Schiit Sol Turntable Review - Episodic.

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by purr1n, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Why does video have to be so complicated? Stuff like "I just want this to play on a phone" should be easy, right? Should be.

    Plainly, you are way ahead. Your video was as well made and edited as any that I have seen on Youtube.

    It was really informative about all the stuff I've vaguely heard of, here in the land of lesser turntables, and I watched it through to the end even though I'm not in the market for a new TT.

    And hey, that's a totally amazing workshop/den you have there!
     
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  2. scblock

    scblock Acquaintance

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    I agree with most of what purr1n posted to start this thread off, especially about setup.

    When I bought the Sol I was moving from an inexpensive U-Turn Orbit table (that started an expensive vinyl habit). I got the Sol because I was getting somewhat neurotic about not being able to adjust the table beyond VTF. The U-Turn table is easy plug and play and sounds good, but you don't get to adjust the anti-skate force or azimuth or VTA. Then I ended up just as neurotic about having to adjust all those things and constantly wondering if I got it right. I'd recommend knowing your tolerance for fiddling with your gear vs. listening to music going in, when this goes back on sale.

    Initial setup was a pain in the butt, and I would definitely recommend watching Schiit's video first. I had to raise the platter height, and then adjust the pulley on the motor, height of the arm, and height of the queing mechanism to get everything working well.

    I then spent way more time than I ever would have expected dialing the arm in. I had the same issues as others with the design of the headshell limiting my ability to adjust cartridge alignment. Although the slots were long enough to allow adjustment, I had to jam the tonearm wires right up against the back of the headshell. I eventually ended up with something acceptable but not perfect. I adjusted VTA by eye and ear, and azimuth by eye. But I keep fiddling with both.

    Honestly I never expected to lose sleep over a turntable, but I was so uncertain about getting everything right and so frustrated with the alignment issues that I did. Schiit's email about the beta program a couple days later helped, and it sounds like the comments from other beta testers have improved things.

    The video Conrad posted above was a big help, and let me make a few additional adjustments last night and have a little more confidence in my alignment. I recommend watching it if you have this table, or are considering it.

    Maybe I got lucky, but I've had no belt wandering issues, and speed measures at about 33.30 - 33.32 rpm or 44.9 - 44.94 rpm in the few tests I've made. I have had some azimuth stability issues similar to what others mentioned, as the arm doesn't appear to always rest in the same place on the pivot, but I know to check for that now and won't dwell on it with a new arm coming.

    I don't have as much experience with different tables as some, and can really only compare this to my U-Turn Orbit Plus. Using the same cartridge, a Nagaoka MP-110, and the same preamp, cables, and system the general sound is very similar, which is probably as expected. What I have noticed is an almost complete lack of table noise in the needle drops I've made. I'm not certain if this is because of a better bearing or because the motor is not attached to the plinth, but it's welcome. I'll probably re-recording a few records where table noise is especially evident in the near future.

    I'm waiting for Fedex with some of the updates including new tonearm now (they seem to have taken a detour along the way to Colorado). I'll try to post an update on this when I get a chance to set up the new tonearm and do some comparisons. But honestly now that I've had Sol running for a couple of months and made adjustments just a little at a time I'm happy and would probably be OK sticking with it as-is.

    If Schiit shipped this with the option to include a cartridge and with everything almost all set up so it was simply place platter on the plinth, attach arm, adjust azimuth and go it would be pretty awesome, though the extra labor might mean extra cost.
     
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  3. badf00d

    badf00d Friend

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    Received new goodies from Schiit today. Hope to install the new tonearm tonight, and will lean heavily on the video from @Ruby Rod to set things up properly. Thanks @schiit for keeping the updates moving along.
     
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  4. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Go for it! See if you can take it to 1/128ths this time ;):D.

    Have fun.

    I do think that would be a great idea, and well worth paying extra for those who want to take a turntable out of the box and just play music, with the option of fine tuning coming afterwards. I've been playing records since they were shellac, but that is still where I would like to start.

    But maybe that's just a whole other trip, and the Sol is aimed at the niche market that wants/needs (different cartridges/customisation) to assemble and fiddle first.
     
  5. badf00d

    badf00d Friend

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    I'm in the midst of setting up the new parts, and am reminded of an issue I had with cueing when I set it up last time using the Schiit video. If I follow Conrad's video, the 1 inch pivot point and 1/2 inch platter height won't allow the cueing platform to reach the tonearm.

    Furthermore, I'm using an MP-110 and I don't know if this cartridge is unusually tall, but the result is that I can't get the cartridge to clear the platter when resting on the cueing platform.

    Is anyone else able to make Conrad's starting gaps work out? Or maybe my cueing mechanism is faulty?
     
  6. scblock

    scblock Acquaintance

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    Sorry if you’ve already done this, as it’s not clear from your post, but have you raised the cuing mechanism itself as well? There’s a set screw in the side of the black disk that If you loosen it lets you move the shelf itself up and down. If you’re changing arm height more than just a little it’ll need adjustment too.
     
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  7. badf00d

    badf00d Friend

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    Yes, I adjusted it as high as it will go and it's not enough - same as what I encountered when I first set the table up. The only way I can get the parts to meet up is to drop the platter and pivot point, which seems counter to Conrad's recommendations.
     
  8. Ruby Rod

    Ruby Rod Almost "Made"

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    Don't get too hung up on the 1/2". That number is only so when all is said and done, you have enough room for the VTA adjustment to go up and down. If you start lower and still have some gap under the tone arm ring, all is good. Also, be sure to fully loosen the cueing adjust screw and work the shaft up and down. It can be a bit sticky. Do you have anything on the cueing platform or the underside of the tone arm shaft to increase the friction? I think Schiit was going to put something there, but not sure.
     
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  9. badf00d

    badf00d Friend

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    I worked the cueing platform as high as it will go, and although it's sticky it works itself out with a little twisting while adjusting the height. I received a strip of felt today, but haven't installed it. Sitting in place (but not with adhesive) it does close the gap a bit, and I'll drop the pivot and platter down to cover the difference.
     
  10. seeirwin

    seeirwin Rando

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    Hello. I'm also using a Nagaoka MP-110 and had set my Sol up before I saw Conrad's excellent video. I aligned everything using a USB microscope (a la Michael Fremer) at 200x magnification and, more importantly, everything is sounding pretty great! Here are the measurements for how my Sol is configured. Let me know if there are any other useful measurements or photos that I can provide.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Ruby Rod

    Ruby Rod Almost "Made"

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    I haven't done the design video yet, but hope to cover tone arm geometry in some detail. I know that Schiit preset the tone arm pivot point high, as the photo shows, but the design intent is for the pivot to be centered in the ring, in about the same plane as the record surface. The cup rod should be flush with the OD of the ring. There are several reasons for that. The pivot should be at record surface height because it gives minimum error over warps. Because warps can only go up from the platter, being a tad higher is OK, but I'm talking 0.025" or so, which is already designed in, depending on cartridge. The other, and probably more important, reason has to do with the center of gravity of the arm. If the center of gravity were higher than the pivot, the arm would just flop over sideways. As the center of gravity goes lower than the pivot, stability improves, but tracking force changes over warps and, though not technically true or correct, I think of the arm as sluggish. That's the direction raising the pivot takes you. A big deal? Probably not, but I'd start with the pivot at design height. It's one of those things that can be adjusted just by nature of the design, but wasn't really intended to be. OTOH, if the arm rocks excessively or you think it sounds better, follow your eyes and ears!

    Way back, supplying a cartridge was considered and I auditioned several. One was the Nagaoka MP-110. It was definitely my winner of the group and certainly affordable. I think supplying cartridges was an additional complication that just couldn't happen at the time.

    I also notice that the lateral balance screw is protruding from the ring in front. It should be flush and can be held with a drop of blue (mild) Loctite, or a drop of any common (removable) adhesive. Don't want anything rattling around that doesn't have to be; only the weight should screw in and out.

    Love those white-on-black machinist scales. Way better in photos.
     
  12. seeirwin

    seeirwin Rando

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    Thank you for the added, detail, Conrad! I'm one of those people that finds tinkering with the Sol to be very relaxing, so I'll look forward to readjusting things closer to your suggestions. I do have one question: do you have any opinions on the 92-94 degree SRA/VTA number?

    It seems like the best thing to do (based on your last post) is to move the cup rod flush with the top OD of the ring, and then set everything from there. The platter will have to go up in order for the tonearm rest to still be usable.

    Thanks for any insight you can provide!

    And I appreciate the tip about the azimuth balance screw. I'll put a drop of shellac on there and make the screw flush...

    EDIT: I had my platter geometry backwards.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  13. Ruby Rod

    Ruby Rod Almost "Made"

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    In all honesty I don't know very much about VTA. No doubt one can find lots of conflicting in on the 'net! One thing I remember hearing is that you can adjust it by listening to a mono record with a vocalist, adjusting for best localization and smoothness. I'm guessing VTA will matter more with a fancy stylus profile, than a conical. The 92-94 number should be baked into the cartridge/stylus so you shouldn't have to worry about it as such. Having the arm tube horizontal should take care of it. I can't believe the cart is so talll that a 0.3" platter gap would be needed, but shoot some photos!

    If you just put the pivot cup rod so it's flush with the outside of the ring, it will be where it needs to be. Then adjust the VTA for a horizontal arm and fine tune it from there. The platter position goes hand in hand with the cueing position and the VTA pointy rod position, so it's just a matter of having a location where they're all within their available adjustment range.

    I didn't think the MP-110 was unusually tall or short, but I should check it.
     
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  14. seeirwin

    seeirwin Rando

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    I took another run at things, starting with moving the pivot cup flush with the ring. I preemptively raised the platter to 0,5" and found that there wasn't enough travel in the VTA adjustment to get it set where I wanted it. After some trial and error, I ended up right back where I started at 0.3". With the pivot cup flush with the ring and everything aligned and balanced to the best of my ability, the back of the tonearm rides high, and the outrigger azimuthal balance weight is pretty far out. The antiskate works well on a blank record with the small and medium weights.

    Here's what it looks like now:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here, you can see my pencil index mark on the VTA knob. The total travel is from about the 11 o'clock to the 6 o'clock position, so this is at the upper end of the travel.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It's angled pretty far forward on the pivot, which doesn't look great. Everything sounds find and measures well, so I guess it's just going to look a bit strange. I wonder if the suspension in my MP-110 is going, so it needs a more extreme adjustment?
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Couple of schools of thought:
    1. Increase SRA/VTA for brighter sound. Lower SRA/VTA for more emphasis in lows.
    2. Dial in to get least amount of IMD (various test records have something for this) - will need RTA/FFA measurement.
    3. Set roughly 90 degrees (arm shaft parallel to table) and tweak by ear.
    SRA/VTA will change slightly with different record thicknesses. I set SRA/VTA once regardless and just forget about it. There's no such thing as a perfectly flat record anyway.
     
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  16. Ruby Rod

    Ruby Rod Almost "Made"

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    Couple things- I also get the best results using the small+medium anti-skate weights. It looks like you're running two filaments, or it's an optical illusion. Probably best with one filament and two weights on the end. The filament also looks very heavy. Not sure if Schiit updated it, but I use 4 lb Stren from Walmart. I thought it was 2 lb, but 4 is all they show.

    Not sure about running the arm that tail-high. Most everything I've read says people prefer a bit tail-down. That's the reason you need the platter where you do. The basic VTA angle should be built into the cantilever, and may not be in line with the shaft of the cantilever. I need to do some listening tests- haven't had time yet!
     
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  17. seeirwin

    seeirwin Rando

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    Conrad - I just made the connection that your website is the resource I used to replace the noisy transistors on my Sansui 2000x. So thank you for two unrelated assists!
     
  18. badf00d

    badf00d Friend

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    I was just reviewing your recent posts and noticed this gem that I missed the first time. What's the difference on the original beta units regarding platter height? Does this throw off everything else?
     
  19. Ruby Rod

    Ruby Rod Almost "Made"

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    Everything follows the platter height, cueing adjust and height of the arm pivot post. I like to start out with the .5" number, but the original platter spindle is a bit short to get there and clamp properly. I don't know if Schiit made a post change or not. Some things they can do easily, other things not so much. It's no big deal and I probably should have done the video with a lower number. The only time it would become an issue is if you set everything up and then discover there isn't enough VTA adjust travel to get the arm in the position you want. I'm a "tail-down" guy, so I want clearance to go that way. OTOH, if you look at where @seeirwin is running, he needs the platter very low. If you just run a horizontal arm like most, any mid setting will work. Just keep the fastening screw on the flat of the spindle so as not to bugger up the shaft and get it stuck.

    For seeirwin, I'd think about making an angled shim for the cartridge. Maybe out of balsa wood because it won't add mass and is easy to work. It should be very thin so it doesn't add much height to the cartridge. That would put everything in a more normal alignment, and the pivot point closer to the plane of the playing surface.
     
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  20. scblock

    scblock Acquaintance

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    I thought folks might be interested in a look at some of the updated parts that got sent out in the latest care package to see what's changed with the table.

    All of the direct comparison photographs have the new parts on the left and the original on the right. Apologies for the crap lighting, etc.

    Note: no listening impressions yet, as I've had limited time to listen and am not certain I'm done making adjustments.

    Tonearms
    Side by side you can see that the new tonearm is slightly shorter to the headshell than the original, but the headshell itself is longer. The adjustment slots appear to start at roughly the same distance from the pivot, but more of that length is useable.

    [​IMG]

    The new headshell is drilled out, presumably to maintain weight and balance with the additional metal.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The extra space was enough that I was able to nearly perfectly align my MP-110 cartridge with the arc template with no clearance issues, so that's a solid improvement from the original.

    The base of the tonearm is pretty much the same, though it shipped with a slightly smaller azimuth weight installed and set screw and shaft flat for the counterweight is on top now instead of the bottom.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Pulleys and Belts
    These have both been updated as well. The pulley has been significantly lightened to allow the motor to self-start, and the belt has been swapped to a new material.

    The pulley looks the same from the top, but on the bottom you can see just how much less material is present. The updated pulley also has shallower grooves cut than the original.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The new belt material is harder, shinier, and slicker, and it doesn't stretch quite so much.

    [​IMG]

    I can confirm that the updated pulley lets the table self start, and the new belt runs fine with no wandering. The new belt is better for self-starting than the old, which is stickier and so tends to want to jump off the platter rather than slipping as it comes up to speed.

    I did some speed testing and stability/usability comparisons between the two. For my specific setup I seem to have more accurate speed tests with the old pulley, and less variation with the softer belt, so I'm sticking with the originals for now. I don't mind spinning the platter up by hand. Others may have different results and preferences.

    Other
    Also in the package were new weights with lighter pre-tied lines, which makes them a breeze to install. The lighter lines appear to work better. This combined with bending the anti-skate support to a better location and finding the height on the tonearm rod that kept it from rocking seem to have improved the anti-skate setup. I don't have any true test data here though. I bent my anti-skate support with the Leatherman pliers in the photos.

    The smaller azimuth weight increases the adjustment range, and I had no trouble getting the arm balanced, which is an improvement over the first run.

    The bearing cup for the pivot does appear to be better machined, as I seem to have only one place the arm will rest for now. It's too early to be totally certain though. I'll need some more time with the new arm to get it all set up just right and see if I have any remaining nits to pick.

    I've put a few more pictures of my initial setup below.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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