Schiit Mani - Sent in for repair, no response. Looking for rec's on a replacement preamp


Hi Everybody - first time posting here.  I've run into a serious issue with Schiit.  My Mani ran into a hardware issue (dead left channel).  I mailed it to Schiit on July 3rd, they received it on the 10th and emailed me confirming they had received it and would get back to me in a few days, but to no avail.  I've emailed them a couple of times and just called their number and no response.  I'm getting the feeling I'll never receive my Mani back at this point and I'm not sure if I have any legal remedy to get them to respond (at this point, I don't understand why they didn't just send me a replacement unit). 

So I started looking for a replacement phono preamp.  I have a VPI Prime mounted with a Nagaoka MP-110. Budget is set at 500ish. Any recommendations that will wipe the floor with that piece of schiit?

Thanks in advance,

George 

gloco
Here is a recent comparison of some low-priced phono stages: http://www.analogplanet.com/content/eight-phono-preamps-identified-and-votes-tallied

Fremer is a big fan of the Micro iphono2 @$499. It does MM and MC.

Hope this helps somewhat. 

Dave
Like it or not. Some manufacturers take a week off in the summer for vacation. Not sure about Schitt,  But they are a legit company.  I know the delay is upsetting but I wouldn't sweat it. They will make it right. 
Be patient - they will get it back to you. Schiit has a very good reputation to uphold.

They are probably waiting on a supplier for parts - sometimes providing that information sounds like a poor attempt to placate the customer, so they say nothing. You might get a response telling you the unit has shipped

Today’s Just-in-time manufacturing can be precarious when it comes to repairs.

Granted - 16 days does seem like a long time, but it really is not

Did you like the Mani? - from what I have read there are few phono stages out there that can compete at the same price

I’ve owned the Cambridge Audio CP1 and CP2 and they were "OK", but I wasted my money, The CP2 was much better, but they both lacked clarity and dynamic performance, even after I tweaked the power supply.

If I were looking in the $500 price range I’d look at the Soundsmith MMp4 - seems to me if a company is building cartridges they must be capable of building a pretty good phono stage for $599

Or there is the Creek OBH-15 MKII Phono Preamp at $599.

OR Clearaudio Nano v2 Phono Preamp at $450

The Vincent Audio PHO-700 Tube Phono Preamp for $499 looks like a nice unit - I like that it has a separate power supply, which should improve clarity and dynamics, but some tube phono’s tend to have a little more hum than solid state designs. But if your cartridge is a good match, then the hum will fall-off into the background

And the Vincent Audio PHO-8 Phono Preamp - a solid state design at $299 - again, I like the separate power supply

I’ve never heard the Vincent range, but if a company goes to the trouble of building a separate power supply then they are OK in my books. The power supply is normally the first thing where expenditure gets chopped in most all designs of budget audio.

Clear Audio and Creek have a great reputation and I own a Soundsmith cartridge, so that’s how they got my vote

All of the above units would be a huge improvement on the Mani

I ended up with a Simaudio Moon LP 5.3 RS (around $1800 CDN) - it’s likely the last phono stage I’ll buy - it is in a different league to the others I have owned, especially when equipped with a good power cable.

SO based on that - my final vote goes to the the SIMAUDIO MOON - 110LP MM/MC Phono Preamp at $649. Its a great phono stage and will probably suit your needs for a very long time - even then you’ll be able to sell it real easy. Simmaudio gear go like hot cakes

There you have it - some varied choices - and there are many more

Take a look at Needle Doctor - they have a huge selection online and they are fast at getting them out the door

But based on my experience with the Simmaudio Moon LP5.3 RS - I’d recommend their 110LP over all of the others

Hope you get the mani Back soon - Steve
gloco-I've used that piece of Schiit,when my tubed  unit was being repaired. Not bad for $150 bucks.

Your Prime is being  underserved. If possible, up your budget and look for a used Manley Chinook for 12-1500. Then consider a nice LOMC.

im sure the Nagoaka is fine, but your table AND  ears deserve more.
Wow, thanks for the replies guys! 

@williewonka - I love the mani, it's a wonderful sounding unit, I have no complaints about the sound, very detailed and clean.  Bass thunders when it's supposed to and overall the sound is very cohesive and fun.  I've thought about doing a big upgrade so my wife cleared me to go for it, lol.  

@tablejockey - I'm going to look into the Manley and Simaudio units that Willie mentioned as well as a new cart that's more in league with the Prime.  

Thanks again!
I really my Jasmine LP2 mkII (about $400 used) and my AT-33PTG/II low MC (about $500 from 2juki on ebay) on my modified RP6 (see system details).
consider a Croft
torroidal transformer
tubes
point to point wiring
tube rolling
under a grand new
a gem used

i run the R version in a system of pretty high end stuff and feel no need to change....
also
you might want to give Schitt a chance
his book is excellent read by the way
I'll second the recommendation to save for a used chinook.  I have a steelhead in the main system and its wonderful.  I have a simaudio 110lp in the second system and its good for the money but nothing near the steelhead. You will upgrade at some point, why not jump a few steps?
If you're happy with the sound you're getting from the Mani, then I'd sit tight and wait. I've always found the lads at Schiit to be super dependable. It's summer. People take time off.

You will always find something better when you spend 10x more $$'s.
I had my Schiit Yggdrasil DAC in for repair just 2 months after its purchase. They got the job done right (it’s worked for 2 years now), but yeah the process can take several weeks, and they clearly don’t want to talk about it or hold hands.

You have a VPI Prime; it’s a damn shame to pair that up with a $100 phono. The Schiit hype can get out of control and distort perceptions; sure it may be competitive up to a few hundred bucks, but it’s gonna get clobbered by any stage befitting that table. Take the advice of the others here -- yes, Chinook, Simaudio, whatever. Rogue Ares is great too (own it); possibly also the Triton at half the price. Any of those and more over the Schiit! Look at the inside of the Mani; it’s a child’s toy.
This should fit your budget. My friend has one and says it is great!
http://parksaudiollc.com/budgiepreamp.html
Here ya go!
http://avahifi.com/products/for-vinyl-lovers/vision-riaa-phono-preamplifier
Thanks for the responses again guys.  I've been googling the rec's posted here and I'm eyeing the budgie.  I love tubes, I previously owned a MG Head OTL tube headphone amp and it sounded glorious with my sennheiser HD580's.  I'll probably go for it soon ;-) and report back.  No word from Schiit - I can understand going on a vacation, but it's been a month since I shipped it out.  At this point, I don't expect to ever see my mani returned to me...and if it is, I'm selling it.
Check out Graham Slee and the Pro-jet tube box.  The Jolida JD9 has been around a while and is quite popular.  You can find it used under 500
If you’re spending under $500, I’d advise you to avoid tubes. It’s pretty difficult to build a quiet tube phono stage in that price range, whereas it’s pretty simple to build a solid state one.

Here’s a Dynavector P75 for $400 that is a great phono stage (for the price). Lots of settings and can do both MM and MC (which gives you more options for any future upgrades).
I almost forgot I started out with a P75 and Benz Glider L2 10 years ago. It was indeed very nice! I think I paid not much more than $400 used for mine back then; later Mk2 versions should be worth more. I later moved to a Benz PP-1, slightly better, but with that one you'll need to supply your own loading plugs for most MC carts.
gloco-open your wallet a little wider, your ears will thank you. This also applies to a LOMC your Prime should have.

Offer $1450 including shipping on this:
http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649370647-manley-chinook-special-edition-w-upscale-audio-graded-a...

Not to sound like a broken record,(buh dump bump- cymbal crash)
your Prime is terribly underserved.
@tablejockey - I sent a note to the seller offering $1450 as you suggested :-)

Appreciate all the guidance I’m receiving (fist bumps all around)
'Grats gloco! Haven't had the pleasure of hearing that chinook, but I'm certain it will be a huge upgrade! My Sonic Frontiers Phono 1 SE+ has a very similar topology, and it rocks!
@mulveling unfortunately, he didn't accept my offer as someone else offered him the asking price.  I'm still researching as I'm taking the advice from you and several others (spend a little more=future proof) rather than having to upgrade again down the road ;-)
The Ayre P5xe maybe a option as well. I'm very happy with mine. 
The Sonic Frontiers Phono 1 and Manley Chinook do have the same basic active circuitry but the Chinook uses LCR RIAA. The Sonic Frontiers uses RC RIAA
You know, while I’m not meaning for this to be a Schiit bashing post, perhaps it ought to be. Hopefully a Schiit rep will read this post and consider the implications.

For one, they don’t answer the phone. They do email rather promptly and mention they encourage it instead of the phone, nevertheless, this is strange. Always better to speak with someone to gain that extra something in conversation. Also, speaking is way more efficient at times, especially when there are a barrage of questions or concerns. Besides, a commercial business should answer a phone. Period. Even if just a secretary to take a message.

I asked about their B-Stock. "When we have products with minor cosmetic flaws, we will sell them here as "B-Stock". If you choose the B-Stock option to save some money, please note that it is not eligible for the 15-day return. However, the full warranty applies." Unfortunately, they do not advertise whether or not they actually have any B-Stock, nor what it costs in relation to new. Additionally, they will not and do not send a photo so one can inspect the cosmetic flaw. I asked. I’m advised via email a typical discount would be 10%. Great, now lets see it (actual photo) and/or know if a B-stock item is available without having to check (only via email mind you) on a daily basis.

Their return policy on their site indicates a 15 day trial and if sent back the buyer is charged a a 5% transaction fee. There was at least one post on the forum of a person (I think @ozzy) who sent back an item within the 15 day window and claims he/she was charged 50%. Their RA fine print reads "If the product looks like it’s been used as a jet-ski or coffee warmer, or is otherwise not in like-new condition, we may charge an additional refurbishment fee." While that makes sense and I understand/agree, trouble is this is apparently subject to their interpretation and sole discretion only. So again, my sense is buyer beware.

And now to read that @gloco claims he is getting no response for a defective item that has been paid for and since returned! I would immediately contact the California attorney generals office, better business bureau and even a personal attorney to seek advice and conceivably sue for damages, even if those damages are even slightly related to anything "traumatic". Also call your credit card company and see if they can help.

And @mulveling, just 2 months after purchase you ran into an issue with a Yggy? Their flagship? And according to you it can take several weeks? And this is acceptable? And they clearly don’t want to talk about it or hold hands?

Just sounding/writing off. We can get back too our regularly scheduled forum posts and music listening.
@gdhal 
Yeah to be fair the early fault I experienced with my Yggy, combined with their annoying hype machine and others' critiques of their build quality & designs has soured me on them. The naming thing is stupid too; I didn't even like potty humor when I was a kid. I won't be purchasing anything else from them. The Yggy is a VERY good sounding unit, but today there are other excellent options in that price range which may be even better.
@mulveling 

Thank you for your candid and succinct reply. 
As to their business name and operational preferences, gdhal, that's the thing about audio.  There are a 1000 other brands to select, nobody is forcing you to buy anything from anyone.

I took a chance on Schiit, ordering a Mani and a Modi Uber on their website.  I don't need to talk to anyone.  I prefer not to buy B stock with all of the abuse and nonsense some equipment goes through before a return.

Anyway, I liked them both so much I began to think I should have ordered a Bifrost.  I ordered one a week outside of the return window, then emailed Schiit asking if they would accept a refund on the Modi.  They said yes in 8 minutes.  Then when I got the refund, I  noticed that they had waived the restocking fee.  

Plus the Bifrost Multibit is jaw dropping.  They are a business with a small employee base.  That means they don't have to jack up the prices to pay for someone to answer the phone, talking for hours with someone who can't figure out how to connect something.  That persons has to write an email which takes much less time to answer.  

But again, if you don't like it, simply shop elsewhere.
@213runnin

First, my apologies to the OP (gloco) as it wasn’t my intention to hijack this thread.

To your points 213runnin, they do make sense, however, your experience is that of your own and the fact that it was/is pleasant of course shapes your response and feelings toward Schiit. I suspect you would feel/write differently if your personal experience was an unpleasant one.

I am not a customer of theirs. I’m a *potential* customer. So, to read not one or two but three (and I’m sure there are more, just haven’t found them yet) not only disheartening but different types of negative feedback, that is a red flag. Not to mention I have conducted and continue to perform my own do diligence.

As to your point of their being a small company and hence "they don’t have to jack up the prices to pay for someone to answer the phone, talking for hours with someone who can’t figure out how to connect something", this is not a realistic example. They do state on their answering machine that emails are preferred, not that call will be completely ignored. Out of courtesy and the desire to grow their - as you state small - business into a more profitable and larger one - presumably what they/Schiit desire - I don’t think it unreasonable to expect to be able to speak with someone, even if just to just hear a voice and nothing more.  

I can also tell you that I had a reputable dealer of audio gear in the business over 35 years call them to inquire about buying in bulk. They haven’t returned that call either. Hardly a connection problem, wouldn’t you say? Reason I asked the dealer to do this is specifically so I could be *their customer*, the dealers, not Schiit. Sad, wouldn’t you say? By all means, please pass this writing to your contact at Schiit.

Yes, I can shop elsewhere. I understand their products generally receive favorable and stellar reviews. Otherwise no one would care less whether or not they have product failures, honor their warranty and have admirable customer service. It’s only because their products are revered that customers and *potential customers* such as myself do care about other aspects of their business, beyond the product itself.

Frankly, the OP of this thread should be awarded a free upgrade from Schiit.
No worries, @gdhal - I received an email from Schiit that my Mani was repaired and on its way back to me.  This will buy me some time to research a bit more and look for a good deal on a replacement phono preamp, while the Mani will become my back-up.  

The lack of communication did burn me on Schiit- I'm used to receiving updates as I work in the IT field and this is how we operate...we communicate to the customer and provide updates.  

Fortunately, forums such as this one are truly helpful and I appreciate all the guidance I received.  
@gloco, you're welcome. You should know that I sent an email to Schiit, kind of on your behalf, which included the link to this thread. They promptly replied to indicate a customer service rep would look into it. I'm very relieved to read back from you that they have been responsive to your needs and are returning your unit (repaired). And, to their credit, I have been reading some posts on other threads with similar outcomes (i.e. they are responsive to email). While this is all great news, it doesn't take away from the fact that they really ought to have some telephone correspondence for situations that clearly warrant it.
some one mentioned the IFI iphono2. I just got one a couple weeks ago as a stand in until I can afford the Manly steelhead ( saving saving). and to be honest it punches way above its price range i'm quite pleasantly surprised by how good it sounds. especially for $500. hell i'd put it up against $1k or better phono stages. worth looking into and them put some money into a LOMC Cart like some one else said.
@gdhal  - hopefully they will look into the matter and make some changes to how they interact with their customers pending a response on  a warranty repair.  It would be great if they issued case numbers with the ability to look up your case number on their website for updates and provide a realistic eta.
hopefully they will look into the matter and make some changes to how they interact with their customers pending a response on a warranty repair. It would be great if they issued case numbers with the ability to look up your case number on their website for updates and provide a realistic eta.

+1


Hey Guys - I'm eyeing three phono amps:

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/phono-audio-research-corp-ph-5-tube-phono-stage-black-excellent-co...

http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649366178-ear-ear-834p-deluxe-phono-preamplifier-mmmc/

http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649371975-liberty-audio-b2b1-phono-preamplifier/

Any thoughts?  I've read reviews and they all sound great to me.  Just looking for some thoughts from 'goners.

Thanks in advance!
Post removed 
I don’t have experience with those units, but by all accounts they are all very nice. BUT you’ll want to be very careful in matching phono stage to your cartridge -- while ALSO considering future cartridge upgrades; again, your Prime deserves it!

You’re currently using a 5mV MM cart, and that ARC’s gain of 57.5 dB is gonna be WAY too hot for that. That’s far from optimal, for both the phono stage and the downstream preamp (no overload headroom). However, that ARC would be perfect for MC cartridges with outputs from roughly 0.45 mV to 1.0 mV, for which I believe there are many fine choices e.g. Clearaudio, Ortofon Cadenza, Lyra, Benz "medium" output models, etc.

The 834p will do fine in MM mode with MM carts. For MC carts, this unit is said to be improved by bypassing its internal SUT with a higher quality outboard one. But besides that, its MC gain of 70dB might be just a bit too hot for the medium output MC carts that would’ve paired well with the ARC -- here you’d really want 0.2-0.4 mV carts, which is the territory of Koetsu Platinums, Ortofon Windfeld/A95/Anna, Benz "low" outputs, etc.

The Liberty unit is endlessly shilled by its maker here, but honestly it looks really darn versatile. If I had to guess from its specs, it will pair well with a wider range of cartridges than the other 2 stages. Though I love a good tube stage (I run a Rogue Ares Magnum, which I think is fabulous), I’d be tempted by this one in your shoes, given these 3 options. But also, maybe look at the Rogue Triton and Ares.

My Ares has a similar gain structure to that EAR unit (72 dB in MC mode), and it pairs brilliantly with a 0.3mV Koetsu. With a 0.45 mV Ortofon Cadenza it's still good, but slightly suboptimal; that same Cadenza shines on a 60 dB Sonic Frontiers Phono 1. But of course, the Koetsu lacks dynamics and sounds rather lifeless on that Sonic Frontiers!

@mulveling  thank you!  I just found a Manley Chinook on here :-)  I sent a message to the seller regarding what else is included (ie type of tubes, packaging).  Hopefully it's still available.  Once he answers back I'll make him an offer, hopefully this time I will get it!

 After the Chinook I'll look into replacing the Nagaoka with a quality MC, the carts you mentioned are out of my budget until I'm rich, but I'll spring for a cart in the 1k region.  

Really appreciate all the guidance you and the rest of the folks on here have given me.  Kudos to all of you!