Schiit Modius DAC Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Jun 3, 2020.

  1. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    if Randos post unboxing photos or complain about the UPS delivery schedule, or that the driver left your shipment under a tree- expect a lengthy ban. This isn't HF.
     
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  2. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I've been exclusively using the Modius this week and it no longer sounds weird to me. When directly switching from many DACs, I perceive a strange almost phase-inversion feeling. I measured it and it's not actually reversing phase, but it's a similar slightly uncomfortable feeling.

    As far as pitting it head-to-head against a volume-matched current gen (AK4493) RME ADI-2 DAC, I don't think the Modius quite matches it in overall performance.

    It is, however, a little more pleasant to listen to (sans EQ) and $1000 cheaper.

    I enjoy it, and it's better than any DS DAC that I can name under $1000.

    People have talked about the SE outs being inferior to the balanced outs, buy they're really not bad. I use them with a Garage1217 Project Sunrise III, and any grain or such that might be introduced isn't noticeable.

    The Modius is great, especially for the price.
     
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  3. farbinator

    farbinator Facebook Friend

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    They really aren't. In my own experience the SE outs sounded practically indistinguishable from the Modi 3 I had when hooked up to my EC ZDT Jr. Amp. Having the flexibility to use either at this price point is just great.

    What I believe I personally gained with the balanced outs was better USB noise isolation between the Modius and my Jot.
     
  4. androxylo

    androxylo Rando

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    I wonder if anyone compared Modius vs Modi Multibit v2, which is still available here and there for $250.
     
  5. JellyRhino

    JellyRhino Facebook Friend

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    I did on the first page of this thread, post #18. The MM was paired with an Eitr though.

    Edit: I would add a few points to my comparison so this post is not just noise. The imaging is more stable and precise on the Modi Multibit. That's what I miss the most, as if the singer is right in front of you. The instruments also have more weight, sound more tangible. I would really like to have Unison on the MM. I would buy an Eitr 2 with Unison any day (wishful thinking), but then I would probably miss the resolution and clarity of the Modius.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  6. Gruss Gott

    Gruss Gott Almost "Made"

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    Posting some initial (since Thursday) comparative impressions from the average-man direction. I'm running MBP > Tidal > eitr/MimbyV2 | Modius > CTH(SE) | Jot(bal) > Atticus | Eikon | HD600. I've gone through my normal playlist mix of 70s rock, EDM, vocals, some orchestral and switched between amps and HPs to search for consistencies.

    Between the eitr/MimbyV2 and Modius I'm getting just stitch more clarity and texture on the Modius - the Modius also seems to bring in a bit more detail which seems to bring especially mids/highs a bit more forward ... or that could just be a mirage due to more detail.

    For example on Diana Krall's Moonglow, there's a snare brush that seems, on Modius, just a bit more present and just a bit more detailed when the brush is circulating or tapped on the snare. So the brush seems just a bit more part of the track and more detailed at the same time. It's one of those things I kept going back to listen for on the Modi Multibit - and yes it was there too but there was a bit of edge and detail that seemed missing.

    Or on Arlington by the Wailin Jennys, there's a deep giant bass drum in the beginning and then through the background - on the Modius it seems to bring just a bit more texture to the reverb of the drum and it seems just a bit more part of the song. On the Modius you can picture the waves rolling across the surface of the drum as it's hit and then interfering disturbance as the waves roll back before it's hit again. With the Modi Multibit the sound is there but not quite as evocative and detailed so I wouldn't have had that picture without the Modius.

    And overall, those were my same day 1 impressions as well, so it hasn't changed with many more hours of listening - I've not gotten any variance in performance a few have reported.

    As for the inputs, I've tried Balanced, SE, and coax from the Eitr - I do hear a slight detail boost with the balanced. When comparing to the MimbyV2, the detail difference seemed greater balanced, though that could simply be the Jot vs the Modius.

    Overall I'm really liking it so far! Great value - for me it's a slight step up ... or maybe a sidegrade with some welcome differences which, for $200, is still well worth it for me!
     
  7. androxylo

    androxylo Rando

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    Great synergy with Freya S reported >3 times from different people. I wonder if Schiit will jeopardize Freya profits by delivering a $300 balanced preamp specifically matching Modius as an upgrade path? It doesn't look like Freya has any competition under $500 to bother. All decent preamps will cost you a lot more... At this point it's either Freya or passive pot, that's all a poor guy can have.
     
  8. JohnnyCanuck

    JohnnyCanuck Acquaintance

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    How about $199?

    https://www.schiit.com/products/magnius
     
  9. androxylo

    androxylo Rando

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    Oh shiit! Did they just announced it? I swear with all my electronics gears, I had _no_idea_ about it when I posted the comment #207 above. Will wait for the review, thank you Sir...
     
  10. Baten

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    It's brand new! And with its pre-amp it's well worth consideration ;)
     
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  11. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    The Magnius appears to be essentially a balanced Heresy and not a dedicated preamp, but rather an ic/op amp based headamp with preamp capabilities.
    Since Schiit has already announced Freya S is shortly (weeks) to be gone from their lineup, this would seem to be a moot point.
     
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  12. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I've spent a lot of time over the past weeks with the Modius. It's my main DAC and generally goes to a Goldpoint volume control then my monitors.

    If I use it exclusively for a while, most of its shortcomings disappear into the background.

    Here are some of the weaknesses I have noticed, though:
    • Via USB, it's a little soft and almost blurred, even compared to TOSLINK from an RME Babyface Pro FS (and even more apparently using AES via an RME ADI-2 Pro).
    • Via all inputs, it's just a touch unfocused. I've mentioned before that directly A/B switching without pause almost feels like polarity is reversed (but it isn't--I measured for it). It almost has a narrow, deep stage, then it diffuses out fairly wide (see sweet image below).
    • Vocals often feel a bit recessed.
    Despite those things, I think it's a really solid DAC.

    Top-down. My noggin is the circle. The black is where the stage is most concentrated, then it diffuses to the edges:
    modius_stage.jpg
     
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  13. damaged-goods

    damaged-goods Acquaintance

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    What's your oppinion vs the RME ADI 2 DAC over this time, I think you've used the ADI 2 quite a lot?
     
  14. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    The ADI-2 DAC is cleaner, more focused, less immediately engaging and more dry than the Modius. The Modius is close for a lot less money, but I do think the RME is marginally better overall.

    Depending on the song, I can prefer the Modius to the RME and vice versa. If you ignore the features of the ADI-2 DAC, it's in almost exactly the same league as the Modius. You're not getting an appreciable step up in sound and might actually prefer the Modius. The features are why the RME costs so much more.
     
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  15. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Makes sense since they’re both using the same chip. Makes Modius seem like a hell of a deal.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I felt their sound was rather different with RME being more of the VELVET SOUND done right and the Modius having most of that VELVET SOUND engineered out. One of Schiit's designs goals was to not have it sound VELVETy. They do read this site and know how much @Psalmanazar has railed against VELVET SOUND ever since AKM came out with it.
     
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  17. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    It depends a lot on the digital filter that you use. I do most of my comparisons with the the Slow or Low Dispersion Slow Delay filter. I'm pretty sure the Modius uses the Low Dispersion Slow Delay filter.

    With the Short Delay Sharp or Sharp filter, the RME does get too deep into Velvet Sound territory for my ears. It gets a little sandy and zippy up top. Unfortunately (in my opinion), the SD Sharp filter is the stock filter. Technically, it's the most accurate, but I also think it's the least enjoyable to listen to. I also don't love the Short Delay Slow filter and the NOS/SuperSlow filter is kinda garbage.

    One thing about the ADI-2 DAC is that it's not really plug-and-play if you want the best sound for your setup and preferences. One of its advantages is that you can dial it in quite a bit, but that's also a huge weakness. The Modius is already dialed in when you buy it, and there's nothing you can do to tweak it apart from using different inputs (USB sounds different from all the other inputs).

    Edit: Note that my comparisons are using a Goldpoint SA2X-I with level matching. This gives a mild disadvantage to the ADI-2 DAC because I have to digitally attenuate it. If you believe digital attenuation is audible, then it is not at its best (I'm not at my PC right now, but I think it's +13 ref level and -5 dBr to get it about 0.2 dBu quieter than the Modius).

    Also, I'm using the new AK4493 version vs. the AK4490 version that you heard previously. I haven't been able to directly A/B compare the old and new version, so I can't confidently state whether they sound any different apart from the one new filter.

    Most of my intense comparison takes place using JRiver with multiple zones linked and outputting simultaneously so I can flip back and forth without any delay.
     
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  18. damaged-goods

    damaged-goods Acquaintance

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    I noticed that, too. The linear phase "sharp" filter is more velvety and I'd say even a bit colored compared to the new LDSD filter, which sounds quite good.

    I've had the RME ADI 2 sounding a bit sharp in the treble in the past but it turned out to be the fault of something else in the audio chain, I find the RME idealy very clean in the treble, also with minimum phase filter. The minimum phase does maybe sound a very slight bit more greyish in the treble.

    Thanks for this information!
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Modius uses linear phase sharp: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...view-and-measurements.9379/page-4#post-303900

    Short-delay is another word for minimum phase.

    Regardless of filter, the Modius relative to RME to my ears was more aggressive, sharper attacks in the upper mids and less spongy on the lows. RME seemed to beat out Modius in bass texture but had the characteristic slight midrange mellowness. The top octave seems to change on the RME depending upon filter. The Modius is muted in top octave relative and has no filter options.
     
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  20. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    RME makes it less offensive by tonally drying it out. This makes it tonally kick the crap out of other velvet stuff like the Grace that has more bass wallop and stereo width or the Teac bullshit. The RMEs kill the Soekris stuff too.

    Ime, Schiit made their post Modi 3 velvet sound DACs closer to RME and this is for the better. I can tolerate them but RME feels more 3d and expensive sounding but I haven’t heard the modius. The MOTUs best the RME in transients, stereowidth, and midrange timbre but have their own, different characteristic softness that pretty much all the great “canvas” pro converters possess. Lavry, Lynx, RME, MOTU, etc really let you dial in tube stuff and .5 db envelopes even if the Lavry is mush bass, you can really hear it being mushed more. It’s why I’m super suspicious of random special bullshit being proclaimed better on the internet. Like yeah maybe the crane song thing is wider but what if I can’t collapse the stereo image a bit with a stereo compressor on that What if I left the transients on the individuals sources peaky to drive it hard for box tone but that image collapses on a CD player’s converter but not on the super special converter? That was my problem with dangerous. Always punchy and sheeny And nicely compact Or wide. Won’t immediately reveal problems like totally fucked up kick drums (hello basketballs and typewriter pedals) or diffuse Space that needs some chorus in the bass or something or the bass having reverb that goes into other reverb to blend it all together! A lot of reverb stuff is much more noticeable on “canvas” converters.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020

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