Advice for Connecting HPs, Speakers, and Recording Equipment
Dec 30, 2016 at 5:14 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

triarchy

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Hi guys, I'm a longtime lurker and I'm about to pull the trigger on some new equipment. But first, I need your help to make sure the new gear will accomplish what I'm seeking.
 
Here are the components I already own:
 
  1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
  2. Passive speakers
  3. Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones
 
Here are the components I'm planning on buying:
 
  1. Schiit Magni 2 Uber
  2. Schiit Modi 2 Uber
  3. Schiit Sys
  4. SMSL 50A Speaker Amplifier
  5. Audeze LCD-2
 
I've created a diagram to make sure everything will work together as planned: http://imgur.com/ddCS7oH
 
The idea with this setup is that I can accomplish two goals: pure headphone listening, and direct monitoring of my guitar/source input from the Scarlett 2i2. Here are the specific use cases:
 
  • Play music from my computer and listen on my headphones, by plugging my headphones into the Magni 2U
  • Play music from my computer and listen on my speakers, by unplugging my headphones from the Magni 2U and pushing the input switch on the Sys to route the signal to the SMSL 50A
  • Play my instrument and monitor the input by plugging my headphones into the Scarlett 2i2, without latency
  • Play my instrument and monitor the input from the speakers via the SMSL 50A, without latency
 
Here are the questions I have, which may seem stupid (since I'm kind of a noob):
 
  1. When my HPs are unplugged from the Magni 2U, does the audio automatically go to the output RCA jacks? As in, can I expect the Magni 2U --> Sys --> SMSL 50A chain to automatically send the signal to my speakers when the headphones are unplugged?
  2. When the Magni 2U is connected to my computer, does the computer volume control get disabled/bypassed to the Magni 2U's gain knob?
  3. My biggest concern with this setup is signal degradation due to all of the (unavoidable?) gain knobs. There are gain knobs on the Scarlett 2i2, the Sys, the Magni 2U, and the SMSL 50A, ignoring the computer's own volume control. Given the specific use cases listed above, how should each gain knob be set to avoid any possible degradation?
  4. Is there an alternative set of components at the same price point and quality level that I should be considering to accomplish the goals listed above?
 
Thank you much for any input you can provide!
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 1:50 AM Post #2 of 10

PurpleAngel

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How about skip on getting the Schiit Modi and SYS.
Just get the Magni 2 Uber and the SMSL 50A.
 
Connect the 2i2's line-output to the input on the Magni.
Connect the Magni 2 Uber's RCA output to the input on the SMSL.
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 2:50 AM Post #3 of 10

triarchy

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Thanks PurpleAngel! I guess the implication with your suggestion is that the 2i2's DAC is as good as the Modi, but from my googling I couldn't make that conclusion. Do you think the 2i2's DAC is good enough? My concern is that for pure headphone listening, it wouldn't have high enough SQ (especially for something like an LCD-2).
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 3:09 AM Post #4 of 10

atarione

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  Thanks PurpleAngel! I guess the implication with your suggestion is that the 2i2's DAC is as good as the Modi, but from my googling I couldn't make that conclusion. Do you think the 2i2's DAC is good enough? My concern is that for pure headphone listening, it wouldn't have high enough SQ (especially for something like an LCD-2).

 
 
I own the 2i2 it's DAC output is limited to 16bit (at least my ver 1 is) .. it does sound pretty good.. the outputs are TRS however.. not a huge deal but you'll need a TRS to RCA cable to hook up to the magni2 uber ... my STRONG advice is to get a shorter cable if at all possible.. I had a 20ft cable at first (because it is what I had) and i had noise floor issues replaced that with a 6ft cable and the noise issues went away..   I would think the 2i2's DAC should be good enough.. personally.
 
Jan 1, 2017 at 8:16 AM Post #5 of 10

PurpleAngel

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  Thanks PurpleAngel! I guess the implication with your suggestion is that the 2i2's DAC is as good as the Modi, but from my googling I couldn't make that conclusion. Do you think the 2i2's DAC is good enough? My concern is that for pure headphone listening, it wouldn't have high enough SQ (especially for something like an LCD-2).

 
My suggestion comes more from your idea of a setup seems overly complicated.
Not sure how the Modi and 2i2 compare DAC quality wise.
Using two separate DACs just seems like waste of cash.
Maybe replace the Scarlette 2i2 with a 2i6?
(find a used 2i6 off eBay?)
 
Maybe you might spend some time reading up and comparing Audio Interfeces?
Get the Magni 2 Uber for now and then look into replacing the 2i2.
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 5:19 PM Post #6 of 10

triarchy

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I own the 2i2 it's DAC output is limited to 16bit (at least my ver 1 is) .. it does sound pretty good.. the outputs are TRS however.. not a huge deal but you'll need a TRS to RCA cable to hook up to the magni2 uber ... my STRONG advice is to get a shorter cable if at all possible.. I had a 20ft cable at first (because it is what I had) and i had noise floor issues replaced that with a 6ft cable and the noise issues went away..   I would think the 2i2's DAC should be good enough.. personally.

 
Thanks for your input. I too have the 2i2 1st Gen, so your observations are helpful. Out of curiosity, have you ever done an A/B test to compare the 2i2's output with a dedicated DAC?
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 5:36 PM Post #7 of 10

triarchy

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My suggestion comes more from your idea of a setup seems overly complicated.
Not sure how the Modi and 2i2 compare DAC quality wise.
Using two separate DACs just seems like waste of cash.
Maybe replace the Scarlette 2i2 with a 2i6?
(find a used 2i6 off eBay?)
 
Maybe you might spend some time reading up and comparing Audio Interfeces?
Get the Magni 2 Uber for now and then look into replacing the 2i2.

 
Yeah, I agree that it's overly complicated. Whenever you need to draw up a diagram of the connections, that's probably a sign! :)
 
I did a fair amount of research today about audio interfaces and their DAC chips, as well as reviewing the specs for each component. It looks like The Scarlett 6i6 2nd Gen could be a desirable upgrade for $250. Comparing the specs of the Modi 2 Uber to the Scarlett 2i4 and Scarlett 6i6:
 
SpecsSchiit Modi 2 UberFocusrite Scarlett 2i4Focusrite Scarlett 6i6
Frequency Response20Hz-20KHz +/- 0.1dBN/A20Hz - 20KHz +/- 0.5 dB
Dynamic RangeN/A106 dB (A-Weighted)108 dB (A-Weighted)
Signal to Noise>104dB at 1.5vRMSN/AN/A
THD+N<0.001%<0.001% at -1dBFS<0.001%
Output Impedence75 Ohms94 Ohms94 Ohms
 
Then I started looking up the chips that each uses, but couldn't find a meaningful comparison since it looks like the Scarlett changed their DAC chips in the 2nd gen revision. The 1st Gen 2i4 used a lower quality AKM AK4384, whereas the Modi 2 uses a higher quality AKM AK4490.
 
All of this stuff is easy to compare as a data point, but I have no idea how it would compare when everything is plugged in. I doubt I would notice much of a difference, but if anyone can draw any meaningful comparison from the data, I'm all ears!
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 5:53 PM Post #8 of 10

atarione

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Thanks for your input. I too have the 2i2 1st Gen, so your observations are helpful. Out of curiosity, have you ever done an A/B test to compare the 2i2's output with a dedicated DAC?

 
 
not a ton.. however.. I have the 2i2 hooked up to a 1980~ish Pioneer SX-3600 w/ NHT SuperZero speakers + NHT SW1 passive sub...  I have tried this receiver with my FiiO E07K / E09K as well as the Scarlett ... once my previously mentioned noise floor issues had been resolved (shorter RCA to TRS cable) I find i prefer the Scarlett to the FiiO comblo w/ this receiver.. but that is much testing as I honestly did.    Sounded harsh w/ the FiiO sounds warmer w/ the Scarlett.
 
Jan 2, 2017 at 9:21 PM Post #9 of 10

PurpleAngel

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  Yeah, I agree that it's overly complicated. Whenever you need to draw up a diagram of the connections, that's probably a sign! :)
I did a fair amount of research today about audio interfaces and their DAC chips, as well as reviewing the specs for each component. It looks like The Scarlett 6i6 2nd Gen could be a desirable upgrade for $250. Comparing the specs of the Modi 2 Uber to the Scarlett 2i4 and Scarlett 6i6:
Then I started looking up the chips that each uses, but couldn't find a meaningful comparison since it looks like the Scarlett changed their DAC chips in the 2nd gen revision. The 1st Gen 2i4 used a lower quality AKM AK4384, whereas the Modi 2 uses a higher quality AKM AK4490.
All of this stuff is easy to compare as a data point, but I have no idea how it would compare when everything is plugged in. I doubt I would notice much of a difference, but if anyone can draw any meaningful comparison from the data, I'm all ears!

Used 6i6, bidding ends in 42 minutes.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Focusrite-Scarlett-6i6-/222358175970?hash=item33c59480e2:g:TZgAAOSwImRYYdix
 
Jan 3, 2017 at 4:21 PM Post #10 of 10

triarchy

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Thanks for that link -- unfortunately I got outbid at the end. The 2nd gen 6i6 has better output specs anyway, so I'll probably look for one of those. Still not sure if I would notice the difference between the Scarlett's DAC and a Modi...
 

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