REVIEW: Schiit Modi DAC $99

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by oscar09, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. oscar09

    oscar09 DUCK!

    So this is a review based on the new DAC released from Schiit. Yes, its pronounced just like you think it is. For example, "check out my schiit". Anyways, this is an in depth review and a comparison to my other DAC i own, an HRT Music Streamer ii.

    Product: DAC (Digital to Analog converter)
    Brand: Schiit
    Input/Output: Asynchronous USB IN/ RCA OUT
    Price: $99 plus shipping
    Material: Seems like brushed metal, very sturdy with decent weight
    Build Quality: 8 out of 10
    Made in: USA
    Rate Support: 16bit/44.1kHz to 24bit/96kHz

    Review/Thoughts: This little DAC is amazing. Right when i pulled it out of the box it feels heavy for its size. You would never expect it to be this heavy for its small size. I received it on Tuesday and i hooked it up right away and have been feeding it music since then, but i finally turned the amplifier it today to have a listen. I wanted for it to open up a little. As soon as i started playing some music, i was blown away. The Soundstage is so unbelievable, the detail in every single instrument is there, it is so well balanced, the highs and mids and lows are all working together beautifully. The Lows are clean and accurate. The thing that amazes me the most, is that even at very low volumes the rich detail is there, you can still hear every single detail you hear at high volumes but in low volumes.

    Gear used for testing: I used my iMac with iTunes feeding the music to Audirvana + music player. From there its sent to the Schiit Modi DAC using an Audioquest Forest USB cable. Then it is amplified by my Yamaha A-S500 Integrated Amplifier feeding Audioengine's P4s that sit on Auralex isolation MoPads that are on speaker stands. All three songs are at CD quality ripped at 16bit/44.1kHz AIFF files.

    Tracks used for testing:
    Roger Waters, "Its a Miracle"
    Right away in the intro you can hear the detail in every piano key played, you can clearly hear the background music and the voices that are also in the background. Once you hear Rogers voice, it sounds very realistic, almost as if he was to be there singing in front of you. The drums sound just like you would expect to hear drums to sound, no loss in detail. It impressed me a lot how the drums sounded. The Modi does a great job at bringing out every single instrument used in this song, you will be able to pin point it out.

    Dire Straits, "Iron Hand"
    The acoustic guitar on the intro sounds amazing. You can literally hear the depth in the guitar with detail. Mark's voice sounds great, you can ever hear his lips as he start singing from a pause. the bass through out the song is clean and the background music is very evident. I felt like i was listening to this song for the first time ever, it sounded so new and just perfect.

    Mile Davis, "So What"
    This song literally made me realize how good this DAC is, I literally got goosebumps trough out this song. The soundstage just blew me away! The upright bass sounded so good, i could hear the air in every note played. The drums sounded clean and very realistic. The trumpet was full of air and sounded so realistic, just so rich and full of detail. The piano was very present and evident, just over all perfect. Even tough i had heard this song many times, i literally felt like it was a whole new experience.

    So i put this Schiit DAC up againts my HRT Music Streamer ii. As much as i love my HRT, the winner here is the Schiit MODI. The HRT is lacking soundstage and detail compared to the Modi. The Modi has excellent soundstage and it is very enjoyable at low volumes. I always felt that i needed to turn it up more than usual with the HRT to hear that detail the modi has at even low volumes. To my eyes, the modi is a lot more attractive and to my ears is a whole new better experience. But the main reason that makes the modi such a winner here its is value for its price. It is only $99. The HRT is $140. You may be thinking, "its only a $40 dollar difference". Want to know what those other $40 can get you? An Audioquest Forest USB cable for only $30. If you want to hook up a cheap printer cable to any USB DAC, be ready to hear nasty USB noise. You can argue all you want about speaker wire, but a USB cable is very critical and the better one you get the better your music will sound. So for $140 you can get a Schiit DAC and an Audioquest Forest USB cable!! I paid $190 for my HRT music Streamer ii DAC and Audioquest Forest USB cable, so i hope you see the difference here. The Schiit Modi just sounds a whole lot better without a doubt. By no means is the HRT a bad DAC, its great. But the Modi out preforms it at an even cheaper price.

    This is the best DAC you can get an entry level price, its only $99. The guys at Schiit have such a good reputation and all of their products are highly rated. Its an American company and their products are made here in America, its nice to see a "made in usa" badge in such an affordable product. If you are looking to get into the computer audio, this the DAC you need to buy to start. For $99, i dont think there is another DAC out there that can beat it in this price range, NONE! I can only imagine how Schiit's Bifrost and Gungnir sound. So dont think twice about it, just order it and be impressed. Im sure anyone who buys it will like it. Just keep in mind that the USB cable does make a difference, so make sure you get an audio based USB cable, dont use a printer cable. Overall, the guys at Schiit have done it again, great product at a great price. Very cool Schiit!:thmbsp:

    I am not affiliated with Schiit and this review is based upon my own testing and how i feel about this product. i was not paid to praise it, my ears praised it and so do i. I will continue to make reviews like these on upcoming products i buy so if you like it, let me know so i can continue to make them like this. Thanks guys!
  2. mackat

    mackat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Great for you! Enjoy it!
  3. Bucky Badger

    Bucky Badger AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I think that I will finally pull the plug and pick up my own Schiit.
    Thanks for the review.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  4. oscar09

    oscar09 DUCK!

    Do it! You wont regret it... trust me! :yes: Im all about computer audio and i had listen to my HRT for nearly a year every single day, when something new came in, i noticed the difference right away. :yes::thmbsp:
  5. Gang-Twanger

    Gang-Twanger Resident Wharfedaliophool Subscriber

    Before I read the review, I just gotta' say...Wow, they came out with an asynchronous-USB DAC with 24/96 support for $99?? Was that a special sale price or something, or is that the regular price?

    Dammmmn... You can't beat that with a stick. That is one hell of a deal. They must have spent some serious time on this design because I love my MSII (Works beautifully in my vintage setup... Very-smooth, rich and detailed). I guess DAC technology really HAS come a long way in the last few years (I think before this the MSII was the cheapest way to get an asynchronous, hi-rez USB DAC. When it comes time to make a DAC upgrade, I'll definitely have Schiit on my mind...
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  6. hjames

    hjames Lady Audio-buff ... Subscriber

    Really sounds great for an amazing price! Thanks for the review.
    I do wish there were more DACs with optical inputs ...
  7. avguytx

    avguytx AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I may just have to break down and get me one of these. I wonder if they come in black.... :D
  8. ilusndweller

    ilusndweller Super Member

    Nice review! Is there an inexpensive converter box that has an optical toslink and/or coax in and a usb out? Or is that just a bad idea? Thanks
  9. Gang-Twanger

    Gang-Twanger Resident Wharfedaliophool Subscriber

    I was under the impression that there WERE plenty of DAC's out there with an optical input. This one, on the other hand, is clearly-designed for the USB-only crowd who don't have any other connectivity options (People with cheap laptops often only have USB to work with and nothing else, so this is a good day for those people).
  10. StevenZ

    StevenZ Texas or nothin' Subscriber

    Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I too am very interested in the MODI and may just have to pick one up for my office system. It'll most likely replace my PHONIC Digitrack USB Dac which I picked up for something like $25 shipped.

    Can we move this thread to the "Equipment Reviews & Opinions" forum?
  11. withmusic

    withmusic Super Member

    Ok, that does it! I'm picking one of these up eventually and I am not even sure I need an outboard DAC, but I'm going to get it anyway!
    (I've been reading about this thing alot around here and this reveiw sealed the deal).:yes::thmbsp:
  12. Active Member

    I had a Bifrost and upgraded to a Gungnir. I ordered the Modi and should have it tomorrow.:banana:
  13. oscar09

    oscar09 DUCK!

    Its true my friend, DAC technology is moving rapidly so anything coming out these days is going to be a bit better than 2 year old products around the same price range for both. It was a big upgrade from the HRT MSII... I had never heard some great soundstage until now, if you can, buy this Schiit MODI... its $99 and always will be. I have a feeling you would enjoy it more than the MSII :thmbsp:
  14. oscar09

    oscar09 DUCK!

    External DACs are a lot better IMHO than any internal sound card. Yes this is only USB but for $99 i dont think any sound card will come even close to touching it.
  15. coonmanx

    coonmanx Super Member

    Sounds like you found some good Schiit!

    Sorry, just had to.
  16. prisoners

    prisoners AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Just ordered one based on this thread. This will allow me to use my Peachtree iDac in my main system instead of my computer room....and I'll be pissed if I can't tell the difference between a $100 unit and a $1,000 one.
  17. estreeter

    estreeter Super Member

    Just out of wild curiosity. how are you connecting the MSII to your Sansui receiver ??

  18. oscar09

    oscar09 DUCK!

    Schiit DACs have been known to sound a lot better than more expensive DACs! Peachtree makes great products as well! i dont think it will kill your iDac, but it sure will make you wonder how a $99 DAC sounds THAT GOOD. Let us know what you hear when you get it! :yes:
  19. bad400

    bad400 Super Member

    I have a cheap 1600 dollar computer, i dont have a optical out.
    So its all usb or hdmi based external equipment for me.
    I should have spent a few more $'s for the optical option?:tears:
  20. prisoners

    prisoners AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Nah...I think USB is fine for all but the most revealing systems. I toggled between the optical and USB outs on my Mac mini -> Peachtree iDac->Musical Fidelity X-150 (makes a great desktop amp BTW) and couldn't hear a difference.

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