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Desktop Amps item created by dangill, Jan 7, 2011
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: Had the amp for 3+ years, still going strong, even when using cheap matched NOS tubes from Russian ebay stores. However, now there are better Schiit amps for less money!
This amp really was an introduction into both tube amps and the $400+ amp world, so you may wish to skip past this impression if you are looking for comparison with amps around the same price.
The amp has around 60-70 hours on it now and is using the stock GEs and being fed my a Schiit Modi.
I bought this amp with the sole purpose to pair it with the MrSpeakers Alpha Dogs that I had ordered, The combo had been highly recommended and I had been looking at getting my first tube amp for some time. The Lyr has plenty of power on demand to push the volume on the Alpha Dogs and to my ears sounds quite neutral.
The amp when paired with my ADs is totally noiseless, when paired with my A900Xs on the other hand I could hear a little bit of tube noise when my music was not playing but I guess this is to be expected with cans as efficient as those and an amp as powerful as this one.
Pros - It sounded very good when it was working
Cons - Crackling sound, pink noise
I'd like to share my experience with the Schiit Lyr. I decided to order one last December. I paid 450$ 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.
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: http://www.head-fi.org/t/580636/mini-review-schiit-lyr
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).
- 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.
- 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.
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: http://www.head-fi.org/t/548875/review-audeze-lcd-2-hifiman-he-6-stax-sr-507-stax-oii-mki-bhse-et-al/
- Schiit Asgard comparison review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/531228/review-schiit-audio-asgard-avenson-audio-headphone-amp/
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.
Pros - Great sound for the price, tube rolling allows adjustment opportunities for fine tweaking, loads of power.
Cons - Slightly awkward location of power switch.
After a year of happy, I've finally got around to writing this review.
After a few months listening to my IBasso DX-100 through LCD2 directly I decided I wanted to see if and amp would really make much difference, and I'm so glad I did. Although I'm tempted to say there's no comparison, in short there is - the sound is an awful lot better when amped. I chose the Lyr after reading and consulting with many of the very helpful people here on head-fi and there was a good degree of consensus that the Lyr LCD2 combination would work well. I then spent a mind boggling two days trawling through the Lyr tube-rolling thread and nearly changed my mind, I wasn't sure I could cope with the volume of decision-making tube-rolling offered. In the end I put that to one side and just asked Schiit which of the basic valve offers I should start with. When I got a very friendly reply in a couple of hours I knew this was a company I wanted to buy from (incidentally, their website is very entertaining and worth a visit in itself).
I can't make any comparisons with other amps, I've not listened to any and I'd be wasting time trying. I'll just say this, for the music I listen to, which includes a lot of 20th century American composers (Ives, Gershwin, Copland, Steve Reich); baroque (Bach et al); and female vocal (Dusty, Roberta Flack); it really works well. The sound feels very open but rich; the detail is very good, particularly with human voice or voices. Brass is bright without being harsh and piano and strings feel powerful. On my rare journeys into bass, I'm never disappointed and if I need a good headbang there's enough oomph to rattle the windows (the joy of open headphones).
I no longer use my DX-100 as a source at home, and have pared the Lyr with a Bifrost DAC straight from my computer and there's something very pleasing about the pair of them neatly stacked on the shelf.
My current setup is PC - Foobar 2000 - optical out - Bifrost DAC - Lyr - LCD2
I sometimes use other headphones and I have to be careful not to set the volume too high (I don't go over 1/3 power on my Ultrasone Signature Pros) because the amp is very powerful. I try to minimise my tube-rolling but I do keep an eye on the rolling thread and make the occasional ebay purchase and I'll swap from time to time but it's not by any means necessary.
In short, I think it looks good, sounds great and would happily recommend it to anyone who want to get into serious audio without taking out a mortgage.
Pros - Very open sound stage. Simple interface.
Cons - Unreliable sound
This thing is beautiful, simple, and well designed. But, I've now found myself unable to rely on it for unadulterated sound. Not too long after I first purchased it, there began a static sound that would dominate the music. I'd tried 3 pairs of tubes... No luck. So, I sent it in, letting them know what happened. But they sent it back, saying it had been fixed, when the same problem still existed.
Now I use my Headroom Micro Amp/DAC combo that I had planned to upgrade from and I'm a happy camper. The sound, while having a bit less of a sizable soundstage, is arguably better.
Once you can't trust a product to behave properly, it's hard to take it seriously. I still have it, but I'd rather spend my time with my old set up -- or my new ESP950s.
This review was done at the request of fellow newbie Head-Fier Chgm.
Finally, after a long burn-in period and long listening sessions with both amps, I'm ready to give my impressions. This is specifically to test out the Schiit Lyr and the Alo Pan Am with the LCD 2 Rev.2. and songs that CHGM specifically requested (plus a few of my own additions as well).
Let’s start with the LCD 2 first. When I first put it on the first thing that popped into my head (as with most people) was “what a dark sound!”, and I do mean dark to the point where I took them off and scratched my head thinking, “did I just pay $1000K for these?”
However, remembering how the sound on my ATH-M50 got better as time went by (I did not know about Head-fi at the time), and how I thought I overspent when I first got the Sennheiser HD598, I persisted. Those two cans became better as they got more use, and I felt this even without reading about the concept of burn-in. The only concept I had about burn-in was to let my computer components run continuously under stress for at least 48 hours to weed out any lemons amongst the components. Around six weeks after purchasing the HD598, I discovered head-fi as I was researching new music to listen to.
So armed, I kept listening and as the LCD 2 got more head time, the sound became clearer, the highs extended more, and the feel became airy-er. The highs were no longer dry-ish, and the dark sound started to brighten up bit by bit. It is still dark compared to my HD598 and Grado SR80i, but I find I now prefer the LCD 2 as I can wear it for hours on end without rest. It is non-fatiguing at all. The only issue is the occasional neck pain I feel after long sessions.
A note on the sound of the LCD 2:
The sound of the LCD 2 is like a thick wall of air supersaturated with sound waves slamming into you, permeating your whole being. Have you seen the first Fantastic Four movie? That scene where the four heroes were bombarded by that cosmic storm...that’s how I imagine the sound of the LCD 2!
In comparison, my second best headphone, the HD598 feels like a slight breeze (albeit a great sounding breeze). Think lowest setting on an electric fan – that is the HD598, while the LCD is on setting number 3.
Fairly utilitarian. No high end, summit-fi material here. I was asked to do this review because CHGM wanted to get either the Lyr or the Pan Am, and just so happened to find I owned both.
Shiit Lyr with Schiit Bifrost DAC and GE Tubes. The Schiit stack is connected via Optical to a first generation Macbook unibody. The Alo Pan Am is paired with a set of Siemens Tubes I ordered with it. It is connected via the Pan Am USB to the same Macbook. I used the built-in DAC on the Pan Am. Where applicable, FLAC files are played with Amarra, without any EQ. I do mess with EQ, but decided against it for this comparison. Why? Two amps, two sound sigs – I would have spent half my time fiddling with the EQ per song! So yeah, I was kinda lazy. Sorry.
A note on the files:
I have no LPs. I have a limited number of CDs. Please note, the majority of the songs I listened to for this review were Spotify 320 HQ streams (cached in my HDD). Some are in FLAC 16bit 44.1. I will let you know which ones are which as we go along the list.
The listening tests were conducted in the following way:
· Per-album basis rather than per song (where applicable)
· Per song basis, LYR first, then Pan Am, then vice versa
· Specific sections of a track that I am most familiar with, first the LYR, then Pan Am, then vice versa
Listening tests were conducted throughout a three-week period.
The Songs and my impressions: (again these are songs requested by CHGM with a few additions from me)
Offspring - Dirty Magic (FLAC)- This was fantastic on both amps. Both possessed great bass impact that was both tangibly physical and musical. It is not simply a booming sound, but actual pedal-to-drum-skin accurate and the accompanying push of the air that comes with it. I feel the Lyr reproduced the bass and snare drum with a little more accurately than the Pan Am. They fared equally well on the Bass and electric guitar.
The vocals are very clear on both, and I would say perform equally well at the loudness I listen to. It has to be said that I listen to the Lyr at 10:00, and the Pan Am at Low Gain at 12:00. I felt low gain to be enough for the Pan Am, and felt the bass to be a little more to my taste this setting. High gain made it boom-ier, but at an ever so slight loss of bass clarity.
The main difference I felt was the slightly better bass and bigger, more extended soundstage on the Lyr. You can more easily home-in on an instrument on the Shiit Lyr. Whether this is an effect of the Bifrost DAC, I don’t know, as I did not test the Lyr without a DAC. That would not have been fair, because the Pan Am has a built in DAC that I could not bypass for this reveiw.
Imagine Dragons – Continued Silence (Spotify 320kbps) and Fun. – Some Nights (Spotify 320kbps)
These were my two favorite albums on the ATH-M50 + FiiO e17 (Bass + 4, Treble +2). It was even better on the Schiit Asgard+Bifrost+HD598. The HD598 seemed too bass-anemic to me on the FiiO, and anything over bass+6 on it is not to my liking. The Bifrost+Asgard+HD598 had the perfect synergy with this album methinks…until the Lyr, and Pan Am and LCD 2 arrived.
The Lyr and Pan Am both delivered crisp highs that were never fatiguing. I never felt the urge, not once, to clench my jaws in anticipation of the slight ear-piecing note that sometimes accompany my Asgard+Bifrost+HD598 setup. Many times, I braced myself for the pain that never came, and realised on the LCD 2, that will not happen again (at least I hope).
The difference again is the bass. The quality is the same, but the impact is different. On these albums, the Lyr actually made the whole LCD 2 headphone vibrate. The LCD 2 is solid. The most solid, and heaviest headphone in my possession, yet the Lyr literally shook them (ok “shook” would be an exaggeration) while on my head. Disclaimer: I have a smallish head. I have it on three steps on the telescopic adjuster prongs. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley – Me Name Jr. Gong – I must admit that this wa not my cup of tea in terms of music – the key word there being “was”. With these amps and the LCD 2, I thoroughly enjoyed this track.
Bass is veeeery crisp, solid, and impactful. But more than the bass though, it’s all the accompanying sounds that caught my earbuds. The details sounded delightfully tasty. The background singers, and those clinking, snapping, sharp instruments that I can’t name. (Somebody please help me out here).
Everything was exquisite on both on Lyr and Pan Am, but the Pan Am delivered a very closer knit sound via its slightly smaller soundstage and it was good. Why is that good? Well, imagination is part of how I enjoy music. For this track I imagined I was on a beach resort listening to a reggae band in a makeshift stage sipping a pinacolada. And you know what? It works! The Lyr’s bigger music space did not work for me on this track. Although it felt verily the same quality, it didn’t feel quite authentic, as it did not jive with the picture and imagery I had in my head. The Pan Am for this type of music for me.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations Main Theme – Lorne Balfe with London Philharmonic Orchestra (Spotify 320kbps)
This track is a very haunting one. The singer’s voice conveys such pain and sadness that it makes the soul ache. The accompanying orchestral instruments, choir sections, and other electronically added garnishing simply frame the melodic vocals. Note that the singer is not singing a song, just using her voice to make melodies.
Here the Pan Am presented the vocals much closer to the listener making it a more intimate experience. The Lyr presented the vocals further away, and although not taking away from the clarity overall, it left the listener a little disconnected to the emotion of the song. Score for Pan Am.
Master Assassin and Desmond Miles – Jesper Kyd (Spotify 320kbps)
Master Assassin was perfect on the Lyr. If you’ve played the game (Assassin’s creed) you can easily imagine Ezio running atop roofs and dodging and fighting enemy soldiers and templars.
Though not that much more exceptional sonically than the Pan Am on this track, the added space and air between the instruments made it a more convincing listen. This track was from an open sandbox game, and the Lyr certainly made it feel like that. The space the Lyr conveyed was expansive, and thus the instruments are more easily picked out. The melodic background vocals were more absorbing as well.
I think I would have been perfectly happy with how the Pan Am presented it had I not played the game or knew about the background of the game, but I did, and my poor impressionable brain liked the way it was done on the Lyr better.
All above comments about Master Assassin apply to the track Desmond Miles as well.
Quiet Nights + Este Seu Olhar – Diana Krall (Flac)
Quiet nights was uhm...meh. Sorry to all the Diana Krall fans out there, but this just didn’t register with me sonically and emotionally. Neither the Lyr nor the Pan Am gave me a reason to change my mind.
Este Seu Olhar – this at least I liked. The detailed instrumentation of the track, the raspy, sultry voice of Ms. Krall mixed well with the bass and the guitar and it was especially lovely that I could pick out the sliding of the fingers on the frets. The percussion was also spot on; suitably gentle and not overly snappy. This track was enjoyable on both Pan Am and Lyr. Somehow the Lyr managed to be both spacious and yet intimate in this track. Detail is amazing on both. Tie.
Metallica - Enter Sandman (1000 kbps FLAC) –
This was a tough call but I preferred going back to this track on the Lyr. The Lyr I thought, delivered more “Bite” overall (Considering the overall tone and theme of the song). The vocals had the suitable amount of highs, the snare drum had a mean overbite and the better ‘snap!’, the bass, all had the right impact for the song.
And at the end….Booooo!!! Which always makes me say to my Lyr, “Yeah, Yeah!!!”
Metallica with SFSO Live - Enter Sandman (1000 kbps FLAC) –
This track was a mess and an unlistenable cacophony of noise on my Asgard+Bifrost+HD598. It was, for lack of a better word, terrible. That, I guess, was due more to the nature of SS on a naturally bass light, treble tilted pair of cans. The HD598 is still one of my favs, and it is detailed as hell, but this track was just too busy and too complicated for it. Imagine full rock band in the foreground and full symphonic orchestra in the background. Wow. One is already a handful (especially since it’s Metallica), but together? This will be a stern test for any headphone.
And yes it WAS a stern test – that the Lyr and the Pan Am passed with flying colors. More so the Lyr + Bifrost with its spacing and detail. On some passages, the Pan Am didn’t quite articulate the combined rock and symphony combination as well as the Lyr + Bifrost. The Pan Am showed a more Rock centric focus, whereas the Lyr, while still rock centric, managed to keep me aware of all the gyrations of the symphonic accompaniment.
Again…Booo! Yeah, yeah!
I apologize to Chgm, as I was unable to find the other tracks he requested. If you could send me a FLAC disc of said tracks, I could do a follow-up comparison.
On the actual Amps:
The Pan Am I was able to get during the black Friday sale. Got me a mean deal for all that I got, and had I purchased every component, I would have easily spent more tha 50% more than I actually did. Alo Audio also took good care of me from the very first email to the thank you note when I told them I had recieved the product.
The Schiit Lyr was my third Schiit product from Addicted to Audio (Schiit’s Australian distributors). Addicted to Audio (www.addictedtoaudio.com.au) are a bang to deal with. Got majority of my products almost overnight, considering they’re on a totall difference country. Jason Stoddard of Schiit Audio has replied to each and every enquiry I sent him.
And before you get any ideas, no I did not receive compesation. Just giving kudos where kudos is due.
Value for money, I think the Pan Am trumps the Lyr+Bifrost combo IF all you need is a USB DAC. It is a whole lotta Amp-DAC for the price.
If you need a whole slew of digital inputs, then Lyr+Bifrost is the clear winner.
Portability wise, the Pan Am of course is the winner. Let’s not mince words, the Schiits are heavy and need to be plugged in. I got the Pan Am with the passport and it has now replaced my FiiO e17 as my transportable setup. I don’t do mobile listening, I plunk onto a desk, work, and enjoy. If I did listen while on the go, I think I would prefer my iPhone 4S+FiiO overall.
At home, I do find myself plugging-in to the Lyr more often than the Pan Am. My poor - yet still beloved Asgard – has been relegated to a platform for the Lyr. (http://www.head-fi.org/g/i/736999/the-corner-audio-station/sort/display_order/). At the office, when plugged into the Pan Am, never do I think “Gosh I wish I had my Lyr.” That is high praise I think.
As for which amp do I prefer? I say get both! Sorry about your wallet.
Pros - Full, thick sound full of dynamic and life, tube rolling
Cons - Tube rolling?
I bought this after having the Schiit Asgard for a month with my HE-400's because I felt they were worthy of more power: I was spot on. I was very hesitant to dive into an amp twice the price that looked the same, but that tube/solid state combo, combined with the sheer power it delivers is nothing short of amazing.
I bought these exclusively for my HE-400's, but they should be a top amp for most high end headphones. The pre-amp function was a big seller for me as they turn my 2.1 computer system into something very unique.
Compared to the Asgard, the sound on the 400's is a lot fuller and the volume knob feels almost COMPLETELY linear. This is a rare thing, trust me. With EQ I found myself getting close to the max with the Asgards volume knob, but with the lyr in most cases I only need half the volume. I have bought a bunch of tubes for it, but haven't gotten to try them all out.
Let it be said that this should be one of the best hybrid amp values out there. I wanted the best for my 400's without being sucked into extravagantly priced amps. The lyr gives amazing sound and is actually worth it's asking price.
PLEASE pick this amp up if you own headphones that crave power like these Planar drivers, you will be extremely pleased.
I got this amp along with the HE-500s to jump into the audiophile scene. My first impressions are that this amp is made with care. It is a solid piece of equipment that is classy looking with no frills. It really drives the HE-500s well. I haven't had too much time to spend with them yet, but whenever I do have some time, sitting down with this combo is really a joy. It is noisy with my Denon ah-d2000s, but Schiit even says it wasn't meant for Denons so you can't fault it for that. I haven't gotten into tube rolling yet, but it's only a matter of time
Overall I am pleased with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone to pair with the HE-500s. From what I've read on here and through doing research it seems to be a very good value and I expect it to last a long time.