Schiit Mani 2 Review

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

  1. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I was also looking at Micro Seiki vintage tables for a while. The high end ones are some of the best DDs ever made. Good luck with your search!
     
  2. tommytakis

    tommytakis MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Thank you, I’m grateful to have good friends in my life. Hope you don’t mind the delay as I want to get used to all the new gears in house first haha. I also picked up a SP10 mk2 that I am trying to put together :headbang:
     
  3. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    No worries at all. Take your time and enjoy the gear. I look forward to hearing more when you’re ready.
     
  4. knownothing

    knownothing Rando

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    New member here, enjoying this discussion. I just bought a Mani 2 for a family member to bypass the so so built in phono pre in their Audiolab 6000A integrated (the amp and the built-in DAC implementation in general are pretty good IMHO). I just plugged the Mani 2 in at home to test it in my system before handing it over.


    First off, I found the Mani 2 power supply itself is dead silent plugged into a power strip with my other sources and a Shunyata Venom Defend power conditioner. Either connected to the pre with power on, or with the pre power off. Nothing. No hum coming out of the power supply. With the turntable idle but the preamp on, I start to hear a little noise through the speakers at 3/4 volume. I find that unremarkable, in a good way. No RFI at all, but it is set up in my basement, so perhaps some structural/earth shielding there. Playing music at normal listing levels there is no noticeable noise at all. If I plug the Mani 2 PS directly into a wall socket on another circuit with a dimmer light switch, there is a VERY SMALL amount of hum audible from the unit, but only if I put my ear right on it. Again, not really surprising or concerning.


    How does the Mani 2 sound? Right out of the box, stone cold it sounds good. Paired with a AudioTechnica AT 150Sa MM cartridge on a Thorens TD 150mk2 turntable, the Mani 2 sounds fast, detailed, decent sound stage between the speakers, and capable of very deep and accurate bass, startlingly good bass (with no filters in). It doesn’t quite have the midrange touch of my Project Tube Box DS with swapped tubes and an aftermarket linear power supply, and it does not distract me from anything else I am doing in quite the same way as the souped-up Project, but in other areas the Mani 2 is better. For $149, it is a screaming deal, especially if it rounds out just a bit after some time with the power on. Maybe I will buy one for myself.
     
  5. Qildail

    Qildail Friend

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    Finally got to unbox and set up Mani 2. It replaces the phono preamp in the Cambridge AXR100 (which is really just a recycled Cambridge Solo). The AXR100 was (is) fairly serviceable at its (original) price, but one thing I've always been annoyed by is the phono stage gain is fixed at a rather anemic 39dB. So if I switched to vinyl, I'd have to turn the integrated up 10dB or so to match the level previously coming from the streamer (and then sometimes forget to turn it back). More annoyance than functional as far as issues go, but in that respect I was happy to see the adjustable gain options on Mani 2.

    The only thing I noted was mine arrived set at 48dB (second-highest) rather than the manual's indicated 42dB (third-highest); so it's worthwhile to at least turn it over one time to make sure the switches are where you expect them. At the 60dB setting I had major clipping and popping -- my system was not having it; so I dialed it back to 48dB and put it back under the desk. That cancels out the volume adjustments I made switching sources, so that's a win.

    Functionally, Mani 2 has been very much "set and forget", as a phono preamp should be. No hums, hisses, or other annoyances, and the music is a bit cleaner than before with the Cambridge no longer asked to compensate for itself. I'm not sure I'm ready to go Full Merrick (trademark pending) and jump up $1K+ turntable pricing because of Mani 2, but it'll definitely be sticking around for whatever is the next iteration of amplifier or turntable I move to.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2022
  6. Jigitz

    Jigitz Rando

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    Finally got my Mani 2 hooked up after getting it some time ago…I thought I would share some of my opinions.

    I have it hooked into my SL-7 w/ AT152MLP cart.

    I went ahead and A/B’d between the Mani 2 and the on-board phono of my P6. Before I get to that though…

    When I hooked it up last night and listened to Muddy Waters Folk Singer and then Norah Joans Come Away With Me I had no issues with hum. I have all of my devices connected to my Furman Elite 15 PFI on a dedicated 220 amp circuit. This afternoon when I turned on my system just to watch TV I had a 60hz hum. I started searching for the culprit really hoping it wasn’t the Mani 2. Alas, it was. I unplugged the wall wart (which was attached by a 6in small extender cable off the Furman) and the hum from my system disappeared. Really odd that I had no issues last night and this afternoon I did. I went ahead and moved the massive wall wart to the other side of my cabinet where I run a surge protector plugged into the Furman but w away from all of the other power supplies and major power drawing components. I had it on the other side before I reorganized and never had this hum issue so I am hoping that this fixes it. The Mani 2 was only used once or twice when I first got it but remained plugged in the whole time.

    Anyways, long story long, compared to the onboard phono of the Parasound P6 the Mani 2, when not exhibiting hum, is so much better. I thought it was just Schiity bias but it really is just much better. I listened to the same record back and forth a few times and the the main thing that it excelled at vs the on-board of the P6 is that it much more resolving. Everything is much cleaner and more present. The instrument separation is significantly better and the sound stage is perhaps similar but with more presence when listening with the Mani 2. The P6 is no slouch for an onboard phono but this Mani 2 is a great piece of kit. I am hoping that I can keep the hum away and continue with the Mani 2. If it comes back I may need to ask for a new wall wart or move the Mani. For $150 I am pleasantly surprised by it’s performance.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Regarding hum and radio station pickup, and this goes with any phono.
    • Try different cables from TT to the phonostage. The shorter the better. The better shielded the better.
    • Try with and without ground wire.
    • Run signal and power perpendicular to each other. Make sure they never run parallel.
     
  8. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    @tommytakis did you ever compare the Mani 2 and Soundsmith phono preamp? I recently remembered this thread. I’d still love to get your comparison.
     
  9. tommytakis

    tommytakis MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Apologies for the delay as I've been focusing on CDs and my digital streaming side so analog has been on the back burner lately.

    long story short I think soundsmith phono is ahead, but I feel like the mani 2 is a better value. However, my personal preferences still prefer the ifi zen phono over both of them. Something about it was so engaging that made me want to look past the inconveniences and keep spinning records.
     
  10. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    Thanks! And no need to apologize. Can you say a little more about your preference for the iFi Zen Phono? What do you find more engaging? I wouldn’t have expected it to be the winner in the lineup.
     
  11. BrokeSkoolBoi

    BrokeSkoolBoi Acquaintance

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    Hello all,

    I mostly lurk Sbaf these days, but I finally bought a Mani 2 for the Drop Audio Technica TT with a Shibata Needle.

    Originally had an Ifi Phono Zen, I’ll be keeping the Ifi around because the popping is Wayyy Louder on the Mani 2. But that aside..

    It really does sound like a thousand dollar DAC upgrade. My Chaka Khan albums were unlistenable with the Ifi, too warm, I’m hearing them for the first time getting a bit emotional from the sound. I’m not always engaged, but there are moments that tug at my heart strings, and the bass and drums hit so much harder, I want to get some Heavy Metal Albums. Mid range timbre is better and dynamics are improved across the board.

    I’m using Vifa Bluetooth Speakers (Mani 2 is at lowest gain) which do pretty well. I know it’s crazy, maybe I’ll sell the headphone rig I never use anymore.


    Tl;dr Two Thumbs up, no brainer buy for cheap audio Nirvana.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Pro-tip:

    Keep both and buy a switcher. Also get a few other cheap carts. It's like having a few pairs of headphones, except the maybe cheaper given the price of headphones today. I love having x2 turntables with x3 arms and x7 carts. I will use certain combinations depending upon the record or the mood.
     
  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    As I posted in the turntable pictures thread, I recently got in a Technics ECP 205C-IIL cart, a low output moving magnet (low output in this case being 2mV instead of 3+). I did this in part because running a LOMC with the Mani 2 was slowly driving me crazy with the amount of surface noise and the intensity of tics and pops that Mani would present running at full +62db gain. This cart, even with its "low" output, is still a much higher output than any LOMC, and it IS a moving magnet so I could run the Mani with the MM settings enabled and at 48db of gain instead of 62db (I tried 42db first and it sounded more distant and less present than 48, and the difference between 42 and 48 was not enough to exacerbate the noise in the same way that 62db does).

    Running at these settings really allows the strengths of the Mani to shine through. All of my previous thoughts hold true--this thing produces low end like you wouldn't believe, and the sound is so expansive. Noise is greatly reduced from the highest gain settings, but is still a bit more prevalent than I would like.

    For full disclosure I do have a Darlington MP-7 coming after hearing so many rave reviews of it, and now that I won't be worrying about LOMC carts for a while. I'm going to compare it against the Mani 2 and will report back and see if it justifies the price difference. I still think for $150 the Mani 2 is a whole hell of a lot of phono, but I would say that it's not advisable for long term use of a LOMC.
     
  14. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    An additional note after using the Mani 2 for a while with MM settings--surface noise on otherwise clean records is gone, other than in the lead in and out groove. This is much better than in the highest gain, where even clean records would have some audible surface noise virtually all the time.

    However, if the record isn't immaculate, still clean by say an older record with some wear, the noise can still be intense, especially if there are any pops or tics. Those jump out and overtake the music. So not even MM settings will be a panacea if you're playing imperfect records.
     
  15. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    This was my experience too, but I also felt that the dynamics suffered on MM settings because of the use of negative feedback to reduce the gain. There are always trade-offs, right?

    One of the reasons I like the Darlington Labs MP-7 is that it has zero feedback and the gain is properly set for MM cartridges, so you don’t needlessly amplify the surface noise. And the MP-7 has some other neat tricks in the circuit design that further reduce the audibility of surface noise.
     
  16. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    My MP-7 order is awaiting final checks by the chief engineer so I should have it soonish. Looking forward to hearing it!
     

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