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Budget DAC Review: Schiit Modi 2 ($99)

amirm

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I do not know which reproduction is closer to the source material, and I was looking for clarification in this forum. So far, I'm puzzled by the lack of scientific rigor here, to put it mildly.
We are not performing science here. We are simply measuring a DAC whose manufacturer should have done the same and published the results. Since they have not done so, we, the community, are spending our own money and time extracting this data. My measurements have been out for a while now and the manufacturer knows about them. Yet they have not produced anything of their own disputing mine. Until such time there is such a response, the data is the data and can't be attacked just because.

The exact same setup has been used with countless other DACs and audio tweaks and it has remained consistent. Time and time again it is shown that the Schiit Modi 2 has a variable output that changes with what the computer is doing, what the power on USB bus is, and general condition of USB signal. We should not in any way or shape try to make excuses for the product in question.

And to be clear, the company may have better products. If owners think so, they can loan me theirs and I will test and verify them. You say you have the Uber version of Modi 2. Do you want to offer it for testing and do you think it will do better than the regular Modi 2? What if I bought and tested that. Will then be a call to buy yet another version like Multi-bit? I don't have infinite budget to keep trying different versions of the same product as you can imagine.
 

Blumlein 88

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Can you point me to a single person on this planet who's using an iPhone 6 as a DAC? Or a single person who's on the quest to buy a DAC, and all they'd ask is, "What's its jitter"? And not, you know, things like, how realiable is it? Can it drive my headphones? What's it sound like?

"Hey, so in November 2017 I found this forum, and these guys were criticizing the Modi 2. So when I asked for a better DAC, only two came up. One guy suggested a Behringer, which had hundreds of 1-/2-star reviews on Amazon because the unit would fail after days or weeks. Then another guy suggested to use an iPhone 6 as a DAC because its jitter performance measured well."

Very bizarre, to be honest.

Anyway, I'm now concluding that there isn't much to be learned here. I'm going to unwatch this thread, have fun.
10% of the Amazon reviews were 1 star for the 204HD. 5% two star. Not hundreds as there weren't hundreds of reviews. 7% of Amazon reviews give the Modi 2 one star, and 6% two stars. The first one star Modi 2 review says, "I didn't like the Modi 2 USB, there was noticeable noise induced by the USB connection to the computer. "

Perhaps this is why Schiit is upgrading most of their line with a board to isolate the USB noise from the DAC.
 

Blumlein 88

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snip.....

So what does this say to you? Bad revision? What revision is good?
The good revision Amir is the one you didn't get. ;)


They are adding components to several of the DACs to improve the isolation from USB. Doing so initially when they got units back for other things. Didn't tell anyone. Didn't want them all coming back at once I suspect. They eventually announced this and make the parts available to the owner to install if they so wish. I suspect it has something to do with your test results though that can only be conjecture based upon timing.
 

Jinjuku

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I find it quite ironic that my request for one or more pointers to DACs that are not as "junk" as the Modi is answered by the very definition of unreliable, mass-produced products:

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UM...r&reviewerType=all_reviews#reviews-filter-bar
https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UM...e=all_reviews&pageNumber=1#reviews-filter-bar

And before someone tries to accuse me of being selective or anecdotal: This thread's verdict of the Modi 2 is based on a single (1) Modi 2 tested in a single (1) configuration. I'd say the vast amount of anecdotal evidence on the Behringer's unreliability at Amazon easily beats the single body of evidence against the Modi's performance.
You're being selectively obtuse. It's 4.2 stars out of 5 at Amazon. For $79.

This thread is also predicated on other measure, higher costs, schiit, that exhibited unacceptable behaviors when a $79 DAC doesn't.
 

watchnerd

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If they have 15 revisions without telling the customers when they sell them, heaven help their customers! :eek:

Here is when I bought mine and actual transaction on Amazon:

View attachment 9585

On the back it says SCH-08-2. I googled for that and the manual for the unit popped up:

View attachment 9586


Random number F03??? Instead of being cute with us, they should indicate the revision number on the back of the unit.

I took mine apart and it says "v2.10" on the PCB.

There is a date code of 10/16 which I assume means October 2016. So I bought a unit in March of this year and got production revision dating back 6 months. They better not have changed anything during that time and ship me old stuck.

So what does this say to you? Bad revision? What revision is good?
It looks like Schiit's Gen 5 USB was released after your unit's production date:

http://www.schiit.com/news/news/usb-solved-introducing-gen-5-and-eitr

But, if I'm reading that link correctly, it's a bit moot as it sounds like it only applies to the upgradeable DACs (the Modi isn't upgradeable).
 

amirm

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Folks, seems like the veracity of my measurements have been called into question!!!! I know, how dare they! :D Here is the backstory. A link was made to this thread and measurements from another forum: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...purpose-advice-thread.19/page-263#post-163746

upload_2017-12-6_20-10-31.png


Yes, I was called a "twat" by one of our homeboys no less (Location: PNW (pacific northwest)). As if that was not bad enough, that led to the forum admin (?) to create another thread with the ominous title of "Measurements are Hard." https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/measurements-are-hard.5159/

upload_2017-12-6_20-13-1.png


Borked the measurement? I think I was happier being called a twat!!! And this write-up yet another post:

upload_2017-12-6_20-15-25.png



Modi 2 measures extremely well? Yet jitter was not measured?

Yet another objection filed thusly against my Schiit BiFrost DAC:

upload_2017-12-6_20-17-58.png



Didn't know there was a Geneva convention against a DAC producing too much jitter! The jitter sidebands are actually lower than they seem because the peak is at +10 db. So the spurs are at -60 dB.

Marvey breaks his rule and goes on to post the J-test output of Modi 2:

upload_2017-12-6_20-23-14.png



No details are provided as to how this measurement is performed. From the notation on the graph, the output is from the shareware program, Arta, which is fine but it is just software. We need to know what was used to capture the output but after spending a bunch of time searching their forum and posts from Marvey, I could not find any other detail.

Also in that thread, there is a post by Jason from Schiit:

upload_2017-12-6_20-26-2.png


Notice that he does not post any measurements of his own. Nor is he providing any specific insight as to either results. He does call my measurements "wonky" and complains that I never contacted him for "review." Of course I did not as I bought the product as a customer and did not get a loaned unit which I assume that is how Marvey came about to have his unit. If something is wrong, let's see their measurements showing different results. Why rely on an anonymous user on a forum for that????

Jason's post above is taken as a sanction that Marvey's measurements are right and mine are wrong. Where does this kind of logic come from? Why would people be so open to believing a manufacturer's comment with no data to back it?

Back to Marvey's measurements, notice that he made a mistake in trying to match my measurements: he used a 44.1 Khz J-Test file instead of 48 Khz which I had used for Schiit Modi 2. That may or may not make a difference but surely matching my test would be the first step in countering my work.

So are his results inconsistent with mine? Such may not be the case. See the next post as this is getting long.
 
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amirm

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As members here know well by now, the Schiit Modi 2 is very sensitive to power and signal quality of USB bus. Indeed, anytime I want to show that digital tweaks make a measureable difference, I use Schiit Modi 2 since even phase of the moon seems to make its output different. Here is one of many examples: https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.1829/page-2#post-46217



I don't know what Marvey is using as far as USB and power. Maybe he is using a much cleaner source. To answer that question on our own, I set out to perform a set of tests, comparing the performance of Schiit Modi 2 when driven using my HP Laptop versus my custom built desktop. Everything was kept constant here. Roon was the player on both systems using exclusive mode. RCA and USB cables where the same in the tests just the same. With just a pair of RCA outputs on the back of the Schiit Modi 2 and a USB jack, there are no variables here other than which computer was used to drive the Schiit Modi 2:

Schiit Modi 2 DAC Desktop Compared to Laptop.png


I have shown the Topping D30 DAC as a reference in yellow. Ignoring that, we see that the performance using the laptop vs desktop is very different. The laptop graph in red is saddled with a bunch of low frequency jitter components and some amount of random jitter (the broadening "skirt" around 12 Khz tone). On the desktop, we get a very different output now with tons more sidebands, much more random noise (wider skirt) and two distinct spikes at +- 8Khz relative to our 12 Khz tone (at 4 Khz and 20 Khz). USB micro-frame rate is 8 packets in one millisecond which translates into 8 Khz events inside the DAC. That is disturbing the DAC clock and causing its analog output to be so distorted.

Note that this desktop is different than the one used in my first post in this thread. That hardware crashed and burned and I bought this new motherboard and CPU to replace it. So now we have data on three computers that show Schiit Modi 2 to be susceptible to USB bus.

A question would be, are other DACs just as sensitive? To answer this, I also tested the Fiio E10K which sells for $75 shipped (see my review here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...dslabs-odac-rev-b-compared-to-fiio-e10k.2068/):

Fiio E10k Desktop Compared to Laptop.png


First we see how uneventful this output is. Far cleaner than what we saw from Schiit Modi 2 despite this DAC being nearly half the price. Moreover, the difference between laptop and desktop is very small with the desktop output being actually cleaner!

Let's step up to the same weight class and test the Topping D30 DAC:

Topping D30 DAC Desktop Compared to Laptop.png


See how it clobbers the Schiit Modi 2. And what's more, it shows zero sensitivity to which computer is driving it. The topping D30 is $119 shipped to your door so no high-end DAC. Yet it does what it should.

This data shows without any doubt the design flaws in Schiit Modi 2. No way is it competent at its price point or even lower. We buy external DACs to be free of their dependencies to the computer. Seeing the analog output change like the wind is not acceptable.

As to Marvey, he needs to go back and test the Schiit Modi 2 on different computers, make sure he is using it with stock USB interconnect (and document such) and pay attention to how revealing these tests can be with respect to competence of designers and execution.
 
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amirm

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The above begs the question: how is it that an unknown Chinese company is able to outperform product from Schiit -- a well-known brand and designers behind it? Answer is right on their web site, or rather, what is not.

Here is the web page for Schiit Modi 2: http://www.schiit.com/products/modi-2. There is no measurements there whatsoever. Either the product was not measured or they didn't feel good enough about them to post them on their web site.

http://www.tpdz.net/en/products/d30/index.htm

Scroll to the end and what do we see?



Not only do they post measurements but they are made with Audio Precision analyzer!!! No shareware software apply here.

So is it an accident that the the Topping D30 performs so well? It is not. They have the instrumentation to measure and qualify their designs. They don't drive blind. So not a surprise at all that my testing just confirms the quality bars that they had established for their products already.

I have no connection to either company and picked their products to test based on requests from members. I have bought the products with my own money so nothing loaned either. You want to do well in my evaluations, do your homework and product quality products.

Bringing the story to an end, yes, there can be measurement errors and I am open to anyone pointing them out. But just throwing out hobby tests and accusations don't get us there.
 

Blumlein 88

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I don't know about Marvey, but you really have to watch AtomicBob. He makes some odd conclusions and tests with strange connections sometimes that make no sense to me.

Also I wonder if they were using anything between their PC and the Modi 2? I think you even found a low cost USB hub that helped out on the computer hyper-sensitivity didn't you?
 

amirm

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lso I wonder if they were using anything between their PC and the Modi 2? I think you even found a low cost USB hub that helped out on the computer hyper-sensitivity didn't you?
Indeed I had. Here is that: https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...eview-and-measurements.1829/page-2#post-46236



This DAC could not be more sensitive to how it is driven. All of the above waveforms are from Schiit Modi 2 with the intervening USB hub changed.

I looked everywhere for how Marvey measured the Schiit Modi 2 and there simply is no information.
 

amirm

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In the third panel above in your post Amir, Marvey says he has learned to take USB DAC measurements using a Wyrd because of all the crappy USB connections.

http://www.schiit.com/products/wyrd

So gee, I wonder how his measurements would look if he skipped that?
I can't believe I missed that. That is a great find and would potentially explain the difference in measurements. He better put that in red letters above his measurements seeing how the Wyrd costs another $99.

And yes, he absolutely needs to measure without that to counter the data I have and how just about everyone uses it.
 

Blumlein 88

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Well if he didn't have a Schiity DAC he might not need such protection from USB crap.
 

Thomas savage

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Well that's just cause Amir can't measure for Schiit.
Turns out you put schiit in and you get schiit out but it’s true , without me there showing him what to do amir is lost in front of his AP machine.

It’s like watching a 6 year old seeing the dash of a 747 for the first time , amir stares at all the buttons and big knobs filled with bewildering excitement but with no clue for what any of it does.

Don’t worry @amirm il pop back in the spring and explain it all again ...
 

Wombat

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What is Supabest doing 'slumming' around at the $99 level?
 
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bennetng

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@amirm
May I have a little request? I made a J-Test of my mainboard's Realtek ALC892 and the recording interface is a Creative X-Fi Titanium HD. I attached the original and recorded signal. Can you overlay my recorded signal with the Modi2 and post a screenshot? Thanks.

PS: The Realtek and X-Fi have some I/O level differences, but I did not make any adjustment and they are played and recorded "as is".
 

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