The Schiit Lyr 2 is far more powerful than your average headphone amplifier, most of which top out with a small fraction of a watt. The Lyr 2 has up to 6 watts on tap -- but don't worry, the power won't break your headphones.
Hey, just because yourpumps out 570 horsepower and has a top speed of 202 mph doesn't mean it can't cruise at 55. The Lyr 2 similarly allows listening at whatever volume suits your mood, and brings out the best sound from any headphone.
The amp is small enough to fit on a desktop, at just 9 by 6 by 2.25 inches (228 by 152 by 57mm), and the all-metal chassis feels solidly built and weighs 6 pounds (2.7 kg). There's a pair of 6BZ7 tubes poking up through the top panel, and you can substitute 6DJ8, 6922 or ECC88 tubes to change the Lyr 2's sound a bit. If you want to steer clear of tubes, check outfully solid-state headphone amp ($249, £210, AU$389).
Back to the Lyr 2: up front you have a volume control, a quarter-inch (6.3mm) headphone jack, and a power-on LED indicator. The rear panel hosts one set each of stereo RCA inputs and outputs, and power on/off and gain (high or low) toggle switches. You can use the Lyr 2's RCA outputs to drive a set of powered desktop speakers, like the. When you plug in a set of headphones, the Lyr 2's output to the speakers is automatically muted. There's no wall wart dangling off the Lyr 2's rear-end; the power supply is built into the chassis.
A quickie comparison with the new Marantz HD-DAC1 headphone amp/digital converter perfectly illustrated the Lyr 2's strengths. With my headphones the Lyr 2 uncorked superior dynamics, brawn and heft; the Marantz was thinner, dimensionally challenged and much less fun to listen to. In fact, try as I might, I couldn't find anything the Marantz did better. The Lyr 2 has soul -- oodles of it -- whereas the Marantz was a major disappointment.
I loved what the Lyr 2 brought to the sound of myheadphones. There was more "substance" to the sound, more weight, more body and the soundstage was more expansive.
To take full advantage of the Lyr 2's abundant wattage I plugged in one of my power-hungriest headphones, the, which has humbled most amps, even ones that sell for thousands of dollars, but the Lyr 2 was up to the task. The Lyr 2/HE6 combination is remarkably clear, and even the latest version of the headphones sounded muted and drab by comparison. With lesser amps the LCD 3 sounds better, but with the Lyr 2 the HE6 pulled way ahead.
Most tube headphone amps aren't suitable for use with in-ear headphones, which are more sensitive than full-size headphones, so the tubes' background hiss/noise levels can be audible when playing music with in-ear headphones. The Lyr 2 had no noise issues whatsoever with my Ultimate Ears UE 900 in-ear headphones, and the sound quality was miles ahead of what I heard from a Yamaha A-S801 integrated stereo amplifier's headphone jack. The Lyr 2 sound was fuller-bodied and more natural sounding than the A-S801's.
The Lyr 2, like all Schiit products, is made in California, and the warranty runs 5 years, although the tubes' warranty is 3 months. Even so, Schiit claims the tubes should deliver up to 5,000 hours of play time; and when they wear out replacement tubes are inexpensive.