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Today we are taking a look at the Schiit Magni 3+ vs Heresy in this detailed shootout.
Two new, inexpensive, desktop headphone amplifiers, from the same company with the same features, at the same price point, is a little unconventional even for Schiit. Even with that said, that’s exactly what Schiit Audio has done, with their new Magni 3+ and Magni Heresy amplifiers.
If you are anything like me, the first thing you are probably asking is, Why do both? Both are very effective but there is a big difference … it lies in how they achieve what they do! Read on to find out more as we take a look at this question and more in our full detailed review of the Magni 3+ and Magni Heresy.
Jason Stoddard explains the differences between the two models, and goes into much greater detail about the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in his November 29th posting “Full Heresy Mode” as part of his ongoing narrative about Schiit Audio and the products it creates.
Although specs on both the Magni 3+ and Hersey are similar there are a few build changes which cause a measurable output differences.
Schiit Magni 3+ and Heresy Design Differences Summary
Magni 3+ Design
The Schiit Magni 3+ headphone amplifier, using an all-discrete, current-feedback topology with similar design principals to Schiit’s Vidar speaker amplifier is offered in their standard silver chassis. This is the typical approach of most of Schiit’s designs – a final design from the combination of listening and measuring.
Schiit uses Bipolar Transistors in their Magni 3+ headphone amp without any capacitors in the signal path. Instead, they use a different principle: DC connection. This principle uses another amplifier (driver) to attenuate distortion and regulate the bias current with a Vbe (bias voltage) multiplier.
Magni Heresy Design
Outside of the looks of the Schiit Magni Heresy with it’s black and red chassis, the internals also differ. The internal design is differentiated by using high quality components such as paralleled op-amps with feed-forward correction.
The results are better measurements from the integrated amplifier circuits in the left and right channels. The third harmonic distortion on the Heresy is about 6 dB lower than the Magni 3+ and it has slightly less measurable noise.
With the better measurements, should we consider the Schiit Magni Heresy a better headphone amp? Not necessarily. Let’s dig a little deeper into these two similar low budget headphone amplifiers.
Schiit Magni Heresy 100% Op-Amp-Based Headphone Amp and Preamp
Schiit Magni 3+ and Heresy Specs
The product is a two-channel headphone amplifier that can be used with a wide range of headphones and sources. The amplifier is configured to drive headphones from 16-600 Ohm with a 410mW RMS per channel into the 300 Ohm load.
Below is a summary of the max power into different impedance’s:
- 16 Ω : 2.8W RMS per channel
- 32 Ω : 2.4W RMS per channel
- 50 Ω : 1.6W RMS per channel
- 300 Ω : 410mW RMS per channel
- 600 Ω : 215mW RMS per channel
In addition to the power output, both headphone amplifiers feature dual gain settings, pre-amp outputs and a Regulated +/- 16V PSU rails with >6,000uF of filter capacitance.
Schiit Magni 3+ and Schiit Magni Heresy Review
Build Quality and Power Supply
Both headphone amps feature a durable metal construction . The Magni 3+ build is basically what we seen in the Magni 3 with the same form factor and silver casing. The Heresy takes the design up a notch by adding a some color with a black and red chassis.
Schiit Voltage Switches
The headphone amp have a switch on the back, you can use it to adjust the output voltage, even when not using the amp. That way, the headphone amp will always be ready to go, when you are. They won’t get hot like this either. Just give them a few minutes to reach operating temperature when you first connect them to the amp. Even leaving the Schiit in high output voltage mode it did get a little warm but did not have any issues leaving it on all day.
Both have the same form factor and inputs / outputs along with coming with a standard power supply.
Schiit Magni 3+ and Heresy Sound
Now that we have covered the technical similarities and differences let’s get into some fun stuff, how do these headphone amps sound?
Schiit Magni 3+ Sound
First off I will note there is not a night and day difference between the sound of the two headphone amplifiers. Listening closely during some critical music listening sessions we are able to pickup subtle differences between the Magni 3+ and the Heresy. For everyday, casual music listening, most of these subtle differences will not play a large part in your enjoyment.
The first few weeks I only used Magni 3+ headphone amp. Right away you will notice a full bodied, delivery of the sound. It has a similar warm tone that we describe in a lot of tube amps. Overall the sound comes off as very natural and is neither too harsh nor too soft. Both the sound of instruments and vocals were well focused and properly placed.
For the Schiit Magni 3+ vs Heresy review we used both a few different sets of headphones with different impedences including an 80 ohm Byerdynamic DT 770 closed-back headphones, Sennheiser HD 600 300-ohm open-back cans and the power hungry Beyerdynamic DT 990 600 ohm open-back headphones.
For this price range, the Magni 3+ has a very natural sound image. Great on jazz and classical music. But, also good for pop and rock.
Schiit Magni Heresy Sound
Again, the difference of the sound signature of the Heresy is more subtle than a Wow, I can not believe that is the same amp moment.
What we did notice with the Heresy is a much more clear and crisp delivery of the sound versus that of the Magni 3+. The tone defiantly leans more towards neutral than the warm, tube like sound of the Magni 3+. I would describe the sound more analytical and the delivery faster.
Love headphones? So do we, checkout our picks for Best Wired Headphones
The Schiit Heresy headphone amp is known for its clear and crisp delivery of sound. It has a much more neutral tone than the warm, tube-like sound of the Schiit Magni 3+. This makes it a great choice for those who want an analytical sound image. The Heresy also delivers vocals in a way that will melt you in your listening chair.
Using the same headphones we again did not have issues with the power. If most of my can collection were 600 ohm power hungry headphones I might consider upgrading the amp but for this price range the power of these are really amazing.
Other Amps to Consider
For our Schiit Magni 3+ vs Heresy Review I wanted to provide you with comparable headphone amps that you may want to review for reference comparisons.
Monolith 133304 Liquid Spark Headphone Amplifier
The Monolith 133304 Liquid Spark Headphone Amplifier is a premium headphone amplifier for those seeking the most sought after quality sound. In order to achieve this, it has been tweaked and tuned to perfection by professional acoustic sound engineers.
It features four different modes: Normal, which will produce a clean and crisp tone and provide an ample amount of headroom; Comfort, which delivers a softer and warmer tonal balance due to its reduced headroom; Front Row, which emphasizes the attack of instruments and vocals for more intense music listening sessions; and Pure Class A, which gives you all of the signature warmth of an all tube amplifier.
The Monolith 133304 Liquid Spark Headphone Amplifier is housed in a sleek aluminum chassis with green LED accent lighting. The green LED accents are the only indicator of the amplifier’s operational status, making it look clean and modern on your equipment rack, desk or nightstand.
Monolith 133304 Liquid Spark Headphone Amplifier - by Alex Cavalli with RCA Input, Single 1/4 Output 1.3Watt@50R, 108Db
FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier is, as the name implies, a USB DAC/Headphone amplifier for PC, Mac or Linux audiophiles who are looking for an inexpensive but powerful amplifier. It is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 (32-bit only)/ Vista (without SP1), XP (SP3) and Mac OS 10.11 or higher. Because this is a USB DAC/amp it has the capability to decode up to 24-bit 384 kHz audio files natively without any high-res equipment like players or amplifiers. Volume control can also be done without having to go into software on your computer because there are two volume levels that can be controlled on the DAC/amp itself.
The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier is a Class A amplifier and has a Texas Instruments TPA6130A2 chip that provides 0.5 watts per channel into 16 ohms. It also has a low 1.8-ohm output impedance, making it perfect for IEMs. The amp also has a 3.5mm stereo headphone output and a 3.5mm line-level input.
The build quality of the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier is excellent for the price. It is made of an all-metal chassis with an anodized aluminum front plate and buttons. The volume knob has a solid click to it when turned but may not be firm enough for some.
The FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier provides strong, clean power that is perfect for running most headphones properly. It really shines with IEMs because of its low impedance output (1.8 ohm) and high output voltage (2.5 Vrms).
FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
JDS Labs Atom + Amp
The JDS Labs Atom Plus is a great-sounding, affordable headphone amplifier. It has very low distortion and a wide frequency response. It also delivers plenty of power, making it a great choice for headphones with high impedance ratings. Complete details can be found here.
S.M.S.L SP200 Headphone Amp
At nearly double the price the S.M.S.L SP200 is a good way to check into the next level up of headphone amps. With the SP200 you should notice more power available along with greater control over your music. As an added bonus it also features XLR.
The SMSL SP200 is a headphone amplifier that is designed for desktop use. It has a very small form factor, and it is made of aluminum alloy. It weighs about 210 grams, and it measures about 95x55x22 mm. It has an input impedance of 10 kOhms, and it can deliver up to 200 mW of power into a 32 Ohm load. It also has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and a signal-to-noise ratio of 100 dB. The SMSL SP200 is a great choice for someone who is looking for an affordable and compact desktop headphone amplifier.
S.M.S.L SP200 Headphone Amp THX AAA 888 Technology XLR RCA Balanced Headphone Amplifier
Schiit Magni 3+ vs Heresy Recommendation
You honestly cannot go wrong with wither the Magni 3+ or the Heresy in this price range. Both are capable headphone amps with lots of power. I would test both out if possible and choose the one that fits your musical and listening style best. From our Schiit Magni 3+ vs Heresy Review and comparison we found the following findings.
For my personal preference, I enjoyed the instrumentation more on the Magni 3+ and it is perfect if you are looking for a budget friendly “warm, tube” sounding headphone amp. If you listen to a lot of classical or jazz, I would lean towards this amp.
The Heresy I found more attractive in regards to the red and black chassis. The tone signature is more neutral and “analytical” than the Magni 3+. This would be a great amp for vocal intensive music or critical listening.
At the end of the day, both pair of headphone amps will enahance any set of headphones you are using. Both have similar build qualities, feature preamp capabilities and are towards the best in class for performance to price ratio.
For a matching DAC, I used the Schiit Modi Headphone DAC for the review and it matched both amps beautifully. It would be hard to beat this amp / DAC combo at this price range.
Need headphones to pair with your amp and DAC, checkout our Best Headphones Under $500 for 2022.
The Schiit Magni 3+ and the Schiit Heresy Headphone Amp are both excellent headphone amps for this price range. If you’re looking to purchase a budget-friendly amp, I would recommend the Magni 3+. The sound signature is very natural with warm tones that make it perfect for jazz or classical music listening sessions. For those who prefer neutral sounding headphones, I would go with the Heresy which has crisp vocals and an analytical tone that will be better suited if you listen to more vocal intensive genres of music. Both of these amplifiers have similar power levels so they should work well no matter what type of headphones your using – from 80 ohm closed back DT 770s to 600 ohms open backed DT 990s. They also both have built-in headphone pre-amplifiers and you cannot go wrong with either.