After about a week to evaluate, I decided to share a few comments on my comparison of the Schiit amps that I’ve owned. Asgard, Asgard 2 and lyr. Let me start with the A1 vs A2 as the A2 vs lyr gets much more complicated.
The A2 is a clear upgrade from the original Asgard. It’s cleaner, more resolving and seems to bring out the best in my hd650 and maddogs. Detail retrieval is better and this is a good thing for all of those who tend to use darker headphones. Bass presence is more punchy and accurate…not leaving me wanting for more from the bottom end at all. The original Asgard house sound is certainly there with a nice relaxed and natural presentation. And then the amp’s signature is improved across the board. I love the new flexibility built into the A2. The gain switch is a welcome improvement. I can now rock my orthos with authority and then flip the gain switch to get the most out of my pair of gr07’s. Now that’s covering your bases. The A2 still gets hot but not quite as hot as the A1 just using my very scientific feel test. Also I like knowing that I can add some powered monitored when I’m ready and the A2 is there for me with the pre-amp outs. For $250 you’ll be hard pressed to do any better for overall sound presentation and versatility.
The next question many will ask, I know that I did, is how close the A2 gets to the lyr. I did a comparison of the A1 to the lyr last year and found that the lyr clearly more gifted across the board. But it will always be difficult to compare the lyr to the A2 or any solid state amp due to fact that the lyr is a hybrid amp and sports tubes. This truly complicates any evaluation of the two. Some will love the ability to roll tubes and others will loathe it. I have lived with the lyr long enough to know what tubes I enjoy and feel no real need to “roll” lot’s of tubes.
Okay, so here’s the short answer to the lyr vs A2 comparison. Although the A2 closes the gap considerably, the lyr retains its superiority. With good tubes the visceral bass is improved and is tightened slightly. Vocals are a bit more forward and “sweeter” sounding. Maybe more lifelike is a better description of the mids on the lyr. Of course the improvement does come at a cost, almost twice the cost actually. Add the price of good tubes to the lyr and in fact you have spent twice as much than the A2. Although the improvements are there, it takes a careful ear to hear and appreciate them. The performance is actually quite close.
There are drawbacks for owning the lyr. Obtaining good tubes is at the front of that list. Some tubes have micro phonic issues and will generate unwanted noise. I also feel compelled to turn the lyr off each time that I finished using it given the limited life of the tubes. Then to get back to an ideal listening environment you should let the tubes warm properly before listening again. This is a minor inconvenience but can still be aggravating.
At the end of the day I settled on the Asgard 2. The convenience, close performance and ability to drive just about anything were enough to win out over the lyr for me. I rolled my savings over into an uber upgrade board for the bifrost and couldn’t be happier.