Hacking Schiit

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Marvey, Jul 22, 2021.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Disclaimer: Hack your Schiit at your own risk. You have been warned. Schiit will know if you melt shit and return in for warranty service. They are not dumb. These is also a good chance that I will get to see what you did if you sent it back.


    At the risk of sounding like a big jerk (because this is not so easily done by most people), replace the output opamp at U10 with an OPA1656, which I found perfect for the job, or at least what I was looking for. We will lose some warmth, the Modi 3+ will shift more toward neutral (still slightly warm), and the AKM4409 Velvet sound (mushy, fuzzy, wet noodle attacks, etc.) will be minimized to a significant extent. I'm not going to be like Dannie Richie and crap on Schiit's engineers as I think Schiit did an absolutely killer job here for $99. This will be a different sound than what the Schiit digital guys intended, so take it at that. The measurements, or 1kHz SINAD, will be more or less the same. I haven't further explored past that one measurement.

    PXL_20210723_005805096.jpg

    For what it's worth, I will be willing to do this for the first ten SBAF members for a small fee, say shipping, the cost of the part, and a $30 donation.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 13
    • Epic Epic x 3
    • List
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
  2. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    282
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    USA
    Anything to gain on a modi mb opamp swap? I have 2 and could compare.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
  3. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Friend JK47
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    6,563
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    gone
    predicting a undercutting price war since @Hands willingly shoves op amps in DACs and amps for free and fun.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  4. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I challenge @Hands to an SMD soldering contest!
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  5. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,892
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Oh god, please no. Unless it’s to see who can break the most stuff in the process. Something always goes wrong when I work on stuff. Otherwise, I forfeit in advance.

    The OPA1656 and 2156 sound great in the Modi/Bifrost 1 MB I/V stage, by the way. I think the stock opamp held them back a fair degree.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
  6. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Exactly what I was thinking for those who found the MM too organic.
     
  7. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    282
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    USA
    I’ll order a hot air soldering station and give it a go.
     
  8. Martigane

    Martigane Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2019
    Likes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    Belgium
  9. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,892
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Well, in some ways, the 1656/2156 remove the grain and haze compared to the default IV opamp. In that regard, it could sound more organic. Makes them sound a bit more robust, lively, and clear too. I could see how the latter aspects I mentioned could be heard as less organic.

    For SOIC 8, you really only need some Chip Quik to remove the existing opamp, and some good tweezers to hold down the new one. Line it up, get a little solder on your iron tip, use that to solder one corner of the opamp, check that placement is still good, solder up the opposite side (all pins), and then get the remaining.

    Be very gentle when feeding in solder. You can usually do a really light touch and use any leftover solder on the iron tip to mostly get all the pins on one side.

    Having a small amount of flux on the board can help everything solder neatly and keep the chip in place. But sometimes its stickiness makes it harder to cleanly line up the chip.

    You can also try adding a tiny amount of solder to the board points, placing the part, and heating up the pins. You’re less likely to get the part to sit as flat and even as you might like (mostly a visual thing, if you’re picky), and sometimes subtle variations in solder amount on each board point makes it tricky to line up the part.

    Don’t forget to clean with rubbing alcohol and a soft toothbrush or q-tip after you’ve removed components or otherwise have flux and other crap on your board. And use a bit of solder wick on the board soldering points to further clean them up. :)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 5
    • List
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Likes Received:
    7,969
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Pasig, Philippines
    DAMMIT I ALREADY HAVE A MODI 3+ EN ROUTE. Wish I came across this much sooner haha.

    Aaaaaand now I'm wondering if the guy I sold the Bifrost MB to is willing to sell it back.

    How sensitive would working on the boards on here be compared to, say, the stuff you'd get for a CMOY DIY kit? Haven't played with a soldering iron in a very long time but I'm coming to appreciate that electronic components aren't quite as fragile as I used to think they were.

    As far as deftness of hands go I sometimes crack fountain pen nibs but I'm not a complete klutz... I think. What should one look for in a decent soldering iron for this scenario? Might try playing with some dead electronics here for fun.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  11. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    7,902
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Newhall, CA and Corpus Christi, TX
    Home Page:
    OPA1656 is not a panacea. It is different. You may like it. Many others may not.

    That said, have fun modding. That particular part won't get you in trouble, it'll work fine in those applications. Other parts...hmm, your bag, you tell me.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 8
    • List
  12. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    Likes Received:
    951
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Is it worth replacing the Modi 2U with a 3+, or with a 3+ that has the OPA1656 mod?
     
  13. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    282
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    USA
    Knowing about this could have saved my Mac Book Pro!!! Awesome stuff. Thank you!
     
  14. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,892
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    I clarified a couple points and added some other tips to my post just now, in case you or anyone else might find something useful in there.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  15. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Different sound. The sound of the D-A chip dominates, the rest is flourish.

    Just replaced the x2 AD8512 with x2 OPA1656 about an hour ago. Yeah, this is really nice without changing the tonal character of the DA - a bit clearer, better textures, more expansive staging and better layering. This was a great idea. Breathes new life into an old old DAC. LOL, I've been with Modi 3+ for so long at the computer. This is so much better than delta-sigma.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 6
    • List
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2021
  16. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,664
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I'll take the shittier measuring DAC any day. Screw SINAD. When the Modi MB comes back into stock, chuck your Modi 3s and get the MB instead. Again, screw SINAD. Seriously, fuck those Audio Science Turds.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 10
    • Epic Epic x 5
    • List
  17. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,892
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Nice, glad you like it! I was really strapped for cash for a while after we had our kid, so I entertained myself by buying a bunch of inexpensive opamps to try in place of the AD8512. I like to mod when I can't afford to try other stuff outright. (Side story coming up.)

    If you're thinking I'm crazy...you're not wrong. SMD opamp rolling is for crazy people.

    But it's how I learned SMD soldering, as well as quite a bit about audio circuits in general. For example, I didn't buy a bunch of opamps blindly, but took the time to learn about which ones should work well based on technical characteristics and specs. Some of the best on paper sounded not-so-great in practice!

    I'd learn one thing, branch out from there, learn something else, and so on. Eventually lead me down a path to where I felt comfortable building my own DAC. It's mostly pre-made boards/kits I had to put together, but still, big step to take. It's a weird AD1862 DAC using a Magni 3+ as the I/V and output stage.


    Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised how much of a difference the I/V opamp made on the Modi/Bifrost 1 MB, and even more so that I settled on the 1656/2156 opamps. Dirt cheap and sounded pretty darn good.

    For what it's worth, both my Modi and Bifrost MB showed improved THD+N measurements with the 1656/2156. That was also surprising. Nothing earth shattering, though, nor is it really a point of concern as you mentioned.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 6
    • List
  18. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,113
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Home Page:
    The Geshelli Enog used the OPA1642 and the Jnog used the OPA1656 (at least V1 before the switch to ESS), and I believe it it is what contributed to it's clearer and less mushy sound for a 4490 DAC.

    The Modi MB and BF 1MB both used the AD8512. It does make me wonder how that would change the sound some. I have always been a fan of AD827 for I/V and AD797 as buffer. Although there are some newer ones that might have higher slew rates.
     
  19. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    282
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    USA
    My ChipQuick order has arrived, but somehow, my Digikey opamp order for the opa1656 is held up. Mouser has no stock of the OPA1656. Was considering substituting an OPA1612 or LME49720MAX. Any thoughts on those?
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  20. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,892
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Order direct from TI if you can.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List

Share This Page