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AMP & DAC

Schiit Modi 3 Review: This Is Some Schiit!

This is some Schiit. Schiit Audio that is. If you are new to HiFi audio you might not know who Schiit Audio is so I’ll explain briefly. Schiit Audio was started in 2010 in California by 2 audio industry veterans Jason Stoddard, and Mike Moffat. Long story short the company makes products at affordable prices that sound like they should cost much more. They make money by selling in volume not by selling WAY overpriced products to a handful of people.

Schiit Audio Modi 3 DAC = proof that good audio can be cheap.

The Modi 3 is Schiit Audio’s entry-level  DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). Modi 3 comes in 2 models the $99 model is the one that I’ll be reviewing and a multi-bit version that costs $249.

What is a DAC or digital-analog converter? 

The short explanation… Most of us listen to music through digital means like streaming services. Computers work on digital principle, binary code, 1 and 0. On and off. The music that we listen to is analog, its fluid waves. We need a device to converter the 1 and 0 back into the fluid waves that we audio. That is where the DAC comes in. Its only purpose is to convert a digital signal into analog.

DAC is everywhere if it has a headphone jack it’s likely has a DAC. PC, mobile phones, tablets all use DAC. Now the important part. Not all DAC are created equal. 

Enter the Modi 3

The modi 3 and its micro USB power cable, the power brick isn’t needed if you’re using the USB input.

Schiit Audio created the Modi 3 to fill a hole that existed. A high-quality DAC at a price most people could afford. According to Schiit audio when making its product they have to be a few things. The first is good if the product isn’t good people want it. The second is it has to be reliable, the profit margin doesn’t allow for products to be returned and repaired. In most cases, unless the problem is really, really simple the product is just tossed and recycled.

So what I’m saying is when it comes to Schitt Audio expect a reliable quality product that punches above its weight. The Modi 3 fits right into the Schiit formula.

TL;DR

Let’s get to it. The DAC plugged into your phone, PC or tablet is likely okay at best. Your amplIfier will sound its best with a clean signal and output its best with a strong signal. The Modi 3 does exactly that. It takes a digital input thru one of 3 methods, USB, SPDIF or optical. Modi 3 then takes the digital signal, runs it through a set of digital filters the AK4490 DAC chip and finally a DC-coupled output. The end result, in Schiit’s words, Modi 3 is the only DAC that you’ll ever need.

For those who want specs:

Inputs: USB, Toslink SPDIF, Coaxial SPDIF
Sample Rates and Bit Depths: 16/44.1 to 24/192 via USB, Coax, and Optical

Input Receiver: 

USB: C-Media CM6631A
SPDIF: AKM 4113

D/A Conversion IC:

Modi 3: AKM AK4490
Modi Multibit: Analog Devices AD5547

Analog Summing, Active Filtering: 

Modi 3: Based on OPA1662 with precision thin-film resistors, DC-coupled
Modi Multibit: Based on AD8512 with precision thin-film resistors, DC-coupled with DC servo

Output: RCA (single-ended)
Output Impedance: 75 ohms

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz, +/-0.25dB

Maximum Output: 2.0V RMS

THD: 

Modi 3: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output
Modi Multibit: <0.006%, 20Hz-20KHz, at max output

IMD: 

Modi 3: <0.001%, CCIR
Modi Multibit: <0.007%, 20Hz-20KHz, CCIR

S/N: >104dB, referenced to 1.5VRMS, unweighted

Crosstalk: -80dB, 20-20kHz

Power Supply: 

Modi 3: USB powered with +/-5V switching rail generator; auxiliary USB power input for 0mA USB power draw devices (like phones and tablets)
Modi Multibit: Included 16VAC wall-wart with 100% linear power supply

Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”

Weight: 1 lb

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to take your digital HiFi music to the next level with an amp you need to feed it a clean, strong signal and the Modi 3 has you covered. The Schiit Audio Modi 3 isn’t good for a $99 DAC its good for a DAC period. It is this reason that Modi 3 gets a strong recommendation as a solid foundation at any level of HiFi from TLR Technology.

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