The $99 Schiit Modi USB DAC, a Preview
I'm usually not a fan of the review preview which often times strikes me as simply a means of generating more page views (I'm also not a fan of splitting up reviews into multiple pages when one would suffice) but I will put aside my crusty perspective and say that I just received the Schiit Modi DAC which costs all of $99, hooked it up last night, and am listening to it right now. And I'm breaking my no preview rule mainly to say after seeing and handling the very nicely built Modi—how'd they do that for $99?
The asynchronous USB bus-powered Modi offers up to 24/96 playback through its sole USB input so no drivers are necessary regardless of ones denomination. The Modi employs the C-Media CM6631 USB 2.0 asynchronous input receiver, the same receiver that's in their more expensive (smile) Schiit Bifrost DAC ($449 w/USB input), and the 24-bit AKM4396 DAC.
I'm also not a fan of drawing sonic conclusions after just a few minutes of listening time but again putting aside my cranky ways, I'd say the Modi sounds like music. At first, last night, there was a hardness to the sound but the Modi was still literally cold from its trip. This morning things are opening up and sounding much more promising—smooth yet resolute if a tad light weight. But I expect things to change with more time and will report in full some time after my return from Sin City when I've had more quiet time with the made in the USA (!) $99 Modi.