It was one fine day. A beautiful weather with northwest breeze blowing softly; people is enjoying the sun, and walking around campus looking at the clear blue sky. Unfortunately, I was sitting at the library studying and struggling for my exam in the next hour. Half an hour before the exam, I decided to take a short break and browsed through head-fi for couple minutes and saw a post regards to Magni 3. Well, I am not interested. Why? I owned Valhalla 2 and it doesn’t suit my taste. A cheaper amp is just going to make it worse, at least that is what I thought. Still, I am curious, so I read through and quite surprised when a numbers of them said that the sound quality is close to Jotunheim. Then, I decided to pull the trigger. I mean it’s not going to hurt because of the $99 price tag and I can always sell it later if it doesn’t suit my taste. After a long wait, it arrives.
This schiit is just a schiit.
From the box, it just looks like a regular schiit. When I opened the box, the Magni 3 is just lying there. Nothing impressive really. Build quality is what you can expect from the old magni and the exterior is the same except the new label “Magni 3”. I used HD800, Westone 30 and ECP amp to show how small the amp is. I am not sure how others think but this is transportable (not portable because you still need a socket to plug the wall charger) because I can literally bring this everywhere with ease. I plug the RCA interconnect and connect the amp with Holo Spring DAC level 3 Kitsune Edition. In my case, it’s quite hard to compare with other DAC because the Spring DAC KTE is the only DAC left in my system. I also use my Pioneer XDP-100R to have variety of source that could be used to measure how good the Magni 3 is AND the experiment begins…
Source: Holo Spring Dac Level 3 Kitsune Edition (DAC), Pioneer XDP-100r (mentioned) Tidal Master (Source) and Foobar (Source)
Amp: ECP-DSHA-0, Schiit Magni 3, Cavalli Liquid Carbon V1 (mentioned)
Headphones/IEM: HD800 SDR mod, Modded HD6XX, Westone 30,
Lessons – Echosmith
Hotel California – Eagle
Caught in the middle – Paramore
Wish you were here – Pink Floyd
Sweet Child of Mine – Guns n’ Roses
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Uh Huh – Julia Michaels
How does it sound?
Neutral and warm. The first two words that comes in mind after an hour of listening through my HD800. That was my first impression after an hour listening. Then, I let it run for more than 24 hours before I started my critical listening session. I also compare the Magni 3 with ECP DSHA-0 and see how they compete. Well, you might say that I am crazy. There’s no way a $99 amp compete with $2k++ amp; Well, the thing is, both of them are similar in terms of SQ. Transparent, neutral with smooth top end. On top of that, let’s see how they compare with each other.
HD800 SDR mod
In terms of clarity, I can hear everything at ease; but at some point, when there are too many things mix in, the mids are swallowed by the treble. It is easier to say that words containing ‘S’ sound are not properly pronounced. The cymbals just take over the mids cause it to sound veil. Although, I don’t think the mids is recessed at all. The clarity is amazing for $99 and I can say that it’s close to my previous Cavalli Liquid Carbon. I am also quite surprised by how good this amp delivers the treble. My HD800 SDR mode can catch every single note played in the music and the separation is quite good too. The guitar string is there, cymbals is there but never harsh. When Caught in the middle by Paramore is playing, the moment the two drumsticks hit each other, I can point the position of the drumsticks in the song. Soundstage is amazing; it has the width but not so much in height. This is apparent with songs like Hotel California and Wish You Were Here. Both Holo Spring DAC Level 3 Kitsune Edition and HD800 delivers a great soundstage monster with amazing micro detail and Magni 3 benefits greatly from this. With the Magni 3, the mid bass is good but not so in the upper and low bass region. With the Magni 3, I turn the volume knob to 12-2 o’clock at high gain.
No doubt that this is still the best Solid-State combo for HD800. The clarity is amazing with a hugeee soundstage. Resolving and accurate treble but not harsh. I can hear every single guitar string being played when I listen to Sweet Child of Mine by Guns n’ Roses without fatigue. When there are cymbals, you’ll hear only the cymbals and the lead singer will properly replace the cymbals sound without a mess. No mix. Not recessed at all. As if, you’re in the concert and waiting for the lead singer to jump while singing the chorus. You know he’s going to do it and you’re waiting anxiously before joining the whole party to do the same thing. The only lacking aspect with this combo is bass; but hey, when I say lacking, I am not saying that it’s not good. In fact, it’s amazing. Great mid and upper bass but lack in low-end. So far, I haven’t been able to bring the low end of HD800 with any kind of amp. The DSHA-0 beat Magni 3 in every aspect but interesting enough, instead of hearing a different amp, I felt like I listen to the same amp but better.
Dynamic duo. HD6XX is known for its laid-back signature and at times, it feels too warm and no energy. Magni 3 is able to bring the energy in well-mannered. Not too forward but not too warm either. It is close to my previous Liquid Carbon in that sense except, it is somewhat veil. I am pretty convinced that the warm and smooth signature of the Magni 3 adds to this. Honestly, I am not sure if I should call it veil either because the treble is pronouncing well but it seems like the mids are covered by a thin cloth. The main difference with my modded HD6XX and the regular HD6XX/650 is its airy with a better mids. I guess that says something. Still, it doesn’t mean that its bad, but I think HD600 will benefits the Magni 3 more than HD650. The bass is good, and I never heard an amp with a better bass at this price point. Again, not much differences with the low-end as compare to HD800 but the mid bass is better here. The soundstage is noticeably wider than Cavalli Liquid Carbon but not height just width. I used to listen to my modded HD6XX more with Liquid Carbon than HD800 and that is the reason why I keep comparing the Magni 3 with LC. It is surprising that the Magni 3 come close to LC; LC adds some color to the sound but Magni 3 is ultimately transparent with smooth touch at the top end. But bear in mind that I never had any chance to pair my LC with Holo Spring DAC Level 3. That will definitely increase the sound quality margin between both amps. With any amp I use, I always use high gain with HD6XX because it just feels right that way. The volume knob is turn to somewhere in between 11-1 o’clock.
Although I keep saying that Magni 3 is a cheaper version of DSHA-0, with HD6XX, it sounds different in certain aspects. ECP DSHA-0 brings out the full potential of most headphone (not sure about abyss though) and HD6XX is included. If Magni 3 properly presents the energy out of HD6XX, the DSHA-0 squeeze every energy left in the headphones and deliver it accurately in the right spot. If the drums were played aggressively, that’s what you get playing on your ears. Airy and detailed mids, impressive bass both in quantity and quality and never harsh but accurate and well-delivered treble. Everything is much better with DSHA-0. The energy brings a livelier version of HD6XX with a huge soundstage and that makes a lot of difference when comparing both amps. This amp is a major upgrade to my liquid carbon. I guess, not much to say here because it seems unfair to Magni 3.
The DSHA-0 doesn’t have any output for IEM even SE so I decided to just do extra write-up on how well does the Magni 3 pair with IEM. As far as I am concern, Westone 30 is not too sensitive but I did hear a hiss sound when I plug it in to SE output of Liquid Carbon. While with Magni 3, when I turn the volume knob to zero and max, I hear nothing coming out from W30. The amp does have a black background and it is amazing especially for its price tag. W30 is close to HD650 laid-back signature but with elevated bass. The clarity does improve with engaging mids. Julia Michael voice sounds more intimate that grabs audience attention the second she starts to sing. Airy sounds is noticeable with wider soundstage. When I pair W30 with XDP-100r, I always thought that the soundstage is too small; but again, Magni 3 doesn’t give the height just width. Treble is decent with W30 but better than XDP-100r. W30 has a good separation but there’s several times where I can hear the mids and cymbals almost mix with each other. Bass.. Oh Bass. The major improvement compares to the XDP-100r is the bass. The low-end is finally made its way out and brings the mid and upper bass together while avoiding any collision with the mids. Every bass note was hit at the right amount and creates a space between each bass note or you could say that it’s more dynamic. Yes! Dynamic. I can imagine sitting in front of the stage looking at the drummer plays while Hayley Williams sing energetically on the left side of the stage. Overall, The Magni 3 performs really well with IEM or at least with W30 than my other full cans. I listened at low gain with volume knob around 9-11 o’clock.
This Schiit is amazing!
If you ask what is my verdict between the Magni 3 and DSHA-0, I would definitely say DSHA-0; but if you ask me, what is one of the best amp under $500, I am not hesitate to recommend the Magni 3 for you. In fact, I highly recommend that you get the Magni 3. Nope! Don’t think, just buy. Why? Because this Schiit is amazing! At $99, you lose nothing but instead, getting yourself a high valued amp. The Magni 3 is a keep for me. Do share your impressions if you have it in possession. I am glad to hear it.
I hear what I hear. Period.
P/S: I will update this post when I have Schiit Loki in possession.