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AMP & DAC

Schiit Happens: Magni Heresy Review

Schiit Heresy

Well, it appears that Schiit Happens. Schiit audio that is.  Schiit recently released 2 new versions of their wildly popular Magni 3 amp and I’ve been jumping at the bit to test them out. This is the review for the Schiit Audio Heresy I’ve not had a chance to listen to the Magni 3+ yet.

Disclaimer: Schiit Audio sent us the Heresy to review. I sent it back after the review was complete and the words that you’re reading is my own thoughts.

I’m going to start the review the same way I always do. The packaging. The Magni Heresy arrived in a basic brown cardboard box that does a well enough job of keeping it safe during shipping. Inside the box, you get the amp, the huge power brick, and an instruction sheet. This is basically the same content that you receive with all headphone amps. Nothing really stands out in the unboxing and that’s completely ok.

This Schiit Is Beautiful

Now let’s get into the good stuff the amp itself. The first thing that you can’t help but notice is the strikingly beautiful textured black and glossy deep red powder-coated chassis. To my knowledge, this is the first time the Schiit Magni has been any color other than silver. Keep that in mind as we go on because this amp is packed full of first as far as the Magni goes.

Once you get beyond that beautiful exterior you see that Hersey is laid out exactly like the Magni 3 and Magni 3 plus. I’ll go over all of the controls and features if you’re new to the Schiit Magni line.

Looking at the Hersey from the front you’ll see what I consider a stand out feature of many of the Schiit Audio product lines, a very clean and minimalistic front face. I can’t begin to explain how much I love the clean and minimal look. The problem that I’m going to mention here is the front face is missing a power button. I understand that it would take away a small amount of cleanliness but a small button would go a long way for usability. Especially when the amp is in a rack or under a PC monitor. That is really my only gripe as far a the controls are concerned and it’s really more of a nitpick.

Heresy along with the Original Magni 3, Notice the volume knob indicator, the Heresy’s red line is easily readable, the Magni 3’s is not.

Know Your Schiit

The first element on the front of the Heresy is the volume knob. It’s black to match the case and is accented by a red line to indicate the volume level. The red line is a big deal as most amps including the rest of Magni series do have volume indicators but they aren’t highlighted making them extremely hard to see. When it comes to the feel of the volume knob/ potentiometer, it’s the same as the previous Magni amps. It feels fairly smooth throughout its range. If it feels gritty make sure the knob is pulled slightly forward as it can rub against the case which causes a scratchy feeling.

The last element of the front is the 6.35mm (1/4) headphone output. I’ll note that the output is plastic which is par for the course on most amps at this price point, so I’m not knocking the Heresy for it.

Left to right: RCA input, Gain switch, Pre amp output, Power switch, Power input

Looking at the rear we see a mirror image of the other Magni 3’s. Going left to right you will see the RCA inputs, next to that is the gain toggle switch. The up position is high gain, the lower position is low gain. Next to the gain toggle is the RCA preamp outputs which can be used to control the volume on a set of powered speakers. The last toggle to the far right is the power on and off. Up is on, down is off… Simple… Right.

Another view of the rear elements.

The Best Schiit I’ve Ever Heard

So far you’re probably wondering what really sets the Heresy apart and this is where things really become interesting. We have the original Magni 3 and it sounds pretty great, especially at the $100 price point. However, I don’t think the original Magni 3 is an end game amp and I don’t think its the best amp that you can get at $100. I think the Heresy can certainly be an endgame headphone amp, and I think the Heresy could be the best amp at the $100 price point.

The original Magni 3 has what some have come to call the Schiit house sound. It has a small amount of compression. Before I move on let me better explain what I mean by compression.

I consider compression to be the same as being less resolving. An example would be a guitar string being plucked or reverb of a singer’s voice. When a guitar string is plucked it vibrates many times after the original pluck. As the vibration slows the tone quiets slowly accordingly. On an amp that’s really resolving such as the S.M.S.L SP200 or Geshelli Archel 2 Pro which we reviewed you hear the original pluck and many levels of the micro-vibrations. The original Magni 3 has noticeably fewer levels of sound. A more basic way of saying it would be the original Magni 3 sounds veiled or flat.

This Schiit Is On A Whole New Level

The Heresy, however, is a complete 180-degree change. The Heresy is on another level. It’s extremely resolving, the Heresy is not just good it is great. I was recently talking to others that have tested the Heresy and the consensus seems to be that its better or at least on par with the THX amps which start at 3 times the asking price of the Heresy. Yep, I said it. A $100 Schiit Audio amp can go toe to toe, blow for blow with a $300+ THX amps. Until now that was something only the Geshelli Labs Archel 2 and 2.5 pro were doing in my opinion… Well, add the Schiit Heresy to that list. It is also worth mentioning that both Geshelli amps cost slightly more than the Heresy.

The Heresy continues the tradition of the Magni amp line with a large sound stage. The bass also has the same solid thump that the other Magni are known for. Overall the Heresy takes all the positives from the previous Magni amps and removes the main negative, the compression( lack of resolution).

I’ll finish up the sound portion of the review with these thoughts and comparisons. The Heresy has a premium full-bodied sound compared to the Magni 3. Imagine that someone put a decent speaker in a room, that is what the Magni 3 sounds like. Now, imagine that you’re in the room with the singer and the band that’s what the Heresy sounds like… YES, the Heresy is that different.

This Schiit Is To Good To BE True

Okay, so it sounds good, really good but what about the power. This was a bit of a surprise to me. On paper, the original Magni 3 should output slightly more power. In practice, however, I found when I was doing my A/B testing with the amp’s volume matched the Heresy needed less gain/volume on the dial. Check out the picture below, the amps are outputting the same volume, but the knob on the Heresy is turned a few degrees less. This in my mind means the Hersey has a higher power output compared to the original Magni 3. The Heresy had absolutely no problem pushing my 600 ohm DT880 or the planar magnetic HE4XX to uncomfortable listening levels.

SPECS

I think the last part that really worth mentioning is what some lovingly call “The Numbers”. Below are the specs from Schiit’s website. Noticed I left this part for last as they really don’t in my mind tell you what using the Heresy is like with day to day use. I’ll mention that amp is clean, that means even with sensitive IEM and nothing playing no noise can be heard. This cleanliness is something that I ‘ve come to expect with decent amps, and the Hersey is a decent amp.

Magni Heresy
 
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.04dB
 
Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 2.8W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 2.4W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.6W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 410mW RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 215mW RMS per channel
 
THD+N: 
High Gain: Less than 0.0014% (-97dB) at 1V RMS into 32 ohms
Low Gain: Less than 0.0002% (-113dB) at 1V RMS into 32 ohms
 

IMD: 
High Gain: Less than 0.002% (-95dB) at 1V RMS into 32 ohms, CCIF
Low Gain: Less than 0.0006% (-105dB) at 1V RMS into 32 ohms, CCIF
 
SNR: 
High Gain: Greater than 104dB, A weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Low Gain: Greater than 115dB, A weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
 
Crosstalk: Less than -70dB, 20 Hz-20 kHz in either gain
 
Output Impedance: Less than 0.25 ohms at either gain
Input Impedance: 25k ohms
 
Gain: 1 (0db) or 5.5 (15db), selectable via rear switch
Topology: OPA1662 op-amp for voltage gain with local feedback, OPA1688 (8 stages) as output buffers with local loops, no overall loop feedback.
Protection: Standard failsafe DC power input and muting relay
 
Power Supply: “Wall wart” style 24VA 14VAC transformer, regulated +/- 16V rails with over 6,000uF filter capacitance
Power Consumption: 6W
 
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
 

Weight: 1 lb

Final Thoughts

Let me wrap up this review with a few quotes. The first is “Good audio is getting cheap, and cheap audio is getting good” and this is becoming very true. It is in my opinion extremely hard to get an amp that sounds this good cheaper. In fact, I don’t think you can buy any amp new cheaper that’s on par with the Heresy. In terms of sound quality maybe the JDS Labs atom, but it has much less power. The Archel 2 and 2.5 start at  $40 more but gain additional features such as selectable source inputs and balanced inputs in the case of the Archel 2.5… But again they output less power.

The second quote comes directly from the Shiit Audio website. “Not just a starter amp” and I’ll be honest. This is 100% true. I fully believe the Heresy can be the end game headphone amp for many people. The Heresy has more than enough power to drive just about any headphone, it sounds amazing and stays cool to the touch. I’m not sure you could really ask for anything more… Maybe a balanced connector, but here is the kicker. The noise level in the Heresy is already so low you really wouldn’t hear any benefits going balanced.

Headphones We Used For Testing

The list of headphones that I tested with are listed below

Beyer Dynamic DT880 600 OhmClick Here
Hifiman HE4XXClick Here
Grado SR80eClick Here
Beats EPClick Here
Koss KPH30iClick Here
Tin Hifi T2 proClick Here
Focal Listen ProClick Here
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 MasterClick Here
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