The just announced Schiit Skoll

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by Bowmoreman, Oct 18, 2023.

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  1. Bowmoreman

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  2. rfernand

    rfernand Almost "Made"

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    I’ve spun a few records with it already. First impression is positive. I’ll say:
    • Remote control does not bother me. I use a low output MI cartridge and the default settings are what I would have chosen anyway.
    • Balanced! Yes, I wanted it. I do SE -> Balanced with this thing. SE output is also good, but almost needs more gain in my rig to match.
    • This thing is really quiet.
    • It sounds pretty good - may be a sidegrade from Mani 2 for most. Soundstage seems to be a bit flatter in comparison. It’s like the same MJ3 ears calibrated this one, if that makes sense to you.
    • LF filter is fine, I have some old warped things that need it.
    • Gain is exactly what I needed (tops at 70db). Sweetspot for me! No more higher gains down the chain!

    I would have preferred it in silver, but Schiit has decided to launch things in black first and I did not want to wait. Usability is pretty much improved without the switches, and I appreciated a lot of physical distance between the SE inputs and the ground.

    Hard to say anything other than “sounds pretty good”…
     
  3. Mr.Sneis

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    This thing looks killer!
     
  4. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Would love to see some comparisons to iFi Zen Phono, too, as I felt the iFi slightly beat out Mani2 (at least in my system).
     
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  5. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    First impressions:
    This thing rocks! Smooth, hits hard, seems to resolve. Sounds alive. I think I like it. Seems to stage quite well, too, maybe deeper than I expected.


    Using my Lyra Delos (kinda worn) at 150 Ohm, 200pF, 70dB gain, RCA in, XLR out at the moment.

    I ordered an iFi Zen phono as a comparison, aswell as cables and plugs to make use of the XLR input. Will compare it against my dad's Restek MRIA+, although our first impression is that the Skoll is likely better.

    Didn't use my TT much as I still only had the 1st gen Mani. That might change now. The Skoll is basically exactly what I had dreamed of, so I'm kinda biased towards it. Discrete, balanced, it's even Class A!

    More later.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2023
  6. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Okay, quick first impressions using just a couple records. SE to BAL for both. 70dB and 72dB gain respectively...

    I can tell the iFi is decent, however the Skoll makes it sound veiled/compressed, slightly lean/bright/sharp* and one-dimensional.

    *Something in the sound of the iFi irks me. I've had it on half a day now and the Schiit also took a while to stabilize, so it could be a matter of burn in.
    The Skoll has some inherent warmth that the Zen Phono lacks, but the Zen also doesn't have a lot of impact.


    The Skoll just sounds so lively, so unrestrained and yet so smooth. The tonal range, the depth/layering, real impact. Compared to the iFi it simply sounds more real.

    So far I'm impressed. The real comparison should be against the kilobuck Restek MRIA+ (which is just another OP amp phono pre, aswell), anyway. Or rather something like the EAT E-Glo Petit.
     
  7. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    I don't want to hype it up too much, but the more I listen the more impressed I become. Now, this would likely be different if I had actually heard a phono preamp in my system that's better than the Skoll, but so far that's not the case.

    Even still, I simply really like the way it renders sound. Yes, it's resolving, dynamic, does all the audiophile trickery, etc. But it seems really well tuned, the tonal purity (it doesn't impart nearly as much of its own sound as the OP-amp preamps), the transients. There's just a general sense of ease and transparency, if that makes sense.

    Skoll comparo.jpg

    FWIW: I find the Restek MRIA+ much better than the iFi. I thought they would sound kind of similar, but the MRIA+ is way more refined, sounds less sharp. It just imparts less of its own sound.

    My dad kind of prefers the straighter lines of the MRIA+, but he had to admit that there's just more information with the Skoll. I prefer the Skoll with silver cables (RCA) and the XLR outputs so far, anyway.
    That's actually my main gripe so far: It's kind of warm sounding and while I really like how smooth it sounds, the transients via the RCA output can also be a bit too rounded.

    47kOhm with the Delos should be right up my alley, as it sounds less restrained, but I think it's too uncontrolled. Also it just doesn't make sense.

    SE comparison against the MRIA+, aswell as the other phono preamps:

    Skoll rating.jpg

    I also tried the XLR input via custom Mundorf ACW cables, however I could never get rid of some ground-loop-like-hum or maybe it's interference. I'll have to try with different (shielded) cables ASAP.
    SInce I don't really know how the ACW compares to my other cables I can't quite say how much is due to the cable. I don't even know if there should be a difference.
    However it's a presentation I enjoyed, less soft on the attack, a bit more neutral overall. Some might say there's less sweetness that way. The ACW in cotton is likely a good sounding cable, though.

    Some things I thought were worth mentioning:
    • It's possible to touch the power cord in a way that it disconnects the 24V line, but not the 6V one. Ehhh
    • It fits under the VPI Classic. Yes, the Classic's feet are that monolithic.
    • It's probably been like that for a while for Schiit products, but the LEDs are a nice brightness. Finally.
    • HPF does get rid of the subbass, but it also doesn't sound like ass and works quite well.
    • Otherwise the subbass extension is seriously impressive. It growls in a way that I didn't think was possible for vinyl.
    FWIW the comparison wasn't as clear cut in the living room with my dad's Canton Reference 3K speakers and the Aegir in a more reverby room. It's just harder to hear differences there.
     

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  8. Bowmoreman

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    @Serious thanks for that in depth review. I think I’m going to score a Skol immediately after my return from Munich (traveling there today to stay through Wednesday for work - Sofitel downtown). Small world, eh?

    Anyways, with my Classe’ DR-6R which has been my phono preamp for 33 years now (and is literally the only thing still working on it; I have to use a separate temporary line stage until my time comes up to repair the Classe’) I haven’t really had much interest in getting a “better” phono stage.

    My bigger concern is that I’m *also* starting to jones for a new MC for playback; the Denon is ok, but it’s not the old AQ7000 or other Scantech MC’s I used previously… near I can tell, today’s “equivalent” is the Lyra family (which are on my short list).
    PS: nice choice of that Dire Straits album to test things out… <grin>
     
  9. Bowmoreman

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    So, just pulled the trigger. Currently it is in “ships in 2-3 weeks” status, so obviously popular. I’m in midst of re-arranging my 26x17x7.5 foot listening room: going to move the power amp UNDER the floor at speaker end of the room and then run balanced under floor to other end of room where I have nice built in cabinets. Will be setting up so I can do an easy and quick A/B test between the Classe’ DR6R phono section (which still works) versus Skoll. The Classe’ was (arguably) the best MC phono stage extant in 1989/90 (at least to my ears: the AR and CJ stuff was also good, but just a tab “not right” for the DR-9/Apogees as a “system”… But, it is very large if only using as a phono stage (what with the separate large outboard power supply).

    It should prove very interesting, now I just have to wait MOAR! ;)
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Dang. Now you got me interested.
     
  11. bigant

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    I seem to recollect you are a DL-103 user, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the Skoll.
    Internet consensus seems to recommend a higher input impedance for the Denton than it can provide.

    currently run it via Sowter 10:1 trannies into the MM input of a little Rega integrated. Sounds good to me but sometimes hums like a bastard.

    Australian importer isn’t bringing it in right now, not sure I want to ship from the USA yet …
     
  12. Bowmoreman

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    Just got an update…. It is shipping NOW, for arrival this Saturday (“early”). So, apparently that was a very short-lived backlog…
    Wonder what I’ll be (trying to) do this weekend? ;)

    @schiit nicely done! (You may want to update the Skoll web page, unless this was a - lucky for me - fluke)
     
  13. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Schiit dips?
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    LOL Internet consensus. I'd prefer to put it as vinylhead consensus because the DL-103 was around way before the Internet.

    250Ω to as high as 1000Ω for DL-103. I'm usually around 500Ω. The Mani has a 200Ω (close enough to 250-500). Skoll is more granular 10, 50, 100, 150, but nothing optimal for the DL-103 (which is kind of an oddball). Anyway, there is an easy fix: Put selector on 47k and do custom load:

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Bowmoreman

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    Hmmmm…. I like the SOUND of those… ;)

    (Massachusetts and it’s dispensaries are literally only 15 minutes from me, so yeah, some good Schiit for some better Schiit methinks).

    I just realized I should also get another short set of XLR interconnects so I can “race” single-ended versus balanced between phono stage and preamp…

    Separately:

    Also, anyone got a good pointer for a proper balanced SME/DIN to Balanced XLR dedicated phono cable? I’ve been using a Sumiko PIB for the last 35+ years (first from my Oracle and then my SOTA). It has a small braided/shielded connector from the DIN plug (that goes into the arm base) to a small box that has RCA/ground outputs. But, I would LOVE something that could go DIN to XLR. The only “caveat” is that with MOST turntables today being solid (versus suspended like my SOTA) the cable from DIN outwards MUST be light/flexible so as to not affect TT balance/level/setup…). But anyone “solved” this or have pointers? For now I can just keep using what I have, and that will certainly be the fairest initial comparo (e.g. I can keep all variables constant except the phono stage itself.

    TIA and stay tuned.
     
  16. Bowmoreman

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    Radio Shack RCA splitter setup… nice, and, oh so now-unobtainium! That said, doing that to EXPENSIVE interconnects would feel a tad dirty… <grin>
     
  17. bigant

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    Thanks @purr1n .Ah finally a use for the bag of resistors I got on a whim! Sorry if it’s a dumb question, would I need to put the load resistors in parallel with the input?

    At least I remember enough of my electronics at uni to work out the values.

    be interesting to compare with transformers into low gain.

    harumph sorry wallet.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Yup parallel. That's it. Just don't forget to set to 47k on the Skoll.

    Still think Skoll is useful. For example, I decided I liked my Cadenza Bronze (with my current setup, synergies and so forth, etc.) smack in between 50 and 100-ohms. The remote on the Skoll made this process so easy, being able to up and and down, and go "hmmm" on the couch. Now I can go vinyl-nutjob and zero-in on 75-ohms for the custom splitter resistor job. 50-ohms turned out to be perfect with the SPU G. Although it's possible I may like 40-ohms based on triangulation.

    Just remember that it's totally subjective. There is no wrong or right. Just what you happen to like. The tweaking with loading, VTA, VTF, etc. That's all part of the fun, while Amir and his gang at Audio Science Review laugh at us and mock us with our 12-bit 65db SINAD setups - in another universe.
     
  19. Bowmoreman

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    Well, the forecasted 10-2 slipped to MONDAY now. It’s lost in Connecticut anon… sniff

    Ordered a set of Schiit’s XLR cables so I can race SE vs. balanced from the Skoll to the currently temporary Proceed AV preamp doing temp duty as my line-stage with the DR6 only working for phono… wish I had a better MC than this current one (it’s fine, but it’s not Lyra-class/Scantech, etc. - again, others tastes may vary).
     
  20. Bowmoreman

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    Seems FedEx is missing on a few cylinders…

    The delayed to Monday became: delivered on Sunday PM (surprise!). So THAT’s good! It was the end of the day, and I was already several beers into cooking spatchcock roasted chicken, so I just plugged it in and turned it on to let it cook/warm… probably not get to actually setting up and listening til later this week (gotta clean the house a bit for the Thanksgiving family/company - sniff). The set of Pyst XLR cables is supposed to arrive today also.

    (I’ve started a co-processing subroutine in my brain as to which records I’ll use to test it out and A/B it with the Classe’ phono stage).

    Testing order (I think), will be:

    1. Baseline with Denon into Classe’ via AQ Lapis RCA
    2. Switch to Skoll, using RCA, gain match… compare/contrast
    3. Switch to Skoll, using XLR… compare contrast…

    Then, depending, rinse-repeat until a decision can be made.

    It’s quite, cute, actually; rather daintier than I had thought, but quite solid. Liked the LED “dance” when first turned on; man the remote is TINY (going to have to be careful not to LOSE it).
     

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