a modded Fostex, I'm going to be very happy (even though I already have a much better amp).
With the Magni you can find a good used source and spend your money on getting the best over-ear headphones you can afford. Then, as you save, upgrade to a better amp, or not. (I do not, however, recommend the Magni with a cheap USB powered DAC that will leak in USB power noise!)
Put it this way: if you want to listen to MP3s all day, just continue with your DAP and IEMs or one of the zillion types of decent efficient headphones out there that don't really need an amp. But if you want to enter the world of hifi music, you will need to upgrade to a 'real' source at the least, and these may not have headphone jacks. So, here's where the Magni comes in handy at the right price.
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.
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.
Pros - Powerful, Small Factor, Excellent build Quality
Cons - Sounds Processed
I've been reading so many replies and reviews how the O2, Magni and Vali sound the same. After weeks of listening to all of them, (yes I have them all) they are all not exactly the same . I've been using the same music and all else in the system is the same and have only changed the amps. Started with O2, then went to Magni. Yes the Magni and O2 sound very close. The Magni does sound a tad processed and thin compared to O2 but the Magni does have more authority as it is more powerful in comparison even though they all seem to struggle reproducing the source.
Then I went to the Vali. The Vali sounds nothing like the others. It's slightly more smoother and warmer, more of a natural sound but ever so slightly, and more realistic sounding. I was enjoying it very much for weeks but the Vali also seem to struggle reproducing the source which makes sense as it's less powerful than the others.
As for noise (hiss); No hiss at any volume level connected to a source with HE-400, so if you have higher impedance headphones there should be no worries. It drives IEM's extremely well with no effort, but larger headphones it just seems like it's trying too hard.
I hope this helps anyone who maybe interested in the Magni.
Pros - Very cheap, Looks amazing, clean sound, Surprisingly well built
Cons - Back RCA sensitive to movement
At first i thought that this would be just another good looking and not much to show for kind of amplifier. In short, I was mistaken.
As I opened the box i was surprised by the built quality. I was expecting a light weight, thing aluminum, plastic knob item. But this is far form the truth. It has a surprisingly thick Steel body, that adds a good weigh to the unit. It has a good looking knob, call me weird but this is the only interactive part of the item. So a good aluminum touch does add to the experience. The finish on the aluminum itself is not the best, but standing 30cm from it you can't see any imperfection.
The little feat are just feet, soooo.. yeah.. nothing to say there...
The white LED is a good touch of class. It looks amazing with my Apple setup. I mostly got this stack because it looks staining with mac products. But the industrial look is always a love or hate kind of deal.
I got the Modi as well, and the quality is as expected exactly as expressed above, besides the knob of course.
note: this is a review of the Modi with the Magni, the famous "Schiit Stack"
OK, WOW! did not expect this. Blew my mind to Schiitt!! Literally...
The main reason I got this amp is because I have a Shure SRH840. I used to play them over my Guitar pedal Line6 X3 Live, because they have a internal DAC and a better amp than my pc. But for about 2 years I stopped because they are way too enormous. So i haven't amplified this headphone for a while.
I never knew that music sounded that good! There are things that where just not there a day ago. It just made my headphones worth their money. I though that they where average headphones until i got the Schiit stack.
It is a little sensitive to the movement when you handle it around, it makes a horrible static noise. But as a desktop item it does not matter for me, i don't keep moving them around. But it's important to point it out.
* The bass
Very accurate, it always seamed that my headphone was struggling to get the low notes. It does not overdo it tho.
* The mids.
Holly Schiit!! So clear and precise, I can hear Seal whisper his ugly mouth by the side of my ears!
* The highs
Accurate but not in your face. They do distort if volume is pumping like a big ear party. It can be the headphone tho. It does not add any extra unnatural sparkle and I thank Schiit for that.
* Sound stage
It might have improved as a byproduct of the more accurate mids and highs. But it did add space to my music listening.
I can't recommend it enough. There are many better I'm sure. But for the price, it can't be beaten.
It makes your music experience way more enjoyable. Its a tight clean amplification that will give you a much more accurate output than your mac. Actually its not even fair to compare.
Also, you have to give it to Schitt for making a great looking item in such a straight budget, we see too many Amp/Dacs in generic 'project box' looking enclosures.
Pros - Analytical
Cons - Aggressive
Audio Gear - Grado SR-80i, Sony MDR-7506, Schiit Modi, Schiit Magni, Lepai 2020+, Logitech G930, Yamaha NS-6490, Pioneer VSX-822K Pioneer SP-PK51FS. As you may have noticed big price to perceived performance type of person.
After reading many reviews on headphone amps I kept stumbling upon the Schiit Magni. Purported as a great value for the money, capable amp for the price, audiophile quality, great starter headphone amp. I must say that I do enjoy quality sound and listen to music for hours on end on may a days.
That being said let me explain my listed pro and con.
Analytical - On several songs I am able to hear the vocalist breathe and make that slight smacking sound when their moist lips part in between words. These are parts of music that I have never heard until now. My hats off to Schiit for producing an amp that brings out this level of detail.
Aggressive - The slight treble boost does brighten almost every track that I listen too. Some might call it sibilance which may explain the ability of the amp to provide a high level of detail, but its doing it at a high cost of causing brightness that lowers the amps overall appeal. At least to me this makes my Grado SR-80i un-listenable on the Magni. However with that being said my bass heavy, closed pair of headphones Sony MDR-7506 sound more open, more detailed with a more balanced low end.
Other Thought - You really need to use high quality recordings when listening to music on this amp. 320K VBR+ Minimum. Else you will hear all the crappiness.
Pairing - Overall with my current equipment the Schiit Magni will pair well with a darker set of closed high impedance headphones like the MDR-7506 and possibly the Fostex RP50T which I am looking at getting soon. While many listen to open cans like the Grado-SR80i with the Magni, I really thought that the sound was way too bright.
Capable? - With the volume knob turned up 1/10th of max, the overall volume is more than sufficient for me with my MDR-7506, with the SR-80 I need to have the knob at about 2/10th of the way up. So there should be plenty of extra power to spare for high impedance phones.
Noise Floor - With the amp on and connected to a source and the volume turned up to max there is no audible noise/distortion.
Keeper? - I think I will try a JDS OBJECTIVE2 next along with a Bravo Audio Ocean, I think its a pity that my Grado's sound like Schiit on the Magni. My Sony MDR-7506 sound pretty good on the Magni though. Overall I want to find an amp that will sound good with all of my phones and in the end is all up to personal taste.
Conclusion - I hope that someone finds this helpful, I want to emphasize the Magni is bright yet detailed with a great soundstage. However that brightness is keeping this amp from becoming a keeper for me.
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.
Pros - Detail, Clarity, Looks
Cons - Channel imbalance, lack of a gain switch
A year ago I was completely new the world of hi-fi. I was one of those newbies asking "do I really need a headphone amp to power my new headphones?" The resounding response from the head-fi community was "yes, of course you do!" So I decided to spend as little money as possible for an amp that would sufficiently power my Hifiman HE-400 headphones. My research led me to a few options, including some offerings from Fiio, but the Magni seemed to be the best bang-for-the-buck. On top of that, the Magni looked much sleeker than anything Fiio was selling at the time. So I plunked down the cash and waited for my little Magni to arrive, not entirely sure how it would affect my listening experience, or if it would make any difference at all.
Out of the box, I was impressed with the look and build quality of the Magni. It's got a nice, metal, two-tone finish on it that will fit in nicely wherever you decide to put it. The volume pot has a good amount of resistance to it. Unlike the other offerings from Schiit, it doesn't get super hot - just slightly warm to the touch.
Most importantly, however, I heard the immense difference it made to the HE-400. The HE-400 sounded more immediate, more detailed, and absolutely crystal clear coming out of the Magni. To my untrained ears, it sounded like I had purchased a brand new set of headphones. I remember focusing in on each instrument as I listened, able to pick up fine details I've never heard before. The Magni has had a similar effect on every headphone I've tested it with since, from the Sennheiser HD 600s to the Beyerdynamic t90. The Audio Technica ATH-M50 also pairs well with the Magni, adding a level of detail and instrument separation I didn't think that headphone was capable of.
After a year of listening, my stance on the Magni hasn't changed a bit. It's a wonderful little amp that offers new headphone enthusiasts a glimpse as to why having a good amp is so important. There are a few issues that all buyers should know about, but none of them should sway you from giving the Magni a try. At very low volumes there can be some channel imbalance. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that the Magni is extremely powerful, which limits your use of the volume pot with more efficient headphones. Even with my 250 ohm T90s, I usually have the Magni volume pot sitting at 10 o'clock. Anything more is just too loud. Therefore, without a gain switch, listening at very low volumes can be an issue. However, at normal listening levels, there's no problem whatsoever.
So if you're a newbie and you're wondering how a good amp will transform your new headphones, go ahead a buy yourself a Magni. Or if you're a veteran and you want an insane amount of juice for the money, the Magni will serve you well.
Not only do I think the Magni looks, sounds, and performs great - I think it's an important little piece of equipment. It's a great way for new listeners to learn about the importance of amps at a price that is unbeatable. It doesn't hurt that it's made in the US and that Schiit has fast and responsive customer service.
I'm so happy with my Magni that I just upgraded to the Asgard 2 (mainly for the gain switch and the pre-amp outs). I'm hoping it will impress me as much as the Magni has.
Pros - Value - can power orthos
Cons - Bright, slightly cold for my tastes
Surprised not to see a review on the Magni already.
Currently own the Magni, and it represents a very good value in my view - IF you like a brighter signature.
Powered a pair of LCD-2s well for me - tightened bass and brought mids forward when compared to underamping via E07K or other solutions I had at the time.
That said, I don't use it very much because I found the signature too bright for my tastes - but that's a taste issue. Posts seem to be a bit all over the map when paired with the LCD-2s - mostly good but with a smattering of very bad.
Bottom line - if you like a brightish signature, there is real value to be had here.
Can't give it 5 stars because I personally am not in love with it. Can't give it any less than four because the value is there and any issues I had come down to personal taste.
Pros - Small, looks nice, cheap
Cons - Slightly bright/lean sounding, can be noisy
Fairly neutral but sounds slightly bright and lean sounding at times. To my ears, definitely more so than the O2.
I had them both within the last 6 months.
I felt it sounded good with the HD-650, HD-598 and my DJ100 but just decent with my Q701. For my Q701 with this amp I would probably prefer to use it with a warmer sounding source such as the Fiio E17. I think the docked Ipod Touch 2G to Magni made the Q701 sound a bit harsh/tinny/metallic sounding. Modi to Magni was a little better.
I sold the Magni after a few months and switched to the O2. It's slightly better but it does cost a little more. I think the O2 is a better match for brighter headphones, but still not perfect.
For very bright headphones the E9 sounds pretty good. It's much darker sounding in comparison and has some warmth but it's not transparent.
BTW my favorite budget setup would be O2 + Modi.