Schiit Audio Sol turntable Page 2

The tonearm's yoke and headshell are aluminum, its weights—counter and antiskate—are brass. Straight Wire manufactured the tonearm leads and the proprietary connecting plug. Using

Baerwald (Löfgren A) geometry, the 11" tonearm's effective length is 279.65mm—almost exactly 11.01"—with a pivot-to-spindle distance of 265mm, resulting in a 14.65mm overhang and an offset angle of 19.52° (stats confirmed by Conrad Hoffman). The arm's effective mass is 13gm.

The Sol is available with either of two moving magnet cartridges, allowing for different sonic flavors and price points. An Audio-Technica AT-VM95EN cartridge comes stock; a Grado Opus3 cartridge raises the price by $156. Whichever cartridge you choose, it comes prealigned with correct VTF set (although it's still a good idea to check). Because of the Sol's simple tonearm-to-plinth connecting procedure, you can swap out tonearms as nimbly as an I-HOP chef flipping pancakes.

Why were these two cartridges chosen? No magic. "We liked the sound of both cartridges," Stoddard wrote. "And they were at logical price points for cartridges that would be included with Sol....[W]e've always liked the Grado sound, but we also recognized the need for a more neutral cartridge including swappable styli that give you a way to upgrade the performance." (footnote 1)

Moffat told me over the phone that additional unipivot tonearms (to make it easy to swap carts) will run you about $200. The Sol is also available as a package with Schiit's Mani phono stage.

The Schiit Audio website claims the Sol is "100% tweaky." "Everything is adjustable," Stoddard confirmed, "from on-the-fly VTA, cartridge angle, anti-skate, tonearm pivot height, platter height, and motor-pulley height....Since literally every parameter of the Sol turntable is adjustable, it can accommodate virtually any cartridge, including those that are thicker or thinner than usual."

In case it isn't obvious from the previous paragraph: While the Schiit Sol is intended to be easy to set up out of the box, this is not your father's low-maintenance 'table. If you're looking for a 'table that's frozen in place so that you can't easily mess it up, the Sol isn't it. The Sol is a 'table to play with.

A setup video on the Schiit website shows you almost everything you need to know to start playing music. (I say "almost" because the bit about setting the antiskate goes by pretty fast.) For a more advanced, in-depth version, watch tonearm-designer Conrad Hoffman's setup video ("Hard-core Sol") on his personal website. The Sol manual also offers solid instructions, aided by photos, but I found the videos clearer.

As already mentioned, the cartridge is mounted on the tonearm at the Schiit Audio factory, so alignment shouldn't be necessary. A paper arc template is included to confirm settings. Even the VTF should be correct out of the box; you'll need your own VTF gauge to confirm.

I'm not going to go into much detail here—just watch the videos—but here's how the setup process works, in a nutshell. Unpack the box and put the plinth on a level surface. Locate the platter and the bearing shaft and gently press the latter into the center well of the former; twist it slightly to secure. Now lower the platter/shaft assembly so that the inverted bearing goes down over the spindle; make sure that the ball bearing is in place. Attach the two power cables ("in" from the wall wart and "out" to the motor unit). Place the motor about an inch away from the platter then loop the rubber belt around the motor pulley; hold the belt against the edge of the platter and rotate to thread the belt onto the platter.

After making sure that the stylus guard is in place, remove the tonearm from the box and lower it onto the pivot point of the plinth. Attach the tonearm cable to the plinth's multipin connector. To set up the antiskate—well, just read the manual and watch that part of the setup video. Watch it two or three times until you get it.

Now connect some cables from the rear pod to the output to your phono preamp; don't forget the grounding wire. Remove the stylus guard, slide the power switch on the back of the plinth to the "on" position, and spin some records.

In my case, there was a glitch: The tonearm's counterweight had jiggled loose in transit, so I had to put it back on and reset the VTF. Since he was visiting, armed with his silver suitcase of turntable setup tools, setup wizard Trei did the deed. Since. Employing his Dr. Feickert Analogue Universal Protractor, he confirmed that the Audio-Technica AT-VM95EN cartridge was in precise alignment out of the box.


One reason the Sol is not idiot-proof, despite the simple setup, is the unipivot tonearm, which, as Trei noted, "is very jiggly and sensitive." Another issue: "Dressing the lead-out wire is also fuzzy"; you can see that for yourself in the Schiit video. A third challenge is that the cueing lever is undamped, in contrast to almost all other cueing levers, so be very careful the first time you lower the tonearm onto a record, and the time after that. Move the lever slowly with a careful hand and alert focus. The first time I lowered it—carefully—when the stylus contacted the run-in groove, the headshell/cartridge wobbled for a second before calming.

Trei noted that the Sol offers little insulation against vibration, so the supporting surface is very important. And one aspect of this very adjustable design that isn't adjustable is the feet, so you'll need to make sure the surface you put it on is level, or levelable.

To change from 33.3 to 45rpm and back, you change to a different pulley on the motor pod. If you're not careful when you do this, the belt will fall off and you'll have to thread it back on.


When he reviewed the Schiit Sol for Analog Planet, Michael Fremer noted that the Sol ran fast. As a result of that review, Schiit sent out a replacement motor pulley. With the new pulley, which now comes with every Sol and is available free to previous Sol owners, the Sol rotated precisely at 33.33rpm, according to the iPhone RPM app. Problem solved.

Three tonearms were supplied for this review, one each premounted with the Audio-Technica and Grado cartridges and a third without a cartridge. The tonearms are very easy to switch out, which made comparing cartridges more fun than dropping water balloons on tourists in my noisy Greenwich Village neighborhood, as easy as renewing your Stereophile subscription.

Considering its price point, using expensive electronics and speakers to evaluate the Sol didn't make much sense to me, so I used a one-meter pair of Triode Wire Labs Spirit RCA interconnects to connect the Sol to the moving magnet phono stage on Schiit's Ragnarok 2 integrated amplifier, which drove a pair of Klipsch RP-600M bookshelf speakers on 24" Sanus wooden speaker stands. A 6' pair of Auditorium 23 cables joined the Ragnarok 2 to the RP-600Ms. I placed the Sol on an Ikea Aptitlig bamboo cutting board atop three stacks of maple wood squares.

After I engaged the power switch, the Sol's platter required a gentle nudge to roll into action. When I put a record on, with the supplied Audio-Technica cart, the Sol greeted me with a large-scale, complex soundstage, excellent attack, surprising sustain and decay, and depth-charge dynamics. Well-recorded LPs came alive through the Audio-Technica/Sol combo. While this pairing gave up a few degrees of warmth, image solidity, richness, and refinement, it played with excellent transparency and touch. The Audio-Technica/Schiit/Klipsch system provided a high ratio of happy–hi-fi buzz to cash spillage: roughly $3000 for an audio system that had me shaking my head in wondrous amusement while rifling through my LPs for something else to play.


I played disc one from Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (LP, Warner Records 093624892991), a seven-LP boxed set. I've used the CD version of this recording for years as a system test, enjoying its beefy drums, resonant guitars, and soulful vocals. The vinyl edition is no less pleasing; indeed, its sound is more natural and less synthetic.

The AT/Schiit machine enjoyed Tom's mellow vocals, Mike Campbell's buzzing guitars, Benmont Tench's lush keyboards, and Steve Ferrone's massive drum groove. I felt like I was deep in the studio with the Heartbreakers, rocking at the altar of Tom, one of the great American songwriters, now sorely missed. The Sol delivered this rock'n'roll romanticism with clean highs, a clear midrange, and ample low end from bass drum, bass guitar, and Hammond B3 organ. The Sol's momentum drove Wildflowers & All the Rest with locomotive energy. Whether using the AT or the Grado cart, the Sol was transparent to cartridge. Switching out tonearms to the one with the Grado JML cart loaded, and putting on "It's Good to Be King," I heard better timbral balance, improved low-end attack, a more refined and palpable midrange, smoother transients, and a deeper soundstage. The song's closing string section now sounded ominous, which is how it ought to sound.


Rolling into a different kind of romanticism, Vladimir Horowitz's The Studio Recordings—New York 1985 (LP, Deutsche Grammophon 419 217-1) proved the Sol/Grado combo able to lay out the subtleties of an excellent piano recording. The Sol captured the scale of Horowitz's Steinway and his amazing touch, which ranges on this recording from delicate and playful to thunderous. The Sol rendered the piano physical—tangible—the notes velvet in texture.


Recently, I lucked into a desirable, five-LP, 1970 vinyl box set with Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline Du Pre, and Daniel Barenboim performing Beethoven Piano Trios (LP, His Master's Voice SLS 789/5). This trio's rendition of these Beethoven works is cohesive and on fire. The Sol delivered this exuberant music with potency and power. Speed and slam are two of this 'table's consistent qualities. It's the Schiit alright.

The Schiit Sol is a bit of an odd bird—and all the more interesting for that. It's priced as a beginner 'table and intended to be easy to use, yet it's fiddly and adjustable and benefits from careful setup. Paired with the Sol and its nimble carbon-fiber tonearm, the included Audio-Technica cartridge put out stirring dynamics with squeaky-clean clarity and an intricate soundstage. An extra $156 for the Grado Opus 3 cartridge yielded better timbral balance, improved low-end attack, a more refined and palpable midrange, smoother transients, and a deeper soundstage. Grab a second tonearm—about $200—to experiment with different cartridges and you're ready for a socially isolated desert island shindig. Even with those extra outlays, with the cash you'll save buying the Sol instead of any other 'table with comparable features, you can buy lots more vinyl.

Easily recommended—just don't mistake it for a typical entry-level deck.

Footnote 1: There are six stylus options for the A-T VM95 series, ranging in price from $21 (conical) to $179 (nude Shibata). The Schiit Sol's EN version has a nude elliptical stylus.—Editor
Schiit Audio
22508 Market St.
Newhall, CA 91321
(323) 230-0079

tonykaz's picture

I was gonna bitch a little because the darn thing doesn't have switchable headschells but geeze an entire Arm for $200 seems like 1980 pricing, doesn't it? So, have a few Arm & Cartridge combinations.

Is it possible that the Schiit guys could build a solid Mechanical Device ?, I'm hoping a follow-up series of commentary about how this machine handles one of the beautiful MC transducers that Mr.Moffat suggests it's capable of scaling-up to.

Thinking mechaniclly, those LINN people came up with a dam nice design build right from the very beginning even though they had the little AR turntable to copy and improve. What did Schiit Copy and Improve ?

This device has me thinking that our Stoddard & Moffat team are a later day version of the brilliant workings of LINN-NAIM. Now they might just present their own versions of the KANN,SARA & ISOBARAK line of tri-amped Loudspeakers.

I've known these guys for 10 years, their Ideology has never been a veneer. I've been delighted with every piece of Schiit gear I purchased .

Tony in a opened-up Venice Florida

ps. I'm not buying one of these players, my future is shirt pocket.

CG's picture

Nice review, but, ummm...

dclark2171's picture

I watched the Schiit set-up video on youtube when the TT was first released. For people like myself, who do not like to fiddle with such, looked too complicated to set up than it should have been. I'm sure the setup is much better now (I believe the setup video was for beta users at the time). If I were a "tinkerer" I'd probably be attracted to this.

Old Audiophile's picture

I've always had an aversion to turntables with (even heavy) outboard motors that had to be positioned in the right spot during set-up. My fear (maybe illogical?) was/is that, over time, vibration or belt tensile strength could have an effect, however small, on that "right spot" and, hence, speed accuracy. Seems this would be especially important with a tonearm like this one. I assume some kind of adhesive could be used to anchor an outboard motor but why chance marring a nice rack or surface? I understand the advantage(s) of decoupling the motor but this can be achieved without an outboard, no? Physics was never my strong suit. So, is this just one of my irrational, illogical phobias?

Glotz's picture

Yes. The Analog Planet did a speed test on this TT. It is negligible.

One should always replace their belts once a year.

I have a trick for outboard motors that allows me to replace the belt once every two or three years. If you 'remove' the belt when it is not being played, by pulling the belt off the pulley and letting the belt rest completely on the platter sides when not in play, it drastically reduces the large angle 'sit-time' of the belt in the 'pulled' position.

A belt stretches less when it's closer to it's original shape!

Generally, it takes a great deal of isolation effort to mate/mount a motor housing system onto/into a TT effectively. Connected vibration of all related parts is substantial. It takes even greater effort to isolate now more 'intimately-related' parts.

Stand-alone motors also suffer from their connection to the support (and to the rest of the table). Many mfgs. do improve their products by continually addressing the isolation of their outboard motor housings. VPI is an excellent example in the Prime 21.

Ortofan's picture

... a split-plinth design to isolate the motor from the tonearm and platter while keeping everything together as one unit.

It also includes electronic speed change, a dustcover and an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. Adding the optional acrylic platter brings the price up to about the same as the that of the Sol.

jagwap's picture

But 1.5 minutes? That is not long. Many factors are involved beyond the baring, but Roksan managed > 40 minutes 25 years ago with an aluminium platter.

Old Audiophile's picture

Glotz, certainly no offense taken! And, yes, that is a nice trick with the belt. I've been doing that for years with my TTs. Also, I couldn't agree more with dclark2171! Too much fussin' & tweakin' for my tastes. However, I have to say this is certainly an interesting TT, especially that tonearm. I would love to have the opportunity to hear it sometime. If I were inclined, I'd be the type to set it up properly on something rock solid, stop tweaking, approach that tonearm with caution and just enjoy the music. Stay safe, everybody!

Glotz's picture

It does look like it takes some additional attention without a doubt. Michael Fremer also spoke to that caveat in his Analog Planet review.

If my current 'table took a dirt nap and I was without extra spending cash, I would certainly get this table (after listening to several Rega and Project tables too, lol)!

And since I've bought the solid-sounding Schiit Modius for streaming, I do note that there will surely be a 15% restocking fee applied to returns.

Without ruffling anyone's feathers, that alone may be cause for concern.
Perhaps all mechanically-complicated products (many moving parts/sub assemblies) from online / mail order manufacturers could have prospective customers suffer from 'restocking-fee' fear. It would give me pause for sure- unless there were excellent reviews here (and there) easing my trepidation.

Still, it's inherent tweakiness coupled with a restocking fee makes me glad you and Clark brought this up! It is important for customers to know.

Glotz's picture

The company is expanding to Texas! And... This one of the FUNNIEST ADS I HAVE EVER SEEN! (See the latest Stereophile ad for Schiit.)

"Stop Laughing" indeed!

Darrylizer's picture

The Sol is no longer made unfortunately. Supply chain problems, etc. have done it in. Maybe it will return some day.