Their product names get funnier all the time. Remove the "i" at the end....
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Herb Reichert, who'd reviewed the DD Pioneer PLX-1000 early in the year, revisited the turntable and did a follow-up for the most recent issue (July?).
He tried various combinations of cartridges and electronics, and he was particularly enthusiastic about the Schiit Mani. He said that the $697 Pioneer plus $129 Mani puts out a sound that far exceeds what you'd expect at that price.
I took a look at the Mani and notice that it has features that go a long way toward matching a cartridge to the phono stage. Not only does it have MM and MC optimizations in impedance and capacitance settings, it has 4 instead of the usual 2 gain settings, which not only accommodates LOMC and typical high output MM/MI carts, but also those in-between outputs of HOMCs. Settings for getting a good match have a lot to do with getting the best sound.
I know of no other phono stage for that little money that has those settings.
Also, Schiit claims that their products are made in the USA of mostly close tolerance USA parts.
John421 - in short - YES! - but this topic can elicit a wide range of responses and this is just one based on my own experience.
I started with a Denon DL103 cartridge, which I consider is great "Bang for the Buck" at $229
- I now have the Soundsmith modified version of the same cartridge, which is a huge step up in fidelity
My Arm has a one piece silver Litz harness - i.e. there are no joins in the cable from cartridge to the RCA plugs that go into the phono stage.
- a one piece loom is not cheap but it is extremely effective
- also, simply replacing the RCA's on this loom with KLEI Harmony RCA's made a significant improvement in detailing and image - I have also experienced the same level of improvements by replacing the RCA's with the Harmony's on other Interconnects
However, If your TT has RCA output jacks - simply replacing the Interconnect to the phono stage with either of the following approaches will yield benefits...
- a DIY IC like my own design posted under the "System" link below will enhance the sound significantly
- if you are not into DIY, then I would recommend looking at the KLE Innovations gZero line of cables - the gZero2 is a very good entry into their product line and they get better with each successive model.
From there you could try replacing power cables to the phono stage - or if your phono has a wal-wart power supply, then get a linear supply for it.
And this is just the tip of this particular iceberg :-)
With reference to the MANI...
I have not heard this particular unit, but I do own their Bifrost DAC with the UBER Analogue Upgrade.
I would have to believe that they are using similar design principles as employed in the UBER upgrade and from that perspective - it should perform very well.
The Bifrost responded extremely well when connected with high quality cables, both interconnect and power cables - improving performance way beyond it's modest price point.
I would certainly look at upgrading the power supply to the MANI - since the external power supplies that are provided are "generally" not the best quality.
My Bifrost experience demonstrated just how good Schiit is at designing analogue Stages
I would expect the MANI to show similar improvements in fidelity with similar mods.
Hope this helped