Schiit mani

Schiit Mani Review

This informative Schiit Mani review will offer all the essential details you’ll need to know about this phono stage.

Schiit released their latest budget phono stage, and this is the Schiit Mani. It’s aimed specifically for every budget and entry-level user looking into this new format called vinyl.

The Mani is basic, simple, and easy to use. Although it was built and designed in the US, the Mani comes with a China-made power supply (wall wart).

If this phono stage has somehow piqued your interest, then continue reading through our Schiit Mani review to learn more. But first, let’s check out its packaging and what’s included in the box.

Schiit Mani Packaging

This part of our Schiit Mani review focuses on the phono stage’s packaging. We will also check out what Schiit included in the box.

The Schiit Mani came in a very simple-looking white cardboard box that’s thick enough to protect it inside. You’ll only find “Mani” written in bold, black letters, and bar code of the product on the box.

Inside, you will find the Mani neatly and protectively kept in place. Other than the phono stage, you will also find rubber feet for the unit, a power adapter, and user manual.

Schiit Mani Review – Design and Functionality

This part of our Schiit Mani review is all about the functionality and design of the Mani.

What we love about the Mani is how well-built and designed it is. It has a somewhat frosted-like metal chassis and a small, compact form.

Because of its size, you won’t have to worry about it taking too much space on your desk or cabinet. It only measures 5 x 3.5 inches and weighs a pound, so you can easily carry it around.

You’ll find the Schiit logo on the front-left portion of the faceplate, plus a white light indicator on the right. There are RCA connectors located on the rear, as well as a thin metallic power switch that’s easy to flip.

Additionally, there are other switches set at the bottom of the Mani. These allow you to select between four gain settings and two loading options.

Main Functionality

The Mani enhances and boosts the performance ratio for versatile and small MC and MM phono preamps with no compromises. Its RIAA stage is entirely passive and is the most efficient and best way to do RIAA.

Mani utilises precision parts throughout, and it includes 0.5% thin-film resistors, and 2% tolerance film capacitors.

It comes with enhanced flexibility for both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. Generally, it’s the only phono preamp with an excellent price that offers two switchable and independent gain stages. And notably, it’s for four selectable stages of gain.

It utilises extremely low-noise gain stages for notably quiet performance. Mani has a linear power supply, no switches, plus an AC off-board wall wart for even lesser noise.

All in all, it sounds great. And even if you compare it to other similar products that cost a lot, we still think it’s better.

The next portion of our review will focus on the product’s key features that make it a unique phono preamp.

Key Features of the Schiit Mani

This time on our Schiit Mani review, we will focus on all the key features of this phono stage amp.

High Versatility, Accepts All Cartridges

A lot of low-cost phono preamps only work well with the standard MM (Moving Magnet) cartridges. Those phono preamps usually don’t have the gain necessary for MC (Moving Coil). Also, they don’t have the versatility for high-output MM cartridges.

With Mani, you can use any cartridge since it comes with four switchable gain modes. These include 30, 42, 47, and 59dB.

Precise and Quiet Passive RIAA Network

The RIAA Network of the Schiit Mani is completely implemented passively. With that, the feedback loops don’t have poles to deliver more consistent sonic performance.

Additionally, Mani has 0.5% thin-film resistors, extremely low-noise gain stages, and 2% film capacitors. As a result, it delivers impressive accuracy and exceptional performance, which is beyond its affordable price.

Built and Designed in California, USA

Schiit’s products, including the Mani, are all built and designed in California. Most of its production cost goes to companies in the United States for manufacturing. The boards, chassis, transformers, and other parts are all built in the US.

For Schiit’s PCBs, these are made in the US, while wall warts are made in China.

Guarantees Future Proofing

When buying anything technology-related, it’s best to consider future proof products. This also applies with your audio devices.

As mentioned, the Schiit Mani can work with both MM and MC cartridges. With that, you won’t have to purchase another phono stage even if you only use MM cartridges for now. Since it’s compatible with both types of cartridges, you don’t need another phono preamp when upgrading to MC.

Also, keep in mind that you get this versatility for an affordable price.

2-Year Limited Warranty and 15-Day Returns

Schiit covers the Mani with a limited warranty for two years from the date you’ve purchased it. The coverage includes its parts and labour, which is twice the coverage of most amplifiers in its price range.

If you aren’t satisfied with Mani’s performance, you can ship it back to Schiit within 15 days of receiving your amp. You’ll get your money back, minus 15% for restocking fees


Now, our Schiit Mani review will show you the different specifications of the Schiit Mani.

Decca Mode

On Decca Mode, it has Gain 1=L and Gain 2=L, while its overall gain is 30dB. THD is < 0.005% | A-weighted @ 1V RMS, with > 90dB, A-weighted | inputs shorted for SNR.

Its crosstalk is at -75dB, 20-20kHz, and comes with a 9mV for 300mV output for its sensitivity. The Mani’s overload margin is > 20dB.

Standard MM Mode

When on standard MM Mode, the Mani achieves Gain 1=L and Gain 2=H, while overall gain is 42dB. THD is < 0.008% | A-weighted @ 1V RMS while SNR is > 82dB | A-weighted with inputs shorted.

The Mani’s crosstalk in this mode is -75dB, 20-20kHz with a sensitivity of 2.3mV for a 300mV output. Its overall margin is > 20dB.

Low Output MM or High Output MM Mode

This mode has the Schiit Mani with Gain 1=H and Gain 2=L, and its max gain is 48dB.

Its THD is < 0.01% | A-weighted @ 1V RMS, with an SNR > 80dB | A-weighted, inputs shorted. Sensitivity is at 1.3mV for 300mV output while crosstalk is -75dB, 20-20kHz. The overload margin is > 20dB.

MC Mode

The MC Mode has a Gain 1=H and Gain 2=H, with a total of 59dB for its gain. Its SNR is > 70dB | A-weighted with inputs shorted, while the THD is < 0.03% | A-weighted, @ 1V RMS.

For the crosstalk, the Mani hits -75dB, 20-20kHz, with a sensitivity of 0.3mV for 300mV output. Its overload margin is at > 20dB.

Other Specifications

The Mani has selectable 47 ohms for its input impedance, and it’s typical for MC cartridges. Or, you can also have 47k ohms which is ideal for MM cartridges.

Its RIAA accuracy is +/- 0.2dB | 20-20kHz, while output impedance is 75 ohms. The Schiit Mani comes with a fully passive RIAA network topology having an ADA-4897 and AD-8066 gain stage. There are also film capacitors and thin-film resistors throughout.

Mani uses a wall wart power supply with a 16VAC transformer plus regulated +/- 5V rails, and consumes 4W of power.

For its measurement, the Mani is 5 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches and weighs 1 pound.

Hands on with the Schiit Mani

Now on our Schiit Mani review, we will get more hands-on with this phono stage. Here, we’ll see how well it performs, and if it’s as good as what Schiit claims it to be.

We tried Mani with a variety of musical genres, and voices were outstanding during the tests. Vocals were warm, deep and very natural sounding, everything was smooth and pleasing to the ears.

Other than boosting the voice, the Schiit Mani did an excellent job of producing a solid soundstage.

We didn’t experience any feedback in any of the audio we played, with low ends and solid rhythms which we loved. We were highly impressed by how well and detailed we could hear the area in which the music was recorded.

The Schiit Mani did a great job presenting soundstage and depth, thus, making us love it even more.

Percussion sounded snappy, crisp, and clear with a great amount of bass, leading to very natural sounding instrumentation.

We were pleasantly surprised by how good the audio sounded and being a very affordable product we highly recommend this to any Vinyl enthusiast.

Schiit Mani Review Summary

The Schiit Mani is a compact and user-friendly phono stage that offers excellent value for money. It has a well-constructed body, and it delivers exceptional audio quality. Also, we’ve proven in our tests that the Schiit Mani can reproduce a lot of good music.

One of the most impressive things about the Schiit Mani is its flexibility. It accepts both MC and MM cartridges, which is great for future use for those who don’t use both cartridges. Its versatility allows for tinkering and experimentation, which is excellent if you like doing this.

Overall, we were more than happy with the Schiit Mani. No matter what type of music we played, it delivered enhanced and high-quality audio. This simple, compact box offers all of these at an affordable price, which makes it easy to recommend.

To conclude our Schiit Mani review, we highly recommend this phono stage. If you want to have this product, it’s available for online purchase from the official website.


Gain 1 = Low, Gain 2 = Low (Decca Mode) Gain 30db

THD: <0.005%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS

SNR: >90dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted

Input Capacitance : 100Pf

Crosstalk: -75dB, 20-20kHz

Sensitivity: 9mV for 300mV output

Overload Margin: >20dB

Gain 1 = Low, Gain 2 = High (Standard MM Mode) Gain: 42dB

THD: <0.008%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS

SNR: >82dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted

Sensitivity: 2.3mV for 300mV output

Gain 1 = High, Gain 2 = Low (Low MM/High MC Mode) Gain: 48dB

THD: <0.01%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS

SNR: >80dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted

Sensitivity: 1.3mV for 300mV output

Gain 1 = High, Gain 2 = High (MC Mode) Gain: 59dB

THD: <0.03%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS

SNR: >70dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted

Sensitivity: 0.3mV for 300mV output

Input Impedance: Selectable 47 ohms or 47k ohms

RIAA Accuracy: +/- 0.2dB, 20 hz - 20 khz

Output Impedance: 75 ohms

Power Supply: a wall wart style 16VAC transformer

Power Consumption: 4W

Size: 12.7 x 8.9 x 3.18 cm

Weight: 0.45 Kgs

*All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1 or SR1+ Audio Analyser

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Gain 1 = L, Gain 2 = L (Decca Mode)
Gain: 30dB
THD: <0.005%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >90dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -75dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 9mV for 300mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB

Gain 1 = L, Gain 2 = H (Standard MM Mode) 
Gain: 42dB
THD: <0.008%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >82dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -75dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 2.3mV for 300mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB

Gain 1 = H, Gain 2 = L (Low Output MM/High Output MC Mode)
Gain: 48dB
THD: <0.01%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >80dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -75dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 1.3mV for 300mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB

Gain 1 = H, Gain 2 = H (MC Mode)
Gain: 59dB
THD: <0.03%, A-weighted, at 1V RMS
SNR: >70dB, A-weighted, inputs shorted
Crosstalk: -75dB, 20-20kHz
Sensitivity: 0.3mV for 300mV output
Overload Margin: >20dB

Input Impedance: Selectable 47 ohms (typical for MC cartridges) or 47k ohms (typical for MM cartridges)
RIAA Accuracy: +/- 0.2dB, 20-20kHz
Output Impedance: 75 ohms
Topology: Fully passive RIAA network with ADA4897 and AD8066 gain stages, thin-film resistors, and film capacitors throughout
Power Supply: “wall wart” style 14-16VAC transformer, regulated +/- 5V rails
Power Consumption: 4W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
Weight: 1 lb

*All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1+ Audio Analyzer

Review and Measurements of Schiit Mani Phono Stage

This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Mani Phono stage/pre-amplifier. I was prompted to purchase it a while back due to its popularity. The Mani costs US $129 plus shipping.

Naturally, the Schiit Mani adopts the look and feel of other Schiit desktop products:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier Audio Review.jpg

I was expecting gain and MM/MC switch but there is none. Instead, dip switches under the unit perform these functions.

A 16 volt, 500 milliamp AC external transformer powers the unit.

The back panel as you would expect:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier Back Panel Audio Review.jpg

There is a stout grounding terminals which I did have to use. Lowest noise/hum was achieved with my Audio Precision analyzer with its unbalanced inputs and outputs fully floating.

Back to the dip switches, there are two stages, each with a High Low setting. So overall, you have a choice of four gain settings. By experimentation, I used High on Gain 1 state and low on Gain 2 for Moving Magnet cartridge representation. And High+High on both stages for Moving Coil. Without any kind of standardization in the industry regarding gain, direct comparison of products becomes difficult as they differ from each other by a few dB.

Phono Stage Audio Measurements
Let's start with MM representation using gain setting of H/L and 5 millivolt input level we have standardized on:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier Audio Measurements.png

Invariably, when testing output levels below 1 volt, the measurements of THD+N only represent the "N" designation (noise). Distortion products are lost in the noise in the FFT spectrum above. Even mains peaks at 60 Hz and multiples doesn't rise the same level as the general noise from the device. We can verify by digitally teasing out the THD and N components separately:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD and Noise Ratios Audio Measurements.png

We see that the harmonic distortion at -92 dB is well below the noise level at -74 dB which naturally sets the SINAD.

When I started phono testing, I would opt for higher input levels (typically 8 millivolts) to garner and output greater than 1 volt. If we mess with the gain settings, we get that on Mani and the resulting SINAD goes up to 81 dB. So for better apple vs apple comparison, I used that value to compare to other phono stages tested:

Best Phono Preamplifiers Reviewed 2019.png

Performance falls in competent category now with no danger of unseating our best in class, Cambridge Audio Phono Duo.

One of the key measurements in phono stages is implementation of RIAA equalization as reflected in frequency response measurements:
Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier MM Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png

I like a very flat response from 100 Hz to 20 kHz and beyond. The rise in low frequencies is a bit unfortunate though as it will magnify rumble and other low frequency aberrations. Would have been nice to have this slope down, not up. Still, a good job compared to boutique products that have ups and downs in mid audio band.

Spectrum of noise with no signal shows what we already know:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier Noise Audio Measurements.png

The higher noise floor on Mani causes it to fall behind competitors in THD+N versus frequency:
Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier MC THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier MM THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png

Testing the headroom level using output levels gives us this:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD vs Output Level Audio Measurements.png

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD vs Output Level MM Audio Measurements.png

The unit can't go above 3.2 volts or so and hence it clips. We can do the same comparison against Cambridge Duo:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD vs Output Level Audio Measurements.png

So there is a large gap in performance.

Phono Stage Overload Margin Measurements
Pops and clicks are inevitable in LP playback. Given their impulsive and high power nature (relative to music) a measurement called overload margin can tell us what happens to distortion profile of the phono stage should such a thing occur. The goal is that the phono stage will amplify it as well as it does any signal and won't go into hard clipping that causes distortion to add up to the energy of the pop/click, making it sound worse than it already is.

Running the same test as above but this time, plotting the input level to the unit allows us to compute the overload margin:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD vs  Input Level and Overload Margin Audio Measurements.png

Overload margin is always in dB which means it needs a reference voltage. For that, I have used 5 millivolts for MM and 0.8 millivolts for MC as I have standardized in the rest of the measurements. Using those values, we get overload margins of 14 down to 12 dB for MM and MC respectively. Marketing department can use lower reference voltages and get any number they like. :)

The above test is at 1 kHz but clicks and pops occur at higher frequencies so I tested for that effect:

Schiit Mani Phono Preamplifier THD vs  Input Level and Frequency Margin Audio Measurements.png

Up to 10 kHz, the knee in the curve remains around the same input voltage of 25 millivolts or so. Once we go to 15 and 20 kHz, distortion rises above noise floor much earlier making it hard to see any clear step function in distortion. Eyeballing values anyway, I am not seeing more than 1 dB or so in overload margin loss.

This is rather low overload margin so there is value in getting other products with better measurements in this regard. But be sure to seek out proper parameters per above instead of trusting what the manufacturer has published.

I am also working on a test to see whether the phono stage stays in clipped/overflow mode even after the click/pop has gone away. The preliminary results (not shown) indicates that the Schiit Mini happily recovers from the overload without any hangover. Once I have more confidence in the testing, I will start publishing those results.

The Schiit Mani seems to be competently designed. I find no clear flaws in it. For sure, it sets a lower target then the Cambridge Duo and gets there. If you can save up US $299, my strong recommendation is for the Duo but otherwise the Mani does the job for a budget phono stage.

I am going to put the Schiit Mani on my recommended list.

As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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