Looking for new pre-amp - is the Schiit Mani still the one to beat?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Nubben, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    RE: the Slee loaner program, when I did it I did not receive a faulty or "abused" loaner unit.

    The U.S. loan coordinator is a retired engineer and is on hand to assist should any problems occur. He wouldn't intentionally send out a bad unit. If he couldn't resolve something, G.S. customer service would step in. I have not dealt with the U.K. loan coordinator but I would assume that he is a stand up guy as well as plenty of folks have dealt with him and given positive feedback.

    Many people I know that are satisfied customers did the loaner program first and had no complaints. Even if someone did not like their G.S. loaner and decided to buy something else or stick with what they have, then the loaner program did its job.

    To date I have only seen two people complain that they couldn't get a G.S. to work in their system and in both cases it was likely down to user error or other equipment the person owned. By "work" I mean the unit did not perform as intended, not whether someone subjectively liked the product or not.

    RE: the lower end G.S. models like the Communicator and the Graham Amp, I have not heard them but doubt they are anything as bad as some folks might lead you to believe.

    The fact is most of the phono preamps on the market today are reasonably well designed and have decent measurements on the test bench. There are a few that don't at a various price points and I would probably stay away from those. A quick Google search should let you know what is what. Anything with very inaccurate RIAA EQ and very high levels of distortion are probably things to stay away from. Even something very cheap like an ART DJ Pre does fine on the test bench. Certain wacky designs from boutique companies may not.

    RE: return policies, in the U.S. stores like Crutchfield and Music Direct have the most generous I've seen. I'm not sure about UK retail outlets, OP would have to look into that.
  2. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    To bad more people can't DIY
    Fdee likes this.
  3. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Try a U-Turn Pluto. Less money than the Mani and better sound. Read the Fremer poll article. :)
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    There is an updated Pluto now FYI:

    Pluto 2 Phono Preamp

    No idea if these are available with UK voltage or sold in the UK.
    bluemooze likes this.
  5. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    The U-Turn is definitely good in it's price class. Might even be better than the Mani, not sure. It's undoubtedly a great $89 phono pre for those on a budget.

    But the OP has $350 to spend at last count........ so this choice might be a "U-Turn" in the wrong direction! :) But I'll let the OP decide.... as a budget choice, it is up there in it's class.
    bluemooze likes this.
  6. vinyldoneright

    vinyldoneright "THE" Maestro

    For a few bucks more the Sim Audio Moon 110 could be an option, I auditioned one and it was quite nice. And it is made in your neck of the woods:)
    bluemooze likes this.
  7. guidedbyvoices

    guidedbyvoices Diver Dan

    Alpine, TX
    I had a mani and now have the same turntable as you. I moved up to a lounge lcr (and further upgraded to their gold) and have been really happy. The normal LCR I found to have more natural bass and more detail.
    TheVinylAddict, morinix and bluemooze like this.
  8. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile

    I can’t speak for the technical reasons, but do agree that tubes have a significant effect on the DS. In addition to the stock Tung Sol I currently have a pair of Telefunken, Amperex Bugle Boys, and Genalex Gold Lion, all of which have a different sound.
    Rick58 likes this.
  9. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Dublin, CA, USA
    I donno anything about anything, but it seems like the TubeBox DS might be really good vpiforum.com • View topic - Phono Stage / Cartridge Matching and the lowest gain (40dB) might be OK for the Black, which has a pretty high output.

    Crutchfield has a sale? Pro-Ject Tube Box DS (Black) Vacuum tube phono preamplifier for moving magnet and moving coil cartridges at Crutchfield might be a few $$$ or L over your budget but I love spending other people's money! Plus of course you'll want to roll tubes eventually. There's a plethora of suggestions for those, could be the start of a very long and wonderful relationship!
    Dignan2000 likes this.
  10. mackat

    mackat Forum Resident

    United States
    I have a Vista Audio Phono-1 mkII as well as a MoFi StudioPhono, and I find them both to be particularly good sounding units. Neither of them exhibit the frequent grounding hum issues that seem to plague lower cost phono stages (at least in my experience). They both have extensive loading options, via dip switches on the MoFi and pluggable resistors on the Vista Audio (the Phono 2, its successor, has dip switches like the MoFi). The MoFi also has easily accessible buttons for a subsonic filter and mono right on the front of the unit, which is very rare in a phono stage, and unheard of at its price point. I had a small issue with my first StudioPhono (slight hiss in one channel that would appear once music started playing), and MoFi customer service was excellent and exchanged it for a brand new unit. I also have a Hagerman Bugle 2, which sounds good, but is not up to the sonic level of the former 2 in my opinion (nor is it as expensive).

    I am currently considering purchasing a third really nice phono stage for experimenting with, as the 2 main ones are part of my system. It will be interesting to read the other recommendations in this thread.
    bluemooze likes this.
  11. Davey

    Davey I carry the moon inside a silver bag

    SF Bay Area, USA
    Another inexpensive option is the older Creek OBH-8, especially the SE version with JFET inputs and bigger power supply, instead of the bipolar transistors in the standard model. It's a fully discrete, no feedback design that first came out in the mid to late 90s, pretty simple circuit, not the greatest parts since it sold for pretty cheap, but pretty good sound quality. There's been a bit of a cult formed around it in the last few years, you can even get newly made PC boards on ebay to DIY your own with better parts, or buy pre-made clones.

    Since it was UK product, may more plentiful over there in the used market. A lot more people are aware of them now so there aren't many for sale, and if one comes up, it generally sells fast. There are some of the OBH-8 base model listed on ebay now between $100 and $200, though the SE was a pretty significant step up. Got a mention recently in another thread here ... Three analog discoveries/affirmations during Covid19 time

    Not to be confused with the later MK2 version that is currently available, that moved to high feedback opamp circuits. Not necessarily a bad move, but not anything like the original.


    Dignan2000, avanti1960 and bluemooze like this.
  12. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Good to hear this coming from "GuidedByVoices" I guess if you were "GuidedByMeasurements" you might like other choices more, like maybe the $40 ART DJ II offered earlier :). I agree with your assessment.

    It's interesting the split in choice when you weigh those that use / trust their ears to those that trust a machine!

    I've always contended having measurements as a data point is nice to have when comparing, etc, but near 100% of the time when it comes to final choice, how it sounds is at the top of the list, how it measures can be way down the list after things like cost, availability, comparison, etc.
    morinix, guidedbyvoices and SirMarc like this.
  13. okc_craft

    okc_craft Just Another Budgetphile

    Big soundstage for sure. Listening to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool Tonight, and I have a stage as wide and deep as I could hope for from a phono stage that I spent $300 bucks on (the Bugle Boys excluded in that price of course).
    avanti1960 likes this.
  14. Dbacksrule76

    Dbacksrule76 Forum Resident

    Why did you move on from your Studiophono?, just wondering as I just purchased one and have yet to hear its performance.
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    I won't bore you with the details but it did not work well with a 6.5mV output cartridge I had at the time. That problem sent me shopping for a new phono stage. Nothing wrong with it generally for the most common use cases.
    Dbacksrule76 likes this.
  16. :agree::tiphat:
    SirMarc and TheVinylAddict like this.
  17. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Great avatar! The Greatest!!
    Dbacksrule76 likes this.
  18. willboy

    willboy Forum Resident

    Wales, UK
    If within budget, the £300 Rothwell Simplex MM stage should be high on your list.
    Davey and sturgus like this.
  19. SKean

    SKean Forum Resident

    Central Jersey
    Did you ever think about getting ahold of Schiit Audio and see if they'd take your broken one back
    so they could investigate the weak link in the model you have that'll give them the opportunity to
    cure the weakness in the mentioned link, improve such for future models? In addition, they might
    take your model as a "trade in / trade up" if you do buy another one of their latest offerings. Plus,
    your model should have lasted so much longer than 4 years. Remind them that their name as a
    manufacturer is Schiit and not **** too....
  20. ogdens_sliced

    ogdens_sliced Walnut Plug

    Don´t confuse a serious question with agro.
    On some other sites I think your original post would be flagged for "schiit posting".
  21. Nubben

    Nubben Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    London, UK
    Thank you very much everyone who has come back with some very good advice - a lot of food for thought here and a lot to read up about. Thanks everyone!
    SKean and morinix like this.
  22. arcamsono

    arcamsono Forum Resident

    Four years ,,,that's it before its failure

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