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Adding a Headphone Amp to Current EcoSystem


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Hoping I can get slightly more than a one word answer, as found on Head-Fi, ha ha.

 

I'm in need of some help with adding to my desktop music set-up.

 

5k iMac -- USB -- Schiit Modi 2 DAC -- RCA -- Schiit SYS Pre -- RCA -- Audioengine A5+.

 

All is well with the above set-up.

 

I have some Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro's collecting dust, and might as well use them. I'm interested in adding a Schiit Magni 2 headphone amp to the above chain.

 

I'm not a full time headphone user - maybe 60/40 in favour of not using. I'm not in need of the Magni 2 to bi-pass/power the A5+ speakers. I'd simply like to have the ability to plug my headphones into the Magni 2 and have it power them, but when not using the headphones, the system remains unchanged from the above (A5+ amp powers its speakers for non-headphone listening).

 

The Magni 2 has 1 set of RCAs. Could I run the Magni 2 via RCA into the SYS Pre's remaining set of unused RCA inputs? Would that allow me to use the Magni 2 to run the headphones and not affect the rest of the system when headphones aren't in use?

 

Or would it be more complicated than that? I asked Schiit, but they were steering me down the path of using an RCA Y cable, and mentioned it would somehow connect the Magni 2 to the Modi 2 and SYS. But it seems to me that perhaps that would be the set-up for having the Magni 2 powering the entire system, including speakers - which I want to avoid.

 

Thanks everyone!!!

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I think I'd do this with a RCA Y splitter as well. That creates a parallel path out of the DAC, allowing one branch to power the DT 880s and the other branch to power the speakers. Let's see if this picture works:

..RCA -- Schiit Magni 2 -- DT 880

/

5k iMac -- USB -- Schiit Modi 2 DAC -- RCA -- Schiit SYS Pre -- RCA -- Audioengine A5+.

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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I think I'd do this with a RCA Y splitter as well. That creates a parallel path out of the DAC, allowing one branch to power the DT 880s and the other branch to power the speakers. Let's see if this picture works:

..RCA -- Schiit Magni 2 -- DT 880

/

5k iMac -- USB -- Schiit Modi 2 DAC -- RCA -- Schiit SYS Pre -- RCA -- Audioengine A5+.

 

 

Honestly, the more thought I've put into it, the more lost I feel. I've heard that I should use 1 RCA Y cable, 2 RCA Y cables, the Magni 2 Uber (which has 1 out/1 in), etc. It's making my brain hurt.

 

Pardon my stupidity, but it leaves me with a few questions:

 

1) Since the Modi 2 DAC is bus powered by the computer, is there any issue(s) with what seems like taking that power and stretching it thinner (into 2 branches instead of one)?

 

2) I'm getting totally mixed messages from Schiit with their minimalist replies. They have first mentioned needing Y cables for the Magni 2 (has 1 pair of ins). Then mentioned it not being needed if using the Magni 2 Uber (has 1 pair of ins/1 pair of outs). Then they would all need Y Cables regardless. Then that the Magni 2 would need to connect into the DAC and Pre. And lastly, that the Magni 2 needs to run into an output to work.

 

So I'm lost as to needing 1 or 2 splitter cables, and which plug ends go into which component. Uhg.

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The system I currently have is already bought and using well. So I don't really want to start scraping components I just bought. Trying to find the easiest way to add the Magni 2 to my system without headaches.

 

Schiit told me the 1 pair of RCAs on the back of the Magni 2 are INPUTS, and must go into a pair of OUTPUTS. I also mentioned to them the the A5+ has a free set of RCA outputs, but they said it would matter on "how" those outputs function, so they were not 100% that it would work.

 

They mentioned using Y Cables to connect the Magni 2 with the Modi 2 and Sys. But I'm not seeing it, myself. Would I use 1 set of Y Cables or 2? What plugs into where/what?

 

I'm not interested in ditching the Sys because I use it often when not using the headphones. I want these two uses to live in harmony - using headphones / not using headphones.

 

I've asked Schiit for a basic "what goes where" with the mention of the Y Cables, but they seem unable to comply.

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I also mentioned to them the the A5+ has a free set of RCA outputs, but they said it would matter on "how" those outputs function, so they were not 100% that it would work.

 

The second pair of RCA terminals at the back of Audioengine A5+ seems also to be an input.

 

I've asked Schiit for a basic "what goes where" with the mention of the Y Cables, but they seem unable to comply.

 

flatmap's reply shows the configuration neatly. Plug the single ended RCA into the DAC, the split ends go into SYS and Magni. You will need two of these cables (RCA male to 2 x RCA male), one for each channel.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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I'm not sure if you are completely understanding what people are telling you so I will have a go.

 

In all cases you need to connect your Schiit Modi 2 to the iMac in the same way you are now. You then have two options.

 

If you get the Magni 2 Uber, then you can connect the output of the Modi to the input of the Magni, and then the output of the Magni goes to the input of your AudioEngine speakers. This replaces the SYS pre in the audio chain other words.

 

Alternatively if you get the standard Magni 2, you will need to find a way to connect both the Magni and the SYS to your Modi. If you get the connectors that Musicophile suggests, these (you need 2) plug into the back of your Modi DAC. They effectively give you two outputs for each channel and you run a pair of RCA cables from the Modi to each of the SYS and the Magni. Alternatively you can buy Y cables where you have 1 RCA at one end, running to two RCAs at the other end. For each channel you plug the single end into the Modi and one of the other end into (1) the SYS and (2) the Magni.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The second pair of RCA terminals at the back of Audioengine A5+ seems also to be an input.

 

 

 

flatmap's reply shows the configuration neatly. Plug the single ended RCA into the DAC, the split ends go into SYS and Magni. You will need two of these cables (RCA male to 2 x RCA male), one for each channel.

 

 

Sorry for the brain malfunction on this. The more I was thinking about it, the more unclear it was. It makes sense now. Thank you.

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Apologies around for all involved on this topic, sincerely. I feel lost at times in this connection debacle.

 

The Magni 2 Uber sounds like an easier addition if I sell off the SYS - no additional adaptors or cables to buy. Would the volume control on the front of the Magni 2 Uber still allow me to control the system's volume when not using headphones? That's the reason I bought the SYS (to not use the volume control on the A5+'s). If I can control the system volume when no cans AND the headphone volume with cans from the Magni 2 Uber, then it's a good idea to me.

 

Are there any drawbacks to having the power being branched out in all these directions, since the DAC is bus powered from the iMac?

 

Any advantages/disadvantages to using Y cables over hard splitters?

 

Thanks for your invaluable time, patience and knowledge, Audio_ELF.

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Apologies around for all involved on this topic, sincerely. I feel lost at times in this connection debacle.

 

No problem and glad is has been sorted out!

 

Are there any drawbacks to having the power being branched out in all these directions, since the DAC is bus powered from the iMac?

 

This is less of a problem with the power supply, because voltages and currents over RCA are rather low (typical 1-2V and < 0.1mA). The impedance of the MODI's output stage is 75 Ohm, which should be low enough even for two input stages in parallel (usually > 10k Ohm).

 

Any advantages/disadvantages to using Y cables over hard splitters?

 

The "hard splitter" actually looks much neater than a double cable, and you could use your own cables. Only drawback is the additional strain on the RCA socket due to additional leverage of the cable harness. If your cables do not hang unsupported it is of no concern.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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No problem and glad is has been sorted out!

 

 

 

This is less of a problem with the power supply, because voltages and currents over RCA are rather low (typical 1-2V and < 0.1mA). The impedance of the MODI's output stage is 75 Ohm, which should be low enough even for two input stages in parallel (usually > 10k Ohm).

 

 

 

The "hard splitter" actually looks much neater than a double cable, and you could use your own cables. Only drawback is the additional strain on the RCA socket due to additional leverage of the cable harness. If your cables do not hang unsupported it is of no concern.

 

 

Everything sounds good. I live in Japan, so there's certain headaches involved in this process. I could send back the SYS, but after the shipping / handling / insurance / 15% restocking fee, it's barely worth it. And not sure what I'd get for it here on Yahoo Auction, not much I'm sure. Add in that the AQ splitters are 2.5x the price as in USA, and the cost of another pair of RCA cables, it might end up being cheaper to sell the SYS and order the Magni 2 Uber and can use the same cables as I already have - just swapping out one unit for the other.

 

The one caveat to if the Magni 2 Uber is ok for me is its volume control. When not listening to headphones, can I still use it powered on to control my system's volume, like I can do now with the SYS? I thought I read that when plugging headphones into it, it automatically cuts power to the output, which is what runs into my A5+'s. So it gives me the impression that when no headphones in it, it does control the volume for the speakers, same as the SYS does now.

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And not sure what I'd get for it here on Yahoo Auction, not much I'm sure.

 

I usually get 50% of the retail value if I sell by auction. In your case it might be more, because you spent additional effort /shipping fees /import duties to get it delivered to Japan.

 

So it gives me the impression that when no headphones in it, it does control the volume for the speakers, same as the SYS does now.

 

Schiit states in the Modi 2 description:

Need Volume Control? No Problem.

If you’re using headphones, just add a Magni Uber for adjustable volume via its preamp outputs. No headphones? Just add a SYS Passive Preamp for analog volume control.

I would put this question to the Schiit support - it never hurts to get confirmation.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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The Magni Uber is designed for exactly what you want to do.

Family Room: Panny TCP65S2, Panny BDP-55, DTV HR-24, SB Touch, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Yamaha RX-V3900, Emotiva XPA-3, Rocket NM 550's, Rocket 150's, X-CS, UFW-10, Harmony 700.

 

Computer Room: Dell laptop, Uptone Regen Amber, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Decware SE84C+, Zu Omen, ALO National, Mr.Speakers Mad Dog headphones

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The easiest thing to do would be to run the Sys backwards, i.e. use it's single "output" as an input from the Modi, and then use one of the "inputs" as an output to the speakers' rca ins, and the other "input" as an output to the Magni for headphone listening. The caveat is that the volume knob on the sys has to stay at maximum, but the magni and speakers both have volume controls anyway. I am using my sys in just this way, and it works perfectly, using the "input" select switch to switch between speaker and headphone listening, except in my case my speakers are not powered so an integrated amp is between the speakers and the Sys.

Vinyl is a hugely overpriced way to get flawed sound. Digital is an inexpensive way to get less flawed (though flawed nonetheless) sound.

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The easiest thing to do would be to run the Sys backwards, i.e. use it's single "output" as an input from the Modi, and then use one of the "inputs" as an output to the speakers' rca ins, and the other "input" as an output to the Magni for headphone listening. The caveat is that the volume knob on the sys has to stay at maximum, but the magni and speakers both have volume controls anyway. I am using my sys in just this way, and it works perfectly, using the "input" select switch to switch between speaker and headphone listening, except in my case my speakers are not powered so an integrated amp is between the speakers and the Sys.

 

 

I have read about this on Head-Fi - using the SYS in reverse with the volume knob at max. Just never talked to anyone doing it in practice. If it truly does work, it would allow me to order the Magni 2 model (not Uber), as I wouldn't need the added set of RCAs the Uber version provides.

 

With this set-up in mind:

 

- I would be leaving the SYS on max volume always, never touching the volume control again?

 

- Would the Magni 2s volume control only work for the headphones or would it work for the powered speakers, as well. Because it seems the Magni 2 would be doing what it already can do on it's own. I'm just altering the way the SYS works.

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I guess this is a turning point in what to do. What's the easiest vs cheapest vs mystery rationale.

 

Keep exactly what I have right now - reverse the SYS functionality - buy a Magni 2 and 1 set of RCAs - done.

 

Keep exactly what I have right now - buy a Magni 2 / Magni 2 Uber and more RCAs / splitters - done.

 

Sell / Return the SYS at a loss - buy a Magni 2 Uber - done.

 

Hmm.

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I guess this is a turning point in what to do. What's the easiest vs cheapest vs mystery rationale.

 

Keep exactly what I have right now - reverse the SYS functionality - buy a Magni 2 and 1 set of RCAs - done.

 

Keep exactly what I have right now - buy a Magni 2 / Magni 2 Uber and more RCAs / splitters - done.

 

Sell / Return the SYS at a loss - buy a Magni 2 Uber - done.

 

Hmm.

 

 

I'm gonna go ahead and just keep what I've got, so I'm not taking any loss on re-selling or returning. I ordered a MAGNI 2 (not Uber), and 1 set of RCAs. That will allow my to reverse the SYS (max vol) and connect everything simply and easily. If for some reason that doesn't work, it still leaves me the back-up plan of adding Y-Cables/Splitters. So it seems a win-win for me.

 

Many thanks to: senorx, maximum kahuna, iago, maelob, musicophile, flatmop and audio_elf!!!

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Not sure why you are against a Magni uber. Why complicate matters? Buy a Magni uber b-stock for less than the cost of a regular Magni and be done with it. Nice and clean. Don't over think this. Whatever you get for selling your SYS is a bonus.

Family Room: Panny TCP65S2, Panny BDP-55, DTV HR-24, SB Touch, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Yamaha RX-V3900, Emotiva XPA-3, Rocket NM 550's, Rocket 150's, X-CS, UFW-10, Harmony 700.

 

Computer Room: Dell laptop, Uptone Regen Amber, Schiit Bifrost Multibit, Decware SE84C+, Zu Omen, ALO National, Mr.Speakers Mad Dog headphones

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Not sure why you are against a Magni uber. Why complicate matters? Buy a Magni uber b-stock for less than the cost of a regular Magni and be done with it. Nice and clean. Don't over think this. Whatever you get for selling your SYS is a bonus.

 

I'm not against the Magni 2 Uber. But doing the math on all the possible options, the most cost effective option would be to keep what I have and just add one piece to the puzzle. Even better than ordering yet another RCA set and splitters. Reversing the Sys is verified by Schiit as perfectly fine and capable method, and it saves me from having to give away the Sys and lose more money.

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