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Jan 21, 2023
I have a Topping A30 / Radsone ES100 setup right now. Looking to kick it up a bit. Headphones are HD6XX & Meze 99 Classics. Struggling to decide between this iFi Signature Can (and a Zen DAC) or a Schiit Modi / Magni stack. Please give me reason.
Left-Coast-DJI just tested out the ZEN Air line at home for 4 weeks, and I’ve heard the first two generations of Magni/Modi a fair amount and demo’d the Magni3 once, so I’m not 100% sure my impressions will be exactly applicable. However, I typically find Schiit amps to be on the dryer, brighter, side of things. It’s not that they are adding any kind of EQ, it’s just that they are a little bit more analytical. I could be great sometimes, and it might be a good with the HD 6XX if the upper mids, like female vocals, don’t ever seem a bit much or on the edge of being harsh to you. The Schiit stack is popular for a reason. Very similar observations apply to the few Topping product I have heard, to a even stronger degree, though one Topping sounded outright weird and detrimental… though their stuff is also popular and I haven’t heard their best efforts yet. On the other hand, even the humble Zen air CAN plus Zen air DAC provided an experience that was smooth and musical. Even with my HD 8XX, I did not sense the strain on my ears, no signs of problems. I did not expect to enjoy the xBass and X space features to be as fun as they turned out to be, but they added to the whole musical enjoyment for me. As far as a con, the entry-level iFi product may not have had the most hard and defined edges to every note, but it did not seem dull or lacking in detail (I have found the Asgard to dull the sound of TOTL headphones). I do enjoy the benefits of my higher end Cavalli and Sennheiser deck amp gear, but I could not ignore the walk away impression that I was having a satisfactory and good time listening to $1000 headphone with $100 front end gear, with the iFi, where the schiit audio gear even up to the Jotunheim 1 have added a harshness that is unpleasant after a moderate amount of time with the HD 800 and 8XX (I do like the Schiit audio staff and mission very much, so I always root for them with each release, and new gear may be better).
Left-Coast-DJI just released a review/overview of the ZEN Air products:
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