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Schiit Lyr: Dangerous with Certain Headphones ?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have recently been making my headphone wish list. I've always thought I would buy the HD800 when I had the chance, and will probably audition them this weekend. Additionally, I've believed I would buy the Schiit Lyr as an amp, and eventually, the Bifrost as a DAC. I understand this might not be the best combination, but I'm on a rather-tight budget.


In any event, I was reading Schiit Lyr reviews on Amazon when I came upon this one: http://www.amazon.com/review/R1UDUYE3O46GJ6/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B004T335BK&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=. I personally do not care about how warm the amplifier becomes. However, the two other issues brought up by the reviewer could be problematic.


  1. Does this amp really produce as much noise as described by the reviewer ? I'd never heard that before !
  2. Is there any chance of destroying or damaging headphones as described in this review (obviously, I'm excluding turning up the volume too high) ? 


These questions are important for me, as I was considering getting this exact setup. 

Thanks !

post #2 of 4

The Lyr was designed for orthodynamic and other hard-to-drive headphones, and, as such, has very high gain. It's also a tube amp, which will have varying noise characteristics depending on the tubes you use. So yes, if you plug it into very high-efficiency headphones, especially IEMs, you may hear the noise floor. 


(We're very clear in our FAQs on the website which headphones the Lyr is designed for, by the way.)


In our use with HD800s, the noise floor is inaudible, as it is with Audeze and HiFiMan planars, other Sennheiser 300 ohm models, Beyer 600 ohm and 250 ohm models, and many, many other headphones. But it isn't what we'd reach for when it comes to high-efficiency headphones.


All Lyrs since May 2011 have come with a delayed turn-on and fast shut-off relay to protect headphones, and except in the case of one clearly defective amplifier, we know of no headphones that have been harmed by the small pop that can occur when the relay engages. With 3000+ Lyrs in the field, many of which have been through dozens of experiments with tube-rolling, it has been a very reliable amp, both in terms of its own reliability and in protecting headphones. 


With respect to the review, it's impossible to know where the noise came from. What's the source? Was there possibly a ground loop that could be alleviated by using a different outlet or GFCI? Could the source have had excessive DC offset? We don't know.


That said, it *is* a tube amp, and some tubes will be quieter or noisier than others, some will make strange noises on break-in, some will need to be swapped out under the 90-day warranty, despite everything being burned in for a minimum of 24 hours and listen-tested before they're packaged.


And, if you're tube-rolling with unknown, untested tubes (that is, ones you bought off eBay), it's probably best to exercise additional caution when you first use the tubes. If you want dead-nuts-reliable, everyday-the-same operation, solid state is where it is at.


Hope this helps a bit.


All the best,


Edited by Jason Stoddard - 5/22/13 at 4:42pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for such a helpful and detailed answer ! Glad to hear that the pop is not harmful to the headphones in any way.

post #4 of 4

You're the man Jason! Always a clear and detailed explanation when one is needed. Although I have have found it to be very clear on your site what kind of headphones the Lyr is designed for.

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