Schiit Magni Unity Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Nov 23, 2023.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    I had planned on getting to this later, after everybody else had theirs (like what I did with the Mjolnir 3 where I was later adopter), but I changed by mind. What the heck? Besides I know lots of you readers want to know. Quite a few have already asked me.

    IMG_1513.jpg
    Left to Right: Piety, +, Unity, Modi Multibit 2, Loki, Syn

    I don't read Jason's column regularly. I catch up to it after the fact, maybe months later. I would assume that the Magni Unity is an endeavor from Schiit to unify its Heretic and Magni+ lines, the Heretic made for people who like listening to measurements, the Magni+ for people who like listening to music. The irony is that the Magni+ already measures damn good with respect to measurements, well over 100db "SINAD" (per Audio Science Review's definition of SINAD), but this isn't good enough for some people. Nevertheless, there are very audible differences between Magni+ and Heretic. Read here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...tic-vs-magni-with-statistical-analysis.13192/

    I can't find the post, but a while ago I pulled out an ancient Magni 2 Uber and was surprised how well it measured. I think it was 113db "SINAD". This amp came out when? 2015? That was eight years ago. I think it's funny how Audio Science Review a few years ago made it seem that Schiit only made gear that measured badly while the Magni 2 Uber was sitting in front of everybody's face the entire time.

    I don't think the better measuring Magni 2 Uber sounded better than the Magni 3+, but it at least demonstrated that Jason could design discrete that measured to APx555 measurbator standards. And by "discrete", I mean in a way that did not require discrete operational amplifiers with 135db of gain and 129db of global feedback with nested 135db of gain and 135db feedback loops. If there is a way to kill the sound of music, make music sound flat, it's to use nested feedback feedback designs, e.g. NCFA. I'd know because I implemented variations of this theme on breadboards as my main amps circa 2008 after the birth of my second child. Hey, I was poor back then. A few years later after I got my first real headamp, the Melos SHA-1, I just gave up designing with chips. But getting back to my original thought: it was only a matter or time until Jason designed an amp that both measured acceptably to dogmatic audio measurement extremists -and- sounded good (that is better than chips in nested feedback loops).

    I am curious how the Unity measures. Will it meet Heretic measurements or will it just fall just short? I don't think it really matters in late 2023. We are bumping into the limits of physics, 119.2 SINAD, 121.3 SINAD, 122.1 SINAD. It's just boring. Besides, how much more can we take of the same thing over and over, e.g. ESS D-A chip + OPA1612? And oh, BTW the Magni Unity sounds great, it's an incremental improvement over the Magni+

     
    • Like Like x 7
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2023
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    First of all the Magni Unity isn't a giant killer. It doesn't sound like pocket version of the epic gear like the Pioneer M-22. It doesn't sound like a pocket version of old an school kit receiver with vintage transformers. I doesn't part the clouds blah blah blah. It's still Magni league. Just as Piety is Magni league. It is an incremental improvement that deserves an extra +. So if Magni+ is +, and Piety is * (* because it's different with the + inherent), then Magni Unity is ++.

    The most notable change with the Unity from Magni+ is that the timbre is just slightly different or more evident. It's really hard for me to find the words at this time. I'm going through Sting's adult contemporary crap. The first thing that really sticks out is how the snare drums on the various tracks are more differentiated, e.g. how choked the metal wires are at the bottom of the drum, the material of the drum, the tuning of the upper and lower skins, etc. The more I listen and get accustomed to the Unity's presentation, this better revealing of timbre with other instruments, toms, kick drum, guitars, oboe, voice, etc. (My head/ears is probably fixed on drum sounds because I retuned my daughter's set just a day ago in anticipation of her coming back home for the holidays). The Magni+ in comparison, tends to homogenous timbre, even imparting a solid-state sheen. (I've always stated that the Magni+ was very much a classic solid-state sound, but a good one.)

    The second most notable change, and we are not necessarily talking extent, but rather what I'm noticing first, is better clarity and separation. I never felt Magni+ particularly had an issue here, but comparing them back to back, the Unity is a step up with less confused, less fuzzy, less mushed presentation, particularly in the lower mids. I am having trouble finding the words right. The lows are more articulate, maybe a nick less slammy as a result of this. To use Pokemon analogies, less Snorlax.

    Third, the highs are nicer. Oh yeah. The highs are definitely nicer. Oily. It's still solid-state, but as if they are oiled rather than coarse, grainy, grinding.

    Finally, to sum things up, does it sound musical? Yeah, it actually does. I find the Unity intriguing. Intriguing in a way that I never found Magni+. I always had Magni+ around as a baseline, but in reality, I seldom used it. I mostly used Piety on my computer desk (well or variants of Piety for the past five years secretly). Just as intriguing as Piety, but complementary. Unity plays it straight. Piety interprets it.

    Now taking questions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2023
  3. ilikebananafudge_

    ilikebananafudge_ Friend

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2021
    Likes Received:
    1,173
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    What do you think of the built-in DAC?
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 1
    • List
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Great question. It's actually not bad. Not quite as good as external Modi+ I was hoping it would be better than external Modi+ since Schiit has never be afraid to cannibalize their own products - but alas this is not true. Using the Magni Unity with external Modi+ has more plankton, more expressive, is smoother, less grainy, less harsh, marginally warmer. Built in DAC could be marginally clearer, or maybe because there's a simplification thing going on.

    It's just hard because the built-in card isn't bad. It's more than "serviceable". Same with the Topping E50 DAC. It isn't bad. (Built-in card is still better than E50). It just gets tough when there is better. Downside of external Modi+ is more Schiit instead of one AIO box. Decisions decisions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2023
  5. MLegend

    MLegend Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    337
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Northwest Florida
    Just a couple of questions.
    How's the headstage?
    Just curious, Unity compared to Midgard XLR?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Using Modi+ as source, both amps high-gain (for more expansive stage), JAR600 headphones. XLR for Midgard (since SE is meh).
    • Unity headstage is super wide. Hole in the middle. For example on Stanley Black's Film Spectacular, horns are way off left and strings way right. Not much depth with the sections in the orchestra. Violins in front, violas behind, harp to the side and upfront, etc.
    • Midgard XLR. Opening with horns and left followed with strings on right feels a bit better because of some left. The width isn't quite as extreme. Less a hole in the middle. Can hear the rows of different horns. Some of the percussion that is supposed to be in the back. Actually get some sense of depth.
    FWIW, headstage sucks balls compared to soundstage, only crossfeed can fix headstage problems, but it comes with issues. Some of my observations may be totally bullshit because it's headphones and I haven't listened to this track on speakers in a while. Bottom line:
    • Unity - Very wide, not much depth
    • Midgard (XLR out) - Decently wide, not not excessive wide, surprisingly good depth, feels good
    Qualification: Here's much worse than Unity - x1 gain 120db feedback kind of amps.

    Pictures or it didn't happen
    IMG_1514.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2023
  7. Degru

    Degru Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2017
    Likes Received:
    140
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Seems quite tempting for my work setup (currently running Motu M4 + Heretic), but I'd rather get another Rekkr and a banana to quarter inch adapter :)

    Although, I've also never owned a discrete Magni before, only heard briefly a long time ago. Curiosity might get the better of me.
     
  8. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,758
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Arizona
    I didn't really analyze the Unity at the AZ meet, but I did make a note in a profile post that I thought it would be a good stop gap for entry into this hobby. Most everything can be handled with a simple USB C connection and plenty of gain options.

    The fact the Midgard is a comparison tool is an impressive feat. I thought the Midgard was pretty great. A larger option than the Unity.
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    It's a good enough for an AIO. The fact is, there aren't AIOs (DAC/amp combos) out there that sound good, much less being under $200. Magni Unity with the Unison DAC actually sounds good. And it's convenient too. I'll check with my son if he prefers the Unity+DAC to the Magni 3+/MMB1 stack. I am thinking this single box would be better for his FPS gaming needs.

    With respect to using an external DAC comparing to Midgard:
    • Magni Unity SE > Midgard SE output
    • Magni Unity SE ~= Midgard XLR output*
    *The sound quality is roughly the same, but the presentation is different. I actually prefer the Unity Magni SE output a little bit more than the Midgard XLR. The Unity is a little bit more colored, has more personality, brings out overtones and timbre more. The Midgard XLR is more "accurate" with better control and focus, and marginally gentler highs. I can easily see others having the opposite preference.

    I'll get to measurements (distortion surface) after the weekend is over. Letting my son use it for now. Also, I want to get to other toys, write a little bit about them, before the US Holiday weekend is over.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2023
  10. Type35

    Type35 New

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2015
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Is timbre more correct on Unity or Piety?
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    That's hard to say. It's more a matter of what sounds best to in your current frame of mind. As I mentioned, I was tuning the drums, tightening up the skins just a day before, so how the Magni Unity really made those drum sounds on Sting's Best of Album so easily discernable was a delight. On the other hand, Midgard is my preferred choice for remastering, listening for the most minor of clipping, sound editing, EQ, etc. Piety is probably the most incorrect because of the bloom (incisive transients in highs mellowed with MMB1), but many times it's my preferred listen because it sounds good?

    Sorry for the lack of certainty. This is one of those things which is really hard to define. One of my co-workers is a believer that solid-state+digital are the most accurate and tubes+vinyl are an interpretation, a painting.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
  13. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,962
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Oily is one of the terms we use here that I've struggled with a bit. You or someone assigned it to the DarkVoice I had. Because we talk about liquid highs. Starlett is considered liquid.

    So what characteristics differentiate oily from liquid? They are from the same family of wet sounding but they're not the same.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    LOL, the hell do I know? This is the the great flaw of using words, metaphors, analogies, etc. The best way is maybe to one day hear it yourself and compare the treble qualities to the other amps I've recently reviewed. On the the other hand, what exactly does 121.2db SINAD mean? It probably tells us even less.

    I used oiled because the essence of the Magni Unity is still Magni. It's a Magni class product, Magni++, an incremental improvement to Magni+. To distinguish it from Pietus Maximus, Mjolnir 3, Starlett class, which are significant improvements where the treble quality is inherently smoother and don't need to be oiled. The other reason may be that he Magni Unity has a fuller bodied sound overall that the words thick or phat don't accurately describe.
     
  15. joch

    joch Friend

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,608
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    the other side of the big ocean
    Ahhh like lubricated vs unctuous (good vs yuck). Would the highs be “damped” in that sense that over longer listening sessions might be (lacking a better word) boring?
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    If anything, the Mjolnir 3 highs can be said to be damped. Not so for the Magnis.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 1
    • List
  17. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,962
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Damnit man, courage! Liquid courage....

    Liquid is usually spoken of regarding decay, so is oily a type of longer than average decay which borders on smear?
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,837
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Smear is warmpoo or murky or smeared. I dislike smear. Liquid is like the sound of records spinning. Or good CD transports.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agreed, ditto, +1 Agreed, ditto, +1 x 1
    • List
  19. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,962
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I really feel Munchausen's trilemma stronger on some days more than others.

    Changing subject, is this the first Magni in a moment to have a real brushed steel case? Shiny
     
  20. CaptainIce

    CaptainIce New

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2023
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Texas
    Im stuck between the Magni Unity w/ Modi+, and the Magni with the internal DAC. The price difference for me is $110 more for the stack (because of the RCA cable and shipping additions). Is the difference worth that extra $110 for an intermediate audiophile? I'll be using the DT 1990 Pro.
     

Share This Page