The Schiit Mani - A middleweight champion in the featherweight class

The Mani is a tiny metal box that's apparently made in the USA and only sold direct through Schiit. It has 2 loading options and three gain options that should handle most MM/MC cartridges.

The loading and gain settings are switchable underneath the chassis. Loading and Gain options are pretty limited but still better than many entry level phono stages under $500. Loading is 47/47K only while maximum gain is only 59db so for very low output MC cartridges, this might not be the best option.

Connections are RCA only, plus power input and a grounding post.

Fit and finish are generally OK, but it's definitely not going to win any beauty contests. The front of the box is a simple affair that is dominated by a blindingly bright power light while the rear provides the usual phono amplifier connections and a toggle power switch plus grounding point and access socket for the wall wart power supply.

The dynamics and transients are great, the bass is very articulated and controlled and there is no perceptible graininess or obvious rolloff. I've used other sub-$500 dedicated phono stages as well as internal preamps and everything that I hear through the Mani is better to my ears. Much more enjoyable to listen to.

Fuller sound, better dynamic range, more natural vocals and instruments, etc. I have several recordings that have been with me for years and with the Mani I was picking up on details that had previously been shrouded. In the best analog masters I did several A/B comparisons to lossless versions of the same recordings digitally and generally preferred the Mani in most cases, although it was often hard to tell the difference.

Overall, the Schiit Mani is at its price point one of the best phono stage you can get. Capable of punching way above its weight class.