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Schiit Modi 3+ Review (Stereo DAC)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Modi 3+ DAC. It was kindly sent to me by the company for testing and costs US $99 from the company direct.

Externally there is not much that indicates the new revision of the Schiit Modi series of DACs:

Schiit Modi 3+ Review DAC USB.jpg


The back side is the same as before:

Schiit Modi 3+ Review DAC USB back panel power supply.jpg


Internally though the USB implementation has been replaced by Schiit's own design. I am assuming there is some cost saving there as otherwise I don't see the reason for reinventing the wheel there.

As before, USB is self-powered but you need to use an external USB power to use S/PDIF or Toslink interfaces. I compared using Schiit's supplied USB adapter to using my computer's output and result was the same. So if you misplace the external adapter, and don't have a phone one handy, you can just use a port on your computer.

As is typical of Schiit DACs, it somehow identifies itself to Windows differently causing my ASIO emulation layer to resample (and screw up) the samples. So I used my Roon player to send it static signals and Coax for "sweeps."

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard of 1 kHz, 24-bit tone using USB input:

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements USB DAC.png


The ranking is quite good although the game has advanced by some other competitors:
Best USB DAC.png


And zoomed:

Best USB DAC zoomed.png


Signal to noise ratio likewise feels a few dBs behind especially in one channel:

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements Coax dynamic range.png


The design does improve on the old Modi 3 however if we look at intermodulation distortion as an example:
Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements Coax IMD Distortion DAC.png


Jitter over USB is very good although there are some clear signs of benign jitter:

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements USB DAC Jitter.png


Any time you see spikes symmetrical around our 12 kHz tone, they are most likely jitter. As is typical though, the other inputs are significantly worse:

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements USB Toslink Coax DAC.png


Linearity is very good and shows attention to detail:
Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements Coax Linearity.png


The DAC filter is "bog standard" as our UK and Australian friends would say:
Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements Coax DAC Filter Response.png


Good attenuation in the stop band but a bit slow. Again, very typical.

I was disappointed in THD+N versus frequency:

Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements Coax THD+N vs frequency.png


As well as multitone:
Schiit Modi 3+ Measurements USB DAC Multitone.png


Conclusions
When it comes to DACs -- even budget ones -- we are quite spoiled. The industry through fierce competition has really sneezed every bit of noise and distortion given the cost constraints. The Schiit Modi 3+ is also in that game but as noted in the review, a small step behind. In return you get a US made and supported product, matching any other Schiit gear you may have.

So while I can't gush over its performance since it doesn't best the category, I am happy to still recommend the Schiit Modi 3+.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

F1308

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The cheaper still the better, and they even were brave enough to cross the border down by 1$ !!!!
 

3125b

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Not too bad. Multitone isn‘t all that pretty, JDS does the AK4490 a bit better imo, but all in all certainly a competent DAC for the price.
 

Veri

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Well in any case Schiit can't be accused of sending ASR golden samples ;)

Not too bad. Multitone isn‘t all that pretty, JDS does the AK4490 a bit better imo, but all in all certainly a competent DAC for the price.
This is an AK4493. Basically mini-Modius.
 
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HuubFranssen

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Don’t just rely on measurements. I have 2 good measuring dacs: Topping D50s and Auralic Vega G2. I bought the Topping after reading the review on this site to save some money; the Topping should be comparable to the Auralic. But to my ears that is not the case. The Topping sounds very detailed but lifeless and the ‘expensive‘ Auralic Vega G2 outperforms the Topping completely on musicality (I know some people hate that word). This is a conclusion after weeks of trying and comparing. I really wanted the Topping to sound good.
 

VintageFlanker

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Glad to see the Schiit redemption is still goin. Very competitive product and most probably 100% audibly transparent for less than 100 bucks... Congrats, Schiit!:cool:
Don’t just rely on measurements. I have 2 good measuring dacs: Topping D50s and Auralic Vega G2. I bought the Topping after reading the review on this site to save some money; the Topping should be comparable to the Auralic. But to my ears that is not the case. The Topping sounds very detailed but lifeless and the ‘expensive‘ Auralic Vega G2 outperforms the Topping completely on musicality (I know some people hate that word). This is a conclusion after weeks of trying and comparing. I really wanted the Topping to sound good.
As you already know, this is not that interesting for ASR standards. You cannot just say, "don't rely on measurements" only based on "to my ears", and so son. You see it coming, so... Blind test, level-match, blablabla...;)
 

boselover61

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Meh. For the price id rather get the monoprice alex cavalli dac that measures better.
 

PeteL

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Internally though the USB implementation has been replaced by Schiit's own design. I am assuming there is some cost saving there as otherwise I don't see the reason for reinventing the wheel there.

According to Scjiit and Mike moffat:

Unison USB is Schiit's unique, proprietary USB input that is the result of 2 person-years of development. Running on a general-purpose Microchip microprocessor (rather than a typical XMOS or C-Media solution), Unison USB provides superior UAC2 performance at very low current draw from the host, as well as complete electromagnetic and electrostatic isolation.

"Unison USB is designed to do a single thing, and to do it better than anything else: deliver exceptional PCM audio performance," said Mike Moffat, Schiit's Co-Founder and head of digital development. "As a result, Unison USB is now our preferred input over SPDIF. It's not 'just as good,' or 'close.' It's really better than SPDIF. And yes, that's me saying this, not an alien pod person."

Now, they may be wrong and too self congratuling, and maybe as you say there is no valid reason reinventing the wheel, but I'm totally certain it is not a cost saving venture, they genuinely tried to fix some issues with the off the shelves USB solutions. The debate if USB audio is flawed and impose some compromise is still a valid debate but it's not the point I want to make.

The point I want to make is that Moffat view it differently, and at the kind of volume specialised, non mainstream audio equipment go and at the speed a technological "advancement" become obsolete, You don't spend two years developping something to save cost, no way. They may have been mislead, they may have been plain wrong, but it's not the reason they did it.
 

bennetng

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According to Scjiit and Mike moffat:

Unison USB is Schiit's unique, proprietary USB input that is the result of 2 person-years of development. Running on a general-purpose Microchip microprocessor (rather than a typical XMOS or C-Media solution), Unison USB provides superior UAC2 performance at very low current draw from the host, as well as complete electromagnetic and electrostatic isolation.

"Unison USB is designed to do a single thing, and to do it better than anything else: deliver exceptional PCM audio performance," said Mike Moffat, Schiit's Co-Founder and head of digital development. "As a result, Unison USB is now our preferred input over SPDIF. It's not 'just as good,' or 'close.' It's really better than SPDIF. And yes, that's me saying this, not an alien pod person."

Now, they may be wrong and too self congratuling, and maybe as you say there is no valid reason reinventing the wheel, but I'm totally certain it is not a cost saving venture, they genuinely tried to fix some issues with the off the shelves USB solutions. The debate if USB audio is flawed and impose some compromise is still a valid debate but it's not the point I want to make.

The point I want to make is that Moffat view it differently, and at the kind of volume specialised, non mainstream audio equipment go and at the speed a technological "advancement" become obsolete, You don't spend two years developping something to save cost, no way. They may have been mislead, they may have been plain wrong, but it's not the reason they did it.
Schiit replied before:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-modius-balanced-dac-review.13769/post-419901

IMO, as long as it works and doesn't break compatibility it should be totally fine.
 

raif71

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@VintageFlanker

I know all about it after being for decades on forums. Ofcourse I first want my gear to be well built and good measuring, that’s why I like this site so much. But sometimes there are some subjective thingies that are worth mentioning.
I'll happily hear your subjective thingies. :) I'm sure others here too but perhaps you need to include the disclaimer "my personal subjective opinion..." or something like that. For example... "Between AKM and ESS DAC, to my personal subjective opinion I can hear that ESS is a bit harsher but clearer and AKM has that smooth and musical sound...even though they are different, I like both DACs"
 

Veri

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I don’t think it’s an AK4493. Their website is pretty clear that it’s an AK4490.
Apologies, you are correct. I guess that's why the measurements are not quite as good as the Modius in SE! Not too far off, though.

But sometimes there are some subjective thingies that are worth mentioning.
These subjectivities are generally completely unproven, though. Much like vibration deadeners, doorstops and other such audiophile things, speaking of more "musical" or "analog" sound tends to be something formed in the mind... not in the DAC.
 
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