Schiit Audio Modi 3 DAC - Official Thread

Yeah, that’s necessary with my Magni 3 too. As long as the Atom doesn’t tip over under the weight of the headphone cable I think that should be good enough.

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I think it is solid enough to not worry about headphone cable weight…also seriously if you don’t like plastic I would stay away from this lol

I am looking for an inexpensive dac to complement my Butte:grin:
(I mean my PMillet Butte and HD650’s) Would the Modi 3 be a good starting point or better to save for the Modi Multibit, which Torq likes so much? For those that do not know, the DIY Butte is slightly on the warmer side of things, so I am wondering if it will be to much of a good thing.

Probably the Modi 3 for that configuration.

Though it would somewhat depend on what sort of signature you like, what era HD650 you have, and what’s been done to them (if anything).

Thanks. I suspected as much. My Senns are 2015 model with no mods. I had the original Modi Multibit at some point and it was slightly too veiled. New version apparently fair much better in this regard. Considering also adding some Elex/ Elears into the mix at some point.

The “current” Modi MB has a blacker background and is more resolving than the “original”, so there’s certainly less apparent “veil” there. The 2015-era HD650 (I keep a pair of originals and a current set) are also more open and vivid sounding than the originals.

Both Modi MB and Modi 3 will work nicely in that scenario, but the Modi 3 is more resolving and even blacker in its background, if less overtly dynamic, than the Modi MB.

When it comes to the Elex vs. Elear, that’s a different kettle of fish. Both are more explosively dynamic than the Sennheisers as well as being capable of greater dynamic subtlety (micro-dynamics). The HD650 will have a thicker, bloomier, bottom end than the Elex or Elear, though the Elear will have an elevated bass level vs. either.

Here’s an uncompensated (mic calibration only) frequency plot of the Elex, Elear and Elear w/ Elex pads. Note that the Elear (with it’s stock pads) should show about 1.5-2 dB higher in level up to about 180-200 Hz … but that drops off with pad wear and the pads on the Elear I used here are probably 18 months old with a fair amount of use on them:

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I’ve posted this before … but despite this being something I put together for a bit of fun, while in the midst of setting up reviews (still to be published for 4 of these items) for this stuff, this little arrangement has been REALLY useful in helping people decide between Modi 3 or Modi MB and Magni 3 vs. Vali 2.

It’s also quite useful for comparing other amps to each other (especially the Liquid Spark and JDS Labs Atom), or other DACs (e.g. Topping D30/D50 and Grace SDAC) to each other.

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It seems like the Modi 3 will be a good option then for me. How does it compare the DFR from a SQ perspective? I have that and while it is a pretty impressive little thing, I really do not use it as much as a mobile device as I thought I would (ZX300/ES100 is more convenient in that role), so the Modi 3 will replace that.

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As good as the Dragonfly Red is, the Modi 3 is better as a DAC.

I still haven’t found anything I like better for mobile use out of my phone (I’d put the DFR comfortably ahead of the Fiio i1 and a bit ahead of the Radsone EarStudio ES100 mode via Bluetooth … and similar but different if wired/USB).

The DFR may be just a tad more authentic in the lowest registers than the Modi 3, but otherwise the Schiit DAC steals the show. In fact I’d put the Modi 3 ahead of the DFR, Meridian Explorer 2, ES100 (via Bluetooth OR USB), and even the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label as a pure DAC for static use.

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hello, how about with Mojo? is Modi and Magni 3 distinguishable? i read in some places others feedbacked that mojo’s dac is better…?

The Modi 3/Magni 3 combination sounds different to Chord’s Mojo - different enough that it is easy to hear. Modi 3 hits harder in the bass and has an airier and more apparent top-end extension, where Mojo tends to be mid-centric and sounds a bit rolled-off on the top end and stage/imaging is better on Mojo at the cost of some micro-dynamic resolution vs. the Schiit DAC.

Which you prefer, only you can answer.

And I’m sure you’ll find as many opinions as to which is better/preferable as you’ll find people to ask. It’s the nature of such things.

I don’t, personally, like Mojo for desktop use. If it’s just being used as a DAC then the cable/connection ergonomics are a pain, and the battery/charging arrangement is something I don’t want to have to deal with for a fixed unit. For mobile use, then it is obviously preferable.

If you’re driving mostly more-demanding headphones then Magni 3 may be a better bet, with Mojo being a very nice match with most IEMs.

Can you specify the differences between the modi 3 and topping d30?

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I can, but I’m not going to write a detailed comparison on the sonic differences between the two - there’s nothing I think the D30 does better than the Modi 3 from an audible perspective.

The Modi 3 is cheaper, smaller, sounds better (to me) and measures better and comes with a warranty that you can actually use. I can’t think of any reason to pay more for a D30 instead unless you need DSD support in the DAC itself.

The D30 is technically competent but uninspiring, where as the Modi 3 is my favorite of the ~$100 DACs I’ve heard. Put another way, despite owning both, the Modi 3 actually gets used, the D30 sits in a drawer.

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Hi @gin and welcome. I am unable to help you out here as I haven’t owned or listened to either. @Torq does have extensive experience in using lots of hardware so his opinion should be taken seriously. It is however just his opinion and the only way to know for certain is to listen to them yourself. Hope that you can get the answers you’re looking for.

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I see. I’m actually at a bit of a dilemma because I purchased a d30 which recently stopped working. I can get a refund, and as I’m happy with its sound I’m wondering whether I should reorder the d30 or if there will be an improvement with the modi 3. The modi 3 will actually cost more new for me as I’m in Canada, I’ll have to get it used. Would you be able to detail the sonic differences between the two please?

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If you were happy with the D30, and can get it repaired/replaced at no cost, then you should probably stick with it - especially if the Modi 3 is more expensive where you are.

Differences between DACs, especially between two entry-level models, are typically very small. Reviews and comparisons (mine included) tend to significantly exaggerate the differences simply by their nature. But when it comes down to listening … even with the two units side-by-side, it takes practice, a fair degree of concentration, and sometimes even specific music, to hear the differences.

Usually some protracted period of sighted listening is required, before doing level-matched blind-comparisons to a) see if you can tell them apart and b) consistently determine which one you like best. Even then, it’s often hard to say, in a short period of time, where a preference is because “it’s different” vs. because it’s actually “better” and, more importantly, whether a week later the potential “change for it’s own sake” factor has worn off and you find you actually like the original unit better.

Sometimes such differences are more ethereal and only become apparent with protracted, continuous, listening sessions (fatigue is one such issue … which almost never manifests itself in the more common “quick A/B comparisons of short passages of music” that lots of reviewers seem obsessed with).

Hopping from one ~$100 DAC to another is more likely to be a “side-grade” than an overt improvement. And audio-memory being what it is, you’re unlikely to be able to properly recall how the D30 sounded by the time you get your hands on a Modi 3 anyway.

In other words, there’s no substitute for a side-by-side, level-matched, blind comparison in your own system. And in most cases, my position is that if you can’t audition it - you probably shouldn’t buy it. Which goes doubly so in the case of situations that are more likely to be side-grades than upgrades.


Now … as for sound … I’m not going to do a detailed blow by blow - but I’ll summarize, starting with a passage from my review of the Modi 3:

Modi 3’s general presentation is smooth and refined, with solid tonal density/weight and a good sense of definition and clarity. It learns towards being relaxed or laid-back but does so without giving up any sense of energy or drive to its rendition of music. A little extra roundness in the lower registers comes across as additional bass weight, however there is no sense of “thickness” or “slowness” to the sound, and as I’ll come back to shortly - bass articulation and agility is excellent.

In comparison, I find the D30 to be somewhat thin/lean sounding, especially at the bottom-end of the spectrum, and it has a tendency to sound inappropriately “tense” in its delivery, especially with some edgier female vocals. Acoustic instruments, especially, tend to lack a proper sense of body/weight. Elements of a recording or acoustic are portrayed as all being on top of each other, and stage is flat, where Modi 3 has excellent separation and layering. I find the overall delivery to be bright and fatiguing (something you don’t get to experience in quick A/B comparisons) and sterile/not very involving.

I would like the listening experience/enjoyment between the two to listening in my favorite, deep, antiqued leather chair, with a nicely aged single-malt, in front of the fire, with a perfect view over the mountains and water on a crisp winter’s evening, with a subtle hint of woodsmoke coming from the fireplace (which would be the Modi 3) vs. sitting in the waiting room at a major ER, in a hard plastic chair, with my senses being assaulted by the monotone green walls, flickering fluorescent lighting and overpowering scent of disinfectant (D30).

Which is, as I said earlier, exaggerating the differences in the experience, as all subjective comparisons will tend to do.

Will Modi 3 be an improvement for you? I can’t answer that. I think it’s better, across the board, but you’ll be the one actually listening to it.

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You make some excellent points here, I’m comparing D10 to Modi 3 atm and I agree whole heartedly with the excellent staging the Modi 3 brings. It indeed does an excellent job at conveying acoustic space.

I can see how you feel D10 [or D30] makes things a bit too tense. Especially in the lower mid-range and upward. An yes D10 is still quite sterile and dry overall and it is… in a sense almost a bit “forward” in how it presents low frequencies. This perceptive forwardness to my ears in some tracks makes D10 noticeably more intimate. Still I do find it to do a better job at recreating and presenting texture within low frequencies, larger stringed instruments especially

Non the less the following is my thoughts from a single night of volume matched listening between my HD 600 and AEON C Flow. Do forgive my lack of blind comparisons, tho I am listening to music that I use regularly to help me pin point differences

So I’m finally sitting down with the Topping D10 and Modi 3, I did cheat a little an ran the Modi 3 via Coax in but only because I’ve got ATOM as my amp and I can hot swap from D10 [via USB from my Laptop] to Modi 3 via Coax from my desktop & Etir , I’m noticing right off the bat Modi 3 is a bit… thicker ever so slightly “smoother” really works nicely for vocals! An while it adds some nice heft to the lows it smears them just a little imo

D 10 on the other hand is a bit… drier with vocals but noticeably cleaner in the low end!! Now I did level match them and found that right out the box D10 is maybe ~.5 dB louder overall. Still again I level matched between each listen with pink noise,

I’m using Aeon C and HD 600 as my headphones as well, an just listening to this first song Spanish Harlem, I kinda wish I could have the cleaner lows of D10 with Modi 3’s vocals & strings

But I feel each really follows a different but valid train of thought in achieving “high fidelity” output, Modi 3 seems to have a subjectively more proper timbre with a slightly “colored” tonality an relaxed envelope and D10 is just simply a tonally cleaner DAC with subjectively a “less” proper tonality but a some what aggressive envelope an it is a bit dry

Switching over to Hotel California live from Hell Freeze’s Over [Simply Vinyl Rip] it’s much the same, I get a nice rich tonality in the strings but a softened low end or rather a kinda wimpy presentation of the bass line

D10 seems almost a little forward [punchy] with how it presents low frequency spectra especially from/on the bass guitar, there’s more detail/texture but it’s a bit intimate or rather not as deep in the stage. Non the less listening to Hotel California Live from the Hell Freeze’s over album I find the bass line is in particular simplified with Modi 3

That bass line has always been quite thick, but has a nice texture and good sense of rhythm or weight. Likely round wound strings which are punchier than flat wound, so to my ears the added punch from D10 is more correct

An with D10 I get that sense of weight an texture but… it pushes the bass line much to forward in the staging… Modi 3 on the other hand pulls it too far back!! An lacks a sense of weight and heft in comparison. Which is odd, as it added heft or body when listening to just an acoustic guitar…

Where as Modi 3 seems slightly less defined in it’s lows but overall it presents a more open sense of space, I feel as if the low frequency spectra is a bit withdrawn compared to D10 which creates the perception of a more open space.

Still moving past perceived staging and listening to another track, it’s difficult for me to ignore the softer Modi 3 lows. The texture is still smeared, this time it’s with a single guitarist who is singing also. I again find the Modi 3’s presentation of low frequencies a bit softened an simplified VS D10 which is both more taut and in this case… less emphasized and more detailed

With Modi 3 the resonance of the body of the guitar lingers a little too much on low notes and again lacks texture, the golpe [percussive tapping on the area above or below the strings] are them selvs too muted and I can’t quite discern the weight and intensity of each stroke [or literally his finger again’st the body of the guitar] as clearly as I can on D10

But going back to how the Modi 3 presents space the slight echo of the vocals within the space as a whole are more apparent on Modi 3 even despite the thicker and less defined lows

Now flamenco guitar and I have a bit of a love affair as when I stopped creating headphone content briefly back in 2016 guitar is what I picked up! An Flamenco is the style I pursue’d, and what I’m finding is while drums are a bit fuller on Modi 3 and more often than not perfectly fine in terms of texture, it’s some of the stringed instruments I don’t find quite correct

Before playing Flamenco on a nylon 6 string I owned a Schecter 4 String electric, that I ran through what was likely a dirty little guitar amp. But it had full extension so it worked,

Still in other tracks where D10 is not as oddly forward, I find it to present a punchier more defined low end. But often a little too aggressive else where. Tho sometimes this punchier low spectra presentation is more correct, other times it isn’t

Moving forward with more focus on the lows, I’m switching up to Matisyahu’s Sea to Sea from their Live At Stubb’s album

An again I find Modi 3 is thicker, now I’m hoping their bassists is using flat wound strings [based on the tone and style of music imagine so] and if so a thicker tone is the idea and really kinda nice. Still swapping between D10 and Modi 3 I don’t notice a loss of texture just the added thickness which is what round wound strings bring. A nicer thicker tone, that’s well a little fattend or softened

Honestly those characteristics are what I liked or enjoyed about flat wound strings vs round wound, so a punchier presentation is… more incorrect for this track/instrument

An again I’m finding D10 still to be a bit punchier which is in this case… not quite correct.

For now though these are just impressions, I’ll form a more complete review with my HD 800 here shortly. An I’ll also rope in the 305p MK II system in as well

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Wow those are some really detailed impressions. You have great critical listening skills. I have the D50 and really like it but do find it has a Dry edge to it and can be very Analytical. This I don’t actually mind that much as it gives me a really clean sound if not a bit thin as a result. It would be nice to try some Schiit gear sometime. Anyway great impressions and a great read. I enjoyed it.

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Based on the recommendations in this community, I bought the Modi 3/ Vali 2 combo. Every time I listen with my AKG K7XX monitors, I am AMAZED and ASTONISHED with the depth, clarity, openess and slight warmth I hear. I now know from personal experience the big difference a dac and amp plays for musical enjoyment.
The Schiit combo seems to do everything right in a natural way. I give a special shout-out to Torq for his input…
John

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Honestly, I think Modi 3 a big bargain. It’s one of the best AKM4490 implementations I’ve heard to date even not considering its price. It has its own weaknesses but so does any dac on the market. At least it does most things very right and normal.

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