American audio brand Schiit is known in audio circles not just for its tongue-in-cheek name, but for its relatively affordable, high-quality external digital-to-analog converters (DAC) and amplifiers, which make them a go-to for audiophiles on a budget or newbies to the hobby.
Its DACs and amps work hand in hand to ensure the best listening experience on high-end earphones. An external DAC processes high-resolution audio files with minimal loss of detail, while an amp provides the necessary electrical power for headphones with large drivers.
Its latest amp, the Magni 3, is also its most affordable one to date, with an official price in the United States of US$99 ($135). Local distributors are pricing it at $199, which includes warranty and shipment costs.
The Magni 3 is good value for money for what it does, which is to provide power-hungry high-end headphones with enough juice to make vocals, instruments and music clearer and more detailed.
At regular low gain setting, the Magni 3 was able to amplify and power a wide majority of headphones, including the Sennheiser HD650, MrSpeakers Aeon and Klipsch's Heritage HP-3 headphones at a decent volume.
There is an option for high-gain mode which I did not need to use for the most part, as I was getting a comfortably loud volume even below 50 per cent of the volume dial on low gain.
It's a neutral-sounding amp, which reveals and opens up the source material while keeping true to the recording's original tone. It is neither too warm nor overly bright, which lets the individual quirks of your headphones - like the HD650's signature darkness or the sparkling clarity of a Beyerdynamic DT880 - really shine through.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz-20kHz, -0.1db; 2Hz-900kHz, -3db
OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: 3ohms on either gain
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
The Magni 3's downsides are mostly logistical. While it takes up only a small desk estate, coming in a nice, compact all-metal package, it requires a large, bulky power brick which took up so much space on my power strip I was unable to fit another one to its side.
The Magni 3 also tends to run a bit warm, which the company says is expected and normal.
The Magni 3 complements Schiit's line of DACs, which, when chained together in a pair and put on top of each other onto what is commonly known as a Schiit stack, provides audiophiles with a set-up that can handle all the high-end audio they throw at it.
I paired the Magni 3 with Schiit's most premium version of its entry-level Modi DAC, the Modi Multibit (US$249). The Multibit plays extremely nicely with the Magni 3, as it processes music files cleanly and faithfully, ensuring the audio quality and reproduction stays as true to the source as possible.
•Verdict: Schiit's Magni 3 is a stellar headphone amplifier at near-budget price, with clean, powerful performance that enhances the capabilities of headphones you own.