Schiit Magni 2

Rating:
4.33333/5,
  1. Aornic
    An inexpensive all-rounder that packs a good punch
    Written by Aornic
    Published Apr 30, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Clean and transparent sound. Powerful. Overachiever for the price range. Inexpensive.
    Cons - Takes a while to start up.
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    In the audio world, nobody can say we don’t have a tonne of choice available to us. Some audition gear with slight differences to find the piece that truly stands out to them. This customizable experience is what drives enthusiasts in this hobby.
     
     
    But what of the everyman? What of the student on a tight budget who needs the best “bang for your buck” experience? Some will point at the O2, but I would honestly recommend the Magni 2 instead in its basic form – the non-Uber $99 version.
     
     
    One reason for this is that the O2 has a slightly bright sound signature while the Magni 2 has an incredibly uncoloured and neutral sound. There is a time and place for amp colouration, with tube amps being sought after for this very reason, but don’t discount the strength of transparency in an amp source. I previously used a Schiit Asgard 2 from May of 2013 to mid-March 2016. It has a nice and slightly warm sound which went well with my previously owned headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT990, the Sennheiser HD600 and the Hifiman HE400i. However, when I got my hands on a ZMF Vibro Mk. I, a headphone with rolled-off highs, it felt almost stifling as a pairing. It was then that I bought the Magni 2.
     
     
    The clarity of this made a large difference with the Vibro. Some previous problematic recordings (with the Asgard 2) were cleaned up for listening as nothing was preventing the headphones from sounding as they should – at their tuned level of warmth. The Magni 2 also provided the same amount of power, 1.0W at 50 ohms, that the Asgard 2 did for my needs with the Vibro being a T50RP mod at 50 ohms. It had plenty of power and, with low gain, I never had to increase the volume dial over 11 ‘o clock.
     
     
    Enter my ZMF Omni, another warm pair of headphones with much more extension in the highs than the Vibro. The Omni and Magni 2 paired really well, especially after I introduced a Schiit Gungnir into the mix. The detail of the Gungnir fed through the Magni admirably to give a clean and powerful signal to the Omni.
     
     
    What the Magni does really well is keep it simple, stupid. Schiit’s marketing is famously anti-marketing and they don’t cry out the virtues of their products very much, letting the quality speak for itself. It has one 1/4 headphone jack, one pair of RCA inputs, a gain switch, an on-off switch and it uses a wall-wart as a power supply. There’s no balanced input or output and, quite honestly, that is a non-issue for $99. The $149 Uber version has preamp output and slightly more power wattage but also succeeds at providing a simple quality experience.
     
     
    I strongly feel that this amp is all that is necessary for the “apparently I need a headphone amp?” crowd. It can power headphones up to 600 ohms quite easily, with only problems arising (I predict) with the extremely hungry pairs like the Hifiman HE6. I would also recommend it for those who want an inexpensive but transparent amp lying around for certain genres that require the solid-state bite that tubes can’t give. It’s also incredibly small, so just put it to a side and forget about it until you need it.
     
    Make no mistake, this is not a "natural" sounding amp. It doesn't give that sweet sound many seek. It's rigid in design and implementation. This is the amp for those who want the headphone to do all of the talking.
     
    Build quality is standard Schiit fare, sharp edges and incredibly sturdy industrial design with metal being used. My one gripe is that it takes quite a while to start up, about 20 seconds approximately. Otherwise, it’s a fine product by Schiit audio. Comes with rubber feet too which are always good.
     
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  2. Willy 2 Streams
    Very competent little Class A/B SS amp...
    Written by Willy 2 Streams
    Published Mar 1, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clean, detailed sound. Inky black background in low gain mode. Pretty transparent. Able to drive a wide variety of headphones.
    Cons - Not the best match for headphones already a bit bright. Slightly harmonically threadbare compared to their tubed Valhalla...
     Got one of these for a downstairs/bedroom system I'm trying to put together for peanuts. For your money, you get a very well made little steel box, crinkle finished, painted silver. You can see thru the vents to the single red circuit board with all surface mount devices, robotically soldered, each component precisely labeled, neat as a pin...nice! You turn it on, the relay clicks on after about 8 seconds, and you get a fiercely bright little white LED which makes this device look the business. You can see a solitary LED glowing orange thru the 2nd vent hole on the top, same glow as a vacuum tube has....but nobody will ever mistake this little guy for a tube amp.
           What makes this amp hugely more useful than their original is that it now comes with a low gain switch. Thus deployed, you get 3 db of gain, which doesn't sound like much, but I submit for the majority of headphones out there, is about perfect. With this setting, I'm between 9:00am and 12noon most of the time, with my Sennheiser HD 650's. You thus are in the most linear part of the volume pot. You can even use this amp with sensitive IEM's, but you'll probably be pretty low on the pot, around 8:00am or so. With the low gain setting you get NO hiss at ALL, which is hugely helpful.
            The sound...out of the box, it had a nasty treble peak, which smoothed out and gradually went away after being on for a few hours, never to return. Can't help but think this was some passive components breaking in. The sound is pretty sweet and clean, for a Class A/B SS amp.  Treble is extended and pretty grain free,no upper mid hardness. Bass is pretty deep and tight, and there seems to be just butt loads of headroom even in low gain mode. It seems to be a very good match with somewhat dark headphones, like the HD 650. So if you just got one of those, and can't afford a more expensive amp, I can recommend one of these without hesitation...it'll do you way better than sticking it in the headphone port of your laptop(gah!).
            Which brings me to the downside of this little amp. It is actually transparent enough to let you know of anything upstream of it that is not up to snuff...unlike a tube amp, it will NOT pretty it up for you! Any grain or hardness upstream, it'll pass on, but without adding any of its own, which is nice. I was trying to use an old Cambridge Audio DVD player as my CD player, and this little amp let me know in FULL DETAIL just what a wretched CD player that device is! So I shall have to deal with that...either a Modi will have to be ordered, and hope that the DVD player at least outputs a clean digital stream, or I'll have to upgrade to a good CD player. With my wife's Cambridge Topaz CD 10 CD player, this little guy sounds sweet and clean.
          But....to my ears, digital in particular is always a bit harmonically threadbare, and this amplifier does nothing to rectify that. SS and digital together is always problematic to my ears; I think they are SO clean that they strip out TOO much harmonic distortion....maybe a little even order distortion is what the ear craves, and that's exactly what tubes deliver...you've gotta have some tubes somewhere in the signal chain! My wife's Topaz CDP sounded good with the Magni 2, quite acceptable. But it sounds absolutely GLORIOUS with the Valhalla, so that's why I gave this one a 4 star rating for sound quality, and a 5 star rating to the Valhalla. But that's just me. I really don't think you're going to find anything much better for 1 clam, so if that's your budget, I can definitely recommend this amp. It is well made, has no glitches or idiosyncrasies, and should last a lifetime. Just make sure whatever you're feeding it is squeaky clean, or the Magni 2 will tell you all about it!
  3. Lethe
    Schiit Magni 2: An overachieving little desktop amp
    Written by Lethe
    Published Feb 24, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - High value, solidly built, power to size ratio, slims down headphones with bloated/loose bass, adds punch, analytical sound (if that's your pref.)
    Cons - Slot for volume pot too big (can see internals), analytical sound (if that's not your pref.), indicaticator notch on volume pot not very visible

    Schiit Magni 2

     

    Intro:

    The Schiit Magni 2 is a small desktop amp that outputs quite a lot of power. It's the cheaper of 2 options, the other one is the Uber version which has more power and has more features.
     

    Headphones used:

    Denon D5000 (closed over-ear headphone, impedance: 25 Ohms) 
    ACS T15 (universal IEM, impedance: 41.5 Ohms)
     

     

    Amp used:

    Schiit Modi 2 Uber
     

    Aesthetic stuff, Build Quality, Accessories:

    The Magni 2 (M2) 
    measures at 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”, weighing in at 1 lb according to the spec sheet. It has a 2-piece chassis of painted metal while the Uber version sports an aluminum plate. At the front of the M2 there is a volume pot sticking out about 2 cm from the unit, a "subdued" LED power indicator to the right, and a 6.35 mm audio output port, so if you have a headphone that uses a 3.5 mm jack you will need a 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapter. 
     
    The top of the unit has 3 columns of small perforations for ventilation. The back of the M2 (from right to left) has a power supply input, a toggle switch for on/off, another toggle switch for high/low gain, and RCA input for left and right channels.
     
    The M2 comes with rubber feet nubs that you can stick on the bottom of the unit to prevent scratches and helps make it less easy to slide around. It also comes with a wall wart for the power supply which you can choose which voltage you want which you can choose when purchasing it from the website (Schiit doesn't recommend using power adapters, as it will cause problems). And lastly it comes with a wafer thin piece of user manual. Simple device, simple instructions.
     
    There is a soft red LED that you can see from the top perforations when the unit is powered on.
     

    subjective thoughts

     
    The Magni 2's painted steel chassis is very solid, simple and elegant looking, although it doesn't look as pretty as the Uber version which has an aluminum top. It's the size of a very small paperback novel and stacks very neatly on top of my Modi 2 Uber, and they look great together as both units have an identical build cosmetically sans some ports and buttons. 
     

    possible caveats

     
    The Magni 2 runs hot after 15-20 minutes of use as it is an A/B type amp. Not smartphone that's running load intensive apps hot, but butter-melting-within-15-seconds-upon-contact hot. It's well within tolerable but still hot. The hole in which the volume pot sticks out of has a gap of over 2mm, it is big enough that I can actually see the innards of the amp from arms length, and I'm sure this is not the intended design because it does look a bit unsightly. It's not the end of the world, but it's a small thing that I wish Schiit could address by having their metal guys mill a slightly smaller hole. The "subdued" white LED power indicator is quite bright, more so even than the one on the Modi 2U. You nocturnal types (or just sensitive to bright light types) might want to get a filter sticker to cover it. The indicator notch on the volume pot isn't very visible because it's just a cut-in notch, and with the finish of the volume pot being very reflective, it disappears sometimes.  
     

    side note

    Cables aren't provided, so you'll need to get a left and right RCA cable to connect your DAC, or an adapter for your pc, or whatever cable solution for your source is. Also, none of the possible caveats mentioned above are really bad enough for me to glare at (maybe except the volume pot hole gap because it doesn't look very good, and the volume notch visibility because it does affect usability ever so slightly)
     

    Sound (x% objective, y% subjective):

    The Magni 2 is a powerful discrete amp, according to the specs listed online it has a max output of 1.8W per channel at 16 ohms, and 130mW per channel at 600 ohms, which is more than enough power for even the more power hungry headphones. With my efficient D5000 (which one should noted that it has horrendous noise isolation for a closed-back and bleeds sound like crazy), in a typical home noise levels of 50+/- dB, my listening levels are between the 8 and 11:00 o'clock position of the volume pot on low gain. I should point out that I typically listen to music on the lower levels, so I had some other people with "normal" listening level preferences test out what they're comfortable with. Out of an average of 5 other people (sorry for the stupidly small sample size), listening levels are from 10 to 2 o'clock on low gain with my efficient (but bleedy) headphones.
     
    Noise level on the M2 is loooow, in fact it's a black background with the volume pot on max (no audio playing through it of course, I don't want to die) on low gain with my both my headphones. The only time I can hear an extremely quiet hiss of a noise was when I switched my DAC input from optical to USB, on low gain, with the volume pot hitting max, with my headphoness plugged in (again, no audio playing). In fact on low gain (max volume pot etc.), I've plugged and unplugged my headphones and I couldn't tell the difference. No noise. Good job, Schiit. 
     
    The output impedance is rated by Schiit at 0.2 ohms, coupling that with the ability to power super high impedance headphones makes the Magni 2 a very versatile amp.
     
    Here's the slightly more subjective part:
    The Magni 2 makes my headphones sound incrementally better than they already do. One of those headphones (the T15) is a very neutral IEM with some veiling all across and decent soundstage (for IEMs), the other (the D5000) is a warm sounding headphone with a very luxurious sounding bass which are a little loose, has slightly veiled mids, and highs that are neutral (nothing special) but has some occasional sparkle to them. The M2 did lift some veiling over the T15, clarity is increased, and it does open up the soundstage making it very good for an IEM.
     
    The headphone that the M2 paired the best with was the D5000. Initially, as I put on my music I thought "where on earth did the bass go??". The bass on my D5k is probably the most notable thing about the headphone: it is warm, luxurious and laid back, but loose at times and a bit fat. What the stack did was that it took one look at the bass and ordered a diet plan and a workout regime for it, and now it's fitter, faster, snappier and punches harder than before. Not by a huge margin but enough to be quite noticeable. That makes the lower end a little more athletic and strips it of a layer of "fat", giving it a bit more definition and texture than before.
     
    Sometimes when I play tracks that require speed, my D5k seem to lag behind as they prefer to jog instead of run. The Magni 2 however, comes right in and makes the D5k pick up the slack. They won't make it sprint, but it does make the D5k jog fast enough that it can be considered running. The M2 did make my music sound more analytical and colder at first, but after a few more days of use and my ears (and brain) have been burned in* I noticed how much smoother they sound now. Having adjusted to the sound, I no longer feel that they are cold and bright at all, but that extra punch that it has provided my D5ks still remains very noticeable. This is why it's important to reserve judgement until you've used a product for a reasonable amount of time. So far it's making my music significantly more engaging than before.
     
    Also, if the Magni 2 introduced any distortions, it isn't audible to my ears at least. That holds true to listening levels that are painful (yes painful, way beyond uncomfortable) for me on both low and high gain.  
     
    *I don't think that amps (especially solid state amps) benefit from burn it, or if burning it does change the sound then it's inaudible. 
     

    possible caveats

     
    It could make your headphones sound more clinical, analytical, etc. if that's what they are already, and you may not like it. It could make your music more engaging to you; the only way that's a bad thing is if you do listen to music passively while reading/studying/working and the music that you usually put on as your background music (BGM) becomes so engaging that it's no longer background music, turning it from head-bobbing music to dancing-in-your-seat music. Yes, that did happen to me, and my BGM playlist is A LOT shorter than it was pre-Magni 2.
     

    Conclusion:

    The Magni 2 is a small, powerful, and versatile discrete desktop amp. It adds quite a bit of punch and it will help tighten up bass and remove veiling from your headphone, all without audible distortion with a wallet friendly price of $99. An alternative desktop amp that can compete in terms of versatility, price and size is the O2 amp, each option of course has its particular flavor of features and tradeoffs. If you're looking for an entry level amp that does all the above then I would highly recommend that you look at the Magni 2; if you need preamp outputs for desktop monitors (or for connecting to any other power amp) and you want MOAR POWER then you can look up the Uber version of the Magni 2.
     
    Edit: I want to thank my accidental mentor @Music Alchemist
     for steering me towards the Schiit "stack", if it wasn't for him, I would still be haunting forums, desperate for a small, wallet-friendly DAC/amp solution. 
      ShaggyFi likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Willy 2 Streams
      Yes, I do feel this amp is a much better match with warm and lush sounding cans like your D5K, or my Senn HD 650's, due to its somewhat analytical flavor. You pair this amp with something like the Beyer DT series cans, you're gonna get too much brightness! Your amp really runs that hot? Mine barely gets warm. Again, a great review...I think you've nailed it.
      Willy 2 Streams, Feb 25, 2015
    3. Lethe
      Yea, I'm currently living in a tropical country atm and it gets up to 35C even indoors, the amp can get hot but not hot enough to give me any concerns. Also, it's just the chassis of the amp that gets hot, strangely the volume pot only gets warm when the chassis gets to the hottest I've felt it. Then again it's all relatively. I'm not a fan of the DT series X) they sound a bit...off to my ears, I can't tell exactly what it is though. I'll be getting a really revealing and forward sounding CIEM soon with a neutral sound overall with a slight bass lift, can't wait to hear what the Magni 2 will do to it. 
      Lethe, Feb 25, 2015
    4. Willy 2 Streams
      Whoa!...that'd explain it! My room temp is 66 degrees this time of year.
      Willy 2 Streams, Feb 25, 2015