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Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the original Schiit Modi DAC. It was sent to me by a member who was anxious to have it measured. I said not but that I would be open to a bribe to think otherwise. And the bribe came so here we are. If you are not interested in tests of these older products, please move along. I need money and will do anything to get some!

The original Modi DAC came out in 2013 I think at the same US $99 price that today's products come in as. At that time though, $99 was more of an amazing price for DAC than it is today. The enclosure of the unit looks just like today's DACs:

Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Audio Review.jpg

Schiit has over the years changed the color/texture of the enclosure so it may not match your modern Schiit gear. I think there are still variations even among the new gear. Not sure.

The back of Modi 1 has the bare minimum of connections:
Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Back Panel Connectors Audio Review.jpg

This is all the functionality I need in a low cost DAC so I am fine with it.

USB DAC Audio Measurements
Here is our usual dashboard:
Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Audio Measurements.png


Output is quite anemic at 1.4 volts versus 2 volts we like to see and get in modern DACs. Elevated noise in lower frequencies is similar to second generation Modi 2 I have measured. Combined with distortion products, it pushes the SINAD way low:

Best Audio DAC Review and Test.png


There are some 190 DACs today that are better than it!

Dynamic range is decent though:
Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Intermodulation distortion versus level shows serious non-linearities:

Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC IMD Audio Measurements.png


Jitter performance once again is bad as second generation Modi 2:

Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Jitter Audio Measurements.png


32-tone signal resembling "music" shows the noise and distortion problems at once:
Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Linearity was surprisingly good given the rest of the measures:
Schiit Modi 1 USB DAC Linearity Audio Measurements.png


It is actually much better than the Schiit Yggdrasil that I tested a while back!

Conclusions
The distortion and low frequency noise in Schiit Modi 1 is well above that of 16 bit audio/CD-quality. I don't recommend buying it even if it is used and at lower price. Spend a few more dollars and purchase the Schiit Modi 3 at $99.

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

Let's cut to the chase: it is holiday season and I expect a generous monitory gift from all of you. Please donate as much as you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

ayane

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It's Schiit, lol. I wasn't holding my breath.
 

bunkbail

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Seems schiit has come a long way. Modi3 and magni3 are actually decent. The new amp heresy is on par with atom.
Would be super nice if they can introduce a Yggdrasil DS DAC with AK4499 that would trump the best DACs out there considering that they are pumping out more good measuring gears these days.
 

bunkbail

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It was sent to me by a member who was anxious to have it measured. I said not but that I would be open to a bribe to think otherwise. And the bribe came so here we are.
Remember my bribe?;) I hope you can revisit that one as well :p.
 

Cahudson42

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Thanks again Amir! Another nice reference point against what you can buy today.

Keep up the great reviews!
 

gvl

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Yawn. I hope the bribe was worth it.
 

Tks

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It's Schiit, lol. I wasn't holding my breath.

I'm holding mine for their latest generation Magni's. And the Modi 3 turned out pretty good when it released.

They're getting much better.

Bossman, y u no do subjective test? This thing looks like it may interest tube aficionado's
 

imagidominc

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I think this review is useful when looking back at all the praise heaped on the first generation Modi. The members on this website weren’t expecting good results of course, but now we have proof.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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bigx5murf

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The optical only version of this was my first standalone DAC. I sold it after replacing it with a SMSL sd-192, which I preferred more. I still have the smsl in a drawer somewhere.
 

filo97s

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It's Schiit, lol. I wasn't holding my breath.
new products are better and it's worth considering them. They literally changed their mind apparently after measurements came out, they bought an APX555 too and started testing their products posting even the AP log in the product page.
 

SpyB

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Schiit,
it is all in the name
Who would purchase from a company who has the audacity
to tell you, before you buy it / it is Schiit
 
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bunkbail

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digicidal

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Schiit,
it is all in the name
Who would purchase from a company who has the audacity
to tell you, before you buy it / it is Schiit

Well, not only is it hip casual self-denigration (I think, too old to say for sure what the cool kids think of this)... but if names were even remotely indicative of the products... Shunyata Research would make products based in science. It's just a name... nothing more. If the products are well made, cost effective and performant... they could drop the c and the extra i and I'd still consider one. On the other hand they could call themselves "Audio Perfection Inc." and have crap products and I'd pass.

I personally think they should come out with a networked DAC that functions as a roon endpoint called the "Streaming Pile"... I'd buy one just for laughs (again as long as it worked well). :D
 

solderdude

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The most hilarious naming is that of their retail outlet. :)
It's a good thing they don't sell this anymore. The Modi-3 is much better and the same price. Would stay away from the R2R nonsense.
 
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