USB ASYNCHRONOUS DAC
STATUS: We have a few more original Modi USBs left. Get them while available for $79! No 15-day trial returns, no exchanges, but a full 2-year warranty applies.
Modi is the most advanced DAC under $100 that is made in the USA. Available with USB input for use with computer sources, Modi is a great, affordable way to get better sound.
Modi USB: For Virtually Any Computer
Modi USB plugs into virtually any computer—Windows, Mac, popular Linux distros, Intel Chromebooks, the Sony PS4, as well as iPhones, iPads, and many Android devices—and requires no drivers. It features asynchronous transfer with individual crystal oscillators for the 44.1 and 48k sampling rates, and uses the USB Audio 1.0 standard over USB 2.0, and is powered by the USB port.
Add a SYS Passive Preamp for Analog Volume Control
Need volume control for your active speakers or power amp? Just add a SYS Passive Preamp for analog volume control.
24-Bit AKM4396 DAC
Modi uses the 24-bit AKM4396 DAC with switched-capacitor filtering and a high-quality active filter section with excellent line-driving capability. What this means is that it uses one of the highest-performance DAC ICs out there, and it will comfortably drive long cables.
Made in USA
By “made in USA,” we mean made in USA. The vast majority of the total production cost of Modi—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies. Our board house is 20 minutes away from our office in Newhall. Our chassis guys are just over the hill in the Valley.
Modi is covered by a limited warranty that covers parts and labor for two years. That’s 2x the warranty of most of the products in this price range.
There are no returns on closeout products.
Holy crap, a $99 made in USA DAC! In a custom chassis! How the hell did you pull that one off?
Beelzebub owns our souls for eternity. Or not. As with Magni, there’s no real magic here. Smart design and large quantity manufacturing are really what we’re talking about. Modi uses a fully custom chassis, yes, but it’s made entirely of steel, which reduces price. Surface-mount design means the assembly is almost entirely robotic. And we make lots of them at a time.
But there’s gotta be a catch, right?
Not really, other than this DAC is designed exclusively for direct sale. A dealer network would double the price.
So, you’re saying you plug this in and you’re ready to go?
Yes. Virtually any Windows or Mac computer instantly recognizes Modi USB and requires no drivers, and many Linux distros that support USB Audio Standard 2.0 work just fine as well. It can also be used with iPhones, iPads, and Intel Chromebooks. It doesn’t even need a power supply—it’s USB powered. And, of course, you’ll need an amp. Magni matches Modi very well.
So what’s this about Linux, iDevices, and Chromebooks?
We’ve used Modi on Ubuntu 12.04 and 13.04, and we’ve had owners report that Fedora 20, Mint, and Debian 3.8 and 3.10 work well. Please note these are “vanilla” installs and we’re not able to provide troubleshooting or support of Linux issues. For iPhones running iOS7, you can connect digitally with the Lightning to USB adapter sold by Apple, but you may need a powered USB hub to avoid the "this device draws too much power" error. Intel-based Chromebooks also work, though AMD seems to be a bit of a crapshoot.
Yes. Many Android devices (4.0 and up) can work with Modi using a USB On The Go Cable and Audio Player Pro app (a paid app, about $10.) You'll need to apply Audio Tweak 1, and you may have to use an externally powered USB 2.0 hub for some phones or tablets that don't supply enough power to run the Modi.
I want a combined DAC/amp! Why didn’t you put an amp in here?
We did. It’s just in a different chassis and costs another $99. It’s called “Magni.” Stack the two and tell yourself it’s a combined DAC/Amp for $198.
What’s your problem with combined DAC/Amps? Why can’t you put them in the same box?
Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t like multi-megahertz digital noise cruising around in the same chassis as sensitive analog amplification components. Nor do we like the planned obsolescence of a perfectly good amp when digital technology moves on. Let’s face it, you’ll probably be changing the DAC before the amp.
If this thing is so great, why would I step up to Bifrost or Gungnir?
Because you need multiple inputs, or because you want a fully discrete gain stage, or you need balanced outputs. Or upgradability. Magni isn’t upgradable. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, since it costs less than the Bifrost or Gungnir upgrades themselves.
Wait. “Active filter stage.” Does that mean you used an opamp in this thing?
Yes, we did. A very nice one—specifically the AD8616, but yes, it’s an opamp. Sometimes it’s time for a Michelin 2-star restaurant, sometimes it’s time for In-N-Out, depending on your budget. This is the latter time.
I thought you guys said you’d die before using opamps!
Again, you’re putting words in our mouths. We said we do discrete design, and we prefer discrete design. But those are statements of fact—not crapping all over another design approach, which we never do.
But I heard all DACs sound the same! You’re bullshitting us!
If it’s your experience that all DACs sound the same, that’s cool. There’s a DAC in your iPhone or Android phone, so you can use that one and save some cash.
“I feel the Modi to be one of the better DACs that I have come across in any price range…Normally, in the $99-and-under world, USB DACs tend to have sharp upper regions that are splashy and unable to stay in control when there is a load of low end. The Modi plows through like a champ.”
“The Magni headphone amp and the Modi DAC are also made in America, and they sound spectacular…I played the Magni and Modi together, and loved the sound. Like the bigger Schiit amps I’ve tested, the sound is rich, with lots of detail and oomph…They deliver bona-fide high-end sound quality.”
Dar-Ko Award Winner
“And then I remember (again) that this thing is US$99. In that context, it’s a small marvel. This Schiit impresses with an immersive midrange and good treble extension despite being occasionally too ‘there’. Whilst bass definition isn’t the Modi’s strong point, it’s far from unacceptable. Remember: US$99…
…I heard more than I bargained for. In this respect alone, the Modi redefines expectations at its price point. Actually – no – it blows expectations clean out of the water…
I don’t see the competition laughing: the Schiit Modi’s core essence is two fingers to manufacturers who dare to charge more. Everyone should own one. Everyone CAN own one. DAR-KO award incoming.”
4,5 stars out of 5!
“For less than 250 euro for the Modi and Maxi you purchase an impressive system. It doesn’t just look good, it also sounds good: full and powerfull. The Schiits are quirky but impressive devices that deserve to be auditioned.”
“So how does this sound? The short answer is: suprisingly good given the price. The difference with the standard headphone output on a computer or smartphone is huge. The Modi delivers a beautiful and wide, very balanced sound. Music appears in a real soundstage, which we consider to be the hallmark of true high end. The low end is full and extended but never overpowering.”
“We also found that these components work as good as separates as they work together. The Schiit Modi and Magni make a veryy good impression on their own. The Modi will make an excellent DAC on your ‘big system’, the Magni is a more than adequate alternative for the standard headphone output on your amplifier.”
HiFiPig Recommended Components
"...there appears to be an explosiveness (dynamism) to the presentation using the Magni/Modi combo which is very enjoyable indeed ... it is easy to forget that what we are talking about here is a very well priced bit of kit and not some piece of esoterica. "
"...does the Schiit warrant an extra couple of hundred quid? – by Christ yes! It’s an immensely enjoyable listen with many positives and only a very few negatives which at this price it would be churlish to complain about."
"Add a good pair of headphones that suit and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear."
"I've listened to the Modi for weeks at a time and can happily report that music sounds amazing running through it. Everything from MP3s, radio station streams and Spotify sounds much, much better than listening through the computer's headphone output."
The Magni headphone amp and Modi USB DAC are sold (separately) by a California-based audio outfit named Schiit. They make your music sound the opposite of that.