I'm a little frustrated right now, so please, bear with me. And hopefully, I don't catch a lot of Schiit from Schiit fans for what I'm about to write, but it "is" my experience. I'm not trying to say that the Schiit is a bad amp or anything, so please, consider that. This is an "out-of-the-box" comparison of the EF5 and the Lyr with JJ tubes.
Recently, I'd ordered a HiFiman EF5, and was very pleased with the sound. However, one of the RCA jacks was defective, and I didn't want to just live with it having a physical defect. I also thought I'd like an amp with more output, and began reading reviews about the Lyr. I thought it was a slam dunk that I would enjoy the Schiit so much more, and that it wouldn't be prone to manufacturing issues (and there were none with the Lyr).
I ordered the Lyr with the JJ tubes (a mistake?). Both amps had over 50 hours of burn-in.
The HiFiman through Amazon cost a total of $400 out the door (no charge for tax and shipping). They accepted the return, no questions asked. I received a full refund. The Schiit cost me $500 out the door (including $40 CA tax + shipping). To return the Schiit, I assume I'll have to take a hit on their 5% return deduction. So, thanks for an extra $20+ of unhappiness and additional shipping costs. Looks like if I return it, playing with Schiit will cost me around $45.
Compared to the HiFiman, the Lyr with the JJ tubes, DEFINITELY sounds like absolute Schiit with more volume. There's such a tremendous veil over the sound, that it's almost unlistenable (using both 650s, which people have raved about on here, and Pro 900s). The sound of the HiFiman spoiled me against the Schiit (again, with the JJ tubes). Weighed against the HiFiman, it's major buyer's remorse for me. Schiit!
I'd noticed that Jason, from Schiit has been helpful to people on here in the past. And wrote about my dissatisfaction, wanting to see if he could offer any suggestions... maybe offering to swap the tubes to something else, or anything else he could think of. Money's tight, and rolling tubes until I find something I like cannot work for me. After all, I'm comparing sound quality of the Lyr with JJs out of the box to a less expensive HiFiman out of the box.
I really wanted to give the Lyr a better try, but the difference in sound quality, sound stage, definition, punch... SUCK on the Lyr with JJs. It's all blended in. Not a single genre of music sounds better. Seriously, the difference is unequivocally striking.
Jason's response put me off, particularly, the statement, "Your experience isn't typical--but no idea why." He offered no alternatives other than to return it.
Typically, on here, I noticed most everyone stating that the JJ tubes suck. So, can my experience really be that atypical? I wrote Jason back that I read about most people's distaste for the JJs, and that I'm sure if he listened to the Lyr with the JJs and the EF5, that he'd hear it the same way. It's so bloody obvious... That didn't seem to have any effect, and all I got was an RA number.
Based on this experience, if you have a choice between a less expensive EF5 out of the box, and a Schiit Lyr with the JJ tubes, HANDS DOWN, go for the HiFiman. The difference is so glaring, you wouldn't believe it.
And Jason, if you read this, if you want to keep customers in your product, it's not a good idea to say their experience isn't typical... It's insulting. Particularly since you didn't even try to problem solve the issue. After all, how many people really compared the Lyr with JJs and a stock EF-5? You're trying to sell a more expensive product, and the difference in sound quality is so glaringly obvious. The discrepancy is beyond, "typical."
I really wanted to believe in this Schiit. I really did. But the difference in sound quality and not being treated that well... well, Schiit.
Edited by MrTwyst - 2/23/12 at 2:09pm