Review: Schiit Audio Lyr 3 – Flexibility

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

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.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

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.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

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.

Package

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.

Review: Schiit Audio Lyr 3 – Flexibility
4.7 (94.5%) 131 votes

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A daytime code monkey with a passion for audio and his kids, Linus tends to look at gear with a technical approach, trying to understand why certain things sound the way they do. When there is no music around, Linus goes the extra mile and annoys the hell out of his colleagues with low level beatboxing.

11 Comments

  • Reply September 4, 2018

    Jonathan

    Thanks for the great review! How would you compare the Shiit to the ALO CDM? Would the CDM properly drive the HD650?

    Cheers!

    • Reply September 4, 2018

      Lieven

      It can drive it power wise, but the synergy for me isn’t really there. The Woo WA11 made a far better pairing

    • Reply September 5, 2018

      Linus

      Hi Jonathan,

      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      The CDM is a great device as well, but heavily held back by the stock tubes. When I had it, I changed to Mullard tubes which revealed the true potential of the CDM. Can’t speak about tube rolling with the Lyr…

      The CDM, imo, should be used fully balanced, that’s how it sounds the best. That way it sounds more spacious and open than the Lyr. The Lyr is more melodious and liquid.

      As for the 650, as Lieven said it should have the power to drive it loud, but not to its optimum performance. I don’t have the 650 (shame, I know), so I can’t speak for the Lyr pairing.

      Hope that helped.

      Cheers!

  • Reply September 7, 2018

    Chel Illingworth

    I’m curious how the lyr 3 multibit would work with my pair of night owls. Looking to upgrade from dragonfly red. Or… would a chord mojo be better?

    • Reply September 7, 2018

      Linus

      Hi Chel,

      thanks for your comment.
      The Mojo has higher resolution and sounds more technical overall. The Lyr follows a liquid and harmonic signature throughout. It really depends on how you want to use it. The Multibit Lyr is desktop only. The Mojo is portable and loads smaller. It also offers more digital inputs, whereas the Lyr 3 has only USB. The Schiit has an additional analogue input.

      What would the use scenario be?

  • Reply September 7, 2018

    Chel

    Hey thanks for the comment, mostly I’d use it listening to music in my living room hooked up to a MacBook Air streaming tidal.

    • Reply September 7, 2018

      Linus

      Alright.
      Do you need it for extremely hard to drive cans? If so, the Lyr 3 might be the better fit, as it has quite a bit more power.
      Do you also want to use it as a portable device? Then the Mojo is what you want.
      Do you need more than just the USB input? Again, Mojo.
      Do you want to play with different signature? Lyr 3 offers tube rolling.

      What are your sonic preferences?

  • Reply September 8, 2018

    Chel

    I’m using the audioquest nightowls, most often with the hybrid pads. I listen to a lot of acoustic music. Looking for more detail, spaciousness and clarity over the DF red.

    • Reply September 8, 2018

      Linus

      I think you might be better off with a Mojo then, because it has more than enough power to drive the Nightowls, you can attach it to your phone and take it with you when travelling with the MacBook.

  • Reply September 8, 2018

    Karifftosh

    Great review Linus! Could you be more spesific about grounding issue with iems? Is there any hum when you are not touching the chassis?

    • Reply September 9, 2018

      Linus

      Hi Karifftosh,

      thanks for your comment.
      Yeah, it occurs when I touch the housing.
      Hope that helps.

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