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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

You've got to hear this, err, Schiit

Posted on June 26, 2010 at 7:38 PM

What's in a name? Not much, unless your name is Dick, and then, try all you want, but no one is really calling you "Richard" when you're not around. When you're a new company, selecting a name can be a daunting task, something that can be with you for years to come. (I ran across some lame ones on my trip to Alabama like "Gator Head Kennels" or "Hyman Vineyards.") And usually companies go out of their way to create a name that says something about them or that sounds cool or that evokes some kind of response.  (Unless they are developing an e-read and then they'll just come up with something retarded like "Kindle" or "Nook.")

 

But some times, the name is just meant to get a reaction that might cause you to dig a little deeper. In the case of Schiit -- yes, you can giggle like a little boy now -- it is meant to grab your attention and does a pretty Schiit-hot job of doing it. When I stumbled across them, I was like, "Schiit-yeah, I'll check these guys out!"

 

Schiit is a US company that is trying to (bad pun coming) make a name for themselves as a top flight headphone amplifier manufacturer. And, it's clear from their website (www.schiit.com) that while they're not out to make any Schiity products, they don't take themselves overly seriously either, which is a giant breath of fresh air in an industry where you often have an question bounced through 3 or four people before a quotable reply can be given.  Here are some choice quotes from their Website:

 

You aren't gonna believe this Schiit. And yes, that is our name. And yes, it’s pronounced exactly like you think. Shee-tah. It’s a proud German name, host to a long line of audio engineers who slaved away in crumbling Teutonic fortresses as lightning lashed the dark lands outside, working to perfect the best amplification devices in the world . . . Or, well, no. Yep, Schiit is our name, and it’s pronounced exactly like you think. As in “Hey man, that’s some really cool Schiit.” Or, “We like music and Schiit.” And now that we have your attention, can we show you some Schiit?

 

Is that really your name?

In case you didn’t get it from typing in the URL, reading the home page, reading the About Us section, and, like, every page of this site, YES, that is our name. And yes, it’s pronounced exactly how you think.

 

Are you guys for real?

Absolutely. Yeah, our name is a fun attention-getter, but you’ll quickly find that we’re dead-serious about audio. Everything we do uses the purest topologies, the highest-quality parts, and innovative production engineering to keep costs down. You won’t find a single integrated circuit or op-amp in any of our products. But you will find quality parts like Alps Blue Velvet potentiometers, Nichicon and Wima capacitors, Dale resistors, and Neutrik connectors. And you’ll find it for prices that compare favorably even to Chinese-made products.

 

Where’d you guys come from?

For lack of a better phrase, we are “audio industry veterans.” Our two product designers come from Sumo and Theta, respectively. At Sumo, Jason Stoddard designed the following products: Polaris II, Polaris III, Andromeda III, Ulysses, Ulysses II, The Ten, The Five, Athena II, Diana, Artemis, Theorem, and Axiom. At Theta, Mike Moffat designed the Theta Pre-Amplifier, and at Theta Digital, designed the DS Pre, DS Pro, DS Pro Basic, and many other products.

 

No, really, can you recommend a D/A converter, my budget is . . .?

Not to be dicks or anything, but no. We don’t endorse products from other manufacturers. It’s not that they suck, but we don’t make them, so we don’t really know how they’ll perform over time.

 

Do you seriously make your stuff in the USA?

Yep. We worked long and hard to get our designs and chassis so they could be assembled by first-world labor for prices similar to the Chinese. That’s why you won’t see a single wire in our products, and why our chassis are an ultra-simple (but cool-looking) two-part design.

 

But wouldn’t it be cheaper doing it in China?

Maybe. But we’re not going to find out.

 

Well, hell, all your parts are probably Chinese anyway, right?

Um, no. The majority of our parts, on a total cost basis, come from right here in the USA, from companies manufacturing their products in the USA. Most other parts are bought from US-based companies, but are manufactured all over the world. Notable exceptions are Valhalla’s tubes (Russia), and the Alps Blue Velvet pots (Japan.)

 

I’m sorry, I can’t take you guys seriously, what can I do?

That’s cool. Not everyone gets us. But ask yourself this: would you rather buy product from a soulless company that worries about how they can offend the minimum number of people in the world? If so, cool. There are lots of other manufacturers out there.

 

I heard from a friend that you really are descendants of an ancient Teutonic engineering tribe, is that true?

Your friend is an idiot.

 

How does Asgard [one of their amps] compare to (insert competitive product name here?)

It probably sounds better.

 

No, really, how does Asgard compare to (competitive product?)

Okay, we’ll stop being flip. If it’s around the same price point, Asgard probably sounds better.

 

Now you’re pissing me off!

Do you really think we’re going to tell you it sounds worse? Or that we’ve listened to every headphone amp on the market? We’ve listened to a lot of them, and Asgard is a credible competitor even to products that cost much more. Especially if you’re listening with low-impedance headphones, and especially if you have Sennheisers. Asgard loves Sennheisers, for whatever weird reason.

 

You know, Asgard runs really hot? Like very hot?

You know, Asgard’s chassis is its heat-sink, and that it is a Class-A amplifier? Yep, it runs hot. Like, very hot. It’s OK. We’re well within the limits of the output devices. Remember, there’s a 5-year warranty on our products. We have to be damn certain they’ll survive.

 

You said “damn.”

And our name is Schitt. So sue us.

 

Ask us anything. Except maybe about String Theory or Fermat’s Last Theorem. Or women’s fashion. Or—well, hell, just ask us something about our products.

 

So, if you're looking for some sweet Schiit to improve your headphone listening, this Schiit sounds worth checking out. Plus, with a 15-day money back guarantee and a 5 year warranty, you won't have a lot of Schiit to worry about. And you know what they say; if the Schiit is it, if the Schiit is legit, then you know that this Schiit is the Schiit.

Categories: June 2010, Electronics, Bizarre

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2 Comments

Reply The Head Schitt
8:04 PM on June 27, 2010 
John,

Wow, thanks for mentioning us (love the comment about the Kindle and Nook, BTW.) Never did understand those. Of course, I never did understand Sony's STR-WX5030-A-P7000_GHP kinda names, either. I guess if we made, like ten billion different products, we'd have to look somewhere besides Norse mythology. Or end up with names like "Nidhogg."

It's really funny calling our metal vendor and saying, "Yeah, this is Jason from Schiit . . ." But you only get one chance to make your name in the market. And even if our name is, um, Schiit, we'll see if the products speak for themselves.

Let me know if you have any questions, or would like to talk further ...

Jason Stoddard
Co-Founder
Reply Craig
1:48 PM on June 29, 2010 
I frequently drive past a business called Ifuku Radiator. "Ifuku" is a somewhat common Japanese last name.