Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
Jul 10, 2019 at 7:29 PM Post #48,211 of 85,087

Ripper2860

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Not very retro, but ...



I LOVE IT!!!!!
 
Jul 10, 2019 at 8:05 PM Post #48,214 of 85,087

Ripper2860

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Yep. RT909 was their TOTL, but the RT707 was still a cute little thing that would fit nicely in a well populated vintage stereo rack. :D
 
Jul 10, 2019 at 11:22 PM Post #48,216 of 85,087
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2019, Chapter 10:
*** This Ship!


So, it looks like Schiit may not be shipping with USPS anymore.

Yes. That USPS. The United States Postal Service.

Why? Because they’ve simply become too unreliable for a business to rely on. Well, at least our post office has. As of this writing, they have not reliably picked up shipments from us for seven weeks. That’s nearly two months. This is despite contacting them, cajoling them, trying to find out what was wrong, trying to figure out how to make it work…and despite literally paying them $23 per day for what they call “scheduled pickup,” which has only worked about 33% of the time.

So what have we done in the meantime? We’ve had employees drive shipments down to the post office. This is a non-ideal solution for many reasons, including the fact that we have to work out a time-off payment for them, and if there’s a traffic incident while they’re driving down to the post office, we could be totally on the hook for that.

We’ve told the USPS this. Like I said, we’ve tried everything, including paying them, to get reliable pickup.

But here’s the bottom line: nobody cares at the USPS.

So, it looks like we may have to shut off USPS as a shipping option for Schiit. I think this is a pretty sad day when your national postal service cannot perform at a level needed for a business customer. And no, this is not a political thing. Business is business. We need a reliable shipping partner that picks up our packages (and, as a bonus, is happy to pick up our packages, because, hey, you know, that’s actual business we’re paying for, and, as another bonus, is happy to pick up our packages without any bribes/extortion/payola like the “scheduled pickup fee.”)

FedEx is happy to do this. UPS is happy to do this.

So are we gonna kick USPS to the curb? Well, before I answer that question, why don’t we take a look at shipping in general. Hopefully some start-ups will find this information useful, or at least you’ll find this enlightening.

To begin with, let’s start with skewering my most detested sacred cow….


“Free Shipping” Should Be Banned

Yeah, I get it. The siren call of “free shipping.” Hell, I’ve fallen for it.

But here’s the unadultated truth: there is no free shipping.

No. Such. Thing.

Period.

Everything has a price.

If you put me in charge, I’d ban the term “Free shipping.” Because it’s a misleading term. It’s not “free shipping.” It’s actually “price inclusive shipping.” And that’s what we should call it.

Seriously, do you think that someone’s gonna truck a Ragnarok from LA to NYC for free?

Of course you don’t. You knowsomeone is paying for shipping. You just don’t want it to be you.

And, like I said, I totally understand. But I also understand that what we’re really talking about is “price inclusive shipping,” and that the manufacturer or retailer is paying for it. If this type of shipping is abused too much (like, say, using it as an equipment rental service, especially when coupled with “free returns,”) the whole thing breaks. Hell, even Amazon has made it harder to return things these days, to help stem the tide of rentaholics abusing the system.

I hate the term “free shipping” so much, this is what we should do:

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 8.05.19 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 8.08.40 PM.png


Yes, you see that right. You can choose “standard shipping” for standard price, or “free shipping” and pay more.

Because this accurately reflects what “free shipping” is: price inclusive shipping. You can have free shipping and pay more, or pay a fair price for shipping and pay less.

Aside: another company that does this is frameiteasy.com. If you’re looking for wall art, and you’re not so deep-pocketed so as to simply hang a ton of Samsung The Frames around your place, these guys are very fairly priced, fast, and have very reasonable shipping prices. No, I don’t own them, nope, I’m not an investor, just a satisfied customer…and happy to see them call out “free shipping” for what it is. They have competitors with free shipping. They cost 50% more—or more.

Hell, we should do this “select your shipping thing” for Black Friday. Call it the Schiit Free Shipping Promo, or something like that. Maybe we can finally one-up Cards Against Humanity.

And, before you get irritated, we can also just refund the difference between “free shipping” and actual shipping, so nobody loses…and maybe some people learn a thing or two.

Okay, free shipping screed over. Let’s talk about how dire shipping is.


Amazon’s Solution: Fire Everyone

Yep. Fire everyone.

Amazon has long had contracts with FedEx and USPS. USPS handled Sunday deliveries. Well, it kinda-sorta still handles them, but…

Wait. Let me just relate a story.

It’s a Monday. We’re 6 weeks into the “USPS ain’t picking up” thing. Alex and I are talking, as usual, and I have to ask:

“So, are we gonna fire USPS?”

Alex shakes his head. “I’m still on the fence.”

“But are they picking up?”

Another head-shake. “Not usually.”

“Not even when paying them?”

“Not even when paying them.” Alex sighs, then continues. “It’s really hard to take them seriously when, you know, yesterday, Sunday, I get a delivery from the Amazon Prime van. I mean, that’s not a surprise, I’m at home. But then I get a notice from the USPS, which was delivering something else from Amazon, saying they couldn’t deliver because they couldn’t find my door. Hell, I was standing thirty feet from the door when that message came in, and they weren’t anywhere around.”

I laughed. “That happens all the time. Amazon delivers, USPS comes on Monday. Maybe.”

“It’s not surprising Amazon did what it did,” Alex said.

“What?” I honestly didn’t know.

Alex looked at me like I had two heads. “They fired everyone. Or they’re in the process of firing everyone. USPS is going out. They’re not renewing their FedEx contract.”

“So what are they doing?” I asked, somewhat incredulous. “Shipping it themselves?”

“Exactly,” Alex said.

“Wait…what?” I said. “They just…started their own shipping company?”

“Not exactly,” Alex explained. “They subsidized cheap Mercedes vans so people could start up their own last-mile delivery services, and take on their routes.”

Holy schiit,I thought. “Those are the Amazon vans you see running around?”

Alex nodded. “Those are them.”

Wow,I thought. Completely vertically integrated, including shipping. Given our pain with the USPS (and, to be honest, we’ve had our moments with FedEx, as well as pain with testing out UPS and DHL), I totally got it. It wasn’t something we could do, but when a retailer decides tocreate its own shipping fleet…things must really be ugly. Yes, I know, Amazon is huge…but that’s an amazing amount of liability to take on. Their pain must have been immense.

And here we were, with USPS not picking up…

…so maybe they will have to go.


Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I really don’t want to lose USPS as a shipper. But, unless they improve, we have to do something. Right now, I see our options as:
  1. Eat it, and just have someone take the packages down every day, and take the disruption and liability that incurs. This is what we’re doing now.
  2. Do the same, but change our shipping policy so we only ship via USPS two days per week to minimize disruption and liability.
  3. Add a surcharge to every USPS order so it’s not attractive to use it as a shipping option.
  4. Raise prices 10-20% across the board and have “free domestic shipping.”
  5. Turn USPS off.
But, you know, I gotta ask: what are we missing if we drop USPS as a shipping option?
  • Does it go anywhere in the USA that isn’t covered by other services?
  • Does it have some huge advantage getting into other countries that I’m missing?
  • It is insanely less expensive than other options? If so, to where?
  • Is there some other advantage I’m missing?
Feel free to let me know in the comments. I’ll be looking at them, and Alex will be as well. I’m genuinely perturbed by this turn of events, and nothing is (yet) set in stone. If USPS doesn’t have some significant advantage that I’m missing, though…why should we continue to engage with a shipping service that doesn’t even care enough to pick up our packages?

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for your input.
 
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Jul 10, 2019 at 11:23 PM Post #48,217 of 85,087

Pedro Janeiro

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@Ripper2860 Forget Pioneer, this Akai Gx 636 is the one! :D

gx636.jpg
 
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Jul 10, 2019 at 11:53 PM Post #48,218 of 85,087

jnak00

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@Jason Stoddard I was just thinking about your shipping options to Canada. One of the big challenges bringing stuff into Canada is brokerage fees. USPS/Canada Post is very reasonable. Fedex isn't too bad either but still a bit high. UPS is awful. Like, I've been extorted to the tune of $70 in brokerage fees for a $100 item. I tend to prefer using USPS if possible, for that reason. In addition, the USPS shipping tends to be quite a bit cheaper on Schiit's products than Fedex (although admittedly for slower service). I'd be OK with a delayed shipment date to use USPS - in other words, keep it as an option but only ship using USPS once or twice a week.
 
Jul 11, 2019 at 12:00 AM Post #48,219 of 85,087

Ripper2860

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@Ripper2860 Forget Pioneer, this Akai Gx 636 is the one! :D


Yeah, but it ain't rackable. :wink:

Feel free to let me know in the comments. I’ll be looking at them, and Alex will be as well. I’m genuinely perturbed by this turn of events, and nothing is (yet) set in stone. If USPS doesn’t have some significant advantage that I’m missing, though…why should we continue to engage with a shipping service that doesn’t even care enough to pick up our packages?

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for your input.

@Jason Stoddard: I have no love for USPS. They are the embodiment of lousy customer service -- however, if it is determined that there is a benefit in using USPS (like stated in another post re: brokerage fees to Canada), is using a non-Schiit employee 3rd party company to pickup and take packages to the USPO an option. A hot-shot type of courier pickup service. It may add a bit to the cost of shipping USPS, but if there is a reason to keep them as a carrier, it may be worth the additional cost to those that prefer USPS. And there's no comp-time/OT and liability on your end -- your folks are focused on high-value stuff building Schiit and taking care of Schiit customers. :wink:
 
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Jul 11, 2019 at 12:16 AM Post #48,220 of 85,087

r2muchstuff

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My first R to R was a Roberts 5050XD, a rebranded Akai when Akai was not much of a name in the USA.
Bought it through a local radio station connection. I still have that deck, it needs a CLA.
1 7/8, 3 3/4 & 7 1/2 ips, 7" or 10.5" reels and... auto reverse playback, in the early 1970s.

Always wanted an Akai Gx 636, somehow wound up with Pioneer RT 707s and 909s.
The Pioneer RT 2022 & 2044 had 15 ips & 10.5 reels yet the RT 909 (901) specs are better.
Pioneer listed the RT 909 as 20Kz-28Khz + - 3 dB, the others only hit 30Kz.
RT 707 (701) did have direct drive vs belt for the others.
RT 707/701 introduced in 1977 the 909/901 in 1979.

Enough history, bring on the Schiit.
 
Jul 11, 2019 at 12:29 AM Post #48,221 of 85,087

kevlar397

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I have both Rag 2, MJ2, Gungnir MB and I've heard Rag 2 with the multibit DAC card and my Gungnir MB.

First, the point about summing is accurate. MJ2 SE output utilizes summing resulting in lower power, and to my ears, smaller headstage and reduced clarity vs the balanced output. You can hear the difference. You've gone from 8 Watts to 2 Watts output. Is the SE on MJ2 "bad" in an absolute sense? No, it is still better than many other amps, but you've basically bought a fast sports car and are only putting the pedal 1/4 of the way to the floor. Gungnir is also balanced and utilizes summing for SE output and the balanced outputs have better performance to my ear. So, if you buy Gungnir or MJ2 I'd recommend using the balanced connections in all cases.

I do not hear much of a difference in clarity between Rag 2's SE and balanced outputs, other than you do still have lower power output on the SE. Would I buy Rag 2 just to run SE headphones assuming I had no speakers? I think it would depend on sonically what I wanted.

MJ2 + Gungnir MB against a Rag 2 with a MB card is a weird comparison to make, but Gungnir has better detail retrieval and better handling of transients vs. the MB card. As for the amp, MJ2 (to my ear with 6DJ8 National tubes) has a larger headstage than Rag 2 on my HD800's, but I can't say what it would be on Grado's. On Ether 2, I don't get much headstage difference between the two amps. Rag 2 has more natural treble while MJ2 has a faster, drier treble.

Schiit has some very good SE options you might consider. Lyr 3 (which I've also owned) was what Grado was using at CanJam this year to demo their headphones and it's an excellent headamp with very natural treble (although not the beefiest bass and widest soundstage). Valhalla 2 is one of my favorite amps that I've heard and is a good low cost option. MJ2 and Rag 2 will give superior macrodynamics and slam, but again, you'll get the most out of MJ2 only with balanced.

It comes down to what type of sound you want. As people are saying, if you can get to Newhall, CA that's ideal. Failing that, Schiit has a 15 day return policy.

@roshambo Thanks so much for providing such a wealth of information! I appreciate hearing about your experience with all of these products. For a DAC I feel like a Gungnir MB makes the most sense regarding how they designed it. Have you been able to A/B it with a delta-sigma DAC?

I did pencil out the cost of heading down to the Schiit, but it doesn't pan out.

Another forum member mentioned that Grado will modify their headphones with a single ended cable to be balanced if you ship it to them. I think that is something I'll get done first before I make my final decision. Most of the amps I’m considering are specifically designed to be balanced so it makes sense to have a balanced cable.

Have you or anyone else heard the iFi Pro iCAN? Based on the reviews I've read it sounds really appealing to me. To be able to choose between SS and tubes in the same amp would be great! I also like the ability to adjust the bass. While I don't listen to much rap it really helps to be able to increase it when I do. Loki has been great for that.
 
Jul 11, 2019 at 12:33 AM Post #48,222 of 85,087
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@Jason Stoddard I was just thinking about your shipping options to Canada. One of the big challenges bringing stuff into Canada is brokerage fees. USPS/Canada Post is very reasonable. Fedex isn't too bad either but still a bit high. UPS is awful. Like, I've been extorted to the tune of $70 in brokerage fees for a $100 item. I tend to prefer using USPS if possible, for that reason. In addition, the USPS shipping tends to be quite a bit cheaper on Schiit's products than Fedex (although admittedly for slower service). I'd be OK with a delayed shipment date to use USPS - in other words, keep it as an option but only ship using USPS once or twice a week.

We're definitely aware of the brokerage fee problem. Hopefully Alex will respond more about what we might be able to do about that.
 
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Jul 11, 2019 at 12:53 AM Post #48,224 of 85,087

Balthazar B

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@Jason Stoddard, you do a little business with Amazon, no? Rumors have been flying around for some time that they want to run their own national logistics service; the gig economy local delivery service is the vanguard of that as they wring their own costs out of package transportation. Have you asked them what it would take for their last-mile army to schlep a bunch of Schiit to the USPS for you? Maybe they're already piloting that with some of the businesses they work with, who knows?
 
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Jul 11, 2019 at 1:38 AM Post #48,225 of 85,087

eyoon

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  • Is there some other advantage I’m missing?
Feel free to let me know in the comments. I’ll be looking at them, and Alex will be as well. I’m genuinely perturbed by this turn of events, and nothing is (yet) set in stone. If USPS doesn’t have some significant advantage that I’m missing, though…why should we continue to engage with a shipping service that doesn’t even care enough to pick up our packages?

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for your input.

Advantages of USPS:
- usually a bit cheaper
- able to ship to PO boxes (I don’t have one)
- I have a lockbox where my USPS packages can be delivered (safe from porch pirates) which is a little more convenient than picking up packages at the UPS or FedEx store (especially around the holidays when they may divert my packages to different stores because my preferred pickup store is full; sometimes they even delay deliveries as a result)

Since USPS is basically your budget shipping option, it’s probably best (for customers) if you just shipped twice weekly instead, but a surcharge for USPS would also be reasonable move as well.
 
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