Schiit IEMagni Discussions and Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by YMO, May 14, 2021.

  1. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    Wanna see the awesome graphs and Pre-Impressions stuff, visit this wonderful thread.

    After having the IEMagni for a few days, here's my bullet hell impressions post. Remember this is a $120 amp...not a $500 amp.


    Source:

    Thinkpad X260 via Roon or Foobar2000 via UPnP Output Component or BubbleUPnP > PI2AES [Toslink Output] > Massdrop x Airist R-2R DAC (RDAC) > IEMagni


    Starting Points:
    • I like the gray/black of the amp with the black volume knob.
      • The only LED light, which is red, is inside the unit. This is great since it isn’t bright like cooler color lights like blue and white.
      • The LED light thing above is also great because you can leave on the unit on whole day without people knowing except for you.
      • But if you overlook things, you might forget that it is on.
    • Build Quality is great for $120.
      • My only real concern is switching the gain switch all the time from the back to the point that you might break it. That could happen if you run tons of different headphones or IEMs on top of having a gain preference.
      • Volume knob as I said earlier is a nice black color...but I can see people complaining that the knob could be off center from manufacturing.
    • Doesn’t sound hot from cold startup.
      • Very edgy and emp on upper mids/lower treble goes nuts.
      • Took about three hours after startup where that crap goes away.
      • As stated earlier if you didn’t get the hint, leave it on all the time like your other SS amps.
    • It’s small.
      • That’s the point.
    • Also important: I never heard the Magni Heresy.
      • But I did had the Magni 3 and the Magni 2 in the past.
    • High gain will give best performance but depending on recording or headphone/IEM it could be too upfront and ear hurting.
      • I normally stick to negative gain or normal gain.
    • Like the Magni 3 that I had before, it has a warm type of sound that has row 1 or row 2 seating soundstage with solid bass, really good for the price upfront midrange, and solid treble for what is a $120 amp.
      • Very slight “wall of sound” effect, but for some reason it isn’t close to being bad on here for me unless I turn up the volume too much then it becomes a V-Shaped mess.
      • Feeding Darker DACs might be too much of a good thing, but I don’t mind this at all considering I was feeding the Airist R-2R. Might be better off with a Warmish DAC for a good balance.
      • Music still has soul on the IEMagni...still engaging.
    • Do I have to say that other amps will outperform this on different factors?
      • If I didn’t have any other amps around...I can really enjoy my music on this amp.
      • $120 will always have limitations.
    • Not going to comment on Pre-Amp part of the amp...since I don’t have any speakers or a need to use it.

    IEMs
    :

    • I didn’t think with DD IEMs you needed a special desk amp for IEMs, due to their DD nature.
      • I don’t really recommend using negative gain for DD IEMs, leave it at normal gain or high gain if you want to kill your ears. I prefer normal gain with my two DD IEMs: JVC HA-FDX1 and Moondrop Starfield.
      • Since IEMagni is still a SS amp, bass impact will improve.
      • However, I miss my SW51+ layering with my DD IEMs...but IEMagni isn’t bad here at all for $120.
      • I dig the JVCs on these...that SS power just gives me the extra % points for genres that need it for bass impact.
    • BA IEMs will vary if you need the negative gain as usual.
      • One BA IEM that really needs that negative gain is the Gaudio Nair. This one is sensitive and thank goodness we have negative gain here. Tons of volume control and no hiss or noise...yeeeesss.
      • I still slightly prefer the Gaudio Nair on my SW51+ due to the higher Output Z gives the Nair a slight U-Shaped sound, while on IEMagni I think from the top of my head it is 0.33 ohm...so it will be flat.
      • But damn the Nair sounds good here and finally we got an amp that won’t kill my Nair. Thank you sweet Schitt.
    • Speaking of ohms, I recommend keeping your IEMatch or an Ohm Resistor like you can get from here because you will have a preference on what type of Ohm rating you want for your IEMs (I’m looking at your Campfire Audio).
      • So yeah, IEMagni is not close to the point that you can get rid of your adapters.
    • From my DD IEMs, to the Nair, and to the Sony IER-M9 I really enjoy using the IEMagni with them.
      • The Schiit type of sound will still come through with the IEMs, so don’t play them too loud or else you will be deaf.
      • I know people don’t like the Schiit upfront sound...but for IEMs to me it works great.
    • So you are using other desk amps for your IEM usage...that’s cool. Doesn’t hurt to have this one around when you need it or you want a small setup in a corner of your bedroom/closet/bathroom/etc.
    • Recordings at least in my setup will make the setup be good or too much, and same for what type of IEMs you are using.
      • So in other words...if playing shit it will sound like shit...and I don’t think all IEMs will work here.

    Headphones
    :
    • Sounds like my old Magni 3 to me.
      • Won’t have the refinement like higher end desk amps, but who cares when this is only $120 and for my needs it is super on point on being musical?
    • Yes yes yes...I prefer my HD6XX/HD600/Focal Eclair (“Elex”) on my SW51+ and my DNA Starlett...blah blah blah these amps will be better on micro/marco factors, staging, refinement, etc.
      • But honest truth here...I really enjoyed these headphones on the IEMagni.
      • However...High Gain will give you the best performance and will give power to these headphones.
      • But at the same time..High Gain was too much on some of my recordings and thus I go back to normal gain, which I stated to me could be too V-Shaped.
      • I do most of my headphone listening on normal gain, but I know some will say this will be a laid back sound.
    • I am not detecting any weird treble on the IEMagni.
      • At the same time..treble isn’t refined like the other desk amps that I have.
    • If I was poor and I can’t afford that much...I would be happy with the IEMagni being the only desk amp that I need. Headphones and sensitive IEMs support is groovy.

    Jot 2
    :
    • I know some will wanna know on how the Jot 2 and IEMagni will be.
    • Not a hard answer: Jot 2 will be the better amp if you want more flexibility (Unbalanced and Balanced inputs and outputs + power) and technicalities.
    • However...I found IEMagni to be a more practical amp if you don’t have a need for Balance (only wanna deal with Unbalanced input and output) and have an IEM focused listening experience with headphones on the side.
    • I found the IEMagni to have a little less “harshness” experience than the Jot 2.
      • But it could be problem if you run High Gain all the time.
    • If using headphones most of the time, IEMagni is still good.
      • But I would recommend either getting the Magni 3+ or the Jot 2 if you running almost 100% on headphones. Both of these amps have a headphone focus, not IEMagni of course.
    • If wanna do steps..I found IEMagni one/two steps back on macro/micro level items and at least one or two steps back on staging and detail retrieval than Jot 2.
      • This make sense, look at the cost difference.
    • If you wanna be weird, Jot 2 for headphones and IEMagni for you know what from the same DAC (BF2 for example...woo).

    THX AAA 789
    :
    • With the THX doing both Balanced/Unbalanced and have more flexibility on what it could run…...I really prefer the IEMagni for both IEMs and headphones over the THX.
    • IEMs are great on the THX, but there was this minor harshness that was there from my memory on my DD IEMs and worse my BA IEMs.
      • THX is cooler sounding, IEMagni is warmer sounding.
    • Got bored of the THX for headphones...and I’m not alone in this regard. It could be tiring with headphones and being boxed in.
    • I’ll use IEMagni for both headphones and IEMs. Who cares if IEMagni doesn’t support Balanced inputs/outputs...this is much better IMO than the THX.
    • I still think some will prefer the OG Andromeda and other IEMs on the THX since the THX AAA 789 was designed with the OG Andromeda into design consideration on Input/Output Z and gain switches.
      • I still have good memories with OG Andromeda and THX.
    • Honestly...I think IEMagni is the better deal and more flexible even with the lack of Balanced inputs/outputs. I’ll pay for an amp that can do both well...not just one thing well and close up your ears with headphone usage (THX).
    • Never heard of the THX AAA One, but I presume it’s just an Unbalanced THX AAA 789.

    Conclusions
    :
    • If really into IEMs, you should at least try the IEMagni. Join the loaner or just do a low cost gamble and pick up an amp.
      • If you don’t like it, sell it or return it to Schiit.
    • Nice for me since it does my IEMs and my headphones...but I do more IEMs with this.
    • Great for a backup if something goes wrong with my main desk amps...or if I was only doing IEMs I would use this amp just about full time and get a better DAC.
    • Like warmer sounding amps...this will do the trick.
    • Like colder amps...THX has your $$$$.
    • Don’t get rid of your IEMatch or your Ohm Resistor adapters for those IEMs that you prefer a higher Ohm adjustment for sound.
    • If you are heavy into both headphones and IEMS, how about keep your Jot 2 for headphones and use the IEMagni for IEMs?
    • High Gain is where you get the most power for your headphones..but could be too much and have minor edgyness that some were talking about on the Jot 2 (but to me not much on the IEMagni than Jot 2).
    • It’s $120, and while it outperforms other amps in its price range...it won’t outperform something like SW51+ or Jot 2. But music still sound good on this amp….isn’t that the point you guys?
    • It’s $120...come on you guys…keep your reality in check.
     
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    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  2. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    Quick question, have you tried interfacing with MagnIEM with the RCA or BNC coax? The lower jitter might translate into lower noise that you could pick out when using a very sensitive IEM.
     
  3. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

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    Thanks for the great impressions! Do you have the Magni 3 or 3+? I’m wondering how the IEMagni compares with the 3+ for the JVC HA-FDX1.
     
  4. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    Yes I did...no difference in noise when using Toslink.

    I used to have Magni 3, but not any more. Honestly I thought 3 and IEMagni was the same for the HA-FDX1, maybe a lad smoother on IEMagni.

    DD IEMs IMO don't need the negative gain feature.
     
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  5. bithloman

    bithloman Rando

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    i had the 3+ heresy for awhile i must say i prefer this in every way. the volume knob isnt scratchy like the heresy and its made of metal, seems a tad more clear and confident sounding. maybe more air on top. could be my focal headphones that i didnt have before however. will be getting my 3+ back for comparison will update.
     
  6. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    @purr1n, how would you compare IEMagni to the JDS Labs Atom, purely in terms of sound? I know that they should sound identical in theory, but I do trust your hearing (and opinion).

    I am running my HD800S with the Atom on my PS5 for gaming purposes right now and it sounds very clean and competent. I am wondering if the IEMagni would provide any sonic advantages over it. Obviously, the DC and thermal protection is a big plus to protect expensive headphones, but the Atom has been very reliable in this respect as well.

    EDIT: Yes, I know it is a bit of an overkill to use the HD800S for gaming, but that amazing soundstage...I have also been REALLY addicted to the Aeon RT Closed for late night music listening. Honestly, they are the HD600 of the planar world. But, I digress.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    As I mentioned, I won't publicly comment on the sound and will let you guys figure it out. I to happen to have an Atom. I can send this to you if you decide to be on the loaner.
     
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  8. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    What I like about the IEMagni is that is works great with all my balanced armature IEM's. If you don't like the Andromeda at 0 output impedance, you might not like this though. This is probably the least "balanced armature" sounding the Andromedas have sounded in my chain since my AMB M^3.

    This is what I've been looking for on the basic level. I am one of those one's that Marv is probably hinting too as wanting a "fancy" version. I'd still like remote control-ability and maybe small volume steps like the HPA4 and Ragnarok. I do not mind the opamps at all and I don't find the amplifier sterile in any sense - quite opposite actually. Well done Schiit - nice little IEM amplifier to replace my.... HeadAmp Pico / Pico Power / AMB Mini^3 / PPAv2 / IEMatch Dongle

    The new Texas sticker is a nice touch - still trying to decide where to stick it.
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I would recommend a 2-ohm resistor in series with the Andromeda with any near 0-ohm source impedance amp if you want to tone down the bass.
     
  10. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    Ara? I'm still thinking 2.5 ohm on IEMatch might be a better fit.
     
  11. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Loaner impressions!

    Source: JRMC 27 on a MacBook Pro using UPNP to a Pi 4 with Moode Audio and Pi2AES, BNC out to Gungnir A1, SE to Magni (yes, direct SE!).

    High level summary: Addicting sound for $120, I prefer it over Jot 2.

    Details:
    I’ve heard most of Schiit’s modern amps, but never a Magni. I started with a Vali 2 then jumped straight to a Valhalla 2 and bypassed the Magni completely. Now I wish I had known about it sooner.

    The MagnIEM looks sharp with its metal knob, internal LED, and grey underside. The knob feels excellent as well, both the metal to the touch and the feel of adjusting the pot. For an amp whose claim to fame is negative gain, it feels silly to have the gain switch on the back, but I understand moving it to the front would have required a custom chassis and driven up the price.

    Soundwise, the MagnIEM is rich and robust, a little warm and thick, and a bit aggressive. It sort of sounds like a baby Jot 2 but without the steeliness that ultimately made the Jot extremely fatiguing for me. Like the Jot, the slam and macro dynamics on the MagnIEM are addicting. Unlike the Jot 2, the bass resolution is just average. Soundstage is Schiit standard 1st row but detail retrieval feels above average for the price.

    I only have DD IEMs and they’re generally power hungry, so I only needed negative gain on the hottest/loudest/most compressed recordings. If you have extremely sensitive, power efficient IEMs then I think you’ll get a ton of play with the negative gain. Also since I only have DD IEMs I have no clue how this will sound with OI sensitive IEMs.

    I enjoyed the sound out of all the gain levels, and furthermore I enjoyed the sound out of every headphone and IEM I threw at it. This makes me want to hear a Magni 3+ because honestly this made me forget about chasing the last percentage points on technicalities. No matter what I plugged into it, I was able to just enjoy the music.

    I did compare it to the Liquid Carbon X, which is the closest thing to the Magni’s price range I have. The LCX sounds more laid back, wider/deeper staging, but also a bit more dull. Between the two I enjoy the Magni more, even if the LCX is perhaps a more honest amp.

    I really really enjoyed this amp, thanks for letting me give it a spin!
     
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    Last edited: May 19, 2021
  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    why? Is this because you just don’t give a F or was it too much of a pain to get it into your balanced out chain?
     
  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    The Magni is SE and I don’t have a BAL->SE transformer that a lot of people prefer with the Gungnir. The emphasis was just a little joke because it’s accepted wisdom around here and HF that the SE outs on the Gungnir and Yggdrasil are vastly inferior to the BAL outs, but they sound damn fine to me.
     
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  14. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Some quick thoughts on the IEMagni

    Non-Sound
    • I always forget how tiny these small Schiit boxes are. This thing is tiny.
    • I'm not the biggest fan of Schiit aesthetics. However the IEMatch looks considerably better looking than my black Modius. The IEMagni barely has a top front curve, so it looks much more boxy, which I like. The Modius is very rounded on the top front edge and add in the silver selector button and it's just odd looking to me.
    • I don't know why but the switches being in the back really annoy me. I appreciate form and function and don't really want to have to reach behind the amp to change things.
    • Not sure why the volume knob is right next to the HO but it's surprisingly a non-issue. I read about this, on another site, being tough to get to right next to the HO, so I was expecting this to be a major annoyance but it's seriously not an issue or at best grossly overstated IMO.
    • The interior red light is badass. Love this feature. Very tasteful.

    Sound

    Compared with Drop THX 789 both using the Modius single ended and Andromeda OG

    Chain 1: iPhone via CCK and Unison
    • Via Unison there was no real discernible differences between two. Initially I was quite confused. Both amps were plenty clean, quiet and transparent but both sounded narrow, upfront and busy. I've only known the THX 789 to have a very side stage with IEMs but it was not happening here. And it's never sounded this upfront before. This was initially very confusing.
    Chain 2: Airplay via Apple Airport Express and optical
    • Now differences became easily apparent, as this with the THX 789 used to be my main setup for IEMS for a very long time.
    • IEMagni easily matches the clarity and transparency of the THX 789 but it sounds much more upfront. This cannot be emphasized enough- the IEMagni has a very upfront presentation which makes it sound 'busy' to me (hard to put into words).
    • The THX 789 sounds noticeably wider and more relaxed comparatively. I say comparatively because the THX 789 is not a relaxing sounding amp, it's just more relaxing than the IEMagni.
    Chain 3: Airplay via Pi2AES and Coax
    • Not a lot of difference for the IEMagni here than with Airport Express, except in treble. Both amps treble is more defined and articulate here, also more refined even if crisper. No more hashed sound due to the jitter of the AE and its optical output.
    • The THX 789 scales with the Pi2AES Coax connection even more and separates itself from the IEMagni a bit more. Things pop out from the blackness of the background more with the THX 789. I think this is both attributable to the Pi2AES coax connection and to the less upfront presentation. Bass is hits with more authority, is more palpable than IEMagni.
    • These differences between the THX 789 and IEMagni are easily noticeable and maintained whether I made one amp louder than the other and then quieter than the other.

    TLDR: The IEMagni works very well with super sensitive IEMs, has a great footprint and looks ah-ite but you gotta like or at least tolerate the upfront staging. The THX 789 sounds bigger and more effortless than the IEMagni. It's a lot larger and doesn't stack well with some dacs (like with Modius; terrible stacking as the Modius is wider but shorter in depth).
     
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  15. YMO

    YMO Chewbacca's hairy brother

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    @shotgunshane did you find a difference between tone of both amps? THX to me is cooler sound while IEMagni is warmer.

    I'm curious since when I had Modi3+ to THX it had this granular highs that even with IEMs it brothered me. I dunno if this effect is gone with Modius SE.
     
  16. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I found their tone quite similar. I don’t have any issues with the highs of the THX and iems. Particularly with Pi2AES. Precise and clean highs for me.

    Edit: prior to acquiring the RME, used Modius to THX balanced almost exclusively.
     
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  17. bithloman

    bithloman Rando

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    just tested IE vs heresy and the IE is noticeably more dynamic on high gain. slightly more smooth and spacious up top and slightly more punch down low. they arent worlds apart but with the added IEM gain that the heresy cannot do without noise floor its a no brainer. seems more powerful as well.
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    upload_2021-5-22_11-57-21.png

    I'm cleared to comment without comparing to other vendors' products and will provide general impressions to assist those who listen subjectively to find good pairings. Keep in mind if that you speak with other people, you will get different opinions.
    • The overall tone of IEMagni is warm compared to the universe of amps. We are talking about both inner and outer warmth - but without the goo. The outer warmth is not excessive; however, I would take caution when pairing with a warm DAC and warm IEM. This could be too much of a good thing.
    • The transients in the highs of IEMagni are on the slightly gentle side and will help take the edge of BA IEMs. If you have no problem with the sound of balanced armatures, then you don't need to worry about it either way, unless you prefer more zippy highs.
    • With headphones or IEMs which do not need the negative gain, the Magni 3+ is the better sounding amp (and measures close or good enough if you care about and actually understand measurements). The 3+ is more spacious, less upfront in headstage, and much less insipid. Both Heresy and IEMagni are insipid sounding to my ears at unity gain. However IEMagni manages to be less dull than Heresy and better at slam (surprisingly so).
    • With CFA Andromeda (OG), if you find the sound to be too thick, bassy, or dark, DIY'ing an adapter with a single 2-ohm resistor in series will do the trick. The will raise the effective output impedance of the amp to be similar to that of synergistic portable players (e.g. Sony ZX2).
    • If you care about measurements and yet do not truly understand them at the same time, the IEMagni is a fine choice even for full-sized headphones. Don't let the IE moniker fool you. There is plenty of power into difficult loads. It also survived a torture test: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iemagni-measurements.10984/page-2#post-347931
    • Personally, I prefer to have the gain switch in the back. The last thing I want is to accidentally flip the gain from negative gain to high gain with CFA IEMs (that means going deaf for a minute or two). It's pretty much set and forget for me. I guess Schiit could implement a three gain switch in front with most of the lever buried inside the chassis like Modi.
     
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    Last edited: May 22, 2021
  19. Claritas

    Claritas Friend

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    IEMagni and Magni 3+

    @purr1n, thank you for arranging this tour.

    I haven’t yet read anyone else’s impressions, because I didn’t want to be influenced in any way. So I’m now eager to read about others’ experiences.

    Equipment:

    Marantz CD-94
    Magni 3+ on low gain
    IEMagni on medium gain
    Campfire Jupiter with Comply tips
    Aurisonics Rockets with Sony hybrids
    KabelDirekt 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm extension cable
    Furutech F 63-S(G) adaptor

    I’m going to cover five aspects: attack and decay (or pacing), soundstage, FR, and performance in very fast passages.

    IEMagni:

    Attack is a little too slow, resulting in loss of impact. Decay is too long. On a sustained chord, the effect is unintentionally funny. In a certain sense, the slow attack and decay balance each other. So the individual notes do end up having the proper weight, more or less. But the attack and decay are both inaccurate and tiresome. Glenn Gould sounds like Ton Koopman. This is not a good thing. In order to be sure that IEMagni was causing this problem, I tested it using other sources, IEMs, cables, and adaptors.

    The attack and decay problem causes slow pieces to sound as if the concert took place in Sleepytown, U.S.A. A piece has to be at least moderately fast for it sound more or less O.K. I’m guessing that the reason it can sound somewhat decent at faster tempi is that the bass’s presence and impact can be counted on, and that provides a solid foundation.

    With a better IEM, the pace is, at best, staid. It won’t put you to sleep, but you do yawn your way through. The inaccurate pacing is irritating both insofar as it’s inaccurate and insofar as it’s slow. It’s genuinely soporific. The only upside to that is that it makes it hard to focus on being bothered by the inaccurate pacing.

    The soundstage is very shallow. The shallowness is immediately noticeable. With a soundstage this shallow, there’s no point in discussing instrument separation or relative position. With a better IEM, the soundstage is a little less shallow, and its shallowness is not immediately noticeable. During the same movement of a symphony, sometimes I noticed it and sometimes I didn’t; it’s a little distracting. Interestingly, when the shallowness is noticeable, the soundstage manages to still sound open as a real stage does. Maybe that sense of open space is what makes the shallowness noticeable. The width is so hard to nitpick that I have to conclude it’s a non-issue.

    The upper-mids have a certain sweetness. Notes that ought to sound staccato are softened and sound “golden toned” (think Leopold Godowsky). This effect is inaccurate, but not unpleasant. The bass slams really hard when it’s supposed to. In very fast passages, there’s some blurring, some loss of distinctness and detail; but it’s a little clearer than M3+.

    M3+:

    M3+’s attack is only slowish, which is acceptable, and its decay is only a hair too long. So pacing sounds normal and enjoyable. With a better IEM, the attack is A-OK, and decay is almost A-OK—it’s no big deal. So the pacing is normal and correct. M3+ is a very listenable amp, like a fair-weather day. It’s very normal, and normal is good.

    The soundstage is shallow, but at least it exists! The shallowness is not immediately noticeable, but one does notice it. Even so, I find it acceptable. It becomes very noticeable with orchestral music and other larger ensembles. Probably, the reason I find it acceptable is that, most of the time, I listen to solo keyboard music. The width is accurate. Everything else M3+ does is good enough—that’s a real compliment—so the shallow soundstage isn’t a deal-breaker for me.

    M3+ has but a hint of sweetness in the upper-mids, a slight softness. The sound is not quite accurate. It would irritate a purist, but a romantic would like it. I can live with it. When the bass is supposed to slam really hard, it doesn’t. In very fast passages, there’s some blurring, some loss of distinctness and detail. But I had rather lose a little more detail with M3+ than have to deal with IEMagni’s pacing problem.

    Conclusion:

    If you need a desktop IEM amp, and IEMagni is the only one that doesn’t cause your IEMs to hiss, buy a less sensitive IEM instead of buying IEMagni.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021
  20. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    I've been hesitant to write this, because my evaluation was rushed and narrowly focused: I'd planned to try multiple headphones with the IEMagni over a period of days, but work interfered and I was only able to listen for a few hours with one IEM, after having slept 4 hours out of the previous 50. Also, I've never owned or even heard a similarly priced amp, so I have no real frame of reference for what a $100 amp is expected to sound like.

    I asked to be on the list for this loaner because my IEMs are CA Andromedas, which I can plug directly into only my Sony NW-ZX300 -- every other source needs an interposed IEMatch to cut the hiss. IEMatch plus the necessary 4.4-to-3.5 adapter, plus sometimes a 3.5-to-whatever adapter on the other side, is an awkward mess. So I was looking forward to the IEMagni, which I hoped would produce hiss-free music without an IEMatch.

    TL;DR: No.

    My setup was FLAC (44/16 or 96/24) from a Squeezebox Touch, over SPDIF to a Benchmark DAC3 HGC, out its unbalanced line-level outputs to the IEMagni. Then from the IEMagni through a 3.5-to-4.4 adapter to my Andros.

    I started with the IEMagni at low (negative) gain and was immediately disappointed. No hiss, which was good... But totally lifeless sound. Just dead. Not only piano and percussion, but even solo vocals like Rebecca Pidgeon singing "Spanish Harlem" or Muddy Waters on Folk Singer. Tried tracks from Trinity Sessions and the bootleg "unmastered" version of Kanye West's MBDTF, some NIN, Rush, LCD Soundsystem, and Keith Jarrett -- all sounded dull dull dull.

    Briefly swapped in a Bifrost 2 instead of the Benchmark -- heard no difference, so swapped back.

    With the IEMagni set to medium gain I heard hiss through the Andros, so had to use an IEMatch. Hiss went away; sound was meh.

    Tried high gain on the IEMagni, still with the IEMatch, and finally felt like I was getting somewhere. Especially when I cranked the IEMagni all the way up, music began to sound more like music (although the amp did get pretty hot). But honestly, it didn't sound better than anything else I'd ever plugged the Andro/IEMatch combo into, and I certainly didn't hear anything new with the IEMagni.

    Maybe the IEMagni would sound better and make sense to buy if it were driving more difficult headphones. I don't know; I didn't have time to try. But it wouldn't make any sense -- for me -- to buy it for my IEMs.

    Again, though, keep in mind that this was a brief evaluation while very very tired. I'm posting this review because I understand that the SBAF loaner program requires it; I wouldn't normally post such negative impressions without much more listening.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 23, 2021

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