Schiit Mani 2 Review

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by purr1n, Feb 23, 2022.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Inherent hum was not audible with either Nighthawk and Mani 2. Turntable motor induced hum was evident with either phonostage when the volume was cranked up with a test record playing silence (I don't advise this). The Mani 2 does come with a standard Schiit power brick. The Mani 2 seems to have another advantage in that I could use higher gains without clipping. The advantage of an AC power supply is the higher rail voltages.
     
  2. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    This box looks mega impressive but I'm still sad it wasn't a Folkvangr announcement.

    Doesn't help the only vinyl album I own is framed behind glass on my wall.
     
  3. artur9

    artur9 Acquaintance

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    I ordered one to replace my Thorens MM008 which never did anything for me (the ADC is nice). I've heard that the Thorens badly implements the RIAA but no way to confirm.

    I think it's just plug and play with my Ortofon 2M Blue and MMF5 'table?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    You should be fine with 2M Blue. It's the 2M Black that is super funky that needs 38k-ohms loading, which is so off-the-wall that few phonostages, even those with super granular settings don't have.
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    The biggest part is removal of the cap-coupling. We see this cap-coupled approach even many solid-state designs. The next-gen OPA1612s are nice, but TBH, I think almost any good sounding opamp will do. If someone wanted a warmer sound, the opamps can be replaced (a la the Hacking Schiit thread) with maybe an LM4562 . Phonostages are super high gain, so opamps, with their inherently super high open loop gain, are at home here.

    I'm against 110-150db of feedback, not opamps. Opamp headphone amplifiers suck because headphone don't need x200-1000 voltage gain.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Do you know if a portion of the signal passes through any built-in electronics of the SL1500C even on the bypass outputs? I know this was true for many AT tables, so if we plugged in an external phonostage, the sound was never really better in any way.
     
  7. dmckean44

    dmckean44 In a Sherwood S6040CP relationship

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    According the manual it looks like the SL1500C has both a line out that goes through the internal phono stage and also a phono out that bypasses it.

    Looking at the internals, I'd say it would be fairly easy to bypass the internal stage altogether if need be.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. richterto

    richterto Rando

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    Oh damn. Have I been listening to my 2M Black wrong all this time? What kind of Mani (the OG) settings should I be doing with this cartridge?
     
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Well one, you haven't been listening to your 2M Black wrong at all, that is if you like what you are hearing. However, the 2M Black is a bright sounding cartridge. And if you want to tone down that brightness, 38kohm loading seems to work well.

    Unfortunately, the Mani 2 (or any other phonostage, with those expensive ones with super granular resistive loading options), won't happen to have a 38kohm load setting. See below for the explanation, measurement and workaround:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-black-measurements-and-optimal-loading.1899/
     
  10. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    One of the things I love about Schiit is that they include pictures of the pcb on all of their stuff. I may not know about Mike Moffat's secret sauce, but I can get an idea of the components used and the layout of the board.

    Looking at the Mani 2 board, I am interested to see that they are using LM317/LM137 voltage regulators and get the excellent noise performance that Marv found and the spec show. Lots of folks run down the idea of using these regulators, but this is yet another proof that they can be made to work very well with careful design.

    I am also interested to see SMD film capacitors used in with good results in the signal path (parallel, not direct). I am guilty of DIY projects with lots of SMD components and big, fat axial film caps doubling the size of the pcb because I didn't trust SMD caps.

    Thanks, Schiit.
     
  11. hifiandrun

    hifiandrun Almost "Made"

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    To my very limited experiences, the LM317 is very nice for audio application. Many new regulators aim for low voltage drop (better for battery powered stuff), but not necessarily sound better. The LM317 need to have enough voltage drop to perform better.
     
  12. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    Focussing on dropout voltage is a bit selective. Many new monolithic regulators also have far lower noise, lower output impedance, higher bandwidth, and better transient response. You can argue 'sounds better' till the cows come home, but newer voltage regulators are better at regulating voltage.

    That said, any linear voltage regulator is probably still way better than a switcher, charge pump, etc. as still used in a lot of gear. And when you are powering OPAMPs with PSRR of >70 dB and CMRR of >110 dB through the audio band, it's probably just academic.
     
  13. hifiandrun

    hifiandrun Almost "Made"

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    Quick report. Mani 2 arrived yesterday and opened tonight. The turntable is a Rega Planar 2, RB250 tonearm with weight mod, Audio-Technica AT440MLa cart, 10K ohm ALPS passive preamp, Dynaco ST-70 amp, KEF LS50 speakers. Here is the initial impression and my gut feelings.

    1. Sound quality was beyond my imagination. Before the mani 2, I used a home-brew tube phono based on the Maranz-7 phono circuit, which is a classic negative feedback RIAA network design. It had been sounded nice and engaging to me - I knew I was listening to vinyl and it sounded very nice but when I switched and listened to the same song from Schiit Gungnir MB/A1, I didn't feel that I had missed anything significantly and the detail was even more clear (but not as smooth, a bit edgy). With the new Mani 2, I felt that I was listening to a different cart. Another thought was that if the Mani 2 was a DAC, it would have been cost at least 2-3 grands. Yes. the mani 2 was this good.

    2. Compared to my home-brew tube phono (using good tubes such as Sylvania black plate triple mica 5751s and Telefunken 12AX7s), the Mani 2 sound signatures were between a typical tube phono and a SS phono. SS phono tended to get less emotional and towards analytical sounding. The Mani 2 sounded expansive and organic, but it didn't sound tube-ish warm. The Mani 2 sounded dynamic, organic, but not soft nor blurry.

    3. Based on my memory, compare to the phono card in the Jotunheim 1, I felt the mani 2 was at least 1 - 2 levels above, maybe even more, hence the sound quality of the Mani 2 was beyond my imagination. I have not directly compared them but I felt that the phono card was not impressive compared to the home-brew tube phono, when compared many years ago. The Jot 1 phono card was not very engaging. The Jot 1 phono card was a good value at the listing price. However, the Mani 2 sounded a phono amp at least $500-$1000 or even more. This sounded cliché, but this was my genuine feeling.

    4. I have been debating to get either an Yggdrasil LIM or OG as future upgrade of my Gungnir MB/A1 (factory USB5 and firmware upgrade after purchase). While listening to the Mani 2, I immediately realized that I should get the LIM. Although I have not heard either a Yggdrasil LIM or an Yggdrasil OG/A2, based on my reading, almost all I heard from the Mani 2, I felt that it would fit the descriptions of a LIM - crazy organic bass, beautiful mid-range, a little dark-tilted treble without any emphasize but actually convey substantial details and realistic information. With Mani 2, all acoustic instruments sounded real and flesh. The sound stage was at the same width as the Gungnir MB/A1, but the stage was much more real and expansive. In comparison, the Gungnir MB/A1 sounded lean and compressed.

    5. The Mani 2 was prone to RF/EM noises - the manual has information about how to mitigate the interferences. I felt although the default gain setting is 45db, the unit was still sensitive to the surrounding noises as an phono amp for 60db high gain (I didn't get a chance to try 60db gain, this was just a feeling).

    6. I don't know if the Mani 2 could be even better after break-in or warm-up.

    Although I would like to listen and compare more and report more details, unfortunately my unit emitted a burning smell and the right channel stopped working after power-on for about 1 hour. I submitted a repair request and have been waiting for further instruction. With just this short period of listening, I am sure that I will keep the Mani 2 as my reference phono amp. This will be another industry-redefining, Schiit legendary product, if I were asked to make a such list. Happy listening.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2022
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I wasn't going to outright reveal all the secrets, but it looks like you've spied the shiney Pokemon on the board. Yes, SMD film caps are thing now!

    LM317/LM137 are great. Not sexy, but lots of different sized packages, readily available, tried and true. Not an issue when used with opamps with 120db PSRR in the audio band.
     
  15. Qildail

    Qildail Friend

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    For the longest time, I've just ran with the phono stage in whatever my favorite integrated amp is at the time. The original Mani just wasn't head-and-shoulders above them enough to justify another piece of gear on the desk; another set of cables, etc. etc.

    This might be enough to get me to switch though; I like they kept multiple gain options across the range as in the original Mani which can compensate for the slightly-quieter vintage moving iron cartridge I'm using now. Best (neutral) sound under $500? Sure looks like it.

    Thanks for the review and all the details.
     
  16. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Where do you keep the Mani 2? Next to your turntable or around your other gear? The construction of Schiit products have the bottom chassis made of steel, which blocks RF; and top chassis made of aluminum, which doesn't block RF. If you keep the Mani on the top rack it should block a lot of the noise from gear on lower racks.

    Actually just being stupid but the original Modi 1 used steel for top and bottom because it was cheaper. Wondering if you can just straight up swap a Modi 1 top chassis for the Mani 2. The LED seems to be located in the exact same place and screws shouldn't be different either.
     
  17. hifiandrun

    hifiandrun Almost "Made"

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    The Mani 2 was not located at the ideal position, adjusting the wire position could drastically change the noise level. I was not worried about the interferences. I only mentioned this because the tube phono was not as sensitive to the wiring position. Maybe due to the higher input impedance of the tube input? Maybe the tube phone circuit is capacitor coupled? I don't know.
    By the way, the Mani 2 had a pretty "black" black ground, compared to the Gungnir MB/A1.
     
  18. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    I think part of it is that tubes run at hundreds of volts and the small induced voltage from RF noise is a tiny percentage of the signal compared to lower voltage SS circuits
     
  19. artur9

    artur9 Acquaintance

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    Got the Mani 2, warmed it up while I listened to Albinoni's Adagio (fake, he didn't write it) through the Thorens MM-008 I have. Using Ortofon 2M Blue and MMF5 'table, Ayre preamp, Odyssey monoblocks and Janszen za2.1.

    Put the Mani in the place of the Thorens. Heard a tiny bit more hum than with the Thorens so moved it to another shelf. Hum quieter but still there. It's not terrible. I think it might be coming from the Mani itself as I don't hear it through the speakers.

    The Mani output is louder, I had to drop the volume a little.

    The Mani has better defined images and a deeper soundstage, front-to-back. Seems more of a bubble between my speakers rather than a plane. Strings (my favorite) sound much more like strings.

    Music is a bit richer, fuller. More engaging. Mani makes it harder not to concentrate on the music!

    The wall-wart is massive for a wall-wart.

    edit: hum is actually motor hum from the table.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2022
  20. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Got my Mani 2 today. I have a Technics SL-1800 mk1 from 1979 with a Denon DL-103R. My main phono for years was the Ray Samuels Audio Nighthawk that Marv specifically compared the Mani 2 against and I am intimately familiar with its sound. My speakers are Blumenstein Orcas powered by a custom fleawatt app and the ETA Gen G with a Vali 2+, all run through an OG Saga with a NOS tube.

    I found the best settings for my cart were 47k ohms (initially tried with 200 ohms and this sounded fine as well, but 47k seemed more "correct" to my ears in ways I cannot pinpoint with specific descriptors) with both gain switches set to high and no other settings changed. The switches aren't that big of a hassle and once you've dialed it in you're set unless you're using multiple carts all the time.

    Right out of the box this thing sounded cold, clinical, highly analytic. Very stereotypical SS sound. My system has a bit of warmth in it already and this still sounded cold. Warming it up over the day has helped. It now sounds neutral, I don't hear much tone being imparted specifically from the Mani itself. What I do hear are details, and a muscular low end that honestly surprised me. I don't think I've heard vinyl ever slam this convincingly with the Gen G, which is capable of truly superb low end reproduction.

    I first put on If You're Feeling Sinister by Belle and Sebastian. This was during the warm up period but right away I noticed how detailed the presentation was, a step beyond the Nighthawk. Part of this may have been a more energetic presentation. The Nighthawk sounds laid back in comparison. After more time to warm up, I tried a US 1st press of Bowie's Low and the textures of the old analog synths really jumped out at me. The surface noise also jumped out at me and I realized there was a downside to the increased detail the Mani was bringing out.

    The real wow moment was when I put on Random Access Memories and the bass from "Give Life Back to Music" sprang to life, waking the Gen Gs up fiercely. The bass solo in "Giorgio by Moroder" was so deftly reproduced it honestly felt like I was in the room with the bassist. I could hear the increased soundstage of the Mani even on the headphones, and that really opened up when I switched to speakers.

    Now I'm sitting here just throwing on albums and am very impressed with the sound of this thing. How the hell is this $149?? The Nighthawk was a good phono pre but this is better, and it's five times cheaper. This sounds like a proper hifi preamp. One of the biggest improvements I've added to my chain in some time. I honestly agree with @hifiandrun that if this were a DAC, it would cost a few grand.

    I have found one major quibble though--this thing is picking up a local radio broadcast at very low levels that I can hear when there's no music playing or when a track is fading out. If I put my hand on top of the Mani it blocks the signal but if I put other objects on top it does not. So I'm currently listening to some Spanish language radio broadcast through the Mani.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2022

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