Schiit Magni Unity Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Nov 23, 2023.

  1. Beefy

    Beefy Friend

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    I dislike overly high gain as well, but part of it can be explained by input stages that can't handle a lot of voltage. Some discrete FET inputs can't handle more than about 300 mV, some tubes about the same, some older OPAMPs are a few volts, newer OPAMPs can handle rail to rail on +/-30 V.
     
  2. Pancakes

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    Sure but not every damn headamp on the market. A random guess is that the above scenario occurs in less than half.
     
  3. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I have gone on record saying to friends that I think most headamps nowadays have way too much gain... but then I realise that I mainly listen to a lot of really compressed metal, pop punk, decades worth of weird music, and anime OSTs (which is even weirder :p), and that when I'm listening to a more carefully mixed orchestral work I can actually benefit from going from just barely within channel balance zone to noonish, or a bit further above.

    A sample of something that I tend to boost volumes for (I'm on the Piety at the moment and have it set to maybe 10:00 with the HD600s):



    That said, I still often have a LOT of headroom left over. That'd be for the far less efficient planar designs, IMO.

    I have at many points over the years grown accustomed to being stuck listening to very compressed tracks at higher SPLs than I'm strictly comfortable with and just getting used to it; this goes back to me running the Garage1217 Sunrise with caps bypassed and medium OI into the Klipsch HP-3-- I actually chose to engage up to -12dB of digital attenuation instead and was VERY seriously looking at a JBL Nano Patch at the time even though that comes off as rather wasteful.

    Basically, I REALLY like having more granularity to volume adjustment even in high gain. Keep in mind the Unity still is powerful enough to likely murder both my headphones and my ears if I were to be careless setting volume.

    (Before anyone reading this without context might ask: different gain settings tend to sound different, and while not always as exaggeratedly different on the Piety or Unity [differences seemed more minute by far on the Magni 3+], there appear to always be tradeoffs when changing settings).
     
  4. Pancakes

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    Well sure. But I mean don't give me options of +12, +18, +24 wtf. Give me unity, +6, +12.
     
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  5. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Not to derail the thread but yeah I agree it's kinda dumb. I lack any sort of real familiarity with amp design so am unsure what the tradeoffs could be when you just implement a lower power design to begin with. Are you fighting more electronic noise? Shrug.

    Oh I'm gonna edit the impressions post cuz it may be important but I should note that I only used the Magni 3+ wallwart because this one came with a 120V (I did not buy this from Schiit so that's on me). Not sure if that'll have any effect on things because spec matches, but who knows.

    Another edit added to impressions, please keep in mind that while I am very impressed at what US$119 or equivalent can get you nowadays, it is still an entry level amp. Entry level now is leagues more competent (if somewhat less interesting) than mid-fi was a few years ago IMO, but that still stands.

    Third big edit to replace some photos. Really didn't like the first set.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2024
  6. Wilewarer

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    My impression from reading what designers have written about this (Cavalli somewhere in the Liquid Platinum thread, the recent Schiit Happened feedback chapter, etc) is that the parts they have available to use in designs tend to inherently create way more gain in the circuit than is needed for these applications, and a lot of the art of amp design revolves around finding ways to lower the gain without making the circuit sound bad.

    So it's not like they're doing this because they hate us or something. Now, that raises the question of why there aren't parts that can generate lower gain... maybe the answer is just "you can apply feedback to lower it, so why bother"?

    Anyway, at least there are some options like this.
     
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  7. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    What I'm getting out of this really is that there's apparently a good reason for very nice stepped attenuators and volume pots with exacting tolerances to exist, never mind that those tend to cost ludicrous amounts of money.

    This next bit is in part me joking, but also based on my limited experience with various amps it's somewhat sincere: eww feedback :p
     
  8. donunus

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    I just have to ask... Anyone here ever had time to compare this latest magni to the vali 3
     
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  9. yotacowboy

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    @Lyander: Any specific impressions with more sensitive IEMs, e.g., CFA Andro?
     
  10. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Actually don't have that many specific impressions of this pairing out, I HAVE tried it before but that was a while back (I spend much more time with the Piety still, haha, the Unity doesn't get enough use outside of measurements and when I want to peek "into" recordings). Will be following up with impressions in a couple days to let the Unity warm up.

    INITIAL impressions right after switching the unit on though, really murky and rather slow. Very cosy background listening, but this IS with that Tripowin cable that does this to the FR [BLUE is stock cable, ORANGE is the Tripowin thing]-- the stock Litz cable is being difficult, as I think I mentioned before. There's a hotspot in the treble, bit hashy sounding, and bass is just thuddy and muddy. Hollow, diffuse headstage. There's a lot of room for play on the volume knob. Very much not a fan of this combo I think, but could be much better with the stock cable.

    Might also be better with something e.g. the crinacle Zero 2 but I gave that to my one brother so don't have it on hand.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2024
  11. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    @yotacowboy

    I'm revisiting the Modi MB2 > Magni Unity chain with the Andro 2020s using the stock Smoky Litz cable and the large-size generic stiff Penon tips after the amp's been left on for a full day at this point. All impressions on low gain because I don't want to risk going deaf. The Andros are shoved in as deep as they can go with the inner side of the Andros resting on my concha.

    There is no hiss that I can detect until I set the volume knob to near maximum. I have the volume set to just shy of 9 o'clock for "immersive" listening, but with how good the channel balance on the Unity is on top of its having lower gain, as I mentioned earlier on, I can get it down to quiet, but still not background listening, levels at around 8 o'clock.

    Bass is definitely more taut, less muddy and slow than I heard it yesterday. Part of that is definitely the cable swap, but I was listening to the amp with the Tripowin cable for a few hours after my post above and I could hear things cleaning up a bit so it was definitely the amp warming up, at least in part. The low end is still present in earnest and I can see this being too much for some folks, but you get more of a sense of openness to the midrange as well as just a hint of much-needed upper midrange bite to offset all that bass. Ultimate low-bass extension is still not present here but I doubt that's something anyone can reasonably expect of an all-BA design.

    Whatever bit of hashy harshness the treble had right after powering the amp on is very much remedied, but it's not as if it's fully untextured; things that I know ought be harsh and/or sizzly remain so. I feel like the Unity sort of matches what the Andro 2020 does well instead of making up for its shortcomings; headstage size aside the imaging is diffuse, and while the midrange clarity's improved with amp warm-up there's still a very very slight haze to things.

    Going back to headstage, the amp's character of having greater lateral extension than depth comes through here, but with how diffuse the imaging is it doesn't stand out to me as much with the Andros as it does on the HD600s. I kinda wish my Solarises were still alive because I feel like they'd be a remarkable pairing with the Unity.
     

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