Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
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Is it too soon to talk cartridge selection? I’m sure some folks have ordered some already. Leaning towards Denon 103R here.

The 30m video definitely sold me on Sol. Polar opposite to my Rega.
Mike's actual words: "103R is seriously (expletive deleted)in good."

There are other options out there, but this is an excellent one.

Still waiting for effective mass details. Everyone is tied up at the show.
 
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sounds like it's a good time to put in another call for a higher end Mani? If that's still possible? Lol. Just a thought that if someone is pairing a $1000 cartridge with a $799 turntable, they'll probably want to spend abit more on their phono.

Seems like the Sol is not targeted for overseas customers for the moment, so I do get some time to save up. Plus I can't justify $120 plus for the shipping (though i'm sure it's warranted) and should just wait for the local distributor to be able to bring it in. I'll check with them.
 
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Congratulations and kudos to all involved in the design and development of Sol. It is an engineering marvel and a splendid example of form meets function. I expected no less than a groundbreaking and price shattering product from Schiit. Man, when you guys set your mind to something, it will likely be amazing!! I can't wait to see what surprises the looming CD spinner will have!!
 
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@Jason Stoddard, is the Sol motor rated to run at 50Hz without overheating? if so, why not just include a different (larger) pulley for 50Hz usage?

@Baldr I Hope your health improves.

Congratulations on the recent product launches!
 
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For those who like to roll op-amps I think there is a reasonable amount of options (I won't mention brands, but they are easily found on the forum and internet).
Yeah, but... something about putting SparkoS in my Schiit sounds really intriguing, cause I like them both!

Never anything with socketed op-amps, sorry. That way lies madness. At least for us.
What do you consider to be the essential difference to providing amps with swappable tubes?

Mind you, I'm not interested in cheap IC opamps, the discrete ones seem to be where it's at. It's the solid state equivalent to tube rolling to me.

Is there some important difference about a discrete opamp in a DIP8 socket vs. the same circuitry directly on the PCB? Or is the point about fully discrete designs that there are better types of amplification than the "operational" one?

Also, congrats to everyone involved for shipping Sol! That's a major accomplishment. Pure mechanics will be too boring for you now, so I'm sure you'll work on a record cleaner next. What's Norse for Golden Shower again?
I admit that the video convinced me more than ever that vinyl is just way too finicky for me, but at the same time I like the idea of having a Sol to look at...

Edit: I'm impressed you stuck with the 5% restocking fee given the many parts, and the increased wear and tear on them. 10% or even 15% would not have surprised me.
 
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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).



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.



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!
@Jason Stoddard -

I am disappointed.

I watched the video twice, and I saw neither chicken powder nor cocaine.

Do I put these powders on the bearing or the platter? Do I use a light dusting, or really pack it in there? Which powder sounds more audiophile?

(I like high energy music, so I think I know the answer, but I don't want to run a fowl of preconceived notions messing up the sound.)

Could you have Tony remake the video to include these details?

Thanks!

Congrats on the release!
 
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Yeah, but... something about putting SparkoS in my Schiit sounds really intriguing, cause I like them both!


What do you consider to be the essential difference to providing amps with swappable tubes?

Mind you, I'm not interested in cheap IC opamps, the discrete ones seem to be where it's at. It's the solid state equivalent to tube rolling to me.

Is there some important difference about a discrete opamp in a DIP8 socket vs. the same circuitry directly on the PCB? Or is the point about fully discrete designs that there are better types of amplification than the "operational" one?

Also, congrats to everyone involved for shipping Sol! That's a major accomplishment. Pure mechanics will be too boring for you now, so I'm sure you'll work on a record cleaner next. What's Norse for Golden Shower again?
I admit that the video convinced me more than ever that vinyl is just way too finicky for me, but at the same time I like the idea of having a Sol to look at...

Edit: I'm impressed you stuck with the 5% restocking fee given the many parts, and the increased wear and tear on them. 10% or even 15% would not have surprised me.
Op-amps themselves are very complex circuits, with several stages, often designed for very high open loop gain, low power consumption, etc. If you look at the typical pinout for 8-pin dual op-amps, they have two power supply pins, and for each "amplifier" 3 more pins (an inverting input, a non-inverting input, and an output pin), but no ground. Parasitic capacitances and inductances between the main circuit board and the discrete "opamp" may effect circuit operation / stability. The inductance of one-half-inch of wire or circuit board trace can form a resonant LC circuit with the power supply bypass capacitors at megahertz frequencies, for instance, injecting high frequency noise onto the power supply of the discrete op amp module.

Properly selected for the application, and with careful circuit board layout, commercial high performance op-amps (better spec-wise than NE5532, and a lot more expensive) like the ones used by Mike and Jason as buffers or I-V stages on the DAC chip outputs can sound pretty nice.

FWIW, I recently purchased a Bifrost and Asgard 2 (prior to the new product launches)... both b-stock (no 15-day return policy) ... just my luck :frowning2: They sound great using an old cd player with SPDIF digital output as source. :) :)

Change out the Bifrost op-amps??? er… no. but Unison USB module upgrade may be another story :)
 
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Sol looks awesome, I can't wait for it to be available with a European motor.

Jason, I'm curious why the counterweight on the tonearm is locked with a screw, as opposed to threading the counterweight and mounting so it can be adjusted via twisting? It seems like a much simpler way to get to the desired tracking force, as the video suggests it's quite difficult to make precise changes.
 
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Mike's actual words: "103R is seriously (expletive deleted)in good."

There are other options out there, but this is an excellent one.

Still waiting for effective mass details. Everyone is tied up at the show.
It's funny how some products / product lines stand the test of time...the Denon 103 has been a great value for a long time!
 
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Yeah, but... something about putting SparkoS in my Schiit sounds really intriguing, cause I like them both!


What do you consider to be the essential difference to providing amps with swappable tubes?

Mind you, I'm not interested in cheap IC opamps, the discrete ones seem to be where it's at. It's the solid state equivalent to tube rolling to me.

Is there some important difference about a discrete opamp in a DIP8 socket vs. the same circuitry directly on the PCB? Or is the point about fully discrete designs that there are better types of amplification than the "operational" one?

Also, congrats to everyone involved for shipping Sol! That's a major accomplishment. Pure mechanics will be too boring for you now, so I'm sure you'll work on a record cleaner next. What's Norse for Golden Shower again?
I admit that the video convinced me more than ever that vinyl is just way too finicky for me, but at the same time I like the idea of having a Sol to look at...

Edit: I'm impressed you stuck with the 5% restocking fee given the many parts, and the increased wear and tear on them. 10% or even 15% would not have surprised me.
I don't see any reason not to swap op-amps. I think this is also a valid experience.

The only difference I see is that due to the limited life of tubes swapping them is a necessity, so the amplifier will have a reasonable life before it needs to be fixed by a technician. Being able to try different brands and models of tubes is a welcomed side effect. For op-amps there is no need to, but if possible is also a welcomed feature.

My point is that considering the little I know about schiit, rolling op-amps is not something Jason is willing to do, specially condiering someone would need to open the amplifier, and he is really against that for safety reasons.
 
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So far, so good.

It'll depend highly on demand for Sol and other large products (Aegir and Vidar, which are both accelerating, and Ragnarok 2 and Yggdrasil, which are holding steady.) But I think we're good for a while. Of course, if Sol sales are 10x what we expect, we'll be looking to move Sol production to a different building in a big hurry. It's easiest to segment that product, since it's so unlike everything else.
You'll need the space for the Gjallarhorn assembly line! :deadhorse::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. Of course to simplify things I'd be cool with a DIY speaker as long as it included a knock down kit. Not sure how you feel about DIY post-Coaster, but I enjoyed building the Coaster amps, it was my intro to my DIY habit.

Never anything with socketed op-amps, sorry. That way lies madness. At least for us.

We do offer one amp product that uses op-amps: Fulla 2. But they're surface-mount.
Love the Dark Tower III reference! Dada chum dada che.
 
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Is the Sol lossless audio format or lossy....or hi-res?

A95A9ACD-1535-4776-9FA3-8D4C6CC5F53F.jpeg
 
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What do you consider to be the essential difference to providing amps with swappable tubes?
I know you were not asking me but it seems the obvious difference is tubes are generally external, protected from lethal voltages, and designed to be changed by a user. Opamps are not.
 
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I know you were not asking me but it seems the obvious difference is tubes are generally external, protected from lethal voltages, and designed to be changed by a user. Opamps are not.
Further, having built the Whammy (likely the DIY Amp referenced earlier); while it uses 8 pin DIP OPAMP sockets there are a limited number of opamps in the 8 pin PDIP form factor that can be used just for the very simple reason that they vary widely in which pins serve which I/O function. This is before you even begin to consider power tolerances and other more detailed specs.
Think about what happens if you stick the wrong octal tube in to an octal socket in your Freya, not pointing any fingers here. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Or mis-orientate (Army-ism) your loctal tube into your dual mono triode adapter in an unnamed hybrid amp. Pointing finger at self on this one, but hey I thought the whole point of the loctal was to prevent mis-insertion. But in my case no harm was done due to quick response and robust amp design.

If you release the magic smoke the audio joy goes away.
 

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