I don’t often review hardware, mainly because I don’t have a great deal of disposable income so I’m cautious in what I buy. This means I end up purchasing things that are either very well establish (and have a million reviews already), or are complete obscure (AKA, I’ve cheaped out and gone for the Chinese knock-off).
Sadly, about a year ago I changed a lot of things in the studio, primarily changing my main audio interface. I moved from an EMU 1820m (genuinely great unit, highly recommended) to a pair of MOTU 24I/O, driven from a PCI-424 card. This meant that I know had to find an external headphone amp to drive my well-worn Sennheiser HD 600 cans.
After lots of boring as fuck reading about headphone amps, I decided that the Lyr is probably the way to go. Nice build quality, lots of good reviews and seemingly lots of happy users. I also liked the idea of disconnecting it from my DAW, and running it directly from the output of my turntable (mmm… analogue signal flow, glowing tubes, lightened wallet).
The unit seems to match up quite well with the impedance of the 600s, and offers plenty of amplification headroom – useful for recording weird and quite stuff.
Sadly, the first unit I received was DOA. After weeks of dealing with the Schiit staff (apparently the UK isn’t serviced directly by them – thanks for telling me that when I purchased it), I finally received a replacement unit.
Problem is, it’s not that great. It’s very noisy (I know it’s tubes but it doesn’t seem to ground signals very well, so get used to that 50/60Hz hum), it get dangerously warm after only ten minutes use (it’s already damaged my table), and it ‘pops’ my earphones every time I turn it on or off.
I’ve owned the unit for a year and a half, and though out that time I have spoken to the ‘impossible to get a hold of’ staff at Schiit about 10 times. The last communication I have from them is the suggestion that the Lyr 2 is much improved, and maybe that’s where I should look for my next purchase.
How about FUCK NO.