Holy crap, a $99 made in USA fully discrete amp! How the hell did you pull that one off?
We made a deal with Satan. No, not really. There’s no black magic or soul-selling involved. Smart design and large quantity manufacturing are really what we’re talking about. Magni 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, well, a ton of them at a time.
Did you say this thing will drive orthos?
Many of them, yes. The HiFiMan HE400 and HE500 do well with Magni, as well as the Audeze LCD2. The popular Fostex T50RP mods (Mad Dog, Paradox) are also a good match. HE-6, not so much.
And IEMs too?
Yes. Magni’s noise floor is low enough for most of them, though Magni’s gain of 5 (necessary for orthos and high-impedance headphones) might mean you have to use software volume control to get a good range of adjustment on the volume pot.
And other headphones?
Of course. Magni may be the only amp you ever need.
Then why would I step up to Asgard, or any of your other amps?
Because you have an aluminum fetish. Or, more seriously, because you want a Class-A, no-overall-feedback design, or because you want tubes, or because you want balanced outputs. Or because you want more capability, like preamp outs.
So you probably cheaped out and left the protection off this amp, or something stupid like that, right?
No. Magni has a relay mute for delayed startup and fast shut-down. You can leave your headphones plugged in all the time.
Wait a minute! There’s gotta be a catch!
Only that this amp is designed exclusively for direct sale in the US market. We don’t have 230V-compatible wall warts on tap for all the different plug types around the world. We only sell a 115V version for the USA.
So this won’t be available through your distributors?
We’re talking with them about supplying their own wall-warts, which may drive the price up a bit. Stay tuned.
So why didn’t you do this amp to start, rather than the Asgard?
Because we didn’t have the resources to make this amp when the company began. Schiit is a true start-up. We didn’t take venture capital money, and we don’t have trust funds to fall back on. The investment required to make large-scale automated production runs of amps like this were out of our reach when we started. Not now.
What the hell is a Magni?
In Norse mythology, Magni was one of Thor’s sons. There’s this amazing resource called Wikipedia. You may have heard of it.
I want a combined DAC/amp! Why didn’t you put a DAC in here?
We did. It’s just in a different chassis and costs another $99. It’s called “Modi.” 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.
Why didn’t you put batteries in this stupid thing so it’s portable?
We’re really not into battery-powered amps. Lithium power cells mean switching supplies (and extra insurance riders for the production line, and shipping headaches.) Dual 9V would work for lower power output, but you have to deal with charging and power management. In the end, we chose to design with AC input and 15V rails, for better power output.
Hey, so does that mean I can plug in some uber-special, gold-plated, cryo-treated, 85-lb 2000VA wall wart and have even better performance?
Unless you know what you’re doing, we don’t recommend that. Magni uses an AC wall wart. Most are DC. DC won’t work with Magni.
Hey, I have a buttload of wall-warts for routers, phone chargers, talking desk figurines, etc. What if I accidentally plug in the wrong wall wart?
Most likely nothing. Most other wall-warts are DC. Unless you supply Magni with AC, the relay will never connect the output to your headphones.
Let’s talk tech. What’s the big deal about discrete design?
Discrete design allows us to create a DC-coupled stage with excellent power output and low output impedance, as well as good performance. Sure, we could throw an opamp in there and get better numbers, but we aren’t just about the numbers here. We believe different amps sound, well, different, and we made our design decisions based on both measurements and listening tests.
So, I notice you aren’t talking about “no feedback” here. What’s up?
Magni does use overall feedback, but at a much lower level than op-amp designs. Feedback is necessary to linearize a Class AB output stage for good performance at this level. While our other amps use no-overall-feedback designs with high voltage input stages and Class A output stages to get good performance, the heat and complexity simply wouldn’t fly in this tiny, inexpensive amp.
Wait. Are you saying this is a Schiit amp that doesn’t double as a barbecue? How am I gonna cook my burgers?
Buy a barbecue. We hear Lowes is having a sale.
What’s this about DC coupling?
Magni has no capacitors in the signal path at all—that’s what we mean by DC coupling. It uses a DC servo to eliminate DC on the output, which is a more sophisticated method than using coupling caps.
But I heard all amps sound the same! You’re bullshitting us!
If it’s your experience that all amps sound the same, that’s cool. There are plenty of other options out there, including some that are much less expensive than ours.