Schiit Mani Phono Preamp

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Szeppelin75, Dec 28, 2017.

  1. I think you mean 36db, not 30db. :)

    And to a point, whenever you have to crank the volume knob higher to compensate for lower Db gain or lower output cartridges, the trade off can be distortion creeping in. But the difference between the 36db and 42db settings on the Mani, I would not think it is that much of a concern by comparison.

    For example, if one was to use a LOMC cartridge at 0.3mv on an MM stage, sure it works, but the additional Db needed for compensating introduces distortion. A trade off.
     
  2. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I'm curious where you think that extra distortion is introduced when you increase the volume control to compensate for lower gain in the phono stage?

    The phono preamp is generally the only place in a system you can actually change the gain of the circuit (at least on models that have multiple gain settings), and higher gain typically leads to higher distortion in many of the circuits used in phono preamps (less negative feedback available, or additional stages required, or circuit not optimized for the higher gain, or ...). The other parts of your system have fixed gain, and so fixed distortion, you just wind up "throwing away" all that extra gain via the volume control to get it at the loudness you want at any given time.

    But if you have a noisy preamp after the phono stage, sure, you may want as much gain as you can get in the phono to keep the volume from the preamp down (the amplifier gain and level is fixed), but it's usually the phono stage in most systems that has most of the noise.

    Anyway, not really important in this discussion, people have many different ideas about the optimum gain structure in their systems, so in the end, whatever sounds best, but it is nice to have adjustment options to help get there. And line level preamps used to have a lot more gain in earlier times, so it depends a lot on what the rest of your system is like.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  3. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

    It’s 30 dB, not 36, according to Schiit’s specs. In my experience, there is more noise at higher gain settings in the phono preamp, and less at lower settings. The Ortofon 2M line has plenty of output, so I don’t feel as though I’m sacrificing anything at the lower gain setting, and I’m getting a wonderfully clean sound.

    Edited to add: look at the signal-to-noise spec in relation to the gain setting on that page. As gain goes up, SNR goes down.
     
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  4. LOL I stand corrected on the setting - I read it last night when I typed my post and my old eyes saw 36db!!!! Thanks. I don't have this stuff committed to memory, and my eyes failed me.

    My point about distortion increasing as volume goes up is a general statement - although the noise from the Mani might be less for at 30db, the increased volume to compensate can increase distortion, it is a fact of life in audio gear. The distortion introduced by cranking the volume higher is introduced by your amp, not stage.... the SNR going down as volume / db goes up in the spec actually supports the point I am trying to make.

    But again, what sounds the best to you is most important. It might not be at play with the variables in your system as much... it all depends on your amps headroom, etc in conjunction with the device output feeding it.
     
  5. As just stated above, I am referring to the amp's volume going up to compensate for the decreased output from the device as your statement above touches on. The amp, not the stage... Whether "noisy" or not, increased volume will increase the potential for distortion. Now, as stated, if there is plenty of headroom in the amp, the amp is very high quality then the effect is lessened and may be negligible. But as you alluded to, the lower quality the amp, the more potential.

    I am in agreement with your post, we are actually saying the same thing - I just did not state it well before with enough detail.
     
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  6. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    In general I agree, although that point has not much to do with the Mani specs. Thankfully my gear gets loud enough to where I want it without adding too much audible noise. Especially the Schiit Asgard, which is clean as a whistle in Class A.
     
  7. Your point is taken about the Mani... agreed.

    My point was about the amp and the trade off to compensate.... and me too, I have a Parasound A21 Halo, and the effect is not as pronounced as would be with cheaper amps.
     
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  8. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Your point is well taken and I agree. Personally, I’d rather have the amp doing that work than the phono preamp, though I think I understand the compromises made under either approach.
     
    TheVinylAddict likes this.
  9. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Ouch.
     
  10. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Yea, seems like there are some pretty nice low cost choices available from UK companies. I really like the all discrete phono stages from Rothwell, no frills, but well designed and good sound, and pretty good pricing here in the US too (see ads on Agon). MM if that's all you need, or both MM and MC. He markets a couple nice and reasonably priced step up transformers too, and also contributes to design discussions on some of the audio boards.
     
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  11. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Can you still see comments while ignoring someone?
     
  12. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I have a 5 meter cable, 15 feet or so and it seems to preserve it well enough. I think whats more important is the ADC in your PC but it should be fine.
     
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  13. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Anyone know what settings the Mani should have with a Nagaoka MP-110?

    Also can you use a Mani on an amp that has a built in pre amp? Like if you just connect the pre amp to one of the RCA inputs instead?
     
  14. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Not unless you click to show ignored content at the bottom of the thread.

    The Nagaoka MP-110 has 5 mV output, similar to the Ortofon 2M series. The Mani’s factory setting of 42 dB gain will work just fine. If you want to follow my advice, try the lower output setting on the Mani and see if you like it. The 46 dB setting should work fine, too, if you’d rather increase the gain.
     
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  15. plimpington2

    plimpington2 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cleveland
    I have the Mani, and have owned many other stages. I agree with what is written above - $130, it's pretty hard to expect more. I believe it is more accomplished at its low gain settings than it's high gain settings (at least into my line-stage). I think it does a great job with the Ortofon 2M series (I have the red and blue presently, and I did have the black for a few months), but it I think it's not reasonable to expect very much out of it when called upon to support a low output MC (and in my opinion, it fails in this regard). First, whether set to low OR high gain, it's a noisy stage, though worse on high gain. Moreover, in my system I have to agree that seems recessed in the mid-range, again worse on high-gain. It is better set to low gain and used with a pair of cheap step-up transformers (such as ortofon T-5's). That being said, it's a $130 phono section with 4 gain settings. What else can you ask for??!!

    The Rega fono MM MK2 is better, noticeably so in my opinion. It ought to be at $400. For what it's worth, I had the ifi iphono as well. This was dead quiet, but did nothing for me. It just didn't move me at all - hard to explain. I liked the Rega fono MM Mk2 better than that as well.

    I just got a new Ortofon Cadenza Red and the Mani is hopeless with it (it is also hopeless with a Linn Karma, another cartridge I love). So, I'm looking for a new stage at the moment.

    Justin
     
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  16. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    As much as I love the Mani, I definitely wouldn’t pair it with an MC cart. I don’t even consider it for that application—the SNR just isn’t where it needs to be, and MC seems like an afterthought. At its price point, it really shines with modest MM setups; someone looking at MC carts is likely to be spending much more than $130 on a phono preamp, and rightly so.
     
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  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    Have you seen Ians new review of the Rega FONO MK3? He still actually prefers the Mani over it which I found quite surprising.
     
  18. Vinyl Fan 1973

    Vinyl Fan 1973 "They're like soup, they're like....nothing bad"

    Check out Parks Audio Budgie
     
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  19. plimpington2

    plimpington2 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cleveland
    Yea. . . Just watched it. I’ve seen many of his other reviews as well. I’m afraid I cannot agree with him. I don’t hear what he reports hearing. That’s the nature of these things, I guess.

    Judd
     
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  20. mertoo

    mertoo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Turkey
    I totally agree, Mani is a great value for the money. I have an Ortofon Bronze and have tried all 3 settings on Mani, my preamp is a Marantz PM6004, Mani works best at the 48 dB with clarity, detail, punch and lively sound; no noise or distortion. But it might sound better at 30 dB or 42 dB on another system, I can't say anything about that. I think that's the beauty of Mani, you pay only 129$ and get 4 different setting options and it sounds great for that little amount.

    Of course I know that it's not the best phono amp in the market, so I've been thinking about buying the new Rega MK3 for a while that I hear very good things about. If that one has a better soundstage, instrument seperation, detail and more musical then I'm in. I love my Mani but always ready to switch to something better without robbing a bank of course :)
     
  21. SNDVSN

    SNDVSN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    I moved a telephone away from my Mani which was causing a bit of interference, there is still a fair amount of hiss at high volumes but i definitely prefer the sound over the anaemic CA 640p.
     
  22. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    I forgot to answer your second question. Plug the Mani into any line level RCA input on your amp. DON’T plug it into the phono input.
     
    Leonthepro likes this.
  23. Do you mean "hiss" at high volumes without a record playing - in other words, you turn up the volume and there is a hiss without the needle in contact with the vinyl? Or when the music is playing?
     
  24. Rarely. Usually the designer hands off the design to a manufacturing department. Then the bean counters start looking for the cheapest parts to get it made with.

    I'm not saying that this happened with the Mani necessarily, it's just the usual course of consumer electronics.
     
  25. SNDVSN

    SNDVSN Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow
    Hiss with no record playing.
     

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