Pros: Both set-ups feature a great price/performance ratio; Small desktop footprint. Cons: Modi 2 Uber button feels loose. Tonal Balance: Magni 2 Uber/Modi 2 Uber - Slightly bright with mild grain; Vali 2/Modi 2 Uber - Warm leaning, refined sound, a bit gooey/slow sounding. Cost at Time of Review: Modi 2 Uber $150, Magni 2 Uber $150, Vali $169 Reviewing Process The Magni 2 Uber and Modi 2 Uber will hereby be referred to as the SS, or the Schiit Stack, unless referring to a unit separately, the Vali 2 will simply be referred to as such and will be connected to the Modi 2 Uber. These products have been primarily used with an Audio Technica R70x, Sennheiser HD600, and Audio Technica Ad2000. I feel that I have spent enough time with the SS/Vali 2 to feel comfortable sharing my opinion, but my experiences may differ from yours. It’s always best to demo a audio gear before purchasing, but if you’re unable to I recommend at least reading other views in conjunction with this review. Thanks to Schiit for the review samples. Build & Features Build The Magni and Modi are housed within sleek brushed metal casings that take up minimal desktop space while enhancing the view thanks to a minimalistic design. Compared to the HPA-3U the SS is almost twice as high, but half as long and just as wide, and looks much nicer in comparison to the pro-audio esque design of the HPA-3U. The jacks on both units feel sturdy, front and back. The power and gain switches of the Magni click satisfying without feeling loose, while the potentiometer turns smoothly with mild resistance. The Vali 2 feels the same in build as the Magni 2 Uber, though with a tube protruding. The Modi’s power switch functions with the same standard of quality as found on the Magni, but the button gives some cause for concern. The button functions perfectly when pressed to cycle through inputs, but it rattles when the Modi is handled. I contacted Schiit about this and they said that this happens sometimes during shipping. It makes me wonder why they haven’t changed their packaging procedures if this is a common problem. The unit functions with no issues, but this is an easily fixed common issue. Features For a $300 set, the Magni 2 Uber is capable of putting out a great amount of power, ranging from 2.1W into 16ohms to 160mW into a 600ohm load while having 2 gain positions. With this amount of power the Magni 2 Uber should provide enough power to sufficiently power most headphones on the market. The Magni also features RCA in as well as RCA out to use the Magni 2 Uber as a pre-amp. The Vali 2 offers an affordable and quality hybrid tube amp with enough power for most headphones you’re going to throw at it. The tube is removable, unlike with the original Vali, which allows for tube rolling. The Modi 2 Uber is capable of connecting via toslink, coaxial, and USB to allow for a variety of connectivity options that are easy to cycle through. The Modi 2 Uber also comes with RCA out for an easy connection to many high-end amplifiers. Power Output & Impedance Schiit Magni 2 Uber The Magni 2 Uber is rated at a maximum output of 2,100mW at 16 ohms, with 160mW at 600 ohms while having a very low output impedance of less than 0.2 ohms. On paper the Magni 2 Uber looks powerful enough to drive almost anything on the market to high volumes - with only some caveats. The Magni 2 cleanly powers the low impedance/high sensitivity RHA S500i with no issues, and no discernible noise floor until on high gain at levels that would likely cause damage to my ears or the drivers. The Ad2000 is easily powered on low gain with high gain not necessary at all. The HD600 will likely be kept on low-gain for many listeners, though high-gain is where I feel more comfortable keeping it in order to account for high dynamic range recordings. The Magni is capable of powering the power hungry Omni with some headroom even on the highest DR recordings when set to high-gain. Schiit Vali 2 The Vali 2 is rated at a maximum of 1,300mW at 16 ohms to 140mW at 600 ohms with a variable output impedance of 1.2 ohms in low gain, 5.8 ohms in high gain. The Vali 2 outputs a solid amount power, though paling in comparison to the Magni 2 Uber when looking at lower impedances. High gain also adds quite a bit of output impedance potentially causing poor damping between low impedance low sensitivity dynamic driver headphones. The Vali 2 cleanly powers the low impedance high sensitivity RHA S500i with no issues, no noise floor either until high gain, which is unnecessary for these anyway. The Vali 2 has absolutely no issues powering the Audio Technica Ad2000 on low gain, high gain is not needed but the higher output impedance does seem to add a slight thickness in the lows. The Sennheiser HD600 max out the potentiometer on low-gain with some recordings, though even on modern stuff it doesn’t have enough headroom for my liking. High gain gets the HD600 where it needs to be with every recording that I have and the pairing sounds rather nice actually. Lastly I find myself high-gain with the power hungry Omni, wishing for a bit more power for some high DR recordings. Sound Quality Review Schiit Magni 2 Uber I’m not going to wax poetically about the sound quality of the SS, as my father always said, “keep it simple, stupid,” so here’s me keeping it simple. The SS provides a clean output with lots of power and a low noise floor, sounding clean even IEMs such as the RHA T20. The tone is slightly bright with a hint of grain when compared to the HPA-3U, but just barely so. Dynamics and soundstage offer no noticed increase or decrease when compared to the HPA-3U, simply a clean and unobtrusive sound from the computer to the headphones. The Magni 2 Uber serves as a powerful and relatively clean/neutral solid state amp that hasn’t sounded offensive to any headphone I’ve plugged into it. It gets my firm recommendation as my favorite entry level Schiit Vali 2 Compared to the HPA-3U the Vali 2 gives an impression of warmth and refinement - rather smooth sounding. I understand a bit when people mention tube amps can make the sound “gooey” now, though the effect is mild with the Vali 2. Weird thing is that when I’m listening to it for the first time in a listening session - after thoroughly warmed up - I can’t help but feel the tempo sounds a touch slower than it should be. Due to this I don’t find it to be a good pairing with warm leaning headphones. Mild warmth and a smooth sound signature is what I hear, and I’m greatly enjoying what I’m hearing with the HD600 as well as with the MeeAudio Pinnacle IEM. Conclusion Should you buy a SS? If you’re looking for your first amplifier and DAC set-up then I give this an enthusiastic yes! The SS provides a lot of power and does so without significantly coloring the sound - making it an excellent set-up as you work towards finding your end-game headphones. I haven’t used a headphone with the SS that didn’t sound great when plugged into it. It gets my firm recommendation as my favorite budget entry level solid state amp. How about the Vali 2? Well this is a bit more complicated. I wouldn’t recommend this as your sole amplifier, solely because the warmth might alter the sound against your liking. Additionally the 5.8 ohms output impedance in high-gain might also have an effect on low impedance headphones. I’ve found that fast and brighter headphones do well with the Vali 2, though bass heavy headphones sounded sluggish and overly warm to my ears. This would make an excellent companion to the Magni 2 as an entry-level amplifier though, if you’re interested in trying a tube amplifier. To uber or not? The Magni 2 Uber offers more power and an additional output to use the unit as a pre-amp. If more power or additional usage piques your interest then I feel it’s a worthy upgrade. The Modi 2 Uber offers toslink and coaxial inputs that the standard version does not, thus if those are important to you than the Uber version is a worthy upgrade.