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Schiit Lyr + Bifrost combo doesn't improve my music at all

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by abrocod, Sep 18, 2014.
  1. abrocod
    Hi guys
    Two weeks ago I brought new Schiit Lyr and Bifrost combo. I use my MacBook Pro as music source. I have a Bose Music Monitor speaker, plus a Etymotic ER-4PT Portable In-Ear Earphones. Most of my music are in the format of mp3. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell any difference between using Schiit products or without using them. I am wondering is it normal? Is it because my earplug or speaker is not good? 
    It's my first time to use DAC and Amps. Before with my headphone experience, when I update my headphone to some good ones, I can immediately tell the difference. For example, if I use HD650 or HD800, I can immediately feel improve of sound quality. But for my Schiit, I couldn't feel any. Is it normal for Amps or DAC? 
    Thanks for advise. 
  2. Grave
    The headphones are vastly more important.
  3. abrocod
    I understand the headphone are more important. But is it normal that I can't tell any difference (since I always hearing people discuss about how large impact can DAC or Amp made)? Does Schiit check their product before they ship them ( I mean more than check their product produce sound)?
  4. neverdien
    You can't hear the different because the Mac already made you headphone sounded as its full potential (or somewhere near that).
    For me amping is just trying to make the gears sounded as their full-swing power. And in your case, the in-ear portable one was already sounded as it best so you get nothing from amping it.
    P/s: I have a Bifrost too, and its effect on my Grados is day-and-night
  5. satwilson
    This is the most unimformed post and comments I have ever read!!! MP3 files really????, HD800, MP3 files??????????Mac make everything full potential???????
  6. Visualista

    Exactly. MP3 files are lossy, compressed files. They've already thrown away a lot of information. If you're going to use top-end equipment you must have the best music files. At the very minimum import CD's into your MacBook as Apple Lossless files.
  7. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    First off, the main difference in sound depends on your headphone (also speakers) - it's the main thing coloring the sound (out of sheer engineering reality since no transducer is perfectly flat in all venues/heads they are used in/on from 20hz to 20khz, along with a perfectly flat impedance). Following that, your need to use an amp depends on how much power a particular headphone needs, and if you can deliver more of it with even less distortion; past that, you'd only really need to use a DAC in order to feed the amp a cleaner line out signal as well as to avoid using software volume control that limits the bit depth if it's not at 100%.
    As it is those Etymotics can be driven cleanly enough even by an iPhone, and any cleaner power you get from the Lyr isn't going to make that much difference unless you're also listening a lot louder on them, and as it is the Macbook is a clean enough source (even my Acer is a clean enough source, cleaner than my circa-2007 multimedia Vaio). Even the reduction of bit depth using OS volume control won't make for as much issues with the way that those IEMs can dish out effective, audible dynamic range (ie what your ears can discern).
    Once you start using something like the AKG K701 for example you'll get a larger soundstage and maybe more precise (teh Etymotics are precise also, so the difference might not be immediately audible), but then you might have to use a software volume setting where the hardware might be producing some harmonic distortion, whereas at the same volume the Lyr probably isn't even anywhere near half its THD. Why'd you get such equipment for an Etymotic IEM anyway? They were designed to be highly portable.
  8. bms44974
    The limiting factor in your setup may be the file format for you music. I wouldn't give up on the Bifrost/Lyr combo until you have tried it with a richly sampled flac file (not one that that is simply upsampled from mp3 or CD format). Cheers... Brian
  9. money4me247 Contributor
    You should upgrade your source files to 320kbps LAME mp3. It us very difficult for most ppl to distinguish between that vs flac in a blind test.

    However, you are probably right. Amps/DACs have a minimal impact on sound quality compared to headphones/source files. I would say maybe 15% improvement max. An good amplifier is supposed to only provide more power without adding too much coloration, so this is only helpful for sonic improvements if your headphones require that extra power. Your IEMs most likely do not and probably dont scale up with more power. From my experience, the sonic changes from DACs are extremely subtle.

    The Schiit Lyr+Bifrost is a well-recommended combo, so if you plan on getting full-sized open headphones with high impedance or planar magnetic drivers, they will be useful. Or if you will be getting $500+ mid-fi or $1000+ flagship headphones that scale up with nicer equipment.

    If you hear no difference with your current gear, I say give it a few more days before returning it.
    tamleo likes this.
  10. gmazz
    I have been using the Bifrost Uber and Valhalla 2 for a while now.  Just upgraded the amp to a Lyr 2.  Just like Schitt's products and made in the US.
    The Bifrost was night and day for me.  But I have to agree with the previous posts.  If the source is sub 320 bit MP3 I don't see a huge difference but once you start listening to lossless (all I have bought for the last year are flac) you really need a good DAC to enjoy the detail you purchased.  
    I've been running Bifrost + Valhalla 2 (stock tubes) + HD650's  for a bit now but am considering buying myself an early xmas present of a Lyr 2 and LCD3!  Always in search of something better....
  11. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    I totally overlooked this part. They're right, mp3 won't make much of a difference, again unless you're comparing two DACs where the sound of one is deliberately coloring the tonal balance. The thing with MP3 is that it basically "shaves off" the lowest and highest frequencies, the idea at the time that MP3 compression was conceived was that humans don't actually listen to the notes in these frequencies anyway. It's partially true that these aren't in the main body of the music, but that doesn't mean you won't notice them when they aren't there, particularly if you're familiar with what the actual recording sounds like. If you've been listening to MP3s your whole life then there's going to be that problem - your reference are still the MP3s. 

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