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Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up

Discussion in 'Jason Stoddard' started by jason stoddard, Jan 23, 2014.
  1. Randonneur
    You do realise that not all USB sources are equal, right? Because up until the Pi4, which was only released a month ago, the physical chip that controlled the USB bus also controlled Ethernet, which is the main reason that the network port could never reach the claimed Gigabit speed.
    AudioGal likes this.
  2. Jason Stoddard
    2019, Chapter 13:
    Tonight, Chickenpowder and Cocaine!
    Or, Introducing Sol.

    A few days ago, a friend in Tokyo posted this amazing example of fashion English (and French, I suppose, as well).

    chickenpowder and cocaine.jpg

    I think it accurately summarizes how I feel about introducing Sol: off-base, surreal, but highly entertained.

    Because I wasn’t ready to do this. Not now. Not after so many disappointments. I mean, the last few months have really felt like a death march. We’d get in a new platter—and it would look like ass. We’d get in another new platter—and it wouldn’t run to spec. We’d get in small parts that looked like they were finished by blind badgers. We’d get in other small parts that would be out of round, or crooked, or inverted (?!) or some other incomprehensible level of screwed up. And this would happen pretty much every week, so the hits…they just kept on coming.

    And here’s the really funny part: almost none of these parts were super critical. The bearing housing? No problem? The bearing? Cool. The tonearm pivot? No problem.

    But without those small, not-super-critical parts, we didn’t have a turntable.

    And I think it was the small drip, drip, drip of disappointment after disappointment that got me to the point where I never really thought we’d ship a turntable.

    Like, ever.

    And so when the guys came to me last week and said, “We have platters,” I figured there’d be caveat. Like “We have platters, but they look crappy.” Or “We have platters, but they are mis-centered.” Or something like that.

    When I discovered they actually meant, “We have platters, and those platters are the last part we need, and we can ship,” my mind just went into bizarro mode. I just didn’t believe it. It couldn’t be possible.

    Hell, I hadn’t written the chapter!

    Hell, I hadn’t written the press release!

    But I didn’t really go into full chickenpowder and cocaine mode until they also added, “And we’ve built 20 Sols.”

    I blinked a couple of times and said something really intelligent, like, “What?”

    They said, “We built 20 Sols.”

    “As in, done?”

    They nodded. “As in, done and in boxes.”

    Everything went kinda hazy and gray for a bit, like the last time I gave blood and had a couple of beers. Or like when someone calmly tells you they got abducted by aliens, then shows you the one they shot in the back of their truck. Or when you meet Elvis in the men’s restroom.

    Holyschiit holyschiit holyschiit. That actually meant we could ship Sols.

    And so here I am this week, catching up. Because you know what? If we can ship Sols, we’re gonna do it!

    A Salute to the Guys

    The turntable is Mike Moffat’s baby. He’s the one who conceived it, he’s the guy who found the dude (Conrad Hoffman) who did the design heavy lifting, and he’s the guy who shepherded it through to the last year or so, when we both got too busy. For a refresher about how Sol came about, re-read the “Here Comes the Sol” chapter from earlier this year.

    That’s when we handed over the mess to Tony, who, if you remember some even earlier chapters, was our second employee at Schiit. He’s long been a great tech, but handing over Sol for him to manage is one of the best things we’ve done. He took it to the end zone, so to speak, working with our vendors to finally fix all the last tiny issues on the product. He also set up the production space (see pics below—yep, it’s modest, but I find it comfortingly reminiscent of the garage era of Schiit—a small, raw new area that will hopefully grow), did all the prototype assembly, built the first few dozen tonearms, and also did the setup video. In short, we couldn’t have done it without Tony.
    solarea.jpg sols.jpg tyler and tony 2.jpg tyler and tony.jpg sol package.jpg arm.jpg
    sol stack.jpg

    Tony now has his own minion, Elvis (no, not that one), one of the newest members of our staff. Elvis is doing great work getting us organized for Sol production, and already the production area is one of the best structured in the shop. And Elvis is busy training others to help with Sol production, even as Tony is out at RMAF.

    Aside: I won’t be at RMAF. Still too much to do. Don’t weep for me, I like doing this stuff!

    And I’d be remiss not to mention Tyler, who runs the HR and accounting side here, and who was also instrumental in helping the vendors understand, ahem, what we meant by “consumer quality,” and in helping Tony get the final parts hammered down. And Alex, the long-suffering director of operations, who worked with Tyler, Tony, and myself to make sure things happened.

    In short, Sol took a lot of people a lot of time to get right…but it is finally right, and we’re going to start shipping…

    …slowly and cautiously.

    Slow and Paranoid

    As I mentioned in the last chapter, Sol is the most mechanically complex product we’ve ever made. This means that, even after building 50 or so of these (with shockingly few glitches), even after measuring a couple, even after all of that, we’re gonna go slow at this. Lots of testing, lots of proving, lots of paranoia. Like Bifrost 2, but x10.

    Which is good, because we’ll have a better shot at shipping you a mechanically ideal product. So far, things have worked very well, and the critical tolerance parts are all well within tolerance. But we’re continuing to measure and test, to make sure Sol is really, really good.

    The old hands know what this means. “It means you’re gonna go into backorder,” they say.

    Well, hopefully not, but we are not promising our usual 1-3 day shipping time on Sol. We’ve backed it off to 5-7 days. Hopefully it won’t go longer. Hopefully there won’t be a backorder. But we’ll see.

    Because we’d all rather ship 100 good Sols than 1000 bad ones.

    Why You Don’t Want a Sol, AKA “The Video”

    When I realized we could ship Sol this week, I also realized several other things. I covered my lack of wordage above. But, most importantly, we also didn’t have a setup video. Tony had said he would do one, but he was also doing a bunch of the heavy lifting for RMAF. And he was leaving for RMAF on Tuesday! Argh.

    Could we put together a video in time?

    Yes, with the help of a friend and videographer we’ve worked with in the past. Tony and I came in on Monday, and while he and Brian were shooting video, I did the final shots for the owner’s manual. Kinda fun, actually, like old times at the agency.

    The result is a 25-minute-long video that goes through all the setup and adjustment on Sol.

    All the setup. All the adjustment.

    As in, this isn’t a “take it out of the box and play records,” kinda thing. This is a turntable where literally every part is adjustable. VTA? Yep. Cartridge angle? Sure. Cueing height? Yep. Platter height? Yep. Motor pulley height? Yep. Arm cup height? Youbetcha. Anti-skate? Absolutely.

    Plus: you have to buy your own cartridge.

    And more plus: we expect you to have a phono preamp. Or buy one.

    This kinda crazy high-level-of-owner-interaction experience is alien, if the only turntable you’ve ever used is a typical entry-level table. So if you’re not into doing an hour or so of tweaking, Sol probably isn’t for you.

    The payoff for all this insanity? Lots better performance.

    Sol follows the patters of uber-high-end turntables: no MDF or acrylic in sight, no standard cartridge, literally everything adjustable. You can dial in Sol’s performance to an insane degree, to extract amazing performance from even very expensive cartridges. But again, we get it: not everyone wants to go through the trouble.

    So, here’s a suggestion: when you’re doing your morning workout, put on the Sol video. See if it looks reasonable. If it does, you’re a good candidate for Sol. If not, there’s a ton of other options out there.

    If you do go for it, you’ll have a turntable that's really, really yours. You’ll also have a turntable you can easily swap arms on—affordable arms, so if you want to have a cartridge specifically for mono and one for stereo, no problem. Or if you want to have a dozen, that’s cool too. Though a bit weird. But hey, so is owning a turntable in (nearly) 2020.

    Future Spin

    Mike and I have talked about tons of crazy stuff for the future, from pre-set-up arms with various cartridges, bases and dust covers to AC motor controllers to different options for the platter casting to active suspension systems, but all that is a bit beyond the pale. I can’t really think about that right now. It’s like worrying about whether gray aliens are real and if they are actually making alien-human hybrids.

    So yeah. There may be more. But for now, we’re going to go with what we have: a basic turntable, at a fair price, that you can order an extra arm for, or add a Mani to, that we’ll build slowly and carefully to make sure they’re the best they can be…

    …and then we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

    In the meantime, let us know what you think!
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
    Schiit Audio Stay updated on Schiit Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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  3. Jason Stoddard
    Cool, thanks for sticking with us!

    For ASIO, we use ASIO2WASAPI for testing. The APx reports were done with ASIO2WASAPI. For listening, we plug and chug, no need for crazy interface stuff.
    Schiit Audio Stay updated on Schiit Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/Schiit/ http://www.schiit.com/
    armenjc, barondla and CAPT Deadpool like this.
  4. judson_w
    The Sol is released? The day before my birthday? Yay. I am amused by the FAQ though. You state that "you can spend $100 to $1000 on a cartridge for Sol". I assume this is more wordplay than suggesting more expensive carts would be a bad fit for the Sol.

    I will definitely be adding this to the list of turntables I will be considering as a save up for an upgrade.
  5. ItsAllInMyHead
    Congratulations @Jason Stoddard, @Baldr and the team at Schiit. It's been a learning experience and a lot of fun watching the Sol progress. It may convince me to spin vinyl again after quite some time. FWIW - as a person that's used "all-in-one" tables in the past, I found the set up video very easy to understand.
  6. Jason Stoddard
    Nope. it means that unlike most inexpensive turntables, it wouldn't be silly putting a very expensive cartridge on Sol. Not that you need an expensive one, either. Mike loves the Nagaoka MP-110 and Denon DL-103R. But he LOOOOOOVVEESS Deccas (for good reason.) Sol works with all of those.
    Schiit Audio Stay updated on Schiit Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/Schiit/ http://www.schiit.com/
  7. judson_w
    Well, whenever I save up enough for a new table, I will also likely have saved up enough to get a Hana SL for it. That being said, if I do go for the Sol, I would maybe have to get at least one spare tonearm for the sake of a mono cart.
  8. Porteroso
    I think his point was that there are more expensive carts than 1k, much more expensive... He assumes it's wordplay, and not "don't spend more than 1k on a cart for Sol, it doesn't scale that high."
    Mike-WI and judson_w like this.
  9. CharlesC
    Yes I do. Thanks.
  10. Rensek
    That was a good video. As a guy who owns a basic automatic turntable, I had no idea, about all of the tweaking that goes into a turntable. You ought to find a way to make sure as many prospective buyers watch that video as possible, BEFORE they order it. Looks like a fun thing to play with, if you have the patience and the time and like to fiddle.

    Maybe someday I'll get one, but Bifrost 2 is currently at the top of my schiit list.

    Can't wait to hear impressions. It looks awesome. Hope it sells well for yall.
    ScubaMan2017, RCBinTN and Paladin79 like this.
  11. Porteroso
    I agree, some people will buy it because of the price point, and not know how much adjustment you will need, also additional tools to really adjust fully.

    The other thing is about the no cart? If you added a dropdown box whose only option was "no cartridge" you'd probably save yourself quite a few emails and phone calls, and a few buyers would be much happier. No fun, even if it's totally your fault, to get some new toy and then realize not only do you not have the tools or knowledge to set it up, it won't work at all, because it didn't come with what it needs to be functional.

    That aside, a quick skimming of description and faq.. I'd be more consistent with whether you call the tonearm 11" or 12". People are bound to ask you about that, so might as well just head off those questions. Almost 12" seems misleading when elsewhere it's stated as 11" effective or 11" period.
  12. barondla
    Congratulations @Jason Stoddard , @Baldr and the rest of Schiit for bringing Sol to market. Job well done. Think it'll sell well.

    Considering the length of time to develop Sol, now is the time to bring a speaker expert on board. Schiit will then be ready to produce speakers when @Jason Stoddard & @Baldr decide it is time. Careful with bizarro world, spend too long there and it starts to feel natural.
    CAPT Deadpool likes this.
  13. Derrick Swart
    at least we had the time to save up for this one!
    barondla likes this.
  14. Gazny
    The Black mani looks amazing, the new color scheme is growing on me. Can't wait to see what the gamer gear will look like. Sol Insitu 1920.jpg
    thebmc, Baten and Rensek like this.
  15. ksorota
    Now we just need a Black Lyr 3....New or B-Stock, i think that many would be interested!
    thebmc likes this.

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