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Schiit Modi USB DAC

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by barry s, Dec 12, 2012.
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  1. tdockweiler
    I wonder why the Modi often gives me an impression of very slightly relaxed mids? On any headphone. Sounds silly but I like that. They're neutral and not recessed or forward. The Modi doesn't add any weight to the sounds of instruments or to vocals or make anything thinner than it should be. It's not bright/cold/thin at all ever unless you compare it to something that's already warm. Well if it is I'm 100% sure it's the recording. Some songs are like that.
    The mids of the ODAC and my new Micro DAC (CS4398)  sound very very slightly forward in comparison. All three measure flat. Maybe the ODAC and Micro DAC have more extended treble and low bass that alters the sound slightly? Doubt it.
    The only time you hear these sort of relaxed mids is when doing A/B comparisons. It's so subtle. Some give the default response "Well, then the Modi must be more colored than the ODAC". Nonsense.
    Maybe it's that the Modi has a better sense of depth and fools me somehow. Vocals sound more forward on the Micro DAC and ODAC. This isn't a plus or negative. Not sure how a simple DAC could improve the sense of depth this much. It could also be due to soundstage differences and some slight warmth fooling the brain.
    It's hard to figure out how songs are supposed to sound. The Modi, ODAC and Micro DAC are so close in sound. You can never say stupid things like "Wow, this is so much better!!"
    The only thing that immediately sticks out when switching between my new Micro DAC and Modi is that the Micro has perhaps fuller/thicker low mids. Again so very subtle really. It's hard to know which is more accurate.
    I guess the only important thing is which one sounds best. They sound both pretty transparent. My money is on the Modi being the most transparent. 99.97% vs 99.5% transparent [​IMG]
    Not getting rid of the Modi. I bet I might love the Bifrost. Hmm, maybe i'd still prefer the Modi. The Modi doesn't sound like a $99 DAC at all.
    I'd say the Modi is the 2nd best purchase i've made since i've been into headphones.  I can't be the only one on Head-Fi who thinks it's as good as the ODAC. I actually think it sounds slightly better.

  2. Ryukun
    Such a great product for the price!!
  3. tdockweiler
    Too bad there isn't enough activity in this thread. I'd love to see more comparisons of it vs DACs that cost $200-$500.
    I've been comparing it for the last few days to a DAC that originally cost around $350 and it's not really any worse.
    It uses the CS4398 chipset and I just upgraded it to use optical instead of USB.
    I bet i'd love the Bifrost, but it's probably overkill for me. I really only want budget gear under $300 or so. Honestly I can't imagine the Bifrost being that much better.
    Maybe if I had an HD-800, T1 etc
    One thing I will say is that the Modi with my Micro Amp sounds crystal clear.
    Should be more people getting the Modi instead of the ODAC [​IMG]
    Netrum likes this.
  4. Netrum
    I recomend the Modi to everyone looking to buy a budget dac.
    This thing is so good I don't see myself upgrading it anytime soon.
    To be honest the only reason for me to upgrade now would be have more imputs.
    Usb is fine as long as you only use a computer.
  5. PanpandaChan
  6. Shaffer
    FWIW, my thoughts regarding the Modi next to the Oppo105's asynchronous USB input in an audiophile system, and the Modi driving a system with much less resolution:
    I also compared it directly with a HRT Streamer II. The HRT had more presence, a less homogeneous presentation, more air around the instruments and a better sense of space. Better in every way, except for one: it needed a reboot every time my Win8 laptop went into sleep mode. The Modi never flinched. I sent the HRT back. The sonic differences were essentially nonexistent, given a relatively significant order of magnitude, on my desktop system driving A5+ speakers.
    Edit: typo
  7. x838nwy
    Okay, this is going to be a bit unfair. What I did today was to compare:
    1.) MacBook Pro -> StraightWire 1m USB -> Modi -> Blue Jeans Cables RCA's -> Lehmann Audio Linear -> HD 800
    2.) MacBook Pro -> Tellurium Q Black Diamond USB 2m -> PWD II -> Blue Jeans Cables RCA's -> Lehmann Audio Linear -> HD 800
    No point guessing which sounded better. But I'm actually very, very surprised by the actual margin by which the PWD II won by. The Modi is certainly one of the more fun-sounding DACs out there. Sure it lacks details and sounds a lot less 3D, but we're talking something like 40x price difference here. It certainly kicks the Dragonfly's ass in the excitement department. Don't get me wrong, the DF is not at all bad - but it is  more tinny-sounding and I really prefer it directly driving headphones that work with it rather than driving an amp. It doesn't dig out as much detail, obviously, but I never actually found it to sound confused (the way the CLAS does, for example). I have no idea what they put in there, but it works very well.
    *** If you don't believe in USB cable, thank you for reading so far, thank you ***
    The strangest thing is, though, swapping the Straight Wire (PYST) cable for a WireWorld UV7 resulted in a wider soundstage but not as umm... solid and punchy as the Pyst/SW. It seems more airy with the UV, but I'm not sure if I prefer it to the Pyst though, the punchiness seems to suit the Modi better. May be this combination doesn't work with my Lehmann Linear (which I feel is a bit thin-sounding at times).
    Going to the Black Diamond cable (yup, a USB cable, and it costs more than... 6 times the Modi?) well, it's quite a strange feeling knowing that price-wise, the Modi might as well be an adaptor or something. With the total cable over-kill, the sound-stage was waaaaay bigger. Seriously, this is now a much better (and arguably much more costly) DAC than with the previous two. It seems to bring out another level of detail previously not present with the other two - may be there, but kindda swamped over or something. My point is that it's surprising that such a modest little DAC can be so transparent to what must be tiny changes.
    From where I'm sitting, I think Schiit has really done a great job with the Modi. Seriously had they sold it at 250USD I'd say it's a decent DAC (alright, I also buy expensive cables and am qualified  as daft by a few members here) and to my surprise the "for a 99USD DAC" caveat add an "OMG!!" factor to the whole experience rather than be a constant excuse for its shortcomings. I truly believe Schiit as a company has done something very special. I will definitely be getting the Vali perhaps to replace my X-Cans V2 and I cannot wait to see what they come up with next!! To Jason and Mike - you've done the world a favor and deserve more credit than you give yourselves. Thank you, and keep them coming!
  8. tdockweiler
    I don't know if anyone has the T90, but the Modi sounds great with it! I disliked the T90 with the more revealing Micro DAC (CS4398), but with the Modi it's pretty good. I wouldn't buy a T90 though.
    It actually makes the T90 sound a lot smoother than my other DAC (Micro DAC). I think it's just because the Modi isn't super duper revealing of harsh tracks and low bit-rate files. Forgiving somewhat, like the ODAC.
    I never once felt the Modi had any warmth (but it's not cold/thin/tinny) at all, but with the T90 it's like you can hear a hint of warmth in there somewhere. Maybe not.
    On all my other headphones the two DACs sound 95% identical.
    Haha, the CS4398 actually sounds warmer with my Q701 than the T90 [​IMG]
    A few have said the Modi is bright, but definitely not to me at all. Not even close. I bet it'd be great for a DT-990 or DT-880 actually.
    I love it when a headphone lets you HEAR your gear. I guess the T90 is better at this than my poor Q701 and HD-650.
    Still a bit confused.
    BTW kind of funny how it takes a $600 MSRP headphone to hear any weaknesses of the Modi. I wouldn't even call them that since it's a $99 DAC. The Modi is great, but not a super revealing detail monster. Well, duh.
  9. Barry S
    That's what I've found, too. The HD650 is slightly held back by the Modi, but not by much. The LCD-2 is another story--the resolution is noticeably reduced with the Modi, compared to the Gungnir. From my component swapping, I'll also vouch for the neutrality of the Modi. The Modi is rock solid and other than a bad pot that got replaced, I've never had any problems.
  10. Netrum
    Bad pot on the modi? Are you perhaps confusing it with the Magni amp now?
  11. Barry S

    You're right--bad pot was on the Magni--a little late friday dyslexia.
  12. tdockweiler
    I don't view the Modi as it holding back the HD-650 at all. I see what you're saying though. I probably wouldn't get any major improvements from the HD-650 unless I spent $400+ on a DAC maybe. I honestly would never buy a $500 amp or DAC for just an HD-650 but I know many people would.
    I hear some slight changes with my Micro DAC, but it sure isn't much. On the 650 I can barely hear much change between all 3 of my DACs. If I hear any major improvements going from the Modi to Bifrost I might be a little surprised. It'd be worth it even if it's only a 5% improvement with my favorite open headphone (modded Q701) [​IMG]
    I actually think the Modi is perfect for the HD-650. My setup sounds crystal clear with the HD-650.
    If you're talking about the Magni, then I might agree but I haven't listened to it more than 100 hours with the HD-650.
  13. Barry S
    My work setup is the HD650 powered by a Modi and Magni--so I like the Modi a lot for the HD650. Maybe held back isn't the best way to say it. More like you can squeeze a bit more performance out of the HD650 with a better DAC, but not hear a huge difference. There's always one component that's the weakest link in your system.
  14. PanpandaChan
    Not to be an ass, but in this case I reaally dont see how different cables help. Its a USB cable, meaning its carrying a digital signal, a bunch of 1s and 0s.
    1s and 0s are 1s and 0s no matter what the cable is. Unless the cable is so bad and theres so much interference somewhere that the signal itself gets corrupt, but at that point it just doesnt work.
    Thats the wonderful thing about digital. It works or it doesnt.
    Check out what happened when broadcast TV switched to digital. No more noise issues and comparing different antennas. The channel either worked or it didnt.
    The only effect here is, maybe, the better cables carry the power over USB better. But its such a small current, and its been stated that the Modi filters the USB power input anyway.
    So I dont know :\ ...
    On another note, I do like shiny cables anyway:
    DIY 4 Strand Braid of solid silver.
  15. Netrum
    I agree with this statement.
    The difference is the placebo effect.
    There is no difference in cables as long as they are properly reinforced and shielded.
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