"I'm completely Fulla Schiit" and "This Schiit is bananas" are competing banner ads that immediately greet the eye when you visit the website of the popular, new(ish) audio equipment brand.
The company is called Schiit Audio, if you didn't know, and they are very into their sophomoric wordplay. Millennials ... amiright?
Just kidding, millennials. Actually, the founders of this modern brand could be parents of millennials — owners Mike Moffat and Jason Stoddard have huge pedigrees in the audiophile industry and are bringing actual innovations to the field, offering incredibly useful products and keeping prices eye-poppingly low.
This is the third or so column in a series about upgrading a stereo system, not going crazy, but making a solid first step upward from the entry level.
In audio, entry level often means a product that has several products built into one. A typical receiver has inside of it an amplifier, a preamplifier, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), a radio tuner, a Bluetooth tuner and more.
When you move up from entry level in a home sound system, typically that means you're moving from all-in-one to separates. Why does it make a difference to separate the equipment?
First of all, when all of that technology for audio isn't crammed into one box, we benefit from the separation by hearing less interference-caused noise in the system. Second, when these functions have their own boxes and individual power supplies, there is a lower potential for "crosstalk," which is the left channel signal very slightly bleeding into the right.
But perhaps the biggest reason "separates" are the next step up for most people is ultimately a lack of compromises. If one of those features needs something special, a company that makes the all-in-one box will have to weigh that need against the other features in the box, and generally with those types of companies, cheap cost is the main priority. More sonic compromises are made in receivers and AVRs than any separate device, period.
So this effort to take a step in a positive direction with one's home sound system is going to lead you to learn about separates — power amplifiers, preamplifiers, DACs, Phono preamplifiers, CD transports and more.
Whether or not you smell the Schiit I'm stepping in, if you're eagerly following this upgrade series, I highly recommend you check them out. Just looking at their mountain of different separates available will get you Googling and learning about these functions. As I said in the first column of this series, the name of the game is "knowledge," and there is a lot to learn.
Want a passive preamplifier? Schiit's got one for $49. Looking for an active, fully balanced tube hybrid preamp? Schiit's got two: one at $399 and one at $649, both with a remote control.
The cleverness of what Schiit does is found in their offerings. Until recently, fully balanced preamplifiers couldn't be touched for less than $1,000. Until they offered it, I couldn't find a reasonably priced ADC (analog-to-digital converter) using AKM chips for less than $800. Schiit's is $299.
They have their Schiit together. Get yours together by checking them out, and stay tuned for next week when we start talking about tubes.