Right channel distortion - Schiit / planar magnetics

Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Noires / Modhouse Argon Mk3 / Magnius/Modius

I recently received the DCA Noires and after connecting them to the Magnius/Modius stack with the provided XLR cable I noticed that I was getting some clipping/distortion/static in the right driver at moderate volumes on low gain while listening to Hello - Adele with no EQ applied. I connected the headphones using a different cable with the same results. I tried the Noires with my ifi Go Blu and the problem with the right channel went away (although the Glo Blu seems to struggle to power the Noires at higher volumes and distorts both channels equally).

After working with Sam at Headphones.com to troubleshoot my issues (Thank you Sam!!!) I realized that I may have been experiencing a similar issue with my Argons. I received my Argons in October 2021 and enjoyed them through the winter until the following spring when I started to notice distortion in the right driver. I sent them to Ryan just before the holidays to have him take a look at the right driver. Now that I am experiencing this issue with the Noires I’m realizing it must be somewhere up the source chain.

I live in Denver and it gets really dry here in the winter and static becomes a thing. I may have shocked my stack at some point during the winter of 2021 which started this issue. In late November of this year I discharged a healthy shock through the E-MU Teaks while they were hooked up. Now my pc occasionally forgets that the stack is connected after waking the pc or restarting. I have to disconnect the usb (signal, not power) from the Modius and reconnect.

I am not experiencing the clipping/distortion/static with any of my dynamic headphones (DT177X, E-MU Teaks, HD6XX) when they are connected to the Magnius/Modius (also using 4-pin XLR). I wrote Ryan yesterday to tell him that it might have been the source and to ask if there was anything wrong with the Argons. I will update this topic when I hear back from Ryan. For the time being, I wanted to see if anyone had experienced a similar issue? Maybe it’s just the low quality USB cable I’m using?

I’m connecting the Magnius/Modius to my pc using USB 2.0 out of the motherboard and a JSAUX 6.6ft cable from Amazon. I purchased a 6L humidifier that is living across the room from my office/desk setup and a hygrometer for the desk to keep an eye on the indoor humidity after shocking the Teaks.

DCA - ordered 12/21/22, received 12/29/22 / Modhouse Argon - ordered 6/7/21, received 10/21/21
Schiit - 3/17/21

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At what point in the song do you hear the distortion? It could just be the song, because there was a thread in 2021 about this song, where someone else was asking if anyone could hear distortion around the 4 minute mark.

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  1. Adele’s recordings are typically hot and compressed. This was surely a conscious decision in the studio. It may be to present her as tough and powerful, but I never consider using Adele as a test track.

  2. A damaged amp may be a damaged amp. We can’t determine that or know what it may sound like.

  3. Planar headphones tend to perform better with high current delivery. These headphones may be on the edge of their needs.

  4. Personal hearing is personal. There may be some particular nuances of these headphones that sound louder or more compressed for a given individual.

But first, I’d drop Adele.

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I use Adele as a test track for that exact reason, to see if the headphones mask the distortion/compression :slight_smile:


Rephrased: I’d never use her as an example of a good vocal recording. I do have a bunch of flawed recordings in my test track list. I considered using Adele but her compression wasn’t as bad as Californication…it can be worse…

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Lol, very true! :smile:

The distortion I am hearing comes in at 1:09

Haha, sorry. I don’t think most of the music that I listen to as something you would test with so I was trying to use something more listeners could relate to.

Honestly it really doesn’t matter what track it’s on. If I turn it up to a moderate listening volume on any track I will hear static in the right driver/channel on the Noires and Argons. I guess it might be time to start shopping for another amp.

Just tried it on my HD 800 S. Hello indeed has a brief shift to the right channel and back at 1:09. Perhaps the right side stereo mic was bouncing off a recording booth wall?

Her vocals become compressed / flattened with her louder register.

I do not hear any static on the right side.

This is not a subtle static that I am referring to. Her voice breaks into static when it should not. The static/distortion is significant in the right channel/driver.

I can listen to the same song on my Teaks or HD6XX and her voice remains clear on both channels.

Swap the left and right inputs from the DAC into the amp.

Does the static remain on the same side?


Brilliant! If I swap the left and right inputs from the DAC to the amp and the static remains on the same side then it would mean the amp is probably going bad?

Unfortunately I’m currently using the Snakeoil XLR Mini-Link interconnect. I will have to order some cables to test.

thank you,

Due to the nature of your moniker, I am afraid that your system is doomed.
I apologize in advance if am about to sound like I assume too much with this question. Nevertheless, do you by chance equalize this setup of yours that is producing right channel distortion? I was thinking that there might be chance that this is an issue caused by clipping. Which could be related to a few things including equalization clipping. Often equalizing too hot may be the culprit for those that have not decrease preamplification to match and counterbalance frequency gain increases that were set in equalization software or hardware.

Here I was trying to be cute and I may have actually damaged my amplifier. Jokes on me I suppose. Ha!

I do EQ but this is happening without EQ on the Noire. When I use EQ I’m running Peace/APO on the pc and I have some Oratory1990 profiles setup for a few of my headphones. The gain from the Oratory1990 profile adds 5.2db to the Noire so pre-gain is set to -7db and prevent clipping is turned on.

Admittedly, I was not EQing correctly when the Argons started to distort which is why I was sure I damaged them. I found Resolve’s EQ videos but I’m still learning and trying to be more careful.

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Ryan from Modhouse got back to me a couple of days ago and confirmed there is nothing wrong with the Argons. He’s going to send me another cable with the headphones to see if that makes any difference (Thank you Ryan!).

At this point I think I just need to get some XLR cables to test the DAC and amp as @Torq suggested. I need to get Santa paid off before I order cables or make any other purchases. I’ll update this thread when I am able to test in a couple weeks.

I received some new XLR interconnect cables yesterday and did some testing. The distortion was still present in the right channel regardless of if the inputs were reversed from the DAC into the amp or not.

Seems like the issue I am experiencing is coming from the amp.

Appreciate all of the help!