Review: Schiit Audio Lyr 3 – Flexibility

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

 

Build Quality

For the rather compact size of 9 x 6 x 2.25” (or 22.9 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm for the metric lovers) the Lyr 3 sports quite some weight with its 6 pounds (2.7 kg). The case is fully made of aluminum and in my opinion is well finished. I have not spotted any CNC marks or scratches. The top and side has some ventilation holes in them for better air flow, it’s a discrete tube-hybrid after all.

One thing I really like is the volume knob, which is finished nicely and rotates very smooth. Unfortunately there seems to be some grounding issue with the Lyr 3 (or with mine at least) as I do get some hum through sensitive monitors when I touch the unit. This is not as audible with full sized headphones.

Something else I’m missing is some sort of protection cage for the tube. Something that protects you from burning your hands on that valve, as these things get really hot.

I really like the design of Schiit’s gear. It’s very simple but stylish. I have seen other simple designs that don’t bring across any style and are just flat boring. The Lyr 3 is not, I find it gorgeous. One thing I would have liked though, were matching colors of top/front and the sides. The gray/silver mix is not my cup of tea. That’s personal again though. You might like it.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Control

Using the Lyr 3 is pretty straight forward. You have a power switch on the back and an input and gain switch on the front. With the front left switch you can set gain (bottom – low, top – high) and with the right switch you set input (given you have more than one). On the right-hand side of the unit there is the headphone output and with the volume knob you control the output. It’s all very easy and self-explaining in the end. You can’t really make any mistakes in my opinion.

Sound

For years I have been a sucker for good tube amplifiers, their average size and accessibility here in the third-audio-world (at least portable and headphone related) have always been a turn off for me though. The only exclusion was the transportable Continental Dual Mono, which I miss heavily since I sold it. I really like the warmth a good tube can bring into the signal. The Lyr 3 was a very welcome new addition in that regard. It’s compact enough for my small apartment and I can put it high enough so the little hands of my kids won’t reach it. Don’t want them to burn their fingers on this goodie.

For this section I think it’s best to divide the respective functions into separate sub-chapters. Best is to start with the pure amplifier as a base and then go over the respective addons one for one.

Pure amplifier mode (Tung-Sol 6SN7)

For this I have used the glorious Chord Electronics Qutest as d/a converter, as it fires one of the purest signals I know. The British DAC is set to its reference filter (white) to disallow any coloration of the sound before it reaches the Schiit analogue input.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

The Lyr 3 did exactly as I have expected it from a discrete amplifier. It sounds wonderfully smooth and organic, some might call it analogue sounding with its nice warmth.

Bass is punchy, rich and well extended. It reaches down low into deep sub-bass regions with decent rumble. Low ends don’t possess too high impact or slam, but they have excellent resolution and texture. The sound is very dynamic and has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to it that just keeps my feet bouncing. Its boosted mid and upper bass do give slight coloration to the lower mids which results in a nice warm sound that is set out to be enjoyed on long runs.

Midrange shows the greatness of the traditional tube sound. Warm, lush and impressively organic every instrument and voice gets reproduced. There is excellent texture again in the midrange and the slight warmth in the lower registers make them really pleasing. The Lyr 3 really has a nice musical approach to everything, and that is what makes the Schiit a great amp.

It puts music enjoyment before any technical sound. The Lyr 3 however has exemplary layering and imaging where the position of each performer is easily pointed out from a deep dark background.

The sound stage is nicely spread in even dimensions out of your head. Separation of instruments could be a touch better with a hint more air in the room, but that is at the cost of harmony. Upper mids are of richer tonality with great timbre and glow, especially some bells can become really addictive to listen to. The resolution of the midrange is wonderful with Qutest, as it transports a very high amount of information to the amplifier.

Tube amplifiers are well known to iron out some peaks in the treble region. If you have a pair of headphones that show a particular spike in some higher notes, then a tube amp should get rid of that. The Lyr 3 has a soft treble that is not overly energetic, but it is like upper midrange very rich and well textured.

Part Two on Sound after the jump

Review: Schiit Audio Lyr 3 – Flexibility
4.6 (91.76%) 153 vote[s]

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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.

    21 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.

    • Reply September 29, 2018

      James

      Hi Linus,

      Great review on the Lyr 3. I have owned one for the last 2 months and can also confirm the grounding issue exists on my unit. Originally it was a nuisance and I contacted Schiit support. They said it was related to the wiring in my house but I confirmed it exists outside my home. You are the first to bring it up and glad you did as no one on the forums acknowledges its existence. Glad I am not alone in the issue. Fortunately, after a few months the issue doesn’t bother me anymore as the music has taken over. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply November 17, 2018

      Arthur

      Final’s website shows that the D8000s weight 523g, rather than over 600. It surely is still within the realm of “torturing machine” though.

    • Reply December 9, 2018

      Yuang

      I currently have an HD700, and a Sony NWZ-ZW1 portable player bought years ago. Does the Schiit Lyr drive HD700 well? If not, can you recommend me a desktop amp good for HD700 (under $1,000)? I’m also confused if I need a DAC+amp or just an amp.

      I’d really appreciate it if anyone can answer my questions. I’m new in Hi-Fi and everything is confusing to me 🙁

      • Reply December 9, 2018

        Linus

        Hi Yuang,

        thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        I don’t think the Lyr 3 would have a problem driving the 700’s, it performs really well with my HD800S… It also drives much more difficult gear.

        You should be safe with the Lyr 3 imo.

        If you need a DAC/Amp or Amp comes down to what you already have in your chain. If you want a desktop setup you might want to either get a DAC module from Schiit, or buy a separate DAC. I prefer the Lyr 3 in amp mode, fed by one of my DACs (mostly the Chord Qutest).

        You can also use your WM-1Z though, but then you would do double-amping (first in the DAP, and secondary in the amp). You might want to avoid that. If the Sony offers a Line Out function use this one.

        Hope that helped and didn’t add more confusion 😉

    • Reply February 15, 2019

      star

      in a straight side by side direct comparison between the lyr 3 and Continental Dual Mono for headphones that done need a whole bunch of juice ,any difference in musically joy sound signature ?

    • Reply February 17, 2019

      star

      alo audio cdm is the other name for it ?

      • Reply February 17, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Star,
        thanks for your comment.
        Yes, CDM = Continental Dual Mono.
        The CDM to me has higher resolution and better imaging, its bass is also tighter, more like a solid state amplifier. The Lyr3 is lusher and more musical, with a softer tonality. CDM should be used fully balanced imo, that’s where it shines.

    • Reply April 22, 2019

      Lars Christensen

      Thanks for a great review. Will it make sense to use a Dragon Fly Red as DAC and combine it with the Lyr 3 in pure AMP mode? Or does the Lyr 3 DAC do a better job than the dragon fly red? Thanks.

      Yes, I have the dragon fly red and a pair of Hifiman planars. But is looking to upgrade. Had the Mojo for a while but did not fancy it.

      • Reply May 3, 2019

        Linus

        Hi Lars,
        thanks a lot for your comment. Real sorry about the delay in responding, work has kept me pretty occupied. 😀
        Personally I would get a DAC card for the Lyr3 instead of using the DF Red. It’s a great performer, no doubt, but I feel the multibit card and enjoy that.
        Hope that helps.
        Cheers,
        L

    • Reply July 29, 2019

      Joe G

      Hi Linus,
      So I’m currently running my Audeze LCD-2C off of my Chord Mojo, which I do seem to have at around 85-90% power all the time and I’d add some bass in the Equalizer APO (Peace GUI). Do you think the Lyr 3 as an amp would help me gain more punch, bass, and volume in my chain w/o having to use the EQ?

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