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For wired headphone enthusiasts, improving the sound quality of their already expensive audiophile headphones and/or high-end planar magnetic headphones is without a doubt: an absolute necessity. The audio quality produced by these dedicated amplifiers is very impressive and well worth investing in, especially if you have the “ears” for it.
Adding a new headphone amp to your setup used to take up more space on your desk and cut a sizable chunk out of your budget in the good old days. Nonetheless, it is well worth getting into, as most amps/preamps nowadays come in a smaller form factor and an affordable price tag.
The Schitt Magni 3+B is one such contender, it’s strong yet sleek, powerful yet affordable and it will drive headphones with a maximum power of 2W/32Ω per channel. In this article, I’ll review the Schiit Magni 3+ headphone amp and cover important aspects such as the design, audio quality, and pros and cons. Fortunately, if you know why you need a headphone amplifier, you definitely won’t need much convincing.
Table of Contents
Recommended Headphone Impedance: Any Impedance
Watts Per Channel: 2W/32Ω
In-Built DAC: No
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
Power Consumption: 6W
Hardware Connectivity: 1 x AC power (using a wall-wart adapter), 1 x ¼” TRS out, 1 x RCA input pair, 1 x RCA output pair
Looks and Build Quality
If there’s one thing that I will not give “Schiit” you know what for, is the overall design of the Magni 3+. From the outside, everything looks solid and tightly packed. The compact box-like design is very minimalistic and doesn’t take up a lot of space. The dark metal enclosure (the “B” version is the black-colored housing) is very sturdy, and as many would like to say: “is built like a tank.”
The finish is very smooth, shiny, and definitely gives off a premium vibe. One thing to note however, is that the volume knob, at the front panel, is made out of plastic and can feel a little flimsy. Other than that, everything else is in top condition.
The housing is sturdy enough to support stacking and it wouldn’t mind being the top or bottom in a DAC-Amp stacking relationship. (make sure to set them up with those extremely short RCA cables.) Also, the housing has small rubber bushes in the bottom. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about stacking on top of other metal enclosures. The rubber bushes are very stealthy and you barely notice them looking from above.
The front panel is pretty minimalistic, there’s only the volume control knob and the ¼” TRS port. There’s a lot of space left unattended but it adds to the design and makes the amp look larger than life. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said to the back panel as the four RCA ports, two switches and AC power input ports leave behind no empty spaces.
Controls and I/O
Since the Schiit Magni 3+ is only a headphone amplifier, it’s connectivity options are quite slim. For outputs, you’ve got a ¼” TRS port on the front and a pair of RCA ports on the back. Input is strictly limited to RCA so you will have to use an adapter or a DAC in-between and a 3.5mm (⅛” TRS) stereo input port is sorely missed.
The controls are simple enough, there’s a power on/off switch and a gain high/low switch at the back, while on the front panel, the only control is the volume control knob. Other than that, there are no special tuning options or additional hardware ports.
Obviously, one of the more important aspects we have to talk about is the performance with headphones with different impedances. Although the Magni 3+ is rated to work with all headphones, regardless of impedance, there are some issues with higher impedance headphones such as the Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic Amiron Home. (which we talked about in our article on explaining headphone sensitivity.)
The underlying issue with the headphone amplifier (see also headphone amp under $200), is that the hardware doesn’t scale uniformly for each different pair of headphones. This is not to say that the amplifier will not scale properly for different headphones, but what I’m trying to say is that the controls are very different for each pair of headphones. So, if you happen to plug in different headphones very frequently, you will find yourself tuning the settings every time to find the perfect fit.
Also, if possible, try to include a DAC in-between, as the input source is also found to be the cause for some of these issues.
The audio quality produced by this amplifier didn’t fail to miss the mark. Every range – from the lows, the mids and the highs – were very clear and reproduced as accurately as possible. The sound profile stays consistent and gives equal attention to the entire spectrum. There is no additional distortion or bass issues. (save for the shortcomings in the headphones and audio source.) Also, despite the inconsistent tuning issue with different headphones, this amplifier didn’t hold back and was constantly pumping out powerful high-quality audio once it found its proper footing.
The soundstage was also very promising. This device amplified just enough not to ruin the experience. As long as you have a good pair of soundstage headphones, you might be able to recognize that all of the elements were wide and very distinct.
What We Like
Can handle any impedance
Amplifies all frequencies consistently
Compact sturdy and premium-like enclosure
Know Before Buying
Needs constant tuning when switching between headphones
Doesn’t have an in-built DAC
Lacks ¼” and ⅛” TRS input ports
The Schiit Magni 3+ Headphone amplifier didn’t take the top spot on our list of the Best Amps Under $100 for no reason. It earned its way to the top by being the best affordable headphone amplifier because it delivered what it promised. The Schiit Magni 3+ headphone amplifier has one of the most accurate sound amplification capabilities, all bundled up in a sturdy case within a small form factor despite lacking an in-built DAC or a Stereo input port. For gamers and beginner content creators, this is a great device to get into, especially if you want to see what those high-impedance headphones are capable of.