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  1. #1

    REVIEW: Schiit MODI DAC $99

    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
    Pictures:



    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.

    Comparison:
    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.

    Conclusion:
    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:


    Note:
    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!
    iMac -> Audirvana+ -> Schiit Modi -> Yamaha A-S500 -> Audioengine P4

  2. #2
    Thanks for a great review. Where did you purchase it ?

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Yes.....thank you.

  4. #4
    straight from Schiit.
    iMac -> Audirvana+ -> Schiit Modi -> Yamaha A-S500 -> Audioengine P4

  5. #5
    Senior Member wkhanna's Avatar
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    As an owner of both the Schiit Bifrost & Gungnir DAC’s, I really am not surprised at all by your glowing impressions. I have found nothing but excellent value in both of my units.

    I appreciate your well written review & also your selection of music used to evaluate the equipment.

    Please do continue with posting your appraisals.
    Bill

    Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob

    ....just an "ON" switch, Please!

  6. #6
    Bitter jaded dream-crusher wgscott's Avatar
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    Great, detailed, well-written review, I Schiit you not!

    One thing I would be interested to know is how it stacks up against other good inexpensive options like the Dragonfly DAC. Does anyone have both?

    You might check out the live Roger Waters version of that on "In the Flesh." You can get the DVD on Amazon for $11 and rip the audio.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wkhanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chumlie View Post
    Thanks for a great review. Where did you purchase it ?
    Schiit Modi USB DAC

    As explained in the above link by Schiit co-owner, Jason Stoddard, the Modi DAC is available only by direct order from Schiit.

    I see this familiar new e-style business model as double edged sword.
    While I have personally benifitted financially from this new style of commerce, I do still miss the experience of traveling to my local audio brick&mortar store for good conversation, first hand demos of equipment & real life sensation of face to face interaction with retailers & fellow audio enthusiasts.
    Bill

    Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob

    ....just an "ON" switch, Please!

  8. #8
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    Or the $299 ifi IDAC

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
    Great, detailed, well-written review, I Schiit you not!

    One thing I would be interested to know is how it stacks up against other good inexpensive options like the Dragonfly DAC. Does anyone have both?

    You might check out the live Roger Waters version of that on "In the Flesh." You can get the DVD on Amazon for $11 and rip the audio.
    Thanks! i actually have that DVD! they nailed it on that performance! just excellent. AS for the DACs i only have the HRT so i cant speak much about the dragonfly... i assume the dragonfly is targeted for people who want great sound quality on the go with their laptops, but it has been reviewed very well. Even tough i would like to know how both stack up against one another.
    iMac -> Audirvana+ -> Schiit Modi -> Yamaha A-S500 -> Audioengine P4

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by wkhanna View Post
    As an owner of both the Schiit Bifrost & Gungnir DAC’s, I really am not surprised at all by your glowing impressions. I have found nothing but excellent value in both of my units.

    I appreciate your well written review & also your selection of music used to evaluate the equipment.

    Please do continue with posting your appraisals.
    Thanks Bill! it just keeps sounding better and better without a doubt. I just got it to try something new out, and i am glad i did since its better than what i had. I will be saving up this upcoming year to hopefully get the Gungnir DAC or the "statement" DAC they might announce.
    iMac -> Audirvana+ -> Schiit Modi -> Yamaha A-S500 -> Audioengine P4

  11. #11
    Sophomore Member Great Gig's Avatar
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    Nice review Oscar, I also have an HRT II+ DAC and find it a little bright in comparison to my Rega DAC and have been looking at this myself as I need a small DAC in my office. I like Schitt products, very well made and excellent value for money.

    For anyone interested in the UK, Schiit Audio can be purchased via www.electromod.co.uk If you email them with any questions, they are normally prompt at replying and very helpful.
    Tim

    "Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air."
    - Tom Waits

    Main: Custom built W7x64/JRiver/FLAC music server | Rega DAC | Brio-R | Harbeth SHL5
    Study: AMD W7x64 desktop PC | HRT Music Streamer II+ | Amptastic Mini-T | Celestion 5

  12. #12
    Anyone compared the Modi with the Dragonfly yet?
    Mac Mini/ JK DAC32/ Music First Audio Mk2 Silver/ Krell 402/ Thiel CS3.6

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by wkhanna View Post
    Schiit Modi USB DAC

    As explained in the above link by Schiit co-owner, Jason Stoddard, the Modi DAC is available only by direct order from Schiit.

    I see this familiar new e-style business model as double edged sword.
    While I have personally benifitted financially from this new style of commerce, I do still miss the experience of traveling to my local audio brick&mortar store for good conversation, first hand demos of equipment & real life sensation of face to face interaction with retailers & fellow audio enthusiasts.
    Bill,

    I understand your position--dealers are a great way for you to actually compare gear side-by-side in real time. But it's a model of commerce that's simply not efficient. Fact is, using a standard old-style rep-distributor-dealer model doubles the cost of a product. Read that again: dealers double the cost. Do you like your dealer that much?

    I think I shocked a member of the press recently when he asked what the biggest difference was between making gear now, and back in the Theta/Sumo days. I told him, "internet direct sale."

    Let me explain. Back in the pre-internet days, direct sale meant having to take out monthly ads in Stereo Review and all the other important magazines, plus direct mail, plus "operators standing by." You're talking $50,000+ per month--which, for most start-ups, simply aintgonnahappen.com. I think only Cambridge Soundworks had the deep pockets for spend like that.

    Now, in those days, if you didn't have the deep pockets to go direct, you had to beg and buy shelf space in dealers--and hope you weren't outbid by a competitor. Dealers controlled the market. If you were in the right dealers, and had their support, everything was great. If you weren't, not so much.

    Today it's totally different. Dealers don't control the market. Anyone can start a company, set up an online store for virtually nothing, and sell products. Products now can succeed or fail on their merits, not on who plays the distribution game better. It's a gigantic change--literally a new world. The direct model gives a company a compelling pricing advantage, and it provides a more direct connection to their customer. I don't know how the rep/distributor/dealer model can compete against that.

    In any case, take this as my introduction to Computer Audiophile. We should have been here for a while, so I apologize for not being available earlier. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask or email. Otherwise, back to the Modi...

    All the best,

    Jason Stoddard

    Co-Founder
    Schiit Audio

  14. #14
    Sophomore Member Great Gig's Avatar
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    Wonderful to see you hear Jason, always good to be able to interact with the company/designer direct, which for me far outweighs anything a dealer can ever provide - I am often distrustful of dealers, never knowing what their true motive is.

    I'm a big fan of Schiit Audio despite not owning anything myself, but this is shortly to change.... I mean who wouldn't want an audio product with a name like that

    A warm welcome from me anyway, despite being a newbie here myself.

    Tim
    Tim

    "Songs are really just very interesting things to be doing with the air."
    - Tom Waits

    Main: Custom built W7x64/JRiver/FLAC music server | Rega DAC | Brio-R | Harbeth SHL5
    Study: AMD W7x64 desktop PC | HRT Music Streamer II+ | Amptastic Mini-T | Celestion 5

  15. #15
    Senior Member Melvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiit View Post
    In any case, take this as my introduction to Computer Audiophile. We should have been here for a while, so I apologize for not being available earlier. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask or email. Otherwise, back to the Modi...

    All the best,

    Jason Stoddard

    Co-Founder
    Schiit Audio
    Indeed, wonderful to see you here .. welcome.

  16. #16
    Welcome Jason!
    iMac -> Audirvana+ -> Schiit Modi -> Yamaha A-S500 -> Audioengine P4

  17. #17
    Senior Member wkhanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schiit View Post
    Bill,

    I understand your position--........

    ......Do you like your dealer that much? ..............

    .......Today it's totally different. .....

    In any case, take this as my introduction to Computer Audiophile. We should have been here for a while, so I apologize for not being available earlier. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask or email. Otherwise, back to the Modi...

    All the best,

    Jason Stoddard

    Co-Founder
    Schiit Audio
    Jason,

    I too, welcome you to the CA forum.

    I must admit to being a bit surprised today as I read thru this thread & discovered a direct response from you. I feel like Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from the movie ‘Tora! Tora! Tora! when he contemplated the consequences of Japan’s actions on that fateful day in December.

    Forgive this curmudgeon as he pines like an old geezer for the ‘Good Old Days’. I do realize that times change, & one must be adaptive to take advantage of evolving methods of commerce. I simply remember fondly years ago when a trip to the local audio shop was a chance to demo new gear, reinforce the performance of one’s favorite benchmarks, & exchange insight, experiences, music & camaraderie with fellow enthusiast in an atmosphere that was kin to a child’s dream of being let free in a toy factory.

    Yet, today, here I am exchanging thoughts & insight with the actual designer & owner of the V same things that thrill & add joy to my days now just as they did so many years ago. Such an experience in those days was as fanciful a thought as owning some piece of premium gear we then drooled over.

    I do understand the reasoning of your business model, & appreciate that today is not yesterday. I am also thankful that Mike & you have taken advantage of this current trend & maximized it for the sake & benefit of the customer. I also applaud your resolve to maintain domestic resources to the extent you have.

    Kindest regards, & be well,
    Bill
    Bill

    Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob

    ....just an "ON" switch, Please!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by wkhanna View Post
    Jason,

    I too, welcome you to the CA forum.

    I must admit to being a bit surprised today as I read thru this thread & discovered a direct response from you. I feel like Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from the movie ‘Tora! Tora! Tora! when he contemplated the consequences of Japan’s actions on that fateful day in December.

    Forgive this curmudgeon as he pines like an old geezer for the ‘Good Old Days’...

    Kindest regards, & be well,
    Bill
    Bill,

    No worries! We should have been present here at Computer Audiophile for a while now, and one of the things we like doing is talking to people here and on other forums. So, apologies for not being present. We're really accessible, and we answer emails really, really quickly--usually from me or another tech guy at Schiit, so it's not the usual customer-support non-answers.

    And yeah, I know...going down to the dealer and actually interacting with other people was one of the great points about a specialist retailer. It's also really the only way, outside of meets, where you can compare a lot of gear in one place. Now, for the headphone crowd, a lot of that is being replaced by meets...but when you're talking full-size two-channel setups, that really isn't very practical. Maybe a new hybrid model will work itself out in time, but we're really venturing into uncharted waters here.

    It's funny, because Mike and I discussed the pros and cons of direct sale before launching Schiit. As you probably know, Mike was the technology side of Theta Digital. The last product I did with him was the Cobalt 307--a groundbreaking DAC for Theta in terms of price/performance at the time. It was a huge sales success, and a solid product. But it was $599 in 1992 dollars. Consider that the Bifrost, twenty years later, starts at a little over half the Cobalt's cost--and is a modular, upgradable design that offers reasonable future-proofing. This is the power of two decades of digital advancement, combined with direct sale. Heck, even Gungnir costs less than the 307 in constant dollars, and it has hardware balancing, balanced outputs, and the most sophisticated input analysis and clock reconstruction system in any DAC.

    Anyway, enough of the commercial. I think I just wanted to say that this is an indication of where we're going--providing extremely high-value products through a direct sales channel, with modular design for future-proofing, without over-the-top cosmetics or other stuff that would increase the price dramatically. If that lines up with what you're looking for, that's great. If not, there are a lot of other excellent options out there.

    In any case, we're here, we're available, and we won't clutter up the threads with a bunch of sales-shill stuff.

    All the best,
    Jason

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    Hi,

    First post in 2013, so I wish you all the best, and lots of good music...

    Jason,

    Do you have plans to incorporate AES/EBU input in future products?
    Because in my experience is the best way to connect PC when we're
    talking 10m distances.

  20. #20
    Freshman Member jaywillin's Avatar
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    thanks for the review oscar ! i ordered a modi saturday along with an audioengine d1 to do a side by side.
    i'm looking to replace my fiio e10. i may try a few others under $300, but i'm hoping the modi will be the "schiit" lol

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaywillin View Post
    thanks for the review oscar ! i ordered a modi saturday along with an audioengine d1 to do a side by side.
    i'm looking to replace my fiio e10. i may try a few others under $300, but i'm hoping the modi will be the "schiit" lol
    I'm very interested in your observations, PLEASE post! I'm considering upgrading my FiiO E17/E09K...

  22. #22
    Freshman Member jaywillin's Avatar
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    will do !! just got the shiit has shipped about an hour ago, hopefully the d1 will get here about the same time

  23. #23
    Freshman Member jaywillin's Avatar
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    and the audioengine d1 has shipped !

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaywillin View Post
    and the audioengine d1 has shipped !
    How do you plan to compare the two? With the d1 you can drive headphones, the MODI is just a DAC. What amplification are you using? Have you considered the Magni?

  25. #25
    Freshman Member jaywillin's Avatar
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    my primary need, concern is as a dac, i listen mostly to my A2's, only occasionally through headphones, though i'm listening to headphones more often.
    i'll just spend some time with each, if the modi's dac performance outshines the d1, i'll probably add the magni , i'm also going to get a new set of headphones to replace my sennheiser hd202's.

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