Thursday, July 19, 2012

Schitt Lyr Headamp

Holy Schitt !

I just put some money down for the Schitt Lyr. The distributor, Audio Iconic is presently out of stock, with a new shipment coming in at the end of the month.

Owners of hard-to-drive orthodynamic headphones are probably already very familiar with the Lyr, which boasts 6 watts of power, and 40 volts output capability into a 32 ohm load. Actually my Audeze LCD-2 Rev 1 is relatively easy to drive as far orthodynamic headphones go, but the Audeze / Lyr pairing is quite often recommended on forums, so I thought I would check it out.

A quick listen (across 3 tracks) with the distributor's LCD-2 Rev 2, to the bottom rung Asgard and the Lyr indicated that the Lyr was the way to go. I was hoping to save a bit of money, but it was not meant to be. The Asgard sounded too smooth and flat, with a lack of dynamics and bite. The Lyr had a wetter and more prominent bass, with a relatively dry top end sparkle that matches well with the Audeze which can sometimes sound a little bit dark. I love tube equipment, so secretly, maybe I was hoping that I would be "forced" to choose the Lyr. Well, as a matter of clarification, the Lyr is a hybrid unit, combining a MOSFET stage and two dual triode ECC88 tubes.

Both units had no problem with volume. Even with the Asgard, I never made it past the 12 o'clock mark. Strangely, the Asgard had a faint high pitched whine that could be heard during faint passages. It was not a grounding issue, because the unit is dead silent when no music was being played. The Lyr was problem free during the short audition.

Of notable mention for the Lyr, is its ability to be used as a preamp. I will be sure to put the Lyr through its paces when I eventually receive mine. It was due to arrive a few weeks after my audition, but is probably more like to arrive sometime at the end of September.

Fast forward to mid October, and after considerable delay, stock of the Schitt finally arrived in Singapore. There was momentary panic at the dealer's shop, when I opened up my Schitt Lyr box, only to find a Valhalla unit inside. Luckily, there was another box of the Lyr available, which had been packed without mishap.

After considerable run-in, the Lyr was put through its paces with my Beyer DT-880 (250 ohm version) and my Audeze. The most striking impression of the Lyr is heat. This is one hot amp ! The heat is primarily on the right side of the unit, and you could probably toast marshmallows at the same time while listening to music. The second most striking thing is unlimited drive capability. No jokes about the current and voltage dumping capability. You will toast your cans and ears way before you run out of juice.

Pairing with the Beyer is pleasant. Beyer users will know that the DT-880 can sometimes sound overly analytical and bright. The slight richness of the Lyr will put that right, as well as adding a nice wallop to the bass where it it sorely needed. I was not able to compare the Lyr with the competition, having only an ageing Original Master headamp for comparison. The Lyr easily smoked the Original Master on all usual audiophile aspects such as dynamics, resolution and staging.

Moving on to the Audeze, things really start cooking (metaphorically, not literally). Despite the creamy and slightly rich balance of the Lyr, the Audeze pairs nicely with the Lyr. Let's face it - the Audeze is dark sounding. Switching between the Beyer and Audeze always needs a few minutes of adjustment. Once you are over that, you get the most impressive and natural drum and piano notes. The sense of soundstaging which is far beyond the confines of your head remind you of why you started loving ortho cans in the first place.

With my limited experience in the headphone world, there could be better matches with the Audeze, but the Lyr suits me just fine.

Oh, and before I forget, the preamp function is merely functional - get a proper preamp.

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