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  1. #1

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    Default Schiit Modi - $99 USB DAC - in the house

    So I picked this up from my parents last night, meaning Christmas is finally over. I wanted to spend some time playing with it last night, but spent the entire night installing a water cooler on my CPU. Most of that time was spent straightening pins since the old cooler ripped it out of the socket. Anyways...

    My first impression was "damn, this thing is small!" I've attached two pics of it, one showing it relative to your generic mouse/keyboard. The website makes it look like it might have a brushed finish to it, but it doesn't. Its actually a painted silver, somewhat like the silver, steel-imitation appliances you see nowadays. Its actually a very simple design and elegant in its own right. Its got a decent amount of heft to it, given its size, but the casing is very hollow. I expect it could probably benefit greatly from some dynamatting on both the top and bottom.

    So far all impressions are just on the physical unit itself, not on performance. I'm in the process of setting everything up now and will return with actual performance reviews as compared to the Pioneer BDP.


    PS - I thought it was a little strange that they didn't bother to put in even a cheapo USB cable, though I do understand why. We were making a trip to Fry's anyways, so I went ahead and picked up a .99 cable. If you are getting this for yourself or someone else, be warned. You can't enjoy it 'til you have that little ol' cable.


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    Last edited by DSkip; 12-29-2012 at 10:57 AM. Reason: No Pics
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  2. #2

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    Congrats.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
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    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  3. #3

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    I'm also curious to hear your impressions. I had their Bifrost and while it didn't ultimately make the cut, I did enjoy my time with it. I really like my Valhalla amp though.

    There are lots of reasons to like Schiit gear, looking forward to hearing your impressions.
    Main HT
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    So I picked this up from my parents last night, meaning Christmas is finally over. I wanted to spend some time playing with it last night, but spent the entire night installing a water cooler on my CPU. Most of that time was spent straightening pins since the old cooler ripped it out of the socket. Anyways...
    Ouch man. How the hell did that happen? Heat sinks should never be THAT stuck to CPU's. That hot Texas sun fusing things?

    That lil' DAC looks like a gem. Great size for a desktop setup.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drenis View Post
    Ouch man. How the hell did that happen? Heat sinks should never be THAT stuck to CPU's. That hot Texas sun fusing things?

    That lil' DAC looks like a gem. Great size for a desktop setup.
    No clue. Most aggravating thing I've ever installed on a computer. I've got the FX-8120 and the stock cooler is horrible. Not really where I wanted to spend the money at but its worth it to get rid of that damn high-pitched whirring.

    Been listening to the DAC since the first post and I don't know exactly what to think about it yet. The separation is improved greatly over the BDP, but it seems to be less engaging, almost like listening to solid-state. Bass is much more defined but not as prevalent as it was. I think over time I'll really begin to enjoy it. Gotye is still sounding great, but some of my other go-to CD's just aren't doing it. There are parts of the song "State of the Art" that used to be undefined because of piss-poor separation that are now very, very defined.

    I think this is going to end up like the Onix DAC I had for a while. I originally was disappointed with it, but over time I got used to the sound and realized that, for instance, the bass wasn't missing, it was just much more refined than it used to be. I'm still playing around with computer settings and all that mess, so I'll go into more depth when I feel comfortable with the setup.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  6. #6

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    What you're describing so far is the sound I got out of the Bifrost as well, even after quite a bit of burn in. There was always something sterile about the sound that I ultimately didn't like as much as the warm musical sound that I get from the Peachtree.
    Main HT
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    No clue. Most aggravating thing I've ever installed on a computer. I've got the FX-8120 and the stock cooler is horrible. Not really where I wanted to spend the money at but its worth it to get rid of that damn high-pitched whirring.
    ...
    Some companies use more of an adhesive thermal compound that is hard at room temperature. If you heat it with a hair drier, it will loosen and the CPU will pop off with small force.
    Stan

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  8. #8

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    I've had my Modi for over a week, and just had my first opportunity this morning to do a brief comparison. I compared it to what I believe is the closest competitor--price, spec, and feature-wise--the HRT Music Streamer II. I also compared it to the considerably higher-priced Musical Fidelity V-DACII. The comparison was made using the 2.1-channel gear listed in my signature.

    My initial thoughts/impressions:

    Schiit Audio Modi:

    Pros:

    Price - This is pretty good Schiit for $100
    Chassis - a quality, well-built chassis that is simple, with a great footprint for desktop/headphone use. I also prefer having the inputs and outputs on the back of the unit as the Modi does, rather than on opposite ends of the unit as with the HRT and MF DACs.
    Image - The soundstage is good, with more depth than the HRT, but still can't compete with the V-DACII here.

    Cons:

    High-Frequency detail - This was the first thing I noticed as I listened to the Modi. I'm not sure yet if this is due to roll-off of the response or simply a lack of resolution in the upper frequencies. I will probably need to do some careful headphone listening later to make this determination.

    Rankings/conclusions after this brief comparison:

    You get what you pay for. I would absolutely rank the performance of these three DACs in order relative to their price. Comparing the V-DACII is a bit unfair, but the HRT and Schiit are closer in price and performance. My preference between the two is for the $50 more expense HRT, however I still think the Schiit is a good DAC for the price.

    I hopefully will get to listen to the Schiit a bit more over the next week to refine my impressions of it.
    Last edited by Tbone289; 12-30-2012 at 11:09 AM.
    2.1: Peachtree DAC●iT>Yaqin MC-10L w/6CA7-EH, Voskhod 6N1P-EV>polkaudio RT25i, PSW202

    5.1: ATI HD5850 HDMI Bitstreaming>Denon AVR-1910>polkaudio RT7, CS350-LS, RT3, PSW505, Sony Bravia KDL-52W3000

  9. #9

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    "This is pretty good Schiit for $100"
    LOL

  10. #10

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    Alright, I'm ready to go a little further now. I'm sad to say that I will be sending this DAC back to Schiit. Why? Well, its rather lifeless in my system.

    I did not buy this to run with headphones so I do not know how it would sound there. What I do know is that it doesn't move me in any way. I love the detail and slightly larger soundstage it provides, but the music is weightless and recessed. Nothing is really forward with this DAC, so you don't get any depth to the music either. Like I said earlier, its like its just going through the motions and sacrifices all energy for pure detail. Not only does it not have weight, but it also seems to be lacking any sort of dynamic range. Jewel - Foolish Games was actually sounding decent at one point after switching to a cheaper pair of IC's. After it ended, I put it on the Pio BDP and immediately realized how much better the BDP sounded.

    As much as I really loved the detail of the unit (and wanted to love the unit itself), I simply cannot justify swapping it out for the BDP in my main rig. I never really respected the BDP as a source (because it really does lack a lot of detail), but after the direct comparison, I'm content with it for now. Perhaps I'm expecting too much out of a $100 USB DAC. I know thats a budget item, but I had hoped it would at least out-perform an aging, middle of the road BDP with noticeable downfalls.


    PS - I will add that all these observations were confirmed by my wife.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  11. #11

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    Mine is going back also, for the same reasons. I'm still not happy with the upper frequency detail either.

    It's a shame they charge a 15% restocking fee on these, but I guess that's the price for trying it out.
    2.1: Peachtree DAC●iT>Yaqin MC-10L w/6CA7-EH, Voskhod 6N1P-EV>polkaudio RT25i, PSW202

    5.1: ATI HD5850 HDMI Bitstreaming>Denon AVR-1910>polkaudio RT7, CS350-LS, RT3, PSW505, Sony Bravia KDL-52W3000

  12. #12

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    Does the Modi just show up as a sound card in the system and you can select the source in control panel like with internal sound cards?
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  13. #13

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    I hooked mine up and it automatically routed all audio through the device. With the Grant Fidelity currently in use, I have to go into audio devices and set it as the default device for it to work properly.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by KellyMic View Post
    Does the Modi just show up as a sound card in the system and you can select the source in control panel like with internal sound cards?
    Yes, it will show as a playback device in Windows. You can either select it as the default in control panel, or usually you can do this within your media software (JRiver, foobar2000, Winamp, etc.).
    2.1: Peachtree DAC●iT>Yaqin MC-10L w/6CA7-EH, Voskhod 6N1P-EV>polkaudio RT25i, PSW202

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  15. #15

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    I want to use the Modi to drive just my towers for music. During gaming I'll route via my sound card for surround. I sometimes watch DVDs so do like the 5.1 for it too. Glad to hear it works as I expected, thank you.
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    I just want to add that I also bought the modi/magni stack. However, I had the same problems. The upper frequency did not go well with my desktop speaker setup. Upper frequency sounded muddled and the bass felt overpowering compared to my previous DAC. Sent mine back as well. 15% restocking + $10 shipping back. oh well.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinsun80 View Post
    I just want to add that I also bought the modi/magni stack. However, I had the same problems. The upper frequency did not go well with my desktop speaker setup. Upper frequency sounded muddled and the bass felt overpowering compared to my previous DAC. Sent mine back as well. 15% restocking + $10 shipping back. oh well.
    Did you listen to the Magni with the DAC you like?
    2.1: Peachtree DAC●iT>Yaqin MC-10L w/6CA7-EH, Voskhod 6N1P-EV>polkaudio RT25i, PSW202

    5.1: ATI HD5850 HDMI Bitstreaming>Denon AVR-1910>polkaudio RT7, CS350-LS, RT3, PSW505, Sony Bravia KDL-52W3000

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    Perhaps I'm expecting too much out of a $100 USB DAC. I know thats a budget item, but I had hoped it would at least out-perform an aging, middle of the road BDP with noticeable downfalls.
    .
    Hate to say it man, but you get what you pay for. Thats not to say some products perform well above their price point, which I think you were hoping for in this case. Maybe send H9 a PM, he's had some experience with overperforming cheap dacs. I had the audio-gd nfb3 which I thought performed well above the 2 bones I paid for it. I know Brock still digs his current dac which the name escapes me at the moment.

    Too bad this didn't work out for ya, not everything is a winner though. Trial and error I guess. The used dac market is full of some good deals right now.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    I know Brock still digs his current dac which the name escapes me at the moment.
    Its a Keces 131 or 151 I forget which, one of those is coaxial only, one is USB only...

    I might add I am VERY much digging my NFB-5 which is a DAC + headphone amp + pre. Its connected directly to my tube amp and FLAC has never sounded so good from my Monitor 60's (soon to be replaced by RTA 11TL's )
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  20. #20

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    I honestly think the strength of Schiit is in their headphone amps and not in their DACs. I've not heard their higher end dac though

  21. #21

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    I almost tried one of these after loving their headphone amp so much, glad I didn't waste the time.
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Its a Keces 131 or 151 I forget which, one of those is coaxial only, one is USB only...

    I might add I am VERY much digging my NFB-5 which is a DAC + headphone amp + pre. Its connected directly to my tube amp and FLAC has never sounded so good from my Monitor 60's (soon to be replaced by RTA 11TL's )
    Cool man, put some juice into those 11t's and they should surprise you. I'm on the hunt myself for a tubed dac/pre to use with my modded sonos. Was looking at the GF tube dac 11 but after that review earlier about it sounding veiled with the tube output, I'm having second thoughts.

  23. #23

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    what happened to my posts? if i did something wrong pm me and let me know so i won't repeat it.
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  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by marvda1 View Post
    what happened to my posts? if i did something wrong pm me and let me know so i won't repeat it.
    Word has it you didn't shower today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Cool man, put some juice into those 11t's and they should surprise you.
    Well I got 18-20 watts per channel of tube power, so I am hoping that will be more than enough... thoughts?
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Cool man, put some juice into those 11t's and they should surprise you. I'm on the hunt myself for a tubed dac/pre to use with my modded sonos. Was looking at the GF tube dac 11 but after that review earlier about it sounding veiled with the tube output, I'm having second thoughts.
    You might reach out to Marvin and talk to him about it in more detail. He's spent a lot more time with it than I have. I still stand by my review with my system, but maybe he's had different results in his. While you're at it, keep reminding him to shower. Sure would make visits to his place much more refreshing.

    I'm also not sure what you're using it for. I've only used it with the USB, so maybe its just a characteristic of that specific input.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

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    after a few shots of wild turkey, what smell?
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