Storytime: NITSCH x Schiit Magni Piety, Magni Pi, etc.

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Oct 29, 2022.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Forward by @pure5152:

    piety official description/specs: https://nitschsound.com/products/magni-piety
    @CEE TEE 's piety dev story: https://nitschsound.com/blogs/news/making-a-new-magni

    Measurements:
    - [@atomicbob]: piety in-depth measurements
    - [@purr1n]: piety measurements

    Impressions and Comparisons:
    - [@purr1n]: piety vs asgard 3, magni 3+, and vali 2/2+ (also some more vs asgard 3)
    - [@purr1n]: piety with IEMs and some dac discussion
    - [@Hands]: piety impressions and comparison with magni 3+
    - [@Azimuth]: in depth review and comparisons to BW, Dynamo, Vali 2+, Magni 3
    - [@rhythmdevils]: piety prototype impressions
    - [@schiit]: brief comments about piety
    - [@bazelio]: brief impressions

    Video impressions:
    - [@Azimuth]: in-depth video review (17:30)
    - [Randy (cheapaudioman)]: in-depth video review (12:45)






    Piety is real now. A few others have heard it already at various meets, the Texas Audio Show and at the Head Space event in SoCal. @atomicbob posted comprehensive measurements of this amp here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iit-magni-piety-technical-measurements.12752/

    Yes, I've had a variant / early prototype of it since shortly after the release of the Magni 3 (non-plus). This is my version of the story, so it will most certainly be different from @CEE TEE's or Jason's if they ever tell their version. Think of this like that ST:TNG episode where Riker gets put on trial for murdering the wife's scientist husband, or more recently that Ridley Scott film The Last Duel, where three different people have different take on things. If would be interesting to have @CEE TEE tell his version of the story.

    I got three different boards to play with. In the end, the board that officially "won" the contest ended up being the Magni 3+. They were all different takes. One I think was a traditional current-feedback design that eventually became the 3+, the two others were Continuity variants, maybe working, or kind of working. The PCBs were actually labeled Magni 4 0.9, 0.9B and 0.9C. This was 2017 or 2018. I can't remember if the one I liked as the b or the c. Let's just say it was the B. (confirmed below).

    Circa 2017 (ignore the Magni 4 label)
    IMG_20171206_220147.jpg
    IMG_20171108_193603.jpg

    Yes, basically I've had this board for years now. I screwed the PCB into a block of wood and it's secretly stayed on my desk or near my bed until very recently, where it got replaced by a pre-production Nitsch x Schiit Magni Piety. Some of you may recall some polls I put up about a Magni Piety edition, tuned by ear, not by measurements. If anyone can find that thread, please post the link here. I can't seem to find it.

    The truth is that all Schiit gear is tuned by measurements. Ever since I've known Jason, he's always had some piece of fancy instrumentation at this desk, like the Stanford Research analyzer and most recently the APx525. Ultimately, the choice of what actually gets made, goes into production is based on how it sounds. (There's probably a stack of 10 failed experiments for every one that gets made). Despite all this recent ASR measurement stupidity, the ironic thing is that Jason is actually the most "objective" measurement guy among the Schiit gear designers. The reason we don't think this is because of Amir at Audio Science Review. Amir is fricking moron who thinks he actually knows more about how to design audio circuits just because he (Amir) has an APx555, subscribes to the religion of SINAD, and was VP at the Microsoft consumer unit overseeing thousands of employees, of which he F'd that up so badly (HDCD, Zune, HD-DVD, etc.) that Microsoft gave him the golden boot. The fact is, the production Piety edition (and even this prototype) measures excellently per @atomicbob's tests. Anyone who tells you differently is simply lying to you because (I suspect) the likes of Shenzhen Audio is paying them under the table so that you end up buying horrible cookie-cutter high SINAD designs made by workers who live in dorms. But I digress.

    The B board, and really, the three didn't sound all that different from each other, had the most tube like wetness, bloom, microdynamics, and most importantly engagement factor. Mike Moffat supposedly preferred this one too. Jason preferred the one that sounded the most neutral and least colored. The fact is, any one of those could have been made into production. I kept urging Jason to put into production the B board. However the thing about any company is that before it can make something, it needs to be sure that parts are available. There were other reasons too, e.g. the B had a bit less power output. The entire board only used the same exact type of PNP NPN transistors throughout the amp stages, from the input, voltage amplifier, to output stage. The reason these transistors were chosen is because of their super linear current gain curves and real-life (as opposed to datasheet) consistency. Even the curve to the PNP parts, which are usually much shittier than the NPN parts, exhibited darn fantastic gain curves. Think of this like how Japanese audio at its peak would hand match transistor curves on a CRT to make epic gear like the Pioneer M-22. Except in this case, the transistors would come from the factory fully matched this already. The downside is that a bunch of these tiny transistors needed to be used. Ultimately, the limiting factor was that the availability of these transistors were in question. Part companies are just weird, even if you want to order 20000 units (out of production, back in production, out stock, back in stock, available here, available there, etc.)

    So back to that Piety poll. I was seriously considering putting my own money to make a limited run of the Piety edition for SBAF members in 2020. COVID put these plans to a halt: it became a matter of Escape from California. It wasn't just California but also job-stress from a micromanaging boss that threw me under the bus because he wanted to impress numerous BU heads to move up to EVP.

    It basically came down to this. After I arrived in Texas and things settled down, I sent @CEE TEE a text along the lines of: Are you going to make the Piety for your new company because if you don't, I am going to do it.

    So basically these white boards that we see here are the latest iteration of the design. Guess what, about those transistors on the B board? They weren't available so Jason had to redo the design, but in the same spirit, but with a different set of transistors that were sufficient in quantity to make x1000 units. The funny thing is that the old transistors are now available and the new ones used here are low in stock. Fortunately, @CEE TEE was able to get x1000 boards made.

    [​IMG]

    Most people will probably prefer the white-board design. These boards compared to the green OG "B" design sound more extended in the highs with just a tad more crisp transients and more bass slam. The crisp can be toned down in low-gain. The OG "B" design sounded more mid-centric, darker even, less slammy. Both boards have the exact same haunting tube bloom thing going on. To be clear, the wetness is not excessive, a light touch, but it's just unexpected to hear tube-like qualities on a sub $1-2k design. I slightly prefer the OG "B" design, but the fact is, they are more or less interchangeable for me. @CEE TEE picks up on all these infinitesimal differences whereas I don't really care as much and only notice when asked to more intently listen for the differences. I'm more along the lines of "good enough". @CEE TEE is more discerning and demanding.

    --

    upload_2022-10-29_20-10-33.png
     
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    Last edited: Nov 22, 2022 at 6:03 PM
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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  3. edd

    edd Almost "Made"

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  4. JellyRhino

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    What are the subjective differences between the Piety and the Asgard 3?
     
  5. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    I wonder what other nuggets we have in that text chain?
     
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  6. tranq

    tranq Facebook Friend

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    What are the odds Piety will sell out on day 1? Or the first fews days?

    Just wondering how closely I need to watch the website.
     
  7. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    Having spent a fair amount of time with this amp, I understand why some folks are willing to sell their unicorn amps to me due to this amp. It’s everything that Marv says, but I think my tastes prefer this newer Piety over the older versions based on my experience with it.

    I remember having a version of the Piety at my house for about 8 months with capacitors that were too tall for a Magni to case to properly fit over. From Marv’s comments, it’s seems like this might been an earlier version of the Piety to my ears, but it’s all from memory. I have the same perception in differences in my mind and from notes between that older version and the one I have heard recently. However, I’m not sure I heard the same versions over time as Marv. Maybe I just had the new version and it’s all in my mind.

    Regardless of version differences, I really like this amp and am glad I get the chance to buy one for myself and for a Christmas presents for a couple folks I know are still listening to a Magni 1.

    I honestly forget that I’m listening to a solid state amp in all the best ways from time to time when listening to this amp.
     
  8. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Was an interesting read, from the different points of view, that made this possible.

    That thought also came crashing through my mind eheh.

    Maybe I will have another opportunity to do a EU loaner, so we get the chance to test it.

    Well done.
     
  9. Empyah

    Empyah Facebook Friend

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    How does it compare to the Vali 2?
     
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  10. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    You're such a tease.

    That said, ppl at the time had as much access to stuff like the below. Not the current burning hotness as the Piety, but things are always out there.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: For those wondering, my first listen to the Piety was due to a dude from Head fi who has much better access than I (and many people here) to certain things from certain people who brought it to the aforementioned Head Space.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2022
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Asgard is like a mini Aegir. Mellow, rounder, smooth, a bit syrupy. The last part I am not too sure about because I suspect there may have been running changes (these things can sometimes be unintentional because of parts substitution). Think of Asgard as like a mini EC Black Widow, but slowed down a bit in the transients of the highs. As such, it works really well with brighter or zippier headphones such as the HD800, Utopia, etc.

    Piety sounds like Magni 3+ in the lows and highs, but with magical tube mids. The lows are articulate, but not overly so, and slam more than it should for the amp's size. The texture inthe lows isn't quite there compared to TOTL tube amps. The highs are crisp but smooth like the 3+. The amp does seem to need to warm up a bit for the highs to settle. Or just switch it to low gain - but I think high gain sounds better, more lively, better microdynamics.

    It's easy to be fooled because of the aspects that sound very Magni 3+. However when I switch back during an AB (mind you that I do not perform quick AB switching, toggling the switch rapidly in succession, which is doomed to fail, because if we slurp a glass of wine back and forth really quickly without cleansing the palate, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference*), the Piety is just more awesome.

    The Piety simply has an engagement factor that a solid-state amp sound not have. It has that tube bloom and wetness that a solid-state amp sound not have. The bloom and wetness is somewhere between EC and DNA, but tending more toward EC. This is something I still cannot get my hands around. The Magni Piety basically should not be allowed exist.

    Vali 2 and 2+ sound essentially like a laid-back tuned Magni 3+ and regular Magni 3+ respectively. There's a bit of tube sound, but the fact is, the small signal tubes that will fit in the Vali aren't that tubey sounding. The Piety is more emotionally engaging and actually has more of the tube wetness than Vali. There is a reason why the Piety has been the headamp that I've used the more than any other in the past five years. I do have other or better stuff around, but the form factor makes things so much easier.

    The downside: Piety doesn't like the current crop of super low-Z orthos. We're talking about the 10-ohm to 16-ohm stuff.

    * People who can't tell the difference in blind listening tests (double blind, triple blind) usually perform the test incorrectly or in a manner in which they will not be able to tell the difference. Expectation bias can be very powerful. They could also be hard of hearing certain things. The absolute polarity and distortion tests which some readers have taken have already demonstrated this.
     
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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2022
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    The early proto or proof-of-concept had the headphone jack all the way to the left and the volume and two switches (output select and gain) to the right.
     
  13. caute

    caute Facebook Friend

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    Welp, guess I have to build a new, secondary system that synergizes entirely around this amp now.
     
  14. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    How does it do with IEM? The dreaded Andromeda hiss test?
     
  15. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Not only that, but you should buy two to run in bridged mono configuration with some adhoc XLR to RCA phase splitters, run through a center tapped transformer of course for safety reasons :confused:
     
  16. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    The funny thing is that I’ve held out until the production ones were fully ready. I’m trying to throw money at @CEE TEE for a couple so I can review them.

    Truthfully between startup life, kids, family emergencies (two strokes, a major TBI, one family member going nearly blind and having 2 cornea replacements + 2 other eye surgeries, the flu, and who knows what else) I haven't been present much over the last couple of years. Also, I've been very content with the Yggdrasil A2 > dual aegir and now dual tyr > RAAL SR1A + my speakers so I haven't really been looking at gear. Even my backup system (work office) is ZDS > JAR600/HD800.

    BUT, this is too good to pass up. I am going to get at least one for myself and one for my daughter.

    Tough crap, I'm buying at least 2. I am not banking on these being available very long.
     
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  17. caute

    caute Facebook Friend

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    wait what is this sorcery and is it actually possible?!
     
  18. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    It’s now my new homepage

    If I’m reading the page right there’s some allocations by region. So people in EU/Asia don’t have to play the time zone game. US will probably sell fast but where Schiit is less known (like France) they’ll be a better chance
     
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  19. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Epic. For once I'm glad to be an EU member on this board :D.
     
  20. denny_dow

    denny_dow Acquaintance

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    which DAC would you pair with this amp? similar in both form factor and price, but not limited to.
     

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