Friday, September 27, 2013

Magni & Modi Sound Impression . . . .

So one of these days I am going to update everyone on my life, but for now, I'm going to give the impressions of my new DAC and amp stack, the Schiit Audio Magni and Modi. I tried them with three different headphones, the AKG K240s, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, and the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro.

First, a picture! :)
Here they are, right after I un-boxed them (they were packed very well by the way).
The Magni (amp) is on the left and the Modi (DAC) on the right.
Before I get into the sound I want to talk about the size of these. If you take an Altoids tin and place it long side to the side of the amp, that's how deep it is. Take another tin and place it next to the first, long sides together, that's about how wide the amp is. Now stack two more tins on the top of each on the lower level (so you have two stacks of two next to each other) that's how tall it is. All in all each piece occupies about the same space as 4 Altoids tins.... Sorry if that was confusing. Now, onto the sound.

AKG K240s 55 Ohm Headphones

These were the first high-end (meaning more than $30) headphones that I ever bought. And, quite frankly, they have had the snot beaten out of them... more than once. They are currently glued in several places and the wire is so stiff from the oil on my skin it won't go straight anymore. Anyway, my point is, they are very well used.

The thing I noticed right away is how dark these sound. Not much bass, lots of mid, and not a ton of treble. These benefit from this stack as opposed to unamped out of my mp3 player (Zune).  The biggest gain these get is in bass extension. Listening to these unamped, you would think that they can't produce bass... at all. However, plug 'em into the Mangi and there is bass, just not a ton of it. The mid on these phones is over powering. Pretty much all you can hear is warm, dark mid tones. Good for NPR or documentaries but not so much for music (according to my taste). I do, however, like these much better amped than not, I'm just not fond of the sound signature overall now that my taste has refined.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50s

Out of the three headphones that I tried these have the fewest hours on them. Since they are my portables, I don't wear them when I'm sitting at a desk, that's what the Beyerdynamics are for. I would use them more for that use except that they get uncomfortable after a while since pleather, skin, and heat don't go well together.

I didn't expect much from this since these are advertised as an amp-free audio solution, but I tried them anyway. First thing I noticed was that the bass was there. Now the signal coming into the amp is flat (no EQ) and the sound out of my Zune 120GB is flat. However, the bass from the amp was much more than that mp3 player. But, that being said, I can achieve almost the exact same sound on my Zune 30GB with some EQ (this is the best EQ that I ever heard in an mp3 player). So out of the three, these benefited the least from the amp but they also have the most bass out of the three as well. The mids and highs were pretty much unchanged. They maybe gained some soundstage space and clarity but it was minimal.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

These headphones are my go-to headphones whenever I'm not outside. They are super comfortable since they have velour ear pads. It's like your head is getting hugged by a stuffed animal. I never sweat with these and since they are cloth, they are washable! The DT 990s have some serious use but have been treated better than the AKGs. "Well broken in" is the phrase I would use to describe it.

These had the biggest change, I feel, out of the bunch. However, not all of the change was to my liking. The amount of change is understandable since they have the highest impedance out of the group (250 Ohm), so, by extension, need the most power to drive. They gained width and breadth to the sound stage. Better accuracy and extension on the treble. I also started hearing more imperfections in my music... However, the thing I'm most disappointed with is the bass volume. The bass turned in from a monster's roar to a cat's meow. It's there, but not in the front at all. Granted, the bass extension greatly improved. The stereo that I was using to power these had more bass but it missed some of the bass frequencies, especially the super low stuff (20-30 Hz range). Now all that is there (Yay! No more missing bass), but it's in the background (Boo!). When a sliding bass scale is played, all the bass is the same volume, from 20-80 Hz. This shows that it's a good headphone but it's not nearly as fun to listen to with dubstep. :(

The midrange also gets a boost from this amp, which, in turn, makes the bass harder to hear, but add clarity overall. Out of the three the 990 sounds the most reference and neutral which I was not expecting at all. I guess if I want a boost of bass I can always pop in my ATH-M50s to get my bass fix. That's the beauty of having lots of headphones! :)

Well, if you endured my ramblings, you deserve an award. Since I can't give you one, here is a picture instead. :)
This is the combo in action! They look pretty nice together and not bad with
good 'ole faithful DT 990 Pro
Anyways, keep it real people. And remember, life is too short to waste it listening to crappy quality audio equipment! :)

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