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Schiit Modi+ DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 4 1.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 10 3.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 161 59.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 97 35.7%

  • Total voters
    272

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Modi+ stereo USB DAC. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $129.
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Review.jpg

There are three inputs and are nicely stepped through using the momentary switch. The white LED that indicates the selected input is nice but alas, there is some bleed into the other indicators.

Back panel is simple enough:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Back Panel RCA Review.jpg


A USB adapter is included to power the unit although you could accomplish the same by using a USB port on your computer which is what I did for my testing.

Here are the specs:

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Specifications Spec.png


Schiit Modi+ Measurements
Schiit implementation of USB defaults to 16 bit which causes trouble for my ASIO4ALL wrapper so for some of the tests, I had to use my Roon player to get full 24 bit performance such as the dashboard:

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Measurements.png


This is a competent performance which faces stiff competition from many other budget DACs:
Best stereo usb dac review 2022.png


Zooming in:
Best stereo usb dac budget review 2022.png


As noted, my measurements match company spec. On noise performance though, we are 3 dB short:

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC DNR Measurements.png


That could be due to slight difference in test parameters. Performance as noted is excellent though.

There is no volume control in this DAC but should you use one upstream in software, this is the performance relative to input digital level:

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC THD vs Level Measurements.png


IMD distortion shows slight hint of class ESS DAC IMD Hump but otherwise the results are very nice:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC IMD Distortion Measurements.png


Jitter performance oddly is best on Coax with USB being in the middle and Toslink bringing in the rear:
Edit: first graph should say Coax, not Toslink. The second one is Toslink.
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Jitter Measurements.png

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Jitter Toslink Measurements.png


Linearity is good as it should be:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Linearity Measurements.png


Multitone performance is excellent:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Multitone Measurements.png



Frequency response is flat and nice in audible band:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Frequency Response Measurements.png


Alas, out of band attenuation is not very good:

Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC Filter Measurements.png


This naturally hurts our distortion+noise wideband test which includes the unfiltered ultrasonic components:
Schiit Modi+ Stereo USB DAC THD+N vs Frequency Measurements.png


Conclusions
No doubt you have noticed my frequent use of terms "nice" and "excellent" and that sums up the performance of Modi+. At this price point, we don't expect objective perfection but competent engineering and that is what we have. Physically, the unit is solidly built and of course supported by an English speaking US company. For people with such preference, the Modi+ provides an excellent option. That they can stay competitive with far east audio companies is definitely a feather in their cap.

I am going to recommend the Schiit Modi+ DAC. Great to see Schiit continue the (new) tradition of optimizing objective performance as they cater to their traditional audience.

-----------
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/
 
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voodooless

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@Amir, what is the reason to do the multi-tone @ 192 kHz? It would look vastly different at 44.1 kHz due to a weak filter. Since for most people, most of their music listening will still be at 44.1 kHz, that would make more sense and gives a better worst-case scenario. The best would be to show the same multi-tone at both sample rates.
 

kyllwtr

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I read in the back ASSY IN USA that should be meaning ASSEMBLY. I don't know how are the legal terms for MADE and ASSEMBLY in USA, but that could mean that assembled PCBs come from abroad and only the final assembly is made in USA; but perhaps I'm wrong.
However, the USA price is very interesting as are the performances.
 

DanielT

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Thanks Amir for testing and for comprehensive measurements! :)

It seems like a good cheap DAC!

I read in the back ASSY IN USA that should be meaning ASSEMBLY. I don't know how are the legal terms for MADE and ASSEMBLY in USA, but that could mean that assembled PCBs come from abroad and only the final assembly is made in USA; but perhaps I'm wrong.
However, the USA price is very interesting as are the performances.
Schiit, how are they when it comes to reliability? Do they make stuff that lasts and doesn't break? As you may know, there has been some discussion on ASR about OTHER manufacturers and the durability, reliability of their products.
 

morillon

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@Amir, what is the reason to do the multi-tone @ 192 kHz? It would look vastly different at 44.1 kHz due to a weak filter. Since for most people, most of their music listening will still be at 44.1 kHz, that would make more sense and gives a better worst-case scenario. The best would be to show the same multi-tone at both sample rates.
I do not know the why and the interest of this 192k (???) indeed
but the 32 tones are anyway in the useful area due to their mode of distribution

I think that in fact making it in 44 or 48k or even 96k will avoid certain bottlenecks..((old dac or toslink limitated at 96k etc for example)
;-)

multitones of pkane must allow to carry out the measurement or to produce such a test ( be careful in 32bits)
(surprising that rew does not offer this ap32 yet)
;-)
 
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respice finem

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Fine. Considering the many good DACs out there, it would be great to see balanced outputs and a HPA "on board", but probably impossible at this price level.
 

DSJR

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Prices now too high in the UK for various reasons. The 'Schiit UK' site only has Modi 3e and Modius 3e (difference - I need to read more of Jason's blog to catch up?) and we're looking here at Modi 3e £185 and Modius e at £340 (I thought it was around £220 - duh :facepalm:

My worry with the obvious sub £200 far eastern contenders is reliability. I appreciate some of you can afford to lose/recycle/chuck faulty far eastern dacs should they fail quickly into their supposed service life, but not all of us feel that way and we expect a few good years out of boxes like this.
 

Sokel

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Prices now too high in the UK for various reasons. The 'Schiit UK' site only has Modi 3e and Modius 3e (difference - I need to read more of Jason's blog to catch up?) and we're looking here at Modi 3e £185 and Modius e at £340 (I thought it was around £220 - duh :facepalm:

My worry with the obvious sub £200 far eastern contenders is reliability. I appreciate some of you can afford to lose/recycle/chuck faulty far eastern dacs should they fail quickly into their supposed service life, but not all of us feel that way and we expect a few good years out of boxes like this.
I feel the same way but we have to be fair.
The multiple threads reporting issues here comes mostly because a lot of people here (far more than other forums) buy and use these devices and sometimes more than one of them,low cost helps in this.

Don't get me wrong,my first concern is always reliability/safety/etc,far before performance (ok I'll admit I'm a sucker for looks too) but the fail rate amongst known manufacturers,with some exceptions of course must not be as high as it seems.
 

morillon

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the differences in protocols, types of machines used, filtering etc. explains many differences.. the 117.8 for a 119 announced by the brand really surprises you?
(ac-20khz etc in your case)
 

morillon

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but it is so related to the protocols used etc...
and 1.2 db of snr...
(they declare a protocol standard used etc? and the other brands?)

if to allow constructive exchanges were tempted to share on common bases-protocols...
the approach, the biases of amirm, is also not "" a international standard""
and sometime he make some variations ( like fft resolutions etc.. 256k 128k etc like here in jtest)
;-)
 
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DSJR

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I feel the same way but we have to be fair.
The multiple threads reporting issues here comes mostly because a lot of people here (far more than other forums) buy and use these devices and sometimes more than one of them,low cost helps in this.

Don't get me wrong,my first concern is always reliability/safety/etc,far before performance (ok I'll admit I'm a sucker for looks too) but the fail rate amongst known manufacturers,with some exceptions of course must not be as high as it seems.
Hope I can mention this -

I look increasingly favourably at Schiit not least because Jason tells good recounts about what's going on in his business (the little I know about what goes on in the background at various UK makers shows he's pretty truthful I think and praise to him for passing these situations on) - and there's a UK based distributor as well should anything go wrong.

The 3e available to us in the UK (and mainland Europe?) was measured and listened to on SBAF, into which I entered with trepidation. Actually, the review was fair I thought, with due care (not really sarcastic apart from the AmirNAD reference/dig) and which came out in the 114dB or so range, so ok but not groundbreaking in the SINAD race and taken to be thorough before the extensive subjective comments which I personally am still happy to read with open heart and mind. Having heard recently what I regard as a transparent modern digital active system, I have to say that reproduction of the acoustic space around the musicians in a good recording is important (I can still tell these differences) and just maybe, this aspect can vary from dac to dac (no, I haven't compared a host of models in this aspect but know how diluting this aspect of 'venue reproduction' can cause listening-boredom over time).

Anyway, the Modi + seems cheaper than the 3e and may be a different tier altogether.

I'll crawl back in my box again now...
 
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