The Lyr 3 is a fully discrete tube hybrid headphone-amplifier that features some Godzilla like power. Does it sound good too? Let’s find out!
Disclaimer: The Lyr 3 by Schiit Audio was provided for the purpose of this review. Schiit Audio is not affliated with Headfonia and not a site advertizer. Many thanks for the generosity and opportunity to test the Lyr 3 at an extended period.
About Schiit Audio
Schiit Audio is an American manufacturer of amplifiers, d/a converters and audio accessories. They have been around in the community for a long time already and have started out in 2010. Everyone in the head-fi world knows them for their wonderful performances and very good prices. My hat goes off to them especially for their simple yet effective marketing department. Their name is quite often used for word plays (I love them). This coupled with the great performing gear of theirs they have gained immense popularity.
Schiit Audio is one of the last standing companies that does not jump on any hype. In our scene I see it very often that people just demand the latest, and supposedly greatest, support for file formats (MQA, DSD) or the highest sample rates. Schiit does not give much for that, and I understand why. You won‘t run into a lot of DSD content, though DSD64 especially is gaining ground. Personally, I think it is not about the file-format or the sample rates, the mastering and engineering behind each track is way more important than that. All the rest to me is just marketing.
Now that that‘s off the chest, let‘s continue with some info about Schiit.
Schiit Audio is run by two people: Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat. Two men that have a lot of audio background as each one of them was designing hardware (Stoddard – Amplifiers; Moffat – DACs) in their past. If you‘re interested to learn more about these two men, I suggest you read up on the massive Head-Fi posts Jason Stoddard regularly pushes out. Their history and way of doing things really is something.
All Schiit Audio products are built in the USA. If you’re not satisfied with your new toy, they give you 15 days money back guarantee. Nice!
It has been a while since we featured a Schiit Audio product here on Headfonia. Thank god the wait is over.
About Lyr 3
The Lyr 3 is a modular hybrid headphone amplifier. It is fully discrete, which means there are no integrated circuits (OpAmps) in there. I myself find myself very attracted to discrete designs and their sound signature. It is hard to achieve such a smooth and liquid sounding product with Operational Amplifiers.
The wonderful thing about the Lyr however is it’s Yoga like flexibility. Not only can you use dual-triode valves with this amplifier, you can also get something called LISST, which is a solid state tube that will change the sound of the amplifier. We will learn a little later how it changes it. Additionally to tube-rolling you can also get different modules for the Lyr 3.
You can get a solo analogue amplifier, a DAC/amp combo (multibit or AK4490 DAC) or even a moving-magnet phono-stage for your turntable. My unit came with the LISST and Tung-Sol tubes and the multibit card installed.
Functionality-wise the Lyr 3 is very easy. You get one analogue input (RCA), one pre-amplifier output (RCA) and depending on what card you have installed either USB B or RCA phono input.
The Lyr 3 practically oozes of power with its mind-bobbling nine Watts output (into 16 Ohms). At incredibly low 0.3 Ohms output impedance the Lyr 3 measures outstandingly. It brings two gain settings to the table and has only one single ended 6.35mm jack on front. Some people might scream now for a balanced connection, but I don’t necessarily agree.
An output is only as good as it is implemented. I have seen impressive single ended outputs (think Chord Electronics) and very bad balanced ones (FiiO’s X5iii comes to mind). Balanced does not automatically mean better.
The Lyr 3 uses Schiit’s CoherenceTM hybrid topology, which works with all 6N8S NOS as well as new 6SN7 tubes. The newly introduced ContinuityTM technology is a constant transconductance output stage which should provide superior performance.
The Lyr 3 costs 499$ in the base configuration and can set you back more, depending on the package chosen.
Schiit does not spoil their Lyr 3 customers with some luxuriously over-designed package. The amplifier comes in a simple cardboard box with some hard foam in it to securely transport the Lyr 3. You’ll also get a power chord, a short manual and the selected tube (s). That’s it. Simple yet effective. Sure a little more would’ve been nice, but do you really need it?
The review continues on the next page.