I received my Lyr+ Friday and spent a couple of hours with it daily over the weekend. I haven’t done a lot of comparing it to my other amps yet. I’ve just been enjoying it a bit before I get serious about how it sounds. Also this is only my second tube amp after buying a Vali 2+ a few months ago. So take these initial impressions with the usual boulder of salt.
I did almost all of my listening with my Sennheiser HD 800 S with the Lyr+ in tube mode. However I did briefly try my Hifiman HE6se V2 with it in both tube and solid state modes and it seems to power them adequately with a bit of reserve (about 2 o’clock on the volume dial). Now that I’m thinking about it, all of the listening I did was studio recordings too. No live recording yet. I wanted to stick with music I knew very well.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was that the bass had some real weight to it. Maybe a touch of boom, but not objectionable. I measured the FR as identical to my THX AAA amp. Daddy like!
The soundstage definitely opens up in tube mode, as expected. Instruments are further away and there is more of a sense of being in a room instead of floating in a void. The sound is warm. Everything is slightly less crisp but on most recordings this was fine if not an improvement. Smoooooooth.
All of the above is fairly standard for tube amps, as far as I know. Without comparing them directly, I’d say the Lyr+ is like the Vali 2+ but moar.
After awhile I started to notice that the instrument separation had improved. For instance I could easily pick out the individual vocal tracks when double tracking is used if I wanted to. I heard a few new electronic sounds too that had apparently gotten lost in the wall of sound with other amps.
I did a bit of listening in solid state mode and comparing to my THX AAA amp. I would say that Lyr+ is a bit warm in comparison. Similar to listening to it in tube mode but like 20% of the effect.
So far I have no complaints about the sound, but I’m far from an experienced expert in this. If you’re looking to upgrade your Lyr 3 or want the best sounding tube amp in this price range, I’d wait and see what the consensus is. But if you are looking for more than just a great sounding amp and want to tinker with tube vs solid state or tube roll, then the Lyr+ is a pretty compelling package. It’s the Swiss army knife of headphone amps.
As for features having remote volume and seeing the volume knob turn along with hearing the clicking of the relays is very cool . All of the switches are on the front of the unit except for power. I really like being able to switch the preamp output on even though headphones are plugged in.
Note that switching between tube and solid state modes does take some time, I’d guess around 10 secs. So doing quick A/B comparisons is not going to happen. My understanding is that rapidly switching a headphone from/to a tube amp is not good for the amp so this is probably as close as you can get. I’m slightly annoyed that this is the only function that requires the remote. On the plus side you do NOT need to remove the tube in order to run the Lyr+ in solid state mode. That wasn’t clear to me from the store description. However the tube heater will always be on if the amp is on, so you’ll want to remove the tube if you won’t be using it for awhile. There is a cover for the empty tube socket included.
Another thing to expect is that the volume knob is pretty stiff. I assume this is due to the relay ladder design or the support for remote volume, so I don’t consider it a big deal.
That’s it for now. I’ll post some more impressions in a few weeks if it would be useful. I’m interested in comparing with the Lyr 3 if anyone has one in the Phoenix, AZ area.