Primary tabs

U-Turn Pluto Versus Schiit Mani: Which Sounds Better (level matched)?

Schiit's $129 phono preamp includes both MM and MC capabilities. U-Turn's $89 phono preamp is MM-only. Analogplanet's reviews of both of these inexpensive, made in the USA phono preamplifiers will soon be posted but in the meantime, here are two files: "File A" and "File B".

Files "A" and "B" were both made using Onkyo's CP-1050 Direct Drive turntable fitted with a Shure M97xE cartridge ( it comes with an Audio Technica AT 3600) with the output digitized using a Lynx HiLo A/D, D/A converter.

Both files were AudioLeak normalized to -.1dB. The music is an approximately one minute excerpt of "My Return" from The Twilight Hour's Stereo Night LP reviewed here a few years ago.

Listen to both and then choose your preference. Or, if you think they sound sufficiently similar or identical, choose "sound the same or too close to call".

File "A"

File "B"

For more on the U-Turn Pluto go here

For more on the Schiit Mani (currently out of stock) go here

U-Turn Pluto Versus Schiit Mani: Which Sounds Better (level matched)?

COMMENTS
Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

...File A sounded more bloated on the bottom end with too recessed a midrange.

audiophile5000's picture

A had a shrillness to the vocals. Thinner sounding. B did not irritate as much as A. Needed at least four times to compare to really hear the differences though, but they are there.

wullymc's picture

Definitely! File A sounded bloated. Listen to the bass between 25 sec and 30sec. Fun time listening and comparing.....also sounds like a good song!

Jay_S's picture

File B was punchier and the vocals seemed to be more focused. (I thought I heard about a half second of hum at the beginning of the file.)

abelb1's picture

I thought B was a bit too forward in the mids and perhaps lacking in a bit of detail. I haven't heard the recording before for reference but I thought A brought out more texture in the vocals and guitar. I wasn't expecting them to sound as different as they did!

Superfuzz's picture

This is meant to be information, not criticism...
The files were not both normalized to -.1db.... File A has a peak of -1.6, which is 1.5 db lower. But peak normalization isn't the way to level match files anyway. They should be RMS normalized, that is, make sure the RMS (overall average level) is the same between the two tracks.
Here File B has an RMS level that's about 2db louder than A.

Tests like this will let us decide which phono preamp we prefer, used with the turntable and cartridge you used. It's all about synergy, synergy between all of the components. So while I prefer File B (it sounds much more 'refined' to me) here, If my turntable and cartridge were used, it's possible I might prefer A.

firedog55's picture

But they didn't sound volume matched to me.
Both versions sounded "analog-like" to me - not digitally harsh. So the Lynx did a good job.
I liked "A" till I heard "B". "B", for me, was clearer, cleaner, more precise. "A" a bit bloated or fuzzy in comparison. I did perceive B as significantly louder, though. If they really were level matched, then the only explanation is that B was so much clearer and cleaner that I perceived it to be louder.

Michael Fremer's picture
Honestly, I don't know what to make of the level differential in the comments. Both files were run into the audioleak program and supposedly normalized to "-1dB Peak, Unweighted and A-Weighted RMS Leq". Both files have again been run through Audioleak and normalized to "-1dB Peak, Unweighted and A-Weighted RMS Leq". If anyone has voted now gets a different result please post that in the comments here ASAP
Garven's picture

I can't listen to the samples yet as I'm at work (on lunch). However, I agree with SuperFuzz, peak normalizing is not the way to go. A better approach would be to find software that sets a target normalization level based on RMS, or even better an equal loudness countour such as Replaygain. Then you'll have no possible affect of perceived loudness on the comparison and be able to assess exactly what each phono stage is doing to the sound.

AnalogJ's picture

I found A to be more musical, more dynamic, with much more clarity. Funny that some are hearing the opposite. I do hear a bit of a slight recession in the midrange to A, but I find B to be rhythmically soft or lazy compared to A, with A much more grippy. The soundstage is also larger with A.

Erik_Rohr's picture

I found A cleaner (but not thread bare) and B more bloated.

soundman45's picture

Yeah File B is defiantly perceived as louder than file A. It might be because of the normalization used or due to the frequency content. I actually would try to use your ears to match overall volume level. Although ones ears may not hear the highest frequencies due to age, it usually doesn't matter much when matching overall volume level. It's not as inaccurate as one may think.

Michael Fremer's picture
Though the two files are now peak level "normalized" File "B" is .45dB louder RMS.... so while this test will remain as-is, going forward all files like these will be RMS level "normalized" so that overall loudness will be equal.....
AnalogJ's picture

As of 7/8 at 11pm, B is now a higher volume than A, rendering the comparison off to my ears.

Mark UK's picture

I thought File A sounde very muddled (in fact a complete mess) from about 45 seconds on where the music became more 'dense'.

But of course they BOTH sound poor, having been 'digitized' :)

BTW - I see the Mani is 'out of stock'. Is Schitt waiting for further deliveries from China for this 'American made' product? If they actually made it themselves they could just make some more. Or am I being too cynical?

jjgr's picture

You might want to check out "Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up" to get a sense of what it takes to "just make some more". It's an entertaining an informative view into the world of a small audio co. start-up.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/701900/schiit-happened-the-story-of-the-worlds-...

Mark UK's picture

Entertaining yes. Informative maybe. It's typical of small startups, in or outside the audio business. Except that few are willing to write them and it's honest of Schiit to do so. Gives them publicity, of course.

Cynical? Yes. So many 'Made in USA' things turn out not to be. Even my 'Limited edition Bicentennial Harley Davidson' purchased at the time, covere4d with Stars and Stripes, Statue of Liberty, Bald Eagle, etc had 'Made in Taiwan' written on the underside of the fuel tank, wheels from Australia, electrics from Japan, pistons from Germany.

Sadly, once renowned for engineering, the US rarely makes things anymore. And as soon as I see 'out of stock' my suspicions, justified or not, are aroused. And of course they are NOT a startup anymore, but are small. Just get the guys to do overtime for a few weekends. THE WORST THING IN BUSINESS IS TO ADVERTISE WHAT YOU CAN'T SUPPLY. See 'Business for beginners 101'.

It's not just them. My Ducati motorcycle is now made by a Volkswagen owned organisation, as is my 'Italian' car. The engine is made in Italy, but that's about all. Even its Gandini-designed aluminium body is made alongside the Audi A8 body in Germany.

BillK's picture

A little bloated on the bottom end, sounding somewhat like what much mid-fi equipment does to make things sound "better."

"More bass" but it's wasn't really in the original recording.

my new username's picture

File "A" is just too gritty in the lower treble, and sounds very "hifi" and a-musical. Zillions of cheap headphones and speakers will exacerbate this zippiness and lead listeners to fatigue in short order.

"B" is smoother with no concurrent loss of definition. If "B" were muffled or rolled off up top I might prefer to put up with "A" but, it's not necessary here.

Thanks for posting these and limiting it to about a minute, which is also about all I ever enjoy hearing the M97xE's murkiness and hazy presentation. I'd enjoy hearing these two phono pre's with something else such as the AT95 or even the fancy version from LP Gear (w/Shibata)

seeforth's picture

Honestly they both sound bad but B less so. Thought you would use the HRT Linestreamer ADC as it did better in your recent shootout and is smoother (and at $350 a lot cheaper). We need to use the Peter principal here (kick these preamps upstairs until they reach their level of little return as I think we are listening to the turntable/tonearm/cartridge shortcomings and not giving the preamps a fair chance). I would suggest a Project Debut carbon DC Esprit with Ortofon 2M Blue for file C and D followed by one of your favourites from the $1500 to $2,000 set, ie Rega Planar 6 for E and F. I'll wait for your analysis and hope to see personal comparos based on your vast knowledge. P.S when is someone in the world going to review the new ProJect RPM3 carbon ($899)?

soundman45's picture

As a control measure I would like to hear a third comparison to a loss-less digital file just to hear what the overall frequency response is in respect to the mid range and how it sits in the track. Obviously file A compared to B is subdued in that area.

Michael Fremer's picture
96/24 isn't sufficient?
Superfuzz's picture

I thought his comment was strange too at first.... but I think what he means is, upload a lossless (flac, apple lossless, etc) track ripped from a CD. But the CD would have to have a comparable mastering... hopefully done by the same person who did this vinyl. Most of us are unfamiliar with this record and so we don't really know what it's "supposed" to sound like...

BTW, posting comments here is almost impossible lately... I type a post, click "save", then get a page prompting to enter a captcha type code, which I do... but it doesn't go though... I've typed in the correct code and clicked "save" about 20 times so far now... I'll keep trying.

Jim Tavegia's picture

Listened through my Steinberg UR-22 24/192 usb interface with Grado 80s with the large ear pads. I thought A was more natural. I know the slightly added bass is from the Grados which I know too well compared to my AKG K701s and K721mk2s . Once you know the colorations of your cans you can better judge.

rl1856's picture

"A" Vocals in B sound nasal and overall timbre seems lower than in A. In comparison, "A" has more clarity and better balance. Sonically they are close, but 1 or 2 listens in quick succession makes the differences quite clear.

OldschoolE's picture

It so happens that as hard as it is to believe, Schiit products are really made in the US. I have seen the evidence! So unless I was dreaming or hallucinating (highly unlikely), things are as they say they are.

Unfortunately, my PC will not play the sample files as they are in aiff format which windows does not recognize. Wish I had a mac, but you know how it is.

essmeier's picture

There are a number of applications that will play aiff files in Windows, including VLC, which you can download at videolan.org.

Charlie

PS "I have Windows" isn't a valid excuse.

OldschoolE's picture

Thanks for the tip. By the way, when it automatically wants to use the windows player and you don't know where it's downloading "having windows" becomes a valid excuse, I mean we are talking windows. I was finally able to get the files to play by loading them into VLC, thanks.

JohnnyCanuck's picture

Yes, thanks for the tip. VLC did the trick.

Keen Observer's picture

Both foobar2000 and VLC have no trouble playing aiff files on my PC.

Pages

X