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Review: Battle of Schiit Audio DACs

The Dragon

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#42
Here is an interesting data point. I looked up the measurements of the Analog Devices AD5547 which Schiit Multibit uses: https://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/data-sheets/AD5547_5557.pdf

There, they show an FFT of THD similar to mine. Here is how their measurements compare to actual implementation in Schiit Multibit:

View attachment 18302

Notice the far, far better performance Analog Devices is showing in their measurements versus Modi Multibit. Their worst case distortion is around -110 dB or 25 dB better than Modi Multibit! That massive second harmonic peak seen in Modi Multibit is simply not there in Analog Device's measurements of the same chip in their bench implementation.

So we are really back to what I said in the review: people seem to sweep clear engineering problems away. They don't verify their designs properly and leave clearly engineering mistakes in there. Done correctly, the AD5547 would have been much closer to classic Delta-Sigma implementations. Until recently, Schiit did not take this seriously. They needed to have.
I fully believe this whole "multibit" DAC revival by Schiit was/is nothing more than marketing nonsense. I initially fell for the hype myself and bought a Modi Multibit. I had been looking to replace an Aragon D2AmkII DAC. that I was using with a Schiit EITR (to convert USB to SPDIF so I could use it with my computer). Back when I was looking, Schiit couldn't build Modi Mulitbits fast enough because of all the fan boy reviews and advertising on some other headphone-related forums. Since then, I have learned that the Schiit designers/founders routinely participate on these forums pushing their products and also sponsor the forums.

Looking back, I don't know why I thought a new multibit DAC designed by some guy who is famous for his previous digital audio designs would sound better than what I already had. But.....it doesn't. So, I am not surprised to see this measurement data. In fact, I am happy to have my ears validated!

I purchased my Modi Multibit just before I found this forum. I would not have purchased it if I knew what I know now. I very much appreciate the work that Amir does here and the honesty and integrity by which he conducts himself. For audiophiles who want to know the truth and cut the through the hype, this is a valuable resource.
 

amirm

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#44

THW

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#45
thanks for the review, further confirms the nagging suspicions that I had about the multibit stuff being marketing (military and medical applications? what?)

i also like the multi-tone graphs and how you explained it, great for a non-technical person like myself :)
 

Veri

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#46
@amirm if I recall correctly you have two more multibit devices that probably measure much better than this one right? :) your Mark Levinson and the iFi iDac2 (hybrid). maybe another possible DAC-off? :D
 

Jimster480

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#47
@amirm if I recall correctly you have two more multibit devices that probably measure much better than this one right? :) your Mark Levinson and the iFi iDac2 (hybrid). maybe another possible DAC-off? :D
I didn't realize that iFi made anything that was Multibit...
 

Veri

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#48
I didn't realize that iFi made anything that was Multibit...
They use a weird DSD1793 chip for basically all of their products. Its output is very niche since its part multibit part delta sigma summed up. You can read a little about it in this thread. So not "multi-bit" in the true-est sense of the word.
The iDAC amir owns is probably more or less the same as the black label ones, but iFi themselves claim it's their best DAC besides their 'Pro' dac so I do wonder...
 

Jimster480

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#49
They use a weird DSD1793 chip for basically all of their products. Its output is very niche since its part multibit part delta sigma summed up. You can read a little about it in this thread. So not "multi-bit" in the true-est sense of the word.
The iDAC amir owns is probably more or less the same as the black label ones, but iFi themselves claim it's their best DAC besides their 'Pro' dac so I do wonder...
That chip is actually very similar to the PCM1792A, its not any more multibit than other modern Delta-Sigma converters like the ES9028.
They are all using "multiple 1 bit DAC's" and summing the outputs internally or balancing them to reduce distortion.
 

Veri

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#50
That chip is actually very similar to the PCM1792A, its not any more multibit than other modern Delta-Sigma converters like the ES9028.
They are all using "multiple 1 bit DAC's" and summing the outputs internally or balancing them to reduce distortion.
Yes well Burr Brown's own specs claim that the first 6 bits go through an R2R-ladder. Real implementation details are missing though so this is mostly just "secret sauce" claims. You could be right.
 

XpanD

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#51
Thanks for yet another great post.

On an unrelated note, I noticed a typo in the SINAD chart -- what I am assuming is the Denon AVR-4306 (very nearly at the bottom) is marked as a "Yamaha AVR-4306". Had me confused for a little bit. :p
 

garbulky

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#52
I think it's fair to say that Ive been a critic of your multibit reviews. For me it's about an unfair slant towards measurements with audibility during music listening not given closer focus. Here you've attempted to address a large amount of those issues. As a reader that is not as technically oriented, I feel it allows me to get a fuller picture and make my own decisions more easily.

You've stated your review well. You've talked about audibility. You've even shown multi-tone testing (!) I don't see a lot of review sites doing that!

You've done listening tests. You've stressed that you didn't hear a difference and clearly stated why you do or don't reccomend something. You've also relaxed the linearity threshold form 0.1 db to 0.5 db.
All good attemps at being more fair and thorough. So I really do appreciate the work done.

Now a question with those multitone tests (in the figure next to square waves with a big square and bad written) I see that there is a fundamental note that appears to be higher in amplitude than the others. Is this supposed to be like that? I thought they were the same amplitude. If they are supposed to be the same amplitude, then why are the higher frequencies lower in amplitude? Is that a dac issue?
 
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solderdude

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#53
Squarewaves have a different amplitude per harmonics than the multitone tests.
In a squarewave the fundamental always has the largest amplitude, the harmonics are related to the fundamental in frequency, phase and amplitude.
The multi-tone measurements have different (not harmonics related) tones of equal amplitude and are not phase related.
 

SIY

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#55
Is your multi-tone test basically spacing the tones at 1/3 octave intervals?
Ideally, you space the tones so that their harmonics don't coincide with other tones and are thus visible. AP's multitone test will generate that automatically for you, which is nice.

The ARTA multitone doesn't do that, but intermods show up between tones, so effectively, you'll get results that correlate to the AP version. And ARTA is affordable.

The Virtins MI system allows you to manually create the tone table, so with a little bit of math, you can do the same thing as the AP.
 

Aibo

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#58
Nice measurements. I really like the addition of multi-tone and square wave. By watching what is posted for some DACs I've also listened, it seems to me that higher noise in these graphs correlates with added "brightness" to the sound.

I hope these will be a part of all future tests too.
 
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