Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:22 PM Post #87,361 of 104,720


100+ Head-Fier
Apr 18, 2021
I was joking of course. :beerchug: I was taught early on to think outside the box and some of my best employees have done that. I was also taught to listen to any idea no matter how absurd it might sound at first since it might lead you to think in another direction. I am to the point of winding down my career and just doing a bit of consulting in retirement but it is always fun for me to look back at what I learned along the way.
I actually wish someone had taught me early on to embrace my weird. I think I would have been able to go in different directions earlier in life but instead it took years and years for me to realize this on my own. In the end I ended up addicted to rock climbing where things can get really weird and you end up betting your life against your skills. Since I am still here and mostly unbroken I guess I won those bets. Oh, and I am an audiophile and flyfishingphile at the same time so I guess that makes me really weird. And I don't like scotch so that pushes me even further offline. And PROUD of it!
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:31 PM Post #87,362 of 104,720


Previously MOT: Cables For Less
Jun 1, 2016
I actually wish someone had taught me early on to embrace my weird. I think I would have been able to go in different directions earlier in life but instead it took years and years for me to realize this on my own. In the end I ended up addicted to rock climbing where things can get really weird and you end up betting your life against your skills. Since I am still here and mostly unbroken I guess I won those bets. Oh, and I am an audiophile and flyfishingphile at the same time so I guess that makes me really weird. And I don't like scotch so that pushes me even further offline. And PROUD of it!
Scotch is not for everyone, especially my wife. :ksc75smile: After Xmas I am taking an hiatus from strong drink, I am sticking to water and maybe a favorite glass of French or Italian wine with a nice dinner. I was given a bottle of 28% abv beer that will have to wait as well.

Speaking of climbing, I recently watched this and totally enjoyed it.
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:34 PM Post #87,364 of 104,720


100+ Head-Fier
Feb 28, 2005
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:39 PM Post #87,365 of 104,720

Roy G. Biv

1000+ Head-Fier
Sep 30, 2017
Fort Worth, TX
You have clearly never suffered the indignity of a radio call "Call the tower on a landline"............
One of the things no pilot wants to hear from ATC is "I have a number for you to call, let me know when you're ready to copy."
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:48 PM Post #87,366 of 104,720


100+ Head-Fier
May 6, 2010
Last night Roon Radio played a track that is seriously breaking my brain.
The soundstage moved so far back towards the listening position and left/right that I thought that I had surround sound. I don't.
Anyone want to tell me what's going on here? Start with the title track.

For those without Qobuz the album is-


I listened to it on Apple Music and it sounded fairly normal to me. It had that Muddy Waters style of simplicity and clarity. Soundstage wise she appeared dead center with her guitar and just a little behind my speakers. On track 2 her vocals sometimes seemed to come forward towards the listening position but it sounded like maybe she was just getting closer to the microphone. Other than that I didn’t notice anything weird.
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:54 PM Post #87,367 of 104,720


Headphoneus Supremus
May 1, 2016
Eastern PA
I was noticing that! Care to elaborate? What the heck is that on the back of the chair, some sort of spinal tap acceleration apparatus?
That is a spinal fitting apparatus. This chair has 5 or 6 different adjustments but the key one is the spinal column back support. Each section articulates independently of the others. There is one lever to adjust that column. In the down position each section is free to move, I sit back and let the individual sections conform to my backs contour, pull the lever up and they lock in that position providing the same supportive fit each time i sit down.
Jan 12, 2022 at 1:56 PM Post #87,368 of 104,720


Headphoneus Supremus
May 1, 2016
Eastern PA
Wait, they're also spiky?!


Note to self: always stay hydrated
Jan 12, 2022 at 2:00 PM Post #87,369 of 104,720


Previously MOT: Cables For Less
Jun 1, 2016
Now look up diameter of ureters and urethra, the most pain for me came as the stone went from from a kidney to the bladder, for good reason. I have lived through a heart attack and this is much worse.
Jan 12, 2022 at 2:06 PM Post #87,370 of 104,720


Headphoneus Supremus
Dec 14, 2010
2022, Chapter 1
Everyone Is Someone Else’s Weirdo

On top of the Weirdest. Year. Ever. chapter, I’m going to pile on.

Because I think this is an important point. Maybe the most important point ever.

I know, I know. You cross your arms. You harrumph and squirm. But bear with me a while. Ask yourself: How much stupidity has happened because “I wanted to fit in,” or “all our competitors are doing it?”

Answer: maybe all of it.

I mean, come on. What is the logical endpoint of “everyone else is doing it” other than the psychosis of Mutually Assured Destruction and Brave New World dystopias?

Harsh? Sure.

But come on, ya gotta ask:

If Apple hadn’t gone all-screen, would we still be using frigging tic-tac keyboards?
If Tesla never happened, would we have a flood of electric cars from, like, everyone, now?
If SpaceX hadn’t decided to reuse rockets, would we still be dropping them in the ocean?

Yeah. Only three examples, two from controversial companies, from one controversial person. But there are thousands of other examples, from Edison to the Wright Brothers to Amazon to…heck, take one tiny example that you may have forgotten about:

If hadn’t come up with the idea of selling search placements, would Google still be a tiny niche technical search engine (they acquired them wayyyy back in the Web 1.0 days.)

Here’s the thing: most companies creep along, terrified of getting out of their lane, doing something different, and really shaking things up. And, I’d argue, this is because people don’t realize that it’s okay they are weird, because weird is relative, and everyone is someone else’s weirdo.

“Wait, what?” you’re probably asking. “What the heck are you saying? And what is this chapter about anyway?”

Okay. Fine. Let me distill:

People who aren’t comfortable with themselves don’t realize their unique capabilities—which can hamstring entire industries.


I know.

I’m crazy.

But bear with me for a while. Will you concede that people really aren’t taught to be resilient, confident, and independent? At least in general? At least during their formative years? Will you concede that there are hard lessons—from derisive laughter to split lips—that can be part of “not fitting in?”

Will you concede now that it could be worse, now that we have social media? Will you accept social media can mean people are exposed to much, much more criticism than ever before? More hateful attacks from peers content to hide behind a keyboard, passive-aggressive bullies made brave by anonymity?

And will you concede there may be ramifications later in life?

I mean, if people aren’t comfortable with themselves—if they haven’t internalized “Everyone is someone else’s weirdo,” then this can be hugely damaging. First, in pressure to conform, to not question, to accept things as they are. Second, in a reluctance to embrace what is truly unique about themselves, to discover what they can truly achieve. And third, an extension of this conformity, this acceptance of the status quo, to everything they do…

…which is why nobody ever expected “no keyboard” as an iPhone direction.



So what is all this blather?

Consider this a business chapter. Or a philosophy chapter. Or a bit of both.

If it makes you feel better about yourself, that’s great. If it convinces you to launch a crazy little company that makes you happy, that’s even better. If it is the final kick in the ass you need to do something that literally changes the world, send me a thank-you card when you’re the world’s first trillionaire.

Weird is Relative

First, let me try to convince you the title here is absolute truth.

This really shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, pretty much all of us belong to a strange subset of humanity known as “people who obsess about sound, and are willing to spend a decent chunk of coin to achieve aural happiness.”

To be clear: this is weird. This is VERY weird. I mean, most of humanity would rather be watching the sportsball on their 86” TV, right?

But watch what happens:

What sportsball?
What team?
What TV brand?
What display technology?
Maybe fishing would be better?
Or golf?
Or spreadsheets?
Or designing a new logo?
Or coming up with a new menu?
Or architecting the house the TV is in?
Or **** it, just give me a dive boat?
Or nah, I’m going to space…

See what I did here?

I started with a specific, somewhat bizarre niche (audiophilia) and countered with an expected generic (sitting on couch watching sportsball on big TV).

But as soon as you start drilling down into the generic, it gets highly specific.

What kind of sports are you watching? What team do you root for? What TV do you watch it on? What display technology? These all have their own fandom, their own niches, their own weird.

Drill down more into who’s sitting in front of that TV, and things Balkanize even more.

I mean, you have people who love fishing. There are people who are as into fishing as we are into audio gear. Heck, there are people more into fishing than we are into audio gear. Well, most of us.

To the audio dood, the fisherperson is weird.

To the fisherperson, the audio dood is weird.

Both are fine.

Here’s why: just in the above-mentioned example, you also have people who love spreadsheets (maybe accountants, maybe someone else), designers and marketers, chefs, architects, crazy guys who live on boats or want to go to space, and more, depending on your interpretation.

Every single one of these groups is strange to the other. Weird. Sometimes seemingly unknowable.

I mean, our accountant clearly gets great pleasure in dealing with money and numbers. I’d shoot myself in the head. Nearly literally.

I’m really happy there are accountants in the world, though!

I’m also really happy there are fishermen (fisherpersons?), designers, engineers (who don’t do audio), doctors, dive boat captains, chefs, crazy space-obsessed peeps, and more. They may be weeeeeiiirddddd, but I can’t do it all!

Without weird, the world would be a very boring place.


Wait a sec.

I’m hearing it. Someone is saying, “Well, it seems everything is actually fine, despite Stoddard’s dire description. Seems like we’re all doing our own weird thing without any problems.”

Ah. No.

Sure, there are many specialties. And many different kinds of people. But you have to ask yourself:

How many of these people decided to do what they love…only after fighting with their own internal prejudices against their “inner weird?”
How many of these people are just copying what everyone else does in their field?

Seriously. As far as resisting the call of your weird, come on—how old were you when you realized that certain fields weren’t exactly, ah, what was expected? How did this influence your career choice?

I mean, hey, I went into engineering mainly because I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to be a doctor (but was convinced this was stupid because of the long educational track), and then I wanted to be a photographer (but was convinced this was stupid because I was “smarter than that”), and I wanted to be a writer (but I knew this was stupid if I wanted to ever live without a patron). In the end, it worked out well, but only after a 20-year detour into marketing, and only in a field that many engineers consider “boring” and “solved”: audio.

And it took a 20-year detour to realize: holy moly, most of what we were doing in marketing was either:
  • Boring
  • Wrong
  • Ineffective
And it took a global economic crisis for me to get off my ass and do an audio company.

And it took me looking at this as a “fun,” “hobby” company to embrace my weird and create a company with an offensive name and oddball branding that rejected pretty much everything about high-end audio: the high prices, the dealer network, the stuffy attitude.

So yeah, 20 years…crisis deconditioning…and finally I learn to say, “Weird is…fantastic!”

Onwards and upwards.

Weirdness is Power

“So how do I get a taste of this fantastic weird stuff?” you might ask.

First, remember the TV example above: as soon as you start drilling down into any seemingly monolithic group, there’s gonna be infinite weird. The dood who is all about the Steelers may think the guy who’s hella into fishin’ is totally bizarre, and the gal who’s forging her own knives will think the woman who works in advertising is from another world.

(And that’s before you get to their other hobbies!)

So, first point: any digging uncovers infinite weird. That includes you.

Also, remember that the world isn’t going to work—at all—if everyone sits home and watches TV. Or if everyone is an accountant. Or if everyone fishes. Or designs buildings. Or loves audio. Or is totally into coffee. All of these people may think the next is “weird.” But all the variations of weird are necessary.

Point two: weird is interconnected. And that’s what makes the world work.

“But I know a biker who makes delicate chocolate bon-bons and sells them as Bob’s Fat-Fingered Bon-Bons out of a food truck in Sinton,” you say. “Isn’t that a bit too far out on the weird axis?”

Reality check: if fat-fingered Bob’s bon-bons makes him a living and he’s happy doing it, then it ain’t too far out on the weird axis. In fact, it’s perfectly fine. It also proves the next point. Because would you have remembered Le Chene French Chocolatier in Santa Barbara?

Which brings me to my next point…

Point three: weird is memorable. And memorability is valuable.

Doubt it? Nope. Memorability is arguably the key component of branding, which companies spend millions of dollars on. Tens of millions. Hundreds of millions. Hell, over decades, billions have been pumped down the rabbit hole of non-memorable brands like Tide and Toyota to raise them to the ubiquitous standard-bearers they are now.

Here’s the thing: start with something memorable, like Fat-Fingered Fred’s Bon-Bons or Schiit, and the investment goes wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy down.

“But you’re limiting your audience,” someone cries.

And they’re right. Absolutely. More people are going to go with the boring option. Because you’re taught that it is the safe choice, the sane choice, the right choice, the middle path (in other words, the thing that ain’t weird, even though we are all weird, and even though lots of people choosing the same old thing is profoundly weird in itself, but we can’t see it, because that’s How It Is).

But maybe it’s time for it NOT to be How It Is. And maybe you aren’t aiming to make your company an eye-to-eye competitor to a global behemoth. And maybe that’s the absolute right thing to do—as I said, way back in one of the very first chapters of this book, building a global brand from nothing is an activity reserved for enterprises with stunningly deep pockets, the ability to look at advertising and marketing spends in the billions of dollars and not flinch.

No start-up, no matter how much VC they get, can match that. Period.

Stop. Go back. Read that. Trying to create a new generic giant is stupid. Full stop.

So…standing toe-to-toe with the Big Boring shouldn’t be your goal. Choose a niche, weird it up, and own it. The weirder, the more memorable. The more memorable, the less you have to spend on branding.

Point four: weird can be a superpower.

A superpower? Yes.

Want to have a company that’s immune to market conditions and doesn’t have to worry about competitors? Then you want to be Zamboni, not Ford.

Wonder why companies like Maglite seem to hang around and never go away? Because they’ve embraced their weird, found their niche, and owned it. They realized the real game isn’t trying to play on the giants’ field (where the giant will always win)—they changed the rules.

“Well, what if you’re too weird?” you ask. “Isn’t being ‘too far out there’ a problem?”

Sure. It can be.

But if you’re awake—if you pay attention—if you double down on what’s working and tweak or eliminate what’s not—then you’re going to be fine.

Remember, the recent phenomenon of betting big with one giant shot, trying to create a unicorn with tons of money shoved into a possibly-promising field, is just that—a recent phenomenon. Most successful companies got that way by doing something within reach, seeing if it works, and doing more if it’s a winner. Most did not leap fully-formed onto the national stage, propelled by VC and IPOs to feed a marketing maw to reach the masses.

Most successful companies were, ya know, a little (or a lot) weird. They tried some things, learned some lessons, adjusted, and grew.

Make weird your superpower. Who knows where it might go? Maybe far enough to change the world.

Point five: In a world where everyone is weird, it’s all fine.

I know, I know, being weird is hard. You remembering being laughed at. You remember being the last-one-picked. You remember being cut out of the “in” crowd.

But go back to Joe Sportsball watching TV. Start breaking it down, and there’s infinite Balkanization everywhere.

But there are also infinite opportunities to connect. Heck, maybe you even like the same particular display technology. Or maybe it’s nothing to do with that, but your job or your family or your town or your hobbies that connect you.

Bottom line, you can find your tribe easier than ever before. And, if you want to start a business, it’s easier than ever to connect to the people who fit with your own personal oddities. I mean, hey, look at Schiit.

Everybody is weird in many ways. And that’s all right.

So, Again: What?

Some of you are still wondering, “Okay, what’s the point? What do I do with this chapter?”

Great question.

Unfortunately, I may not be able to answer it. Not completely. Not with total clarity. I mean, this is (more than ususal) a stream of consciousness, an indication of what my brain is chewing on. It’s a reflection of my desire to see more weird crazy funky startups out there, rather than the same few generic brands stuffed down my search results by the big e-commerce name. It’s also me saying, “it really is fine, be weird, do the strange, be unexpected and bizarre,” to everyone out there, because I am truly happy there are people who love doing accounting and brain surgery and painting and underwater welding and performance art. Well, maybe the last one is a bit weird, but I’m willing to be convinced.

It’s also a reflection of my own prejudices, my “weird filter.” I like weird things. I like weird things with a story. I like weird things that are wayyyy out there.

An example: last weekend, Rina and I went exploring. She wanted to look at antiques (and ended up picking up a 1868 single-thread sewing machine—a technology she didn’t even know existed—that worked…there you go, we are both weird). Being not so interested in antiques, I checked Google Maps for breweries. Nada. Sigh. But there was a distillery. A very, very weird distillery. Called “Justice Label,” the graphic design on their products was apparently done by a talented-but-slightly-insane 4-year-old. They made moonshine (flavored!), whiskey, vodka and rum. They built their own stills. Yes, stills. They held classes on how to start up a distillery, including all the federal and licensing stuff, because “competition is what made the country great.” They sold gift baskets that included cans of Sprite. Their names were literally Jason Justice and Jack Justice. To be totally clear, these people are completely insane. This was great. I had to go. I had to go so bad that I waited, in the rain, for someone to come in a half hour after their scheduled opening time. And I bought a bunch of stuff (their 17x distilled vodka, made from local corn, is amazing). I love this crazy company (which also does a pink unicorn-themed candy-flavored vodka, because you know, why not—but, full disclosure, I didn’t try this one, because, yeah, sometimes it can get a bit too weird). I want to see more stuff like this!

This chapter is also a bit of an indication on where we’re going as a company. Last year, we went nuts with the Loki Max, a completely insane product that I never really expected to perfect. This year, we’re getting ready to lob a couple of crazy ideas at people, much weirder ideas than an remote-controlled equalizer.

These could be the best ideas we’ve ever had, or they could fall flat.

Now, don’t panic: even if both fall flat, it’s not a big deal, because we really, really believe the try-and-tweak-don’t-bet-the-farm model. If both go nowhere, it’s a bug on the windscreen, and we move on.

But if even one of them strikes a chord…yikes.

Again, we’ll see. We may be crazy. And the next chapter will likely be an introduction of a completely sane, top-of-class, pretty much irreproachable product. Nothing crazy at all. Almost boring, if it wasn’t so exciting in absolute, stark, black-and-white, non-weird terms.

But I blather on.

Let’s leave it at this: everyone is weird, but not everyone realizes weird is their superpower. And if you can harness your weird, you may end up with an enterprise that changes the world.

Go weird!
@Jason Stoddard


Your in a class all by yourself, maybe Mike and you take turns driving the "Schiit" bus of on various roads of non-complancy!
Its awesome that your having FUN.
Trying stuff that others might just "yawn" at and move on to more gentile things...

Life is too short!

Enjoy watching your ride thru life and hope we all can get to share in the journey!!

All the best!
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Jan 12, 2022 at 2:20 PM Post #87,372 of 104,720
Mar 20, 2010

Just wanted to come in and say that I recently received the Asgard 3 and ESS9028 add in DAC, and I LOVE how sweet and full it sounds. I bought the Asgard 3 as a bedside/secondary setup with a long arse USB cable going from my bedside to the PC setup (underneath a throw rug because hey).

The DAC card has exactly the same volume ouput as the Modius going into the Asgard via RCA, so it seems there's no longer a low output issue like on the older cards.

In direct comparison to my Jotunheim 2, I have to say I do really like the warmer, almost tubey sound of the Asgard 3. It really fills out bass notes. I could see an argument that the Jot 2 definitely sounds more articulate, tighter, and more refined (no question about it), but there's something about the rotundness of the Asgard 3's sound that is more pleasant to me. Audio is subjective, and I've come to terms that sometimes I like the technically inferior. The Asgard 3 might actually be my fave piece of Schiit sound, if mainly because it definitely imparts its own flavor, compared to literally all other linear sounding SS amps I've heard.
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Jan 12, 2022 at 2:32 PM Post #87,373 of 104,720


Headphoneus Supremus
Jan 11, 2018
So 2 new unusual pieces of gear coming.
Let's see what those will be...

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