Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
Nov 16, 2022 at 10:50 PM Post #103,141 of 109,481
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Any plans to make a kick ass ESS DAC with a flagship chip of theirs (ES9039PRO, say), the best power supply and output stage you can manage, etc.? An Yggdrasil+ ES or new non multibit Gungnir?

I know you're also working on your own delta sigma DAC, maybe that's a conflicting investment.

Ding ding ding (second statement.)

@Jason Stoddard -- I am sooooo tempted to go to Corpus and check out Schiit and Nueces Brewing for the 12/15 Schiit meet!! Any teasers you can provide?

I'll see what I can bring, maybe there's something wacky that I can have on the table.
 
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Nov 16, 2022 at 11:06 PM Post #103,142 of 109,481

Rensek

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That's exactly what it is, a $49 dongle. You can see from the chassis how far we got. Check the machined aluminum button pair. Pretty cool! Too bad it didn't sound as good as a MacBook Pro headphone output. Sigh.

Any chance of using that form factor to make a mini Eitr, or better yet a miniature Toslink to Coaxial converter? blank audio sells some products that are way too spendy for what they do (at least to me).
 
Nov 16, 2022 at 11:30 PM Post #103,143 of 109,481

classfolkphile

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The value of these new products is mind boggling.

And yes, USB-C is special; not for sonic reasons but because it's a reasonable size, reversible, and sturdy. Unlike the tiny, one side up only, flimsy micro USB.

Definitely ordering a Modi Multibit 2 and perhaps a Modi +, to replace the ones I have.
 
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Nov 17, 2022 at 12:26 AM Post #103,144 of 109,481

inmytaxi

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I think the tube change the Philosopher mentioned was the difference between the + and the ++ My original post was comparing the ++ to the 2 OG......
Yeah, I figured that the cap Jason took out of og and w/e other changes were less likely to land me on the sine wave than putting forth ancient Soviet conspiracies, so I went in another direction.
 
Nov 17, 2022 at 1:05 AM Post #103,145 of 109,481

Sheep3000

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100% and 100%.

Completely different Modi Multibit 2, and yeah, we don't claim any cable magick. Ours are just short and have funny names.
Short and funny, like my taste in men :wink:
 
Nov 17, 2022 at 1:19 AM Post #103,146 of 109,481

Zachik

Sponsor: Etymotic, Westone Audio
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...is also a Hardcore Head-Fi'er.... I guess....
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Nov 17, 2022 at 2:27 AM Post #103,147 of 109,481

LobalWarming

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I am extremely happy with the choices Schiit makes to balance business needs with consumer needs. Difficult choices indeed, but it seems that Jason and team are able to walk that fine line between what is needed to remain a viable company and what we as consumers want. Kudos to @Jason Stoddard, @Baldr (Mike) and team for making those tough decisions (or maybe they're easy, IDK) while still keeping us and our needs/wants in mind. It seems they know what we want before we know what we want! :D
Agee. I imagine the Schiity product design is complex - involves processes that stretch logic, supply chains and marketing to the limit.

Typical xkcd oversimplification - but Schiit product development seems quite similar - as told by @Jason Stoddard. :L3000:

circuit_diagram.png
 
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Nov 17, 2022 at 7:35 AM Post #103,150 of 109,481

thecrow

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Looking for a view /recommendation or two of which may be the better way for me to go for my young son's setup that has in the last year or so been enjoying his akg k371 and appreciating music. I'll try to keep it short.

TLDR:
WIth an akg k371 is there a stand out better option between the options of:
1) keeping my metrum hex dac (higher end older dac that i really enjoy) and pairing with a magni (+ or 3); or,
2) sell my metrum dac and buy a mid price dac-amp like the chord mojo 2; or,
3) sell my metrum dac and buy a mid price desk top dac (qutest or mojo 2) and pair it, for eg, with a mid price amp like the new lyr?


Longer version:

I have a lasting impression from a few years back at a local meet someone brought along a chord mojo with his magni for his lcdxc (or lcdx) and i was really impressed with what that combo offered hence why I am considering keeping my "secondary dac" (the metrum hex) and simply adding the magni.
How much of a bottle neck could the magni be with a higher end dac like the metrum?

In recent years I have found that dacs can be underrated in the whole of scheme of things hence i am thinking i do not want to skimp on the dac too much.
And going down this path means i keep my beloved metrum dac for whenever and where ever I want to use it.


Any views based on your own experience would be appreciated.

Cheers
Peter T
 
Nov 17, 2022 at 7:38 AM Post #103,151 of 109,481

JasonLucas

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2022, Chapter 13
No Excuses



Ten years ago, we introduced the first Magni and Modi.

They were simple and relatively crude devices, conceived when we were still operating in a garage, and delivered when we were building in a tiny, dusty, run-down ex-newspaper office in old town Newhall.

But, as basic as they were, they ran a spear through the audiophile community. Nobody expected a $99 DAC and a $99 amp, in full custom chassis, made in the USA.

And I was super-proud of what we accomplished. This was a big milestone, something that I never expected we could do—deliver really nice audio products for 2-figure price tags. I mean, sure, they didn’t have a ton of features—hell, the original Magni only had a single gain setting, and the original Modi was a one-input, USB-powered product without even a single switch. And yeah, the original paint wasn’t so great, but we quickly improved it, just as we learned to improve other things, like custom potentiometers with better tapers and better discrete parts.

And then, in 2014, we bifurcated the line: Magni 2 and Modi 2 continued with the same painted chassis, but Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber got a fancy aluminum top, milled knob, better topologies, and, in the case of Modi, three inputs.

Those two Uber devices are the earliest close analogues of the Magni and Modi we’re introducing today, and they sold for $149 each.

Yes. That’s right. In 2014, a Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber stack would run you $298.

In 2022, a Magni+ and Modi+ costs $238.

Eight years, tons of inflation, and much, much more improved products…and the stack is $60 less.

Yes. The new Magni and Modi are less in terms of absolute dollars. While giving you far, far better performance, flexibility, and confidence—and while remaining built right here in the USA. They’re so good, we’re billing them as “no excuses.”

Are we crazy? Probably.

But that’s OK. The world needs some crazy like this, don’t you think?

magni modi plus insitu 1920-1.jpg


Too Much To Say

I started this chapter with the stuff most top of mind: 10 years of Magni and Modi (holy moly!) and the whole super-high-value thing.

But I quickly realized there’s wayyyyy too much to say. I mean, I need to talk about the 20 Magni prototypes we did, and the whole new advanced form stamped chassis (the first major departure in chassis design for Magni and Modi, ever), and the whole Modi/ESS Dave/Mike uber-tweaking adventure, and the Magni performance retrospective, and the names, and the continuing bifurcation of Magni, and the price changes, and where and how we’re making these, from California to Nevada to Texas.

So this may not be a single chapter. I may break out the whole Magni performance retrospective and the Magni 20 prototypes craziness and talk about that in more detailed engineering-y terms, because I know a lot of eyes glaze over when I start getting into the tech side. In the meantime, I’ll simply say:
  • There’s this weird idea that Magni never measured very well until the 3+/Heresy generation, but that’s 100% wrong. Yes. It surprised even me.
  • And yes, I did do, literally, 20 prototypes of various crazy Magni ideas, with the intent of producing a Magni Unity, a single Magni that could replace both 3+ and Heresy…and got really close, but ultimately abandoned the idea.
But to come back to what we really should talk about here and now:
  • How Magni+/Heretic and Modi+ are different (and better!) than previous Magnis and Modis
  • Some of the development details (but not too detailed)
  • The cool new chassis changes
  • The importance of paranoia in product development
  • Why the prices ain’t $99 anymore
So. Cool. Let’s not waste time. Deets ahead.


The No-Excuses, $100(ish) Headphone Amps and DAC

Sounds pretty grandiose, I know. But no matter how you look at it, I really think the new Magnis and Modi are really no-excuses products. I mean, let’s break it down:
  • In terms of performance, they’re the best-performing products we’ve ever made at this size and price, period.
  • In terms of design, they use exotic topologies and the same super-high-quality parts as products that cost hundreds or thousands more—heck, Magni+ is the only fully discrete, current feedback amplifier anywhere near its price.
  • In terms of looks, they’ve evolved our classic chassis with a new, sleek, seamless, fastener-free design that includes a lot of cool detail, like a debossed logo and knob pocket…and we even managed to include a custom machined aluminum knob or pushbutton.
  • In terms of convenience, Magnis get three gain positions, including negative gain, and Modi+ gets pushbutton selection and LED indication of input, as well as USB-C connectors.
  • In terms of protection, all three products employ the most advanced current, DC, and ESD protection systems we’ve ever deployed, anywhere—protecting your devices, your headphohes, and your computer, tablet, or streamer.
  • And, in terms of ideology, all Magnis and Modis are produced right here in the USA, from USA steel, with USA companies doing the stamping, PCBs, purchasing and kitting, assembly, and QC. The last two are done in our own Corpus Christi, Texas facility, and include both instrumented and listening tests. Yes, that’s correct—every $109 Magni and $129 Modi has been listened to.
Sounds like a big deal? We think so. We spent three years on these. We held back on introducing them for a year to get everything just right. And everyone stepped up. Our stamping partner who did the chassis, our purchasing partner that ensured we had the parts in the middle of (still) a global parts debacle, and even our internal team—we made sure we synchronized their introduction, the first time since 2014.

Whew. Enough of the puffery. Let’s talk about the products.


The New Magni+ and Magni Heretic


You’ll notice first thing that there are still two Magnis.

I spent 18 months trying to bring them together, after discovering we could get better performance with a voltage-feedback design (hello Magni 2 Uber), then decided that it wasn’t going to happen due to…ah, oh hell, I’m gonna get eviscerated for this…sound.

Yes. The unified Magni was spiked because, although we got close to the performance target of Magni Heretic, we didn’t like the way it sounded.

Aside: and yeah, I know, a bunch of people just decided I’m nuts. That’s fine. Get a Heretic. It measures better than the Magni Unity-that-might-have-been.

So yeah, there are two Magnis. Both of them are pretty terrific. You’ll notice the following common features:
  • New headphone output location and front-mounted, three-position gain switch. Yes, we moved the headphone output away from the potentiometer! This makes it more convenient, but also, in engineering terms, it also makes for a much better circuit flow. This is one reason the new Magni has less power supply noise (don’t get too excited, it was still inaudible on the old Magni). And the gain switch is on front as well—with three positions, high, low, and negative. Negative gain allows you to use the most sensitive IEMs, as it actually reduces the magnitude of the incoming signal (or, in the case of Heretic, it actually buffers gain between the input and output sections…but I’m getting too engineer-y here, so I will shut up).
  • New seamless “advanced form” stamped chassis. It looks better, doesn’t it? Amazing what you can do when you use stamping like stamping and not CNC. Also, you get your choice of color—silver and gray or black and red—on either device. Yes, you can now have a Heretic in silver or a + in black.
  • Advanced protection systems to help ensure the safety of your valuable headphones. Both Magnis include overcurrent sense and relay disengage (to protect the amp) and DC sense and protect (to protect your headphones in case the other protection doesn’t work), and ESD protection, in addition to the standard start-up delay. These are the most sophisticated protection systems we’ve included on non-microprocessor-controlled products.
But they’re also different:
  • Magni+ is our fully discrete, exotic current-feedback topology—most like a small speaker amp. It’s really similar to Vidar. We’ve tweaked the heck out of this design to make it quieter and even higher-performing than its predecessor, and it’s a spectacular sounding product.
  • Magni Heretic has switched over to the newer Texas Instruments OPA1656 op-amps (7 of them, 14 channels total!) in a unique topology with no overall feedback. This unique topology allows us to place the negative gain between the gain stages, lowering the inherent noise floor of the amplifier even below Magni+, and preserving high input impedance at all potentiometer levels. It also has a red bottom chassis.
Of course, some things don’t need to be changed—both Magnis use fully linear, regulated, bipolar supplies, and are DC coupled throughout…the same as the original Magni, 10 years ago.

(Yes, that’s right—no switchers in either Magni!)

So is there no hope for a Magni Unity in the future (discrete, high measuring, good sounding)? Well, I’d never say never…but there are a lot of things that are more front-burner than this. As always, we’ll see. Just don’t expect anything soon.


The New Modi+

Modi+, like Magni+ and Magni Heretic, is a complete rip-up of the old design—only the functionality is similar. As in, it has three inputs, and a second USB input that can be used for power if you’re doing SPDIF or if you have a USB source that needs a 0mA endpoint.

Beyond that, Mike and Dave took it as a personal mission to see what we could do with a $100-ish DAC in terms of sound. After all, these are the guys who work on the highest-end True Multibit DACs all day. That’s what they like. That’s their target.

Aside: and if anyone says, “yeah, sonics are a buncha hoo-ha, measurements are all that matter,” remember: I tried to prank Dave and Mike when we introduced the Yggdrasil flavors. I tried reallllly hard. As in, we had a true double-blind comparison, set up by a dood who wasn’t anywhere nearby, with me not knowing which DAC was which. Before this test, Mike and Dave both professed an extreme dislike for the “More is Less” Yggdrasil variant. I hoped that they’d choose that one as their favorite when blinded. What happened was that Mike and Dave walked into the room and came out 90 seconds later, proclaiming “X is this, Y is that, and Z is the other one.” And they were 100% right.

Yes. Sound. I said “sound.” Again.

Because, like it or not, sound is a factor. And Dave and Mike are, arguably, more picky about sound than I am. So it’s not a minor deal when they say, “Hmm, we have this ESS DAC—a DAC with more controls and tweaks on it than any other DAC we’ve ever used—and yeah, it might be delta-sigma, but let’s see how good we can make it.”

And they made it very, very good. People who disliked the “AKM sound” of the earlier Modis love the ESS Modi+, even more than the Modi 3E. Because we learned a lot more. New tweaks and special sauce in the analog and ESS microcode, a whole new optimized power management suite, and, as mentioned, a ground-up relayout mean this is the best Modi ever made.

Aside: yes, either in terms of measurements or sonics.

Aside to the aside: yes, I know, some people don’t believe in sonics. Fine. Cool. Modi is still a champ on a measurements-per-dollar chart.

Aside to the aside to the aside: and yeah, I know, most of you have your eyes crossed, and you’re saying something like “holy schiit it has USB-C why don’t you talk about the most sacred and holy connector finally you killed the micros that’s completely the big deal here!”

Sigh. USB-C. Who cares? It’s just a connector.

Aside: yes. JUST. A. CONNECTOR. There is nothing amazing or special about USB-C. Even the trick of “insert it any way” is just a mechanical deal, facilitated by having a billion contacts. No audio device uses the super-mega-ultra-fast-uber-deluxe signal path of USB-C. No audio device requires the speed. I’ll keep repeating this until people understand it really isn’t that special.

Aside to the aside: however, it does monumentally irritate people selling overpriced USB cables, because doing hand-made, yak-hair-insulated, unobtanium-alloy-conductor stuff isn’t so fun when you’re talking 24 wires of 36 gauge or so, so maybe it’s worth it.

But yeah. USB-C. Woohoo. The firmware is more important, but the USB-C is more visible, so that’s probably what matters most on the marketing side. Hell, it’s wayyyyyyyyyyy more important that Modi+ is the only inexpensive DAC that offers Unison USB™ input, our own proprietary USB receiver, based on two person-years of initial development, and another person-year or so of refinement, to create an insanely reliable, super-high-quality USB interface intended to do only a single thing: move PCM audio. No silly MQA or DSD or super-high-res stuff; Unison USB is designed for the real world—the streaming services of today, and the legacy CDs that you may wish you had, once Google starts editing streams in real time…

Aside: oops, not a real thing. Not yet anyway.

And yeah, other tweaks as well. The new seamless chassis. A nice aluminum pushbutton and LEDs rather than a switch. That completes Modi+. And the most amazing Modi it is.


A Stamping Renaissance

For a long time, we’ve been using stamping to produce most of our products. This was both very smart (because it costs less if you’re doing more than, say, about 250 pieces with CNC), and very dumb, because we just handed over our CNC stuff and had them do the same thing.

That changes with the new Magni and Modi.

Because, for the first time, we’re using stamping as stamping, not as a CNC alternate. This is why the new Magni and Modi look sooooooo much better than, like, anything we’ve ever done.

And stamping is the the ideal way to do small, inexpensive products in a place where we don’t have cheap labor. Plastic? Yeah, they have their own problems, including looks, weight, and the need for additional shielding to make radiated noise (or noise rejection) requirements. Milled? Yeah, super expensive and might end up with a pile of chips bigger than the product itself. CNC? Pay per hole, pay per feature, pay per machine time, roll the dice for formed features.

No. Stamping. American steel from Texas gets turned into complex, cool-looking chassis with a minimum of waste and machine time. This allows us to make things not only look better, but to add features like a milled aluminum knob. The net-net is a real no-excuses chassis for a very inexpensive product.

And I can’t give our stamping guys too much kudos. What started with a crazy idea—literally me drawing up an “impossible” chassis—and asking, “is this even feasible,” resulted in a conversation that may have started an American stamping renaissance.

“This is, like, old skool,” Matt, the head of Bloomers Metal Stamping, said, when he first saw the drawings.

“Is that bad?” I asked.

Matt shook his head. “You’re using stamping like stamping—forming in complex stuff that should be formed in, doing things you can’t do easily or at all with CNC. Nobody does this anymore. They just use it like CNC, but high volume CNC.”

“So, can we do it?” That was my big question.

Matt nodded. “Oh yeah. Keeps the guys on their toes.”

“But the top, with no fasteners, is that a problem?” I pressed.

“No, we can recurve it so it presses down on the slides,” he said. “Worst case we dimple in a channel.”

It was really stunning for me to hear, “Yeah, just make a channel,” when, with CNC, that’s typically something you never do. Or, with machining, you wonder about the machine time.

Getting from those initial drawings to final designs wasn’t direct, but it wasn’t particularly difficult, either. Matt hit the initial ideal pretty much straight-on. From there, it was tweaking. The biggest diversion was in finish, which had to be powder-coat (or some other sprayed finish), because when you start stressing aluminum the way we wanted to, the grain would get weird, any small bit of dust would get ground into the surface, and we’d have nothing but pain with an anodized finish. That’s why we decided, early on, to make these products in steel and powder-coat them.

But what powder? We tried our old Magni 2 powder. It looked horrible in the light of 2022. We tried a dozen different silver powders, and they all looked like ass. Black was always fine, LOL. So we tried Cerakote for silver. That looked cool…until you touched it. Turns out Cerakote didn’t have the toughness we required. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to…but it doesn’t. Don’t argue unless you have a giant Cerakote line up and running, producing consumer products.

I’d just about given up and accepted our old “camera case” silver, when the black powder debacle hit.

As in, our black powder coat became unavailable.

This is crazy. Zombie apocalypse stuff.

Aside: But so was most of 2021 and early 2022 in the manufacturing world..

So what did we do? We had a lookalike made. Which means we now have our own black powder, that anyone can make, and we can use. Buy a black product from us, and it will match any other black product. No matter what happens. Except maybe nuclear war. Yeah. Sorry.

And, at the same time, unknown to us, our stamper reached out to the powder coat company to see if they could do a Cerakote lookalike…but with powder-coat-like toughness.

Long story short…no, it ain’t quite Cerakote, but it is damn close.

And that’s how Magni and Modi went back to powder-coat. Silver or black, both are powder. Both are also the same price. Both will also match the other. Finally.

“Oh no!” someone cries. “What about my other silver products? What about small stuff? What about larger stuff? Are you changing everything over?”

In short, relax. Larger products won’t move to silver powder. And smaller products will be either available in silver powder to match Magni/Modi, or will have their chassis design moved to the new “advanced form” recurve chassis to match them. It’ll take a while to move everything over…and not everything may move over…so don’t get too excited.

But that’s the plan. Small products (to Magnius/Modius size) get powder and recurve. Larger products stay the same. Yeah, I know, Modius needs to stack with some larger products. We’ll have that available too.


3D Printing Crosses the Rubicon

For a long time, we’ve been doing 3D printing for prototypes and such. That’s also both very smart and very dumb.

Very smart because it does help us avoid boneheaded mistakes, but very dumb because we were unaware of how far 3D printing has progressed. Blame it on being immersed in the industry since the 3D Systems days, when a stereolithography printer with a modest build envelope was $250,000. You can get a LCD resin printer with roughly the same capabilities for about $500 now.

So. Yeah. 3D printing. We recently bought a carbon fiber FDM machine, mainly for doing larger parts, and also some functional prototypes (brackets and stuff you can use). That’s been a learning process when coming from FormLabs SLA printers.

But it’s also fairly amazing what you can do. The larger protos mean that fit and form are much less guess-based now, and the ability to iterate some wacky ideas in real time mean that you’re gonna be amazed at what some of the new products look like.

The real breakthrough, though, started as a disaster.

Modi+ was supposed to use our standard light pipes—injection molded pieces that are done standard 5-up, cut ‘em down for less, stack ‘em up for more, hope you like the spacing deal. The standardized spacing never thrilled me, and the fact we have products with 6 LEDs in a row never thrilled me either. But neither was disastrous until I did Modi+…because, due to a change in where we mounted the board, the light pipes were too tall. They literally scraped the surface mount LEDs right off the PCB when installed.

This sucked. Big time. Because that meant changing the injection molding tool. Or throwing away a bunch of metal. Both are big $$$ and a ton of wasted time.

But that’s what we were gonna do—change the injection mold and run new parts.

Of course, during the course of changing the 3D CAD model, I needed to 3D print some prototypes to make sure they fit the Modi+. They printed fine on clear resin, they fit fine…and hell, they looked pretty much exactly like the production parts. With the white LED light going through them, you couldn’t tell which was injection molded and which were 3D printed.

This led to a crazy thought: what if we just 3D printed shorter light pipes for Modi+?

I mean, it would be great in some ways. It would save us from changing the tool, save a bunch of time, and hell, we could even print them 3-up, rather than cutting them down from 5 places.

But it also sucked in some ways. I mean, resin printers are sloooooow. And kinda pricey in terms of resin.

Right?

Weeeeeeeeeeeeelllll…maybe not. I mean, we had a flexible build plate for the Formlabs printer; we could build directly on it with no supports. So I threw together a “high density” layout of light pipes and ran it. 3 hours for 140 parts. Not wonderful, but tolerable for a short run. Unfortunately, disaster struck and the Formlabs printer dispensed a bunch of clear resin into its guts, and the high density layout proved to be a bit too high density, the parts grew together.

Aside: yes, this can sometimes still the state of 3D printing, even on one of the most user-friendly machines out there. Beware.

But…there was promise. The parts that didn’t grow together worked well.

And I knew there were bigger, cheaper printers out there…printers that used resin that was literally 6-8x cheaper as well. But how would they do? Would these new printers (based on LCD screens masking UV LEDs, typically 6-8K resolution monochrome screens) be able to do more parts, faster?

I went ahead and picked up one of those new big cheap printers (from Amazon so we could send it back if it was garbage, natch). After a fairly easy (but much more DIY) setup, I laid out a 270-up light pipe layout and let ‘er rip. 19 minutes later, we had 270 perfect parts, without a trace of the growing-together problem of the other printer.

Yes, you read that right. 9X faster, 2x the number of parts, resin a 1/6 the cost.

That’s when Tyler commented, “Maybe we can just make all the light pipes this way.”

“Oh no,” I told him. “3D printing is a pain. Even the screens are consumable. You’ll need to have someone here run it, clean it, it stinks, it’s not really ready for prime time.”

But after one printer did a couple thousand parts in a day, I even started wondering. And I ran the numbers. Here’s the completely unexpected takeaway: even when factoring in consumables, operator time, cleaning and supplies, and unexpected breakdowns, it was literally 5x cheaper to print the light pipes. Hell, the raw resin cost was 1/13 that of the injection molded parts! As in, the injection molded parts were $0.16, the resin was $0.012.

And that’s how Modi+ got our first production 3D-printed part.

An aberration? A shortcut? A bad idea? No, no, and no. I expect you’ll see a lot more internal 3D-printed parts on our products, because the freedom to design to the need, rather than to be locked in to a standard layout, is much better. And, with 3D printed parts sitting on my desk that are literally 5, 10, and 30 years old, I know the stability of resins is very, very good. Hell, Cadillac just announced that its $300K Celestiq uses more 3D printed parts than any other car!

It's a new world.


Always Use Protection

From the beginning, Magni had a protection relay—to protect against start-up pops. It actually stopped making much sense when Magni 3 went to a current-feedback topology (which doesn’t have much of a start-up glitch, thanks to its inherently symmetrical architecture).

But I’m happy we kept the relay.

Why? Because it’s evolved into an integral part of the most advanced protection available in an affordable amp today.

The relay in Magni is no longer just to protect against start-up glitches, but also to protect the amp, in case of abuse or misuse, and your headphones, in case of catastrophic failure. I mean, yeah, catastrophic failure is unlikely, but anyone who claims it is impossible is dreaming. Any complex electronic or mechanical system can fail. Any.

Now, all Magnis include completely transparent, out-of-the-signal-path overcurrent and DC protection systems, in addition to the start-up delay and ESD protection.

What this means, in English, is that you can now plug a shorted headphone into Magni, turn up the dial, and expect nothing more than a series of clicks, rather than overheating and maybe even magic smoke. You can also plug in a bad or wrong headphone, like a TRRS headphone on a bad adapter, and expect nothing more than those same clicks. The Magni protects itself, and all is well.

It also means, in English, if some horrible sequence of events results in a catastrophic failure of your Magni, the DC protect will disconnect your headphone, or keep the DC at a safe level. So your most prized headphones are protected.

“So why didn’t you include this before?” some snarkmeister snaps.

Simple: because it’s rarely needed. But, over the course of producing literally hundreds of thousands of amps, we learned that yeah, sometimes it’s better to have it than not. So we decided to include it, so your amp and headphones have much more protection than they ever have had before—hell, more protection than any non-microprocessor-controlled amp we’ve ever made. Better safe than sorry!


Leaving Two FIgures

Now, even with all this advancement—sound, chassis, protection, features, etc—some of you are disappointed. You sigh. You cross your arms.

Because, yeah, the price went up.

It’s no longer the magic 2-figure tag.

Sigh.

Yes. I know.

But here’s the reality: the price of Modi went up a while back. It’s always been thin. We let it get dangerously thin. Now it’s OK. So we leave it.

Here’s the other reality: I fought to keep Magni where it was. Hell, a decent chunk of the new “advanced form” chassis was devoted to reducing production costs, just so we could do so….and, with increases in materials and labor costs, it ended up only costing slightly more, rather than markedly more, like the old chassis.

And here’s the final reality: in addition to more expensive chassis, PC boards are up 50-70%, components are up 10-250%, PCB assembly cost is up 80-100%, packaging is up 30%...and that’s LAST YEAR. That doesn’t count the other 9 years of inflation.

So a price bump is warranted.

Does that mean I’m happy about leaving the $99 price point? No. But I also don’t see any non-compromised path to get back to it. Chassis either have to get a lot cheaper (which probably won’t happen) or we need to take cost out of PCB assembly (by bringing it in house, maybe?) or we have to start slashing: plastic chassis, lower power, making it all in Mexico or Vietnam, switching supplies…but then you get to Fulla, which still manages a DAC, amp, and gaming/teleconferencing interface for $109.

So yeah, the $99 price point is toast.

Will we stop trying for it? No. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. But then again, for something so much better than 2014, selling at lower absolute (not constant) dollars…I don’t feel so bad.

I hope you enjoy your new no-excuses Magni and Modi…the best Magni and Modi, literally, in a decade.
very nice!!!! hope to try these someday
 
Nov 17, 2022 at 7:51 AM Post #103,153 of 109,481

Jimmyblues1959

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2022, Chapter 13
No Excuses



Ten years ago, we introduced the first Magni and Modi.

They were simple and relatively crude devices, conceived when we were still operating in a garage, and delivered when we were building in a tiny, dusty, run-down ex-newspaper office in old town Newhall.

But, as basic as they were, they ran a spear through the audiophile community. Nobody expected a $99 DAC and a $99 amp, in full custom chassis, made in the USA.

And I was super-proud of what we accomplished. This was a big milestone, something that I never expected we could do—deliver really nice audio products for 2-figure price tags. I mean, sure, they didn’t have a ton of features—hell, the original Magni only had a single gain setting, and the original Modi was a one-input, USB-powered product without even a single switch. And yeah, the original paint wasn’t so great, but we quickly improved it, just as we learned to improve other things, like custom potentiometers with better tapers and better discrete parts.

And then, in 2014, we bifurcated the line: Magni 2 and Modi 2 continued with the same painted chassis, but Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber got a fancy aluminum top, milled knob, better topologies, and, in the case of Modi, three inputs.

Those two Uber devices are the earliest close analogues of the Magni and Modi we’re introducing today, and they sold for $149 each.

Yes. That’s right. In 2014, a Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber stack would run you $298.

In 2022, a Magni+ and Modi+ costs $238.

Eight years, tons of inflation, and much, much more improved products…and the stack is $60 less.

Yes. The new Magni and Modi are less in terms of absolute dollars. While giving you far, far better performance, flexibility, and confidence—and while remaining built right here in the USA. They’re so good, we’re billing them as “no excuses.”

Are we crazy? Probably.

But that’s OK. The world needs some crazy like this, don’t you think?




Too Much To Say

I started this chapter with the stuff most top of mind: 10 years of Magni and Modi (holy moly!) and the whole super-high-value thing.

But I quickly realized there’s wayyyyy too much to say. I mean, I need to talk about the 20 Magni prototypes we did, and the whole new advanced form stamped chassis (the first major departure in chassis design for Magni and Modi, ever), and the whole Modi/ESS Dave/Mike uber-tweaking adventure, and the Magni performance retrospective, and the names, and the continuing bifurcation of Magni, and the price changes, and where and how we’re making these, from California to Nevada to Texas.

So this may not be a single chapter. I may break out the whole Magni performance retrospective and the Magni 20 prototypes craziness and talk about that in more detailed engineering-y terms, because I know a lot of eyes glaze over when I start getting into the tech side. In the meantime, I’ll simply say:
  • There’s this weird idea that Magni never measured very well until the 3+/Heresy generation, but that’s 100% wrong. Yes. It surprised even me.
  • And yes, I did do, literally, 20 prototypes of various crazy Magni ideas, with the intent of producing a Magni Unity, a single Magni that could replace both 3+ and Heresy…and got really close, but ultimately abandoned the idea.
But to come back to what we really should talk about here and now:
  • How Magni+/Heretic and Modi+ are different (and better!) than previous Magnis and Modis
  • Some of the development details (but not too detailed)
  • The cool new chassis changes
  • The importance of paranoia in product development
  • Why the prices ain’t $99 anymore
So. Cool. Let’s not waste time. Deets ahead.


The No-Excuses, $100(ish) Headphone Amps and DAC

Sounds pretty grandiose, I know. But no matter how you look at it, I really think the new Magnis and Modi are really no-excuses products. I mean, let’s break it down:
  • In terms of performance, they’re the best-performing products we’ve ever made at this size and price, period.
  • In terms of design, they use exotic topologies and the same super-high-quality parts as products that cost hundreds or thousands more—heck, Magni+ is the only fully discrete, current feedback amplifier anywhere near its price.
  • In terms of looks, they’ve evolved our classic chassis with a new, sleek, seamless, fastener-free design that includes a lot of cool detail, like a debossed logo and knob pocket…and we even managed to include a custom machined aluminum knob or pushbutton.
  • In terms of convenience, Magnis get three gain positions, including negative gain, and Modi+ gets pushbutton selection and LED indication of input, as well as USB-C connectors.
  • In terms of protection, all three products employ the most advanced current, DC, and ESD protection systems we’ve ever deployed, anywhere—protecting your devices, your headphohes, and your computer, tablet, or streamer.
  • And, in terms of ideology, all Magnis and Modis are produced right here in the USA, from USA steel, with USA companies doing the stamping, PCBs, purchasing and kitting, assembly, and QC. The last two are done in our own Corpus Christi, Texas facility, and include both instrumented and listening tests. Yes, that’s correct—every $109 Magni and $129 Modi has been listened to.
Sounds like a big deal? We think so. We spent three years on these. We held back on introducing them for a year to get everything just right. And everyone stepped up. Our stamping partner who did the chassis, our purchasing partner that ensured we had the parts in the middle of (still) a global parts debacle, and even our internal team—we made sure we synchronized their introduction, the first time since 2014.

Whew. Enough of the puffery. Let’s talk about the products.


The New Magni+ and Magni Heretic


You’ll notice first thing that there are still two Magnis.

I spent 18 months trying to bring them together, after discovering we could get better performance with a voltage-feedback design (hello Magni 2 Uber), then decided that it wasn’t going to happen due to…ah, oh hell, I’m gonna get eviscerated for this…sound.

Yes. The unified Magni was spiked because, although we got close to the performance target of Magni Heretic, we didn’t like the way it sounded.

Aside: and yeah, I know, a bunch of people just decided I’m nuts. That’s fine. Get a Heretic. It measures better than the Magni Unity-that-might-have-been.

So yeah, there are two Magnis. Both of them are pretty terrific. You’ll notice the following common features:
  • New headphone output location and front-mounted, three-position gain switch. Yes, we moved the headphone output away from the potentiometer! This makes it more convenient, but also, in engineering terms, it also makes for a much better circuit flow. This is one reason the new Magni has less power supply noise (don’t get too excited, it was still inaudible on the old Magni). And the gain switch is on front as well—with three positions, high, low, and negative. Negative gain allows you to use the most sensitive IEMs, as it actually reduces the magnitude of the incoming signal (or, in the case of Heretic, it actually buffers gain between the input and output sections…but I’m getting too engineer-y here, so I will shut up).
  • New seamless “advanced form” stamped chassis. It looks better, doesn’t it? Amazing what you can do when you use stamping like stamping and not CNC. Also, you get your choice of color—silver and gray or black and red—on either device. Yes, you can now have a Heretic in silver or a + in black.
  • Advanced protection systems to help ensure the safety of your valuable headphones. Both Magnis include overcurrent sense and relay disengage (to protect the amp) and DC sense and protect (to protect your headphones in case the other protection doesn’t work), and ESD protection, in addition to the standard start-up delay. These are the most sophisticated protection systems we’ve included on non-microprocessor-controlled products.
But they’re also different:
  • Magni+ is our fully discrete, exotic current-feedback topology—most like a small speaker amp. It’s really similar to Vidar. We’ve tweaked the heck out of this design to make it quieter and even higher-performing than its predecessor, and it’s a spectacular sounding product.
  • Magni Heretic has switched over to the newer Texas Instruments OPA1656 op-amps (7 of them, 14 channels total!) in a unique topology with no overall feedback. This unique topology allows us to place the negative gain between the gain stages, lowering the inherent noise floor of the amplifier even below Magni+, and preserving high input impedance at all potentiometer levels. It also has a red bottom chassis.
Of course, some things don’t need to be changed—both Magnis use fully linear, regulated, bipolar supplies, and are DC coupled throughout…the same as the original Magni, 10 years ago.

(Yes, that’s right—no switchers in either Magni!)

So is there no hope for a Magni Unity in the future (discrete, high measuring, good sounding)? Well, I’d never say never…but there are a lot of things that are more front-burner than this. As always, we’ll see. Just don’t expect anything soon.


The New Modi+

Modi+, like Magni+ and Magni Heretic, is a complete rip-up of the old design—only the functionality is similar. As in, it has three inputs, and a second USB input that can be used for power if you’re doing SPDIF or if you have a USB source that needs a 0mA endpoint.

Beyond that, Mike and Dave took it as a personal mission to see what we could do with a $100-ish DAC in terms of sound. After all, these are the guys who work on the highest-end True Multibit DACs all day. That’s what they like. That’s their target.

Aside: and if anyone says, “yeah, sonics are a buncha hoo-ha, measurements are all that matter,” remember: I tried to prank Dave and Mike when we introduced the Yggdrasil flavors. I tried reallllly hard. As in, we had a true double-blind comparison, set up by a dood who wasn’t anywhere nearby, with me not knowing which DAC was which. Before this test, Mike and Dave both professed an extreme dislike for the “More is Less” Yggdrasil variant. I hoped that they’d choose that one as their favorite when blinded. What happened was that Mike and Dave walked into the room and came out 90 seconds later, proclaiming “X is this, Y is that, and Z is the other one.” And they were 100% right.

Yes. Sound. I said “sound.” Again.

Because, like it or not, sound is a factor. And Dave and Mike are, arguably, more picky about sound than I am. So it’s not a minor deal when they say, “Hmm, we have this ESS DAC—a DAC with more controls and tweaks on it than any other DAC we’ve ever used—and yeah, it might be delta-sigma, but let’s see how good we can make it.”

And they made it very, very good. People who disliked the “AKM sound” of the earlier Modis love the ESS Modi+, even more than the Modi 3E. Because we learned a lot more. New tweaks and special sauce in the analog and ESS microcode, a whole new optimized power management suite, and, as mentioned, a ground-up relayout mean this is the best Modi ever made.

Aside: yes, either in terms of measurements or sonics.

Aside to the aside: yes, I know, some people don’t believe in sonics. Fine. Cool. Modi is still a champ on a measurements-per-dollar chart.

Aside to the aside to the aside: and yeah, I know, most of you have your eyes crossed, and you’re saying something like “holy schiit it has USB-C why don’t you talk about the most sacred and holy connector finally you killed the micros that’s completely the big deal here!”

Sigh. USB-C. Who cares? It’s just a connector.

Aside: yes. JUST. A. CONNECTOR. There is nothing amazing or special about USB-C. Even the trick of “insert it any way” is just a mechanical deal, facilitated by having a billion contacts. No audio device uses the super-mega-ultra-fast-uber-deluxe signal path of USB-C. No audio device requires the speed. I’ll keep repeating this until people understand it really isn’t that special.

Aside to the aside: however, it does monumentally irritate people selling overpriced USB cables, because doing hand-made, yak-hair-insulated, unobtanium-alloy-conductor stuff isn’t so fun when you’re talking 24 wires of 36 gauge or so, so maybe it’s worth it.

But yeah. USB-C. Woohoo. The firmware is more important, but the USB-C is more visible, so that’s probably what matters most on the marketing side. Hell, it’s wayyyyyyyyyyy more important that Modi+ is the only inexpensive DAC that offers Unison USB™ input, our own proprietary USB receiver, based on two person-years of initial development, and another person-year or so of refinement, to create an insanely reliable, super-high-quality USB interface intended to do only a single thing: move PCM audio. No silly MQA or DSD or super-high-res stuff; Unison USB is designed for the real world—the streaming services of today, and the legacy CDs that you may wish you had, once Google starts editing streams in real time…

Aside: oops, not a real thing. Not yet anyway.

And yeah, other tweaks as well. The new seamless chassis. A nice aluminum pushbutton and LEDs rather than a switch. That completes Modi+. And the most amazing Modi it is.


A Stamping Renaissance

For a long time, we’ve been using stamping to produce most of our products. This was both very smart (because it costs less if you’re doing more than, say, about 250 pieces with CNC), and very dumb, because we just handed over our CNC stuff and had them do the same thing.

That changes with the new Magni and Modi.

Because, for the first time, we’re using stamping as stamping, not as a CNC alternate. This is why the new Magni and Modi look sooooooo much better than, like, anything we’ve ever done.

And stamping is the the ideal way to do small, inexpensive products in a place where we don’t have cheap labor. Plastic? Yeah, they have their own problems, including looks, weight, and the need for additional shielding to make radiated noise (or noise rejection) requirements. Milled? Yeah, super expensive and might end up with a pile of chips bigger than the product itself. CNC? Pay per hole, pay per feature, pay per machine time, roll the dice for formed features.

No. Stamping. American steel from Texas gets turned into complex, cool-looking chassis with a minimum of waste and machine time. This allows us to make things not only look better, but to add features like a milled aluminum knob. The net-net is a real no-excuses chassis for a very inexpensive product.

And I can’t give our stamping guys too much kudos. What started with a crazy idea—literally me drawing up an “impossible” chassis—and asking, “is this even feasible,” resulted in a conversation that may have started an American stamping renaissance.

“This is, like, old skool,” Matt, the head of Bloomers Metal Stamping, said, when he first saw the drawings.

“Is that bad?” I asked.

Matt shook his head. “You’re using stamping like stamping—forming in complex stuff that should be formed in, doing things you can’t do easily or at all with CNC. Nobody does this anymore. They just use it like CNC, but high volume CNC.”

“So, can we do it?” That was my big question.

Matt nodded. “Oh yeah. Keeps the guys on their toes.”

“But the top, with no fasteners, is that a problem?” I pressed.

“No, we can recurve it so it presses down on the slides,” he said. “Worst case we dimple in a channel.”

It was really stunning for me to hear, “Yeah, just make a channel,” when, with CNC, that’s typically something you never do. Or, with machining, you wonder about the machine time.

Getting from those initial drawings to final designs wasn’t direct, but it wasn’t particularly difficult, either. Matt hit the initial ideal pretty much straight-on. From there, it was tweaking. The biggest diversion was in finish, which had to be powder-coat (or some other sprayed finish), because when you start stressing aluminum the way we wanted to, the grain would get weird, any small bit of dust would get ground into the surface, and we’d have nothing but pain with an anodized finish. That’s why we decided, early on, to make these products in steel and powder-coat them.

But what powder? We tried our old Magni 2 powder. It looked horrible in the light of 2022. We tried a dozen different silver powders, and they all looked like ass. Black was always fine, LOL. So we tried Cerakote for silver. That looked cool…until you touched it. Turns out Cerakote didn’t have the toughness we required. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to…but it doesn’t. Don’t argue unless you have a giant Cerakote line up and running, producing consumer products.

I’d just about given up and accepted our old “camera case” silver, when the black powder debacle hit.

As in, our black powder coat became unavailable.

This is crazy. Zombie apocalypse stuff.

Aside: But so was most of 2021 and early 2022 in the manufacturing world..

So what did we do? We had a lookalike made. Which means we now have our own black powder, that anyone can make, and we can use. Buy a black product from us, and it will match any other black product. No matter what happens. Except maybe nuclear war. Yeah. Sorry.

And, at the same time, unknown to us, our stamper reached out to the powder coat company to see if they could do a Cerakote lookalike…but with powder-coat-like toughness.

Long story short…no, it ain’t quite Cerakote, but it is damn close.

And that’s how Magni and Modi went back to powder-coat. Silver or black, both are powder. Both are also the same price. Both will also match the other. Finally.

“Oh no!” someone cries. “What about my other silver products? What about small stuff? What about larger stuff? Are you changing everything over?”

In short, relax. Larger products won’t move to silver powder. And smaller products will be either available in silver powder to match Magni/Modi, or will have their chassis design moved to the new “advanced form” recurve chassis to match them. It’ll take a while to move everything over…and not everything may move over…so don’t get too excited.

But that’s the plan. Small products (to Magnius/Modius size) get powder and recurve. Larger products stay the same. Yeah, I know, Modius needs to stack with some larger products. We’ll have that available too.


3D Printing Crosses the Rubicon

For a long time, we’ve been doing 3D printing for prototypes and such. That’s also both very smart and very dumb.

Very smart because it does help us avoid boneheaded mistakes, but very dumb because we were unaware of how far 3D printing has progressed. Blame it on being immersed in the industry since the 3D Systems days, when a stereolithography printer with a modest build envelope was $250,000. You can get a LCD resin printer with roughly the same capabilities for about $500 now.

So. Yeah. 3D printing. We recently bought a carbon fiber FDM machine, mainly for doing larger parts, and also some functional prototypes (brackets and stuff you can use). That’s been a learning process when coming from FormLabs SLA printers.

But it’s also fairly amazing what you can do. The larger protos mean that fit and form are much less guess-based now, and the ability to iterate some wacky ideas in real time mean that you’re gonna be amazed at what some of the new products look like.

The real breakthrough, though, started as a disaster.

Modi+ was supposed to use our standard light pipes—injection molded pieces that are done standard 5-up, cut ‘em down for less, stack ‘em up for more, hope you like the spacing deal. The standardized spacing never thrilled me, and the fact we have products with 6 LEDs in a row never thrilled me either. But neither was disastrous until I did Modi+…because, due to a change in where we mounted the board, the light pipes were too tall. They literally scraped the surface mount LEDs right off the PCB when installed.

This sucked. Big time. Because that meant changing the injection molding tool. Or throwing away a bunch of metal. Both are big $$$ and a ton of wasted time.

But that’s what we were gonna do—change the injection mold and run new parts.

Of course, during the course of changing the 3D CAD model, I needed to 3D print some prototypes to make sure they fit the Modi+. They printed fine on clear resin, they fit fine…and hell, they looked pretty much exactly like the production parts. With the white LED light going through them, you couldn’t tell which was injection molded and which were 3D printed.

This led to a crazy thought: what if we just 3D printed shorter light pipes for Modi+?

I mean, it would be great in some ways. It would save us from changing the tool, save a bunch of time, and hell, we could even print them 3-up, rather than cutting them down from 5 places.

But it also sucked in some ways. I mean, resin printers are sloooooow. And kinda pricey in terms of resin.

Right?

Weeeeeeeeeeeeelllll…maybe not. I mean, we had a flexible build plate for the Formlabs printer; we could build directly on it with no supports. So I threw together a “high density” layout of light pipes and ran it. 3 hours for 140 parts. Not wonderful, but tolerable for a short run. Unfortunately, disaster struck and the Formlabs printer dispensed a bunch of clear resin into its guts, and the high density layout proved to be a bit too high density, the parts grew together.

Aside: yes, this can sometimes still the state of 3D printing, even on one of the most user-friendly machines out there. Beware.

But…there was promise. The parts that didn’t grow together worked well.

And I knew there were bigger, cheaper printers out there…printers that used resin that was literally 6-8x cheaper as well. But how would they do? Would these new printers (based on LCD screens masking UV LEDs, typically 6-8K resolution monochrome screens) be able to do more parts, faster?

I went ahead and picked up one of those new big cheap printers (from Amazon so we could send it back if it was garbage, natch). After a fairly easy (but much more DIY) setup, I laid out a 270-up light pipe layout and let ‘er rip. 19 minutes later, we had 270 perfect parts, without a trace of the growing-together problem of the other printer.

Yes, you read that right. 9X faster, 2x the number of parts, resin a 1/6 the cost.

That’s when Tyler commented, “Maybe we can just make all the light pipes this way.”

“Oh no,” I told him. “3D printing is a pain. Even the screens are consumable. You’ll need to have someone here run it, clean it, it stinks, it’s not really ready for prime time.”

But after one printer did a couple thousand parts in a day, I even started wondering. And I ran the numbers. Here’s the completely unexpected takeaway: even when factoring in consumables, operator time, cleaning and supplies, and unexpected breakdowns, it was literally 5x cheaper to print the light pipes. Hell, the raw resin cost was 1/13 that of the injection molded parts! As in, the injection molded parts were $0.16, the resin was $0.012.

And that’s how Modi+ got our first production 3D-printed part.

An aberration? A shortcut? A bad idea? No, no, and no. I expect you’ll see a lot more internal 3D-printed parts on our products, because the freedom to design to the need, rather than to be locked in to a standard layout, is much better. And, with 3D printed parts sitting on my desk that are literally 5, 10, and 30 years old, I know the stability of resins is very, very good. Hell, Cadillac just announced that its $300K Celestiq uses more 3D printed parts than any other car!

It's a new world.


Always Use Protection

From the beginning, Magni had a protection relay—to protect against start-up pops. It actually stopped making much sense when Magni 3 went to a current-feedback topology (which doesn’t have much of a start-up glitch, thanks to its inherently symmetrical architecture).

But I’m happy we kept the relay.

Why? Because it’s evolved into an integral part of the most advanced protection available in an affordable amp today.

The relay in Magni is no longer just to protect against start-up glitches, but also to protect the amp, in case of abuse or misuse, and your headphones, in case of catastrophic failure. I mean, yeah, catastrophic failure is unlikely, but anyone who claims it is impossible is dreaming. Any complex electronic or mechanical system can fail. Any.

Now, all Magnis include completely transparent, out-of-the-signal-path overcurrent and DC protection systems, in addition to the start-up delay and ESD protection.

What this means, in English, is that you can now plug a shorted headphone into Magni, turn up the dial, and expect nothing more than a series of clicks, rather than overheating and maybe even magic smoke. You can also plug in a bad or wrong headphone, like a TRRS headphone on a bad adapter, and expect nothing more than those same clicks. The Magni protects itself, and all is well.

It also means, in English, if some horrible sequence of events results in a catastrophic failure of your Magni, the DC protect will disconnect your headphone, or keep the DC at a safe level. So your most prized headphones are protected.

“So why didn’t you include this before?” some snarkmeister snaps.

Simple: because it’s rarely needed. But, over the course of producing literally hundreds of thousands of amps, we learned that yeah, sometimes it’s better to have it than not. So we decided to include it, so your amp and headphones have much more protection than they ever have had before—hell, more protection than any non-microprocessor-controlled amp we’ve ever made. Better safe than sorry!


Leaving Two FIgures

Now, even with all this advancement—sound, chassis, protection, features, etc—some of you are disappointed. You sigh. You cross your arms.

Because, yeah, the price went up.

It’s no longer the magic 2-figure tag.

Sigh.

Yes. I know.

But here’s the reality: the price of Modi went up a while back. It’s always been thin. We let it get dangerously thin. Now it’s OK. So we leave it.

Here’s the other reality: I fought to keep Magni where it was. Hell, a decent chunk of the new “advanced form” chassis was devoted to reducing production costs, just so we could do so….and, with increases in materials and labor costs, it ended up only costing slightly more, rather than markedly more, like the old chassis.

And here’s the final reality: in addition to more expensive chassis, PC boards are up 50-70%, components are up 10-250%, PCB assembly cost is up 80-100%, packaging is up 30%...and that’s LAST YEAR. That doesn’t count the other 9 years of inflation.

So a price bump is warranted.

Does that mean I’m happy about leaving the $99 price point? No. But I also don’t see any non-compromised path to get back to it. Chassis either have to get a lot cheaper (which probably won’t happen) or we need to take cost out of PCB assembly (by bringing it in house, maybe?) or we have to start slashing: plastic chassis, lower power, making it all in Mexico or Vietnam, switching supplies…but then you get to Fulla, which still manages a DAC, amp, and gaming/teleconferencing interface for $109.

So yeah, the $99 price point is toast.

Will we stop trying for it? No. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. But then again, for something so much better than 2014, selling at lower absolute (not constant) dollars…I don’t feel so bad.

I hope you enjoy your new no-excuses Magni and Modi…the best Magni and Modi, literally, in a decade.
Still have my 2017 Magni 3 and really enjoy it with my inexpensive planars. Will be curious to see how the latest Magni's compare
to the Piety. Nicest aspect of these mini components is that because they are inexpensive, you can have a Piety, Heretic, and Magni+ for under $500 delivered! 😊
 
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Nov 17, 2022 at 8:00 AM Post #103,154 of 109,481

AnalogEuphoria

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Still have my 2017 Magni 3 and really enjoy it with my inexpensive planars. Will be curious to see how the latest Magni's compare
to the Piety. Nicest aspect of these mini components is that because they are inexpensive, you can have a Piety, Heretic, and Magni+ for under $500 delivered! 😊

I’ll compare the magni+ to the piety as soon as I get them both.
 
Nov 17, 2022 at 9:09 AM Post #103,155 of 109,481

StimpyWan

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Did I miss a chapter? Or am I just dumb (no comments)...! I've been wondering, what the heck is a Piety??? So, I looked it up. Very interesting. Lot's of new releases in the land of Schiit. While I don't need all of these new pieces, I definitely want them. Crap. 😡

Piety
 
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