We’re back for another Schiit review and this time we are looking at the Modi 2 Uber, one of the US-based company’s entry DACs (digital-to-audio converters). I picked up the M2U for about $90 around the same time I picked up the Magni 3, which I also recently reviewed here.
As with the Magni review and to keep things as consistent as possible, note the following:
- Source: Desktop PC using both Spotify and some FLACs
- Amp: Schiit Magni 3
- Headphones: Hifiman HE-400i
The M2U takes up the exact same footprint as the Magni 3 at 5 x 4 x 1.8 inches
making them a wonderful pair to put side-by-side or made into a little Schiit-stack. While the measurements in the specifications are about 0.4 inches different, in reality they stack directly atop one another with no variance in size whatsoever.
The front of the device, in Schiit fashion, features the manufacturer logo and model name. From a functional standpoint, the front also features the button to change inputs and three white LED indicator lights to display which input the user has selected. The chassis of the device–like the Magni– is made of metal with smooth curves in the front and has a lightweight but nice feel to it. Unfortunately, Schiit went with a plastic button, not dissimilar to the plastic knob they used on the Magni. The cheap input selector really takes away from what would otherwise feel like a faily premium device. Additionally, the plastic input selector button gets quite loose quickly when it shouldn’t, from a design standpoint.
Moving to the rear of the device, we find the RCA output connection, a coaxial input, optical input, and the USB input for your computer as well as the power toggle switch and 16V barrel power jack. I am using the M2U with the USB input connected to my custom desktop computer and the optical input connected to a Sony PlayStation 4.
One of my favorite things about the Modi 2 Uber–apart from the improvement to the sound it provides, which we will get to shortly–is the fact that it supports multiple inputs. While not a breakthrough in technology, this is easily a requirement in DAC choice for me, as I often wish to change inputs. Besides, once I tied my PS4 to my DAC and better headphones, it’s hard to go back to lesser headsets. Despite a flimsy input selector button, the M2U handles input switching nicely with very little delay or lag and it is as simple as the tap of the front button. But let’s be honest. What’s really important here is the sound. After using the Modi 2 Uber for about 8 or 9 months, here’s what I think.
I’m always wary of treble, as it tends to hurt and tire my ears if not well-delivered. Because of this, I chose three different tracks to test treble in this review.
- Listening to the famous ”Rosanna” from TOTO, trebles were balanced and analytical but without being too harsh. Around two minutes into the song when there are some higher harmonies, both parts come through clearly. The various horn lines and parts throughout the song are a bit higher in range and are energetic to listen to without fatiguing your ears, which was great for me. I’m I sucker for good brass and woodwind action in music.
- Additionally, I of course listened to ”Water Night” by Eric Whitacre, as I always use this song to examine treble performance as it contains at least 4 soprano and alto parts and complex, swelling harmonies–much due to it being composed by Eric Whitacre. From the 2:00 to 3:00, and especially at 2:40, the soaring soprano melodies complement each other and build beautifully without feeling ”crunched” into the upper-end and maintaining their airiness.
- Finally, also from Eric Whitacre, I had to use ”Lux Arumque” for its incredible, soaring solosist and other soprano delights. With this track, I often find through lesser hardware that some of the highest parts of the song–such as at 0:48–that, while beautifully written, are typically delivered in a cringe-y and harsh ringing fashion. This was not the case when listening via the Modi 2 Uber. Treble sections were well-placed and detailed without any ringing or harshness.
Moving on to the mid-section, which is often a rather busy part of music that can get flat and jumbled.
- ”La Luna – binaural” from Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra is a special favorite of mine, and it’s always the first song I listen to when testing any hardware. This trade sounds very, very wide and I enjoy that tremendously. The main guitar line falls largely in the mid-section and was clear, detailed, and stood out from the accompanying rhythm guitar.
- Stick with me here, because this isn’t my usual listening. ”Shake It Off” from Taylor Switch–and much of her album 1989–is well-mastered and has plenty going on to analyze. I had no trouble identifying the various parts that are usually jumbled over each other. The various horn lines were fun to listen to in the background. Little did I know that there is a sort of synth-y organ part for most the song. I had no idea. I knew the pitches were there, kind of, but had never really realized the part. Additionally, vocals were clear and percussive parts were easy to identify and keep track of, including small snaps and claps far in the background.
Lastly, but definitely not least, the bass.
- You know what I’m playing. ”Bad Guy” from Billie Eilish has a bold, groovy, and textured bass line from the get-go and remains one of my favorite songs to listen to in terms of modern popular music. With each note the bass hits, you can really hear the texture and detail of the string actually vibrating, versus the level note you generally hear through lesser hardware. Additionally, the bump of the drum line is just…energetic and punchy. But not a glance to the face, punchy like when listening through your car stereo or included mobile phone earbuds. More like a thin layer of memory foam hitting an immovable surface that is infinitely hollow underneath with a resounding thud. It’s great, and the M2U makes it sound better than I’ve previously heard it.
- The iconic ”Money” from Pink Floyd is another favorite of mine. It’s always been good, but I’ve particularly liked it since it was featured in the movie The Italian Job. It’s another one of those songs that just has a great bassline rooting the song the whole way through. While less punchy than other songs, but texture in the bass line is still enjoyable and percusive bass is very full and natural. The details that the M2U delivered in this region while keeping things smooth was impressive to me, especially having come from no DAC whatsoever.
Over all I have been very happy with the Schiit Modi 2 Uber and it has its place on my desk and will continue to get regular use. My only complaints are that the input switcher button is loose and cheap-feeling, the device gets quite warm during medium to long listening sessions, and that it uses a wall-wart style power plug that takes up a ton of space. This is a weak point for all of Schiit’s entry gear, so be advised of that. Beyond those three complaints, I still feel the Modi 2 Uber is a great little device that dramatically improved the quality of my listening for a smaller stack of cash. If you aren’t using a DAC currently, need multiple inputs, and can find one used, don’t miss out on picking it up!
Schiit Audio founded by audiophiles Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat and–despite the German-sounding name–is a US-based company producing fully balanced differential power amplifiers, fully discrete I/V conversion stages, audiophile D/A converters, relay-switched stepped attenuator volume controls in preamps, the first DTS home theater surround processor on the market, and much more. More information on Schiit Audio can be found on their website, https://www.schiit.com/