Schiit Lyr

General Information

Lyr is a extremely high-output headphone amplifier with a new Dynamically Adaptive output stage that provides high voltage output into virtually any headphone—up to 6 watts into 32 ohms—while maintaining excellent overall efficiency.

Now, if you’re a headphone guy, you’re thinking “Holy Schiit! 6 watts! That’ll make the magic smoke come out of my headphones! Why the hell do you need that kind of power?” Well, we have one word for you: orthodynamics. And two more: Why not? If everyone wanted polite little low-power headphone amps, this would be one awfully boring world, wouldn’t it?

That said, Lyr isn’t just about brute force. Sure, it has dynamics to spare, but it also delivers music with grace and finesse. Its hybrid design uses ECC88 tubes for the input stage, and the topology is DC coupled at the input and output to ensure the purest, most direct signal path.

Also see the "Schiit Lyr - The tube rolling thread" for various recommendations:

Latest reviews

Pros: Powerful, Reasonably Priced
Cons: Noisy with sensitive HPs
Update: This is a very old review, that I am unable to remove. Current status is: amp still runs fine after many years, even with cheap matched Russian NOS tubes off ebay, however, there is much better out there for the money now (from Schiit and others).
Yeah I am actually trying to find a DAC to upgrade to, any suggestions?
Ha ha fun is just couple days ago there was a bad negative review of Lyr but you rated your Lyr to 5 stars.
The bifrost might be a nice upgrade otherwise maybe just wait for the geek pulse
Pros: It sounded very good when it was working
Cons: Crackling sound, pink noise
I'd like to share my experience with the Schiit Lyr. I decided to order one last December. I paid 450$ for the unit + 60$ for EU shipping + 150$ for import charges. This was the maximum acceptable cost for me and I was fine with it, at least I knew I will be getting something great, that will serve me for years and with many headphones. Oh man was I wrong...
After 3 weeks I finally got my unit, it had beautiful black finish, with stock tubes I was very much looking forward to using. I set it up and plugged in my headphones to enjoy some music. I pretty much instantly noticed something was wrong with the sound. Every 30s or so there was slight crackling/ electrical sound coming from the right channel. This was driving me crazy, the amp was impossible to listen to. I wanted to check what the problem was, so I tried different headphones, different plugs, sources, I swapped the tubes, I even took it to the bathroom in case it was an electrical disturbance. None of it helped, the problem was the amp so I had to contact Schiit about it.
They accepted my amp for a repair, but I had to pay for the shipping... After a couple of weeks they received my unit and repaired it very quickly. They did not want to say what was wrong and they already shipped it back (on their expense). 3 weeks later I got the repaired amp back. While putting the tubes together I noticed one of them looking very used, it was in bad condition. While inserting said tube there was a *crack*- the tube broke. I contacted Schiit about this and received the only positive experience in this mess - they apologized and sent me a replacement tube free of charge.
It took 3 more weeks for the tube to finally reach me, I could now finally test the repaired amp. Unfortunately, the amp was not repaired at all, if anything it was worse. Sure, the original crackle was a bit less noticeable but there was a considerable amount of pink noise present at all times. I contacted Schiit about it asking for an explanation and a possible money-back. They accepted the money-back offer and added: "If you want to go that way," Yeah, as if I had a choice...
So, couple of weeks after shipping the amp back, at my own cost, I contacted them asking if they received the unit. Turns out they did and they sent me my refund shortly after. A bit weird that they just happened to notice it after I contacted them, but whatever, at least I got my 450$ back.
All in all, I lost 2 months and 24 days of not having a working product I ordered. I also lost 330$ in shipping and import cost.
This is by far the worst experience I've had with any company ever and if you're deciding between Schiit and something else maybe go for that something else. Sometimes, Schiit is just exactly what it sounds like.
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At what point is that bad customer service?
Heh, sounds like you tried to use IEMs on this 6W amp or something.
Use Schiit-EU
Pros: Power output to drive very inefficient headphones
Cons: Average sound quality overall
Originally published on November 16, 2011
Note: this review is an exact cross-post from post #1 of this thread on Head-Fi, which contains some user discussion on the review that may be relevant to read:

This mini-review covers my thoughts on the Schiit Lyr vs HeadAmp GS-X in balanced mode, specifically for the Audeze LCD-2 r2 (with additional comments on the Senn HD800 and Audio-Technica AD2000 as well). Why these two amps? Because I already had the GS-X and was curious to find out what sort of sonic difference could be expected from triple the output power - the GS-X is rated at up to 2W @ 32 Ohms in balanced mode (1W per channel), and the Lyr is rated at up to 6W @ 32 Ohms.

Listening for this mini-review was done over about a week, a lot shorter than my typical listening for full reviews which are usually done over months. Primary reason for this is general lack of time available, along with general lack of motivation for a prolonged review period - i.e., there are other things I'd rather do with my time nowadays. Standard disclaimer hence applies: the below impressions should not be considered final and subject to change. I also don't typically trust even my own impressions on 1-2 week review periods. The best way I'd describe my approach for this mini-review: informal & short-term but critical listening.
Note: the review Lyr unit is one I bought. I usually write reviews on stuff I buy, as I'm averse to manufacturer loans - IMO this removes any manufacturer expectations on the review, and it allows me to take as much time as I want as well (though the time factor was certainly ignored for this review).

Equipment Setup

- Source component: Plinius CD-101 (CD player) (Signal Cable Silver Reference power cord, directly into wall)
- Analog interconnects: Analysis Plus Silver Oval RCA & XLR
- Tubes used on Lyr: 6BZ7 and 6N1P pairs supplied by Schiit Audio
- Headphones: Audeze LCD-2 r2 w/ stock ADZ-6 cable and Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 XLR cable (for balanced operation), Audio-Technica AD2000, Sennheiser HD800

Both pairs of the Lyr tubes were "burned in" for 2 days each before listening started for this mini-review.

Evaluation Music

- Alison Krauss & Union Station - Lonely Runs Both Ways, Paper Airplane
- Dave Brubeck - Time Out [Legacy Edition]
- Carlos Kleiber & VPO - Beethoven Symphonies 5 & 7
- Helloween - 7 Sinners
- In Flames - The Jester Race
- Leftfield - Leftism
- The Crystal Method - Community Service II, Legion of Boom, Tweekend
- Trifonic - Emergence


Regardless of which tubes were used in the Lyr, I ended up concluding it was the inferior amp to the GS-X in balanced mode, despite having the power output advantage. I also concluded that maybe the LCD-2 doesn't really need very much power to sound great, because while it sounded good on the Lyr, it actually sounded better on the GS-X - it sounded awesome!

I didn't compare the tube pairs to each other, which was impossible with only one Lyr unit (would have needed a 2nd one to do a tube comparison), but I did compare each to the GS-X in a "which tube set is better than the GS-X?" kind of way and neither comparison went very favorably for the Lyr. The GS-X beat both tube pairs to me, in the same way, as described below.

(From here on to the end, assume that my Lyr opinion applies to both of the tube pairs.)

I'll begin by stating that the Lyr produced really good sound on the LCD-2 (and HD800) and probably very few people would have any complaints unless they compared it to something a lot better (like I did for this mini-review). In the classic "ignorance is bliss" scenario, the LCD-2/Lyr combo could be considered bliss, as long as you don't hear anything else. It was obvious the Lyr capably drove the LCD-2 - plentiful bass & mid-range, keeping the LCD-2's overall tactile sound intact. More mid-bass & mid-range than the GS-X in fact, which could be a good thing for those who don't care about anything other than that. Lots of "substance" and "body", in other words. The Lyr also consistently compressed soundstages (depth & width), removing quite a bit of the "open air" element and tended to make music sound closer and more upfront - sometimes even in-head, depending on the recording. This kind of thing can be considered a good thing for certain music types like rock or metal (even jazz) but far from ideal for others, like classical.

But the more comparing that I did with the GS-X, the more it revealed shortcomings to the Lyr, enough that I couldn't help but conclude that the GS-X essentially crushed the Lyr in almost every key sonic aspect. The Lyr bliss went out the window every time I switched over to the GS-X - it really was that much better. And considering I think of the LCD-2 as merely above-average (and not the "excellent" pedestal that I place the Stax OII MKI on), that actually says a lot for the LCD-2.

On the GS-X, the LCD-2 sounded substantially clearer, while it was muddy-sounding on the Lyr with either tube set. This significantly improved the perception of detail throughout the spectrum - bass was more distinct and treble more precise. The improved clarity made instruments sound more "raw" and "existential" as well - the Lyr just muddied & smoothed over things too much. There was also more balance towards the treble, which helped to add to the clarity. The GS-X also vastly improved the soundstage, rightfully shoving elements away so they didn't sound too close and had actual dimension, depth, & width. There was substantially more "air" between instruments on the GS-X so it didn't sound nearly as compressed & suffocating as the Lyr. Even the HD800 with its large soundstage still sounded almost in-head on the Lyr - going out-of-head only on the GS-X. Speaking of the HD800, I also found that the Lyr outright robbed the HD800 of its clarity. Definitely would not recommend it for anyone who likes the HD800's clarity.

There was simply no loss in anything else on the GS-X - no obvious detractions from treble, mid-range, or bass, or from impulse response. The GS-X may not have had the Lyr's up-close & filling sound, but it more than made up for it with vastly improved clarity and soundstaging, and it powered the LCD-2 just as well as the Lyr. At really high volumes it showed absolutely no sign of distortion or loss in dynamic range.

There was another setback with the Lyr and that was driving the Audio-Technica AD2000, which developed a weird treble gnashing along with a loss in bass & mid-bass. And the AD2K picked up an electrical hum from the Lyr as well (as expected for its sensitivity rating) which was distracting except during loud music (it was audible during quiet music).

If anyone is curious at this point, yes I changed the tubes 6 times for Lyr/GS-X comparisons with 3 headphones. This got annoying, because the tubes were tricky & frustrating to remove.

At the end of the day I'd call the Lyr a decent value for what it is, an amp for driving inefficient headphones, but at the same time I really wasn't impressed sonically by it (next to the GS-X) and the best I can give it is a neutral impression. IMO, it's at around the minimum level of acceptable sonic performance - but for its price range, I can't really fault it either. Not to take anything away from Schiit Audio though - I always like American companies building products in the USA providing exceptional service & support, which they're doing, and I applaud them for making affordable products.

My recommendation for LCD-2 (or LCD-3 even?) owners: if your source is good enough, spring for something better than the Lyr. The HeadAmp GS-X is just one option and IMO it's a great amp for it, but only in balanced mode (so a balanced source is also required). Plus, owners of true-balanced sources with dual-differential DAC configurations will potentially yield even better results than mine, as mine isn't dual-differential. I'll add that amping the LCD-2 with the Lyr undermines the LCD-2's potential, and if you're buying or own the LCD-2, which isn't exactly a cheap headphone, why cheap out on an amp and subtract from its potential?

I learned from doing this mini-review that more power output isn't always better, and that the GS-X has what it takes to power the LCD-2 and make it sound awesome. I'm also looking forward to Schiit's upcoming statement amp, which I hope will be awesome. I'm optimistic that Schiit will make an amp that will impress me.

One important aspect of the Lyr that should be reiterated was the difficulty that I had in removing the tubes. Because they were so far inset into the amp with not much space to grip them, it was often very tricky to remove them—in fact, I outright shattered a 6BZ7 tube under my fingers due to applying too much pressure on it. Schiit was kind enough to supply me with a replacement 6BZ7 and offered to check for broken glass inside the amp as well, but I opted to open the amp myself and shook the glass out that way.
So anyone who intends on rolling tubes may want to look into convenient solutions for removing tubes. Info on this subject can be found on Head-Fi in the Amps forum.

Related Reading

Previous reviews that I've written that will help provide additional context on my opinion of the LCD-2 r1, including on the Schiit Asgard 1:

- Audeze LCD-2 multi-way review:
- Schiit Asgard comparison review:
Addendum to mini-review: Gilmore Lite comparison
I formally compared the Lyr w/ 6N1P tubes to my Gilmore Lite w/ Elpac btw and my conclusion is: the LCD-2 r2 exhibited obvious signs of being under-driven by the GL. The GL actually sounded worse than the Lyr.
The LCD-2's obvious signs of being under-driven by the GL: very weak bass & mid-range overall. Severe lack of directness to sound. Slowness in note attacks. Music sounding like an unorganized blurry mess. Percussive impacts lacking impact. Lack of actual volume increase when turning up the knob.
If I didn't know better I'd actually call the GL a slow amp based on its performance with the LCD-2, but I know better (because it's not slow, it's actually one of the fastest amps I've ever heard when driving far easier headphone loads) and my conclusion is that the GL simply lacks the power output to properly drive the LCD-2. The GL is not an amp I'd recommend for the LCD-2 at all - it really sounded that bad to me. The Lyr, on the other hand, would be my recommendation as a minimum amp.
Considering the identical Dynalo "architecture" of the GL and GS-X, I'd make another conclusion: it's not the circuit that's to blame, only the power output difference, because the LCD-2 sounds way better on the GS-X (when balanced) than it does on the GL. Considering the GS-1 has the same power output spec as the GL, I wouldn't recommend it for the LCD-2 either. The GS-X in balanced mode is the only Dynalo-based amping that I'd recommend for the LCD-2. For better unbalanced amps I'd recommend either the B22 or Dynahi. The LCD-2 r1 that I previously owned performed better on a B22 than it did balanced on my GS-X.


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