NEW Schiit Lyr 2: Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by sling5s, Jun 2, 2014.
  1. RastaDolphin
    Yeah, I've been reading a lot about them and I'm convinced I need to get them to make an upgrade (and shorter) cable as well. What length did you go with? And how do you like it? Did the sound improve much from whatever you were using before?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  2. Alcophone
    I quite like them, too! I'm by no means a cable expert, but I have a 5m, 2m and 1m RCA cable from them, and a 2m and 1m aux cable for my headphones.

    I'm using the 5m RCA from the Schiit SYS to my subwoofer (via an AudioQuest RCA splitter), and the Schiit PYST cables to the Vidar, and to my DAC. At some other point I had the SYS on the couch, with a 2m RCA to the sub, the 5m RCA to the Vidar, and the 1m RCA to my DAC. Despite the SYS being passive, I didn't notice any issues. Maybe I would have with some really careful listening, but at least it's not super bad - despite the subwoofer cable running parallel to some power cables. The RCA cables are a bit thicker than Schiit's PYST cables.

    The cable that came with my Philips SHP9500S started cutting out (sticking with the German theme, it had a Wackelkontakt, i.e. a wobble contact), so I got the 2m one and compared it to the stock cable that came with my Focal Listen, and thought it sounded slightly better (cleaner, punchier), so I got the 1m for the Focal, which I use on the go. The first 1m aux cable I got had some issues, and also a different, simpler logo (like this: That was sold by Amazon directly, while the other cables I got from KabelDirekt selling on Amazon. Today I received another 1m aux cable, sold by KabelDirekt instead of Amazon, and it has that older, fancier logo (like this: So far it's working without issues.

    Edit: I also have their aux to RCA cable for when I want to use my Sound Blaster E5 as the DAC instead of the iDSD, which doesn't have TOSlink in. The individual cables leading to the RCA connectors aren't nearly as thick as with their RCA cables, but still sturdier than some cheap cables I have.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  3. Alcophone
    Hey folks,

    I'd appreciate your help. I'm in the process of picking a new pair of open headphones. To kick things off, I got the Acoustic Research AR-H1 since I have heard good things about them, couldn't audition them anywhere and because AR has a 30 day return policy. I want to compare these to other headphones (AEON Flow Open, Ether Flow, Focal Clear and more) at my go to audio store.
    I wanted to make sure that whatever headphone I try isn't held back by my current go to DAC/amp, the iFi nano iDSD. I considered the Jotunheim and Lyr 2, but wasn't sure which one would be the better choice. I had zero experience with tubes, and a friend was curious about the Lyr 2, so I got these two to compare and to also get more familiar with the infamous "tube sound". I ordered the Jotunheim with DAC module, and the Lyr 2 with LISST and tubes, and also got the Gold Lion E88CC/6922 recommended by some, and the Matsu****a/National PCC88/7DJ8 that is Dan's budget recommendation for the Mjolnir 2 sold on I got the tubes from Upscale Audio (Platinum Grade, no cryo).

    On Monday, the two Schiit amps arrived. I hooked up the nano iDSD with AudioQuest RCA splitters and PYST cables to both amps, and set the volume on both amps equally high (by ear), using low gain on both.
    I switched back and forth between the two amps, starting out with the LISST modules. Tonally, they sounded very similar to me, but from the get go, the Lyr 2/LISST combo seemed softer, rolled off to me compared to the Jotunheim. Transients and bass had noticeably less impact.
    At most 30 min. later I switched to the stock tubes, and... didn't notice any difference. That surprised me quite a bit! Not sure how long I gave that a chance, but hardly anyone is a fan of the stock tubes anyway.
    So I moved on to the Gold Lions. Oh, hello! Right away (without giving the tubes much of a warmup), the sound was more engaging, more vivid, with more sparkle in the highs (than before) as well - less rolled off than with LISST or stock tubes. I liked that! But, going back and forth, the Jotunheim still had more slam, more precision, and sounded cleaner, too.
    Finally, the National tubes. Less engaging than the Gold Lions, but otherwise very similar as far as I could tell, i.e. also less rolled off than stock tubes/LISST, but not on par with the Jotunheim.
    The second day, I went back to the Gold Lions, and noticed that with some distortion-prone recordings like Sarah Jarosz's album Undercurrent, Lyr 2 sounded harsh and somewhat dirty, while the Jotunheim remained clean and in control. Whenever I switched back to the Jotunheim, it seemed a bit dull for a few seconds, but that was quickly forgotten, while I continued to enjoy the better transients and bass slam, without missing what the tubes did better in direct comparison.

    My interest in the Lyr 2 as a headphone amp is now greatly diminished. I still want to hook it up as a preamp to my speaker system, but just to test tubes there - I plan on getting Freya in the long run for a balanced setup. Pretty sure the Jotunheim is a keeper. I'll definitely miss the Lyr 2 in the winter, I did grow fond of it as a hand warmer!

    So, as a toob noob, I'd like some input from you. Does what I hear seam about right, or am I crazy? Is what I perceive as "more engaging" the infamous tube warmth? Am I even getting an accurate impression when listening right after turning the Lyr 2 back on? How long should I give the Lyr 2 as such to warm up, and, when I then switch tubes, how long should I give the newly switched in tube in the already toasty amp to warm up? Which of the tubes do you consider most promising to be able to identify that tube sound? Can you (the reader) even reliably tell a tube amp from a solid state amp in a blind test? Or maybe only with a full tube amp, not a hybrid like the Lyr 2? Are there any songs that particularly benefit from tubes? Anything that I should listen for in particular when auditioning tubes? Any budget friendly tubes that should yield spectacularly different results?

    I'm happy to say that I didn't notice any pops or hisses, or microphonics, etc. So the good thing about this experiment is that I'm more inclined to see tubes as just one of many valid technology choices in amps, instead of something inherently inferior to modern technology. Mostly because I actually liked both non-stock tubes better than the LISST modules, so maybe it's something about Lyr 2 as such that just isn't as good as Jotunheim, regardless of the tubes used.

    Just for the record, I only later used the Jotunheim's DAC module (and liked it slightly better than the nano iDSD), and I don't have any balanced cables yet (I'm leaving that for when I have made my choice about the headphones), so in the above comparisons, it was always the same DAC, same pair of headphones and always single ended.
  4. RastaDolphin
    Wow! Good job getting a succinct description of all your concerns in one comment. haha Well, I'm no tube expert either. The Lyr is my only extended experience with tubes. Even so, I suspect it doesn't give a true indication of what the "tube experience" is all about since it's not dedicated tubes and instead a hybrid. That being said, I've noticed quite a difference between different tubes. I actually have swapped out tubes based on my source -- using one set for vinyl and another for digital.

    As far as warm up time, most people have advised me to give them at least 10 minutes to warm but really "cook" after about an hour but honestly, it being such a stretch of time I haven't noticed a difference from a minute after I turn it on. I just have no way to judge the sound I heard an hour ago against what I'm now hearing.

    As far as your overall question, forget everything you read and trust your ears. I'm sure you've heard that before but it's so true. If you're happy with the Jotenheim, rock on! You'll definitely save time and money trying to find the best tubes.

    As far music to pair with tubes, I'd recommend just listening to what you normally listen to. You want your gear to produce the best results with the music you like ... if your goal is to enjoy your music more. BUT, I like listening to very textured layered stuff. Not sure what your preferences are but Yosi Horikawa's last album "Vapor" is a really fun enjoyable album that's also a treasure trove of sound. He stuff is based around field recordings. Enjoy.

    (I really wanna try those Gold Lions now. haha)
  5. RastaDolphin
    Actually, don't listen to me. I just did a test where I listened to the same part of a track when I first turn on the Lyr, 10 minutes later, and then an hour later and yes there's a big difference. But it sounds great right away. I usually just fire it up and start listening to different stuff because I'm impatient which makes it hard to judge but there you go.
  6. Alcophone
    Hah, I appreciate the effort! I think I'll take it back to the office tomorrow and run it just with the Gold Lions.
    Yosi Horikawa's Bubbles taught me that my Focal Listen doesn't have neutral bass as I previously thought, but a bit of a bass boost. Sounds really nice with some genres, but makes natural sounds like in Bubbles, and bassy instruments, sound unnatural. The AR-H1 does that better. Makes me want to get a Loki for those moments where a bit of extra oomph is warranted (much more practical than swapping tubes, too).
  7. DavidA
    @Alcophone are you only using the AR-H1 in all of your evaluations? If so, you might want to try other headphones with the Jot and Lyr2 since different headphones react differently to different amps. My impression of the Jot was it was a bit bright with some harshness in the treble with headphones that I was thinking of use it with (HD800, HD700, T1 and HE560) but with slightly warmer headphones like the HD650 and SRH-1840 the Jot was quite good, almost as good as the HD650 + BH Crack pairing. The Jot is a great amp but being able to roll tubes is where the Lyr2 has an edge if you want to fine tune the sound and not all tube amps are warm/lush sounding.
    I'm a bit different since I'm not looking for neutral / natural sound or "how the artist intended it to sound" but a sound that excites me and draws me in to the music, keeps me wanting to listen to just one more song even when the GF is bugging me to get to bed, or to listen to more songs just to finish a bottle of wine.
    I actually have a pair of Gold Lion tubes in my Lyr2 at the moment and its a decent tube for the price. I usually just rotate my tubes in my Lyr2, Ember, and BH Crack about once a month just to have a slightly different sound each month, it gets me to appreciate the different flavors of the various tubes and how they pair with the different headphones.
    koover likes this.
  8. Alcophone
    I briefly used the Focal Listen as well, but not long enough to say much about it yet. I'll do some more listening with it, and the Philips at home, though they are the ones I want to replace. Also want to meet up with my friend who has the Ether Flow, and take the Jotunheim to my go to audio store. The good thing is that I like it bright (Audeze tends to be too dark to me), but harsh I don't like either.
  9. DavidA
    There is a way to get the Lyr2 to have the dynamics, slam, bass of the Jot while still not being harsh in the highs but the tubes are really over priced these days. If you can find Telefunken CCa, Siemens CCa, or 74-75 Reflektor tubes they will take the Lyr2 to a nice level, about as good as the Lyr2 will sound IMO.
    I only keep one pair of the Telefunken and Siemens at home, the other 2 pairs of Telefunken and Siemens are in a controlled environment storage locker along with most of my speaker gear.
    Can't believe how much the prices for these went up over the years, they are good but not for the current asking prices IMO.
    Alcophone, reddog and koover like this.
  10. koover
    I was looking hard at the Telefunken tubes the past few days and WTH? A pair of inexpensive sets will run you at a minimum $150 all the way up to a grand. Forget that noise as that 2x’s the cost of the amp. I don’t care how good they sound, I’ll upgrade amps first before I spend that kind of money on a single set of tubes.
    But thanx for the ideas on the other tubes you mentioned and showed.
    reddog likes this.
  11. DavidA
    The Telefunken's used to be "affordable" at one point ...a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.....$110/pair IIRC and even then I thought it was over priced, LOL. I did get a pair of Siemens CCa for $80 many years ago and some Bugle Boys for $40/pair way back then also. These days I'm glad my ex-GF told me to just get what I want back then since she was paying for some of them.
    @koover , agree with you about paying 2x the price of the amp for tubes and like you I'd never do that either these days and a new/different amps is a much better way to go.
    reddog and koover like this.
  12. Alcophone
    Finally, a use for my food thermometer.

  13. DavidA
    @Alcophone , that is a great picture, LOL. The Lyr2 does get hot and since I already live in Hawaii near the beach I've had to use a fan to keep the temperatures from getting really high. You might want to get some socket savers (from TubeMonger) to get the tubes a bit higher out of the amps so they will run a bit cooler and also making it much easier to change tubes.
    This is what I use to measure the temp:
    Raytek-Raynger ST-1.jpg Raytek-Raynger ST-2.jpg
    Quicker and I don't have to even get close
    Alcophone likes this.
  14. Alcophone
    That's probably a lot more a accurate :) It feels much hotter than I would expect based on the temperature that I measured. I kind of like it, as if it must be working really hard for me ^^

    I left it on for a while without listening to it. It sounded perfectly enjoyable, but not like it has surpassed the Jotunheim. Yes, potentially with the right tubes, it might, but until there are amazing production tubes (if that ever happens) I'd rather avoid that game. I'm giving the Lyr 2 to a friend tomorrow so he can check it out with his Ether Flow (and LCD-X).

    I'm hoping to compare the Jotunheim to the Auralic Taurus MkII and the iFi pro iCan tomorrow, as well as a friend's GS-X Mk2. I hope I can even tell the difference. It took me a while to compare the nano iDSD to the Jotunheim, but I did eventually notice that the iDSD seems to be running out of steam a bit when it comes to bass attack, it's ever so slightly rounder, muddier. I wouldn't have noticed on its own. They were closer than the Jotunheim vs Lyr 2 with LISST/stock tubes (without warmup time, at least).

    Chris from Audio Vision SF said that it won't be a fair comparison because of warmup time (none for the Jotunheim/GS-X, probably weeks for the Taurus and iCan). We'll see! At least the store amps will be nicely cornered in terms of price.
  15. DavidA
    The stock tubes and the LISST were my least liked in the Lyr2 and I'd agree the Jot is better if that is what you are using to compare the two but using some decent tubes the Lyr2 is better match with more headphones than the Jot.
    koover likes this.

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