Review: Schiit Audio Lyr 3 – Flexibility

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

 

AKG – K240 (Sextett)

The Sextett is my personal stress-test headphone for any amplifier with its 600 Ohms impedance. It is one of the hardest to drive headphones I came across, not because of the high impedance but most amplifiers just don’t get the sound right.

It’s the first time the Lyr 3 has to flex its muscles, it has more than enough power to drive this vintage headphone though. Not only does it get freakishly loud, it also delivers in sonics.

The high musicality goes into the AKG and makes its way through to your ears. Bass is well controlled and textured. It reaches deep and in dynamic manner with excellent resolution. Midrange is enjoyable and organic. Timbre is spot on and natural. Sometimes I forget how good this fourty year old headphone can sound. The Lyr 3 makes me remember each time and sets new marks to memorize.

Empire Ears – Legend X

What really took me by surprise was how well the Lyr 3 had the Legend X under control. There was no sign of hissing apparent, and that says quite a lot for a tube hybrid amplifier. Even in low gain there is perfect channel balance at low volumes.

The Legend X is a monitor that does benefit from additional power. The Lyr 3 really knows how to work with the dual Weapon IX dynamic drivers, other sources don’t get them to this level, even much higher priced ones. The resolution and layering did get one or two steps up. The sound stage is mighty big for an IEM. Midrange is lush and emotional with moderate warmth. High notes are rich and energetic with superb clarity and extension.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

JH Audio – Lola

Lola is a monitor that really craves good power. Without it she can sound underwhelming in my opinion, but fed with enough juice she rewards with an extremely musical and enjoyable sound. The dual dynamic drivers really demand some Voltage as the mids indeed open up quite a bit with superior resolution, emotion and layering. Lola is one of the very best monitors when it comes to convincing instrumental colouration, she does that even better when paired with a high power source like the Lyr 3.

The combination is absolutely fantastic and shocked me a little how great Lola can sound. I was never the biggest fan of her, but with Lyr 3 it is one of the very best in my opinion. These two create a very easy to love signature that I just can’t get out of my head. Plain wonderful.

It’s impressive how versatile the Lyr 3 is when it comes to powering headphones. It has no problem driving anything under the sun it seems. Hard to drive cans from the mid 70’s, planar magnetics, flagship dynamics and even IEMs. Lyr 3 becomes the Swiss army knife of amplifiers.

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Schiit Audio Lyr 3

Conclusion

The Lyr 3 to me is a highly musical sounding device that really gets you into the music again, where you lose all sight of critical listening and just enjoy what is in front of you. Sure, the DAC could be more resolved or create a bigger venue, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you enjoy the music you like, and the Lyr 3 gets you as close as possible for that price.

Take into account the immense elasticity of the product, letting you configure it to your needs, and the extreme output power you will be faced with one tough decision not to get the Lyr 3 when you’re looking for a new affordable desktop amplifier.

The only downside I came across with the Lyr 3 is the grounding issue, which however only comes forward with In Ear Monitors.

For the price, the flexibility and the sound it is highly recommended and gives every other amplifier of this year a serious run for Best Amplifier 2018.

Chapeau Schiit Audio!

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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.

    22 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?

    • Reply September 26, 2019

      Shane D

      Hello. Would the Lyr 3 (amp only), be a good match with very efficient headphones? My hardest to drive pair are the HD58X’s. And I don’t listen very loud.
      I would mainly be using Grado GH2’s, Beyer T5p.2’s, Meze 99 Classic’s and Shure 1540’s.
      Music choice is rock with some pop, horn jazz and blues. LOVE horns and vocals.

      Thank you.

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