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Schiit Magni 3+ and Heresy Headphone Amp Reviews

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I'd personally opt for the massdrop thx aaa, or the smsl sp200 which you can buy at audiophonics EU.
Thank you @Veri , before purchasing the Atom, I actually talked to one store in AliExpress about SP200. They even gave me around 30 USD discount because I bought many audio gear from them before. The thing is, there seems to be many issues with SP200 like volume imbalance and not friendly with IEMs since even a tiny change in volume knob makes a huge step in power(I have many IEMs, I am an IEM guy before jumping into headphones). Maybe when SMSL releases a new version of SP200, I'll consider them again.
Regarding Massdrop thx, it's quite expensive for me at 400(plus courier and customs tax).
 
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The Heresy and Magni3+ will go a meagre 1.8dB louder. (5.5x gain vs 4.5x gain)
It looks like you need a source with a higher output voltage, or may have the volume control in your source set too low.
The Atom should be able to drive the HE4XX to loud levels and should be able to reach 122dB peak levels.
Thanks @solderdude , my Acer Windows PC is already at 100% and Youtube in Chrome is also already at 100%. My PC is connected to topping D30, then D30 to Atom amp. I am also quite surprised since before buying the Atom, I have read and watched many reviews that it has plenty of power for most people's needs. I think it's time to save up for the Drop THX 789.
 

FrantzM

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The Atom with the Khadas Tone board drives the HE4XX to deafening, painfully loud, tinnitus-inducing levels. I am certain problems lies in the source level. You can spend more if you want but I suggest you get something like a Topping D10 (finished product) or a Khadas Tone Board (Just a board, you need to procure yourself of a case) for circa U$100, the THX products are marginally better in some areas. The Atom IMHO defines the notion of Screaming Bargain (literally as it happens :D)
 

solderdude

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Thanks @solderdude , my Acer Windows PC is already at 100% and Youtube in Chrome is also already at 100%. My PC is connected to topping D30, then D30 to Atom amp. I am also quite surprised since before buying the Atom, I have read and watched many reviews that it has plenty of power for most people's needs. I think it's time to save up for the Drop THX 789.
Try using the headphone out from the PC or buy an external USB DAC.
Around $ 50.- you should have a better DAC than the one in the PC.

Your problem is not a lack of available power but for some reason not enough gain or a too low output voltage.
The gain of 789 is the same as that of the Magni's so won't solve any problems.
 
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Alright, sorry for the trouble guys. I have found the problem, and all your speculationsare correct, the source is the problem. I have equalizer APO installed since before and my PC is running 24/7 for few weeks now, and for some reason, the gain on eqAPO was set at 6dB below. I must have messed it up long before, when I was trying it out the fisrt time I installed it.

Now I can listen at 2 to 3 o'clock(on high gain) satisfactorily with Youtube.

Again, I apologize for the trouble guys.
Thank you for all the inputs, those were very helpful. I really like the positive activity on this community.
 

FrantzM

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Thanks @solderdude , my Acer Windows PC is already at 100% and Youtube in Chrome is also already at 100%. My PC is connected to topping D30, then D30 to Atom amp. I am also quite surprised since before buying the Atom, I have read and watched many reviews that it has plenty of power for most people's needs. I think it's time to save up for the Drop THX 789.
I didn't read your post entirely. You have a Topping D30.. Stupid question: There is a gain switch on the Atom. Low is for IEM and high for "normal" headphones.. Have you tried that? You can't see the settings by just pressing the switch, feedback is poor, there is no indication to tell you whether you're on "high" or "low" gain, no LED.. On "low", I can turn the Atom' volume to MAX with no issue on "High" past mid-course, SPL is clean but no longer comfortable
 
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Considering that you can toggle the Freya+ and Saga+ to operate in passive mode, it makes the S versions redundant
I'm not sure I agree with this considering listeners with the tube versions of the Saga prefer it with the line buffer engaged (in every comment I've seen). And I've listened to the Saga S in two different hi resolution (2 channel loudspeaker) systems and prefer it with the buffer stage engaged also. In a word it seems more transparent. Could it be due to slight level or FR variations with buffers engaged? Regardless the S version would seem to give one a choice of a drive buffer with a more solid state character, if that is whet one prefers.

In any case I'll stand by my original point - for the degree of control flexibility and seeming audio performance $299 is a bargain.
 

majingotan

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I actually prefer the OG Saga with the tube mode on. I use the NOS 5692 Red Base as it is aesthetically beautiful and sound good to my subjective taste IMO. When A/Bing DACs, I switch to the passive mode for best performance
 

roh

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Hi, could you comment on quality of the preamp when connected to active speakers (in my case studio monitors with uncomfortable separate volume knobs)?

Thanks
 

solderdude

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The RCA out is simply the headphone out signal switched through the TRS jack via a 100 Ohm resistor.
As a pre-amp the quality will even be slightly higher than the 300 Ohm measurements.
i.e. nothing to worry about.
 
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Hi guys, the Heresy work good with DT 990 pro 250 ohm?

For DAC i use an internal Sound Blaster Z, ya i know but i have paid it 35 euro many years ago D:
 

8lec

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This is a review, detailed measurements and comparison of Schiit Magni 3+ and Heresy Headphone Amplifiers. It was kindly sent to me by the company. They both cost US $99 plus shipping from Schiit.

The Magni 3+ is a discrete amplifier implementation whereas the Heresy uses integrated circuits ("opamps") creating a race as to which is better.

Both units come in classic Schiit enclosure but the Heresy has burgundy accent with black top:

The Heresy has a nice red LED indicating if the power is on or not. The Magni 3+ does not. Why? Half the time I could not tell if the Magni 3+ was on or not.

The volume control on both is rather close to the 1/4 headphone jack. As such, even though I have thinner fingers, I could not comfortably change the volume control. Wish the headphone jack was on the left side and volume on the right.

Both units are powered by the classic AC transformer (15 volts AC @ 1.5 Amps) Schiit ships with a lot of its components. They get a bit warm and likely waste more power than the amps themselves. They do give the designer an advantage though over switching DC power supplies as both negative and positive "rails" (voltages) can be produced from AC. Whereas with DC, you have to have another switching converter to generate the negative rail.

The back panel is what you expect:
Yes, the roll of toilet paper came in the box and gave me a good chuckle, putting me in good mood. Have not showed it to my wife yet as I am sure she will question me on what on earth I am testing that comes with toiler paper...

Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of feeding the amp 2 volts and get 2 volts out ("unity" gain):

View attachment 42000

As you see, we are a bit shy of 2 volts output even though I had the volume at max. This means that the low gain mode is a bit less than 1:1. I tested it in high gain mode with 2 volt output and that dropped the SINAD (noise and distortion) to 99 dB. Wanted to test the same with Heresy but there, the high gain is much worse. So I decided to give the benefit to Magni 3+ and stay in low gain mode.

Here is the Heresy output:
View attachment 42001

This is when I sit back with a big smile and thank myself for living in an era of such spectacular headphone performance. Distortion products are around -135 dB, which is about 20 dB better than we need for absolute transparency! Here is our ranking among their competitors:
View attachment 42003

The Heresy pulls ahead of its only competitor: the JDS Labs Atom. The Magni 3+ hangs back a couple of grades.

Note that the Heresy has much better rejection of 60 Hz hum than the Magni 3+ does. A benefit of using IC opamps in Heresy versus discrete circuit in Magni 3+.

Signal to noise ratio at nominal 2 volts out is excellent on both:
View attachment 42005

We are talking 20 bits of dynamic range which matches the best DACs we have.

Dropping the output to just 50 millivolts to represent what level of dynamic range you get with sensitive IEMs and headphones we get a less impressive number:

View attachment 42004

Here the JDS Labs Atom pulls ahead:

View attachment 42006

We are in upper tier of performance though so still good.

Frequency response is dead flat in both to 40 kHz which is great:
View attachment 42007

Key measurement is power into different loads so let's start with 300 ohm in low gain for both:
View attachment 42008

We can see that the Heresy is slightly quieter and at the limit has less distortion, pushing the limit in the measurement system. Neither clips in low gain so if you hear distortion, it is in your headphones.

Here is the high gain performance against JDS Labs Atom:
View attachment 42009

Power output is the same in all three amplifiers. The Atom and Heresy have much lower distortion though before they clip. At nearly 90 dB SINAD, Magni 3+ is doing well too. Just not int he same class.

Here is performance into 33 ohm in low gain:
View attachment 42010

Very good performance from both of them with Heresy sporting lower distortion yet again.

High gain comparison to Atom gives us:
View attachment 42011

The Atom (dashed green) holds the title of lower noise and distortion. But both Magni amps leave it in the dust in power, producing nearly 2.4 watts.

Output impedance was identical and very low (good) on both at 1.3 ohm:
View attachment 42012

The channel imbalance was rather poor in Magni 3+ in the way it immediately showed such even at high volumes:
View attachment 42013

Your soundstage them may shift a bit depending on what the volume setting is. In my brief listening tests though, I did not notice this but more testing needs to be done.

I suspect the same volume control is also used in Heresy but here, it did a lot better:
View attachment 42014

If the volume control is the same, and you have sensitive ears/headphones, then may have to sift through some units to get one with the right match.

This is one drawback of getting an external headphone amplifier versus a combo DAC and Headphone Amp. The latter almost always uses the volume control in the DAC and hence has near perfect channel match.

Headphone Listening Tests
I wanted to get this review out quickly so did not spend extensive amount of time listening. But did go through my set of headphone specific tracks and performed AB tests with levels matched. I fed both amps using my Topping DX3 Pro and used its volume control for adjustment.

I started with the Drop/MrSpeakers Ether CX 25 ohms. Both amps drove it to ear bleeding level in high gain. While I could hear increasing distortion, both were identical in this regard so I am assuming it is the headphone complaining. There was no sonic difference that I could detect.

So I switched to Sennheiser HD-650 headphones. Both amplifiers provided incredible amount of drive, producing stellar response in the form of bass, detail and dynamic range. I tried with a few tracks to tell the two amps apart but I could not. In more careful ABX scenario where I can focus on specific segments I might do better. But in real-time testing, the two amps are the same. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Conclusions
Rarely do we get an opportunity to test two design philosophies in electronics. Yet here we are with two amps with near identical power rating and output impedance trying to impress us. The one with discrete implementation has the story that "it is harder to design so it must be better." The Opamp IC design's story is that an integrate circuit can be far more optimized than a discrete design. And its drawback of low voltage operation, doesn't apply to headphone amplifiers.

The conclusion is simple: the opamp design is superior in every regard to the discrete implementation. It has far less distortion, much less hum and lower noise floor in general. The Heresy also comes with a power LED which I like.

The Magni 3+ is also very competent amplifier and subjectively kept up with Heresy. But my question is why would you buy it? What are you going to do with that "story" of it being discrete? Print it on a sign and put it on your wall? Or sit back and enjoy music knowing that the Heresy provides absolute, provably transparent reproduction whereas the Magni 3+ is very close but may not be there.

My choice is clear. I am happy to give a very strong recommendation to Schiit Magni Heresy. It has exemplary performance coupled with a solid metal box.

Personally though I would not use it due to volume control position. Make sure you are OK with that before committing to it.

--------
As always, questions, comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

This is a union town which the panthers belong to. I had no idea that there was a contractual restriction against using two panthers in the same picture. So I am facing a fine and appreciate donations to pay for that and/or fight the infraction using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Great review.
I have heard many people mentioning the compression on Schiit's amps, does the Heresy also suffer from the same sound signature? If not then I'll probably be getting the Heresy
 

Veri

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Great review.
I have heard many people mentioning the compression on Schiit's amps, does the Heresy also suffer from the same sound signature? If not then I'll probably be getting the Heresy
There should be no such thing. In any case I would simply pick in order of aesthetics: modi magni heresy in black, or modi magni 3+ in silver :):cool:
 

solderdude

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Great review.
I have heard many people mentioning the compression on Schiit's amps, does the Heresy also suffer from the same sound signature? If not then I'll probably be getting the Heresy
There is no compression on Schiit amps.
There is no mechanism for compression in these amps.
If there were any there would be considerable 3rd harmonic distortion visible.

As Veri said... just pick one depending on looks or needed output power in very low impedance headphones.
 
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I have the original Magni 3 but since then I've had the JDS Labs EL amp and now the SMSL SP200 THX amp. The Magni 3 was a good amp for $99 but I feel like you can get better ones in the same price range.

Schiit makes good stuff but they also have some things that are overrated, like the Modi Multibit which is not near as good as the Topping D50s or even the JDS Labs EL Dac and both cost the same as the Multibit.
 
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