My subjective sound experience with Schiit products that I simply cannot explain.

2021.11.29 00:01 Alacris My subjective sound experience with Schiit products that I simply cannot explain.

For the past year or so, I have been following Audio Science Review and check for new product reviews by Amir daily.
A lot of what I read on that forum really resonated with me, because there really is a lot of snake oil and overpriced products in the audio industry, as well as a lot of unsubstantiated claims and myths.
I brought into the idea that all solid-state headphone amplifiers with a low enough output impedance should be audibly equivalent, unless there is a serious design flaw. So ultimately, one that measures well like Topping and is proven to be "audibly transparent", as well as having any features you might want would be the one to go for.
I still use my ATH-MSR7 to this day which is a headphone well known for leaning towards the bright side. It is quite sensitive and can be easily powered out of just about anything.
When I read discussions online of products like Topping having a clinical or analytical sound, I thought the people raising those claims were just being ridiculous. It has to be in their head. Topping's products are proven to be audibly transparent to the source!
After years of using a Schiit Magni 2, I decided it was time to buy something new. After using my headphones on the Topping L30, I noticed I was getting fatigued very quickly despite listening to the exact same music that I had been listening to in the past few days. I purposefully try to avoid music that's mastered a bit too hot for this reason. I said to myself it's likely just in my head, or coincidental. But it still kept happening for days afterwards. I decided to set up a -2dB high-shelf filter Q=1 at 8khz which helped take that edge off. I never had to do that before on my Magni, despite using the exact same headphones for years.
There are some other sound characteristics that I've been finding very off-putting, but I find it too difficult to put into words. The point is though, despite going in with the mindset that the sound would be "exactly the same", it's not. The sound is not only more fatiguing with the L30, but I'm not enjoying my music as much. If it's just in my head, I find it absolutely bizarre that I require a negative gain high-shelf filter on one amplifier but not the other; and obviously the EQ itself does in fact have an audible difference. I did a quick blind test and can pick the two amps every time, but I'm not going to read too much into that as the test wasn't highly controlled or anything. FWIW, I made sure they were volume matched with and without EQ.
Surprisingly, the Apple headphone adapter I have sounded very similar if not the same as the L30. And in this review, I found it very interesting that the reviewer could not discern an audible difference between the JDS Atom and Magni Heresy (both which measure very accurately, just like the L30), but could discern an audible difference with the Magni 3+.
At the end of the day, this is just my subjective experience and I can't prove any of this objectively. I can't say with any degree of certainty that it's not just my mind playing tricks on me. For me though, this has proven that actually listening with your ears is very important, rather than purely going by numbers on a graph. Good on Schiit for stating that numbers aren't necessarily everything, and standing by their products that may not look as good on a graph as some of their other products. And this is why I will be sticking with Schiit products in the future.
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