Magni 3: Schiit did it again.

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…

Gear mentioned
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,

Songs used

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
Magni 3
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.

DSHA-0
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.

HD6XX/HD650 (Modded)
Magni 3

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.

DSHA-0

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.

Westone 30

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.

 

6 thoughts on “Magni 3: Schiit did it again.

  1. Christopher White

    An excellent review and I have to concur re the Valhalla 2, I sold mine to buy the Modi Multibit and have regretted nothing, in fact the V2, even with classy input tubes is not a patch on the Magni 3. Add the Mimby and I’m stunned at how superb this combo is! I use modded Sennheiser HD540 Ref1s that are 29 years old (pleather pads and Mogami cable) and I DO have image height, in fact I am transported onto the soundstage. In over 40 years of hifi ‘hobbying’ I haven’t come across anything that brings such sheer life and joy to music where the electronics just gets right out of the way and leaves only the musical event. Mostly, I use my Questyle QP1R as a source, optical out into he Mimby and Slinkylinks’ pure silver ICs into the Magni 3, sometimes USB from a MacBook Pro via a Jitterbug, but the signal purity is cleaner again from the QP1R. The M3/Mimby combo is definitely worth the quality ICs!

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    1. Glad you like it! I have to agree that if I had to choose between valhalla 2 and magni 3, I would pick the magni 3 for various reasons. The Valhalla 2 however wins in tube roll, I had a pair of orange global amperex ecc88 tubes and it really shines with V2. The stock tube in V2 sounds more like an SS amp than tube. The Magni 3 however is amazing for its price and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who’s looking for an affordable and small transportable amp but powerful. Schiit really knows their thing.

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      1. Christopher White

        They certainly do know their stuff! I actually did have the NOS 1968 Orange Globe Amperex tubes in the V2 and I was loving it … until I discovered that the Magni 3 was far more transparent, dead silent between notes etc and noticeably more detailed, while being absolutely clean and natural with it. It was no contest and since I didn’t need the V2 for anything else, it was sold off for the much better deal in the Mimby. No regrets at all! The balance with the Senn HD540 Ref1s is perfect and it’s taken me 29 years to get there 🙂 In over 40 years of hifi passion, I’ve not come across such a combination that sings so naturally across the board. Of all the other headphones I’ve got here or owned previously, the Ref1s are still my goto cans, the sense of sheer life and fabulous rhythmic abilities just lets music through effortlessly. I sometimes use my HifiMAN HE400S (Focus A pads) but they don’t cut it here either and I always go back to the life and joy of the Ref1s pretty quickly, they are superb with the QP1R though! Now, if I could get a Magni 3 with double the power into 600 ohms …. The V2 did but couldn’t cut it for me in all other areas. Tom from Schiit shared with me the idea that they use the NOS Amperex 1968 O.G. 6DJ8s and suggested that I could try them, as they often use HD700/800 series Senns with the V2. I kept the Amperex tubes 🙂
        I get some stonking bass at times, especially from the likes of Random Access Memories and the like, yet clean and full of tonal life. Sometimes there is a slight lessening of the mid bass, so I think you’re spot on there, though it does seem to vary from track to track, as if the combo is rather honest and just giving me what’s there. It WILL be interesting to hear how the new HD6XX cans do with this lot when they arrive late March, I’ve owned HD650s before and would not trade them for the Ref1s on any planet! However, the HD6XX are a great price and my gear has moved on since I had the HD650s, so we shall see. No doubt it will be fun!
        Love your ‘work’, Ahmad. I have only come across your site yesterday.

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      2. My main reason on selling the Valhalla 2 is due to the tube noise and with TH900, it really affects my listening. While tube amps have these pleasing sound to it, I would still go for SS amp due to its neutral, transparent and black background. Magni 3 nailed it in these aspects! I can vouch you that the new HD6XX is a great pair with Magni 3. I have the first batch of HD6XX while my housemate has the newst version of HD6XX and I do find that the newer version has a better synergy with M3. It has better treble extension IMO. I am sure you will enjoy them even though I am not sure how will it compares to the Ref1. Although I really enjoy the magni 3, I can’t seem to justify on having it in my possession as I already have the ECP DSHA-0 that I use most of the time. Thank you for reading! I will try my best to keep it updated as I have couple things up for review. But really, my final semester in senior year of college kills me 🙂

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