The just announced Schiit Skoll

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

Tags:
  1. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    Update NOT a full review.

    So, in connecting it up, my Sumiko PIB box/flexi-cable has introduced a HUM issue - argh… it’s been off/on in past, but now intolerable.

    With THAT said (everything single ended), initial impressions - against a fresh play of only one album: Takoma label Leo Kottke 6 and 12 String guitar - IYKYK)

    1. OMG the soundstage is massively bigger - width now extends far to the outside of the Apogees left right whilst maintaining a solid and deep center.
    2. The dynamics are immense
    3. The mid-bass is a bit less overblown

    Other thoughts will have to await a replacement DIN to RCA phono cable (just ordered) so I can get the hum issue solved.

    But, #1 and #2 are no doubters… whatsoever.
     
  2. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    Next update.

    Rebuilt entire setup (wiring and cabinetry-wise).Rationalized all signal versus ac lines. Tweaked (fiddle AF) Sumiko PIB wiring “mesh”. Hum mostly vanquished.

    Final status?


    Sumiko PIB through AQ Lapis to SE inputs of Skoll
    Skoll out to Proceed line in via balanced.
    There on to Classe/Apogee Duetta’s.

    Settings, after hours of testing: 150 Ohms/250pf’s… Used multiple different classical RCA’s (all my shaded dogs), and Miles Davis Kind of Blue (several pressings) to “test/zone in”….

    Gain: settled on 60; at 70, the Proceed would “bitch” about “overload”…. (NB: I picked up this unit when the line stage part of my DR6-R failed; it was only $400 used and it met my urgent needs: line preamp with volume, and, could drive balanced outs… at that time and to this day, only the DR6’s phono to tape out worked, it had failed in last year).

    Anyways, to the points of this phono stage:

    1. It is ridiculously silent; yes, black… but in a deep grey sense. not digital black, just the quiet you want, expect…. Crave
    2. The dynamics are a tad better more than the DR6 phono… but tbh, it’s within mental/memory error range
    3. Soundstage is about 20 to 30 degrees wider (the WAY wider - yes at the time almost phase-y - stage is now GONE; could be burn in, could be related to the hum/ground-loop issues earlier… ??? Anyways not so ridiculously as in over the freaking top wide… are now gone).
    4. Clarity, macro and micro dynamics are, well, perfect

    So,some fascinating micro-moments…

    During Miles Davis, Kind of Blue… the “plangency” of some of his notes were just ridiculously THERE… best I’ve heard, and, remember, this is a “test disc” I’ve used for 30+ years (know it well, have multiple presisings both LP and CD, etc.), anyways… best ever

    Peter Gabriel, So,Sledgehammer… OMG, the fullness of the mid-bass… next level. Dynamics? OMG.

    Begin boring: Prokovieff, Lt. Kije (on Chesky) - just ridiculously realistic flutes, woodwinds, picolos, etc… best I’ve ever heard this piece… the ability to reproduce “air” at all frequencies… in three dimensions!

    And then on to (likely boring to most of all y’all…) Chopin, Rachmaninov… all on LSC’s…

    So…. Net?

    1) keeper.. freaking keeper
    2) be interesting to see what changes when the new Phono DIN to RCA cabling arrives (I had given up on the Sumiko PIB)
    3) Ordered (today) the Schiit Kara (and packed up the DR6 for it’s turn in the re-cap queue at the service place
    4) anyone that doesn’t have full-range GOOD planar speakers is missing out on a very special reality (grin)

    As I type this all out, after a 5+ hour listening day… it reminds me of the first time I heard the original Levinson class A pre/power tuff back in the 1978-1980 range - a frat brother had a future Father in law that had an amazing 15ips tape to Levinson solid-state to Klipsch setup that was ORGASMIC…

    There’s a Classe DR3’ish “flavors” to this phono stage… net.

    Solid state done RIGHT.

    @schiit Nicely done!!! POWER SUPPLIES UBER ALLES (Rail me, baby)

    @Serious next up will be me trying Love over Gold. Wink
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2023
  3. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Pyrate BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,568
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    near Munich, Germany
    @Bowmoreman BTW, I find the MFSL Love over Gold a bit warm sounding. I mostly use the non-MFSL version I have instead, only took the pic with the MFSL variant for street cred :p

    I tested and built many cables to find a cable that is synergestic to my system and the Skoll while preserving the most resolution possible. Thankfully I didn't really have to compromise as the cable that was the best technically also happens to be a good synergy.

    To make things short:
    • Mundorf SGW105 in cotton, shielded with tinned copper braid in cotton from the tonearm to the XLR input
    • Hybrid XLR with Mundorf SGF in cotton for the signal and tinned copper braid in cotton for GND
    Yes, that's a Delos + silver cables + Ragnarok + Voxativs/Metal widebanders. No, it's not super bright.

    I think I'll post my cable impressions in a seperate thread, as I've ordered and tested many wires as RCA cables and also a few others as XLR cables that I will compare extensively later.

    The ACW115 that I tried in the beginning is a good sounding cable, by the way.

    EDIT: Impressions posted:
    https://www.seriousaudiodesign.de/blog-etc/reviews#h.iva72l3via7u
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/cable-building.86/page-53#post-420004

    EDIT2: Attached pictures of the two cables.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2023
  4. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    @Serious Yeah, I strongly prefer the original LOG to my MFSL. (So I sold the MFSL… lol),.. Hopefully the new phono cable arrives tomorrow, and I can find time to swap things over to see if the last small bit of residual hum is fully vanquished. Given I can influence it to the degree I did by certain manipulations of the PIB/wiring harness to the DIN connector, I’m CERTAIN that is where the root cause lays. I carefully rebuilt ALL wiring so signals are well away from power. Disconnected things I’m frankly NEVER going to use again (Like the Nak cassette recorder, the FM tuner, etc.

    When the Kara arrives, hopefully this week as well, I’ll further arrange for optimal configuration.

    Next steps (other than trying to listen to LPs during the Christmas season in our house; wifey insists on all our Holiday CD’s/music, so it’s a Vinyl desert for about 4 weeks…)

    1. Get out my Test LPs
    2. Measure Frequency response versus levels, etc. My trusty 40 year old RatShak meter isn’t working, so ordered a mid-price meter which arrives in 4 days.

    It’s going to be months before I physically can fully rearrange the room, and besides, the Christmas tree is now up in there as well… But, the plan is to do all this using Vinyl.
     
  5. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    A minor update.

    1. haven’t yet hooked up the new DHLabs Silver Sonic Phono cable; the hum (for now) is so far down, it’s almost non-existent (have to put ear right up to speaker when NOT playing music)
    2. Was going to test things out incrementally, but now I’m in: play with Skoll for now and enjoy it (my earlier comments stand, I’ve only had a few LPs this last 10 days or so due to it being Christmas music “season” here… and they are all on CDs.). I did get to try it out on my Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon MFSL UHQR, and, well… yikes it was very very good..

    So, when I found out my Kara order (black) back on 11/24 had moved into “shipping starts 12/15”, I started thinking… went back today to check on status and saw they now have SILVER option! LOL

    So while color isn’t technically “nervosa” (or is it?), I decided to cancel the original order and re-do for Silver. Still says ship date of 12/15, so only a few more days.

    After that arrives will finish the redo and report back. I’ll likely just do a quick swap to see if I notice any real changes before I then use the new phono interconnect. Stay tuned

    (PS: did I mention Kara is now available in Silver? Sure, sure I did)
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2023
  6. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    Another update:

    1) I replaced the Sumiko PIB and AQ Lapis with the DHLabs Silver sonic (Din to RCA direct, so one less set of “contacts). This into the Skoll; same settings as before. Noise floor now totally vanquished, and the only hum I now hear is that emanating from the transformers in my TICE Power Block/Titan power conditioning setup; i.e. physical 60Hz hum.

    2) have played a FEW LP’s the last few weeks (remember, we’ve been in Christmas music CD purgatory for last few weeks), and strongly (for now) prefer balanced OUT from Kara and gain at 60db…

    3) the SILVER - yes, SILVER111 - Kara arrived 2 hours ago. It’s beautiful (my first Silver Schiit!). I’ve got it cooking in my office all day today, and may try to hookup into the main rig tonight (depends on honey-do lists, etc.)

    It’s FUN to play with the (surprisingly nice) remote volume and watch/hear the Pot click along… also, I don’t think I’ve read this anywhere else (?) but there are a series of orangish LEDs inside the chassis on the PCb that emit a very nice tube-like glow out through the stylized vent holes in the top… Nice touch!

    What I *really* need is about 12 hours of NOT having to pay any attention to either the wife or the dog, so I can get this system rebuild DONE and done righty. Ha. More’n likely it’ll be, slap it into the shelves, move bare minimum cables and see how she sounds!

    But the GOAL is more ambitious and will happen (eventually): the Tice power conditioners and the power amp in the basement mounted just beneath the flooring, and then speaker wires up through floor at speaker locations, and the pre-amp, TT, Transport/DAC, phono stage all nice in a built in wooden shelf area just a few short feet behind to the side of my listening chair.

    Only once I get THERE will I then break out my test records, my SPL, and start fine-tuning final speaker location, etc…

    But now, thankfully, with the presence of Skoll and Kara, I can ship out my Classe’ DR6R to be recapped when my time in the queue comes up shortly without having to “slum it”.
     
  7. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    Time for a more comprehensive update.

    First, the Kara:
    1. Going from sonic memory (Burned in with 30 years of the same gear well known), it is every bit the sonic equal of my old Classe’ DR6R. The stage on CDs is a bit wider, maybe 10%, and definitely deeper, maybe 20%. Its stage is more coherent when I move from left to right from my typical sweet spot, so that is another benefit. It really reminds me very much of my Classe’, just more “modern” (?). Transparent, not warm, or shrill, or anything. Great macro and micro dynamics.

    2. It’s gain is very nice but I must admit it takes a bit of getting used to to run as one’s “normal” volume, with the volume knob at “2PM” (for CD’s on high gain). But, I know that’ll get addressed at the point when I get another separate DAC (must have balanced!) to have the Cambridge Audio Azur get turned into a logical transport, instead of full CD player as it is now, with SE/RCA inputs to the Kara. The extra gain via balanced will shift it to more like high-noon… LOL

    Note that in my system, the best setting for Kara gain is clearly “high” (for either line sources OR my Skoll with LP sourcing); in lower gain settings the very, very low level hum I have is slightly more audible (by very low, I mean I need to have ear up to 6” from speaker, and even then it’s low). Passive is a non starter (for me) at least with that source. More on gain in the Skoll segment below)

    3. The remote is a HUGE win, no doubt. It, and my Schiit’s ability to be controlled remotely, is now driving my redo of the listening room to be moved sooner. (First, I gotta finish building the wine cellar in the basement as it’s UNDER where I’llneed to be mounting the speaker amp(s). Then can move all the front end equipment to the listening end of the room, with the Tice Power Block/Titan power conditioning transformers can live UNDERneath, hanging from the basement ceiling, This will get that last source of hum out and away. Then, just run balanced from Kara to the Amp (Classe’ DR9 today, someday Tyr’s?), and the speaker wires up through the wood floor to just under the Apogees. This will clear up the room (a lot) and get all the equipment close to where I sit, so direct line of sight for the remotes, etc.

    Even without the addition of Skoll (more, anon), this Kara is more than good enough that I’m now no longer so certain I will spring to have the DR6 recapped, etc. (that might likely cost me as much as, say a Bifrost2/64 or even, shudder, Yggdrasil… ). But, I’m now far less worried about that scene. (As I’ve mentioned before, if the Classe DR9 dies - it’s already been factory-rebuilt once about 14 years ago - I can just sub in 2 Tyr’s).

    Ok, so now my Skoll thoughts (this is easier).

    1. It is every bit as good as the Classe’ DR6R phono section, and better in a couple of ways. Remember, I could compare this A/B directly as the Classe’s phono was the only thing still working. In full disclosure: it is possible the phono was beginning to be degraded by the same capacitor rot that afflicted the line gain stage, but it didn’t sound like it either standalone or in direct comparison. But, possible that this might explain those areas Skoll was bretter:

    A. MUCH more dynamic range above noise floor; the noise floor is way down there and so realistically “black” to my ears; it reminded me very much of my memories of a friends system decades ago with the original ML classe A pre-amp. Just disappeared (in all the good ways).

    B. MOAR gain. Set at 60 it had (audibly) the same/similar gain as the Classe’s MC stage, but, I preferred ultimately at 70 gain as it pushed the hum and noise DOWN (weird eh?)

    C. I love that I can easily adjust loading for when I cartridge roll; the Classe’ literally required taking off the top panel and de/re-soldering a pair of precision resistors to change gain. And, that changing RC values is done via remote!

    D. I LOVE that I can run balanced OUT into the Kara, in my racing SE versus balanced, it wasn’t close, SE had more hum (about3-6db more) and less “distance” between sonic silence/blackness and “music in full bloom/stride”

    So, does the combo of Schiit Kara/Skoll beat the Classe’ (1990) DR6R for phono performance - yes indeed, not even close.

    Now some “complaints”:

    1. Man does that “sound” (I hesitate to call it “clicking”, it’s more like “graunching” to my ears) really grate when/as the volume is adjusted. My wife was like: “is it supposed to do that?”… LOL. I explained how much more granular and accurate it was, so that we could more precisely get to levels I liked that she didn’t automatically think were “too damned LOUD”… LOL (mind you my typical listening levels are only averaging around 70dbA at my seat.)

    2. I can’t seem to get it to switch sources if it is manually muted. I have to un mute, switch, and then remote. It does auto-mute if I just change sources directly, however. (@schiit is this expected behavior?)

    3. Skoll complaint (sorta). Whenever I change gain, it does it’s Cylon-borg eyes dance thing all over again, before settling on the same settings I’d previously selected. Slight nervosa around “did it really go exactly back, or is it trying to over-ride my settings). With it so far away (now, see above rig redo plans), I can’t SEE to be sure. But when it gets moved to new location, it’ll be about 5 feet to my side so “solved” at that point.

    Music used:

    1. Tons of classical-oriented Christmas music CDs, and things like Mannheim Steamroller/Fresh Aire, Nutcracker suite, Handle’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th.
    2. Rush Hemispheres and 2112, ELP Dove, Trilogy, Tarkus, Works, etc, Steely Dan Aja, Fagen’s Kamakiriad, Peter Gabriel So, Miles Davis Kind of Blue, dozens of other great Jazz CD’s (Sonny Rollins/OJC, Krupa, Rich, Oscar Peterson…
    3. LPs (similar with some over-lap and non-overlap).

    Most interesting: I was able to do a direct (almost - likely within 1db - normalized) A/B between Jazz at the Pawshop on original Proprius Vinyl, and on SACD.

    LP won, but it was closer than I would have thought. Does make me wonder if getting a dedicated transport and/or just running digital out from the Cambridge Audio Azur into an external DAC (Bifrost2/64 or Yggdrasil, etc., and thence balanced into the Kara would “even the score” (after all, perhaps the benefits of moar balanced, are more of a thing that I’ve previously thought/experienced?). Oh well, shall have to repeat it again, this way, and then wait.

    TL;DR version?

    Kara/Skoll are excellent, and excellent bargains by any measure,.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Epic Epic x 1
    • List
  8. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2023
    Likes Received:
    124
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Temple, NH
    So, I decided to ask the SchiitAIBot about the “can’t switch inputs if manually muted”…

    Its Normal. Said to think of the manual mute as “pause/ RESUME” (my emphasis added), and that (as I noted separately) if one is currently NOT muted, and switches input (or gain), it mutes WHILE doing it, and then unmutes in the new (stable) mode/selection.

    Weird, but arguably a valid use-case
     

Share This Page