Schiit Modius discussion - $199 balanced AK4493 DAC
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CoryGillmore

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For connecting two Schiit devices, you want one end 3-pin XLR male, the other end 3-pin XLR female.
Is this unique to Schiit devices? Do some amp/DAC makers require a male to male XLR cable to connect their amps and DACs?
 
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XERO1

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Is this unique to Schiit devices? Do some amp/DAC makers require a male to male XLR cable to connect their amps and DACs?
All standard XLR cables are made with a male connector at one end and a female connector at the other. Not sure why he thought you would have to specificly request that.
 
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tincanear

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Is this unique to Schiit devices? Do some amp/DAC makers require a male to male XLR cable to connect their amps and DACs?
most pro equipment has 3-pin male XLR chassis connectors for outputs and 3-pin female XLR chassis connectors for inputs. not sure if all amp & DAC makers follow this convention.
 
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tincanear

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All standard XLR cables are made with a male connector at one end and a female connector at the other. Not sure why he thought you would have to specificly request that.
looking at markertek's website, there are some male 3 pin XLR to male 3-pin XLR cables available. possibly some A-V techs prefer cables (especially those longer cables with are often put on reels) with both ends male for simplified payout at live event set-ups, using female-to-female XLR adapters as necessary at the endpoints.
 
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An audio DAC chip, that "completely reproduces the original analogue signal", beyond the capabilities of the human ear to detect, costs about $2!
What are we doing buying a 100x more expensive DAC then? :fearful:
 
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Some Initial Impressions from SE Out:

Chain:
MacBook (Jriver) > Modius (SE) > EC BW2 > HD800 (SDR+ Mods)

Sonics:
- From a high level, this is a very nice DAC for $200. No serious flaws or oddities.
- The DAC’s highlight is the presentation and the resolution. It separates instruments very well in a large and airy stage. The placement of the presentation is also ideal, being neither forward nor pushed back.
- Depth, layering and imaging precision is what you can expect for a $200 device. Which is, not TOTL, but definitely not underwhelming.
- The bass is a touch prominent in the mix. It slams decently well. Definitely not limp dick like Hugo2’s bass. But the bass attack is a bit blunted, and the bass resolution once again, is what you can expect from a $200 device.
- Midrange and treble is where I start to nitpick. While the tone is warm, the timbre leaves a bit to be desired. This is due to the midrange sounding soft and treble having a bit of glare.
- While there is not much to complain about the microdynamics in the midrange, the macrodynamics is well, not macro enough. The midrange also lacks some body/fullness. As a result, the midrange instruments and voices sound soft and not palpable.
- The treble itself isn’t bright or strident, but it has a certain glare to it. The thing about glare is, it doesn’t expose itself as sharpness or brightness. But it ends up messing the timbre, making it more digital sounding than analog.
- The soft mids sandwiched between the prominent bass and the treble glare, makes the sound come across as a slight V shaped signature.
- I am unable to test the Bal XLR out now, as I don’t have any amp to go Bal in. But I am curious to test it someday, as it seems to addresses the very issues I mentioned.
- It’s a solid DAC for $200. While I am not sure if it’s the DAC you need, it’s a DAC that makes sense for $200.

Background:

My current benchmark for DACs is my Cayin N8 (2x AK4497), which may be an exception to the AKM velvet sound, because there is nothing velvet about its sound. It’s punchy and visceral, yet smooth in the treble. So it’s a very engaging sound that is free of fatigue. Its macrodynamics are not just good, but one of its forte. The mids are full bodied and palpable, and the timbre is more correct/convincing and on the analog side. Bass might not hit as hard as Yggdrasil/C2 but hits harder than the Modius. Stage is larger, deeper and airier than the Modius, with a darker background and a more precise imaging. It’s smoother, yet resolves more details. It has this tendency to boost the microdynamics a tiny bit, but for some reason I seem to like it. It has a sense of realism that I haven’t experienced on any other DAC in my chain. I have had plenty of ‘one-more-song’ moments with it.

All that said, I will not recommend the N8 given its price, durability and the shameful 1-Yr warranty. So I have been searching for a proper desktop DAC that gives me the pleasure like how the N8 does. I have been trying get hold of a Bifrost 2. I can’t buy it from Schiit directly given the high import duty. I’m waiting for my local dealer to start carrying it. One more DAC that has caught my attention recently is the Forssell DAC.

CADB9DAA-8B3A-43B3-888A-24E97A6BB7CB.jpeg
 
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[1] If you don't hear differences between a $2 DAC and other implementations - good for you.
[1a] If what I hear is all in my head and the result of expectation bias, well bummer for me. However, I don't think so. In fact, my expectation bias was to NOT hear a difference - though I will grant that our biases can be complex and I MAY be fooling myself.
[2] Nor do I think that companies like Schiit or Chord are just shills trying to steal our money with snake oil and magic beans - if you think so, fine, ...
[3] Even chords m-scalar at $3500 is not a crazy price point given what the product does, the engineering behind it and the R&D to design it.
[3a] Is it worth $3500? That is up to the individual buyer and I haven't heard it so refrain from comment on what it sounds like.
[4] I'm all for respectful debate and exchanging ideas and learning - but if we are so set in our own perceptions and beliefs (whether we call that objectivism or subjectivism) that we aren't willing to consider alternative viewpoints then there really is no point in posting.
[4a] I did not take the time to respond to your post to change your mind (which seems clearly made up :) and is, at least, consistent with posts of yours I've seen in other threads.
1. Thanks.
1a. As you say, biases are complex, many of which are subconscious and therefore you cannot know what your biases are. Of course though, there's several ways to eliminate the relevant biases and be sure. Furthermore, if we were not subject to biases then we would not be able to appreciate music in the first place!

2. Chord for example has been found legally guilty of false/misleading marketing but of course they don't advertise the fact. If you wish to ignore the facts, that's entirely up to you.

3. And what exactly does the m-scalar do? It solves (improves) the problem of upsampling and filtering, which has already been solved years ago to a level well beyond audibility and at a fraction of the cost.
3a. If an individual buyer wants to spend $3,500 for an improvement in technical specifications which is inaudible, that's of course entirely up to them and I've got no problem with that at all. The only time I would have a problem is if they try to assert that it is audible.

4. But that's exactly the point, I am NOT setting "my own perceptions or beliefs" against anyone, I haven't even mentioned my perceptions or beliefs, all I've mentioned is the basic fundamental facts and of course, I'm "not willing to consider alternative viewpoints" to the proven/demonstrated facts, at least not without a great deal of highly reliable evidence, of which there's none! Therefore:
4a. The reason my mind is made-up is decades of professional experience and formal and informal study of the relevant facts/science. So, if you do wish "to respond to my post and change my mind" do you have a great deal of highly reliable evidence, or in fact any at all?

[5] Maybe though, just maybe, there are reasonable people who have different opinions and experience than you do?
[6] Enjoying music is an experience. And if we want to spend $200, or $500 or $2000 on a DAC and we enjoy the music more that way (even if it is just a placebo or expectation bias) the bottom line is we ENJOY the music more that way
[7] So how about we share what we know, what we perceive and what we experience without prosletyzing or name calling or trying to 'get people on our side'?
[8] Respecting that others may see and experience things differently than we do.
[9] My wife loves music (and is a musician) but doesn't really care about 'accurate' sound and is happy listening to an Amazon echo. Should I tell her she is wrong to enjoy that and bring out charts and graphs to show her how what she is listening to doesn't have the right frequency response?
5. "Reasonable people" who are not in possession of the actual facts can of course form unreasonable opinions and, it's almost inevitable that they will if the only information they encounter is specifically designed to make unreasonable opinions appear reasonable/believable! Furthermore, people who deliberately dismiss and contradict the proven/demonstrated facts, without any reliable supporting evidence, are obviously not "reasonable" to start with!

6. Again, I've got absolutely no problem with that at all! .... Unless of course, those placebo effects/biases are FALSELY presented as an actual audible difference in the reproduced audio/sound itself.

7. Indeed, how about we actually do that! IE. Present "what we perceive and experience" as personal perceptions/experiences rather than as actual audible sound differences and preferably, as you suggest, without name calling. For example, if I perceived and/or experienced an occasion when 1 + 1 = 3, that's my personal perception/experience which is fine but it wouldn't be fine to publicly state and try to convince others that 1 + 1 really does equal 3. And of course, I hope it would be futile anyway, because I would hope everyone here would accept the basic proven/demonstrated scientific fact that 1 + 1 = 2 and dismiss a perception/experience to the contrary as a misinterpretation or perceptual error.

8. Indeed, that has effectively been my profession for my entire adult life!

9. Obviously not! .... Unless of course she insists and (inadvertently) misleads others by posting on a public forum that the less accurate sound she prefers is actually more accurate (higher fidelity) or that there's an audible difference between the Echo and a near identical device whose differences are inaudible.

I'm shocked but not entirely surprised that all the above apparently isn't self-evident!

When it comes to reproduction, what I am looking for is matching the sound and experience of live, non amplified music as a reference, but most of us don't hear much music that way.
Unfortunately, that's a fundamental myth of the audiophile world. Recordings are deliberately made NOT to "match the sound" of live music, even acoustic music recordings. So, how is a reproduction system going to reproduce a "matching sound" that the recording itself does not contain? For example, even acoustic classical music recordings are recorded with multiple mics in various different positions. Orchestral recordings typically use 20 - 50 mics which are then mixed together, so unless you know of anyone with 20+ ears spread tens of meters apart, the sound cannot match! And of course, with the vast majority of commercial music recordings there is no "live" sound to match, they're constructed from numerous takes of individual elements/instruments that occurred at different times.

[1] As far as I know the first dac was invented in the 1960s and as such I would consider the study of it to be young, but I guess some might consider that completely and exhaustively researched.
[2] It is funny you mention telecommunications and TV because I have to ask a question, would you take a TV with a sound system from 50 years ago versus one of today?
[3] Seems to me the stuff out today continues to improve in quality and in providing a more enjoyable experience.
[3a] Are the products that we have today as good as they are ever going to get? I rather doubt it.
[4] It sounds like you are suggesting we should just fire all the researchers working in these fields because they are being paid to retread ground eternally as there is nothing more to be understood.
[4a] I always find it odd that people who claim to be data driven don't want more data gathered.
[5] For example the effects of ultrasonics and infrasonics. There have been tons of people saying that humans are not effected by sounds they cant "hear" and that was the conventional wisdom for a long time. Yet in 2018 a study found that people were indeed effected by tones they couldn't hear. If we just declared it solved, we might not have found that.
1. The theory of digital audio was first published nearly a century ago (1927), proven mathematically over 70 years ago and studied extensively. The first DACs were developed in the 1940s/50s and digital audio was first publicly deployed in 1962 (by AT&T). The first digital audio recorders were developed in the early 1960's. It's up to you if you wish to consider 70 year old technology as "young" but of course it's not just the age of the technology but how much research has been done in those 70 years, which is an absolutely massive amount!

2. That's obviously an irrelevant question, as I'm not asserting there haven't been any digital audio advances in the last 50 years! There were huge advances in digital audio recording and reproduction during the 1970's and early/mid 1980's, then relatively small advances throughout the mid late 1980's and 1990's but after that, the advances have been in functionality and advances in technical specifications that are inaudible (for marketing purposes).

3. Depends on what you mean by "quality" and what provides "a more enjoyable experience"? Is a $20 DAC in say a $1,000 hand crafted magnesium case and another say $1,000 for brand name higher "quality" and "more enjoyable" than a $20 DAC in a $20 case and a retail price of $80? For some I'm sure it is but as far as the actual audio output is concerned, obviously not.
3a. As far as simple 2 channel stereo digital audio is concerned, we're already well past the point of audible improvements, though not in multi-channel/surround sound or in functionality. To directly answer your question though, I rather doubt it too. Products will continue to improve their already inaudible specifications until even audiophiles can no longer be convinced it makes any audible difference. What else can audiophile manufacturers do, if they want to stay in business? No doubt we'll eventually see audiophile consumer products with 64bit, then 128bit and Megahertz or hundreds of Megahertz sampling rates, oh dear!

4. Fire all what researchers in this field?
4a. What more data to be gathered? When we've already got loads of data and when subsequent data, without exception, just confirms the data we already have, what's the point of gathering even more?

5. We might not have found what? We've known for many decades that sounds below 20Hz of sufficient amplitude can be felt and I presume the 2018 study you're referring to is about bone conduction, which of course doesn't affect music listening unless there are any audiophiles out there who bolt super-tweeters to their skull! :)

I may be getting a little far afield here, but there is good research that suggests, like you say, that inaudible frequencies that are not consciously detectible can impact our perception of sound quality... And that our assumptions about time value impact on perception is more complex than assumed by compression and decoding algorithms...
[1] Research showing brain response and increased pleasure when music contains ultrasonic frequencies:
https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jn.2000.83.6.3548
[2] Research showing time elements in music are more discernable than previously thought:
https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.044301
1. Unfortunately, you seem to have contradicted yourself! The infamous Oohashi paper you've cited is the exact opposite of "good research", it was debunked years ago and I believe eventually withdrawn by Oohashi himself.

2. Again unfortunately, you seem to have misinterpreted/misunderstood the paper. It does NOT show that time elements in music are more discernable than previously thought! The paper measured a particular time element and the lowest discernable any subject achieved was 3 milli-secs. In digital audio there are of course other time elements, jitter being the most widely cited. This paper published by the BBC R&D department demonstrated this "time element" was discernable down to 150 nano-secs with music, that's 2,000,000 times less than 3ms and was it published in 1974, nearly 40 years before the paper you cited. Furthermore, the paper's conclusion that 35ns would be the practical limit has never been contradicted, despite numerous scientific studies/tests since. 3ms is trivially easy to discern with various other "time elements", phase for example. In fact audio effects going back to the late 1960's specifically employed "time elements" of just a few milli-secs.

G
 
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When it comes to sound, there's basically only two major outcomes:

1) You can either hear the difference between gear or you can't.

2) If you can hear the difference, you either like the difference or you don't.

There's no need to make it any more complicated than that. And let's not lose sight that the Modius gives you SE and balanced connections for $200. It's a tremendous value. I have one coming soon, whenever the delivery truck wants to start moving again. I regret going with ground service over 2-day air.
 
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Unfortunately, that's a fundamental myth of the audiophile world. Recordings are deliberately made NOT to "match the sound" of live music, even acoustic music recordings. So, how is a reproduction system going to reproduce a "matching sound" that the recording itself does not contain? For example, even acoustic classical music recordings are recorded with multiple mics in various different positions. Orchestral recordings typically use 20 - 50 mics which are then mixed together, so unless you know of anyone with 20+ ears spread tens of meters apart, the sound cannot match! And of course, with the vast majority of commercial music recordings there is no "live" sound to match, they're constructed from numerous takes of individual elements/instruments that occurred at different times.
You need to search harder. Some very good natural sounding recordings are available in all genres. Labels like Chesky Records, Water Lily Acoustics, and Mapleshade all pride themselves on the quality of their recordings. Engineers David Chesky, Kavi Alexander, and Pierre Sprey, respectively, are all very particular concerning the sound quality of their releases. They've told me often enough too!

Also, a good source of natural sounding classical music, is Nimbus Records. The majority of their releases use a very minimal miking technique, for their Ambisonic recordings.

Ambisonics

In my 16 years of working at Nimbus, all of the Nimbus recordings I heard, were fantastic. Well worth searching for the CD's.
 
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The forum police have been called so I am going to move back to the modius discussion as that was what the thread was for, sorry to have derailed it! I will leave the study Here (not bone conduction:))

On the subject of Modius and science though Modius is ideal for blind testing, one of the best ever released imo because of its separate output stages. Would be very interesting to see if people could tell a difference between the XLR and rca outputs because the only thing that changes is the output stage. A lot to be learned there.

Hook one up to a THX 789, use a preamp to drop the XLR to 2vrms and see if people can tell a difference. Make for a awesome thunderdome! Hope one gets set up after the covid plague has left us.

I am also quite interested to see what companion amp Jason comes up with as there is almost certainly going to be one. A amp that also uses different stages for balanced and XLR would be quite interesting, you could possibly have two different sound signatures out of one combo which would be very unique!
 
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I am also quite interested to see what companion amp Jason comes up with as there is almost certainly going to be one. A amp that also uses different stages for balanced and XLR would be quite interesting, you could possibly have two different sound signatures out of one combo which would be very unique!
If one ever does come out, my money is on a fully-balanced Magnius Heresy. :smiling_imp:

Now that would be interesting! :L3000:
 
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The liquid platinum SE and xlr are doing essentially the same voltage from the phase splitter. So xlr and SE are both balanced and 4v.
Strangely I haven't used the SE on the LP with modius but did check it out on the Asgard 3 briefly. Soon I will do a show down on the liquid platinum with both output stages. I really like what I hear balanced however. As much as I love the modi multibit the sheer resolution increase and clarity is pretty awesome. Lower noise floor is apparent also. More to come on the differences, I do love the good old mimby though.

From about 30 minutes SE on the Asgard 3 it seemed more warm less attack than the XLR right away. I really need to check it out on LP though to really see. Noise floor lower on Asgard 3 also !
 
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You need to search harder. Some very good natural sounding recordings are available in all genres. Labels like Chesky Records, Water Lily Acoustics, and Mapleshade all pride themselves on the quality of their recordings. Engineers David Chesky, Kavi Alexander, and Pierre Sprey, respectively, are all very particular concerning the sound quality of their releases. They've told me often enough too!

Also, a good source of natural sounding classical music, is Nimbus Records. The majority of their releases use a very minimal miking technique, for their Ambisonic recordings.

Ambisonics

In my 16 years of working at Nimbus, all of the Nimbus recordings I heard, were fantastic. Well worth searching for the CD's.
I happened to land on https://www.audiophilereferencereco...-editors-pick-the-best-of-chesky-records.html. Interesting write-up. Easy to duplicate playlist on streaming. Love "52nd Street".

Thanks for the other suggestions. I'll search out recordings.
 
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