Schiit Lyr+ Review
Schiit Lyr+ Review
The desert island amplifier
Pros: + Super musical and engaging
+ Analogue-like and organic sounding timbre
+ Crystal clear and transparent
+ Excellent technicalities
+ Dynamic and impactful
+ Immersive and holographic soundstage
+ Both tube and solid state modes sound equally great
+ Great as a pure solid state amplifier
+ Great as a tube hybrid amplifier
+ You can buy it with or without a tube
+ Very powerful with low noise floor
+ Two analogue inputs and preamp output
+ 64-step relay ladder volume control with mute function
+ Runs cool without overheating
+ Compact sized
+ Excellent build quality
+ Remote controlled
+ Impressive price to performance ratio
Cons: – Tube rolling is not that effective as in a pure tube amplifier
– The relay is noisy and not as fast in volume adjustment as a regular potentiometer
– Nothing else of note
The review sample was kindly provided as an extended loan in exchange for an honest review.
I didn’t receive monetary or any other kind of compensation and I don’t use affiliate links.
The price of the Lyr is $599 without a tube and $649 with a premium 6SN7 tube and you can order it directly from the Schiit website.
If you don’t know about Schiit, the US based company that revolutionized the audio market and defined the actual meaning of price to performance ratio then you must immediately educate yourself by reading their very interesting here.
The Lyr was Schitt’s first hybrid headphone amplifier with dual triode E88CC/6922 tubes for voltage gain and mosfets for current gain.
Then came the second generation with a gain switch, new regulated high-voltage supply, DC regulated heaters and preamp outputs.
The third iteration of the Lyr saw the substitution of the dual 6922 tubes for a single 6SN7, the new Coherence hybrid topology and a modular design that allowed you to add a DAC or a phono module of your choice.
This version with the multibit DAC module was the one I reviewed for www.hxosplus.gr printed edition and still ranks as one of my favorite amplifiers up to date.
The new Lyr+ is the fourth generation of the amplifier, the 6SN7 input tube is still here but everything else is pretty much different.
The new Lyr+ is the only headamp in the world that goes seamlessly from tube to solid state, using the exclusive Fusion Architecture™ as developed by Schiit.
With the Lyr+ you can plug in any 6SN7 type tube for 100% tube voltage gain but now you can additionally switch to its internal solid state gain stage, based on exotic depletion-mode MOSFETs.
The Lyr+ is essentially two amplifiers, a pure solid state and a tube hybrid under the same hood.
You can buy the Lyr+ without a tube for solid state only use or if you already have a nice collection of 6SN7 tubes and want to save some money.
Except for the pre-amp output, the Lyr+ now comes with a 64-step relay ladder volume control, two line-level analogue inputs and a remote control, yes you read it right, a remote control.
For more technical information and a really entertaining FAQ section please read here.
Appearance and user interface
Appearance wise nothing has changed, the Lyr+ has the same design as the previous model.
It is the mid-sized Schiit chassis that can be stacked together with the Bifrost DAC.
A one piece anodized, bended, aluminum sheet is used to form the front face and the upper part of the chassis while the enclosing box is made from plain painted metal.
Build quality is just excellent and the Lyr+ is available in two colors, silver and a black, both with a silver aluminum volume knob.
At the left side of the front face there is the input toggle button and a button that enables the pre-amp output followed by three notification LEDs.
Then there is the volume control knob, a third button, two more notification LEDs and the 6.35mm headphone jack.
A single press of this third button toggles the gain between low and high while long pressing it for four seconds is used to switch between tube and solid state modes.
Switching modes is not instant, the amplifier mutes for about 20 seconds and then resumes again.
When you have a tube installed switching to solid state mode will not power it off as it stays always on.
So if you are planning to use the solid state mode for an extended period of time you should remove the tube to extend its lifespan.
You can use the remote control to perform all actions, something very useful when you have the amplifier placed on a rack as I do.
At the back side there are the two RCA inputs, the RCA pre-amp output, the on/off switch and the AC input.
Inside the box except for the AC power cord you are going to find a metallic cover that is used for covering the tube socket when it is not used.
This review is quite delayed because I had to burn the Lyr+ for about 100 hours, then burn the stock TUNG-SOL tube for another 200 hours and finally a Psvane UK-6SN7 tube for some 200 hours more…
The input sources included the Aune X8 VIII DAC with the XP2 linear power supply, the Ideon Audio Ayazi MK2 DAC and Lab12 dac1 reference.
Various headphones were used including the Focal Clear Mg and Utopia 2022, HiFiMan Arya/Ananda Stealth and Susvara and the Sennheiser HD8XX, HD660s.
All headphone cables are from pure silver made by Lavricables.
Power output and noise floor
With 4.0WPC/50Ω on tap, the Lyr+ can run the Susvara and everything else you throw at it without breaking a sweat while the chassis runs relatively cool.
The only remark is that raising the volume is not done in a linear way and you have to go above ¾ in order to start getting really loud.
This is regular though, as Schiit’s technical department have explained, you have to turn it up farther than typical because the relay is still -40dB at noon.
Most volume pots are -10dB to -20dB at noon and relays give you complete linearity and perfect control at all points on the knob, they just work a bit differently.
The solid state mode is dead silent while switching to the tube raises the noise floor a little bit by inducing a faint hiss at the backround which is not audible during music playback as long as you don’t use very sensitive earphones.
Solid state mode
In solid state mode the Lyr+ has all the famous sound characteristics and the finesse of a high quality class A amplifier although it runs class AB.
The sound is full bodied and imposing with just a touch of warmness but without compromising in treble extension and energy.
The presentation is spacious and grandiose with plenty of depth layering and ambient information and a solid holographic relief where every performer is accurately positioned into the vast soundscape canvas.
The tuning is linear, neutral and naturally balanced, the Lyr+ has great transparency and a crystalline clarity but at the same time it sounds absolutely engaging and super musical.
The timbre is exemplary natural and realistic, organic and analogue like, the music is reproduced with a lifelike manner full of flowing overtones and with a plentiful harmonic variety.
This is the kind of amplifier that connects the listener to the music, it is emotionally engaging and absolutely enjoyable, you can listen for hours long without the need to take a break.
One day actually I started with the intention of listening to Brahms first symphony but I ended up listening to the whole cycle.
I can’t stretch enough how naturally and correctly pitched all instruments sounded, in a blended and cohesive recreation of the symphony orchestra in its full swinging glory.
And don’t think for a second that the Lyr+ is some kind of a soft, romantic and sluggish sounding amplifier that beautifies the music by painting it with pastel and blurry colors.
Make no mistake, the bass is imposing, deep, vast, full bodied and visceral yet tight, controlled, fast and clearly defined with excellent layering.
You can hear all the micro dynamic shadings and at the same time enjoy shuttering macro dynamic contrast.
The Lyr+ hits hard, almost as hard as the Mjolnir 2, there is a great antithesis between rise and fall leading to a very impactful presentation of the bass with all kinds of music from classical to modern.
The mid-range is pure magic, sweet and very musical, distinguished by its timbre purity, the notes feel like dancing around you, raising your senses, adding realism, forging a supernatural bond between the listener and the performers.
The Lyr+ is very resolving both in the mids and the treble, articulated and refined with the right amount of detail retrieval, only as much as is needed to draw the listener deeper in the recording without sounding analytical and sterile.
There is plenty of energy and luminosity hanging around the corner to keep things lively and agile but never entering brightness and harshness territory.
Long gone is the time when some Schiit amplifiers where a touch treble forward and metallic sounding, the tuning has matured through the years in a long refinement process and now it is distilled into the Lyr+.
Simply put, the Lyr+ is one of the best solid state headphone amplifiers in the market right now, combining excellent technicalities with supreme musicality and a price hard to beat.
I would go as far as to say that, in my humble opinion, it is the best solid state headphone amplifier Schiit has ever made.
The review could have ended right here if the Lyr+ was a solid state amplifier alone but it is also a tube hybrid, remember?
So there is more to it, enter the magic world of the tubes…
TUNG-SOL 6SN7 Tube
The TUNG-SOL 6SN7 is a current production, modern sounding, tube that was cleverly selected by Schiit as the stock because it manages to retain all the solid state sound characteristics of the amplifier while adding a touch of tube magic.
And what exactly is tube magic you may ask?
Well, tube magic is when the sound becomes a little looser with a more relaxed time decay and softer transients.
Ambience becomes more atmospheric, music sounds like someone has miraculously applied a little touch of extra vibrato to the instruments.
The bass is not as firm as in solid state mode and it sounds just a tiny bit less dynamic but it gains extra layers of depth and shading gradients.
The timbre acquires more analogue and organic-like qualities and greater harmonic variety while the soundstage becomes more holographic and enveloping.
Something very interesting is that with the stock tube there is a non expected paradox, the texture is actually thinner and drier, not as visceral and full bodied as in the solid state mode, when someone would normally have expected exactly the opposite.
Everything else remains pretty much unchanged and as described in the solid state sound impressions section.
So if you are a sworn solid state user don’t be afraid to give the stock tube a try, you may find yourself positively surprised.
The stock tube is highly recommended for everyone who feels ready to get a taste of the magic but without sacrificing too much solid state technicalities and sound character.
As for the hardcore tube aficionados the remedy is called tube rolling…
Do you want even more tube magic?
Then start rolling tubes till you find your favorite one like the Psvane UK-6SN7 which is one of the most musical sounding tubes without sacrificing too much in technicalities.
Switch to this magnificent tube and you will find the notes suddenly becoming dimmer and slightly floating in the air for a few moments just before they start their dying journey into time and space.
Harmonics become more colorful and variedly contrasted with multiple shadings adding an extra sense of realism to the already lifelike recreation of the musical event.
The sound is extremely musical and organic, the feeling is more emotional and communicative especially when listening to live recordings where you will also find that the soundstage has extra layers of holographic relief and plenty of natural reverb and immersiveness.
In case that you have been wondering, technicalities are still great, don’t forget that the Lyr+ is a hybrid amplifier so the output stage is the ruling authority that mostly determines the quality of the technical performance which is always kept on a high level no matter the tube used and never drops below a certain point which is more than enough for the category and more.
The side effect is that in a hybrid design the input tube is not so drastically affecting the overall sound character, as it would do in an all tube amplifier, so a solid state flavor is always present no matter the tube used and tube rolling is not that effective as someone might wish.
Compared to the Lyr 3
The Lyr+ should be considered as the more refined and mature version of the Lyr 3 with a touch of better technicalities.
Neutral and transparent with extra clarity, a little faster and more controlled, a bit more impactful and dynamic but with a drier and not that visceral texture, the Lyr+ is more resolving and lucid but still extremely musical, organic and an engaging sounding amplifier.
And now the answer to the one million dollars question is that if you already own the Lyr 3 and have built a synergizing system around it then, honestly, I don’t think that it is worth switching to the Lyr+ unless you are curious to find out how the pure solid state mode sounds or need this extra feature for the future.
In the end
To put it mildly, the Lyr+ is one of the most competitive headphone amplifiers in the market right now and Schiit’s more mature creation up to date.
It is both an excellent solid state and tube hybrid amplifier with a very musical and engaging sound signature, great technicalities and output power to spare.
Whichever camp you belong to, solid state or tube fan, the Lyr+ has something to please you both so don’t be afraid to add it to your collection.
And who knows, its versatility may help you to change sides and learn to appreciate both worlds.
And if you ask me, the Lyr+ would be my desert island amplifier choice without a second thought.
I would start with the tube till it died and then continued with the solid state mode till I got rescued…or not?
Well wait, on a second thought, you better leave me alone listening to my favorite music with this extraordinary headphone amplifier till the end of times.
Copyright – Petros Laskis 2023.
What an awesome review.
This is the one that has convinced me to get it 🙂
Time to sell/save up some mula for the purchase.
Cheers for the review!
Thank you very much for reading.
I hope that you can enjoy it.
Enjoyed your review… Ordered the Schiit LYR + the week it was announced. With a digital conversion box (HDMI/MHL Digital Interface Audio I2S/DSD/Optical/Coaxial HDMI To I2S IIS DOP) Magnetar UPD800 feeding 24Bit 192kHz DAC to LYR+… Headphones Dan Dlark Aeon 2 Noire (Closed) Just say it took 2years mating the right equipment… SACD Magnetar UDP800 turned universal Silver Disc Transport. Via HDMI ports, DOP, l2S. Pure Magic… The LYR+ with this configuration… It shows what’s possible with SACD/CD Blu-ray High Fidelity Pure Audio… PMC/DSD… Every audiophile needs to make this journey… I was like a mad scientist… 2 years in search of the holy grail? Striking gold? At times I think the audiophile media thinks this is somehow illegal…no SACD player was violated, nor was the player’s top removed to access the DSD/PCM digital data stream. HDMI Digital Converter Box. I’m hearing the Schiit LYR+ in an alternate universe. Audiophiles are crazy… We think our systems are the best… But this time it was cracking the SACD, Blu-ray HD Audio
DSD PCM Access code.
You have assembled a fine system.
We audiophiles are crazy for sure and sometimes the journey is what it most counts.