Schiit Magnius Headphone Amp

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Opamp swap first, because it's easy (if you know how to solder SOIC8 opamps, at least). Minimal to no change.

    PSU itself...eh, maybe a little change? I did that next. I decided to roll with it more "just because I can" than because it changed the sound much.

    Going with datasheet-specified series resistors on the outputs was a big, big difference. That came last. Maybe I fucked something up, or maybe it measures like ass now. I dunno. I at least enjoy listening to it now.

    Given that, I don't know how the PSU and output change sound in isolation. But I'd wager similarly to what I found. Note that installing series resistors on the output requires cutting traces, so not for the faint of heart.
     
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  2. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I for one would love to see an FR now that the Zobel is replaced with series resistors on different ohm loads. Sounds interesting.

    BTW...an easier idea would be to bypass the Zobel network, and wire up a couple of connector/adapters with the resistors added inside. You can the make a few different ones...20 ohms, 75 ohms, etc. I purchased 1/8" couple of connectors like this awhile back as cheap IEM match to use sensitive modern IEM's with my radio Walkmans to lower the high end and overall volume.
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The datasheet is pretty clear about keeping paths as short as possible between the IC and resistors for feedback and output to better ensure stability. I considered the adapter idea otherwise. Maybe it would be more viable if used in addition to an existing 10 ohm output resistor?

    I think some headphone measurers do test how varying output impedances affect the frequency response of whatever they're measuring at the time. It's useful data, and perhaps an idea we could consider leveraging more in general at SBAF. Were my headphone measurement rig not broken, I'd have gathered data points along the way with this amp. I would have loved to find something to correlate what differences I'm hearing, assuming a high enough impedance headphone to not have enough of a frequency response change.


    Anyway, I'll reiterate that despite my interest in these topics and my goofball Magnius experiments, I still do not suggest or recommend anyone else attempt this. Certainly don't go buying a Magnius for stuff like this. I enjoy seeing weird, one-off stuff people try, enjoy doing weird shit myself, and thought others might get a good chuckle in the absurdity of it.
     
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  4. HotRatSalad

    HotRatSalad Friend

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    Have any of you guys used magnius as a simple passthrough ? I figure it measures so clean and quiet would it be effective to pass a couple dacs through it balanced and SE for other amps ?
     
  5. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    I don't own Magnius, but the general wisdom on the board is that if you want a preamp, you should buy a preamp. To put a finer point on it, I would say that it depends on the performance level that you're trying to reach. Using Magnius as a preamp for Modius in a desktop setup? Sure, why not. Using Magnius as a preamp for Gungnir Multibit in a main rig with a high-dollar downstream amp? I wouldn't do it personally. Preamps, even when operated as passthroughs, can and do affect the sound of your chain. For example, Freya S in passive mode has a markedly different character from X4 mode (Nexus). It's unfortunate that Freya S is discontinued because it's pretty fantastic from both a functionality and performance perspective. Jason has talked about reviving Freya S in a Saga form factor for ~$399, which sounds like a great solution for you, but there is no guarantee if/when such a product would come out. The good thing is that Magnius is cheap, so it wouldn't cost you much to try it out and see if it meets your needs. The world needs a good balanced preamp solution that comes in well under the $899 cost of Freya+.
     
  6. Joshvar

    Joshvar Facebook Friend

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    Still working on my Magnius review from the loaner tour (I wrote an annoying amount of notes) but the short version is that it was confusing for me (but mostly in a good way). It's definitely got a sound despite the measurements, the functionality/build quality at the price is over the top IMO, and it's given me a bit of a renewed interest in Schiit's amps after not really feeling the Jotunheim and Mjolnir 2.
     
  7. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    After the loner, my thoughts...here goes:

    Headphones:
    • HD650
    • LCD-2C
    • ModHouse Argon

    Sources:
    • Theta DS Pro Basic II
    • Modius

    First, I think it is great for Schiit to offer a matching fully balanced amp that fits a price point for the Modius. And I think just that...it fits a package style, function, and price point. I just always felt something was holding it back and not letting it run wild and free. However, considering this is kind of like a Neurochrome, however already built, tested, not extremely expensive, and ready to go.

    The things I do not like about the case/hardware is that there is not really an indication this thing is on. Yes, there are lights on the board on the inside you can see from the vents, but seriously that is difficult to see at times. The power switch is in the back of course, and more recessed than previous Schiit switches. The source switch was odd at first as the indicator did not make sense, but you quickly figure it out (default out is XLR input, btw). And lastly the volume knob is small, almost too small for the torque required for turning of the Alps RK27 pot. I like the knob turning friction as it reduces rapid volume accidents, I just would like a bit more leverage. I DO like the fact that it is defaut to the gain in the OUT position, which is high gain and you have to push the button IN for low gain.

    Another thing, and this is just FYI - the wall wart power supply is as big as the wall wart for the Vali 2, which is huge. However, the one for the Maginuis just has a single output at 15V AC at 1.5A.

    Moving on to sound. To me it sounds like a mid-centric amp. That was very apparent from the get go. Vocals are very present and in your face. It almost made me jump back in my chair and I had flashbacks of the THX 787. Meaning that the soundstage was flatter, not quite as dynamic. Everything sounded grey and flat. Then I realized I had been listening to the Monoprice Cavalli Liquid Platinum loaner all week and then just got the Moduis in….what a way to downshift.

    So all these comparisons with the Gilmore Lite mk2, and I know that sound because I have a Dynalo DIY clone that sounds exactly the same, probably much better since mine has a linear power supply. Although that amp was in pieces because I was moving the power supply and amp in separate cases, however, I finally got everything done and now time to test….

    The Magnius is NO Gilmore Lite mk2. To me anyhow. However, I can see why some may say that. It is probably close in timbre and power. The Maginus sounds kind of warm and not piercing, like the Dynalo, but where the Magnius fails is that the bottom end is not warm and rounded and lacks big impact, and overall it just sounds hazy. I feel like I am missing details and soundstage just just much flatter. The soundstage is not bad and actually close to the Gilmore, but going back to the Dynalo expands the highs and lows the audio spectrum - more top end and natural details (less hazy), more space between instruments, more quickness and snap. And of course there feels like a huge a drop in mids. Going back to the Magnius I am missing what Marv likes to call “microdynamics”, there is just not much is there in that department. I will say that at low volumes they are closer, however, once you get over “office working volume,” the differences are much more apparent. And to be fair in this review, all testes wer using the balanced input on the Maginus and the balanced headphone output vs. unbalanced everything on the Dynalo. Balanced should be better right - I guess not in all situations. Unbalanced input on the Magnius had a drop in sound (obviously).

    With the Modius as an input, I could definitely hear things get slightly better in the top end vs the silky smooth top end of the Theta. However, I still feel I am missing some low end slam. It does make the Magnius sound better overall though. Maybe because the Theta is not as revealing or as wide and as deep sounding DAC. The Modius/Maginus combination might even be more suitable tonality wise, but it still made more complicated passages much more congested, and switching the Magnius input back to the Theta opened up the width and depth, even though there was still that haze.

    What I found most confusing about it is that non-complicated passges sounded fine, and even better than the Vali 2 - wider, but not deeper. Then, as the music was louder, more dynamic, more complicated, the congestion started settling in and just felt it had some sort of loss and all the sudden the water around you is murky and grey.

    So the Magnius is not like Magni 3, which to me sounded like a Magni 2 on steroids. Just robust, dynamic, and in your face. It might have some glare and sound robotic and unnatural at times, but it still has a clarity and oomph to it. The Magnius has more of a laid back feel, another similarity to the Gilmore. With the right tube, I probably would prefer the sound of the Vali 2 or a Liquid Carbon. Although the Vali 2 and the LC are not perfect, both can still strike a pretty nice sound. The Vali 2it will not be as powerful or as big sounding as the Magnius; and compared to the Carbon, at least the LC would certainly be more dynamic and exciting. Each amp in this price category is going to have some trade-offs.

    So really not bad for a chip amp. I am mostly comparing to a class A discrete amp that cost more than twice as much that is unbalanced (do we really need balanced in ALL situations really?). I still find it just above or right at the “just good enough” mark. Although I prefer more lively and more excitement. Something feels so “Toyota Camry” about it. I think I can totally see this in a well suited in an all-in-one type solution box, such as a pro-audio interface .
     
  8. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    Thoughts from the loaner.

    Hardware:
    • The form factor sitting on my desk is great. I think the aspect ratio looks less "chunky" than the Jotunheim chassis.
    • This is the biggest wall wart I've ever seen. I ended up having to use an extender to connect it to a power strip. While not a deal breaker, it's inconvenient and ugly.
    • The volume knob really is a dream. I was ready to dislike it based on how unwieldy it looks, but it's got great hand feel. There's a lot of resistance to the knob, which makes it easy to dial in a volume.
    • I really enjoyed that high gain is lower than that on Jotunheim, giving me more useable volume knob.
    • Where's the super bright LED that I've come to expect from all Schiit products? May be a plus or a minus, depending on your opinion. I'd prefer an indication that the amp is on that doesn't require me to look through the grate for the board LED.

    Sound:
    Equipment used: Roon -> HifiBerry Digi+ -> Coax -> Gungnir MB A1 -> Freya S -> Magnius/Jotunheim. I find that I can't tell the difference between Freya S in passive mode and plugging into the DAC outputs directly, so Freya S was used to make comparisons easier. I used balanced inputs and outputs on everything, and listened with two headphones: HD 650 and a Pre-Fazor LCD-2.

    The good:
    • Clean and crisp sound.
    • Very good at conveying impact and attack. The strum of a steel string guitar, or the initial flare of a horn section. The opening Timpani on Also Sprach Zarathustra hits hard initially.
    • Instrument separation is excellent when listening to more full recordings (i.e. orchestral, string quartet, etc.).
    • There's a lot of "front-back" depth that Jotunheim can't provide.

    The bad:
    • Ran harsher than I'd prefer for prolonged listening.
    • Grain/edginess comes through on sustained high notes with certain recordings. This might be a "exposes recording quality" thing rather than introducing new grain, but it certainly spoiled some records I like.
    • Not a lot of stereo width-- everything felt very centered. More so than Jotunheim, even. I think I'd prefer width over the depth I mentioned in the "good" section.
    • Artificially high separation: with sparse recordings (i.e. vocalist + acoustic guitar) it can sound like the singer and the instrument are on different continents.

    The ugly:
    • Doesn't push enough power to satisfy LCD-2. Bass felt rolled off or flabby with the planar, while it met expectations on the 650. I don't know why this is the case as both amps give about 3 Watts @ 50 ohms (Magnius is actually a bit higher than Jotunheim).
    • Tonally very thin and dry, especially noticeable with female vocalists. This really prevented me from enjoying a lot of my favorite records. When I switched back to Jotunheim during Lena Hall's Radiohead covers, it felt a bit like the world snapped into color. After that, I couldn't stop hearing how thin Magnius was. I actually liked the sound when I switched Freya S into active mode. The 1x Nexus added a lot of the richness back, keeping the crispness.

    Bottom Line:
    Magnius is a good amp, but one that doesn't mesh well with my preferences or equipment. It may actually do better (for me) with a less resolving, darker DAC like Modi MB.

    I'm very glad to see a solid balanced amplifier at this price point, but it certainly doesn't render Jotunheim obsolete.
     
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  9. dncnexus

    dncnexus Friend

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    Finally have been able to put together a post about the Magnius loaner.

    Chain:
    iMac -> Modius BAL -> Magnius

    Hardware:
    Some initial thoughts on the build quality. I found the buttons on these to be far superior to the switches that are on the Asgard 3. I had to get a replacement Asgard3 due to the failure of the switch on the front for gain, so having the very satisfying buttons was a very happy moment. The volume pot was okay, I thought it did well, but I did not enjoy the size. I would have preferred something similar to the Asgard 3, but it was fine.

    Sound:
    I felt that the sound was very generic. It sounded like it was just playing the music, but it didn't do the music any favors. I found it to be very boring. The tonality on the amp was very dry and lacking life. I would listen to music and feel that it was just soulless.

    The staging on this amp was very limiting, even compared to the Asgard 3. There was less depth, with similar width. This was okay, but almost made my headphones feel like they were IEMs due to the lack of staging from the amp.

    The transients were sharp, but this lead to it feeling a bit artificial and would get harsh at points. I appreciated the "detail" that was associated with it, but it just felt inorganic. I also had the same experience as others that it would get harsh or too much over long periods of time so it was hard to listen for prolonged periods of time.

    I wish I could give more information about this loaner, but honestly I didn't listen to it too much. It was hard to consistently listen over a long period of time and not get bored or tired of listening to it. I don't think its horrible, and for some people they might like the presentation or the fact its a balanced amp for a low price of $200, but I enjoy a more "musical" presentation and this just left me wanting more. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the loaner program.
     
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  10. tommytakis

    tommytakis Gear Cycler SoCal Edition

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    First off, thank you SBAF for making the loaner tour happen for us, always grateful to be part of this community!

    Listening rig: Pi2AES > Sonic Frontiers SFD2 > DNA Starlett | Magnius | Elekit TU8800 > JAR650

    Most of my impressions kind of match with previous descriptions above so I'll keep mine brief.
    - love the all black aesthetic, especially now the black knob! I've always disliked Schiit's two tone black and silver look and preferred the all silver ones. I hope they keep the all black look!
    - ooohhh balanced~ ...who cares LOL
    - really really like the knob... It's not quite Starlett's TKD knob feel, but it's somewhat smooth with just amount of resistance for that "premium" feel.
    - macrodynamics and slam is actually not bad, pretty decent for the price.
    - clarity is not bad, but nothing class leading.
    - staging is a bit forward sounding, typical of most schiit stuff.
    - microdynamics was a big disappointment for me, it had zero engagement factor and didn't feel like listening to it after a couple songs. Music had no variation or nuance, boring and lifeless. I think I'd rather listen to magni 3+ to be honest despite having a more cramped stage, it was much more engaging to listen to. I didn't like the Asgard 3 that much because I found it too warm for my taste and I'd still take that over the magnius.

    Magnius was overall pretty meh sounding despite its sleek and preferred looks. I'm sure the objectivist folks had their fill with uber measuring amps from heresy and now magnius. Personally would rather listen to Magni 3+ and save up until a major upgrade
     
  11. StandUp713

    StandUp713 Acquaintance

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    My loaner review

    Chain: Windows 10PC, SPDIF, Schiit Gungnir balanced, Foacal Clear or Audeze 4z

    Fit, finish, form: I really like the size of the case, fit really well in my stack, and would work nicely at my home office desk. That volume knob is smooooth and the same color as the case. Wish my jot had that knob smoothness.

    I did not like the the Magnius with my Clears... for some reason there was a slight top rolled off and a grainy sound to it. I did not have the grain with my Audeze 4z, so I was a bit confused. I figured either it was a pairing thing, or I had something set up wrong.

    Using the Audeze, I did notice a little more roll off than when plugged into the Jot. The dynamics were a bit weird...found myself adjusting the volume often, threw me off a bit, but found a good setting. Nothing bad for this price of an amp.

    I still found enjoyment with the list of tunes I was using for this comparison. The sound stage was decent.. but nothing to call mom about.

    Although not a home run, I would suggest it as an entry level balanced amp, it does provide a lot of value. But if your not interested in the balanced aspect, I think the Schiit Asgard is a better option.

    I would like to thank the staff at Shiit, and SBAF for the loaner opportunity. I really enjoy demoing equipment in my current headphone chain.
     
  12. Degru

    Degru Facebook Friend

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    Bit of an odd question, but has anyone tried the SE pre outs extensively? I am thinking of getting a Magnius but I need a good pre solution to feed my Adcom GFA-545ii + SRD7 Stax setup. I have a Heresy, and the pre outs on it are *awful*. I had drastically better results just plugging into the quarter-inch on the front. I'd bet it's not as noticeable if you are running speakers out of it, but with something like Stax the difference is really night and day. This makes me hesitant to try my luck on the pre outs of other schiit products.
     
  13. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    As best as I can tell with photos, the Magni (3, 3+, Heresy) pre-outs are literally the same connection used for the HP out but with an output resistor. Probably to deal with capacitive loads, i.e. cables, impedance matching, or something like that. Plug headphones in, and the 1/4" jack's internal pins inherently disconnect from the side that feeds the pre-outs.

    If I had to guess, the Magnius is probably setup the same way.

    So, any differences you may or may not have heard would probably come down to:

    1. Output resistor on pre-outs.
    2. Pre-out signal travels through 1/4" jack, where pins can act as a switch depending on if a headphone is plugged in or not. One slight degree of separation and not a soldered connection when using pre-outs in back. (I highly doubt this would account for any drastic differences.)

    My guess is the only thing likely to make a difference here is the output resistor, and I believe that's pretty common practice for pre-outs like this. And since your power amp seems listed as having a 100K input impedance, you shouldn't really have any noticeable sound changes in that regard either.

    Are you sure the cables you're using with pre-outs aren't messed up or too long?
     
  14. Degru

    Degru Facebook Friend

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    I actually just tested again with three different cables, two of which are brand new monoprice RCAs. They're all very short 1.5-3ft so length isn't an issue. The pre out sounds consistently worse than using a monoprice 3.5 to RCA straight from the headphone output. There's a loss of detail and sharpness, sounds "dirty". Perhaps the path it's taking through the PCB is sub-par. So I guess with Magnius it might just be a crap-shoot.
     
  15. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    My loaner review:

    Went through a couple of iterations, basically trying to figure out how best to explain what Magnius means to me. The cut-to-the-chase answer is “no” - this is not going to work for me, but I’ll try to give you a little more reasoning to explain “why”.

    First perspective, is this worth the bump-up-in-price from $99 entry level Schiit products? Only problem to answer is I haven’t heard any of their products in a while. I have owned each generation of Magni and Modi, not the current Hersey or 3+ - I have owned each generation of Vali, also have not heard the current 2+. Things change rapidly at Schiit, so the truth is I do not know? I plan to circle back around to this question - Covid19, holiday crunch, etc. I should have had these about a week ago. Short answer is “yes” - Asgard 3 and Magnius are audibly better than what I recall of standard Magni, Modi, and Vali 2. These are cleaner, clearer, better for a long term session. The long answer is I will get back to this when delivery services catch up.

    Second perspective, and this one might sound crazy - the amplifier has to keep me away from Black Widow 2. My first BW2 had no issues, but my second used purchased has been more like a family pet. It’s been with me a while, yet I’m fearful it will go away, one day soon. Generally, if I can leave BW2 on for 24-hours, it will play for months straight with no issues. But it does not make for an ideal WFH setup of 2+ days per week, and it is frustrating as hell when I have to go back through an entire day to power cycle. BW2 is also a little big. Something Carbon-sized will work, and that is what I currently use. I think the Carbon will continue to work, and I’m happy with the sound (meaning, I can use it for a limited time when away from BW2). But I’m also leery. Do not turn it off. Do not change the gain. Do not switch the input. Do not touch the volume knob. And most importantly, do not use the single-ended output ever! Mine is a V1, but I have literally had a V2 (from a friend) disintegrate during use. And I know what not to do. With these caveats, the Carbon still has a little grain, and it is a weak amplifier - do try to play through a ZMF. I don’t own a ZMF currently (borrowed and owned in the past), but knowing from experience Carbon is weak, and waiting for it to die if mishandled, I tried the Magnius.

    Schiit does not make weak amplifiers. Schiit reliability is impeccable. Magnius will not have the issues above. However, it does not satisfy the 2nd perspective for listening engagement away from BW2. This is not a horrorshow remark and it places Magnius in company with many other amplifiers - some much more expensive:
    • HeadAmp GS-X mini
    • MassDrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (with or without LPS)
    • Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum
    • Pass Labs HPA-1
    • Rebel Audio RebelAmp
    • Schiit Valhalla 2
    • Schiit Lyr 3
    • SPL Phonitor E
    BW2 may be a little dark, but GS-X was definitely a little shrill. I wrote a review on the Platinum. HPA-1 is far too laid back. RebelAmp hits about 1-of-10 notes correctly (dynamics are strangely pulled back for the other 9 notes), and it does not control the bass well. Magnius does not have these issues. However, Magnius keeps the music in a cerebral space, never allowing my mind to suspend disbelief, to “pretend” as the music plays that it is real (or could have been real at a point in time - studio or stage). Magnius holds onto the need to enunciate each note, and never lets the music expand onto a believable space.

    The next day (Saturday), I sat down to read online - fired up the soundtrack from Interstellar as background music. And I was able to focus on what I read, and what I heard from the Magnius. I did not need to pause once, even for the scene Mountains. For this, on typically “good” setups, I need to hold on, close my eyes, and commit to the sound. This was just pleasant, composed, fully stated (instruments, front to back, side to side, were easily discernible), and did not require the same engagement commitment. The music eventually stopped, and I got up and went on with my day.

    Asgard3 is not a super-engaging amplifier. It is like a tube, or like Class A, with a welcoming, warming sound. But as I relistened to the same soundtrack, the Sunday after listening to Magnius, I had to pause in moments to absorb the music via Asgard3. It tries to persuade you into believing what the composer intends, and I had to pause all external activities to hear it. If you’ve read a little about the origins to the soundtrack and the film, you would know it was intended to be an exposition about the relationship between a father and his child, and how he must abandon his child, to do something of critical importance, without ever knowing if he will see his child again. You might also know that the music, unlike many movies, preceded or at least was developed along with the film. The original score notes were developed knowing only about the father/child relationship, and nothing about the film. In short, it is intended to convey emotion. In Mountains, though I had listened just the day before, I still had to stop, pause my breath, wait for the tingling sensation to drive down my spine via Asgard3. That I had no such sensation from Magnius is about as best I can explain the sonic delta. Every sound was present through both amplifiers - but the Magnius kept me focussed on the work, and the Asgard3 was a distraction.

    That’s about as best as I can say it. And to let you know this is not a crazy-person rant, below I have listed some amplifiers that I think did well in the audible competition (not looking at price, just sonic character):
    • Bryston BHA-1
    • Cavalli Liquid Carbon
    • ECP DSHA-1
    • Schiit Vali
    • SW51+
    TL;DR - my wish is something I can turn on/off, smallish, that is not likely to self-destruct, and lets me peer (just a little) into the music. I’d prefer it to feed from XLR (Modius currently connects my laptop, a network USB player, and an AES/EBU disc transport - Modius is small, convenient, sounds clean, and does not distract from work as much as Bifrost 2). Magnius/Modius was the best setup I tried (I always start reviews with Mojo/Poly, and also tried Onyx/Pi2AES - honestly, as the source improved the Magnius did less of what I wanted), but Magnius never let me sink into the music.
     
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  16. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    Obviously to get the best out of the Magnius, it is best to use the XLR headphone output. Does it matter if the DAC is single ended or balanced?
     
  17. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Since Magnius is non-discrete, chip-based it should take both SE and balanced in like a champ, no prob. Personal preferences might still come into play though.
     
  18. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    So there would be a bigger difference with something like the Jot 2 in the performance between single ended and balanced inputs?
     
  19. Baten

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    I would, in fact, assume so but very few people have actually heard the Jot 2 in person so far. With discrete, my gut feeling would be SE in SE out and BAL in BAL out to yield best SQ but it's really just an assumption at this point...
     
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  20. androxylo

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    I second that. The Schiit official preamp line is ***t. I don't want the tube nervosa and the price of Freya+. Saga+ has no balanced mode and has the tube nervosa for just a low- to midrange product. Many, many people here really discouraged from using the head-amp "preamp" output as a real preamp. Just don't do it. I don't know, the life is hard.

    For me the additional tube nervosa would come from the fact that my whole cabinet room is powered by a smart power outlet. It turns my whole office off for the night, with all my audio gear. Instead of a proper tube shutdown it's just a wall power off, I don't want all this trouble.
     

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